With spring football being over and games starting up in under two months, it is time to look forward to some of the big matchups that will happen this season. The nonconference schedule provides a great opportunity for teams to play games against quality competition. It also gives fans a chance to see their team square off against other teams that are not always on the schedule. Here are the college football top 10 nonconference games 2019.
10. Florida State Seminoles vs. Boise State Broncos (Jacksonville, FL)
Date: August 31
Even though Florida State isn’t near where they were a few years ago, a game against Boise State on Labor Day Weekend will draw some interest. The Seminoles will get a chance to show they have improved, while Boise State gets a big game against a Power 5 Conference school.
The Seminoles went 5-7 last season under Willie Taggart, but still have a lot of talent on the roster from the Jimbo Fisher era due to good recruiting. Running back Cam Akers was one of the best recruits in the country and if he can get the running game going, the team should be much improved.
Boise State may not be playing in a lot of New Year’s Six Bowl Games lately, but they are still a solid team. They’ll need to replace their skill position players across the board on offense, including quarterback Brett Rypien. Pass rusher Curtis Weaver leads what should be a good defense. The Broncos have the look of a Mountain West Champion again.
9. Iowa Hawkeyes at Iowa State Cyclones
Date: September 14
Most seasons this game is not on this list, but this year, but teams have a chance to compete in their respective conferences. Add the fact that this game is a rivalry and it helps it make the cut for the top 10.
Iowa is coming off of a season where they went 9-4. With Nate Stanley back at quarterback and some good play in the trenches, they could be competing in the Big Ten West this season. For them to climb the rankings, they’ll have to beat their in-state rival on the road.
The Cyclones have been good the last few seasons under Matt Cambell. They finished last season 8-5, losing in the Alamo Bowl to Washington State. Iowa State could be there to take the Big 12 if Oklahoma or Texas falters. With Brock Purdy taking the reins at quarterback, the Cyclones will just need to find some new players at the skill positions to help them find success.
8. Stanford Cardinal at UCF Knights
Date: September 14
For a few years now, college football fans have had to hear that no Power 5 teams will play UCF. That is not the case this year as they play both Pitt and Stanford this season. At the end of the season, UCF’s strength of schedule will be much better than in years past.
Stanford will have plenty of big games this season both in and out of the Pac-12. They’ll need a running game to emerge and quarterback K.J. Costello to improve over last season. The defense will also need some playmakers to step up, but if they do, they will be a tough team to beat.
While their winning streak was snapped by LSU in the Sugar Bowl, UCF is still favored to be the “Group of 5” conference representative in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. They’ll have either Darriel Mack Jr. or Brandon Wimbush at quarterback, as McKenzie Milton likely won’t be ready to play this season. The Knights will have a lot of team speed to work with and will want to win this game to prove all the doubters wrong.
7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Stanford Cardinal
Date: November 30
Although Notre Dame A.D. Jack Swarbrick has wrongly chosen to emphasize this rivalry over others, it still features two good teams almost every year. Notre Dame could be looking at a second consecutive College Football Playoff appearance, while Stanford will be looking to finish the regular season strong in this late November game.
After Ian Book took over at quarterback last season, Notre Dame took off. With a good offensive line and a few key defensive players back, the Fighting Irish will be a contender once again, if they can get through the few tough games on their schedule.
Stanford doesn’t have as much talent as Notre Dame, but this game has produced some great battles in the past. If Notre Dame is near the top four in the rankings, the pressure could be all on them when this game commences.
6. Florida Gators at Miami Hurricanes (Orlando, FL)
Date: August 24
Usually, the weekend before Labor Day weekend has a few college football games, but they are never this good. Not only do fans get a chance to see two good teams face off, it is also a huge rivalry.
Florida exceeded expectations in Dan Mullen’s first year in charge. Now, if the defense can have the same level of toughness and quarterback Feleipe Franks can get better, the Gators might be able to challenge Georgia for the SEC West.
Mark Richt’s time at Miami was short, but Manny Diaz will have a solid team to work with. With Tate Martell running the offense, it has a chance to be dynamic. The defense was great last season and with six starters back, Miami should be the favorites in the Coastal Division of the ACC.
5. Auburn Tigers vs. Oregon Ducks (Arlington, TX)
Date: August 31
If anyone was asking for a rematch of the 2010 National Championship, it is here. Cam Newton will not be suiting up, but two very good teams with big aspirations will be meeting on Labor Day Weekend.
Auburn will have one of the best defensive lines in college football this season, which features Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown. They’ll have to figure out a lot on offense, but they do get their entire offensive line back.
Justin Herbert decided to return to school, which made the Ducks immediate favorites to win the Pac-12. He’ll be challenged in this game by the Auburn defensive line. Oregon has a solid offensive line to protect him and the defense was much better than before last season.
4. Texas A&M Aggies at Clemson Tigers
Date: September 7
Last season, the Aggies pushed Clemson to the limit. Clemson won and went on to the National Championship, while Jimbo Fisher won nine games by the end of the season. It will be Fisher vs. Dabo Swinney again with a lot on the line for both teams.
A lot more is expected out of Fisher’s Aggies this season after a great start in College Station. While they may not be able to win the SEC West, they should give a lot of teams trouble. Kellen Mond was one of the most improved players in the country last season and if the junior can take another step forward, the offense could be one of the best in Division I.
Clemson may not be challenged again in the ACC schedule, as there are not many great teams after them. This will likely be the biggest game on the schedule because of that. The reigning champs should be able to knock off the Aggies again, with Trevor Lawrence leading the way, but it will likely be close again.
3. Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Michigan Wolverines
Date: October 26
Last year’s game between the two rivals went down to the wire. Both teams had solid seasons and a lot will be on the line again this year.
Notre Dame’s offense will have to find paydirt a few times in this game to win. If the offensive line can generate a good push, they should be able to run the ball effectively, which will set up the passing game for Ian Book. The defense will have a lot of good position players to stop, including Tarik Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins. Troy Pride Jr. and Alohi Gilman will be called upon to step up.
Michigan only lost three games last season and if they had played a little bit better, could have beaten Notre Dame to kick off the season. The defense has to replace a lot, but they always seemingly do. Offensively, they need to let Shea Patterson loose so that the Wolverines can utilize the skill position players. If their talented wide receivers don’t have big games, they likely won’t be able to win.
2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Georgia Bulldogs
Date: September 21
The home and home series between these two teams started in 2017. Georgia escaping South Bend with a narrow victory. Georgia went on to the College Football Playoff that season, while Notre Dame was in it last season. There should be similar implications this year.
Last time these two teams played, the Fighting Irish played against inexperienced freshman quarterback Jake Fromm. Now he is a seasoned veteran that will need to be game planned against. If they can minimize the number of easy throws he can make, the Irish can keep the game close.
Georgia will be looking to win the SEC East, but this year they’ll want to avoid losses earlier in the season in an effort to make the College Football Playoff. Fromm will have to make plays, but so too will running back D’Andre Swift. A balanced attack should be more than possible. The defense is talented enough to shut down the pass with an experienced secondary, but stopping the run will be a tougher task. If they can do that, they’ll win the game.
1. LSU Tigers at Texas Longhorns
Date: September 7
Two teams who are looking to go from New Year’s Six Bowl to College Football Playoff are meeting in the second week of the season. Texas and LSU both won 10 games last season and have a decent amount of talent back on campus.
LSU has a lot of returning talent on the roster and will be looking to challenge in the SEC West. As usual for the Tigers, the offense needs to step up to give them a real chance. In this game they’ll have to score points to keep up with Texas. The defense should be able to limit the Longhorns with the leadership of Grant Delpit at safety, but will not be able to stop them completely.
Over the last few seasons, Texas has been building their program back up. With Tom Herman in charge and Sam Ehlinger operating the offense, the expectations should be high in Austin. This will be one of the biggest nonconference games they have played in a while and if they can put up more than 25 or so points, they should win the game.