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Andy JohnstonAndy Johnston

LSU vs. Wisconsin among top non-conference games this fall

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LSU will need to slow Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon when the teams meet in their openers later this month. (AP photo)

LSU will need to slow Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon when the teams meet in their openers later this month. (AP photo)

I love some of the intersectional matchups this year.

These kinds of games — with all the conference pride on the line — tend to rile folks up somewhat.

Here’s a look at what I think are the top non-conference games this season.

Michigan State at Oregon, Sept. 6

Michigan State was one of the best defensive teams in the nation in 2013. Coordinator Pat Narduzzi quickly will know if this year’s group will be able to match the 2013 unit when they face Mariota and Oregon’s speedy offense.

LSU vs. Wisconsin, Aug. 30 (at Houston)

SEC pride will be tested when LSU, which lost 11 underclassmen to the NFL Draft and also must replace Zach Mettenberger. But the Tigers don’t lose to non-SEC teams. They’ve won 45 consecutive non-conference games, 35 straight under Les Miles.

Clemson at Georgia, Aug. 30

Another SEC pride game. New quarterbacks – Hutson Mason at Georgia and Cole Stoudt at Clemson – will be on display, but both have experience. It’ll be the first look at Georgia’s defense under new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

Notre Dame at Florida State, Oct. 18

We’ll know a lot more about these teams before they meet. No matter. Games like this great for college football and bring back memories of past intersectional matchups. The return of quarterback Everett Golston will add speed to Notre Dame’s offense.

Auburn at Kansas State, Sept. 18 (Thursday)

Auburn fans shouldn’t overlook this one. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has seen a lot and will have the Wildcats prepared, but Auburn’s speed and offensive execution could be too much to overcome.

Five others

South Carolina at Clemson, Nov. 29

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

Boise State at Ole Miss (Georgia Dome), Aug. 28

Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (Arlington), Aug. 30

Miami at Nebraska, Sept. 20

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