NU vs. Ohio State, ND vs. FSU: Top 10 college football games to watch around Chicago in the 2024 season

There are 100 days until the college football season kicks off. Spring practices are over for Notre Dame, Illinois, Northwestern and Northern Illinois.

It’s time to look ahead to one of the most intriguing and anticipated college football seasons in recent years.

Here is how FOX 32 ranks its top 10 college football games of local interest this upcoming 2024 CFB season.

10. Northern Illinois at Notre Dame

A regional team getting a chance to head to Notre Dame Stadium for the Irish’s season opener will be a treat. Ball State almost upset Notre Dame in 2018. The Huskies would have the same opportunity early on in the season against a would-be College Football Playoff Contender.

9. Miami (Ohio) at Northwestern

This game would be the first look at Northwestern’s on-campus field where the Wildcats will play a few of their games in 2024 and 2025 as Ryan Field gets its complete overhaul. NU will host the reigning MAC champions that won 11 games last season, which will also serve as a test to open head coach David Braun’s first full season as the ‘Cats coach.

8. Illinois vs. Kansas

The Illini’s second game of the season should be a ranked match up as the Jayhawks are coming off a nine-win 2023 season and No. 23 ranking in the AP’s final top 25. This will be the first big test for Illinois in 2024, and it comes in Champaign. That’s a boon as Bret Bielema looks for his second winning season at Illinois.

7. Notre Dame at Texas A&M

College Football Gameday, a primetime slot, a former Irish defensive coordinator going up against his former team and potential College Football Playoff implications all in the first week of the regular season? This one will highlight the first slate of CFB games on Aug. 31.


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6. Illinois at Nebraska

The first Big Ten game of the season for the Illini is also the team’s first road game. If there ever was a chance for the Illini to prove this is the year they can get over the hump in conference play, it starts with beating a Nebraska team that also finished 5-7 in Matt Rhule’s first season.

5. Northern Illinois at Bowling Green

Bowling Green returns over a dozen starters from its first team with a winning record since 2015. This will be a limitus test for the Huskies in mid-October to see where they are at the midway point of the college football season. A win could mean NIU is a MAC contender just three years removed from a MAC championship game appearance.

4. Illinois vs. Northwestern (at Wrigley Field)

The usual rivalry game between the two in-state Big Ten opponents will play at Wrigley Field, returning to the Friendly Confines for the first time in 14 years. With this being the final regular season game for both the ‘Cats and Illini, there’s always a chance bowl eligibility or meaningful standings are in play on Thanksgiving weekend. 

3. Ohio State vs. Northwestern (at Wrigley Field)

David Braun’s Northwestern tenure proved it could flourish, even after Braun was thrown in the first in his first season in Evanston. Continuing that success in Year 2 in imperative as the program tries to distance itself from the Pat Fitzgerald era. It’s a tall task for Northwestern against perennial Big Ten powerhouse Ohio State, but it will have been 20 years since NU’s last win over the Buckeyes and a Wrigley Field setting just ups the ante.


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2. Notre Dame at USC

In this new age of college football where 12 teams can now make the playoffs, it stands there’s a very healthy chance the final game of the regular season for Notre Dame at the Rose Bowl against USC could have playoff implications. Marcus Freeman and Lincoln Riley duking it out for a postseason berth could move Pasadena mountains on the last week of the regular season.

1. Notre Dame vs. Florida State

When you think Notre Dame vs. Florida State, you think of the 1993 classic, the 2014 offensive pass interference game and the 2021 season-opening classic. This game, at Notre Dame Stadium, includes two teams that are College Football Playoff hopefuls in the new 12-team playoff. Considering this Irish team is looking to take another step forward after a 10-win season and a Seminoles is looking for a playoff berth after getting snubbed from the 2024 CFB following an undefeated season, this game might have massive implications not just for ND and FSU, but for other CFP-hopeful teams.


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