Football is definitely America’s game, but college football is becoming more and more popular each year. Not only is watching your favorite team entertaining, but watching any of the games being played around the country between two rivals, or just two teams that are a great matchup, are also fun.
During the 2019 college football season, there are a ton of games that every fan should be circling and making sure they have the best way to watch. Every week of the season has great games, but there are 15 that I think stand out for certain reasons, whether it is a great rivalry or they look evenly matched and should make for a great game to watch.
There is at least one game each week of the 2019 season that is going to be a must-watch event. Most weeks, there are a bunch of games that are really worth watching, and you may want to have multiple devices to watch as many as you can if they are being played simultaneously.
Many of these games are early in the season since they are non-conference games and usually get scheduled in the first four weeks of the season, but there are also some great conference rivalries that are played later in the year.
Miami vs. Florida (Orlando, FL)
In the first week of the season, the Miami Hurricanes and Florida Gators will face off as the first FBS game of the season. The last time these two teams played was in 2013 when the Hurricanes won 21-16. Miami has beat the Gators in seven of their last eight games dating back to 1986, with Florida’s lone victory coming in 2008 with Tim Tebow leading the way during his Heisman Trophy season.
Although these programs don’t play very often, there is no shortage of hate between them, so when they get ready to play on August 24, this will be worth watching. And since it is the game that will officially kick off the 2019 season and is first-year coach Manny Diaz’s inaugural game as the ‘Canes’ head coach, it is an absolute must-watch.
Auburn vs. Oregon (Arlington, Texas)
In a rematch of the 2011 National Championship game, the Auburn Tigers will be playing the Oregon Ducks in a neutral-site game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. That title game is the only time these teams have played in their histories. This will be a great game for people to get a look at one of the possible first-round quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft in Justin Herbert. With an experienced quarterback and another season under Mario Cristobal, this could be a game that propels the Ducks into the national conversation as a team to beat in the Pac-12.
Auburn finished 8-5 last season and lost their starting quarterback, Jarrett Stidham, so they have a lot to prove. And with an extremely difficult schedule, this is a game they’ll have to win if they want to be taken seriously moving into conference play.
South Carolina vs. North Carolina
Although they are from neighboring states, the North Carolina Tar Heels and South Carolina Gamecocks do not play often since they are part of different conferences. The Gamecocks have taken the last three games in this matchup, the most recent in 2015. With Mack Brown taking over for the Tar Heels, UNC could begin their turnaround this season after winning just two games last season.
These aren’t huge teams that have large hopes on the national stage or the College Football Playoff, bug they are an interesting couple of teams that have a geographical rivalry that I would enjoy seeing play out on the field. And be sure to throw the coaches into the mix. Mack Brown, the former head coach of Texas, will face off against Will Muschamp, the former head-coach-in-waiting at Texas.
Alabama vs. Duke (Atlanta)
The Alabama Crimson Tide and Duke Blue Devils have played four times since 1945, and Bama has won three of them. The only time Duke has beat the Crimson Tide was in their first meeting in the 1945 Sugar Bowl. I don’t actually think this will be much of a game since the Blue Devils are definitely not on the same level as far as talent, but this is the first game Bama will play since getting beat up by Clemson in the CFP National Championship Game. It is also against an opponent from the ACC. I think it is also an interesting game to watch to kind of measure the rest of the ACC up to Alabama since Clemson is far and away the best team in the conference and were able to destroy them in the title game.
Florida State vs. Boise State (Jacksonville)
Ever since 2000, few programs have been as successful as the Florida State Seminoles and Boise State Broncos. However, over the last few seasons, they have both struggled, especially with the Seminoles failing to make a bowl game last season, the first time since 1981. Realistically, the Broncos haven’t actually struggled, but they haven’t been forcing the conversation about getting into the national championship picture like they were under Chris Peterson.
This game will be extremely important for both teams, though. To start the season, the ‘Noles could really use a win after only winning five games in 2018. Boise State can always use big wins against some of the bigger names from Power 5 Conferences. So whoever can earn a win will get their season off to the start they desperately need.
LSU at Texas
The Texas Longhorns and LSU Tigers have played 17 games with Texas winning nine of those and a tie in 1936. Yet, they have only played once in the last 50 years — the 2003 Cotton Bowl when the Longhorns won, 35-20. This game is important for two programs that have continued to receive high expectations every season, but always seem to disappoint. Whichever team can take the win in this one will receive a ton of hype and will be on their way to a solid season with a big-name win to start the 2019 campaign.
Texas A&M at Clemson
One of the Clemson Tigers‘ closest games last season on their way to winning the national title came against the Texas A&M Aggies. In the second week of the 2018 season, the Tigers barely got past the Aggies when Kellen Mond just missed on a two-point conversion to tie the game with less than a minute left. Clemson won by double-digits in all but two games last year, their game against Texas A&M and three weeks later against Syracuse.
This should be just as good of a game with the Tigers losing a lot of talent from last year, especially on defense while the Aggies are one year further into the Jimbo Fisher Era at Texas A&M. Expect this to be another good one in early September. And with Trevor Lawrence returning, it will interesting to see how he follows up his amazing national championship game performance.
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas)
It is the Red River Rivalry. Of course it’s going to be one of the biggest games of the season. The Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns always seem to play each other tough and this game usually decides a lot in the Big 12 picture. If Texas wants to get back to where they were a decade ago — fighting for titles — the Longhorns will need to go through the Sooners, who have been doing it consistently for a long time now. And with the loss of another Heisman quarterback and Jalen Hurts taking over, Oklahoma will have to rebuild their offense once again.
Stanford at UCF
One of the biggest storylines of the last few seasons has been the UCF Knights and how deserving they have been of a spot in the College Football Playoff. Their lack of tough games has been held against them, but playing Stanford in their third game and then Pittsburgh the following week could give them some serious credibility if they can pull out wins against two Power 5 opponents. The Cardinal, on the other hand, need to win in the non-conference and show the Pac-12 isn’t a joke and should be taken seriously on the national stage.
Stanford has to travel across the country and play in Orlando for this game, so that is a serious advantage for the Knights, but we could learn a lot about two programs from this game. The last time these teams played, and the only time in history, was in 2015 when the Cardinal won 31-7. But that was before UCF won a self-proclaimed national championship.
Notre Dame at Georgia
Any time two of the top teams in the country meet, it has serious implications on the College Football Playoff. That will probably be the case for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Georgia Bulldogs, especially since it is early in the season and can push either team in a certain direction for the following weeks. Each of these programs ended their 2018 seasons in disappointing fashion by losing in their bowl game. Notre Dame was handled by Clemson, losing in the Cotton Bowl, 30-3. Georgia, after losing to Alabama to end their title hopes for the second year in a row, then lost to Texas in the Sugar Bowl, 28-21. If either of these teams want a chance of returning to the CFP, they will probably need to win this game or have no room for another loss for the team who loses the rest of the way.
Notre Dame at Michigan
After opening their 2018 seasons against one another in South Bend, the Michigan Wolverines and Notre Dame Fighting Irish will play just after the midway point of their seasons. Last year, the Irish began their season with a win over the Wolverines, 24-17. And although a team can bounce back from a loss in the season opener, it can be extremely important to win out of the gates. Each team lost quite a bit defensively, but their offenses return a lot of talent, including Ian Book for the Irish and Shea Patterson for the Wolverines.
Georgia vs. Florida (Jacksonville)
The rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators is always heated. But this year, it is already firing up with head coaches Dan Mullen and Kirby Smart making comments to the media. So when these teams finally have the chance to play each other later in the season with a possible SEC East title and trip to Atlanta on the line, expect for all hell to break loose. Two talented teams, who will a bye week ahead of this game, will have two weeks to plan for each other and two weeks to talk smack. Last year, the Bulldogs dominated with a 36-17 win, the second-straight in the series after the Gators had taken three in a row. But with Mullen entering his second season with the team, don’t be surprised if the Florida offense takes a step forward and this game is much closer.
Texas A&M at LSU
One of the best games of 2018 was when the LSU Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies ended their regular seasons with a seven-overtime thriller in College Station. When the fourth quarter ended, the score was tied at 31. But seven overtimes later, the Aggies were able to convert on a two-point conversion and win the game, 74-72. I seriously doubt these teams could match such an insanely great game, but even if it were half as awesome, I am definitely in on that. These teams tied with a 5-3 league record, which was second in the SEC West, but A&M was the runner-up because of this game giving them the tiebreaker. If they can get to this point relatively unscathed, it could be a huge game for a chance to beat out Bama for a spot in Atlanta.
Alabama at Auburn
There are a lot of great rivalries in college football, and many of those are on this list. But if you’re listing games that consistently play a role in the national title picture, the Iron Bowl is absolutely going to be towards the top, if not THE top. Really, any game the Alabama Crimson Tide plays is going to play a role in the College Football Playoff since they are almost always going to be in the top four, but with their matchup against the Auburn Tigers ending their regular season, it is the most important because it comes last. One of the most insane plays in college football history took place in this series: the Kick-Six in 2013. They have split the last two games, with Bama winning easily, 52-21 last season. They have also won four of the last five, but never count out a team in a rivalry game.
Ohio State at Michigan
Much of what makes the Iron Bowl great holds true for the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines rivalry. To end the season against your most-hated rival and have it decide if you will play in the Big Ten Championship or the outlook of bowl season for each program is what brings these games to another level. Multiple times, this game has decided who goes on to play for a national championship, and with how talented these teams are, it would never surprise me if it happens this season. The only reason this game isn’t as exciting has been the dominance of the Buckeyes. THE Ohio State University has won seven-straight games in the series and the last two have been by double-digits. But once again, there is nothing better than ruining your rival’s title hopes and Jim Harbaugh definitely wants his first win against OSU.
Other Notable Games to Watch:
Purdue Boilermakers vs. Penn State Nittany Lions; 10/5
Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio State Buckeyes; 10/26
Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Wolverines; 11/16
Houston Cougars at UCF Golden Knights; 11/2
Washington Huskies vs. Washington State Cougars; 11/29
USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins; 11/23