The Most Anticipated College Football Games of 2018
The 2018 college football season begins soon. Each week, there are a number of games that will likely have a direct effect on the College Football Playoff. Winning a conference title goes a long way in determining whether or not a team gets into the field.
Last year’s national champion, Alabama, did not even win its division yet was still deemed worthy of playing for a national championship. In the four years of the CFP only last year’s Crimson Tide and the 2016 Ohio State Buckeyes were selected after not winning a conference title. Here’s a look at some of the most anticipated games of the 2018 season.
The College Football Playoff committee will not be able to hold the Huskies’ strength of schedule against them in 2018. Washington kicks off the season with Auburn and then has five road games in the Pac-12. Win them all and head coach Chris Petersen and the Huskies are looking at another berth in the CFP. The Tigers need a big win to give them some cushion in the case of a late-season loss to either Georgia or Alabama.
After three years off, one of the nation’s longest-running rivalries rekindles when the Wolverines head to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish. Both head coaches are in need of strong performances this season. Getting off to a good start will be huge for both teams. For Brian Kelly and Notre Dame, there is no shot at a conference title and with road trips to Virginia Tech and USC there isn’t a lot of room for error. The Wolverines can still lose this game and win the Big Ten. Still, starting 1-0 is much better than the alternative. The opener will also mark the first game for Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson.
The Buckeyes will enter Week 3 as one of the Top 5 teams in the nation. They will also have a new quarterback in Dwayne Haskins. Running back J.K. Dobbins is back after rushing for over 1,000 yards as a freshman last season. The Horned Frogs enter the 2018 season with plenty of question marks. They only have three returning starters on offense and must break in a new quarterback. Defensive end Ben Banogu (8.5 sacks in 2017) is one of the best in the nation. TCU does get the advantage of playing this game in Arlington. For Ohio State, it’s another test before the meat of the Big Ten schedule begins.
Two weeks after one of the biggest non-conference games in the country, the Buckeyes have to travel to Happy Valley and take on head coach James Franklin’s Nittany Lions. There is no more Saquon Barkley or Mike Gesicki, but Penn State still has QB Trace McSorley and a wealth of new talent surrounding him. Seven starters, including four of five offensive linemen, return for Penn State. After leading early last year, Penn State dropped a 39-38 heartbreaker in Columbus. The winner will have a leg up on the Big Ten East Division title.
It’s Willie Taggart’s first season back home at FSU and it’s possible by late October that the Seminoles will have a shot at playing for an ACC title. Normally, the winner of this game wins the Atlantic Division. Clemson has won the last three straight. The Tigers face Texas A&M early and could lose to the Aggies and still win the conference. That would make it tough for the CFP committee to leave out a one-loss ACC champion.
The Sooners are favored to win their fourth straight Big 12 title despite losing Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Baker Mayfield. Oklahoma’s toughest competition could likely come from the Mountaineers, a team that returns QB Will Grier (3,490 yds., 34 TDs) and two of the nation’s best receivers in David Sills IV (18 TDs) and Gary Jennings (1,096 yds.). Oklahoma returns seven starters on offense including running back Rodney Anderson. Kyler Murray, the No. 9 overall pick in the summer’s annual MLB draft, takes over for Mayfield at quarterback.
The annual Iron Bowl has had an effect on the past nine national championships. The Alabama-Auburn winner played in the final five BCS national championship games and the Crimson Tide has played in each of the first four College Football Playoffs winning the title game in 2015 and last year in 2017. This year should be no different. The winner will likely with the SEC East. It will be nearly impossible for the loser to make the CFP. The Iron Bowl loss would have to be the team’s only loss of the season and remember, Auburn plays Washington and head coach Nick Saban and Alabama opens the season with Louisville.
- Big 12 Conference
- Big Ten Conference
- ACC Conference
- PAC 12 Conference
- SEC Conference