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Power-Ranking the Top 10 Matchups of the 2024 College Football Regular Season

Clemson vs. Florida State

I've made no secret my disdain for the most recent wave of college sports realignment, which has led to the dissolution of the Pac-12, removed some of the best rivalries in college football, and eroded the tradition that is a cornerstone of what makes the sport so special. But, if there is a silver lining to be had in all of this, it's the fact that we are going to see new rivalries and exciting matchups spring up throughout the country. From Texas and Texas A&M reigniting their rivalry to Oregon and USC facing off with their new Big Ten brethren, it feels like there are going to be more high-profile games than ever before in 2024. With that in mind, it's time to count down the ten games I'm most excited about looking ahead to this fall. These aren't necessarily the games that will have the greatest impact on the National Title race, but hold value for me for numerous reasons. Of course, trying to narrow down this list to ten was quite the challenge, which bodes well for an exciting 2024 season ahead.

10. BYU Cougars @ Utah Utes - November 9

As compared to the others on this list, BYU's trek to Salt Lake City isn't likely to have that large of an impact on the national stage. But, what a treat it will be to get the infamous "Holy War" for the first time as a conference game following Utah's move to the Big 12 - especially considering the rivalry was on a short hiatus, last played in 2021. I'm not sure most people understand just how much these two schools, and programs, absolutely despise each other and now that there is more at stake than simply bragging rights, I have a suspicion that animosity will be taken up a notch. I also love the fact that this game will be played in November at altitude, and I hope it will be a late night affair. Seeing these two square off in what will be a chilly, hard-fought duel under the lights is going to give off serious "Pac-12 After Dark" energy, which will be bittersweet as we move forward without the wackiest conference in the sport this season.

9. Ole Miss Rebels @ LSU Tigers - October 12

With Texas and Oklahoma joining, you could go down the list and choose just about any SEC league game and call these rankings good. But, in the grand scheme of things I think Ole Miss traveling to Baton Rouge in mid-October is being a bit overlooked. Lane Kiffin is hoping he has the ingredients in place to make a run at the program's first ever Playoff appearance and with the expanded field, it's certainly not out of the question. The Rebels may have lost Quinshon Judkins, but return every other big name offensively and were major winners in the portal. On the flip side, LSU may be without the reigning Heisman winner, but still have a roster that can keep them firmly in the National Title mix and after Brian Kelly shuffled the defensive staff this offseason, I'm curious to see how they look. Don't be surprised if both teams are undefeated entering this one, although LSU will have to deal with a tricky non-conference that interestingly enough features both Los Angeles schools.

8. Clemson Tigers @ Florida State Seminoles - October 5

Unless a team like NC State finds a way to make the jump or Miami finally puts it together, there's no question the ACC will be essentially decided in early October when Clemson visits Florida State. The Seminoles defeated the Tigers in a fun one last season, the first sign the 'Noles were ready to truly challenge for the College Football Playoff, but expect Clemson to be back with a vengeance. For all the bad press he's deservedly taken over the offseason, Dabo Swinney has a quarterback on the rise, ample offensive weapons, and a defense with a full collection of NFL talent. Add in the fact that Florida State's new quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei will be facing off against his former program, there's plenty of fun storylines to follow in this one. The largest, however, is a bit of an awkward one - the reality that this won't be an ACC matchup for much longer, with both programs almost sure to move on within the next several years. 

7. Texas Longhorns @ Michigan Wolverines - September 7 

The 2023 season was really lacking in major early season non-conference games but boy, 2024 is looking like it will deliver. One of the more intriguing will come in Week Two, with Texas set to travel to the Big House to meet up with the defending National Champions in the FOX "Big Noon" game. It's a huge game for both programs, albeit for different reasons. On the Texas side, they are hoping to prove the 2023 breakthrough was no fluke, but will have to make their way through a schedule that includes this one on top of a full SEC schedule. For the Wolverines, they watched Jim Harbaugh and numerous other staffers move on, as well as J.J. McCarthy, Blake Corum, and several impact defenders. This will be an opportunity for first-year head man Sherrone Moore to prove his coaching chops early against one of the most notable brands in collegiate athletics.

6. Georgia Bulldogs @ Alabama Crimson Tide - September 28

With the erasure of divisions in the SEC, Georgia and Alabama will be seeing each other more than just conference championship games, a win for everyone who enjoys high-level college football. Of course, the rivalry will now have a different feel with Nick Saban moving on and now longer regularly squaring off with his former protege Kirby Smart. But, Kalen DeBoer arriving to take over the Crimson Tide could end up being a jolt of life for this rivalry series. The offensive mastermind is almost sure to have some of the most exciting and fun offenses in college football with all the talent at his disposal in Tuscaloosa, which should set up intriguing clashes with Smart's stalwart defenses. Add in the fact Georgia is looking for revenge after Alabama knocked them out of the Playoff race last fall, this game checks a lot of boxes for the entertainment factor.

5. Clemson Tigers vs. Georgia Bulldogs - August 31

It's a special treat to get a meaningful non-conference game on the calendar in August, one with potential National Title ramifications. Clemson and Georgia will reignite their rivalry at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in what will be a neutral site matchup. It will mark the sixth time these two schools have met since the turn of the millennium, with the Bulldogs getting the better of the Tigers four of the last five. That could be an extra bit of motivation for Dabo and the Tigers, who managed just three points in a frustrating defeat to UGA to kick off 2021. Something tells me more points will be scored this time, and the chess match in the trenches is going to be one heck of a watch. But, I'm even more excited about a really underrated quarterback battle, with Carson Beck looking to build an early Heisman case and Cade Klubnik hoping to keep things going after finishing last year strong.

4. Michigan Wolverines @ Ohio State Buckeyes - November 30

How could I complete this list without a mention of "The Game?" The preeminent rivalry in college football always seems to deliver and this year will be fascinating. Michigan has been dominant over the last three seasons and now have put on the pressure on Ryan Day, who enters 2024 hoping to prove himself. On paper, the Buckeyes have a better roster with what they brought back and added over the offseason, at least until we get more definitive answers at several spots for the Wolverines. But, there's a reason these games aren't played on paper. Michigan has every chance to pull out a win in this one, even as they travel to Columbus. With so much changing in the Big Ten this fall, I have a feeling this game will bring us back to our roots a bit in the conference and remind us a bit of the tradition that separates this sport from everything else.

3. Texas Longhorns @ Texas A&M Aggies - November 30

It's back! After being on hiatus for over a decade, Texas and Texas A&M are set to collide again as conference foes in the new-look SEC. It always felt weird not to have these two meeting up year after year and considering their shared history through the Southwest Conference and Big 12, having these will be a conference game feels especially right. You better believe the Longhorns are in for a brutal awakening as they travel to Kyle Field and deal with an A&M faithful that is going to be on their "A" game for this late November duel. There's never been love lost between these two, but that feeling has to be turned up for Aggie fans, who left the Big 12 to get away from under the banner of the Longhorns and will now have to deal with them regularly in the SEC.

2. Ohio State Buckeyes @ Oregon Ducks - October 12

We've had the privilege of watching Oregon and Ohio State square off twice in the past decade, once with a National Title on the line and another back in 2021. But with Oregon's move to the Big Ten, it's now a league game between these two, pitting the traditional Midwest power against the flash from the West Coast. That storyline alone is worthy of making this a must-watch, but this game feels particularly important in 2024 with both teams on the cusp of something potentially special, with each program looking to have their true "breakthrough" moments. For Oregon, they've had two successful campaigns under Dan Lanning, but are looking to return to the College Football Playoff for the first time in a decade, even as they enter unchartered territory in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have been a Playoff regular, but haven't quite been able to stick the landing when they've gotten there, and are searching for their first National Title in a decade. Different goals, perhaps, but with both entering the season looking for 2024 to be the year they achieve something significant, this one needs to be circled on the calendar.

1. Georgia Bulldogs @ Texas Longhorns - October 19

Fresh off a College Football Playoff appearance and making the jump to the SEC, just about every game on the Longhorn schedule feels extra important in 2024, but they don't get much bigger than welcoming Georgia to town in mid-October. Although Alabama is the defending conference champion, it feels like these two are the teams to beat in the SEC entering the fall, and both are looking at this game as one that can deliver the momentum they need for a huge second half of the season. Amazingly enough, it's only going to be the sixth in the history of both of these storied programs that they will be meeting, and the first time from the Longhorns to face Georgia since the late 1950s. I have a feeling the 2024 edition is certainly going to live up to the hype.

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