When you think of college football it’s just natural to think of Saturday afternoons in the fall.
Hell, there’s a very popular college football blog called Every Day Should be Saturday.
Thanks to ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and so on, we get college football on more days (and nights) than just Saturday. So if you want to know the best weekdays to turn off your normally scheduled programming and take in a great game … here’s your list.
1. Oregon at Stanford (Thursday, Nov. 7)
It’s still unclear how Oregon will adjust to Mark Helfrich taking over for Chip Kelly, who bolted to the NFL, but it’s hard to imagine the Ducks won’t be in the running for the Pac-12 title when this game roles around.
The preseason media poll says this should be a battle of the league’s best, so this is the can’t-miss weekday game of the season.
Oregon’s only loss of 2012 came against Stanford 17-14 in overtime at Autzen Stadium. The defeat cost the Ducks a shot at a national title, so Oregon would love to return the favor to a program that some feel could play for a BCS Championship this year.
It would be nice to see the Cardinal draw a sellout crowd for once to see the high-octane offense of Oregon and the talented group assembled in Palo Alto.
2. North Carolina at South Carolina (Thursday, Aug. 29)
No one really thinks either of these programs will win their respective conference championships, but both could be major players in deciding who does win.
Of course, you’ve probably heard about this defensive end from South Carolina. You know, Jadeveon Clowney. Yep, he elevates the ranking of almost any match up.
But this is the battle of the Carolinas, and you never know what Steve Spurrier offense will show up. QB Connor Shaw is back and hopefully he stays healthy. South Carolina has to believe it can at least get to the conference title game this season.
The Tar Heels will need quarterback Bryn Renner to deliver big-time to pull off the upset on the road. UNC won eight games in Larry Fedora’s first season, so a nine- or 10-win season is a realistic expectation.
3. Oklahoma at Baylor (Thursday, Nov. 7)
Oklahoma has been an elite Big 12 program since Bob Stoops arrived in 1999, while Baylor has been down more than up.
Since Art Briles has been on board, the Bears have gained a modicum of respect in the college football world and if you saw the way they thrived in the second half of the 2012 season you can see why there is some excitement in Waco.
Baylor is a dark horse to win the Big 12 this season, and if the Bears live up to the hype this will be a true test. Of course, Baylor will also have faced West Virginia, Kansas State and Iowa State prior to this game.
All are winnable games, so how much fun will this game be if Baylor is 7-0 entering this game?
4. Ole Miss at Vanderbilt (Thursday, Aug. 29)
This is a nice way to open the college football season — not as good as North Carolina at South Carolina — and who would have thought that could happen in Nashville.
But these are two up-and-coming SEC programs that have exciting coaches.
Hugh Freeze vs. James Franklin in a cage match might draw as many TV watchers as this game. However, it will be Vandy’s Austyn Carta-Samuels vs. Bo Wallace battling it out at quarterback.
5. Louisville at Cincinnati (Thursday, Dec. 5)
As Louisville prepares to head off to the ACC next year, the Cardinals are the top dog in the American Athletic Conference right now.
Cincinnati has the best shot at knocking Louisville off the top spot and getting this game at Nippert Stadium.
Charlie Strong has done an amazing job rebuilding the Louisville program and with Teddy Bridgewater back at quarterback, the Cardinals could sneak into the national championship picture.
Cincinnati welcomes new coach Tommy Tuberville and he must still decide between Brendon Kay and Munchie Legaux, both of whom have started for the Bearcats in the past.
So this could be a de facto championship game.
6. Georgia Tech at Clemson (Thursday, Nov. 14)
Clemson is a clear-cut favorite to win the ACC, but the Tigers have a tradition of underachieving when the stakes are high. But you can’t argue with the talent on offense, especially quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins.
It’s Clemson’s defense that should be concerned. Paul Johnson’s offense at Georgia Tech has a way of making defenses look slow and out of position with his triple option attack.
This November showdown in Death Valley could seriously impact the race for the ACC Championship game.
7. Arkansas at LSU (Friday, Nov. 29)
In a typical season this game would rank much higher, but Arkansas is down and not expected to do much in Bret Bielema’s first season in Fayetteville.
But traveling to Baton Rouge, La., on Black Friday is much better than getting stuck in a line at Sears or eating lunch at an Olive Garden with all of those crazy shoppers.
Expectations are down a little for LSU also, but don’t count out any Les Miles’ coached team, and year two with Zach Mettenberger at quarterback could equate to another stellar season from the Tigers.
8. Oregon State at Oregon (Friday, Nov. 29)
The Ducks make the list twice and this is another Black Friday special.
Known as the Civil War, Oregon is currently riding a five-game winning streak and the Ducks will likely be favored to win this one.
The Beavers are hoping to build off last year’s 9-4 season and the rebirth of a program that had been reeling for a few years.
Also, any time you can get into Autzen Stadium to see a game it should be well worth it.
9. USC at Oregon State (Friday, Nov. 1)
Now we get the Beavers again and why not considering Mike Riley has Oregon State playing at a high level again.
There is also the possibility that this contest will have off-the-field story line related to USC’s Lane Kiffin and his job security.
Having to play at Reser Stadium this late in the season could make for a tough night on the Trojans.
But you also have the chance to get a typical USC team that comes in and is physically better at every position and puts on a show that you don’t want to miss.
No matter what, this game is worth it.
10. Boise State at BYU (Friday, Oct. 25)
Getting to a game at Boise might be more attractive, but there’s nothing wrong with taking in a game at BYU’s LaVell Edwards Stadium.
BYU is playing another brutal schedule, but Bronco Mendenhall wouldn’t want it any other way.
Boise State is still one of the toughest non-BCS opponents any team can play and it won’t be any different this season.
It’s also a chance to see one of the nation’s best defensive players — BYU’s Kyle Van Noy.
Florida State at Pittsburgh (Monday, Sept. 2)
Boise State at Fresno State (Friday, Sept. 20)
Rutgers at Louisville (Thursday, Oct. 10)
Arizona at USC (Thursday, Oct. 10)
Washington at UCLA (Friday, Nov. 15)