Five Non-Conference Games That Should Be Played Annually

By George Harvey -

With all the talk about teams scheduling future non-conference opponents, it would only be right to acknowledge five future scheduled, or potentially scheduled, contests that should be played annually.

Now, it should be said that these contests are not very likely to become future annual games for various reasons, but then again, you really never know in college football.

Stanford vs. Vanderbilt
This contest, which could be dubbed the “Battle of the Brains,” has been proposed by new Commodores head coach Derek Mason, who was an assistant with the Cardinal from 2010 to 2013. It’s a perfect combination – except for the fact that they are over 2,000 miles apart from one another. Aside from that fact, Stanford is already a well-established football program and Vanderbilt is not a team to be slept on with Mason at the helm. Although we would probably not see this game until 2018 at the earliest, it would be a great game to see year-after-year.

Miami vs. Florida
The two teams duke it out on the gridiron every few years, but why not create an annual matchup? When the two come together every few years, it’s always a must-attend game for recruits – much like when both schools battle rival Florida State on a yearly basis. For the most part, minus a few years here and there, the two programs have been among the best in the nation, let alone the state. It would almost certainly improve the strength of schedule for each team, provided the Gators can quickly rebound from their awful 2013 campaign.

Texas vs. Texas A&M
Yes, this contest was an annual contest in the past. However, with the two squads no longer conference foes, the future is pretty murky due to scheduling conflicts. Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin and new Longhorn leader Charlie Strong are very smart in the recruiting department and it would be foolish for them to not use a tool that is basically sitting right in front of them.

However, both squads have key future games under contract. The Aggies’ 2015 contest against Arizona State in Houston could be one to keep for recruiting purposes, but the Aggies should do something with the UCLA (2016, 2017) and Oregon (2018, 2019) matchups. For the Longhorns, the 2015 and 2016 contests versus Notre Dame need to be kept, but a little rearranging in 2017 and 2018 with USC could be required. But, then again, the Longhorns have games with the Fighting Irish also scheduled for 2019 and 2020 and against Ohio State in 2022 and 2023.

UCLA vs. Texas Tech
This contest would be a great matchup because these two programs are more-or-less on a rise recently. The Bruins are coming off of a 10-3 season, while the Red Raiders are set to do well with Kliff Kingsbury in charge. Kingsbury and his staff have been hitting the recruiting trail hard and scored a big one in signing running back Nigel Bethel of Miami (FL) Booker T. Washington, the best high school squad last fall. Although Bethel will be suspended the first three contests for an off-the-field issue, once on the field, he should make a huge impact.

LSU vs. Wisconsin
It was announced back in October that the squads had completed a two game series deal, both at neutral sites. However, this would be another fantastic contest to see yearly. The two programs have had tremendous success and never fail to have a few key names in each recruiting class. The two will meet this fall at Houston’s Reliant Stadium on Aug. 30 and at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field on Sept. 3, 2016.

It should be noted, however, that the Big Ten conference, home to the Badgers, will be moving to a nine-game conference schedule in 2016. SEC commissioner Mike Slive reiterated at this summer’s media days that they will stick with an eight-game conference slate for now, but will require each team to schedule one non-conference opponent from a power conference. The new requirement would be perfect for LSU because Wisconsin just so happens to fall into a “power conference”.

George Harvey is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter @G_Harvey_.

  1. schoup
    July 25, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Only 2 of the games mentioned should be annual…Texas/ Texas A&M and Florida/Miami. The rest have no great intrigue that would make then annual. On Stanford they already play an annual game against a top academic school which is ND. Stanford is also starting a 6 game series with Northwestern which is a top academic school. Btw, Vandy next 2 years of OOC have no power 5 conf teams. Vandy doesn’t want to play a good power 5 school and often not one at all as they need 4 cream puffs OOC to have a chance to be bowl eligible . Texas Tech and anyone is of no intrigue b/c they have no pedigree or over arching story line.

    The best idea that was called off after realignment was the Pac12/Big 10 schools all playing each in a challenge series like they have for conferences in bball.

    • day
      July 25, 2014 at 1:23 pm

      Yeah, I agree. Not sure where Stanford vs Vandy came from? I know there both brainiac schools but Stanford would beat up on Vandy year in & year out. Vandy vs Northwestern is a more favorable match up.

    • stuart
      July 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      Stanford doesn’t look south. Northwestern is the school they see as peer. There is some back and forth on hires between the schools. That one made no sense (I live and work in Silicon Valley a couple miles from Stanford, so I very much know the culture there)

      What the bleep do Wisconsin and LSU have in common

    • David
      July 26, 2014 at 6:32 pm

      Agreed. Vandy is best having an annual end-of-season game with Wake Forest. Neighboring Southern states, both with long religious and academic traditions. Really, the whole SEC East could line up end-of-season now:
      Florida v. Florida State
      Georgia v. Georgia Tech
      Vandy v. Wake
      Missouri v. Duke
      Kentucky v. Louisville
      USC v. Clemson
      Tennessee v. Pitt

  2. Dan
    July 25, 2014 at 10:53 am

    How you could not have “Nebraska vs Oklahoma” instead of any of those games is asinine.

  3. Dan
    July 25, 2014 at 10:56 am

    aTm vs Texas is the only one that moves the needle. Miami vs Florida would be fine, I guess.

    • Tully
      July 27, 2014 at 12:10 pm

      I beg to differ….Given that Miami and UF along with FSU have put 18 teams in NC games, winning 11 of those, in the last 31 year winning the State Championship of Florida is pretty much a ticket to championships.

      UT-TAMU was more often that not a battle of who would finish second to OU, and then go on to play in the Alamo Bowl.

  4. Bruce Arbitblit
    July 25, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Penn State – Pitt
    West Va – Pitt
    LSU – Texas

  5. Clay
    July 25, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Lsu vs Tulane
    Bama vs Southern miss
    Tennessee vs Memphis
    Vandy- Duke
    Missouri- Kansas

    • Just Me
      July 29, 2014 at 8:33 am

      kinda boring matchups

      try Tennessee vs Va Tech every year

      we’ll know soon when they tee it up, FINALLY !

  6. Temple Owl
    July 25, 2014 at 11:13 am

    Here’s a better idea. Maybe these schools should all wise up, swallow some pride, leave their egos at the door and create conferences that are actually formed by geography. That way, A&M and Texas can play every year, same goes for PSU-Pitt and Pitt-WVU……..while we’re at it, VT-WVU could resume theirs

  7. Yosh
    July 25, 2014 at 11:39 am

    of all the random matchups, where in the world does UCLA vs TT come from?????

  8. Lalalalav
    July 25, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Penn State vs. Pittsburgh
    Penn State vs. Vanderbilt

  9. Caleb Wilkes
    July 25, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    George – did you just pull some random teams out of a hat to come up with UCLA – Texas Tech? You also provide almost no justification for this game. You gave one sentence that they are both more or less up and comers, and then the rest of the paragraph is recruiting updates.

  10. Gator
    July 25, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    The Gators already have the toughest schedule in the nation year in and year out. UM (and FSU for that matter) had a chance to join the SEC and they would have been able to play UF every year…they chose not to.

    • Brian
      July 25, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      The fact that you truely believe the gators have the toughest schedule in the nation year in and year out is laughable. No one with Eastern Michigan, Idaho and Eastern Kentucky is allowed to make that claim. And they play in the SEC east, which is dwarfed by the much stronger SEC west.

      Remember Georgia Southern? People don’t forget. And if I remember correctly UM and FSU beat the baby gators last year.

      Go home Gator, you’re drunk and reak of undeserved entitlement.

    • Gunnar
      July 30, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      youre drunk brian. we play Alabama, LSU, FSU, Georgia, South Carolina, Mizzou, and Tennessee is coming back

  11. garyseay
    July 25, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    West Virginia – Pitt
    Penn State – Pitt
    Missouri – Kansas
    Alabama – Notre Dame
    Oklahoma – Nebraska

  12. stuart
    July 25, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Texas-Texas A&M is so obvious,

    Miami-Florida would be OK, but it’s not like the two big State schools, Florida and Florida State.

    The rest of your list is a joke. I am amazed you missed the two most obvious rivalries that are missing

    1. West Virginia vs Pittsburgh
    2. Kansas vs Missouri // the border war should be revived immediately
    3. Maryland vs Virginia // how can the battle for DC be so easily dropped?

    There are some games that would be nice to see show up back on the schedule, but they are not the same must have level.

  13. Brian
    July 25, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    A&M vs. Texas, Nebraska vs Oklahoma or Colorado, WVU vs Pitt, WVU vs. VT, Marlyand vs. WVU, Penn State vs. Pitt, Ohio State vs. Notre Dame or Cincinnati, Mizzou vs Kansas, Miami vs Florida,

    Last but not least…
    Michigan vs. Appalachain State,

  14. stuart
    July 25, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    A few more comments

    Stanford’s big rival is Notre Dame. And they already have the USC and Cal games. Northwestern is the closest to a similar peer. And they have scheduled Rice and Duke. There is some overlap in student applications to Duke and Northwestern with Stanford (also Harvard), but not so with Vandy. The South Bay has a lot of Great Lakes transplants who came out for Silicon Valley, but not very many Southerners. I have no idea how you could be so of the mark on that one.

    Oklahoma vs Nebraska which used to have great meaning, is a bit like the Miami vs Florida State game. The schools have moved on, first with Oklahoma replacing Nebraska with Texas, and still having Bedlam, and with Nebraska building rivalries with Wisconsin, and increasingly the Iowa game.

    UCLA vs Texas Tech …. WTF? This is just an interesting match up this year. But these are academically even more dissimilar than Wisconsin and LSU, and just as geographically disinterested. UCLA’s peer schools are Cal, Washington, Texas, Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Michigan or Wisconsin would be far better rivalries to start given the large number of folks from those states in the LA Basin. And they really turn out better than others for the Rose Bowl and Rose Bowl parade. Oklahoma would be the other possible, given the dust bowl migration connection, but I don’t know how string that bond is anymore after four generations have passed.

  15. Jinzo
    July 25, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    This was the worst article I have seen on here….Kevin,I mean….really?
    and where is San Jose St – Georgia?

  16. Jeff
    July 25, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Let’s face it, if Texas and Texas A&M aren’t rushing to make it work, most of these schools wouldn’t want to be locked into a series like this. Would these make some interesting home/home series? Sure! Maybe even more than 2 games. But permanent-ish? Meh.

    I mean, some schools seem to struggle with the concept of scheduling exciting match-ups but it seems like big teams scheduling big teams is on an upswing and one thing that seems to play a role in it is variety.

    That’s a big reason why, as a Longhorn fan, I don’t think I care as much about getting A&M back on the schedule. I mean, it was dumb that it ended (just like it was dumb that Baylor/A&M, TTU/A&M, etc, also rivalries with some history to them, ended). And if it came up as a 2-game series? Cool. I’d be all for it.

    But assuming UT never schedules more than two power-5-conference teams in their 3-game OOC slate, if you ask me which games on our future schedule I’d replace with A&M? USC, Notre Dame, Arkansas, and Ohio State are out of the question. Cal and Maryland add to the regional diversity that an ambitious team in a smaller Big 12 probably needs (where we already play 3 to 4 other Texas teams every season already)… and the Oklahoma teams practically count too.

    Get A&M on the schedule… but if series with Oregon, Washington, Stanford, USC, UCLA, LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Florida State, Miami, Clemson, Virginia Tech, or Notre Dame is possible… sorry, most of those would just sound way more exciting than playing the Aggies and would take priority. And as for second games, if somewhere in a nice location is available… Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, Northwestern, Boston College, UNC, Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt, etc., are available as a second game? It’d be a bit of a toss-up. But I’d definitely put A&M in that mix at some point.

    It’s just tough to think about locking up one of only 3 non-conference games on the schedule with a game that, for the first couple seasons would draw a ton of excitement, and then would fade back into being a regional rivalry without the level of excitement that a national-level marquee match-up would carry.

    • Andres
      July 26, 2014 at 10:06 pm

      I see this rationale from both Longhorns and Aggies fans, but it’s the same feigned indifference BS that led to the cancellation of a great annual rivalry. Both teams’ message boards are full of chatter about how little each one cares about the other. Thou doth protest too much, methinks. If A&M and Texas would have cancelled Lamar and UNT respectively then, like magic, we don’t have to watch the suddenly-and-biennially-anti-TCU “Hex Rally” on Thanksgiving. Though I guess we’re stuck with the Aggies/Cocks trophy at stake no matter what…

  17. Brock
    July 25, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Here’s a better list:

    West Virginia vs. Pitt
    Nebraska vs. Colorado
    BYU vs. Utah
    Texas A&M vs. Texas
    Penn State vs. Pitt
    Kansas vs. Missouri
    Notre Dame vs. Michigan
    Florida vs. Miami
    Nebraska vs. Oklahoma

  18. PNB
    July 25, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Auburn vs. Georgia Tech
    Alabama vs. Penn State

  19. winston
    July 26, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    auburn vs georgia tech

    auburn vs fsu

    auburn vs clemson

    auburn vs texas

    turdville aka alabama vs Texas or Penn state

  20. winston
    July 26, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    i’ve laugh at the ucla and texas tech rivalry suggestion too. sure its probably gonna be an okay game this year. but no way would it be worth watching every year. i’d rather watch turdville renew their famous rivalry with hawaii from the mike shula days over ucla and texas tech

  21. phil
    July 26, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Stanford already has 10 games locked in every year with the 9 conference games and Notre Dame so they or USC for that matter don’t need another annual rivalry game. Vanderbilt seems like they just put together a schedule to get them bowl eligible every year lousy non-conf vs fcs , sunbelt, mac schools.How about Vandy vs Baylor 2 private southern schools?
    Annual Games not seen now:
    Oklahoma vs Nebraska( Okie used to play both Texas and Nebraska every year)
    Texas vs ATM (yeah , I know everyone has this on the list)
    WV vs Pitt or Pitt vs Penn St – one or the other but not both as they are kind of meh..
    MO vs Kansas ( these schools hate each other especially now)
    Mia vs Florida ( I know , UF has 9 locked in games a year but look at Stanford and USC with 10
    plus Gators wouldn’t have to leave the state which they hate doing for non-con)
    BYU vs Utah- the hate in this rivalry is painful to observe, I am actually glad they took a 2 year
    break as it was getting out of hand with fan incidences at the stadiums.
    Michigan vs Notre Dame – surprised no body mentioned this but there is always a lot of buzz about this early season match up

    Texas Tech vs Arkansas ( not a big one but TT and Arki don’t schedule a hard non con so this would force them to have one against an old SWC rival)

  22. Mike
    July 26, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    In addition to all the above, how about:
    Rutgers vs. West Virginia (well at least until RU finally wins one)
    Penn St vs. Pittsburgh (I know it’s on a lot of lists already)
    Cincinnati vs. Louisville (this was always a good one in the old C-USA and Big East)
    Grand Valley State (Top 5 D-II school) vs. Notre Dame (call it the Brian Kelly Bowl)

  23. Cory
    July 26, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Cincinnati and Ohio State should play every year period in every sport but someone is afraid to make that happen osu!!! stop running come to nippert!!!! How can your coach be afraid to play the school were he played and graduate from every year

  24. David
    July 27, 2014 at 2:37 am

    As weak as it sounds, Tulane and LSU

    • phil
      July 27, 2014 at 11:28 am

      They use to play every year. I went and looked it up they have played 90 times though LSU won the last 19.If they did play it would be nice to still see LSU schedule an annual good nonconference game against a power school.

    • Shep
      July 27, 2014 at 11:56 am

      Are you calling Tulane a “power school”?

    • phil
      July 27, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      @shep. the term used now is power 5 school which Tulane is not part of. So if LSU renewed the Tulane game they would still need to play a power 5 non-conference game each year, this was mandated by the SEC to play one power 5( pac12,big12,acc,big10) non conference game each season

  25. David
    July 27, 2014 at 2:39 am

    Pittsburgh-Penn State

  26. Ben
    July 28, 2014 at 12:54 am

    Notre Dame-FSU
    alabama-Ohio St
    notre dame-miami

  27. Ben
    July 28, 2014 at 1:05 am

    the irish play fsu this year which is exciting. both teams on the rise of sustaining programs. strength of schedule is going to be a big part of getting into the 4 team playoff. i dont think a 1 loss team with a cake schedule is going to get in before a team with 2 losses coming from top ten teams. this playoff doesnt have computers choosing who gets in and who doesnt. people, real creatures, are going to decide who the best 4 teams are and let them play it out. i think it helps more than hurts to pack ur OOC schedule with 2/3 power teams besides only 1. if u have 3 power schools in your OOC schedule and go 1-2 in those 3 games, play competitively, and finish the season 9-3…you still have a chance to get in the playoff. depending on what other teams do of course. i wouldnt be opposed to having a 9-3 team who played those 3 games tough but just got beat on that specific day by a team with the likes of Bama, FSU, ND, OSU, OU, etc. look at the team not the record. thats all i ask of the playoff commitee. let the best 4 teams play for the hardware regardless of records. just because team A loses by a combined 9 points to 3 top 10 teams doesnt mean team B who only played 1 top 10 team and lost by 10 is better. is just doesnt make sense. team A would fare much better in the playoff. forget the politics and the money and let the best play the best. college football fans deserve that at the least, especially after being ripped off the past several years by the BCS. start this new era of college football off on the right foot. set the tone for years to come. i, along with the rest of the college football world, am begging you.

  28. Dan Bell
    July 28, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Ohio State should play Cincinnati every year. Ohio State is one of the few schools that does not play the other major school in the state. Most other states schools have a in state rival.

    • JC
      July 29, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      The problem for Ohio St. is none of the other Ohio teams are in a power conference but Cincinnati would make a logical choice for an in-state rival, I think. Cincy would have to end their rivalry games with Miami(Ohio), which wouldn’t be a bad idea but I’m not sure they’d be willing to do that unless Ohio State was a sure thing for their future schedules. Then there is Ohio State, probably not to big on the idea of making Cincy a rivalry match-up but who knows.