SI’s annual College Football Preview came out last week. One article was on a 2017 Ultimate College Road Trip. The parameters were that it be a realistic route, start and end in the same place, and cover as much ground as possible. I respect the effort and result but I can’t say I agree with everything. The route ends up covering 21 games over 13 weeks. An admirable effort but not one that overwhelms me. I have logged in a 13 game season constrained with a full time job and stadiums limited to only FBS schools on their home field so it takes a lot to impress me. SI notes that the games “included at least one headline attraction: a rising program, a captivating player, a rivalry or an off-the-field tradition.” It also includes a few horrible games and some stadiums that have seen much better days.
Without further adieu, here’s the 2017 schedule with the occasional comparison to the SI route.
Hurricane Harvey had me grounded so no three game weekend for Labor Day.
The Labor Day extravaganza stays. It’s a very rare three game weekend:
Thursday, August 31, Ohio State at Indiana. Yes, I realize that the Buckeyes are probably going to unload on the Hoosiers, but when exactly is a good time to see the Hoosiers not get a beat down?
Friday, September 1, Boston College at Northern Illinois. I am hoping the Huskies can deliver some opening weekend MAC magic and give the Eagles of BC all they can handle.
Saturday, September 2, Nevada at Northwestern. This could very well be another blowout, but spending the last weekend of summer in Chicago should be pretty sweet.
The SI route starts a week earlier with South Florida at San Jose State citing the start of the Charlie Strong era. SMS already noted the rise of the Bulls in a blog a few weeks back, but this game only gets a “C”. I had a good time at San Jose State, but that stadium is a dump. Their Labor Day weekend starts with North Dakota at Utah on Thursday, which is a decent choice. Friday has Colorado State at Colorado. This is a game that I would have considered if not for the neutral site. On Saturday, its Central Arkansas at K-State. Even the joys of the Little Apple can’t overcome the drudgery of a cupcake game such as this.
I previously had considered the chance to catch both Arizona and ASU in the same weekend but I had to bag it to due to a personal conflict. It makes my September awfully light. Week 2 for SI is Gardner Webb at Wyoming. Meh. Week 3 brings New Mexico at Boise State on a Thursday night. The blue field hosting a resurgent New Mexico is a solid pick. This is followed by Oregon State at Washington State on Saturday. It is a respectable third week by SI. Their fourth week is a DIII rivalry game in Minnesota, St. John’s versus St. Thomas. I have been told the Tommies versus the Johnnies is a must see college tradition, so no argument there. The SI tour wraps up September with Texas at Iowa State. I had a great time in Ames but the program is struggling a bit so that one might be over at halftime. SI then motors on up to Wisconsin to see Northwestern Wildcats take on the Badgers. It’s a great choice because by all accounts, Camp Randall Stadium is a fantastic venue particular before ice fishing season starts.
Saturday, October 7, Southern Mississippi at UT San Antonio. I got to see the Roadrunners digs last year when I witnessed Notre Dame murder Army. The Alamo dome is more like a barn than a stadium, but the weather can still be a bit warm in early October. The indoor venue might be just the way to escape the Texas heat.
SI heads to the Horseshoe to catch Maryland visit Ohio State. Given the disarray of the Terps, this is a waste of some classic turf.
Saturday, October 14, Vanderbilt at Ol’ Miss. It may not be much of a game, but the ticket probably will be at a deep discount. It could be a nice relaxing way to enjoy the Grove experience.
Update 2: October 14, UTEP at Southern Mississippi. A trip to Hattiesburg to see the Golden Eagles host the Miners gets me back one stadium from the lost Hurricane Henry weekend.
I can’t imagine that a past visitor would recommend heading up to Syracuse to watch Clemson destroy the Orangemen. The only reason to go to the Carrier Dome is to catch a November game inside to avoid the gnarly weather of Syracuse. Why you would want to waste a crisp fall night sitting in that concrete mausoleum of a stadium? The SI Saturday pick is NC State at Pitt which is much better call. I generally do not like catching a college game at a professional field, but Heinz Field is one of the exceptions. The yellow color scheme matches the Panthers’ gold and the scenery is pure Americana. I’d call this weekend a draw between SI and myself.
Saturday, October 21, Auburn at Arkansas. My boy Doug came through with this game. Nothing like an SEC game in late fall. Getting Auburn added to the schedule improves my overall rankings of teams seen in 2017 which will be a refreshing.
The SI Tour matches my game with Michigan at Penn State. Both games are have all the elements of a classic Saturday game. SI gets the edge only because their game is likely to have national championship implications.
Friday, October 27, Tulane at Memphis. The following weekend, it is a chance to catch some Friday Night Lights in Memphis. Traveling with fellow Somanystadiums competitor, Momo, to catch the Tulane Wave take on the Memphis Tigers should make for an entertaining trip. Oddly enough, SI picked the same game. Maybe I will see if I can find the SI RV in the lot. It then rolls on over to Arkansas at Mississippi. It’s hard to argue that pick as well.
Saturday, October 28, Arkansas at Ol’ Miss. It makes it a double weekend. Hoddy Toddy – looking forward to the Grove.
Friday, November 3, Memphis at Tulsa. I hope the Tigers are good because I get to see them on back to back weekends. It makes for a busy couple of weeks, but it gives me a chance to pick up another double weekend.
Saturday, November 4, Oklahoma at Oklahoma State. This one could be the big ticket game of the season for me. Arguably, the Red River Shoot Out with UT is a bigger game for the Sooners, but this game is getting there. The Cowboys can thank the generous donations of alum T. Boone Pickens for building OK State into a football factory.
SI also has a double that week. Their first is Idaho at Troy on Friday night. Other than Idaho dropping out of the FBS after this year it’s not very noteworthy. If the game was in Idaho, it would carry more significance with me. The Saturday game is at Kyle Field in College Station. Texas A&M games are full of traditions, but my match-up of in-state rivals OK and OK State trumps it.
Saturday, November 18, Army at North Texas. After a couple of weeks off, I am off to Denton to see where it all started for Steeler legend, Mean Joe Greene. Well, let’s be honest, Joe Greene was probably a bad ass from the minute he was born. North Texas was just one stop on his tour of greatness.
SI heads all the way to the West Coast to see UCLA take on USC. No contest there. SI wins hands down.
Saturday, December 2, Troy at Arkansas State. If you have followed my exploits with any regularity, you know that late season games tend to be my kryptonite. This game is on the schedule as a back up more than anything else. If I catch most of the games above, I will likely be too tired to hit this game. Of course, if this is for the championship of the prestigious Sun Belt, well then…..
SI finished up a week early with Notre Dame at Stanford. Those historically have been some great games, but to be honest, I found the Stanford experience not nearly what it should have been. Too much new money, sushi and white wine for my tailgating tastes.
So there it is, a schedule more tenuous than a position in the Trump White House. It will likely change more than once. But, if you see a game you like and you want to join me, just let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org because the more the merrier. And kudos to SI reporter Joan Niesen, for developing a great overall stadium route with some real gems. I can forgive some of the dogs. I know all too well that sometimes you just have to live with Arkansas State at Georgia State.