1. OREGON AT STANFORD
This is an article from the Aug. 22, 2011 issue
Nov. 12 SEC fans might yawn over this selection, but smart college football followers will not sleep on this supershowdown between the Pac-12's power couple. Both teams could start the season ranked in the top five, which means the game could have significant impact on the national championship chase. And barring an unforeseen collapse by either squad, the victor will have the edge in the race for the North division crown.
If that's not enough, the winner of the Heisman Trophy also could be determined in Palo Alto. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck enters the season as the favorite, but Oregon tailback LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Thomas aren't far behind. There's a good chance that no other game this season will have as many potential Heisman finalists.
Even SEC fans couldn't ask for more.
2. LSU AT ALABAMA
Nov. 5 Any game pitting teams from the SEC West could place high on this list, but none of the others will have the crawfish boiling like this saucy slugfest between Nick Saban's old team and Nick Saban's new team. Both squads will open the season in the top five—probably in the top three—and both may be undefeated, meaning this has the potential to be a showdown between No. 1 and No. 2.
Last year the Tigers edged the Tide 24--21, needing a tight end reverse on fourth-and-one to help pull off the upset. This year the winner should have the inside track to the division title and be one step closer to the BCS championship game. The loser will be staring at a second-place finish in the SEC West, which, considering the company, isn't so bad.
3. LSU VS. OREGON
Sept. 3 in Arlington, Texas The first big Saturday-night game of the season is a Texas-sized tussle between two teams with national title hopes. The Ducks should be familiar with nasty SEC defenses—they're coming off a loss to Auburn in the BCS championship game.
4. OKLAHOMA AT FLORIDA STATE
Sept. 17 The Sooners stomped the Seminoles 47--17 in Norman last season, but this year Florida State gets Oklahoma in Tallahassee in an early-season showdown between the Big 12 and the ACC favorites.
5. NEBRASKA AT WISCONSIN
Oct. 1 Welcome to the Big Ten, Huskers. In their inaugural season Nebraska will play the top three teams from the Leaders division, including the Badgers in the conference opener. This October doozy could be a preview of the Big Ten championship game.
6. OKLAHOMA AT OKLAHOMA STATE
Dec. 3 Brace for bedlam when these two rivals square off in the Big 12 regular-season finale. The Biletnikoff Award (the Sooners' Ryan Broyles versus the Cowboys' Justin Blackmon), the conference title and a spot in the national championship game could be on the line.
7. TCU AT BOISE STATE
Nov. 12 They're meeting for the third time in four seasons, but this will be the only matchup between the two as conference foes. After the Frogs said last fall that they would leave the Mountain West in 2012, the conference moved this game from Fort Worth to Boise. Coincidence?
8. WISCONSIN AT OHIO STATE
Oct. 29 The Buckeyes will be seeking revenge after last year's loss to Wisconsin knocked them out of the No. 1 spot.
9. ALABAMA AT AUBURN
Nov. 26 The last two national champions renew their annual hatefest with added venom after the alleged poisoning of the Toomer's Oaks by a Tide fan.
10. TEXAS A&M AT OKLAHOMA
Nov. 5 The Aggies spoiled the Sooners' BCS title dreams last season by upsetting Oklahoma in College Station. This year's outcome should have a major impact on the Big 12 race.
SI FANS' CHOICE
Oklahoma at Florida State 22.9%
LSU at Alabama 20.8%
Nebraska at Wisconsin 15.6%