August 27, 2008
10 can't-miss games
By Tony Barnhart
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Here are 10 games that will decide the national title:

1. Ohio State at Southern Cal, Sept. 13

Both teams will be in the top five of everybody's polls, and it is a pretty good bet that the winner will be No. 1 on Sept. 14. The winner also will have a (relatively) clear path to the BCS Championship game.

2. Georgia vs. Florida, Nov. 1

There have been a lot of big games played between these two old rivals. But if a few things fall into place, this one will have huge national championship implications.

3. Auburn at West Virginia, Oct. 23

Spread offense vs. spread offense. Both of these teams could still be in the national championship hunt when they meet in Morgantown on a Thursday night.

4. Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 11 (in Dallas)

Oklahoma should be ranked no worse than No. 4 when it arrives in Big D for the annual Red River Shootout. After games against Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Washington, TCU and Baylor, this will be Oklahoma's first big test.

5. Georgia at Arizona State, Sept. 20

Some feel that Arizona State, with senior quarterback Rudy Carpenter, is the second-best team in the Pac-10. The Sun Devils are still looking for a signature win under coach Dennis Erickson. Beating Georgia would fit the bill.

6. LSU at Florida, Oct. 11

If the Gators win at Tennessee on Sept. 20, they probably will be 5-0 when the defending national champs come to The Swamp. If LSU loses at Auburn on Sept. 20, Les Miles' gang could be facing an elimination game for the national title.

7. Ohio State at Illinois, Nov. 15

If the Buckeyes win at USC on Sept. 13, there are still two huge Big Ten road games where they could stumble. At Wisconsin on Oct. 4 looks dangerous. But a year ago Illinois handed the Buckeyes their only regular-season loss.

8. Alabama vs. Clemson, Aug. 30 (in Atlanta)

Clemson fans believe this is the year when the Tigers again will contend for the national championship. But if they lose to Alabama in the opener at the Georgia Dome, that dream is over. Done. This is a huge game for Tommy Bowden and the Tigers.

9. Texas Tech at Oklahoma, Nov. 22

The Sooners could be 10-0 when the Red Raiders arrive in Norman. The Red Raiders have beaten Oklahoma two of the past three years. Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree and the boys could put the Boomer Sooners' title hopes in the ditch.

10. Arizona State at Southern Cal, Oct. 11

If the Trojans beat Ohio State on Sept. 13, this is probably the last game that USC could lose. The Trojans will have hosted Oregon the week before. The Sun Devils will have been at Cal the week before.