Exciting Non-Conference Matchups for the 2021 College Football Schedule

The college football season is back in full swing and we are already getting a good idea of what the best college football matchups will be this season. While conference play is beginning to hit its stride, there are still plenty of college football non-conference games coming up over the rest of the year (albeit not at the level of the Georgia vs. Clemson tilt that started off September) that will be more than worth watching. Here are some games to watch for on the college football schedule this weekend and beyond.

Non-Conference College Football Schedule

  1. Cincinnati at Notre Dame
  2. BYU at Baylor
  3. Army at Wisconsin
  4. Liberty at Ole MIss
  5. Clemson at South Carolina
  6. Kentucky at Louisville
  7. Army at Navy

October

Cincinnati at Notre Dame (Oct. 2)

Probably the best non-conference game left on the 2021 college football schedule (excluding the college football bowl matchups that have yet to be decided) is the top 10 clash between the Bearcats and the Fighting Irish. Cincinnati is probably the best Group of Five team in the country (they went undefeated through the regular season and won the AAC last fall) while Notre Dame is as loaded with high-end high school talent as ever. Notre Dame is coming in after a huge win over Wisconsin and Cincinnati knows that this is its chance on a big stage to get into the College Football Playoff conversion. This should be one of the best college football games on today.

BYU at Baylor (Oct. 16)

This game looks more interesting now than it did when the season started. BYU and Baylor have both had hot starts (the Bears upset Iowa State in later September) and the Cougars have every chance of coming into this one as a top 10 side when the game is played. It is a weirdly placed game in the middle of the Big 12 schedule for Baylor and given the latest expansion news this will be a matchup we see much more in the future with the Cougars moving to join the Bears in the Big 12 as part of its expansion back to 12 teams in 2025.

Army at Wisconsin (October 16)

This is a game that makes no sense for the Badgers given where it is on the schedule. Army runs a devastating triple-option attack that allows the Black Knights to win games without throwing the football. It is an attack that takes time to game plan for and seeing it placed in the middle of the conference schedule is just weird. The only sad part about this game is that Wisconsin’s offense has evolved over the last few years so that they don’t run nearly as much as they used to and opt to pass more instead. This still could be one of those games on the college football schedule that purists love.

November

Liberty at Ole Miss (Nov. 6)

If you are looking for a game on the college football schedule that has the potential for offensive fireworks then this clash between the Flames (who went 10-1 last year) and Ole Miss (who are really, really good) should be on your radar. The battle of quarterbacks that sees Malik Willis of Liberty and Matt Corral of Ole Miss facing off is intriguing, as is the return of former Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze to Oxford leading the enemy.

Clemson at South Carolina (Nov. 27)

This is one of those college football matchups that is steeped in history but has been one-sided for too long. The Tigers have owned the Gamecocks for the last few recruiting cycles and they are undefeated in the Palmetto Bowl against their in-state rival since 2014. Most of the games haven’t been close and while Clemson has been established as a perennial National Title contender the Gamecocks have struggled. This year, however, it could be different. Shane Beamer is getting things together in Columbia while years of early draft entries have taken their toll on Clemson. This is the Gamecocks’ year to strike.

Kentucky at Louisville (Nov. 27)

The Governor’s Cup clash between Kentucky and Louisville is another of those Thanksgiving Weekend college football matchups well worth watching. Kentucky may have been seen as a basketball school for years, but head coach Mark Stoops has completely changed the direction of the program and the Wildcats are thriving under his leadership. The Cardinals have not been the same since Lamar Jackson was in classes and they are in danger of ceding the recruiting territory in the state to their bitter rivals. Both schools look to have good teams this year and could come in ranked which would make it an even more intriguing prospect.  

 

December

Army at Navy (Dec. 11 at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.)

There is a reason that this game has a place on the college football schedule all on its own. It doesn’t matter how good the two teams are in any given year (helpful in 2021 as Army is very good and Navy is rebuilding) because the special feel around this game makes it unlike any other. Army has a legitimate chance to come into this one undefeated, while Navy under long time head coach Ken Niumatalolo would love to play spoiler to the Black Knights plans of reaching a higher level bowl game than usual. Throw in the possibility of snow on a frigid New Jersey Saturday in December and you have all the ingredients for magic to happen.


These are just some of the games on the college football schedule worth watching this fall. Add in the rivalry games (Alabama and Auburn in the Iron Bowl is always fantastic) and then the college football bowl matchups to follow, and you have a feast of football on your hands without even tuning in on Sundays!