Don’t look now, but college football season is right around the corner.
Spring football is in the rearview mirror, which means it is time to focus on the 2018 regular season and who (possibly) will be able to dethrone remaining national champion Alabama.
Which games will be most impactful this season? That’s not necessarily any easy question. In a sport where one loss can be the difference between the spot in a New Years Day bowl game or a University deciding to makeover the identity of their football program, there truly are no days — or weeks — off.
Without further ado … here are Big Game Air’s top regular season games of 2018.
MICHIGAN AT NOTRE DAME
If you are a college football program with championship aspirations, every week is a playoff game. And that is certainly the case in Week 1 when Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines travel to South Bend to take on Brian Kelly’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. Two iconic programs with goals of finishing the season at Levi Stadium in Santa Clara will get to showcase their revamped offenses in front of a national televised audience.
AUBURN VS. WASHINGTON (ATLANTA, GEORGIA)
The 2018 Chick-fil-A Kickoff game inside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium will signify the first-ever college football game between Auburn and Washington. Both schools should be considered top-10 teams entering the game, making this match up one of the premier ones of 2018. While an SEC team has played in the game every year, Washington will become the first Pac-12 team ever to play in this game.
CLEMSON AT TEXAS A&M
College Football’s non-conference slate is always full of intriguing match ups, but perhaps no more than in Week 2 when Clemson travels to College Station, Texas to take on the Aggies and new head coach Jimbo Fisher. Clemson has been the model of consistency throughout the decade, and there is no better opportunity for Fisher to quickly win over the A&M faithful than with a win over Dabo Swinney’s squad at Kyle Field.
OHIO STATE VS. TCU (ARLINGTON, TEXAS)
Last season, Ohio State began they year by losing to Oklahoma on their home field. Now, they get a chance to redeem themselves in Week 3 against the Big 12 when they face Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs in Arlington. Dwayne Haskins, who proved he could carry the load for the Buckeyes in a late season win over Michigan, is the new favorite to start behind center for the Buckeyes, but young signal caller Tate Martell has also drawn rave reviews and could be a factor in the Buckeyes plans this season.
OKLAHOMA VS. TEXAS (COTTON BOWL)
The Red River Rivalry is about to get real. There is never a boring moment when these longtime foes square off, but Tom Herman should have a better grasp on things in Austin after putting together back-to-back top five recruiting classes. The Sooners, meanwhile, will have to answer plenty of questions on offense after many key pieces departed for the NFL. Their first priority? Seeing how quickly Kyle Murray, a former five-star recruit, can handle taking over the offensive load from No. 1 draft pick Baker Mayfield.
AUBURN AT GEORGIA
When the calendar rolls to mid-November — also known as closing month in college football circles — we can expect Auburn and Georgia to still firmly be into National Championship contention. This game, however, could serve as an elimination game of sorts, with the winner position itself at the top of the list for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Despite losing five players drafted in the top 66 picks of the 2018 Draft, Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs are loaded across the board once again. Meanwhile, Gus Malzahn’s team, which nearly saw itself in the playoff in 2017, is full of experienced players and has arguably the deepest front seven in all of college football.
WISCONSIN AT PENN STATE
Depending on how these teams survive September and October, this cross-division match up could be a preview of the Big Ten Championship Game. Wisconsin is loaded with offensive weapons once again, with running back Jonathan Taylor leading a stacked group of tailbacks for the Badgers. James Franklin’s Nittany Lions replace a lot of talent following their 2017 Fiesta Bowl win — and they will so with plenty of youth. Twenty-four of the 51 players listed on Penn State’s depth chart last season were either sophomores or freshmen — a good problem to have in the constantly changing world of college football.
AUBURN AT ALABAMA … AND EVERYTHING IN WEEK 13
Ok not really. But almost. The last week of the regular season always features an unbelievable slate of games for college football junkies and this year will be no different. At the top of that list has to be the Iron Bowl. Who will be behind center for the Crimson Tide, Jalen Hurst or Tua Tagovailoa? Meanwhile, Michigan and Ohio State square off for the first time in Columbus since their epic matchup in 2016, and in the Sunshine State, football fans will be treated to the first of many encounters between Dan Mullen’s Florida Gators and Willie Taggart’s Florida State Seminoles Florida heads to Florida State where Dan Mullen and Willie Taggart will square off for the first time.
Interested in seeing your favorite team in person? Check out Big Game Air’s complete 2018 college football charter schedule by clicking here.