Texas and Alabama will meet as non-conference opponents for the last time in 2023.
The Sept. 9 game between the two big programs is the second in a home-and-away series scheduled long before Texas and Oklahoma moved to the SEC. A season ago, Alabama and Heisman winner Bryce Young earned a one-point victory over Texas in a game over Longhorns QB Quinn Ewers with a shoulder injury.
Alabama hasn’t chosen its replacement for Young at quarterback and may still be trying to figure out who its best QB is when Texas visit Tuscaloosa. Texas QB’s situation, on the other hand, is pretty clear. Ewers is entrenched as a starter and is a preseason Heisman favorite. Arch Manning is extremely unlikely to take the field in this match or any match against a strong opponent in 2023.
The Longhorns are also officially the Big 12 pre-season favorites after being voted first in the Big 12 media poll earlier this month. Texas has the most talented roster in the conference and it will be considered a disappointment if the Longhorns don’t make the Big 12 title shot.
While Texas and Alabama will face off on a regular basis after the Longhorns and Sooners join the SEC in 12 months, their first game as conference opponents won’t come in 2024. Every current team in the SEC will face either Texas or Oklahoma next season and Alabama drew a visit to the Sooners. After this year’s game, we will have to wait at least a season before these two teams meet again.
Here are the other biggest non-conference games of the 2023 season. We haven’t included annual or regular rivalry games in this list.
LSU vs. Florida State (September 3)
Nobody knew how good either team was going to be until the 2022 season and they produced a thriller to kick off the season. If we have such a good game in 2023 given the pre-season expectations attached to each team, we will be extremely spoiled. LSU fires players like QB Jayden Daniels and rusher Harold Perkins in Brian Kelly’s sophomore season and Florida State might be the best team in the ACC. Yes, even better than Clemson. Don’t sleep on FSU QB Jordan Travis as the dark horse Heisman if the Seminoles have a special season.
Ohio State at Notre Dame (September 23)
The Buckeyes visit Notre Dame after easily beating the Irish to start the 2022 season. Both teams will have different QBs in this game; former Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman has moved to Notre Dame while Kyle McCord is the favorite to replace CJ Stroud for the Buckeyes. Ohio State’s offense should be explosive no matter who starts at QB with Marvin Harrison Jr. and TreVeyon Henderson still on the roster. It’s the first of three massive games for Notre Dame this season with USC and Clemson also on the schedule.
Texas A&M in Miami (September 9)
The loser of this game is going to have an extremely anxious fan base. Neither team lived up to expectations a season ago under coaches specially recruited to restore the programs to their former success. Texas A&M is hoping QB Connor Weigman jumps in with a slew of talent back at receiver while Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke is healthy and hoping for a rebound season after a second slump in 2022.
Florida at Utah (August 31)
Is it already a decisive season for Billy Napier in Florida? Asking the question seems absurd as Napier enters his second season with the Gators. But there are questions at quarterback and a tough schedule looms over the next two seasons. Former Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz has moved to Florida to replace Anthony Richardson while Cameron Rising is back for Utah after being sidelined in the Rose Bowl with a torn ACL.
Ole Miss at Tulane (September 9)
Don’t be surprised if Tulane is favored in this game. The green wave leads the AAC and returns QB Michael Pratt and nearly the entire starting offensive line of the team that defeated USC in the Cotton Bowl. Ole Miss is bringing back QB Jaxson Dart but has also added former Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders through the transfer portal. We bet Sanders would start this game.
Oregon at Texas Tech (September 9)
Season-ending losses to Washington and Oregon State cost Oregon a chance at the 2022 college football playoffs, while Texas Tech was a feisty, strategically aggressive team in season one. of Joey McGuire in Lubbock. Bo Nix is back at QB for the Ducks but only four other starters return on offense. Former Oregon QB Tyler Shough is back in Lubbock for another season and hopes to stay healthy. Tech is a dormant pre-season team in the Big 12 and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Red Raiders won this one.
Washington at Michigan State (September 16)
Was 2022 an aberration for Michigan State under Mel Tucker or was 2021 an aberration? The Spartans finished 5-7 a season ago after a fantastic 2021 and one of those seven losses came to Washington. The Huskies will travel to East Lansing this season and have star QB Michael Penix Jr. back for another season. MSU doesn’t have that certainty in QB. Noah Kim and Katin Houser are vying for the starting position after the transfer of Payton Thorne.
Wisconsin at Washington State (September 9)
If you skip Wisconsin’s season opener against Buffalo, you’ll get a philosophical shock when you see the Badgers in Pullman versus the Cougars. New Wisconsin coach Luke Fickell is switching to an air raid-based offense with coordinator Phil Longo and brought in SMU QB Tanner Mordecai. Given Wisconsin’s run-based offense for decades, it’s reasonable to expect a period of adjustment. Washington State QB Cam Ward is fun to watch and he also has a new offensive coordinator. Ben Arbuckle, 27, is the youngest coordinator at the highest level in college football after leaving Western Kentucky.
UCF at Boise State (September 9)
Two of college football’s longtime middle powers meet in UCF’s second game as a member of the Power Five conference. Former Ole Miss and current UCF QB John Rhys Plumlee is a fantastic runner and could be extremely fun to watch in Gus Malzahn’s offense. Boise State went 2-2 to start the 2022 season but then finished the season with eight wins in its final 10 games as Taylen Green established himself as the team’s starting QB. All but two starters return on offense for the Broncos as they could be the best five-man team in the nation.
Illinois at Kansas (September 9)
Not too long ago, a game between the Illini and Jayhawks wouldn’t count for this list. But 2022 changed that as Illinois went 8-5 and Kansas went 6-7 and reached a bowl game for the first time since 2008. Kansas QB Jaylon Daniels is the preseason offensive player in the year in the Big 12 while Ole Miss transfer Luke Altmyer is the favorite to start at QB for the Illini.
Colorado at TCU (September 1)
Deion. Deion. Deion. Deion. Sanders’ first game in Colorado comes on the road against one of the two teams that played for the national title in January. No pressure, Coach Prime. Colorado has a revised roster that will take some time to gel. A bowl berth is probably asking too much in 2023. TCU faces the task of reloading after arriving at CFP and must replace QB Max Duggan, RB Kendre Miller and WR Quentin Johnston among other key contributors.
Honorable Mention: Utah at Baylor, Oklahoma State at Arizona State, Nebraska at Colorado, Auburn at Cal, Kansas State at Missouri, San Diego State at Oregon State, Minnesota at North Carolina, Arizona at Mississippi State, UTSA at Houston, Pitt vs. Cincinnati, UCLA to San Diego State, Boise State to Washington