Last time on here I talked about the top five non-conference match-ups we'd all like to see, now I'm going to talk about the top five non-conference match-ups we will see this year. Note that I'm only going to discuss those match-ups we are not used to seeing, therefore I won't put on here any games we are used to seeing annually (Ex: Florida-Florida State, Michigan-Notre Dame, etc...)
1. Georgia at Clemson
This game is clearly the top game of Week 1, and in my opinion it is the top non-conference game of 2013. Both of these teams will enter this game possibly in the Top 10, both of these teams return the majority of their offenses from last year, and last but not least, both of these teams also lost a lot on their defenses as well. Expect a high scoring shoot-out when these two powerhouses meet up in Death Valley.
2. LSU vs TCU at Cowboys Stadium
What didn't seem like a great match-up a few months ago now seems like a very interesting game now with the reinstatement of TCU QB Casey Pachall. Pachall was arguably TCU's best player before leaving the program halfway through last season to deal with personal issues. Combine Pachall's return with TCU's powerful defense and we're now looking at a very good game now. Despite LSU losing a lot to last years NFL draft, they have reloaded and should be as good as usual down on the bayou. Look for this game to be a defensive slugfest that gets decided in the 4th quarter.
3. Ohio State at California
Now this one is interesting. Everyone remembers Cal waltzing into the horseshoe last year and almost knocking off the Buckeyes. Cal ended up finishing the season at 3-9 while Ohio State finished a perfect 12-0. You couple all of those things together along with the fact Ohio State should be a National Title contender and it all spells out one thing for the Buckeyes: trap game. I expect both teams to be better than last year, but the key factor in this game will be Cal's new head coach Sonny Dykes. I believe Dykes is one of the more underrated coaches in college football. He'll have his team ready to play in a game that will be the most important in his 1st year as the Golden Bears head coach.
4. Oklahoma at Notre Dame
Everyone remembers one of Notre Dame's key games on their way to the title game came when the Irish took down the Sooners in Norman last year. This years game won't be nearly as important, but it will be a good game nonetheless. Notre Dame's defense should be just as good as last year if not better, and Oklahoma's offense should be more run oriented with Blake Bell taking over for Landry Jones. I expect this game to be close the whole time, with one big offensive play deciding it in the 4th quarter.
5. Alabama vs Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome
The 2-time defending champs open the season against another marquee opponent in Virginia Tech. The Hokies should be vastly improved from last year, and QB Logan Thomas should also be improved enough to give the Crimson Tide defense some problems. I still expect Alabama to dominate, but this game may be closer than what the experts think.