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FOOTBALL | BIG GAMES

This Isn't Just One of Those Days

From Eugene to Iowa City, Sept. 16 features some can't-miss games

September 01, 2006|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

They save the best for last in restaurants and at operas but not in college football, which can't even wait until October to spill a thriller Saturday on its viewing audience.

May we offer you Sept. 16, a cacophony of catches, cow bells and colors (read: Oregon's latest uniform offering).

On the same day, you get:

Oklahoma at Oregon: Big O vs. Big O at the Big A (Autzen Stadium). The story lines involve an Oklahoma team that lost its starting quarterback to a car-dealership scandal and an Oregon quarterback whose brother is Ryan Leaf.

Nebraska at USC: Simply the biggest game of the early Bill Callahan era, a barometer on whether Nebraska really can shuck the option era and succeed with 21st century aerial concepts.

Clemson at Florida State: Tommy Bowden plays his daddy, Bobby, for the eighth time in an ongoing family drama that leaves Ann Bowden, Tommy's mother and Bobby's wife, torn at midfield with her half-Clemson, half-Florida State sweatshirt.

Florida at Tennessee: A prove-it game for teams once penned in regularly as title contenders. Second-year Floridian Urban Meyer is still trying to win over converts while Tennessee's Phil Fulmer must make amends for last year's 5-6 fiasco.

Miami at Louisville: Billed by some as the biggest game in Louisville football history and by some at Miami as a game.

Louisiana State at Auburn: Both Tigers have national title aspirations but Auburn apparently cut a deal with the schedule-maker. Auburn has the better chance to go unbeaten because it gets this game, plus Florida and Georgia, at home.

Michigan at Notre Dame: Former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler provided the fodder this summer when he told the Detroit Free Press: "We don't need Notre Dame. They need us more than we need them."

Iowa State at Iowa: Oh how Iowa needs to avenge last year's loss in which quarterback Drew Tate heard a bell ring -- his -- after which the Hawkeyes' season was never the same.

The bottom line on Sept. 16 is that, as weekends go, it ranks right there on top.

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Best Games to Watch

* Saturday, California at Tennessee: West Coast power with eye on national title tries not to slip on 110,000 orange peels in Knoxville.

* Monday, Florida State at Miami: The concept of moving this game to a prized Labor Day weekend slot was not to have both programs laboring.

* Sept. 9, Ohio State at Texas: The day will be complete if this rematch is half as good as last year's "Dandy on the Olentangy."

* Sept: 16, Nebraska at USC: Bad news, Trojans: Arizona State transfer Sam Keller, who threw five interceptions against USC last year, not eligible until 2007.

* Sept. 23, Penn State at Ohio State: Switch to PBS if PSU has already lost to Notre Dame and OSU has lost to Texas.

* Sept. 30, Ohio State at Iowa: Iowa, which demolished old Kinnick Stadium in an off-season makeover, could lower the boom on Ohio State's title bid.

* Oct. 7, Texas vs. Oklahoma at Dallas: The absolute, drop-dead deadline for Texas' Mack Brown having his quarterback situation resolved.

* Oct. 14, Florida at Auburn: Historically, one of those SEC games that prompts a "For Sale" sign getting planted in the losing coach's lawn.

* Oct. 21, UCLA at Notre Dame: Charlie Weis instructs groundskeepers to make rough even thicker than last year's U.S. Open set-up at South Bend Hills.

* Oct. 28, Tennessee at South Carolina: Any game involving Phil Fulmer and Steve Spurrier is worth what Spurrier might call a "look-see."

* Nov. 2, West Virginia at Louisville: What a shame. This could be the biggest game of the year, and it's on a school night (Thursday).

* Nov. 4, Virginia Tech at Miami: South Beach police halt tactical response drills when informed Marcus Vick is no longer a Hokie.

* Nov. 11, South Carolina at Florida: Ball Coach returns to Gainesville for first time as a Gamecock. Think anyone will show up?

* Nov. 16, West Virginia at Pittsburgh: They don't call this the "Backyard Brawl" because the players exchange pie recipes.

* Nov. 18, Michigan at Ohio State: Michigan's Lloyd Carr is so organized he has already arranged a postgame charter flight to the Caymans if he loses.

* Nov. 23, Boston College at Miami: On this date in 1984, a short guy heaved a pass into the rain and his teammate caught it. Not sure if it made the papers.

* Nov. 24, Texas A&M at Texas: This would be a good time for fourth-year Aggies Coach Dennis Franchione to justify a fifth year.

* Nov. 25, Notre Dame at USC: Two months earlier than the Super Bowl and better than most you'll probably see unless Matt Leinart gets Arizona to one.

* Dec. 2, USC at UCLA: If UCLA gives up 66 points again, Karl Dorrell may want to consider a two-year Mormon mission.

-- Chris Dufresne

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