25. Georgia Southern at Ole Miss, Nov. 21
The last thing any team wants to deal with late in the season in what’s supposed to be a paycheck game is an option offense. Making things extra worse for Ole Miss is the showdown against Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl just five days later.
24. Fresno State at Colorado, Sept. 12
Fresno State was supposed to go through a rebuilding period last year, and that’s exactly what happened in a rough season. However, it pushed both Minnesota and USC in fun games early on. Colorado will be coming off rivalry date at Colorado State and has a trip to Texas A&M to follow.
23. WKU at Indiana, Sept. 12
Indiana starts the season off at Wisconsin and has a date against Ball State in Week 3. Handling the Cardinals shouldn’t be that big a deal, but it’s still an in-state game. WKU hasn’t beaten a Power Five team since it shocked Vanderbilt in the 2015 opener. A few weeks later it lost to Indiana 38-35. This year’s version is going to be terrific.
22. Ohio at Boston College, Sept. 12
BC might need a little while to get up and flying under new head coach Jeff Hafley. It’s only the second time the program has faced Ohio – it lost the first time around back in 1966. It’s been a while since Frank Solich’s Bobcats have been able to take down a Power Five program – Kansas early in 2017 after doing it in 2016 – but this year it catches the Eagles before they have to go to … Kansas.
21. Toledo at Michigan State, Sept. 19
Is the cupboard full for new head coach Mel Tucker? Not really. Michigan State is going to need a little while to get things going, and Toledo is supposed to be the breather. MSU starts out against Northwestern and BYU and has Miami and a trip to Iowa after facing what’s going to be a dangerous Toledo.
20. Air Force at Purdue, Sept. 19
Purdue managed to lose to Nevada last season after turning the ball over a gajillion times, but that was a quirky loss. There wouldn’t be anything stunning if Air Force – who beat Colorado and Washington State last year – pulls this off.
19. Florida Atlantic at Minnesota, Sept. 3
Willie Taggart’s Florida Atlantic team is going to be terrific, but Minnesota is coming off a big season with several of the key parts returning. However, as good as the Gophers were as the season went on, they needed everything in the bag to get past South Dakota State, Fresno State and Georgia Southern over the first three weeks.
18. Colorado at Colorado State, Sept. 5
Two new head coaches are looking to set an early tone in the rivalry. Normally played in Denver, this year it’ll be in Fort Colins with the pressure almost totally off for Steve Addazio’s Rams. This is supposed to be a rebuilding job at CSU – Colorado’s Karl Dorrell needs to quiet the doubters right away.
17. Syracuse at Western Michigan, Sept. 26
Syracuse destroyed WMU 52-33 last year, but this time around it’s in Kalamazoo. The Broncos should have a whole lot of firepower, and they’ll have a few weeks to revamp a few parts in the secondary. SU has Louisville coming up the following week.
16. Nevada at Arkansas, Sept. 5
Last year it was San Jose State from the Mountain West that managed to shock Arkansas. Nevada got past Purdue to kick off last year, and this season it starts things up with a shot at doing something funky to ruin the start of the Sam Pittman era. The Hogs have a whole lot of work to do.