Four is the magic number for CFB

After winning 33 games from 2008 to 2010, the Utes combined to win only 18 games in their first three seasons in the Pac-12, including a woeful 9-18 mark in conference games. The Utes get back quarterback Travis Wilson this season, but they play road games at Michigan, UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona State and Stanford.

Best nonconference games

1. Michigan State at Oregon, Sept. 6

Offense vs. defense. Pac-12 vs. Big Ten. Nike vs. the Rust Belt. The Spartans and Ducks might both be contenders for a spot in the four-team playoff, but the loser is going to be reeling after Week 2.

2. Michigan at Notre Dame, Sept. 6

Sure, the Wolverines and Fighting Irish are coming off disappointing seasons. But it's the last matchup between the traditional powers for a quite a while. The winner claims bragging rights for a long, long time.

3. Texas vs. UCLA, Sept. 13 (Arlington, Texas)

Strong, who replaced Mack Brown at UT, could go a long way in silencing his critics with an early-season victory over the Bruins, who have aspirations of winning the Pac-12. UT's defense will be a difficult test for Hundley and UCLA's offense.

4. South Carolina at Clemson, Nov. 29

Spurrier loves nothing more than beating Clemson, which the Gamecocks have done in each of the last five seasons. With the way Spurrier and Swinney trade verbal jabs, it might be college football's hottest rivalry outside of the Iron Bowl.

Worst nonconference games

1. NC State vs. Presbyterian, Sept. 20

The Wolfpack must be pretty desperate to improve on a 3-9 finish in 2013. The Blue Hose haven't had a winning season since 2007 and have won 15 games the last six seasons combined.

2. Marshall vs. Rhode Island, Sept. 6

The Thundering Herd will play arguably the country's softest schedule and their home game against the Rams is the biggest cupcake. The Rams went 3-9 last season, losing their last two games by a combined score of 86-0.

3. Alabama vs. Western Carolina, Nov. 22

The Catamounts are this season's pre-Iron Bowl sacrifice for the Crimson Tide. Western Carolina went 2-10 last season, losing badly to Virginia Tech (45-3) and Auburn (62-3).

4. Grambling State at Houston, Sept. 6

The Tigers' problems have been well documented, as Eddie Robinson's once-proud program has fallen on hard times, on and off the field. Grambling State went a combined 2-21 the last two seasons and dropped its last four games against Power Five foes by a combined score of 194-23.

Best revenge games

1. Auburn at Alabama, Nov. 29

Crimson Tide fans might never get over Auburn's Chris Davis returning a missed field goal 109 yards for a touchdown on the final play of a 34-28 loss to the Tigers in last season's Iron Bowl. Saban's decision to try a field goal might have cost the Tide a chance to play for a third straight BCS championship.

2. Ohio State at Michigan State, Nov. 8

The Spartans knocked the Buckeyes out of the BCS Championship game with a 34-24 upset in the Big Ten championship game, which ended OSU's 24-game winning streak. This year's matchup might decide which team wins the Big Ten's East Division.

3. Auburn at Georgia, Nov. 15

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