2019 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
2019 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON SCHEDULE
With another season and another Alabama title in the books, it’s time to shift the focus from that epic title
game to the epic games to come.
It’s impossible to accurately predict which games will be most impactful a whole year in advance, because way
too much can happen between now and the fall of 2018. Heck, it’s often not clear which games mean the most until
weeks after the game itself.
Take last year’s Week 1 matchup between Alabama and Florida State. The Tide and Seminoles came to Atlanta ranked
No. 1 and No. 3, respectively, and pundits debated whether this was the best opening weekend matchup in college
football history. The game itself was a dud: Alabama won 24–7 in nondescript fashion, and Florida State quarterback
Deondre Francois suffered a season-ending leg injury late in the fourth quarter. Fast forward three months, and
Florida State needed a win over Louisiana-Monroe to become bowl eligible one day after coach Jimbo Fisher bolted
for Texas A&M. What was supposed to be Alabama’s signature win lost all its thunder as FSU’s 2017 unraveled
completely by mid-October.
On the flip side, matchups are sometimes way, way better and more important than they appear at the time. When
UCF and Memphis faced off in late September, not much attention was paid to a game between two unranked AAC teams.
UCF, of course, is now claiming a national championship, while Memphis finished the season in the Top 25, with two
regular season losses to UCF and a Liberty Bowl loss to Iowa State.
The point of all this is that things change in a hurry in the world of college football. Still, there’s no harm
in letting the eyes wander to next year’s schedule to try to pinpoint the best games. Some of these will indeed
turn out to be everything we expect and more, while some will be rendered virtually meaningless, whether we know it
at the time or not.
Next year’s slate of games features the usual bevy of impactful in-conference gems, but there are some marquee
matchups between big-names sprinkled throughout the season that have us hyped. (And the ACC has not released its
conference schedule yet, so expect more key games to fill in the gaps within the lighter weeks on this list.)
Without further ado:
Week 1: Michigan at Notre Dame
Jim Harbaugh’s seat isn’t warm, but it certainly is not as cool as he’d like it to be. There’s a growing sense
of dissatisfaction in Ann Arbor as Harbaugh’s first three teams have struggled to pick up signature wins. Harbaugh
gets a chance right off the bat to quiet some of his naysayers with a win over an iconic program like Notre Dame, a
proposition that becomes much more likely if Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson is indeed ruled eligible to play
quarterback in 2018. Notre Dame finished the ’17 season with a hard-fought 21–17 victory over LSU in the Citrus
Bowl but will have to replace stud running back Josh Adams, who decided to forego his senior season and enter the
Honorable mention: Auburn vs. Washington—A season-opening clash at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta should tell
us a lot about both teams. Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma—Lane Kiffin gets a shot at the big boys. Virginia Tech at
Florida State—Willie Taggart’s opener in Tallahassee comes on Labor Day. LSU at Miami—Is Miami here to stay? An
early test against a upper-tier SEC foe is a good way to find out. Alabama at Louisville—This one would have been a
lot more fun with Lamar Jackson.
Week 2: Clemson at Texas A&M
Jimbo Fisher doesn’t have to wait long for his first serious test as Texas A&M’s head coach. Kyle Field will
be rocking when the new-look Aggies host Clemson, who should be loaded once again and return starting quarterback
Kelly Bryant. This game presents an opportunity for Fisher to start off his tenure with a momentum-building victory
over a team that’s certain to enter the season ranked in the top three.
Honorable mention: UCLA at Oklahoma—Chip Kelly’s first big test with the Bruins. Colorado at Nebraska—One of the
old Big 12’s best rivalries is rekindled, with Scott Frost leading the Cornhuskers. Michigan State at Arizona
State—An early look at how Herm Edwards’s Sun Devils measure up to a Top 25 team.
Week 3: TCU vs. Ohio State (at AT&T Stadium)
After a Week 2 loss to Oklahoma at home last season, Ohio State will be looking for a measure of September
revenge against the Big 12. That opportunity awaits in Arlington as both the Buckeyes and Horned Frogs break in new
quarterbacks. For TCU, it’ll almost certainly be Shawn Robinson, a dual-threat who was the 2016-17 Gatorade Texas
Player of the Year. Ohio State’s situation is a little less clear, as Urban Meyer has a few candidates to guide his
team through life after J.T. Barrett. The favorite to start for the Buckeyes is Dwayne Haskins, who filled in for
an injured Barrett against Michigan, but keep an eye on Tate Martell, a mercurial playmaker who has drawn
comparisons to Johnny Manziel.
Honorable mention: USC at Texas—Last year’s double-overtime thriller at the Coliseum was almost as epic as that
national championship game in 2006 without any of the stakes. Boise State at Oklahoma State—Hey Broncos, want some
respect? A win in Stillwater should do it. Colorado State at Florida—This game was part of the package Florida gave
to Colorado State in exchange for Jim McElwain’s services, but McElwain didn’t last long enough to coach in it.
Week 4: Florida Atlantic at UCF
This is as enticing as a non-Power 5 matchup gets. On one side there’s Lane Kiffin, everyone’s favorite
least-favorite coach, and an FAU team that finished ninth in total offense en route to an 11–3 season. This year’s
Owls could be even better, as Devin Singletary (1,920 rushing yards, 33 total TDs) is back and Kiffin welcomes the
first class of players he recruited to #thefaU. Then there’s UCF, the sort-of defending national champions, who
will be looking to prove that their relevance isn’t tied to former head coach Scott Frost. Star quarterback
McKenzie Milton returns to power the Knights’ offense, and he should be one of the top passers in the country under
the direction of first-year head coach Josh Heupel, who was lured to Orlando after serving as Missouri’s offensive
coordinator for two seasons. The points should flow freely.
Honorable mention: Texas A&M at Alabama—Fisher vs. Saban will dominate the midweek headlines. Florida at
Tennessee—Another SEC battle, this one between two new coaches in the East in Dan Mullen and Jeremy Pruitt. TCU at
Texas—Can Tom Herman’s Longhorns make some headway in the quest to reestablish their place as the state’s premier
Week 5: Ohio State at Penn State
The last two matchups between these Big Ten powers have been classics. Back in October, the Buckeyes came back
from a 35–20 deficit to eke out a 39–38 victory that kept their playoff hopes alive and crushed Penn State’s. In
2016, the then-unranked Nittany Lions returned a blocked field goal 60 yards in the fourth quarter for a
game-winning touchdown on their way to an unlikely Big Ten title. There are few better venues for a huge game than
State College, and you can be certain that 100,000-plus dressed in all-white will be packed into Beaver Stadium.
This will also be the first real challenge for Penn State’s offense in the post-Saquon Barkley era.
Honorable mention: Tennessee at Georgia—The Bulldogs are very familiar with Pruitt from his short stay in
Athens. Stanford at Notre Dame—This is around the time of year the Cardinal typically round into form. Florida at
Mississippi State—Mullen’s return to Starkville should be an emotional measuring stick game for both teams.
Week 6: Texas vs. Oklahoma (at the Cotton Bowl)
Tom Herman’s second season at Texas should be marked by the growing influence of players he brought to Austin
have on the on-field product. That’s great news for Texas, because Herman’s first recruiting class was a consensus
top-five haul, and this year’s could land in the top three. This game will also feature two of the country’s best
young quarterbacks in Texas’s Sam Ehlinger and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, the five-star transfer from Texas A&M
who faces the unenviable task of replacing Baker Mayfield. Herman’s presence should breathe new life into the Red
River Rivalry for years to come.
Honorable mentions: Florida State at Miami—The Canes capitalized on a down year for FSU and ended a seven-game
losing streak in this rivalry last season. Nebraska at Wisconsin—Could this be the first of many Big Ten West title
bouts between these two programs in the years ahead? Notre Dame at Virginia Tech—Keep an eye on the Hokies as a
potential ACC sleeper this year.
Week 7: Georgia at LSU
This will be the first matchup between these SEC elites since 2013, and it should be a doozy. The Bulldogs will
enter the season as one of the nation’s top teams, fresh off an appearance in the national championship game. Sure,
they will miss the graduating running back tandem of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, and yes, they’ll also lose their
leading receiver (Javon Wims) and best defensive player (Roquan Smith), but they get quarterback Jake Fromm back
and welcome the best recruiting class in the country to campus. This offseason has been notable for the LSU
coordinator positions, but for different reasons— defensive coordinator Dave Aranda signed a new deal that will
make him the highest-paid assistant in the country ($2.5 million annual salary), while former offensive coordinator
Matt Canada was replaced by tight ends coach Steve Ensminger. The Tigers’ defense has been championship-quality for
years, and if Ensminger can revitalize a sleepy offensive attack, LSU could challenge for the SEC title.
Honorable mentions: Michigan State at Penn State—Michigan State won a seven-hour marathon in East Lansing last
season, otherwise Penn State could well have made the playoff. Wisconsin at Michigan—Another huge test for the
Wolverines, who have one of the toughest schedules in the country.
Week 8: Michigan at Michigan State
Harbaugh will be under mountains of pressure to get a win over a rival, as his teams are a combined 1–5 against
Michigan State and Ohio State. The Spartans return 10 starters on offense, including Brian Lewerke, who could
become the next in a long line of NFL quarterbacks from Michigan State, and leading rusher L.J. Scott. They also
get nine starters back on defense. The 2017 bowl selection process added another level of tension to this game:
Spartans fans fumed when Michigan was selected for the Outback Bowl over Michigan State despite the fact that
Michigan State had a better regular season record and beat Michigan. State will be out to reassert their
Honorable mentions: Alabama at Tennessee—Saban vs. his defensive coordinator from 2017. Oklahoma at TCU—The
Sooners beat TCU twice last season, so the Horned Frogs will be set on revenge.
Week 9: Clemson at Florida State
These two programs have had a stranglehold on the ACC for the last seven seasons, a span in which the winner of
this matchup has won the conference crown every year. Clemson won the ACC title in 2011 before Florida State
reigned supreme for three consecutive years. Clemson has retaken control, with three consecutive league titles.
Meanwhile, the Seminoles had about as disappointing a year as possible in 2017 and enter a new era with Willie
Taggart at the helm. The Tigers get their entire ultra-talented defensive line back and already have commitments
from two five-star D-line prospects from the class of 2018.
Honorable mentions: Texas at Oklahoma State—Texas held an explosive Oklahoma State offense to just 13 points in
an eventual 13-10 overtime loss last season. Florida at Georgia—The 2017 game was the death knell for the Jim
McElwain era in Gainesville. Can Mullen change the conversation? Wisconsin at Northwestern—These were the top two
teams from the Big Ten West last year, though Northwestern will be without quarterback Clayton Thorson. Iowa at
Penn State—The Hawkeyes spoiled Ohio State’s playoff hopes last season. Can they ruin Penn State’s in 2018?
Week 10: Stanford at Washington
Stanford got a big boost with Bryce Love returning for his senior year, and coach David Shaw finds a way to keep
his team near the top of the Pac-12 every season. Quarterback K.J. Costello played pretty well when he took over
the starting job midway through the season, and he should improve with another year of development. Jake Browning
should be one of the nation’s most productive passers in his senior season, but we’ll know a lot more about
Washington as a whole after that season opener against Auburn in Atlanta. No matter what happens in Week 1, this
game could be a de facto Pac-12 North championship game.
Honorable mentions: Texas A&M at Auburn—The Aggies have to deal with both Bama and Auburn on the road.
Alabama at LSU—Can the Tigers end a seven-game losing streak to the Tide? Penn State at Michigan—The Big Ten East
is the gift that keeps on giving.
Week 11: Wisconsin at Penn State
Wisconsin doesn’t draw the same national attention as some of its Big Ten foes, but the Badgers will once again
be the heavy favorite to win the West. Jonathan Taylor rushed for a mind-boggling 1,977 yards as an 18-year-old
freshman, and lefty quarterback Alex Hornibrook also returns. But the Badgers might once again have to go
undefeated to get into the playoff, as their non-conference schedule (home games against Western Kentucky, New
Mexico and BYU) is about as weak as you’ll see from a big-time program with national title aspirations. That makes
every game of the utmost importance, and this trip to Happy Valley might carry the most risk and the most
Honorable mentions: Auburn at Georgia—A rematch of last year’s SEC title game. Florida State at Notre Dame—These
last time these two golden helmet–wearers met, in 2014, both teams were ranked in the top five, and Jameis Winston
guided the Seminoles to a 31-27 victory. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma—Bedlam, minus Mayfield and Rudolph. Ohio State
at Michigan State—Ohio State won this matchup by 45 in 2017, but something tells me that won’t happen in East
Week 12: USC at UCLA
Will Chip Kelly’s presence tip the scales in a rivalry that’s been rather one-sided in recent years? USC has won
the last three meetings and 15 of the last 19, but Sam Darnold’s departure leaves a little uncertainty about how
good the 2018 team will be. UCLA coaches often talk about wanting to “rule the city,” and there’s no better way to
do that than to beat USC. Kelly will need some time to implement his system and get his players to Westwood, but a
win here would jump-start the rebuilding process.
Honorable mentions: West Virginia at Oklahoma State—West Virginia should be much improved in 2018, the final
go-around for Will Grier and David Sills V. Michigan State at Nebraska—The importance of this game largely depends
on how good Frost’s team will be.
Week 13: Auburn at Alabama
It’s always tough to identify the best game from rivalry weekend, which is always filled with classics like Ohio
State–Michigan, South Carolina–Clemson and Florida–Florida State. But the Iron Bowl is electric every single year,
and 2018 will be no different, with both teams projecting to be among the country’s best. Whether it’s
quarterbacked by Jalen Hurts or title game hero Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama loses a ton of offensive talent to the
draft. Meanwhile, Auburn loses its top rushers from 2017 but keeps quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Both offenses
should reload without issue. The winner of this game will probably represent the West in the SEC title game, and
the Tide’s national title won’t curb their desire for revenge after Auburn handled them 26–14 last season.
Honorable mentions: Florida at Florida State—Mullen vs. Taggart, Volume I. South Carolina at Clemson—The Tigers
are looking for their fifth straight victory in this rivalry. Notre Dame at USC—There’s always something special
about watching these two programs face off in Southern California. Oklahoma State at TCU—Again, the Cowboys control
how much drama this one holds. Michigan at Ohio State—Is this the year Harbaugh finally beats the rivals to the