Posted: Thursday January 5, 2006 8:46PM; Updated: Friday January 6, 2006 12:47PM
Nebraska at Southern Cal Two of college football's old-money programs meet for the first time since '70. Will redshirt freshman Mark Sanchez be taking snaps for the Trojans and will a true freshman be starting at tailback? Have the Cornhuskers, behind impressive season-ending victories against Colorado and Michigan, finally turned the corner under coach Bill Callahan? Will Nebraska QB Zac Taylor continue the nouveau tradition of Big 12 passers lighting up the Trojans' secondary?
Oklahoma at Oregon The Sooners and Ducks play for the third time in 24 months. Who do they think they are, Florida State and Miami? Oklahoma won the first two meetings. How much has Sooners' quarterback Rhett Bomar matured in a year? And, might it really be true that Ducks' All-America defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will return for his senior season?
Texas Tech at Texas Christian The battle for second place in the Lone Star State. The Red Raiders are not known for scheduling non-conference heavies, but then they might not have figured that Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson would produce a five-year record of 43-17.
Colorado at Georgia No one ever had to book a second voyage on the Titanic, but poor Dan Hawkins must visit Athens for the second time in as many Septembers. Last year, the erstwhile Boise State coach had his Broncos open the season between the hedges, and the result was a 48-13 spanking. Now, as the new head coach at Colorado, he returns with a Buffaloes' outfit that looked sorely in need of talent in scoring just 16 points in its final three games of '05.
UCLA at Notre Dame Including bowl games, the Irish have played every Pac-10 school at least once in the past 20 years with two exceptions: Cal and UCLA. The Bruins and Irish, who are better known for their hardwood rivalry, play for the first time since '64. UCLA will still have an Olson at quarterback, but this time it will be Brigham Young transfer Ben Olson, as opposed to Drew. This one could exceed the 90-pass limit.
Other Intriguing Games:
Sept. 2: Hawaii at Alabama: The North Shore meets the Tide. Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan led the nation in total offense in '05. Brennan's two favorite receivers, Davone Bess and Ryan Grice-Mullen, were just freshmen, but both averaged seven-plus catches per game. After all the bowl games were played, Alabama finished '05 with the nation's top scoring D (10.67 points per game).
Sept. 9: Arizona at LSU: The Tigers, as usual, are loaded with talent. Wildcats coach Mike Stoops was the Oklahoma defensive coordinator when the Tigers beat the Sooners in the '04 BCS Championship Game, the Sugar Bowl.
Sept. 16: Texas A&M vs. Army (in San Antonio): The Corps of Cadets (A&M) versus the Cadets. Texas A&M began as an all-male military college and those Aggies who comprise the Corps of Cadets (they must take ROTC courses their first two years but are not obligated to serve in the military) remain the largest uniformed body of students outside the actual service academies. Besides, aren't you curious to see what's become of A&M quarterback Stephen McGee since his auspicious debut against Texas last season?