It’s always such a bittersweet moment when we crown a new national champion in college football. Alabama has just brushed the confetti off its shoulders and carried the title trophy to its awaiting bus. Fans of the two teams left the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and took to drinking in the pubs. And equipment managers had started throwing uniforms into the industrial-sized washers. Yet, there are those of us out here who are already thinking about what 2018 would bring. Yes, we’re jonesing for our next weekend college pigskin already.
With that in mind, here is a look forward to the next round of first class college football games we will see on our TVs over Labor Day weekend... which can’t get here soon enough, of course.
10. San Diego State at Stanford
Sat., Sept. 1 (Stanford, Calif.)
It’s a revenge game for the Cardinal, who dropped a 20-17 decision on Montezuma Mesa this past September thanks to a last-minute touchdown from SDSU. Stanford managed just 10 first downs and suffered three turnovers. The Aztecs will miss the 2,248 yards that Rashaad Penny ran for this season but have plenty of returnees from a 10-win team. Meanwhile, Stanford will be a senior-dominated team and could be in line for a Pac-12 crown.
9. Maryland vs. Texas
Sat., Sept. 1 (Landover, Md.)
This also is a revenge game and will be played at FedEx Field, where the Redskins make their home. And boy howdy, would the Longhorns like to make amends for that implosion in their home opener vs. the Terrapins in head Tom Herman’s debut this past season? Maryland stunned the Horns 51-41 behind the wizardry of QB Tyrrell Pigrome, who was injured in the game and missed the remainder of the season. He’s one of four Maryland QBs who will return in 2018. But Texas has much more to prove and much more pressure. Be that good or bad.
8. Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech
Saturday, Sept. 1 (Houston)
Another great Power 5 matchup at a neutral site, these two will meet at NRG Stadium, where the Houston Texans make their home on Sundays. Both programs finished the regular season with rather tepid 6-6 marks. Tech lost its bowl game to finish 6-7 and the Rebels were on probation so they couldn’t go bowling. Both of these teams need good jump-starts due to their rigorous conference games ahead.
7. FAU at Oklahoma
Sat., Sept. 1 (Norman, Okla.)
Oh man, can you imagine the tweets that Lane Kiffin will put out before and after this one? He might even tweet about it during the game as well. The Owls take their newfound confidence into Norman and hope to cast a pall over what will probably be the beginning of the Kyler Murray era for the new Sooner quarterback. Though there will be some re-working on both lines, FAU will be facing a still heavily-stocked corral of talent from the Sooners’ skill positions. But look for Owl running back Devin Singletary to get his yards against that slightly-maligned OU defense. This could be a shootout.
6. Tennessee vs. West Virginia
Sat., Sept. 1 (Charlotte, N.C.)
With QB Will Grier and WR David Sills both deciding to turn down the play-for-pay boys and return to Morgantown, the Mountaineers could be primed for a run at the top 10 next season. But Tennessee will look to get the Jeremy Pruitt era off to a good start, though they’ll have to do so without DT Kahlil McKenzie and RB John Kelly, who both declared for the NFL draft. This game will be played in Charlotte’s Bank Of America Stadium and the Mountaineers might have too much offensive might.
5. Alabama vs. Louisville
Sat., Sept. 1 (Orlando, Fla.)