Preseason 2005: The Games of November
As has been stated so many times before, there is no way to be 100% sure how good these games are going to be in November when we haven't seen the teams take the field for the first time in September yet. However, we can make educated guesses. And those are always fun.
1. Miami at Virginia Tech (November 5)- The Hokies and the Hurricanes are probably the two best teams in the ACC and both could get to the Rose Bowl with a little bit of luck. The Hokies have knocked off the 'Canes the last two years, and now Miami would like nothing more to exact a little revenge on Mr. Vick and Company. This ought to be a thrilling game that comes down to the final moments.
2. Ohio State at Michigan (November 19)- Simply put, the rivalry that I find to be the best in the game (Auburn-Alabama and Army-Navy come this close) could have huge ramifications this year. Both have to play Iowa, and Notre Dame battles Michigan while Texas faces Ohio State. But if both enter this game with one or fewer losses, this game will take on an ever bigger feel. Ohio State struggled to beat Michigan for years, even when favored. Under Jim Tressel, Ohio State has turned that on its head, going 3-1 against Michigan, including two games where they were big underdogs. Amazing. This could be a special game.
3. LSU at Alabama (November 12)- The Tigers and the Tide are probably the two best teams in the SEC West. If you want to find a game that LSU may not be the favorite in, this is probably it. Admittedly, Florida and Tennessee will have already battled both of these teams, but this game is the game that should be circled on the schedule for these clubs. The winner will probably get a shot at the SEC title.
4. Texas A&M at Oklahoma (November 12)- The Aggies nearly stunned the Sooners last year in College Station. Can they do it this year in Norman? It seems unlikely, but this could be an undefeated Texas A&M team since their three toughest games don't happen until November. This is the second of the three games with a visit to Texas Tech coming the week before. A win here and people may start talking about Texas A&M for the national title in a very serious voice. This one ought to be a blast.
5. USC at California (November 5)- Yes, yes. We all know that Cal has had a lot of success in Berkeley against USC. We also know that Cal should have beaten USC last year based on how the game felt and the way the stats looked at the end of the game. But this Cal team is different. They lost a lot, but there is a sense that they could have gotten everyone a ton of experience by this point and have put them in position to upset the mighty Trojans. This is popularly considered USC's toughest game. This game could wind up being a very close game.
6. Texas at Texas A&M (November 25)- This in-state rivalry on the Friday after Thanksgiving is about as much fun as they come. There is a chance that both teams could come in unbeaten and playing for a shot at the national title. These two teams are both talented, and watching Vince Young vs. Reggie McNeal should be one of those special treats that come along only every so often in a lifetime. This has potential to become the most memorable game of the 2005 season if everything plays out just right.
7. Oklahoma at Texas Tech (November 19)- All of these Big Twelve South games are starting to make my head spin. Throw in that Texas A&M visits Texas Tech on November 5 and Texas hosts Texas Tech on October 22, and it seems like the season doesn't even really start for the Big Twelve South until the second half of the season. The Sooners and the Red Raiders are going to put on a show, and if Texas Tech is ever going to make the "big leap" in the Big Twelve South pecking order, they need to find a way to beat Oklahoma on November 19.
8. Tennessee at Notre Dame (November 5)- After losing to the Irish a year ago, the Vols would desperately like some payback. The Vols could be coming in looking for a possible shot at the Rose Bowl, while Notre Dame could be looking to find someone to play spoiler with. The Irish are going to be good and probably are going to upset someone along the way, and it wouldn't shock very many people if thet team was the Vols.
9. Alabama at Auburn (November 19)- The Iron Bowl is a great rivalry, but neither team is highly ranked heading into the season. If either team is doing really well, then this game clearly will take a leap up the pole of important games. This one ought to be a TON of fun. It always is. Look for this one to be close or to end in an upset. That's the way it always seems to happen.
10. Florida State at Florida (November 26)- These two teams do not like each other too much. The rivalry runs deep. The Gators are hoping for big things this season, while Florida State is hoping that they can have a nice season in place by this point. This game is always entertaining, and Urban Meyer's first experience of this rivalry could be memorable. We strongly recommend catching it in between post-Thanksgiving naps.