NWADG College Football


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22 NWA COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW | 8.28.2022 BOB HOLT ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE SEC teams' schedules again are loaded with marquee matchups, both nonconference and conference games that figure to go a long way toward determining the College Football Playoff's four participants. Last season it was an all-SEC title game with Georgia beating Alabama 33-18 in Indianapolis as the Bulldogs won their first national championship since 1980. Georgia and Alabama figure to be in the national title hunt again as the Crimson Tide are ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason poll and the Bulldogs are No. 3 behind Ohio State. Alabama and Georgia don't play each other in the regular season, but they'll be involved in some of the SEC's top games. Here are 10 games involving SEC teams that should be on any college football fan's "don't miss" list. 1. GEORGIA VS. OREGON, SEPT. 3, ATLANTA, 2:30 P.M., ABC The Bulldogs open defense of their national championship against No. 11 Oregon, which will feature some familiar faces. Dan Lanning, Georgia's defensive coordinator from 2019-21 for Kirby Smart, is the Ducks' new coach. Oregon also has a new quarterback in senior transfer Bo Nix — who as Auburn's starter, faced Georgia the past three seasons. Adding to the irony of the situation is that in Nix's first start for Auburn in 2019, he threw a last-second, game-winning touchdown pass in the Tigers' 27-21 victory over Oregon. Georgia will have a huge home-field advantage playing in Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but the stakes are high for Oregon as well. If the Ducks could pull off the upset, it would make them a national title contender and be a huge boost for the Pac-12, which is losing USC and UCLA to the Big Ten after this season. 2. CINCINNATI AT ARKANSAS, SEPT. 3, FAYETTEVILLE, 2:30 P.M., ESPN Who could have guessed in August of 2019 when this matchup was announced that it would feature two nationally ranked teams? The Razorbacks were 2-10, including 0-8 in the SEC, in 2018 in Chad Morris' first season as coach. The Bearcats were 11-3 in 2018, but finished third in the AAC East and were not ranked at any point of the season. Fast forward to this season's opener and the Razorbacks are coming off a 9-4 season and ranked No. 19 going into Sam Pittman's third season as coach. Cincinnati was 13-1 last season with its only loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinals. The Bearcats lost a lot of talent, including nine players who were picked in the NFL Draft, but they're ranked No. 23. Unfortunately for Arkansas and Cincinnati, their game is kicking off the same time as Georgia-Oregon, so there won't be as many viewers tuning in as the Razorbacks and Bearcats deserve. 3. ALABAMA AT TEXAS, SEPT. 10, AUSTIN, TEXAS, 11 A.M., FOX The last time these teams met, the national championship was on the line. Alabama beat Texas 37-21 on Jan. 7, 2010, in the Rose Bowl in the BCS national title game to cap the 2009 season. That was Nick Saban's first of what has become six national championships with the Crimson Tide. While Saban returned Alabama to glory, the Longhorns have struggled to remain nationally relevant. But Texas is still a lucrative national brand, which is why the SEC was happy to invite the Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners to join the conference starting no later than the 2025 season. Arkansas gave Texas a taste of life in the SEC last season when the Razorbacks pounded the Longhorns 40-21 in Fayetteville. What will Alabama do to Texas? Probably win big. But this game is on the "can't miss" list because along with two historic programs facing each other, Saban will be going against one of his former assistants in Texas Coach Steve Sarkisian, who resurrected his career after being fired at USC with a successful stint as Alabama's offensive coordinator. 4. MIAMI AT TEXAS A&M, SEPT. 17, COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS, 8 P.M., ESPN The No. 6 Aggies and No. 17 Hurricanes will meet in a primetime matchup at Kyle Field. When the schools announced the home- and-home series — Texas A&M plays at Miami in 2023 — in 2016, Jimbo Fisher was coaching Florida State and playing the Hurricanes every season. Fisher is now going into his fifth season at Texas A&M, where the Aggies are waiting for him to win a national championship as he did at Florida State in 2013. Given the challenge of the SEC schedule, Texas A&M's title hopes can't afford a loss to Miami, where former Alabama assistant Mario Cristobal is in his first season as coach at his alma mater after leading Oregon to a 35-13 record the previous four years. Fisher has plenty of experience at beating the Hurricanes. He was 7-1 against Miami as Florida State's coach. Texas A&M and Miami will meet for CAN'T MISS SEC GAMES MARQUEE MATCHUPS HIGHLIGHT SEC SCHEDULES Nick Saban | Alabama head coach AP Photo/Lynne Sladky

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