9. Miami vs. Alabama (in Atlanta, GA), Sept. 4
This game is likely a lot lower on this list than it would be on similar rankings. Frankly, I believe that a big part of that is due to the fact it’s happening on opening week. Fans are so excited to welcome college football back into our lives and this is one of the marquee games of the week featuring the reigning national champions. But this isn’t a top-five most important game by any stretch.
If Miami were returning the team they trotted out last year, it might crack that top-five threshold. Last season, the Hurricanes boasted one of the most fearsome edge rusher duos in the country with Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche. But now Manny Diaz’s club must replace those two and a number of others to try and keep that side of the ball afloat. Also throw in the fact that all-world quarterback D’Eriq King is coming back from a late ACL tear and that’s another reason for concern.
As mentioned previously, Alabama could have some early-season growing pains as they are trying to break in a relatively inexperienced roster. With that being said, they would be challenged in a more major way by a team that didn’t have so many problems of their own to contend with coming into the year.
To be sure, this game is going to feature a ton of talent and be exciting. And though I wouldn’t pick it, it’s not entirely inconceivable that Miami could throw a monkey wrench into Bama’s back-to-back title plans. However, as of now, this is a very good, pretty important matchup, not one that should be near the top of these types of rankings.