Teams can't win a spot in the college Football playoffs in September – but they can certainly lose it. Over the past 20 years, the game has changed in a very good way regarding the early season scheduling. Not too long ago it was unheard of for a top ten type team to schedule difficult opponents before beginning conference play. It didn't make sense to take a chance on losing their high rank when a win wouldn't help in the long run. 

Now, there are reasons why a single difficult opponent in game one or two has become more popular:

  • A huge payout, much like a bowl game. This wasn't the case back when fewer games were on TV.
  • Power Index rankings and getting an early look from the college football playoff committee.
  • In a 12 game regular season, a single out of conference loss early can be overcome in most years.

The following games feature some of college football's greatest teams. Still, these games look to be a bit one-sided.

As a result, they only rate an honorable mention here:

  • Sept. 3 - Clemson at Auburn
  • Sept. 3 - USC vs. Alabama
  • Sept. 4 - Notre Dame at Texas
  • Sept. 10 - Tennessee vs. Virginia Tech
  • Sept. 24 - Stanford at UCLA

Games that matter to College football playoff 

The following five games have all the ingredients we are looking for:

  • Sept. 3 - LSU vs Wisconsin @ Green Bay - In 2014, LSU won the game 28-24 after trailing 17-7 at the half. Justin Wilcox replaces Dave Aranda as the D.C. at Wisconsin. Look for the contest to be closer than most people expect. 
  • Sept. 3 - North Carolina vs. Georgia @ Atlanta - Larry Fedora and staff have really gotten things going for the Tar Heels. They return 14 starters from last year's 11-3 team that gave Clemson all they wanted in the ACC Championship Game.
  • Sept. 5 - Florida State vs. Mississippi @ Orlando - Everybody knows the Seminoles are one of the best teams in the country. The question is how good is Mississippi? The Rebels return Chad Kelly, one of the best quarterbacks in college ball. In addition, the team is loaded with talent recruited by Hugh Freeze and staff. 
  • Sept. 17 - Ohio State at Oklahoma - The Sooners were a playoff team in 2015 and will have a five-point home field edge. However, Ohio State is one of the best teams in football. This should be a great game.
  • Sept. 24 - Florida at Tennessee - Florida has beaten the Volunteers 11 years in a row. Tennessee should have the better team but that was the case last year and Florida won 28-27. If the Vols are going to be considered in the playoff rankings, this is an early season game they must win.

There are other games that have importance for what ever reason.

However, the five above are the ones that will have an effect on the college football playoff – at least early on.

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