Grab a pompom and pen and circle these important dates for the upcoming season.

Sept. 3: Boise State vs. Georgia (in Atlanta); Oregon vs. LSU (in Dallas). Most sports start their playoffs at the end of the season, but college football is more like drag racing — pedal to the metal.

Boise State-Georgia offers "little guy" versus "big guy" with a twist. The Broncos, almost hilariously, enter as the top-10 national title contender, while the Bulldogs, of the sacred Southeastern Conference, need this kind of victory to earn back respect from a restless fan base.


Oregon-LSU is the bonus track to last year's Oregon-Auburn title game. The Sept. 3 winner becomes the early "team to beat." The loser isn't necessarily eliminated as long as the score is close.

Also on Sept. 3: BYU makes its debut as a football independent against Mississippi in Oxford.

Sept. 10: Utah at USC. Welcome to the Pac-12. Utah makes its conference debut, on the road, against the league's signature program. Good luck. Norm Chow, the play-calling guru on Pete Carroll's glory-days Trojans staff, returns as Utah's offensive coordinator.

Sept. 17: Oklahoma at Florida State; Ohio State at Miami; Texas at UCLA; Washington at Nebraska; Utah at BYU. This weekend should be dubbed "Five reasons not to leave the couch."

Oct. 1: Alabama at Florida; Nevada at Boise State. You think Boise wants revenge for last year's heartbreaking loss at Reno?

Oct. 8: Iowa at Penn State; Florida at LSU; Ohio State at Nebraska. The great part about Ohio State-Nebraska is it's now a Big Ten game.

Nov. 5: Oregon at Washington; LSU at Alabama. Say hello to two bitter rivalries that don't involve schools from the same state.

Nov. 12: Oregon at Stanford. Plot point: One bad half in Eugene last year cost Stanford a shot at the national championship.

Nov. 26: Rivalry weekend: Alabama-Auburn; Florida State-Florida; Ohio State-Michigan; Oregon State-Oregon; USC-UCLA.

Dec. 2: Inaugural Pac-12 title game — under Friday night lights.

Dec. 3: First Big Ten title game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.