With the arrival of August comes the incredible anticipation for a 2013 college football season that simply can’t get here soon enough. To get you pumped up for the new season, we recently previewed the ten most anticipated ACC and SEC games that will be must-see TV this fall.
However, today we’re going to look at the other side of the pigskin by examining the ten least anticipated match-ups of 2013. These are the kinds of snoozers you probably won’t need to set your DVR for unless you’re an alumni or die-hard fan.
Among the criteria used to determine the rankings: Last year’s records and history of success or ineptitude. Also, games against FCS schools are excluded, otherwise Miami and Troy would be ranked #1 and #2 respectively due to home games versus Savannah State.
Disagree or have games of your own you think will set the sport back 100 years? Share your thoughts in the comments below and let the debates begin.
Idaho Vandals at North Texas Mean Green
Saturday, Aug. 31, 6 p.m. ET, TV TBA
What happens when a defense ranked 118 in scoring travels to Denton, TX to face an offense that could fare no better than 103rd in total O? We’ll find out during the first week of the season when Idaho – playing as an independent until they join the Sun Belt Conference next year – takes on a Mean Green squad opening the season at home for the first time since 2001. This one could be a festival of field goal attempts.
Pittsburgh Panthers at Duke Blue Devils
Saturday, Sept. 21, Time/TV TBD
Are there any two schools in the nation that consistently underachieve more than Pittsburgh and Duke? Combined, the two schools have managed to lose games to schools like Richmond, Army, Youngstown State, and Bowling Green since 2008. If college football hadn’t abolished the tie back in 1996, I would bet the money line that this one ends 13-13.
New Mexico State Aggies at New Mexico Lobos
Saturday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m. ET, ROOT SPORTS
One could argue that amongst all in-state rivalries in college football, this one garners the least attention. The Aggies currently hold the claim to the longest bowl drought in college football having not seen the postseason in 51 years. NMSU is also a team without a home in 2013 as they were left behind when the WAC dissolved last season (the Aggies will join fellow ex-WAC member Idaho in the Sun Belt next year).
The Lobos, while showing signs of improvement last season (4-9) under former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie, are still reeling from the disastrous Mike Locksley era (3-28 from 2009-2011). A loss to the Aggies might have Davie yearning for the days of warm ESPN booths where he was an analyst before taking the Lobos job.
Eastern Michigan Eagles at Army Black Knights
Saturday, Oct. 12, Noon ET, CBS Sports Network
The race for 2-10 begins on Oct. 12 when the Eastern Michigan Eagles travel to West Point to take on the Army Black Knights. Both schools are looking to recover from incredibly disappointing 2012 campaigns that began with bowl aspirations and ended with only two victories for each squad.
The season was especially brutal for the Eagles who came off a 6-6 2011 campaign and returned starting QB Alex Gillett who shined that season. But the wheels quickly fell off, culminating in a shocking 31-17 loss at home to FCS foe Illinois State.
Whoever loses this match-up could be staring at a one-win season.
Auburn Tigers at Arkansas Razorbacks
Saturday, Nov. 2, Time/TV TBD
Not even playing in the SEC can save the Tigers and Razorbacks from this list. It’s hard to believe it was only a few years ago these teams played an Arena Football-like 65-43 shootout, especially when compared to last year’s 24-7 snooze-fest.
This game is also a match-up of two new head coaches that will have intense spotlights on them all season. Gus Malzahn returns to Auburn after one season as Arkansas State where he led the Red Wolves to the postseason. He looks to turn around a Tigers team that fumbled their way to a 3-9 season, including 0-8 in the SEC.
Arkansas has one of the more interesting coaching situations this season having brought over Bret Bielema from Wisconsin. While Bielema was incredibly successful with the Badgers (68-24 record, 7 bowl games, 3 Rose Bowl appearances), he’s charged with the task of picking up the pieces still scattered from the Bobby Petrino scandal of 2012.
Illinois Fighting Illini at Indiana Hoosiers
Saturday, Nov. 9, Time/TV TBD
The title of least-best Leader could be at stake as 2012 Big Ten bottom dwellers Illinois and Indiana face off in early November. Last season Illinois subjected its fans to one of the worst offenses in the country (119th in total offense) while Indiana was busy giving up 465 yards per game (103rd in total defense).
Something has to give. Right?
California Golden Bears at Colorado Buffaloes
Saturday, Nov. 16, Time/TV TBD
Talk about two Pac-12 teams that desperately need every win it can find in 2013. The Golden Bears of California are coming off a horribly disappointing season that ended with the firing of longtime coach Jeff Tedford. Newly hired Sonny Dykes brings his aerial attack from Louisiana Tech to Berkeley in hopes of resurrecting an offense that could only muster 23 points per game last season.
Things are even more tricky over in Boulder where first-year coach Mike MacIntyre looks to rebuild a once proud program that would have went 0-12 last season had it not been for a miraculous rally at Wazzu early in the season. If anyone can turn around this program, it’s MacIntyre, who went 1-12 at San Jose State in his first season in 2010, only to lead them to an 11-2 campaign last year and a #21 BCS ranking.
Akron Zips at UMass Minutemen
Saturday, Nov. 16, 1 p.m. ET, TV TBA
If Eastern Michigan at Army is the race for 2-10, then Akron at UMass could be the battle for 1-11.
UMass spent its first year in the MAC averaging an amazingly minuscule 12.7 points per game. They even suffered through a mid-season stretch where they lost by a combined 136-7 to Bowling Green, Vandy, and Northern Illinois.
If you think that’s bad, former Auburn coach Terry Bowden’s Zips were the only ones to suffer a loss to a team that eventually went 1-11 last year.
The team? UMass.
Florida Atlantic Owls at Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
Saturday, Nov. 16, 12:30 p.m., TV TBD
In 2011, Southern Mississippi shocked Houston and its star QB, Case Keenum, in the Conference USA championship game to prevent the Cougars from busting into the BCS party.
In 2012, Southern Mississippi shocked its own fan base by somehow finishing with a 0-12 record, which made it the only FBS program without a win.
New Conference USA member Florida Atlantic arrives fresh off a 3-9 campaign and a half empty stadium built only a few years ago. The Owls barely beat FCS squad Wagner 7-3 in last year’s opener (although shockingly they beat post-season bound Western Kentucky on the road toward the end of the season).
Idaho Vandals at New Mexico State Aggies
Saturday, Nov. 30, Time/TV TBD
The Shoving Match of the Year takes place at the end of November as ex-WAC members Idaho and New Mexico State face off in what could be each school’s only chance at an FBS win. This could be an epic display of screen passes and punting considering each school ranked nearly dead last nationally in total offense last year. At least the winner can ride that momentum into the off-season before joining the Sun Belt.
Or maybe not.
Andy Coffaro is a contributor to FBSchedules.com. Follow him on Twitter @andycoffaro and LinkedIn.