The 2021 college football season concluded with Georgia’s 33-18 victory over Alabama in the CFP championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
So who is ready for 2022?
A look at the best non-conference matchups for September for 2022 should add to that offseason hype. Sporting News continues its tradition of choosing the top 10 games in the first month. In that sense, 2021 did not disappoint.
The theme for next year? New coaches. A total of six schools on this list have a new coach who will try to make a good first impression. That includes Marcus Freeman from Notre Dame, Brian Kelly from LSU and Mario Cristobal from Miami.
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September will provide those opportunities. This list features home-and-home series and blockbusters from neutral sites. With that in mind, the 10 best September games we can’t wait:
The best non-conference matchups of September 2021
1. Notre Dame in the state of Ohio (September 3)
Former Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman will train in his first regular-season game at Notre Dame at his alma mater. This is a guaranteed top 10, maybe top five, between two major shows. Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud will be among the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy, but Notre Dame returns enough offensive talent to make this interesting. The Buckeyes have won the last four meetings, and this is the first home and home series since 1994-95. It’s worth the wait.
2. Oregon vs. Georgia (September 3) in Atlanta
Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning has left to fill the Oregon spot, and his first game is against the Bulldogs in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game. Lanning has also assembled a great coaching staff. This is the largest out of conference game for the Pac-12, and it is also a virtual home game for Georgia.
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3. Alabama in Texas (September 10)
This is a great showdown from Week 2. Schools haven’t met since the 2010 BCS championship; Nick Saban’s first national title in Alabama. What will Texas look like if five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers is the starter? Bijan Robinsion is back too. Can former Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian stay close? Alabama will be preseason No. 1 in most polls. Mark this showdown for prime time.
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4. Florida State vs. LSU (September 4) in New Orleans
Both teams had losing records in 2021, so the pressure to get a win here will be immense. Brian Kelly will make his debut for LSU in New Orleans, and the Tigers should regain enough talent to be in the top 15 to start the season. Florida State has improved on Mike Norvell, but they are 0-6 in September the past two seasons.
5. Penn State at Auburn (September 17)
There were some questionable calls in last year’s Big Ten-SEC showdown at Beaver Stadium, which Penn State won 28-20. Quarterback Sean Clifford returns for a sixth season for the Nittany Lions, which he extended to James Franklin. The Tigers are in place after a 6-7 season in Year 1 under Bryan Harsin, and the quarterback will be the main topic of conversation this offseason. Will this be a prime-time start at Jordan-Hare Stadium?
6. Oklahoma at Nebraska (September 17)
Oklahoma beat Nebraska 23-16 in 2021 in a hotly contested showdown at Norman. Who faces the most pressure in the rematch, the first OU-NU battle at Lincoln since 2009? Scott Frost and the Huskers have endured consecutive three-win seasons, but the Huskers were incredibly competitive for a 3-9 team in 2021. Oklahoma is entering a new chapter with freshman coach Brent Venables and is still preparing for it. step to the SEC. Wait for another one nearby.
7. Utah in Florida (September 3)
Utah won the Pac-12 championship and lost an exciting Rose Bowl this season, and Kyle Whittingham continues to methodically build the program. Florida is hitting the reset button with coach Billy Napier, and this is anything but one opponent at The Swamp. Utah has a better record in the CFP era.
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8. Tennessee at Pitt (September 10)
Pitt beat Tennessee 41-34 with the help of a 27-point second quarter in Game 1 of a series at home and at home. The Panthers used that as a springboard to an ACC championship. USC transfer Kedon Slovis could be the starter against the Vols, who will be looking to build on a promising first year under coach Josh Heupel.
9. Miami at Texas A&M (September 17)
New coach Mario Cristobal will have set-ups against Bethune-Cookman and Southern Miss before this tour, which will be an excellent barometer for the Hurricanes. The Aggies have developed excellent draft classes under Jimbo Fisher, but now the pressure is on winning an SEC championship. These teams haven’t met since 2008.
10. Cincinnati at Arkansas (September 3)
Cincinnati came to the CFP with the help of a road win at Notre Dame in 2021. Next season’s big game is a trip to Fayetteville, where the Razorbacks are coming off a great 9-4 season. The Bearcats are 6-36-1 all-time against SEC schools, and half of those wins are against Kentucky. If UC wants to stay in the playoff conversation, then a win here is necessary.
State of Arizona in the state of Oklahoma (September 10)
Baylor at BYU (September 10)
Michigan State in Washington (September 17)
Notre Dame in North Carolina (September 24)
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.