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Before we look at the top 25 nonconference games this season, a note: This list doesn’t include matchups between Notre Dame and the ACC, which have a five-game agreement in place each season, or rivalries that are currently played annually, like Notre Dame-USC, BYU-Utah, Iowa State-Iowa and so forth.That said, there are still plenty of great nonconference games to enjoy in 2019. Here’s a look at the top 25:MORE: Sporting News preseason top 25Honorable mentionsWisconsin at South FloridaOle Miss at MemphisBYU at TennesseeCal at Ole MissUCF at Pitt25. FAU at No. 4 Ohio StateWhen: Saturday, Aug. 31Where: Ohio StadiumNo one honestly expects FAU to compete with Ohio State, certainly not with Owls running back Devin Singletary off to the NFL, but it’s always worth tuning in for some potential Lane Kiffin quips. This will also be the first time we see Justin Fields lead an offense, and he’ll have quite the weaponry to work with under Ryan Day at Ohio State. Look for some kitchen-sink plays from FAU if — if — the Owls can draw out the competition.24. UCLA at CincinnatiWhen: Thursday, Aug. 29Where: Nippert StadiumChip Kelly’s return to college football last season was less grandiose than hoped in Los Angeles, but his Bruins team should be improved in Year 2. Will it be significant enough to fend off AAC opponent Cincinnati, which went went from 4-8 in Luke Fickell’s first year to 11-2 in 2018? A loss to the Bearcats wouldn’t derail the season, but it certainly wouldn’t engender confidence. If the Bruins want to experience a jump similar to what the Bearcats enjoyed last season, it has to start with taking care of business at Nippert Stadium.23. Cincinnati at No. 4 Ohio StateWhen: Saturday, Sept. 7Where: Ohio StadiumKudos to Cincinnati for taking on Power 5 opponents UCLA and Ohio State to start the season. The in-state matchup against the Buckeyes will heavily favor Ohio State, but Fickell, an OSU alum, will make sure his team is ready against his alma mater. Ohio State should get a better game from the Bearcats than they will from FAU in Week 1.22. Kansas State at No. 19 Mississippi StateWhen: Saturday, Sept. 14Where: Davis Wade StadiumThe first big game of the Chris Klieman era takes place in Starkville, Miss. The Wildcats took a 31-10 loss on the chin at home last season against the Bulldogs, and that certainly will be in play as K-State makes its trip southward. By this point in the season, Joe Moorhead should have playmakers established after significant losses of talent on offense and defense. A fun storyline to watch is Isaiah Zuber, Kansas State’s leading receiver in 2018 who transferred to Mississippi State this offseason. Keep an eye on him as he takes on the Kansas State secondary.21. West Virginia at MissouriWhen: Saturday, Sept. 7Where: Memorial StadiumThe Mountaineers and Tigers are 3-3 in this six-game series, so whoever wins this one will have bragging rights until the next time they meet. This will be the first big test of the Neal Brown era in Morgantown, but his team should be ready to go based on how his Troy squads played in big games (just ask Clemson, LSU and Nebraska). The quarterback battle between transfers WVU’s Austin Kendall and Mizzou’s Kelly Bryant will be intriguing too.MORE: SN preseason All-Americans20. Vanderbilt at PurdueWhen: Saturday, Sept. 7Where: Ross-Ade StadiumWe can already see you rolling your eyes. That said, there will be plenty of explosive offense to enjoy in this one. Vanderbilt returns some of the best players in the country at their respective positions in receiver Kalija Lipscomb, running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn and SN preseason All-American tight end Jared Pinkney. But how will the defense fare against Rondale Moore, who led the nation with 114 receptions last season and is a first-team athlete on SN’s preseason All-Americans?19. No. 22 Stanford at No. 24 UCFWhen: Saturday, Sept. 14Where: Spectrum StadiumBig props to Stanford for making the trip to Orlando to take on UCF, which will again be among the toughest Group of 5 team in college football this year. The Knights will not only attempt to continue their two-year regular-season unbeaten streak, but also earn some respect in a statement game against a Power 5 opponent. This will be Brandon Wimbush’s first big test at UCF, but this isn’t the first time has played the Cardinal. He completed 11 of 28 passes for two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 38-20 loss in 2017. For Stanford, this marks the third tough game of the season after a visit from Northwestern and trip to USC. Considering the opponent and the optics of the Pac-12 right now, this game might be the most important of the Cardinal’s young season.18. Texas Tech at ArizonaWhen: Saturday, Sept. 14Where: Arizona StadiumThis might not have the national intrigue of some other games, but it should more than make up for that in offensive fireworks. Arizona returns one of college football’s mosts dynamic playmakers in quarterback Khalil Tate, and running back J.J. Taylor figures to be one of the best at his position this season. They’ll go up against Texas Tech and quarterback Alan Bowman, who could be the best at his position in the Big 12 by the end of the season. Something else to consider: Texas Tech ranked 86th nationally in 2018 in points allowed per game; Arizona ranked 99th. Can you say, “points”?17. Pitt at No. 12 Penn StateWhen: Saturday, Sept. 14Where: Beaver StadiumIt’s a tragedy of the highest order that this rivalry — yes, Penn State, it’s a rivalry — isn’t played regularly. Regardless, this will be the last installment in this series for the foreseeable future, so expect some parting chippiness between the Panthers and Nittany Lions. Penn State will be heavily favored, but that might just serve as motivation for the underdogs.16. South Carolina vs. North CarolinaWhen: Saturday, Aug. 31Where: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, N.C.)Mack Brown has returned to the college football ranks after a five-year stint as a color commentator at ESPN. That should be more than enough for fans to tune in, but the fact his first game back is in Charlotte, against the Gamecocks, will ensure the Carolinas — and their recruits — pay close attention. Regardless of the outcome, it’ll be good just to see him back on the sidelines again.MORE: Best, worst case for every top-25 team15. Northwestern at No. 22 StanfordWhen: Saturday, Aug. 31Where: Stanford StadiumYou don’t typically hear “Northwestern” and “Stanford” in the same sentence and jump immediately to football, but here we are. The Wildcats and Cardinal open the season for just the programs’ eighth all-time meeting and the second of a home-and-home series that started in 2015. The Wildcats will break in former five-star recruit and Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson at quarterback, but this one might come down to how K.J. Costello handles a defense that has preseason All-American Paddy Fisher in its linebacker corps.14. Boise State vs. Florida StateWhen: Saturday, Aug. 31Where: TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, Fla.)Florida State coach Willie Taggart is facing premature hot-seat talk after a disappointing 5-7 season in 2018. Unfair or not, that talk will only get louder if the Seminoles struggle against Boise State, which won 11 games last season but must replace Alexander Mattison and Brett Rypien in the offensive backfield. The Broncos have gone 4-3 against ranked Power 5 opponents since 2009, so Taggart better have his team ready to play. How much improvement can we expect from the Seminoles this early in Year 2?13. Fresno State at USCWhen: Saturday, Aug. 31Where: Los Angeles Memorial ColiseumIs a Group of 5 opponent really a must-win game? That might be the case when USC hosts Fresno State — which won 12 games and the Mountain West championship last year — to open 2019. Talent-wise, the Trojans have a clear advantage with the likes of JT Daniels, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Michael Pittman Jr. and others throughout the roster. That said, Fresno fans probably feel better about Jeff Tedford than Southern Cal fans feel about Clay Helton. And we might as well mention that Tedford went 1-10 against USC while head coach of Cal. We bet he’d love nothing more than to claim in-state supremacy over the Trojans.12. No. 23 Washington State vs. HoustonWhen: Friday, Sept. 13Where: NRG Stadium (Houston)Houston faces its second Power 5 opponent in three weeks when it takes on Washington State in a “neutral” game at NRG Stadium on Sept. 13. Washington State will have two warmups to get ready for quarterback D’Eriq King, and that should also be plenty of time for Eastern Washington transfer Gage Gubrud to settle in at quarterback. That’s good news for Mike Leach, considering Houston’s defense ranked 125th nationally in yards allowed last season. The quarterback battle between him and King should be fun to watch as well. What would happen if Houston managed to start the season 3-0 with wins against Oklahoma and Wazzu?11. Duke vs. No. 1 AlabamaWhen: Saturday, Aug. 31Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta) Alabama, which has had all offseason to stew over its humiliating championship game loss to Clemson, should burst out of the gates looking to make an example of ACC opponent Duke. That said, don’t expect the Blue Devils to just let the Tide roll over them: Duke coach David Cutcliffe has presented this season-opener as a challenge for his players to overcome, and they have wholeheartedly accepted. It will be worth watching what changes quarterbackTua Tagovailoa has made in his reads under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.MORE: Which top-10 team makes Playoff first?10. No. 5 Oklahoma at UCLAWhen: Saturday, Sept. 14Where: Rose BowlThe second matchup in this series might have lost some of its luster after last season’s blowout in Norman (a 49-21 win for the Sooners), but there’s reason to expect at least some growth from Chip Kelly’s squad in Year 2. That’s especially true for the offense, which returns its top three rushers from last season, including Joshua Kelley, and looks to start dual-threat Dorian Thompson-Robinson at quarterback. The offensive line returns four starters and the receivers group has no shortage of playmakers. Will we see some — any — semblance of life from the Sooners defense under defensive coordinator Alex Grinch?9. No. 16 Army at No. 10 MichiganWhen: Saturday, Sept. 7Where: Michigan StadiumHow much does Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown respect Jeff Monken’s triple-option attack at Army? His team has prepared all offseason for it, even though these teams don’t meet until Week 2. The Wolverines will be without Chase Winovich, Rashan Gary and Devin Bush on defense this season, and the fact the Wolverines face the Black Knights early will be a sizable test. Remember, Army took eventual Playoff team Oklahoma to the brink last season by grinding it out. Michigan can’t afford to let the Black Knights hang around. If Army somehow wins this, there’s a good chance it could go 13-0 in the regular season, cause enough to stir Playoff discussions at season’s end.8. No. 25 Nebraska at ColoradoWhen: Saturday, Sept. 7Where: Folsom FieldThe former Big 12 rivals will face off as nonconference opponents for the second time in 2019. Scott Frost’s Huskers will look for revenge against Colorado under first-year coach Mel Tucker after last season’s 33-28 loss in Lincoln. Receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. smoked Nebraska in 2018 to the tune of 10 catches for 177 yards and two total touchdowns. Will he do it again? Can Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez, on the fringe of the Heisman conversation, kickoff his campaign with a big game?7. Miami vs. No. 8 FloridaWhen: Saturday, Aug. 24Where: Camping World Stadium (Orlando, Fla.)How often do you get a rivalry — one that hasn’t been played since 2013 — to kick off the college football season? The Hurricanes and Gators will get the national spotlight all to themselves when they face off for Sunshine State supremacy on Aug. 24, and both teams are generating buzz ahead of the 2019 season. The spotlight might be on Miami quarterback Tate Martell (will he be called into action? Will he be at a different position? Will he even be on the sidelines?) Florida’s quarterback situation is more stable with Feleipe Franks, but the secondary is vulnerable after the Gators lost a deluge of talent to injury, transfers and dismissals. The high stakes and rivalry-game atmosphere is the perfect way to start the season.6. Houston at No. 5 OklahomaWhen: Sunday, Sept. 1Where: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial StadiumThere are so many great storylines to follow in this one. King returns from injury after a 50-touchdown season in 2018. Offensive whiz Dana Holgorsen makes his debut as the Cougars’ coach. Houston native Jalen Hurts premieres for Oklahoma. Then there’s the 2016 meeting between these teams, when Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. kept pace with Baker Mayfield to lead the Cougars to a 33-23 upset over No. 3 Oklahoma. Lincoln Riley will say his team’s ready, but Bob Stoops said the same thing in 2016.MORE: Five teams that could crash predictable Playoff party in 20195. No. 11 Texas A&M at No. 2 ClemsonWhen: Saturday, Sept. 7Where: Memorial StadiumTexas A&M will be the first real test Clemson faces this season. The Aggies took Dabo Swinney’s squad to the wire last season, falling on a failed 2-point conversion in the final minute. The Aggies should be improved in Jimbo Fisher’s second year, and it will be interesting to see how A&M quarterback Kellen Mond can maneuver around the Tigers defense. The same could be said of Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, who last season completed 5 of 9 passes for a touchdown against the Aggies but sat and watched as Kelly Bryant led the Tigers to a 28-26 win. We can only hope this game is as close as it was in 2018.4. No. 13 Oregon vs. No. 15 AuburnWhen: Saturday, Aug. 31Where: AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)You won’t find a more important game this season for the Pac-12 than the one between Oregon and Auburn in Arlington. The Ducks aren’t just fighting to avoid Week 1 Playoff elimination: They’re representing the entire conference in its fight to stay relevant among the rest of the Power 5. A loss could be devastating to the Pac-12’s public perception. On the field, we’ll finally get to see the results of Auburn’s quarterback battle between Joey Gatewood and Bo Nix. Oregon’s quarterback situation is vastly more stable with Justin Herbert, who will have running back CJ Verdell and a talented receiver group to spread the ball around. How will the Ducks’ offensive line handle an Auburn defensive front that includes Nick Coe and preseason All-American Derrick Brown?3. No. 9 Notre Dame at No. 10 MichiganWhen: Saturday, Oct. 26Where: Michigan StadiumTwo of college football’s premiere programs, rivals, facing off in Michigan Stadium in what will be the last game in this series for a while. If that’s not enough to get you interested, the Irish will also be looking to make its second College Football Playoff in as many years; Michigan is looking to make its first. The Irish beat Michigan last season in Notre Dame, so there’s a revenge factor. And if both teams can make it to Week 9 undefeated (with the likes of Army, Wisconsin, Penn State, Georgia and USC on their resumes) there will not be a bigger game in the 2019 regular season. The Wolverines and Irish just have to make it there first.2. No. 9 Notre Dame at No. 3 GeorgiaWhen: Saturday, Sept. 21Where: Sanford Stadium There’s not much more you could ask for than two consensus top-10 teams with College Football Playoff aspirations facing off Between the Hedges. The quarterback battle between Ian Book and Jake Fromm should be excellent, and it’ll be fun to watch Brian Kelly and Kirby Smart try to out-scheme the other. Something else to look out for: how many Irish faithful take up seats in Sanford Stadium after the Bulldogs took over Notre Dame Stadium en route to a 20-19 win in 2017.1. No. 7 LSU at No. 6 TexasWhen: Saturday, Sept. 7Where: Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial StadiumThis game has the feeling of a Week 1 blockbuster, but both teams will have to settle for gimme games as they gear up for their first meeting since 2003. The hype and hyperbole surrounding these two teams is off the charts heading into the 2019 season: Joe Burrow says LSU’s offense can score “40, 50, 60 points a game” under offensive coordinator Joe Brady; Texas and Sam Ehlinger want to prove once and for all the Longhorns are back among college football’s elite. These aren’t mutually exclusive situations, but a win for one team will get kick the hype to an even higher gear. A loss for the other would be a monumental setback. With so much on the line so early in the season, how could you not watch? What’s college football without a little variety every once in a while? As much as we look forward to the Red River Rivalry, Iron Bowl and The Game each year, there’s nothing wrong with mixing it up with some nonconference opponents.Thankfully, college football has seen an advent of such games in recent years, and the 2019 college football season is no exception. You have some curious matchups, once-annual rivalries, meetings between Power 5 and Group of 5 teams and games with national implications all the way through Week 9 (!) this year.