To use the same intro I used for my article on the key MAC games of 2010...
LeBron James stole our attention (and hearts) for a couple of days, but following his egotistical departure from Northeastern Ohio, many are turning their attention to football.
As the college football season slowly draws closer, here's a look at the biggest match-ups around the Mid-American Conference in 2010.
Miami at Ohio State--Two of the better teams and quarterbacks (Terrelle Pryor and Jacory Harris) in college football meet in the Buckeyes' only major test until mid October.
Penn State at Alabama--Bama's first real test as defending national champs. Joe Paterno and the Nittiny Lions can establish themselves as one of the contenders for the Big Ten title.
Michigan at Notre Dame--How big would a win against the Irish be for Rich Rodriguez' psyche (and job security)? Michigan isn't ready to contend in the Big Ten yet, but this would open some tired, worn-out eyes. On the other side, this will be the first test for Brian Kelly's spread offense under the Golden Dome.
Iowa at Arizona--The Hawkeyes have real hopes of an undefeated season, and traveling to Tucson stands as the first test on the schedule.
Notre Dame at Michigan State--Both teams are among the top 40 in the country, and both will be hungry to enter the top 25 in the polls.
Penn State at Iowa--This matchup has emerged as one of the most anticipated and exciting on the Big Ten schedule as of late.
Ohio State at Wisconsin--The Badgers need to jump around at home and use what could be the most lethal offense in the conference to overcome the visiting Buckeyes.
Wisconsin at Iowa--The Badgers won't get a breather after the Buckeyes. Traveling to Iowa is just as difficult a test.
Penn State at Ohio State--One of the marquee matchups of the Big Ten comes to the 'Shoe, but the road team has won the last two meetings.
Ohio State at Iowa--The biggest game of the year, in what could easily turn out to be the Big Ten Championship game. If the Buckeyes beat Miami and the Hawkeyes beat Arizona, both could come into this game undefeated.
Michigan at Ohio State--The Game. If Rodriguez wants to keep his job, he probably needs to beat Tressel within the next two seasons. Beating this team (and the guy he so desperately tried to recruit in Terrelle Pryor) in Columbus won't be easy.
Other must-watch games around the country:
Oregon State vs. TCU--TCU's only hopes of an undefeated season and maybe a championship game berth depend on this game.
Virginia Tech at Boise State--See above.
Oklahoma at Cincinnati--The Bear Cats want to prove they're the real deal, this would go a long way in making their case.
Florida at Alabama--The Tim Tebowless Gators take on the defending champs in the biggest game of the SEC regular season.
Texas at Oklahoma--The Red River Rivalry of 2010.
Texas at Nebraska--Might as well start following the Huskers now. A rematch of the Big-12 title game, the Huskers have a real shot at an undefeated season, with this standing as the big test.
Oregon at USC--The Ducks are hurting without Masoli as they battle Lane Kiffin and his Trojans in for all intensive purposes, the Pac 10 championship game.