Two weeks from Thursday night, we’ll have kickoff.  No more talk, no more speculation and previewing.  It’ll be time to line ’em up and play.  You can feel the excitement, at least in our offices.

In recent years, and likely more so in the future with the advent of the College Football Playoff, we’ve seen teams drift from their annual cupcake opener and schedule more big games to open the season.  Though these games are often played at neutral sites, it adds to the excitement of the season starting.

As toe-to-pigskin nears, let’s rank the five best early-season games.

1. Georgia at South Carolina

In a budding rivalry, thanks in part to Steve Spurrier, Georgia-South Carolina has put the winner in the driver’s seat in the SEC East in recent years.  Carolina has won three of the last four, but is coming off a shootout loss in Athens last year.  The ‘Dawgs have a bye after their week one showdown against Clemson, and a 2-0 start would go a long way in getting Georgia in position to get to Atlanta.

2. Georgia vs. Clemson

Georgia looks to return the favor to the Tigers as Dabo Swinney’s bunch comes to Athens on August 30.  We know what Clemson lost on the offensive side of the ball, and Georgia looks to be in good position so far during camp to avenge last year’s defeat.  Big-time games like this are great ways to open the college football season.

3. Alabama vs. Florida

The Gators make their first trip to Tuscaloosa since 2010, and looks to cement itself as back in the SEC East by defeating perennial front-runner Alabama.  This rivalry has become one of the best in the conference since the inception of the SEC Championship Game in the early ’90s.  I expect this to be the first 3:30 CBS telecast with our good friends Verne and Gary.

4. LSU vs. Wisconsin

This is a line up and play power football game.  The Badgers finish near the top of the Big Ten in rushing annually and Cam Cameron’s pro-style offense at LSU will matchup beautifully in this game.  It’ll be played at Reliant Stadium in Houston, which should give it the feel of an LSU home game.

5. Texas A&M at South Carolina

On Thursday, August 28, all eyes will be on Columbia, S.C. for the official start to the 2014 college football season.  Williams-Brice at night is no place anyone wants to go play, and the fact that this is a conference game on the brand-new SEC Network will absolutely have the intensity high.