Top NFL-College Football Sports Power Weekends in 2012

By Jared Cooper


There are so many great NFL-college football weekends each fall that it is hard to pare down the list. Nonetheless, here are, in my opinion, the 50 best NFL-college football Sports Power Weekends of 2012. The main criteria for this list was that it must include an NFL and college game. There are plenty of great weekends in September that feature MLB games with a great NFL or college game, but I wanted to highlight weekends that included at least two different football games.

I’d love to hear your feedback if you think I am overlooking a great weekend, or ranked one too high.

For more information about planning or booking a Sports Power Weekend package, please contact Jared Cooper at Jared.Cooper@SPWtravel.com, (646) 397-5350, or via twitter at @SportsPowerWknd.

1. Chicago, September 21-23

Friday
  • St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs
Saturday
  • Michigan at Notre Dame
Sunday
  • Rams at Bears

Wrigley Field, Notre Dame Stadium and Soldier Field during one incredible weekend based out of the Windy City. Sign me up!

2. New York, September 5-9

Wednesday
  • Cowboys at Giants (NFL Kickoff Game)
  • US Open Tennis
Thursday
  • US Open Tennis
Friday
  • Atlanta Braves at NY Mets
  • US Open Tennis
Saturday
  • USC vs. Syracuse at MetLife Stadium
  • US Open Tennis (Women’s Final)
Sunday
  • Bills at Jets (Home Opener)
  • US Open Tennis (Men’s Final)


Three games at MetLife Stadium on this weekend, including the first game of the 2012 season featuring the defending Super Bowl champs against their bitter rival, the Jets home opener, and Heisman and top pick front-runner Matt Barkley from USC. Also see Citi Field on Friday as the Mets host the Braves.

3. New Orleans, November 3-5

Saturday
  • Alabama at LSU
Sunday
Monday
  • Eagles at Saints (Monday Night)

A rematch of last year’s National Championship Game with the winner in great position to win the SEC West takes places on Saturday in Baton Rouge. On Monday night at the Superdome, the Saints host the Eagles in an NFC showdown.

4. Los Angeles-San Diego, November 24-25

Saturday
  • Notre Dame at USC
  • Stanford at UCLA
Sunday
  • Ravens at Chargers

The historic rivalry between Notre Dame and USC leads us to the Coliseum. A day later and two hours south, two perennial AFC heavyweights face off in San Diego. A nice Thanksgiving weekend in southern California.

5. Dallas, November 22-24

Thursday
  • Redskins at Cowboys (Thanksgiving)
Friday
Saturday
  • TCU at Texas
  • Baylor vs. Texas Tech (Cowboys Stadium)

Another great Thanksgiving option, this time in the heart of Texas. The Cowboys continue their Thanksgiving tradition, this time hosting their division rivals. On Saturday in Austin, TCU and Texas clash in the newly-remodeled Big XII. Cowboys Stadium will also host Baylor and Texas Tech on Saturday.

6. Atlanta, September 28-30

Friday
  • New York Mets at Atlanta Braves
Saturday
  • Tennessee at Georgia
Sunday
  • Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

A great weekend in SEC country, based out of Atlanta, with Turner Field and the Georgia Dome sandwiched around a trip to Athens for Tennessee vs. Georgia.

7. New Orleans, September 8-9

Saturday
  • Washington at LSU
Sunday
  • Redskins at Saints (Home Opener)

New Orleans makes another appearance in the Top 10 with the Saints home opener on Sunday (in what will likely be RGIII’s first NFL game) following an out-of-conference battle between Washington and LSU in Tiger Stadium.

8. New York, October 6-8

Saturday
  • Boston College at Army
Sunday
  • Browns at Giants
Monday
  • Texans at Jets (Monday Night)

Another opportunity to see both the Jets and Giants in one weekend comes your way in early October. Also be sure to check out and Army game at Michie Stadium, just a train ride from New York City.

9. Washington, D.C.-Baltimore, December 2-3

Sunday
  • Steelers at Ravens
Monday
  • Giants at Redskins (Monday Night)

A real rivalry weekend in the Beltway as AFC North foes Pittsburgh and Baltimore meet up at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, followed by the Giants traveling to FedExField to face the Redskins on Monday night.

10. Houston, October 20-21

Saturday
  • LSU at Texas A&M
Sunday
  • Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans

Welcome to the SEC, Texas A&M. The defending SEC champs from LSU make their first trip to Kyle Field as an SEC opponent, less than two hours outside of Houston in College Station. At Reliant Stadium on Sunday the Ravens will face the AFC South champion Texans in an important conference game.

11. New Orleans, November 10-11

Saturday
  • Mississippi State at LSU
Sunday
  • Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints

Three New Orleans appearances in the Top 11, but how can you argue? Another Baton Rouge day trip (1 hr 30 mins from New Orleans), precedes a raucous Saints game at the Superdome.

12. Bay Area, October 18-21

Thursday
  • Seahawks at 49ers (Thursday Night)
Friday
  • LA Galaxy at San Jose Earthquakes
Saturday
  • Stanford at Cal
Sunday
  • Jaguars at Raiders

Here is a jam-packed weekend in the Bay Area, consisting of visits to both NFL stadiums – 49ers on Thursday, and Raiders on Sunday – as well as The Big Game between Stanford and Cal, and an MLS game to top it off.

13. Boston, November 9-11

Friday
  • Pitt at UConn
Saturday
  • Notre Dame at Boston College
Sunday
  • Bills at Patriots

A nice football weekend in New England with two college games – including a grudge match between Notre Dame and Boston College – and then an AFC East matchup in Foxboro.

14. Philadelphia, October 27-28

Saturday
  • Ohio State at Penn State
Sunday
  • Falcons at Eagles

This one requires a bit more driving, with Penn State over 3 and a half hours from Philly, but hard to pass up the opportunity to see meaningful Big Ten and NFC games on back-to-back days.

15. Detroit, November 17-18

Saturday
  • Iowa at Michigan
  • Northwestern at Michigan State
Sunday
  • Packers at Lions

The rivalry between the Packers and Lions might be heating up with the Lions bounce-back year in 2011. Check out Ford Field after taking in senior day at the Big House, with 110,000+ on had to see Michigan host Iowa.

16. Atlanta, November 29 – December 1

Thursday
  • Saints at Falcons (Thursday Night)
Friday
Saturday
  • SEC Championship Game

How about another SEC-centric weekend? While Saints at Falcons on Thursday night may help determine the winner of the NFC South, the SEC Championship Game may determine who plays for the National Championship.

17. Cleveland, November 23-25

Friday
  • Ball State at Miami (OH)
Saturday
  • Michigan at Ohio State
Sunday
  • Steelers at Browns

Thanksgiving won’t be so friendly this year in Ohio. Michigan faces Ohio State on Saturday, and a day and a two and a half hour drive later, the Steelers face the Browns in Cleveland.

18. Pittsburgh, November 17-18

Saturday
  • Oklahoma at West Virginia
  • Houston at Marshall
Sunday
  • Ravens at Steelers

Morgantown is an hour and a half south of Pittsburgh, but the trip will be well worth it to see the Big XII showdown between Oklahoma and new member West Virginia. And you certainly wouldn’t want to miss the Steelers host the hated Ravens on Sunday.

19. Charlotte, September 20-22

Thursday
  • Giants at Panthers (Thursday Night)
Friday
Saturday
  • Missouri at South Carolina

Cam Newton and the Panthers get a crack at the defending champs on Thursday night. Less than two hours south of Charlotte is Columbia, South Carolina, where new SEC member Missouri will face the Gamecocks on Saturday.

20. New York, November 22-25

Thursday
  • Patriots at Jets (Thursday Night)
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
  • Packers at Giants (Sunday Night)

Two pivotal primetime games on Thanksgiving weekend in New York. The Jets host their biggest rivals from New England on Thursday night, and the Packers seek revenge for their NFC Divisional Playoffs loss to the Giants on Sunday night.

21. Atlanta, November 3-4

Saturday
  • Ole Miss at Georgia
Sunday
  • Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons

Two sweet games in the Peach State. Georgia hosts Ole Miss at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, and America’s Team travels to face the Falcons on Sunday.

22. Green Bay-Madison, October 27-28

Saturday
  • Michigan State at Wisconsin
Sunday
  • Jaguars at Packers

A true Sports Power Weekend warrior would make the 2.5 hour drive from Madison to Green Bay after Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game rematch. On Sunday at Lambeau – a bucket list NFL stadium if there ever was one – the Jags take on the Super Bowl XLV champions.

23. Jacksonville-Gainesville, October 6-7

Saturday
  • LSU at Florida
Sunday
  • Bears at Jaguars

This is a great weekend for Bears fans to make the trip down south for an NFL-SEC weekend. Gainesville is an hour and a half from Jacksonville, allowing them to see LSU-Florida before their team takes on the Jags in Jacksonville.

24. Houston, September 8-9

Saturday
  • Florida at Texas A&M
Sunday
  • Dolphins at Texans (Home Opener)

Nice weekend in Houston for football fans from the state of Florida. Gators and Dolphins take on conference opponents early in their respective seasons.

25. Cincinnati, November 23-25

Friday
  • South Florida at Cincinnati
Saturday
  • Michigan at Ohio State
  • UConn at Louisville
Sunday
  • Raiders at Bengals

This is your other Ohio Thanksgiving SPW option (see #17 Cleveland). Cincinnati hosts USF on Friday, less than two hours away is Michigan-Ohio State on Saturday, and Sunday sees the Bengals host the Oakland Raiders.

26. Los Angeles-San Diego, November 1-3

Thursday
  • Chiefs at Chargers (Thursday Night)
Friday
Saturday
  • Oregon at USC
  • Arizona at UCLA

An important AFC West nationally televised game on Thursday night, and two great Pac-12 games a couple of hours north on Saturday. Oregon vs. USC could be the Pac-12 game of the year.

27. Seattle, October 13-14

Saturday
  • USC at Washington
  • Cal at Washington State
Sunday
  • Patriots at Seahawks

Some good visiting quarterbacks will strut their stuff in Seattle this weekend as Matt Barkley and USC take on the Huskies, and Tom Brady ant the Pats face the Seahawks.

28. Dallas, December 1-2

Saturday
  • Oklahoma at TCU
  • Oklahoma State at Baylor
Sunday
  • Eagles at Cowboys

These Saturday games mark the end of the Big XII season, and the NFC East showdown on Sunday may mark the end of one team’s division title hopes.

29. Washington, D.C.-Baltimore, September 21-23

Friday
  • Milwaukee Brewers at Washington Nationals
Saturday
  • VMI at Navy
Sunday
  • Patriots at Ravens
  • Bengals at Redskins

Sunday features both NFL teams in action an hour away in Baltimore and D.C. Friday and Saturday offer two other exciting sports experiences.

30. Bay Area, September 14-16

Friday
  • Baltimore Orioles at Oakland A’s
Saturday
  • USC at Stanford
Sunday
  • Lions at 49ers

USC vs. Stanford was an epic battle last year, and USC wants revenge. So does Jim Schwartz and his Lions, after last year’s loss and back-slap to Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers.

31. Houston, September 29-30

Saturday
  • Arkansas at Texas A&M
Sunday
  • Titans at Texans

An early season AFC South test for the defending division champion Texans on Sunday follows an SEC tilt on Saturday.

32. Jacksonville, November 24-25

Saturday
  • Florida at Florida State
Sunday
  • Titans at Jaguars

This chapter of the Florida vs. Florida State saga will take place in Tallahassee, less than three hours from Jacksonville. Catch both games in a northern Florida SPW.

33. Detroit, September 29-30

Saturday
  • Ohio State at Michigan State
Sunday
  • Vikings at Lions

Ohio State isn’t bowl eligible, but this is a big barometer game for Michigan State. On Sunday, an NFC North fight at Ford Field.

34. Bay Area, November 10-11

Saturday
  • Oregon at Cal
  • Oregon State at Stanford
Sunday
  • Rams at 49ers

Your pick of Cal or Stanford on Saturday before Sam Bradford and the Rams visit the 49ers in an attempt to take down the NFC West champs.

35. Washington, D.C.-Baltimore, November 17-18

Saturday
  • Florida State at Maryland
Sunday
  • Eagles at Redskins

Perhaps freshman phenom Stefon Diggs can give a spark to Maryland as they face Florida State prior to the NFC East battle between the Eagles and Redskins in Landover.

36. Phoenix, September 8-9

Saturday
  • Oklahoma State at Arizona
  • Illinois at Arizona State
Sunday
  • Seahawks at Cardinals (Home Opener)

Two teams with their eye on the NFC West crown face off at the incredible University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona after the local college teams host out-of-conference games on Saturday.

37. Seattle, November 10-11

Saturday
  • Utah at Washington
  • UCLA at Washington State
Sunday
  • Jets at Seahawks

A Pac-12 matchup in Seattle leads in to the Jets’ one-in-every-eight-years trip to the Pacific Northwest.

38. Cleveland, November 3-4

Saturday
  • Illinois at Ohio State
Sunday
  • Ravens at Browns

There is still much animosity from the Cleveland fans towards the Baltimore Ravens, and their annual tilt takes place after an Ohio State home game on Saturday.

39. Pittsburgh, September 15-16

Saturday
  • Virginia Tech at Pitt
  • Ohio at Marshall
Sunday
  • Jets at Steelers

A former Big East showdown is now a soon-to-be-ACC battle between Virginia Tech and Pitt. The Jets face the Steelers on Sunday in a rematch of the 2010 AFC Championship Game.

40. Phoenix, October 27-29

Saturday
  • USC at Arizona
  • UCLA at Arizona State
Sunday
Monday
  • 49ers at Cardinals (Monday Night)

The Cardinals get their crack at the 49ers on Monday night football. Nearby in Tucson on Saturday USC faces Rich Rodriguez and the new-look Arizona Wildcats.

41. Charlotte, November 10-11

Saturday
  • Arkansas at South Carolina
Sunday
  • Denver Broncos at Carolina Panthers

Another Charlotte-Columbia roundtrip route allows you to see Arkansas vs. South Carolina and Peyton Manning and the Broncos against Cam Newton and the Panthers.

42. Cincinnati, October 6-7

Saturday
  • Nebraska at Ohio State
Sunday
  • Dolphins at Bengals

Nebraska makes their first visit to the Horseshoe as a Big Ten team, and they will travel well. They can also stick around in Ohio to go to Dolphins-Bengals on Sunday.

43. Minneapolis, September 22-23

Saturday
  • Syracuse at Minnesota
Sunday
  • 49ers at Vikings

Syracuse travels to TCF Bank Stadium to take on the Golden Gophers on Saturday, and the Vikings will host the 49ers at the Metrodome on Sunday.

44. Miami, October 13-14

Saturday
  • UNC at Miami
Sunday
  • Rams at Dolphins

You don’t really need an excuse to go to Miami for a weekend, but seeing a Hurricanes and Dolphins game in one weekend is a good one anyway.

45. Indianapolis, October 6-7

Saturday
  • Michigan at Purdue
  • Michigan State at Indiana
Sunday
  • Packers at Colts

Two quarterbacks who replaced legends will face off as Aaron Rodgers and the Packers take on Andrew Luck at the Colts. On Saturday in West Lafayette the Michigan Wolverines take on Purdue.

46. Denver, September 29-30

Saturday
  • UCLA at Colorado
Sunday
  • Raiders at Broncos

The weather will be beautiful and the Denver-Boulder weekend will be hard to beat. Peyton Manning gets his taste of the Raiders-Broncos rivalry in this early season clash.

47. St. Louis, November 17-18

Saturday
  • Syracuse at Missouri
Sunday
  • Jets at Rams

St. Louis and Columbia, MO are separated by two hours, but it will be worth the trip to see Syracuse-Missouri and Jets-Rams on consecutive days.

48. Nashville, September 8-9

Saturday
  • Georgia State at Tennessee
Sunday
  • Patriots at Titans (Home Opener)

Not exactly a marquee opponent for the Vols in Knoxville, but even with the three hour drive it is worth it to go to Neyland Stadium before the Titans open the season hosting the Patriots.

49. Kansas City, October 27-28

Saturday
  • Texas at Kansas
  • Texas Tech at Kansas State
Sunday
  • Raiders at Chiefs

Can Charlie Weis put Kansas on the map with a win over Texas in Lawrence? We’ll find out before the Raiders and Chiefs square off on Sunday at Arrowhead.

50. Buffalo, October 19-21

Friday
  • UConn at Syracuse
Saturday
  • Montreal Impact at Toronto FC
Sunday
  • Titans at Bills

UConn visits the Carrier Dome on Friday, about 2.5 hours drive from Buffalo, where the Bills will host the Tennessee Titans.

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