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The five biggest non-conference games of the 2023 college football season

Credit: Alabama athletics

We're less than 100 days until the start of college football season - and it's never too early to look ahead.

Here is a look at the five best out of conference games that you need to circle on your calendar for the 2023 football season.

Texas at Alabama: Saturday, September 9th, 2023

This is part two of the home and home these two teams agreed to and it’s a rematch of the thrilling matchup between these two teams where Alabama won on a last-second field goal in Austin 20-19 last season. This is the first big test for each team in 2023, and both teams have questions surrounding them.

Alabama’s quarterback situation is up in the air and seems to be a three-horse race between Notre Dame transfer Tyler Buchner, Jalen Milroe, and Ty Simpson. Texas also is facing some of the same questions with Quinn Ewers back, but not having as big of a leash maybe with Arch Manning breathing down his neck.

This is the best non-conference game because of the brand names associated with it, and the fact it’s the first big test for each team.

Florida State vs LSU (Orlando): Sunday, September 3rd, 2023

Hey, what are you doing on Sunday of Labor Day weekend? Watching a rematch from a crazy game last year that resulted in a last-second Florida State win after LSU missed a field goal to win it with a 24-23 win? Sounds good to me.

Here's the crazy part: As exciting as last year's game was, the 2023 version begins with both teams coming in with much higher expectations. It's thanks in large part to a pair of veteran quarterbacks returning with Jayden Daniels and Jordan Travis back to lead their teams as potential Heisman Trophy contenders. Each team also has a game wrecker on the defensive line with Harold Perkins and Jared Verse for each team ready to take over a game.

This should be a great matchup on Labor Day weekend as a game that could be the reason that pushes either team into the College Football Playoff.

Ohio State at Notre Dame: Saturday, September 23rd, 2023

Yet another rematch from last season, where Ohio State pulled away from Notre Dame late last season. Now they visit South Bend with more questions than the Fighting Irish.

Ohio State doesn’t know who will be starting at quarterback just yet between Devin Brown or Kyle McCord. The Fighting Irish are set at quarterback after bringing in Sam Hartman from Wake Forest. Ohio State still has the best receiving corps in the country with Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka leading the way. Notre Dame should be solid on defense too this season.

Expect South Bend to be loud when these two storied programs matchup with each other.

Notre Dame at Clemson: Saturday, November 4th, 2023

This is one of the games Notre Dame has with their scheduling deal with the ACC too and it’s the return visit to Clemson after that game last year. Notre Dame hammered Clemson last year in South Bend in a shocker, thanks to their running game and their defense. This year, the Irish might be more complete with Hartman under center, although he enters this game with an 0-4 record against the Tigers following four years at Wake Forest.

Meanwhile at Clemson, Cade Clubnik has officially taken over the job at quarterback and has looked great in his limited time, especially in the ACC Championship and Orange Bowl last year. He's entering Year 1 with Garrett Riley as his playcaller, and by this time of the year, we'll have a good feel for how the adjustment has been made.

This could be a huge game with playoff implications.

Washington at Michigan State: Saturday, September 16th. 2-23

Washington is a trendy pick to make a run to the College Football Playoff this season after Kalen DeBoer's debut where the Huskies won 11 games. Michael Penix is back after being the leading passer last season. The top seven receivers for Washington are also back too, so the entire offense should be much of the same or better than last season.

Michigan State is a big question mark this season after being 5-7 last year. Mel Tucker needs answers, it wasn't a great off-season where top receiver Keon Coleman decided to transfer. Starting quarterback Payton Thorne departed too, although there is a thought that he'd lost the starting job to last year's backup Noah Kim.

Well, we'll find out just how good Kim is in this Week 3 matchup. The home crowd in East Lansing should be a major factor and is Washington’s biggest road game until USC in November.

Follow Jake Faigus on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus


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