There is no obvious choice for the best non-conference game this fall, but there are plenty of games that will still pique the interest of fans across the nation, and for the 2nd straight year one team dominates our list. Check out our 5 can’t-miss non-conference games of the upcoming season.
5. Notre Dame @ Michigan: September 7th
Two years ago Michigan won with a thrilling comeback, and last season the Irish won a sloppy, low-scoring affair 13-6. With the offseason news that Notre Dame has withdrawn from future games with the Wolverines, this one will have plenty of storylines for an early-season matchup. Despite high expectations last season, Michigan came up short in every big game. A win here would put the Wolverines on cruise control through October, while Notre Dame will be looking for a win to carry momentum into a 3-game series against the Big Ten.
LSU vs. TCU: August 31st
An intriguing matchup kicks off the 2013 football season. LSU was clearly the better team a year ago but was ravaged by early entrants into the NFL draft. Meanwhile, TCU finished just 7-6 in its first year in the Big 12 but was without QB Casey Pachall and RB Waymon James for most of the season. While LSU will be favored, the always-stingy TCU defense should hold their own against the Tiger offense, and if Pachall and James pick up where they left off while the LSU defense takes time to click, the Horned Frogs may jump all over the big bad SEC Tigers.
3. Oklahoma @ Notre Dame: September 28th
When we saw this game on last season’s schedule, we thought it would provide a nice win to help boost the national championship candidacy of one of these teams – we just didn’t expect it to be Notre Dame, who rolled the Sooners on their way to Miami. This season it will likely feature a matchup of two top-15 teams looking to keep some momentum going as they head into meat of their schedules. Depending on what happens in the mini-Big 10 schedule for the Irish (@ Michigan, @ Purdue and vs. Michigan State), Notre Dame may either be struggling to stay above .500, or rolling at 5-0 and sparking talk of another appearance in the title game.
2. Notre Dame @ Stanford: November 30th
Notre Dame’s 20-13 overtime win in 2012 was one of the best games of the year, complete with a controversial finish. This fall the game has been moved to the season finale for both teams, and a BCS berth may be on the line for one or both teams. Stanford is predicted to fight for the Pac-12 Championship and Notre Dame is looking to show that they are back for good. At worst, this game will provide an exciting matchup of two bowl teams, and at best it will have national championship implications. What’s not to love?
1. Georgia @ Clemson: August 31st
This game gets bonus points since it’s on the opening weekend, but it also features two teams with reasonable hopes to find themselves playing for it all in January. The game will also feature two high-profile senior quarterbacks in Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. The Tigers are coming off a bowl victory over LSU, and a second straight win over an SEC power would be a terrific start to 2013, while a win for the Bulldogs would give them big momentum heading into a huge conference game against South Carolina.