Fantasy football matchups for 2009
Unencumbered from the demands of conference, coach and contract, and beholden only to tradition, history and the fans, who are desirous of three hours of competitive football instead of three hours of résumé-padding and looking for schedule challenges instead of schedule chumps, ESPN has given me the fantasy draft of all fantasy drafts. Instead of assembling players for make-believe teams, what you are about to see is real college football teams matched up for make-believe games.
Below are the 20 most interesting matchups you won't see this regular season, but with any luck, one or two of these games may show up on your television in January.
The Tigers are the only wire-service or BCS national champion that the Fighting Irish have never played. It's time to cross this game off the list. It might not be a very competitive game this year, but history would be served.
Maybe we shouldn't play it this year, just to give the Wolverines a chance to right themselves. But when two teams with this much national stature haven't met, we need to set it up.
It's not hard to believe that Woody Hayes and Bobby Dodd never coached against each other, the lack of bowls being what it was in their era. There's one Big Ten-ACC bowl -- the Champs Sports -- but the Buckeyes don't appear as if they'll play in it any time soon.
These two schools somehow missed each other despite being fewer than 400 miles apart. It would be great to see them play when Joe Paterno (383) and Frank Beamer (219) already have more than 600 victories between them.
This one may be tough to schedule, because the Gators refuse to play a regular-season nonconference game outside the Sunshine State. We'll have to wait for them to meet in the BCS National Championship Game. Maybe we'll have to wait only seven months.
Pete Carroll acolytes, best buddies and new head coaches Steve Sarkisian of the Huskies and Lane Kiffin of the Volunteers could use a breather and a friendly face.
New Ducks head coach Chip Kelly, one of the smartest offensive coaches out there, matches wits with Jim Tressel's defense. And just for grins, imagine what Kelly could have accomplished with Terrelle Pryor. The sophomore quarterback seriously considered signing with the Ducks.
If we can get coaches Paterno and Bobby Bowden and their combined 765 victories -- whether the NCAA makes Bowden give back 14 of them or not -- on the same field, we should do it every chance we get.
A veteran, explosive offense against a veteran, stingy defense but with a nonconference schedule that includes Alabama and Nebraska in the first three weeks of the season. I don't think Beamer would rush to sign up for this one.
First, it's not Charlie Weis' fault that Michigan, Washington and Boston College won't be their usual selves in 2009. Second, the revamped Irish need another tough opponent other than the annual USC game. Third, these two storied programs have met only once in the past 41 seasons.
Only if we could schedule the game at Camp Randall in late November and the game at Land Shark on Labor Day weekend. Let each side use its extreme weather to the extreme.
No two coaches live further apart on the offensive spectrum than the Red Raiders' Mike Leach and the Yellow Jackets' Paul Johnson. Leach lives to throw. Johnson remains unconvinced that the forward pass is legal. Would either defense have any idea what to do with the other offense?
If the Gators won't play a nonconference opponent outside the state, let's at least see how one of the best offensive lines in the nation would handle one of the best pass-rushers in the nation, Bulls senior defensive end George Selvie.
Once one of the great in-state rivalries in the sport, this game succumbed to conference obligations and egos. It's time to set that aside and make this an annual game again.
The Bill Snyder of his era, Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano, plays the returning master of toothless scheduling. The winner gets a home game from South Alabama instead of a bowl.
Golden Eagles senior tailback Damion Fletcher begins this season with 4,287 rushing yards behind five starters returning on the offensive line and on a five-game winning streak. How would he perform against one of the toughest defensive lines out there?
Jevan Snead loads his rifle to face one of the most experienced defenses in the nation. Just watching Snead try to look off Bears corner Syd'Quan Thompson would be worth the rest of the game.
Terps junior Da'Rel Scott matches rushing yards against Buff sophomore Darrell Scott. Round 1 went to Scott, who rushed for 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns in 2008, while the more heralded freshman in the Rockies suffered injuries and rushed for only 343 yards and one score.
Given Texas Tech's youth and Texas A&M's, um, everything, this could be a silver-medal game in the Lone Star State. Bears sophomore QB Robert Griffin will see his share of stiff defenses in the Big 12, but the Horned Frogs' 4-2-5 scheme continues to baffle offenses year after year.
The Vandals and the Nice Green are each a combined 3-21 during the past two seasons, with only three of the six wins coming against FBS opponents. In other words, these teams need some confidence. They need each other.
Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Ivan at Ivan.Maisel@ESPN3.com. His book, "The Maisel Report: College Football's Most Overrated & Underrated Players, Coaches, Teams, and Traditions," is on sale now. For more information, go to TheMaiselReport.com.
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According To Schedule
Alabama and Virginia Tech will get together on Labor Day weekend. USC visits Ohio State on September 12. But that's about it in 2009. Big-time intersectional matchups just don't happen as often as they used to. What happened? How does scheduling work? ESPN.com will look at the issue all week.