Welcome to the final installment of the Crystal Ball Run’s Ultimate Road Trip for 2013.
We’ll ride this thing out until the bowl season, which I’d like to add a few of those once we have that schedule.
But these final seven weeks of the season are always some of the best. So let’s see where the must-see games will be played.
Remember I have one simple, self-imposed rule: You can’t travel to the same stadium more than once. It’s a tough rule to follow.
Oct. 30: Cincinnati at Memphis
So I’m going to squeeze in a few more October games, starting with a potential “dog” of a game.
It’s not often you’re going to see a game at Memphis make a must-see game, but by this time of the season and if you want to watch college football on Wednesday then let’s make the road trip.
The Tigers were much improved last year under Justin Fuente and went 4-8. Making the move to the new American Conference is a good overall move and may be what Memphis needs to make the next step.
Oct. 31: Arizona State at Washington State
It’s not easy to get to Pullman, Wash., but let’s book the flight to Spokane and take the rental car down U.S. 195.
The Cougars had some ups and downs in Mike Leach’s first season in charge, but you hope to see some serious upward momentum in year two. If the offensive line improves then there’s a chance Wazzu can get to five or six wins this year.
However, it’s hard to see them getting one of those wins against Arizona State.
Nov. 1: USC at Oregon State
Hard to believe we haven’t made it out to Corvallis this season, but we won’t miss this game.
The Beavers are trending up as Mike Riley enters his 13th season at Oregon State. By this point of the season, Rile should be settled at quarterback with Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz battling it out.
The Trojans, however, still have talent but are not considered Pac-12 contenders and road games like this could be a huge problem.
Despite all of the warning signs for USC, the Trojans could be 8-0 entering this game, but that would mean wins at Arizona State and Notre Dame.
Nov. 2: Florida vs. Georgia (at Jacksonville, Fla.)
Everyone should go to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at least once.
You should also go to the game as well.
The Bulldogs are riding a two-game winning streak in this rivalry, and a win here could mean the SEC East crown and a spot in the conference championship game.
Nov. 5: Bowling Green at Miami (Ohio)
It’s November and it’s time for some MAC-tion. We’ll get it started by going to the Cradle of Coaches.
The Redhawks have fallen on tough times under Don Treadwell, who is 8-16. Miami lost its best player — quarterback Zac Dysert, but this is MAC football and this game is ripe for an upset.
Bowling Green is a front-runner in the conference with nine starters returning on offense.
Nov. 6: Central Michigan at Ball State
The MAC-tion continues with a quick trip to Muncie, Ind.
The Cardinals are fresh off a 9-4 season and they return quarterback Keith Wenning, who will be under center for a third consecutive season.
Central Michigan has one of the conference’s best rushing attacks that is led by Zurlon Tipton.
Not a bad two-night run of MAC football.
Nov. 7: Oklahoma at Baylor
The best game is actually Oregon at Stanford, but I made the call that seeing UCLA at Stanford was a better option. I may regret it now.
Baylor is expected to be a solid team again, so this may be a chance to see a legitimate upset in Waco, Texas.
The Bears are breaking in a new quarterback again. This time it is Bryce Petty, but life is made a little easier with Lache Seastrunk back at running back.
OU defense was scorched the second half of the 2012 season, so that group could have its hands full in this one.
Nov. 9: LSU at Alabama
It’s just the second time we will get to watch the defending champion Alabama, and there’s a good chance the Tide will need this game to get back to the SEC title game.
LSU lost a ton of talent from last year’s squad and the schedule is daunting, but the Tigers always step up against Bama. QB Zach Mettenberger gets the starting nod for a second season, and he gets the benefit of working with new coordinator Cam Cameron.
Getting to see a game at Bryant-Denny Stadium is a special treat … add into the mix a game with LSU and the stakes are that much higher.
Nov. 12: Ohio at Bowling Green
It’s the beginning of a new week and that means were back in the MAC.
The Bobcats used to be the laughingstock of all of college football. Now it’s worth going to Bowling Green and see if Tyler Tettleton and Beau Blankenship can handle one of the conference’s best defenses.
Nov. 13: Ball State at Northern Illinois
Thanks to the World Wide Leader for the opportunity to share the college football love with the MAC.
This time we're in DeKalb, Ill.
Nov. 14: Marshall at Tulsa
Now we are headed to the watered down Conference USA for another potential showdown of contenders.
Winning at Tulsa won’t be easy, but neither is watching a game in Oklahoma and not seeing the Sooners.
Nov. 15: Washington at UCLA
It’s funny how so many fans think Steve Sarkisian has worked miracle in Seattle, but in four seasons he hasn’t won more than seven games in a season and his overall record is 26-25.
Was Washington really that down and out? The Huskies did go 0-12 the year before he arrived, so maybe the time is right for this program to take a next step.
The Bruins are favored to return to the Pac-12 title game for a third straight season, and this time they might actually have a chance to win the game.
Nov. 16: Michigan State at Nebraska
By this time of the season it gets that much tougher to avoid wanting to repeat a certain location. This week it would be better to go to South Carolina and see the Gamecocks take on Florida.
But this isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Nov. 19: Kent State at Ohio
For me personally, this is a short 55-minute drive to Athens, Ohio, which is also known as one of the nation’s best party towns.
Tailgating outside Peden Stadium doesn’t live up the school’s reputation, but it’s still a decent place to watch a game.
Nov. 20: Northern Illinois at Toledo
We get it, another MAC game during the middle of the week. Just enjoy watching football in the cold of Ohio.
Nov. 21: Rutgers at UCF
UCF would love nothing more than to sneak up on everyone in the new American Conference and earn a BCS bowl berth.
The Knights have talent, especially on defense.
Rutgers could be a factor also in league play, but the Scarlet Knights seem to blow a game or two every year that they should win.
I would mark this one down.
Nov. 22: Navy at San Jose State
We may be a bit jetlagged going from Orlando, Fla., to San Jose, but don’t overlook this solid Friday night game.
The Spartans are coming off an unbelievable 11-2 season, but it’s probably too much to think first-year coach Ron Caragher can repeat that performance in the Mountain West.
QB David Fales threw for 4,193 yards and will be too much for Navy’s defense.
Nov. 23: Texas A&M at LSU
If for some reason Alabama hasn’t sealed up the SEC West, this game could be the Game of the Year.
Johnny Manziel vs. Zach Mettenberger. Kevin Sumlin vs. Les Miles. I like the sound of that.
Anyone want to join me?
Nov. 28: Ole Miss at Mississippi State
The Egg Bowl is truly a rivalry again.
With Hugh Freeze taking over at Ole Miss and the Rebels scoring big on the recruiting trail, this game will be a must-have ticket.
Mississippi State has slid back after the fast start by Dan Mullen. Is there a chance this once hot commodity could be on the hot seat after this season?
Nov. 29: Iowa State at West Virginia
Don’t give me the excuse that you are too full from Thanksgiving to go to a game a day later.
Maybe it’s just a middle-of-the-road Big 12 game, but the atmosphere in Morgantown is always worth a visit each season.
It will be interesting to see how the Mountaineers respond to losing so much talent on offense.
Also, Iowa State has some talent this season and this is a huge road test for Paul Rhoads’ squad.
Nov. 30: Ohio State at Michigan
Give me the history and passion of this game over Clemson at South Carolina or Florida State at Florida.
It’s possible and how much fun would it be to watch this game in Ann Arbor with two undefeated teams?
The Buckeyes have Heisman candidate Braxton Miller, while Michigan counters with Devin Gardner. That’s a matchup worth watching.
Rivalries don’t get any bigger or better than this.
Dec. 7: Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
The SEC fans will never understand why I would choose this game over the SEC championship game, but it’s not that difficult of a decision.
You don’t hear a lot of talk about the Cowboys playing for a national title, but I like their chances and I’ve yet to see them play in 2013.
Dec. 14: Army vs. Navy (at Philadelphia)
Every Ultimate Road Trip should end with this game, as this is the ultimate football contest each year.
Whether the game is in Philadelphia, Baltimore or New York, you should never miss it.