From revenge to rage, intriguing games provide story lines
There might be bigger games during the 2008 college football season, but only a few get the masses filled with revenge and rage.Whether it's Houston Nutt returning to Arkansas as coach of Ole Miss or Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer crossing state lines into Alabama, several games offer intriguing story lines this season. Here's a list of those games, which aren't always the best ones being played, but pretty interesting nonetheless: Aug. 28: Jacksonville State at Georgia Tech (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN360)
The Paul Johnson era opens against a Division I-AA opponent. But Jacksonville State has a I-A quarterback: former LSU starter Ryan Perrilloux. Aug. 30: Appalachian State at LSU (5 p.m. ET, ESPN, ESPN360)
For only the third time in history, two defending outright national champions meet on the playing field.
Lloyd Carr's final season as Michigan's coach opened with the aforementioned loss to Appalachian State. Rich Rodriguez's tenure could very well open with a loss to the Utes, who return 14 starters from a team that finished 9-4 in 2007. Sept. 1: Fresno State at Rutgers (4 p.m. ET, ESPN, ESPN360)
Fresno State's Pat Hill and Rutgers' Greg Schiano agreed to play this game during a golf outing in Mexico this past spring. There is no mulligan for the loser. Sept. 1: Tennessee at UCLA (8 p.m. ET, ESPN, ESPN360)
The Volunteers travel west to open a season for the second year in a row. California beat the Volunteers 45-31 last season, dropping Tennessee's record to 2-7-1 in games played in the Golden State. Sept. 6: Miami at Florida (8 p.m. ET, ESPN, ESPN360)
It's hard to believe the Gators haven't beaten the Hurricanes in 23 years. Florida spoiled quarterback Vinny Testaverde's first start with a 35-23 victory in the Orange Bowl on Sept. 7, 1985.
It's an intriguing matchup of spread offense gurus: new Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin versus new Golden Eagles coach Larry Fedora. Sept. 6: Ole Miss at Wake Forest (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC, ESPN360)
On paper, it doesn't look like the sexiest matchup, but quarterback Jevan Snead and coach Houston Nutt get their first big test as Rebels. It's the first time an SEC team other than Vanderbilt has traveled to Winston-Salem, N.C., since 1979. Sept. 6: Texas Tech at Nevada (9:05 p.m. ET)
Red Raiders coach Mike Leach takes his gambling style to Reno, where the Wolf Pack are more than capable of spoiling Texas Tech's BCS hopes. Sept. 11: North Carolina at Rutgers (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, ESPN360)
Schiano gets to play his former boss, Tar Heels coach Butch Davis, near New York City on the anniversary of 9/11. Schiano was Davis' defensive coordinator at Miami from 1999 to 2000. Sept. 13: Arkansas at Texas (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC, ESPN360)
The matchup of old Southwest Conference foes is the first big test for new Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. Two decades ago, the No. 8 Longhorns upset the No. 3 Razorbacks 28-21 in Lou Holtz's second season as the Hogs' coach. Sept. 13: Oregon at Purdue (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
The Ducks, who are trying to replace quarterback Dennis Dixon, travel to the school known as the "Cradle of Quarterbacks." It will be the Boilermakers' biggest nonconference test in coach Joe Tiller's swan song. Sept. 13: Wisconsin at Fresno State (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2, ESPN360)
Give the Badgers credit for having the guts to play Fresno State at Bulldog Stadium. Hill is calling it the biggest night in his program's history. Sept. 13: SMU at Texas Tech (7 p.m. ET)
Former Hawaii coach June Jones has traded his floral shirts for cowboy boots as he tries to restore the Mustangs' once-proud tradition. The Red Raiders haven't confirmed if they are installing a triple-digit scoreboard before the game. Sept. 18: West Virginia at Colorado (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, ESPN360)
The Mountaineers leave the beautiful hills of West Virginia for the mountain tops of Colorado. It is new coach Bill Stewart's first chance to prove he was the right choice to succeed Rodriguez. Sept. 20: Notre Dame at Michigan State (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
The last time the Fighting Irish played at Spartan Stadium, they trailed the Spartans by 16 points at the start of the fourth quarter.
Auburn's sports information department is scrambling to figure out what to do with dozens of credential requests from subpoena servers. Any trip into Alabama is always an adventure for Fulmer. Sept. 27: TCU at Oklahoma (TBA)
The last time the Horned Frogs played at Oklahoma's Memorial Stadium, they scored their biggest upset in nearly a half-century. On Sept. 3, 2005, TCU stunned the No. 7 Sooners 17-10, handing Oklahoma its first home loss since 2001. Oct. 4: Rutgers at West Virginia (Noon ET)
For everything Schiano has done at the state university of New Jersey -- including rebuilding perhaps the worst football program in the country into a perennial winner -- the Scarlet Knights have yet to beat the Mountaineers during his tenure. Oct. 11: Central Florida at Miami (TBA)
The Knights finally get a crack at the Hurricanes, who were last among the three traditional Florida powers to play Central Florida. The Knights hope to fare better than their previous three games against Florida and FSU: three losses by a combined 105 points. Oct. 18: Virginia Tech at Boston College (TBA)
The Eagles ripped the Hokies' hearts out by scoring two touchdowns in the final 2:11 of a 14-10 win at rain-soaked Lane Stadium last season. Boston College won't have quarterback Matt Ryan to save it this time. Oct. 25: Notre Dame at Washington (8 p.m. ET)
Fighting Irish coach Charlie Weis faces Tyrone Willingham, the man he replaced at Notre Dame. Irish fans face the coach they still blame for their current coach's struggles. Oct. 25: Ole Miss at Arkansas (TBA)
Nutt returns to Arkansas, where he coached the past 10 seasons, with a better team than the one he left. Nov. 1: Texas at Texas Tech (TBA)
After complaining about the officiating after last season's 59-43 loss to the Longhorns, Leach has petitioned the Big 12 to include at least one official from the 806 area code. Nov. 1: Tulsa at Arkansas (2 p.m. ET)
The Golden Hurricane bring their high-scoring offense to Razorback Stadium for Arkansas' homecoming game. Tulsa co-offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn should feel right at home. Nov. 8: Clemson at Florida State (TBA)
Will this be the last edition of the Bowden Bowl? If FSU doesn't get things turned around this season, Bobby Bowden might be very close to retirement. Son Tommy has won four of the past five meetings, a sure sign Daddy might need to step down. Nov. 8: Kansas at Nebraska (TBA)
Let's count the reasons why Cornhuskers fans want to beat the Jayhawks. I can think of 76 off the top of my head. (If you weren't paying attention, last year's final score: KU 76, Nebraska 39). Nov. 15: Notre Dame at Navy (Noon ET)
Ken Niumatalolo tries to become only the second Navy coach in 45 years to beat the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame wants to prove it's still good enough to beat teams like Navy. Dec. 6: Arizona State at Arizona (8 p.m. ET)
After being outrecruited by the Sun Devils, Wildcats coach Mike Stoops suggested Arizona State was turning into a junior college. If Arizona keeps playing football like a JC, Stoops will be looking for a job in 2009.
Mark Schlabach covers college football and men's college basketball for ESPN.com. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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2008 College Football Preview
The long wait for the start of the 2008 college football season is finally over. Get ready for the season with an in-depth look at the teams, trends, players and coaches. Index
• Maisel: Let the campaign '08 debate begin
• Bloggers: State of each conference
• Schlabach: Hot and not for 2008
• Maisel: Full speed ahead for offenses
• Maisel: Defending the fast-tempo spread
• Maisel: Nation's fastest teams
• Forde: SEC coaches in a league of their own
• Forde: Johnson stuck as SEC's roadie
• Schlabach: The nation's alpha-male coaches
• Schlabach: Coaches on the hot seat
• Maisel: Road left to travel for black coaches
• Schlabach: Critical mass await Ohio State
• Edwards: Are BCS voter tired of the Buckeyes?
• Edwards: Parity puts BCS at crossroads
• Feldman: Ten best-kept secrets
2008 Preseason All-America team
• Maisel: Preseason All-America team
What to watch
• Eighth annual Herbie Awards
• ESPN's experts' predictions
• Schlabach: Games to watch
• Schlabach: Intriguing games
• Bloggers: Preseason conference predictions
• Bloggers: Games to watch
• Schlabach: Clemson craving title
• Dinich: In the Wake of success
• Dinich: Coast toast for Hokies?
• ACC needs Canes, Noles to win
• Rittenberg: Innovation not new to Big Ten
• Rittenberg: UM QBs adapt to offense
• Schlabach: Pryor's role with Ohio State
• Maisel: Big 12 QBs face burden of proof
• Griffin: Where have the Big 12 runners gone?
• Griffin: Northern exposure
• Feldman: Is Crabtree the best college WR ever?
• Schlabach: Stewart's challenge at West Virginia
• Bennett: Knight moves focused on Teel
• Tulsa building foundation for success
• Pirates sailing toward uncharted waters
• Watson: Are the Irish coming of age?
• Watson: Tenuta's tenacious D
• Maisel: Army exploring its options
• Watson: MAC QBs hope to share the spotlight
• Dinich: Golden touch working at Temple
• Watson: NIU's Kill found new perspective
• Watson: BYU-Utah going national?
• Watson: TCU looks to regroup
• Maisel: Son also rises at UCLA
• Miller: Stable is the USC Way
• Miller: Huskies counting on Locker
• Low: SEC's uncertain QB landscape
• Low: Tebow still learning
• Maisel: Richt knows expectations
• Schlabach: Coach, QB to keep Owls soaring
• Watson: Will tough schedule propel Fresno State?
• Watson: QB battle has Nevada thinking big
• Georgia tops preseason power rankings
• Preseason Bottom 10: Lollapaloozers
• Conference preseason power rankings
• Bloggers: Ranking the coaches | Hot seat
• Predict the college football upsets each week.
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