With the 2017 NCAA college football season getting underway in approximately a dozen weeks, now is the perfect time to take a look at the biggest and best ‘high stakes’ games on the 2017 docket.
Now, remember, ‘high stakes’ doesn’t necessarily mean the ‘best’ or most attractive games on the 2017 schedule, just the games that matter most to the teams involved. Rivalry games and similar meaningful matchups that could cost the loser a shot at a playoff berth are all high stakes games. Now, let’s get started.
Ten College Football Games With The Highest Stakes In 2017
Oklahoma State Cowboys at Texas Longhorns – Oct. 21
Texas has a new head coach in Tom Herman and modest expectations this coming season, placing the weight of winning this matchup on the playoff-hopeful Sooners and star quarterback baker Mayfield. If Oklahoma wins, fine, but of they lose, they could miss out on a playoff berth and there could be hell to play in Norman.
Washington Huskies at Stanford Cardinal, Nov. 10
Stanford isn’t really expected to win this matchup after losing the supremely gifted Christian McCaffery, but the Washington Huskies will need a win in this PAC-12 pairing if they hope to make consecutive playoff appearances. Washington, coach Chris Petersen is looking to turn his team into a perennial national championship hopeful and he very well could after seeing what he did with the Boise State Broncos.
Florida State Seminoles at Clemson Tigers, Nov. 11
This ACC matchup is more of a high stakes game for playoff hopeful Florida State than it is for Clemson, seeing as how the defending national champions will be a completely different looking team without superstar signal-caller Deshaun Watson leading them. The Seminoles have their own young star quarterback and know that this is a game they cannot afford to lose if they want to remain a legitimate playoff contender.
Auburn Tigers at LSU Tigers, Oct. 14
The stakes are always high in this annual SEC showdown, but more so this coming season for Ed Orgeron’s LSU squad than it is for Gus Malzahn and Auburn. Orgeron and his LSU Tigers need some quality wins this coming season, but getting them without superstar running back Leonard Fournette could be tougher than anyone realizes. Either way, I don’t believe the winner of this contest will be a playoff participant.
Wisconsin Badgers at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Nebraska had a decent 9-win campaign in Mike Riley’s first season at Nebraska, but they’ll enter 2017 with a new signal-caller following the graduation of four-year starter Tommie Frazier. While the Cornhuskers aren’t really expected to win this contest, Wisconsin is much closer to being elite and simply can’t afford to lose this Big Ten battle and keep their playoff hopes alive under the totally underrated Paul Chryst.
Florida Gators at Michigan Wolverines, Sept. 2
Depending on the outcome of this contest (Michigan will win) the loser will have their playoff hopes dashed while the winner can point to this affair as one of their more meaning dates on the 2017 docket. Both teams featured elite defenses – and mediocre offenses a year ago.
Georgia Bulldogs at Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Sept. 9
Georgia will be in Year 2 under head coach Kirby Smart and there really isn’t a ton of pressure on him to come up with a double-digit winning campaign (at least not yet). However, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly is on the hot seat and needs to win a matchup like this one – especially after going a pitiful 4-8 last season.
Texas A&M at UCLA, Sept. 3
UCLA’s Jim Mora and Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin aren’t on the proverbial ‘hot seat’ at the moment, but their chairs are definitely getting warmer and this is the kind of matchup that both head coaches should expect their AD’s to be looking at for evaluation. UCLA lost six of its final seven games in 2016 while Sumlin went 8-5 at Texas A&M and has a bit more margin for error.
Florida State at Florida, Nov. 25
Florida State has gone 7-1 in eight games against teams from the Sunshine State since Jimbo Fisher took over in 2010. The Seminoles have beaten the Gators four straight times with the last two victories coming by a combined 43 points. This is an annual rivalry game where the stakes are much higher for a Florida State team that has very legitimate championship hopes than it is for a very good, but not great Florida squad.
Oklahoma State at Ohio State, Sept. 9
Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners need to win this contest if they really want to challenge for a playoff berth – especially after getting pounded by Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes by three touchdowns last September. The big question here will likely be, can Oklahoma stop Ohio State’s gifted dual-threat signal-caller J.T. Barrett to stay playoff relevant?