I listed my three non-AQ games to watch as part of my spring wrap, and included TCU at Boise State. Earlier Wednesday I listed my out-of-conference, non-AQ games to watch for 2011. Now here is my list of the top conference games to watch for 2011:
TCU at San Diego State, Oct. 8
Buzz: The Aztecs came oh-so-close to pulling the upset in Fort Worth last season, and now they get TCU at home. The Horned Frogs are going to be good again on defense, but there are questions on offense. The Aztecs have questions at receiver, too. It will be interesting to see how this team looks with a new coaching staff as well.
UCF at SMU, Oct. 13
Buzz: A rematch of the C-USA championship game last season, only this one takes place in Dallas. Both teams are going to be in the mix to return to the championship game, so this one could have an impact on the league race.
Air Force at Boise State, Oct. 22
Buzz: There are some who believe the Falcons could be a dark-horse contender in the Mountain West, and they get a chance to prove their worth in this tough conference game. Meanwhile, Boise State gets its first crack at the difficult triple-option offense led by senior Tim Jefferson.
Fresno State at Nevada, Oct. 22
Buzz: This one could impact the race for the WAC title. Both will have new starting quarterbacks and don't have Boise State in the way anymore, either.
Troy at FIU, Oct. 25
Buzz: FIU smacked Troy 52-35 last season but they both ended up sharing the conference title. Both will be favored to finish atop the Sun Belt once again, making this a pivotal game.
Tulsa at UCF, Nov. 3
Buzz: This one could be a preview of the C-USA title game. Tulsa has plenty of returning starters, while UCF has some holes to fill on offense and at receiver.
Miami (Ohio) at Temple, Nov. 9
Buzz: Both teams are going to be favored to be at the top of the East, so this one could have implications on who goes to the conference title game. The RedHawks pulled the upset at home last year en route to the conference title game.
Hawaii at Nevada, Nov. 12
Buzz: The Warriors handed the Wolf Pack their only loss last season as both claimed a share of the WAC title. Even though they lost, Nevada did a good job of limiting the quick-strike offense, holding the Warriors to their second-lowest point total of the season.
Boise State at San Diego State, Nov. 19
Buzz: No question the Broncos face much tougher competition in a tougher league and this one is one of the harder games on the schedule. Depending on how the teams play, this one could be an upset alert for the week.
Houston at Tulsa, Nov. 26
Buzz: These two teams are going to be the favorites in the West and the winner of this game could end up in the conference championship game. Much of their success will hinge on how their respective quarterbacks play this season.