Top College Football Conference Games & Early Predictions
The best and brightest conference games of the 2017 college football season, complete with the early, early, EARLY predictions.
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2017 Top Conference College Football Games: No. 26-50
50. Toledo at Ohio, Nov. 8
It’s the likely MAC Championship preview. The East is once again the lesser of the two divisions, and Ohio should be the star again, while Toledo has the talent to finally break back through and make the MAC its own – if the two actually meet.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Toledo 31, Ohio 23
49. Boise State at Colorado State, Nov. 11
Coming off the dates against Air Force and at Wyoming, Colorado State can all but end the Mountain Division race if they can get hot. The offense should be rolling by this point, but Boise State should be the class of the conference.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Boise State 37, Colorado State 31
48. Iowa at Northwestern, Oct. 21
It’s the start of a nice run of three home games in four weeks for Northwestern, and it’s a must-win. The Cats have to go on the road to deal with Wisconsin and Nebraska – there’s no hope to take the West without a win over the Hawkeyes. Iowa gets a week off to prepare, so …
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Iowa 26, Northwestern 16
47. North Carolina at Virginia Tech, Oct. 21
Miami will have plenty to say in the matter, but the battle of the last two Coastal representatives in the ACC Championship could be for the division title. The Tar Heels deal with the Canes the week after, while the Hokies get a week off to gear up for the massive home game.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Virginia Tech 28, North Carolina 17
46. Oklahoma at Kansas State, Oct. 21
Coming off the huge game against Texas, what kind of shape will Oklahoma be in for what could be a preview of the new Big 12 Championship game. Kansas State might be just good enough to pull this off and make a massive statement in the Big 12 title chase. Over the last few seasons, though, the Sooners have been way too explosive. The Cats are going to grind.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Kansas State 30, Oklahoma 27
45. Western Michigan at Toledo, Nov. 24
Northern Illinois will be in the hunt, too, but this will more than likely be for the MAC West title – and probably the MAC championship. The Broncos pulled off the key win last season, but this time around it’s the regular season finale in Toledo. It’ll be a big month for the Rockets playing NIU, Ohio and Bowling Green, but this is the game they have to win.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Toledo 34, Western Michigan 27
44. Houston at USF, Nov. 4
It might be a preview of the American Athletic championship, but more interestingly, it’s a battle of Texas types in the first Major Applewhite vs. Charlie Strong showdown. It’s Houston’s toughest conference road game of the season, while the Bulls will be in the midst of a great run of four home games in five dates.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: South Florida 37, Houston 30
43. Nebraska at Minnesota, Nov. 11
How good will P.J. Fleck’s team be by mid-November? Coming off of road games at Iowa and Michigan, the Gophers have to pull this off and screw up Nebraska’s season – potentially. The Huskers have to go to Penn State the week after, but when it comes to West division road games, this is the biggest test.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Minnesota 26, Nebraska 24
42. West Virginia at Oklahoma, Nov. 25
It was a wild and crazy shootout last year in Morgantown – with Oklahoma rolling by the Mountaineers to take full control of the Big 12 race. This time around, it’s the regular season finale before the new Big 12 Championship – will it be Round 1? OU will be coming off a layup against Kansas, while WVU will be done with the home finale against Texas.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Oklahoma 48, West Virginia 34
41. Penn State at Iowa, Sept. 23
It’s an interesting Big Ten opener between programs that surprised over the last two seasons. The Nittany Lions will have a tune-up against Georgia State, while Iowa gets North Texas – both should be ready. Can Iowa ruin the season of the defending Big Ten champs before it gets started? The spotlight will be on.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Iowa 27, Penn State 23
40. Wyoming at Boise State, Oct. 21
Can Wyoming really and truly do it again? It stunned Boise State last year in Laramie, but this time around it’ll be a second road game in a row while the Broncos will be coming off a showdown at San Diego State.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Boise State 41, Wyoming 27
39. Louisiana Tech at WKU, Sept. 16
If it wasn’t the best regular season game of last season, it was in the top three. Louisiana Tech held off an insane comeback to win 55-52, but Western Kentucky took the rematch in the Conference USA championship in a fun 58-44 shootout. Both teams have plenty of rebuilding to do, but the fireworks will go off.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Louisiana Tech 48, WKU 45
38. Ohio State at Iowa, Oct. 4
Iowa screwed up Michigan late last season and threw a curveball into the Big Ten and College Football Playoff chases. Can it do the same this time around to the Buckeyes? OSU has to deal with the sandwich factor – going to Iowa City in between dates against Penn State and Michigan State – while Iowa has to follow this up with a trip to Wisconsin. The Buckeye D will dominate.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Ohio State 23, Iowa 13
37. Clemson at NC State, Nov. 4
What would’ve happened it NC State didn’t gag away the overtime loss at Clemson? A missed field goal left the door open, Deshaun Watson kicked it in, and the national title dream was still alive. The Wolfpack get the Tigers in Raleigh this time around, and have to gear it up after going to Notre Dame the week before. It’ll be another battle.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Clemson 24, NC State 17
36. Memphis at Houston, Oct. 19
This might not be the true American Athletic Conference championship game, but it should determine the East. Memphis pitched a gem to beat the Cougars last season, and this time around it’ll be a trip to Houston on a short week. Houston goes to Tulsa the week before, and Memphis has to get over being blocked by Navy – the game is five days later.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Houston 31, Memphis 27
35. Miami at North Carolina, Oct. 28
The Tar Heels pulled off an important 20-13 win over the Canes last season, and this time around the Coastal title might be on the line. Last year, UNC won this after getting rolled by Virginia Tech, and this time around it’ll be coming off a home date against the Hokies. This is the lone road game in a run of six weeks for Miami.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Miami 30, Miami 17
34. USC at Colorado, Nov. 11
It was the true beginning of the rest of USC’s 2016. The Trojans struggled, but they got by Colorado in a 21-17 fight. It also proved though that the Buffs were for real. It’s the final road game of the season for the Trojans, but they don’t get a week off all season and have to deal with UCLA the week after. It’s the home finale for Colorado, but its week off comes right after.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: USC 35, Colorado 13
33. Boise State at San Diego State, Oct. 24
It’s the Mountain West title game many thought would happen over the last few seasons, but it hasn’t happened. It might this time around, but if it doesn’t, this should be fun. The Aztecs should be on a roll if they can beat Air Force a few weeks earlier, while the Broncos might be gassed after going to BYU the week before – and with a more important game against Wyoming right after.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: San Diego State 23, Boise State 20
32. Ohio State at Nebraska, Oct. 14
Nebraska was coming off a tough loss to Wisconsin, but it still had Big Ten title and College Football Playoff hopes still there for the taking. One 62-3 Buckeye win later, and Ohio State was well past the Penn State loss of a few weeks earlier. Unfortunately for the Huskers, they’ll be coming off a showdown against Wisconsin again.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Ohio State 38, Nebraska 20
31. Penn State at Michigan State, Oct, 4
Could Michigan State stop the Penn State run to the Big Ten Championship? It hung around for a little while in Happy Valley – before losing 45-12. It used to be the regular season finale battle, but this year it’s in East Lansing just before Sparty has to go to Ohio State. Penn State? It’ll be coming off dates against Michigan and at Ohio State.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Michigan State 30, Penn State 27
30. LSU at Tennessee, Nov. 18
This should’ve been the SEC Championship last season if they each played up to their talent level, but this year, it’ll be one of the most important battles of the SEC season. The Tigers finish up against Texas A&M the week after, and this closes out a run of three road games in five dates. The Vols have will be coming off a three-road-game-in-four-week run in a likely must-win if they’re in the East hunt.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Tennessee 23, LSU 20
29. Clemson at Virginia Tech, Sept. 30
Which team will reload at the skill spots faster? Clemson will have already have played Auburn and dealt with Louisville on the road, and then the 2016 ACC Championship rematch closes out the brutal September. The Hokies have it a whole lot easier, even with West Virginia to open the year. This is Clemson’s third home game, and Virginia Tech’s conference opener.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Clemson 23, Virginia Tech 21
28. LSU at Florida, Oct. 7
For some reason, the crazy scheduling issue thanks to hurricane problems last season meant the Gators had to eventually play in Death Valley meaning this year’s game got moved to Gainesville. Okay – that messes up LSU. The Tigers would’ve had a wonderful run of four straight home games, but now it starts out the SEC season with four road games in the first five dates. Meanwhile, this really, really helps the Gators, with this a part of five home games in six weeks. That’ll matter.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Florida 20, LSU 16
27. UCLA at USC, Nov. 18
Will this be for the Pac-12 South? Will this be to keep Jim Mora’s job? Will this be a historic quarterback battle between the top two quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft – San Darnold vs. Josh Rosen? While it’s just down the road, it’ll still be the third road game in four weeks for UCLA, and it’ll be the regular season finale for the Trojans. There might be a few storylines.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction:
26. Georgia at Tennessee, Sept. 30
Please, please, please, please, please. One way or another, can we have a finish like last year’s 34-31 Tennessee Hail Mary-winning classic? Lost in that game was how well Georgia QB Jacob Eason played in the final minutes in what looked like Georgia’s possible SEC breakthrough moment. Tennessee will have a week off against UMass to get ready, while Georgia will be coming off of Bulldog on Bulldog action against Mississippi State.
March, Pre-Spring, Knee-Jerk Early Prediction: Tennessee 26, Georgia 23