Commentary

Fantasy football matchups for 2009

Originally Published: June 11, 2009
By Ivan Maisel | ESPN.com

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.

Notre Dame vs. Auburn

Notre DameAuburnThe 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.

Michigan vs. LSU

MichiganLSUMaybe 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.

Ohio State vs. Georgia Tech

Ohio StateGeorgia TechIt'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.

Penn State vs. Virginia Tech

Penn StateVirginia TechThese 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.

USC vs. Florida

USCFloridaThis 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.

Washington vs. Tennessee

WashingtonTennesseePete 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.

Oregon vs. Ohio State

OregonOhio StateNew 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.

Penn State vs. Florida State

Penn StateFlorida StateIf 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.

Texas vs. Virginia Tech

TexasVirginia TechA 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.

Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma

Notre DameOklahomaFirst, 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.

Miami vs. Wisconsin

MiamiWisconsinOnly 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.

Texas Tech vs. Georgia Tech

Texas TechGeorgia TechNo 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?

Florida vs. South Florida

FloridaSouth FloridaIf 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.

Penn State vs. Pittsburgh

Penn StatePittsburghOnce 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.

Rutgers vs. Kansas State

RutgersKansas StateThe 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.

Southern Mississippi vs. Alabama

Southern MissAlabamaGolden 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?

Ole Miss vs. California

Ole MissCalJevan 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.

Maryland vs. Colorado

MarylandColoradoTerps 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.

Baylor vs. TCU

BaylorTCUGiven 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.

Idaho vs. North Texas

IdahoNorth TexasThe 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.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com