Less than 8 weeks until the start of the 2012 college football season.
After a sub-par slate of games last week, this week returns with some titanic battles, including possibly the two biggest games of the year.
There aren't many games this week, but we should have a clearer picture of the national title contenders after this first week of November.
Washington at California
This obviously isn't one of the titanic battles, but it's a solid Friday night game for the hardcore college football fans. Washington owned this series without a loss from 1977 to 2001, but California 6 of 7 up to 2008.
Under Steve Sarkisian the Huskies have won all three meetings with California. This will be one of those night games on the road that UW will have to win if they want to be among the top Pac-12 teams.
Alabama at LSU
Here's the big one. The rematch after the rematch. Nick Saban is 3-3 against LSU while at Alabama and you can bet he wants to push that record over .500.
There's nothing more to say about this game. LSU has won 7 of the past 10 meetings but they didn't matter when it counted last year.
Missouri at Florida
These teams have only met once during the 1966 Sugar Bowl---a 2-point Missouri victory.
Here's another example of conference realignment bringing us a matchup very few fans have seen before. Out of all the crap surrounding those moves at least there's a positive. The Tigers are going to be welcomed into the Swamp by a brutal defense led by Coach Boom.
Nebraska at Michigan State
There hasn't been a ton of history between these programs (6 games overall) but it's been one dominated by Nebraska in every way.
Last year, Michigan State lost only one league game in the B1G and that was to the Cornhuskers in Lincoln. Nebraska is 6-0 all-time against the Spartans having outscored them 205-37. So it would appear that Nebraska has their number but these teams will be playing an awful lot over the coming years and this one in 2011 might decide the conference divisional winner.
Oklahoma State at Kansas State
Both of these teams were very good last year but most expect a bit of a step backwards for each in 2011. Nevertheless, this could be one of the more important games in the Big 12 where tie-breakers could come into play.
Oklahoma State has won the last three meetings (and a sizable lead in the overall series) but those games have always been close with none coming by more than 10 points.
Oregon at USC
Most expect this game to determine who will have home-field advantage in the Pac-12 championship game, and also the loser here could potentially have their national title hopes dashed.
USC went into Autzen last year and won but they were blown out by the Ducks in the previous two meetings in 2009 and 2010. I'd bet the winner of this game (assuming they are both undefeated) becomes the favorite to win the national championship.
TCU at West Virginia
Much like the above Missouri-Florida game, we have two programs here who are now in the same conference but have only met once before in a bowl game. In the case of TCU and West Virginia, they met in the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl with the Mountaineers winning 31-14.
This game should be one of the best of the week.
Which games are you looking forward to?