08/06/09 — OPINION - College football's can't miss games of 2009

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OPINION - College football's can't miss games of 2009

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on August 6, 2009 1:46 PM

Part of college football's unmistakable allure is the anticipation that begins in the months leading up to the season and continues each week during the fall as fans patiently wait for Saturday afternoons to arrive.

Helping to fuel that anticipation is a slate of games matching upstart programs against proven powers, and storied rivals battling it out for annual bragging rights.

The following is a list of games not to miss this season:

Sept. 5

* Alabama vs. Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome: Alabama is 10-1 all-time against Virginia Tech with the Hokies winning the previous meeting in the 1998 Music City Bowl. Each team returns seven or more starters to defenses that each allowed less than 17 points a game a year ago.

Oct. 3

* LSU at Georgia: The visiting team has lost five of the last seven in this series aside from the Bulldogs' 52-38 thumping of the Tigers in Baton Rouge last season. Georgia skipper Mark Richt is 42-9 in home games in eight seasons in Athens, while Les Miles is 13-5 on the road in four seasons as LSU's head coach.

Oct. 10

* Florida at LSU: Florida will head to LSU off a bye week and the Gators are 26-3 under Urban Meyer when given more than a week to prepare for an opponent. The Tigers have won three of their last five meetings with the Gators, but just five of the past 21 overall. This matchup features the past three BCS champions. LSU trailed 20-14 midway through the third quarter last season before Florida rolled to a 51-21 win.

* Alabama at Ole Miss: The last four meetings between these two SEC foes have been decided by an average of three points. Ole Miss has lost five straight to Alabama and 13 of the previous 15. Rebels junior quarterback Jevan Snead, a Texas transfer, threw 26 touchdown passes and racked up nearly 3,000 yards last season. Snead will need to be sharp against a Crimson Tide defense that returns nine starters and allowed just over 14 points a game a year ago.

Oct. 17

* Oklahoma vs. Texas at Cowboys Stadium: The first meeting between these two rivals not to be played in the Cotton Bowl since 1928 will likely knock the loser out of national championship contention. Every installment of the Red River Shootout since 1998 has been decided by double digits with the exception of Oklahoma's seven-point win in 2007.

Nov. 5

* Virginia Tech at ECU: Virginia Tech had won six straight against East Carolina before the Pirates rallied for a 27-22 win last season in Charlotte. Challenging road trips to West Virginia and North Carolina stand between the Pirates and potentially being 8-0 with a bye week to prepare for a nationally-televised Thursday night visit from the Hokies.

Nov. 7

* Ohio State at Penn State: Penn State snuck out of Columbus with a 13-6 victory a year ago, and the Buckeyes could be the only hurdle between the Nittany Lions and an undefeated regular season in 2009. Ohio State is 10-6 in this series since Penn State joined the Big Ten and has won two of the last three in Beaver Stadium.

Nov. 14

* Utah at TCU: Last season's Thursday night thriller saw Utah quarterback Brian Johnson complete 7-of-9 passes on his team's final drive, including the go-ahead touchdown with less than a minute to play, for a 13-10 comeback win. If either of these programs on the rise hope to crash the BCS party, winning this showdown will be a must.