The 2016-17 NCAA Football has been released and fans have begun circling top match-ups on the schedule. Luckily for fans, the first three weeks in September are chock full of top match-ups between Power 5 Conference foes. Most of the match-ups featured in the first three weeks are not your typical intra-conference match-ups; rather fans can enjoy cross-conference match-ups between some of the best teams in America. In addition, some of America’s most famous venues will host the games.

While Clemson and Alabama are considered the favorites heading into this season, there are numerous teams that could make some noise. Ohio State and Oklahoma are hoping to bounce back after endings to their seasons while Georgia and LSU are led by Heisman Trophy hopefuls. The betting lines for each of these games is fairly close, so fans should check out http://www.ogpaper.com/sports-betting.html to educate themselves on how to bet on games. Game previews for each top game in September is presented below.

9/3/16 LSU Tigers @ Wisconsin Badgers (Lambeau Field)

An SEC-Big 10 match-up between the LSU Tigers and Wisconsin Badgers currently commands the highest get-in ticket price. While both teams are made up of All-Americans, all eyes will be on running back, Leonard Fournette. Fournette, who was the NCAA rushing champion last season, has scored 32 rushing touchdowns in his first two seasons while averaging 6.0 yards per carry. Since this game will be played at the historic Lambeau Field, fans should act soon in order to secure their tickets.

9/17/16 Ohio State Buckeyes @ Oklahoma Sooners (Memorial Stadium) 

The Ohio State Buckeyes will make a rare trip to Norman, Oklahoma for a match-up against the Sooners on Saturday, September 17th. Based on early Vegas lines, the Sooners are 9-point favorites over the Buckeyes. Granted, a total of 12 Buckeyes were selected in the NFL Draft, so this team will miss some of its playmakers in this match-ups. Ohio State will still have quarterback, JT Barrett in fold, but Oklahoma will feature a dynamic offense that features quarterback, Baker Mayfield and running back, Samaje Perine.

9/17/16 Michigan State Spartans @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Notre Dame Stadium)

The rivalry between Michigan State and Notre Dame will be renewed on Saturday, September 17th at Notre Dame Stadium. The rivalry between Michigan State and Notre Dame dates back to 1897–and Notre Dame leads the rivalry 48-28-1. These two teams haven’t played since 2013 when Notre Dame came away with a 17-13 victory. Notre Dame has won three straight games against Michigan State, so the Spartans will look to snap their winning streak.

9/4/16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Texas Longhorns (Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium) 

The Notre Dame-Texas college football rivalry dates back to 1913, but this rivalry has been dominated by the Irish. Notre Dame has nine of 11 match-up against the Longhorns, including a 38-3 victory last season. Given the magnitude of these two programs, this game will be played in primetime on Sunday, September 4th. This will be Notre Dame’s first trip to Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium since 1996 when Notre Dame won a close 27-24 decision.

9/3/16 North Carolina Tarheels @ Georgia Bulldogs (Georgia Dome) 

North Carolina and Georgia will square off in the Chik-Fil-A kick-off game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and will renew an old ACC-SEC rivalry. These two schools have played 30 times with Georgia holding a 16-12-2 advantage. Georgia fans are hoping that their star running back, Nick Chubb, will return for the season opener. Chubb tore his ACL last season after getting off to a blistering fast; Chubb averaged 149 rushing yards per game over his first five games and averaged an absurd 8.1 yards per carry. In 2014, Chubb rushed for 1,547 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns.

When it comes to sports, New York has bred a number of world-class competitors over the last few decades. From classic swingers, such as Babe Ruth, to modern day heroes, such as Michael Jordan and Mike Tyson, New York has a long history of sporting greats.

However, away from the baseball fields, football fields and other arenas of competition, in recent years New York has also become something of a breeding ground for another type of champion – poker players.

Thanks to a steady stream of poker icons making a name for themselves on the international circuit, New York has become synonymous with poker success and was even used as the setting for the cult classic Rounders. Starring Matt Damon, Ed Norton and John Malkovich, the 1998 film focuses on Mike McDermott (played by Damon) who is a poker player tasked with using his skills to rebuild his bankroll and take part in the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event.

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The New York Jets won their third straight game, demonstrating the urgency needed to make a serious playoff push. New York dominated Tennessee on both sides of the ball, outgaining the overmatched Titans, 439-292. Ryan Fitzpatrick continued to dominate, tossing more three touchdown passes, while Chris Ivory turned in his first 100-yard performance in nearly two months. While New York’s offense capitalized and made plays, Tennessee’s defensive play was putrid. Defenders resorted to arm tackling ball carriers and the secondary missed countless assignments. Right before halftime, Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall connected for the easiest 69-yard touchdown in NFL history. Tennessee’s secondary forgot to cover Marshall, so Marshall caught a quick screen and ran free for an easy touchdown. This scoring play gave New York a commanding 27-0 lead before halftime and basically ended the game. On the other side of the ball, New York’s defensive line, namely Muhammad Wilkerson, was all over Marcus Mariota; Mariota was sacked five times and looked completely befuddled by New York’s defensive alignments. With Darrelle Revis back in the fold, the secondary locked down Tennesse’s middling pass catchers, giving its talented array of pass rushers to attack Mariota at will. Wilkerson had his first career three-sack game and is just 0.5 sacks away from breaking Shaun Ellis’ career record (12.5 sacks).

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The New York Jets delivered their biggest win under Todd Bowles, rallying from a 10-point, 4th quarter deficit to sneak away with a 23-20 overtime victory. By virtue of their win, the Jets snap a five-game losing streak to the Giants and cement their status as a Wildcard contender in the AFC. The Jets were resilient on both sides on the ball while taking advantage of some questionable decisions made by Tom Coughlin. The Jets’ offense was stagnant for nearly three quarters, but Coughlin’s decision to ‘go-for-it’ on 4th-and-Goal from the Jets’ 2-yard line swung momentum in the Jets’ favor. The Giants were holding a 10-point lead, so it was a very questionable decision by Coughlin. Regardless, Coughlin’s decision gave the Jets an opening—and Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall ran through it. Fitzpatrick and Marshall connected for a 9-yard scoring strike with just 27 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. This scoring play knotted the score at 20. In overtime, the Jets pushed the ball downfield, but settled for a field goal by new kicker, Randy Bullock. Giants’ kicker, Josh Brown, missed his game-tying kick in overtime, handing the Jets the victory. Overall, it was a very emotional game and tempers ran high at times, but the duo of Fitzpatrick-Marshall, not Manning-Beckham, proved to be the winning combo.

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With the season seemingly on the line, the New York Jets played their best game in nearly two months. Ryan Fitzpatrick was very efficient, throwing for 277 yards and four touchdowns while Chris Ivory looked explosive for the first time in nearly a month. Fitzpatrick hit the ‘trifecta’ by throwing a touchdown pass to each of his starting wide receivers. While Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall regularly hit pay dirt, Devin Smith scored his first touchdown right before halftime. With just seconds remaining, Smith ran a tight post route and Fitzpatrick delivered a strike for a 16-yard touchdown. This scoring play gave New York a 14-0 halftime lead, but more importantly, Fitzpatrick showed a lot of trust in the rookie by targeting him in a high leverage situation. After weeks of drops and poorly run routes, it was encouraging to see Smith haul in this touchdown pass.

Sans Darrelle Revis, New York’s defense completely dominated Miami’s offense, allowing just one third down conversion in the first three quarters. Miami’s offense lost Rishard Matthews and Mike Pouncey to injuries early in the game, but Ryan Tannehill was once again befuddled by New York’s blitz schemes.

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New York’s defense did not have an answer for Houston’s third string quarterback, TJ Yates. Yates managed the offense fairly well and did not shy away from throwing at Darrelle Revis. Revis locked horns with DeAndre Hopkins for the majority of the game—and Yates-Hopkins won the majority of those battles. During the second quarter, Yates hooked up with Hopkins on a 61-yard touchdown bomb off of play action. Revis bit on Hopkins’ double move and Yates dropped a dime over Revis’ outstretched arm. Revis did not have safety help over the top and paid the price against one of the NFL’s best young wide receivers. Revis left the game during the third quarter with a head injury, so his status is worth monitoring.

New York’s offensive line, sans Nick Mangold, did not have an answer for JJ Watt. Watt lined up all over Houston’s defensive front and dominated one-on-one match-ups, particularly against right tackle, Breno Giacomini. New York refused to double-team Watt, which proved to be a foolish decision.

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New York lost the ‘Rex Bowl’ at Metlife Stadium by committing four turnovers and making numerous mental mistakes that led to their third loss in their last four games. Those mental mistakes started at the very top as Todd Bowles made a few questionable decisions. Down 22-9 midway through the third quarter, Bowles opted to kick the extra point, making the score 22-10, instead of going for the two-point conversion. His biggest gaffe, however, occurred with three minutes remaining in the game. Trailing by five points and armed with three timeouts, Bowles opted to go for it on 4th-and-4 from Buffalo’s 7-yard line. New York failed to convert a first down, deflating the home crowd and a defense that was played inspired football during the second half. Buffalo’s offense was able to kill the clock due to some strong, elusive carries by LeSean McCoy.

For the first time this season, Devin Smith was forced into kick returning duties, but things did not go according to plan. Early in the second quarter, Smith fumbled away a kick off return and Buffalo returned it 19 yards for a touchdown. Smith made the mistake of returning a deep kick-off out of his own end zone and chose to run away from his blocks. Smith’s mistake spun momentum in Buffalo’s favor and proved to be one of the most noteworthy plays from this game.

Tackling has become a major issue for New York’s defense. New York’s tacklers were routinely whiffing on tackles and each member of the defense missed at least one tackle. McCoy exacerbated New York’s tackling deficiency late in the fourth quarter by juking, side stepping, and evading defenders to pick up first downs and kill the clock.

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It wasn’t pretty, but the New York Jets did enough on both sides of the secure their fifth win of the season. New York had to dig down deep in an effort to overcome numerous injuries on the offensive line and in the secondary. In addition, kicker Nick Folk injured his quadriceps during warmups and gave all kicking duties to punter, Ryan Quigley. Ryan Fitzpatrick, injured thumb and all, was able to muster a competitive, winning effort and did not commit any turnovers.

New York’s defense returned to its ball-hawking ways, forcing three turnovers and registering five sacks. New York’s defensive line, which was led by Sheldon Richardson’s dominant effort, simply overpowered Jacksonville’s unit at the line of scrimmage. Monitor the progress of rookie linebacker, Lorenzo Mauldin. Mauldin was strictly utilized in pass rushing situations, but registered two key sacks.

From purely a statistical standpoint, Chris Ivory had one of the worst games for a running back in history. Ivory rushed 23 times for just 26 yards, which was an all-time low for a player with at least 23 carries. Ivory, however, was able to salvage his afternoon by scoring twice. While there were some injuries on the offensive line, namely to Nick Mangold and Willie Colon, Ivory is responsible for some of this ineptitude. Jacksonville’s run defense is fairly good, but it’s far from an all-time great unit that should limit Ivory.

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The New York Jets learned that the fate of a team’s season can change on a single play. Ryan Fitzpatrick injured his left thumb, his non-throwing hand, on the game’s sixth play and exited. Fitzpatrick scrambled on a third down play and secured a first down, but went head first instead of sliding. Fitzpatrick gave way to Geno Smith—and everything started to fall apart on both sides of the ball. After chasing around Tom Brady and Co. last week, New York’s defense looked sluggish against a confident Oakland offense. New York’s tackling was uncharacteristically poor and the secondary was shredded by both Derek Carr and Latavius Murray. Personnel wise, Oakland exploited back-up corner, Marcus Williams who was filling in at safety for the injured Calvin Prior. The middle of the field was wide open for the duration of the game and Oakland’s dynamic playmakers exploited it all game long. Credit Darrelle Revis, though for his superb coverage on Amari Cooper, who was limited to just 55 yards.

Monitor Brandon Marshall’s status throughout the week. Marshall went down twice during the game, once with a toe injury and a second time with an ankle injury, and was constantly talking to doctors on the sideline. Credit Marshall for only missing a few plays and battling through his ailments. During the fourth quarter, Marshall’s speed was comprised and dropped a sure-fire touchdown, but luckily, he finished the game.

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Bill Belichick is known for taking away the opposition’s best play maker. His flavor of the week was none other than Brandon Marshall. Belichick’s defense rolled coverage towards Marshall throughout the game, giving Eric Decker one-on-one opportunities on the perimeter. Decker made several big catches, highlighted by four big third down conversions.

Chris Ivory re-injured his balky hamstring on the game’s first play, but battled through the ailment throughout the game. Ivory was regularly spelled by Zac Stacy, but credit Ivory for a gritty, gutty effort. Ivory hit paydirt in the third quarter when he leaked out of the backfield and caught a swing pass for an easy 9-yard touchdown rumble. New England forgot to cover Ivory as he jogged in for an easy touchdown.

Head coach Todd Bowles has had a successful start in New York, but made some questionable clock management decisions late in the fourth quarter. Trailing by three points and armed with all three of his timeouts, Bowles gave Tom Brady and Co. at least 60 seconds of free time by not using his timeouts. Brady iced the game, hitting a wide open Rob Gronkowski for a 15-yard touchdown with just 1:13 to go. New York was able to make a last ditch effort by recovering an on-sides kick, but a false start by Marshall ended the game.

Nick Mangold suffered a scary neck injury late in the fourth quarter. Mangold was able to walk off under his own power, but left the stadium wearing a neck brace and will undergo X-Rays.

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