Ten best non-conference games this season

The Gators return to Tallahassee this year, the site of one of Florida coach Will Muschamp's signature wins. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston (5) and the defending national champion Seminoles plan to make it back-to-back wins over the underdog Gators.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer/FILE
Published: Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 6:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, July 7, 2014 at 9:33 p.m.

While the 2014 college football schedule is littered with the typical marshmallow matchups that you wouldn't watch if they were played in your backyard, there are some gems to get ready for as the season approaches. Of course, one never knows how the seasons of these teams will transpire, but in the preseason we can still salivate. The Top 10 non-conference games for 2014:

1. Michigan State at Oregon, Sept. 6.

This would be a national championship elimination game if the playoffs weren't upon us. The winner will put itself in position to be in those playoffs while the loser will have to battle back. It's a classic defense vs. offense battle.

2. Clemson at Georgia, Aug. 30.

Right out of the box, we'll find out a lot about two teams trying to break in new quarterbacks. Last year's game was a classic and we might not get the same firepower, but it should be a great indicator.

3. LSU-Wisconsin (Houston), Aug. 30.

LSU makes a habit of opening with a toughie and any time you have an SEC-Big 10 battle there is a lot on the line. This will be — in a word — physical.

4. Stanford at Notre Dame, Oct. 4.

Is Notre Dame back? We'll know a lot more after this one. Two excellent quarterbacks — Stanford's Kevin Hogan and Notre Dame's Everett Golson — will be in the spotlight.

5. Notre Dame at FSU, Oct. 18.

The Irish are kind of an ACC team, but not really, so we're counting this as a non-conference game.

6. South Carolina at Clemson, Nov. 29.

Nothing better than two teams and two coaches who don't like each other.

7. Notre Dame at Southern Cal, Nov. 29.

This could be a huge game, but even if it's not the history is so thick it's must-watch TV.

8. UCLA-Texas (Arlington), Sept. 13.

OK, Charlie Strong, let's see what ya got. Jerry World is the perfect setting for a game like this.

9. FSU-Oklahoma State (Arlington), Aug. 30.

The Cowboys can go from under-the-radar in 2014 to national contenders if they can beat the defending national champs.

10. Florida at FSU, Nov. 29.

The last time these two teams played in Tallahassee, it was a signature win for Will Muschamp.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at dooleyp@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.

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