By Mike Huguenin Sentinel Staff Writer Posted May 22 2005
We're still 15 long weeks from the start of the college season, but that hasn't stopped us from perusing the 119 Division I-A schedules and coming up with a list of the season's top non-conference games.This list does not include non-conference games played annually, such as Florida-Florida State, Michigan-Notre Dame, Notre Dame-USC, etc.
5. Georgia Tech at Auburn, Sept. 3. These teams played every season but one from 1906-87, but have met only once since '87. This will be the first game for the Tigers without TBs Ronnie Brown and "Cadillac" Williams and QB Jason Campbell. Some see a veteran Tech team with a tough defense and a star in sophomore WR Calvin Johnson as a possible ACC title contender.4. Bowling Green at Boise State, Sept. 24. The potential for an 80-point game exists. BG has the best quarterback you've never seen in Omar Jacobs, a 6-foot-4, 228-pound junior from Delray Beach Atlantic. All he did was throw for 4,002 yards, with 41 TDs and four picks last season. Boise, meanwhile, has a top-notch quarterback of its own in junior Jared Zabransky, and the Broncos own the nation's longest home winning streak at 25 games.3. Arizona State at LSU, Sept. 10. LSU barely survived a Pac-10 team last season in Baton Rouge (22-21 in OT over Oregon State). LSU will have the talent advantage, but the Sun Devils' pass-catch combo of Sam Keller and Derek Hagan should make it interesting.2. Boise State at Georgia, Sept. 3. Boise State has lost nine times this decade, and three of those have come in its only three games against SEC foes (two to Arkansas and one to South Carolina). The Broncos return 16 starters and will be opening against a Bulldogs team breaking in a new quarterback in D.J. Shockley. Still, the Bulldogs figure to have too much defense for Boise to pull the upset.1. Texas at Ohio State, Sept. 10. You know how many times these titans have played? Try zero. (Weird that Texas' last game was against Michigan, in the Rose Bowl, and those teams never had played, either.) There will be loads of good athletes on both sides of the ball, and Ohio State WR/KR Ted Ginn Jr. and Texas QB Vincent Young can gain some prime early season Heisman attention. For all the talent, though, will either team be able to throw effectively?Six more of interest, listed in order of how much we already are interested: Oregon State at Louisville, Sept. 17; Fresno State at USC, Nov. 19; Tennessee at Notre Dame, Nov. 5; UCF at South Carolina, Sept. 1; Texas A&M at Clemson, Sept. 3; and Toledo at Fresno State, Sept. 27.Of special note: On Sept. 3, USC hosts Arkansas and UCLA hosts Oklahoma, making for a big day in Los Angeles.Next week, we'll spotlight the crummiest of crummy: the 11 worst non-conference games of the season.Grid bitsNew Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis is in the midst of a roughly month-long recruiting road trip. He left campus April 28 and won't return until May 27. By the end of the trip, he hopes to have visited at least 100 high schools in 24 states. The Irish already have six oral commitments. One is from DE/TE Paddy Mullen, of St. Louis. Is that a perfect Fighting Irish name or what?Call it the Steve Spurrier effect. The State newspaper of Columbia, S.C., reported that the school's athletic boosters, The Gamecock Club, already has raised $13 million, with seven months left in its fiscal year. The group raised $12 million total in its last fiscal year.California officials announced recently that plans to renovate 82-year-old Memorial Stadium were moving along nicely and that work was scheduled to commence after the 2006 season. That's big because Golden Bears Coach Jeff Tedford has escape clauses in his contract if the school doesn't improve its aging stadium. What's interesting: Cal may need to play in a different facility in 2007.There's nothing like making a scheduling change for this season in May, but four schools have done so in the past week or so. North Carolina State and Middle Tennessee State will meet Nov. 19 in Raleigh. Both were going to play Temple, but the Owls' move to the Mid-American Conference led to them pulling out. Temple has filled its schedule with games against Wisconsin and Western Michigan. Wisconsin originally was scheduled to play Western Michigan, but Wisconsin dropped WMU with the stipulation the MAC find an opponent.Most unintentionally funny line of the week came in the official announcement about Temple joining the MAC: "The Owls will be eligible for one of the conference's two bowl affiliations in 2005 and 2006."Former Georgia starting TB Michael Cooper is transferring to Division I-AA South Carolina State. Cooper started eight games for the Bulldogs in 2003 but was a backup last season and likely would have been a third- or fourth-stringer this season. Former South Carolina star TB Demetris Summers -- dismissed from school earlier this year -- also may transfer to South Carolina State.12th-game talkLook for the Pac-10 to fill the 12th-game hole by going to a full-fledged round-robin conference schedule. Currently, league schools play eight conference games; starting next season, it likely will be nine league contests.The Big Ten will consider adding one more conference game, but that isn't likely to happen. Big Ten teams currently play eight-game conference schedules. The Big Ten does seem likely to guarantee the Mid-American Conference a certain number of non-conference games each season, probably between eight and 12.
The addition of the 12th game means a rebirth of one of the South's oldest rivalries: LSU and Tulane have signed a 10-year deal for a home-and-home series. The schools, about 60 miles apart, played every season but one between 1911 and 1994. They've met twice since, in 1996 and 2001, with both games in Baton Rouge.This and that
It appears to be a good bet that each of the state's "Big Three" -- Florida, Florida State and Miami -- will be hosting baseball regionals next month. The Regionals are June 3-5, the Super Regionals are June 10-12 and the College World Series is June 17-27.The Johnny Bench Award, which goes to the college catcher of the year, has eight semifinalists. Two played on the same high school team at Bishop Moore -- Greg Dini of Tulane and Drew Butera of UCF.Syracuse had made 22 consecutive appearances in the lacrosse final four before losing to Massachusetts in the first round last Sunday.A Final Thought: New Air Force Coach Jeff Bzdelik now has more mature players than he did with the Denver Nuggets.