Not all of these games will look this good by the time they come around as they do months before the 2019 season. But they sure do look good ahead of time. These are the best games of each week of the year, months before the season actually starts.
This year’s mini-opening weekend consists of just this one out West, as opposed to the recent standard four or so. Other teams with road games against Hawaii could shift things around, under NCAA rules, so it’s possible the pre-Week 1 slate fills up a little bit more.
Week 1: Auburn vs. Oregon
Pretty much every year, Auburn is talked about as a dark-horse contender, making its Week 1 more exciting. Oregon gets quarterback Justin Herbert back for 2019, along with a loaded recruiting class. Whoever wins this one will instantly be a serious contender for a Playoff berth. Could it work out like 2018’s Auburn-Washington, a game that seemed huge but wasn’t? Sure. But a part of being unpredictable is that any of your games could be amazing.
Also: Florida vs. Miami in Orlando sure sounds decent, too!
Week 2: LSU at Texas
The Longhorns have a chance to go to 2-0 against the SEC in 2019 after beating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl in January. They get the same LSU team that knocked off the Dawgs last season, and it’s the first LSU-UT matchup since 2003.
Also: Texas A&M at Clemson, because 2018’s game in College Station was a blast.
Week 3: Clemson at Syracuse
It’s kind of a mixed bag of games this week, but this is the most appealing option. The last time Clemson played in the Carrier Dome, the Orange upset the top-ranked Tigers. And in Clemson’s 2019 title season, Cuse was one of two teams to seriously challenge the Tigers.
Also: Pitt at Penn State for possibly last time ever, and Florida at Kentucky. The Wildcats have a chance to beat the Gators twice in a row for the first time since 1976 and ‘77.
Week 4: Notre Dame at Georgia
2017’s game between these two was a thriller, resulting in a 20-19 UGA win in South Bend. Fighting Irish fans might not take over Sanford Stadium like the Dawgs did at ND, but this should be a great one regardless.
Also: Oklahoma State at Texas shapes up like a Big 12 shootout every year, and probably still will with Neal Brown replacing Dana Holgorsen at WVU.
Week 5: Ohio State at Nebraska
The hype around this game depends on how the first few weeks go for the Huskers, but there’s reason to be optimistic in Lincoln. Ohio State should be undefeated, and the atmosphere should be great, and the Buckeyes getting weirdly crushed in a Big Ten West road game is never totally out of the question.
Also: USC at Washington. Not too many options this week, but this one might turn out to be entertaining, depending on how the Trojans start.
Week 6: Auburn at Florida
They used to play quite a bit, but this marks their first meeting since 2011. Cross-divisional games between legacy programs that don’t have protected rivalries are fun.
Also: Texas at West Virginia was great in 2018, and Michigan State at Ohio State promises to be a blast for people who just enjoy a mess.
Week 7: Texas vs. Oklahoma
It wouldn’t be surprising if this game ended up being played again in the Big 12 Championship, but Round 1 of Jalen Hurts against the Longhorns’ defense should be great.
Also: Alabama at Texas A&M was (relatively) close in 2018, Florida at LSU is always a truck fight, and USC at Notre Dame could be great (again, if the Trojans bounce back).
Week 8 : Oregon at Washington
This meeting will probably be pivotal in the Pac-12 North race, and don’t be surprised if both teams are ranked pretty highly.
Also: Michigan at Penn State always has stakes, and West Virginia at Oklahoma always has points.
Week 9: Notre Dame at Michigan
Notre Dame pulled out a close one against Michigan last year, and this game is often a great one. Aside from the 31-0 ND win over Michigan in 2014, the last six games in this series have been decided by an average of eight points. The last time the Irish played in the Big House, the Wolverines won 41-30. That was in 2013.
Also: Wisconsin at Ohio State, provided the Badgers’ 2018 doesn’t become a trend.
Week 10: Georgia vs. Florida
The SEC East will most likely come down to the Cocktail Party, where the Dawgs have won the last two. Bowl season 2018 made this matchup seem closer than it otherwise would’ve, and the Dawgs lost some transfers that might further keep it interesting.
Also: Miami at FSU should never be fully slept on, and Utah at Washington could wind up deciding either or both Pac-12 divisions.
Week 11: LSU at Alabama
Finally, an Alabama game. Per usual, this one has huge SEC West implications, and it’ll be big even though the Tide have won the last eight. Could this be the year the Tigers break the streak? Maybe not, but LSU will probably release a hype video convincing us it will.
Also: Iowa at Wisconsin? Aside from LSU-Bama, it’s pretty slim pickings.
Week 12: Michigan State at Michigan
Watch these teams try as hard as they can to produce a 4-2 final score while Michigan State rips off five fake punts and Michigan fumbles at the 1 with two seconds left to lose, or something like that. MSU has a several-step manual to pulling off weird upsets, and while Michigan overcame so many bad omens to win in 2018, there’s no telling what sort of rock fight this game could become. Watch it for your own fascination.
Also: Georgia at Auburn might be huge, mostly depending on how the Tigers do leading up to this point. Memphis at Houston might decide the AAC West. Four of the last five years, that’s been a four-point game or closer, and now Dana Holgorsen’s at UH to zest it up.
Week 13: Penn State at Ohio State
The Big Ten East implications are always massive, and the game’s been really good three years in a row.
Also: Texas A&M at Georgia. If the Aggies can win a game off Bama or Clemson early in the season, this could be a huge game that’s capable of swinging both SEC divisions.
Week 14: Rivalry Week, so watch literally everything
If you have to choose, it’d be a safe bet to watch Alabama at Auburn, Ohio State at Michigan, or Texas A&M at LSU, which hopefully will go into seven overtimes again.
Week 15: Championship week, so refer to the above advice
This simplest answer might just be “Bama-Georgia,” but let’s see what happens.
Week 16: Army vs. Navy
The best way to end the regular season, every season.