15. Pitt at Marshall, Sept. 12
Pitt has a way of playing up or down to the competition under Pat Narduzzi. Oh sure, it was able to beat Eastern Michigan, UCF, and Ohio last year, but throw a 17-14 win over Delaware into the mix and there were problems against the teams outside of the Power Five. Marshall welcomes the ACC team into its house.
14. Central Michigan at Northwestern, Sept. 19
1) Are we really sure Northwestern is just going to bounce back from the 2019 disaster? 2) It’s Northwestern vs. a MAC team. It’s 2-3 in its last five games against the conference. 3) Central Michigan got to the MAC Championship last year and should be solid. 4) It’s the game before Northwestern has to go to Penn State.
13. TCU at SMU, Sept. 26
The Mustangs pulled it off last year, and now they get TCU at home. It’s not like it’s a huge road trip for the Big 12er, but after not being able to handle the SMU offense last year in a 41-38 shootout, this is a focus game with the conference season opening up against Oklahoma State the following week.
12. Hawaii at Arizona, Aug. 29
It might have been the best game of 2019, with Arizona’s Khalil Tate coming up a half a yard short of a last-second touchdown in the 45-38 loss. This time Kevin Sumlin and the Wildcats get the Rainbow Warriors in Tucson, but new UH head coach Todd Graham has a decent team to play around with.
11. Northern Illinois at Maryland, Sept. 12
NIU has a habit of being a pain in the butt for the Power Fivers. It battled Vanderbilt last season, gave Utah problems in 2018, beat Nebraska in 2017 and pushed Ohio State hard in 2015. After the way last year went, Maryland has a whole lot to prove early on.
10. Memphis at Purdue, Sept. 12
This wouldn’t even be an upset. It’s a new regime at Memphis, but Purdue still isn’t going to have much of a defense after getting rocked throughout last year. It’ll be a shootout with the both teams likely to trade haymakers.
9. UCLA at San Diego State, Sept. 19
Okay Brady Hoke, can you prove you can keep San Diego State rolling? Under former head coach Rocky Long the Aztecs beat UCLA 23-14 last season. Chip Kelly’s Bruins will have a week off to prepare, but it’s a road game before starting out the Pac-12 season against Stanford.
8. Tulane at Northwestern, Sept. 12
As bad as last year was for Northwestern, it was able to avoid the bad loss to UNLV and UMass. However, beating the Group of Fivers isn’t always a given for the program, and this year – after facing Michigan State on the road – it gets a dangerous Tulane team that gets back a loaded team that should at least go bowling again.
7. UCLA at Hawaii, Sept. 5
Where do you go for fun if you live in LA and go to school in Westwood? Hawaii, but UCLA will have already tuned up against New Mexico State and don’t play at home until the end of September. Hawaii was able to beat Arizona and Oregon State to start out the year 2-0 at home against two Pac-12 teams. All the pressure will be on the Bruin side.
6. UCF at Georgia Tech, Sept. 19
This isn’t higher on the list only because it’s not going to be any sort of an upset. UCF will likely be at least a touchdown favorite against a Yellow Jacket team that will already have faced Clemson and gets North Carolina and Virginia Tech next.