The 2018 college football season doesn't start for several months, but while we're in the middle of spring practice, we're already pining for the return of Saturdays full of football. Full warning: it's shaping up to be another great season full of incredible games. With that in mind, let's get to the 10 most important college football games of 2018, according to FPI:
10) Notre Dame Fighting Irish at USC Trojans - Nov. 24
This rivalry game is always one of the bigger games of the year, and for two teams that will start the year on the fringe of playoff contention, the winner of this game will put themselves in a good position while the other will essentially be eliminated. The stakes can't be bigger than that on college football's final weekend, can it?
9) Michigan State Spartans at Penn State Nittany Lions - Oct. 13
The Big Ten East is full of playoff contenders once again and this is the first of many games on the list that will thin out the herd. Both Michigan State and Penn State are expected to start the season in the back half of the top 10, meaning that the winner of this game will emerge as a serious playoff threat.
8) Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Wolverines - Nov. 3
This has the chance to be a playoff elimination game. Neither team can afford two losses and Penn State will have already played Michigan State and Ohio State while Michigan will have faced Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.
If both teams are undefeated, the advantages for the winner are obvious. However, if both teams have a loss, the loser is all but out of the CFP race.
7) Michigan Wolverines at Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Sept. 1
How about reviving an old rivalry game to serve as the marquee game of opening weekend? Both will be ranked (likely in the top 20) to start the season, giving both the chance for an early signature win. Plus, Brian Kelly going up against Jim Harbaugh is must-see TV. And, should the Wolverines lose, how will the Michigan fan base react to Harbaugh losing yet another rivalry game?
6) Michigan Wolverines at Ohio State Buckeyes - Nov. 24
Michigan's schedule is pretty tough, eh? The Wolverines have come close to beating the Buckeyes each of the past three seasons but Harbaugh has not managed to knock off Ohio State yet.
This game has also had major playoff implications two years in a row - Ohio State's double-overtime win in 2016 sent them to the playoff despite not winning the Big Ten and their win in Ann Arbor in 2017 propelled them to the Big Ten title (though they narrowly missed out on the CFP). What will the stakes be this time around?
5) Auburn Tigers at Georgia Bulldogs - Nov. 10
We now enter the Auburn portion of this list as the Tigers have some incredibly tough games on their schedule. Georgia will be looking for revenge after their loss to Auburn last season that nearly knocked UGA out of the playoff race and will also be a rematch of last year's SEC Championship Game. Both teams will start the season in the top 10 and a loss this late in the season may be too much for either to overcome.
4) Auburn Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide - Nov. 24
The Iron Bowl seemingly always has major postseason implications. Despite two losses, Auburn put themselves in position for a CFP berth with a win and Alabama nearly missed the playoff for the first time since it's inception. This year, the loser of the game won't be so lucky.
3) Auburn Tigers vs. Washington Huskies (Atlanta, GA) - Sept. 1
In terms of the playoff picture, this is the biggest game of the weekend. Auburn and Washington are both top 10 caliber teams with returning star quarterbacks in Jarrett Stidham and Jake Browning, respectively. The winner gets a huge win on their CFP resume - the loser can't suffer defeat again.
2) Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan State Spartans - Nov. 10
One of Ohio State's two tough road tests this season will come in East Lansing. Michigan State has had success against the Buckeyes in recent years, winning two of their last five meetings, and it's their last game against the other teams at the top of the Big Ten East. Michigan State's season will likely come down to this game.
1) Ohio State Buckeyes at Penn State Nittany Lions - Sept. 29
How's this for a late-September game? This was one of the games of the year last season and Penn State will be looking for revenge after blowing a big lead in that loss. Both teams will have played one Big Ten game prior to this but the winner will be in the driver's seat for both the Big Ten title and a CFP berth.
Related Topics: Michigan Wolverines Football, Ohio State Buckeyes Football, Notre Dame Fighting Irish Football, Penn State Nittany Lions Football, NCAA Football, Alabama Crimson Tide Football, Washington Huskies Football, Auburn Tigers Football, Michigan State Spartans Football, USC Trojans Football, Georgia Bulldogs Football