Traditionally, college football powers schedule a soft nonconference schedule so they can get warmed up for the “real” part of the season and so they can enter the meat of the schedule undefeated.
Every so often, though, college football fans are treated to some big-time matchups early in the season.
In 2010, fans get several such matchups in the first week.
No. 3 Boise State vs. No. 10 Virginia Tech
When: Monday, September 6, 8 p.m. ET
Where: FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland
Rundown: The Broncos opened the 2009 season with a prime-time victory over Oregon that featured one of the season’s most iconic moments – the Ducks’ LeGarrette Blount punching BSU’s Byron Hout at mid-field after the game. ESPN helped ensure the incident would be iconic by playing the footage of it dozens of times that night, over the following days and throughout the course of the season. Will Boise State’s 2010 opener be as memorable? The Broncos finished the 2009 season with a 14-0 record and ranked No. 4 in the nation; Virginia Tech ended up 10-3 and ranked No. 10. The two teams will tangle on the Washington Redskins’ home field in front of another live ESPN audience. A win would be huge for either team, but it’s almost a necessity for Boise State, which goes on to play No. 24 Oregon State at home on September 25.
No. 6 TCU vs. No. 24 Oregon State
When: Saturday, September 4, 7:45 p.m. ET
Where: Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas
Rundown: Another prime-time game in a big-time venue with an ESPN audience. TCU returns starting quarterback Andy Dalton, who enters the 2010 season with 29 victories and coming off a 2009 campaign in which he threw for 2,756 yards, 23 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. The Beavers will take the field with a new starting quarterback – most likely sophomore Ryan Katz – but will have the play-making Rodgers brothers – Jaquizz and James – back on offense. TCU finished up 2009 with a 12-1 mark that included an 8-0 record in Mountain West Conference play, the only loss a 17-10 decision against Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. A win here would go a long way toward helping the Beavers position themselves for a BCS bid in 2010, as they have Louisville and Boise State on the nonconference schedule in addition to a handful of tough Pac-10 contests.
No. 18 North Carolina vs. No. 21 LSU
When: Saturday, September 4, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Georgia Dome in Atlanta
Rundown: LSU enters the 2010 season with a spot in the preseason AP Top 25 ranking for the 10th consecutive year. However, of the seasons the Tigers have been in the preseason poll, this is their lowest ranking ever. The previous low mark was No. 20 in 1968. LSU will be up against a prolific Tar Heels offense that will feature either senior T.J. Yates or redshirt freshman Bryn Renner at quarterback. Or both. UNC is just the first of six ranked teams on LSU’s schedule this season, with No. 1 Alabama, No. 4 Florida, No. 22 Auburn, No. 17 Arkasas and No. 25 West Virginia also on tap. The Tigers finished 2009 with a 9-4 record and a 19-17 loss to Penn State in the Capital One Bowl; North Carolina went 8-5.
Click here to view the AP Top 25 preseason rankings.
NCAA Football Preview – TCU Horned Frogs, KMTR
Boise State-Virginia Tech game moved to Labor Day, Idaho Statesman
LSU starts season at No. 21 in AP poll, Shreveport Times
T.J. Yates hopes to finish what he starts, ESPN.com