Spring practices are coming to a close and we will all have to wait until the fall to salivate or agonize over statistics from scrimmages. We will start kicking out our Pre-Season Previews in a few weeks but until then let's take a look at some of the big games of 2011. The way I see it there are 15 regular season games that will decide the National Champion. These aren't the only 15 game you should watch, because somebody could come out of nowhere like Auburn did last year, but these are the 15 most important games of the 2011 season. Let's start off with week one and a game that will take place on a neutral field in Arlington at Cowboy Stadium.
LSU Tigers vs. Oregon Ducks
When: September 3rd at 6 pm EST on ABC
Where: Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas
Way back in February we put our heads together and came up with a CFBZ Pre-Spring Top 10. When we did that, Oregon came out at #3 and LSU came out at #4. One thing is clear, this is a big time football game that features two heavyweights slugging it out. Oregon is coming off of a fantastic year that ended with a heartbreaking loss in the National Championship game to the Auburn Tigers by three points. Oregon returns a ton of offensive firepower from last year and is poised for another run at the Championship this year. LSU finished 11-2 last year. There is no doubt that LSU had some luck in a few wins last year but they also only lost their two games by a combined 15 points.
This game pits a team with a historically strong defense, LSU was 10th against the pass in 2010, against one of the most explosive offenses as Oregon finished 1st in the Nation in Total Offense last year. There are some very interesting dynamics going into this game for both teams. Oregon has spent all off-season thinking about their loss to Auburn. They have probably played that game over in their minds every day of the off-season. Now they get to play another SEC school right out of the gate. How much do you think they want to even the score with the SEC? Oregon also has a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy in LaMichael James (led the Nation last year with 1731 yards rushing). LSU will probably come into this game as a slight under-dog as they will start off the season in the shadow of Alabama and possibly Arkansas in the pre-season rankings. The last two National Champions have come out of the SEC West and neither of them were LSU. You have to think that sticks in the craw of the Tigers just a bit even though the Tigers did take the crown in the 2007/2008 season. Think about that for a minute, the SEC West has won 3 of the last 4 National Championships. Oregon knows the National Title goes through the SEC and more specifically it goes through the SEC West. Another really interesting storyline is that of the LSU QB position. Les Miles has maintained that Jordan Jefferson is his starting QB. If that holds static going into the season how quickly do you think he will pull the plug on Jefferson and put in Zach Mettenberger if the Tigers fall behind early? This is must see TV, make your plans now to be in front of your TV or at Jerry-World to catch this one.