2019 is in the books. It was a good year despite some personal challenges. I hit eight stadiums with a couple doubles helping to smooth out the schedule. I had originally planed to hit ten, even possibly eleven games. Not unlike other seasons, by the time November came around I was running out of gas. Accordingly, I cancelled the last trip of the year to Chicago. It did not take much to convince me not to go. I mean Wisconsin in November is not exactly a big draw, walleye and cheese curds notwithstanding.
With Hawaii being one of the two opening games of the season, I convinced my wife this was the year for an island vacation. We were off to Hawaii for a week where she grudgingly agreed to go to the Arizona v. Hawaii game. Little did she know it would turn out to be one of the highlights of week. It was a 45 – 38 win for the Rainbow Warriors that came right down to the wire. It was one of the best games I have seen live. The good times continued up until a stringy haired surfer dude busted the window of our rental car in search of my wallet. Mahalo brah?!?
A couple weeks later, it was the Illinois – UConn game for Labor Day weekend. It was a sloppy game but it was still very entertaining. I was visiting my great friend Bob so I knew I was going to have good time regardless of the game. However, the UConn experience was just about right. The only downer of the weekend was a dismal experience at Gillette Stadium where the Steelers suffered a beating at the hands of the Patriots. I take solace in the fact that it was probably the highlight of the Patriots season. A loss in the Wildcard round? How do you like those apples?
But, I digress. After a couple of weeks off, it was time to see the number two team in the country. Alabama was playing host to Ole Miss in what was sure to be a blowout. It was close for about a quarter before Alabama opened it up and started scoring at will. The only consolation was that we had great seats in the shade (thanks Morgan). With all the history at Alabama, a visit to Tuscaloosa should be on your list, but with lowered expectations. The hallowed SEC has more than its share of dogs. This, along with Saban’s complaint that “no one will play us”, means Bama’s home schedule has more cupcakes than a 3rd grader’s birthday party. Early the next morning, I left my car at the Atlanta airport and flew home. The following Thursday night, I flew back to Atlanta and then made the long drive down to Mobile to see the South Alabama Jaguars host the Georgia Southern Eagles. To say I was not excited about this match up would be an understatement. I was dreading this game. I could not get anyone to go with me and I was going to Mobile. To my surprise, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The game was great, going two overtimes before Georgia Southern pulled out the win. And, Mobile had a great laid back vibe, almost like a chill New Orleans.
After such a great experience, I was looking forward to visiting UAB. The program had made great progress coming back from the dead. It was a feel good story I was looking forward to participating in. Instead, it was a debacle of epic proportions, from terrible tailgating, to weak play by the Blazers, finished by a soul crushing hour and half weather delay. I had had my fill of jorts and with my mandatory half of a game in the books, I was happy to put Birmingham in the rear view mirror.
After another break, it was time for a great northwest doubleheader. It was not my first time to Oregon, but it was my first time in the fall and I was impressed with the beauty of the state. I would say I had a good time everywhere but inside the stadiums I visited. It is always hard to blame the home team for a blowout win, but watching the Ducks run all over the Buffs (final score 45-3) got old after awhile. Of course, I did blame the Oregon State Beavers for laying an egg (final score 52-7) when the fifteenth ranked Utes came to town. But that weather – wow, what great fall scenery.
The year was wrapped up with a visit to South Bend to see the Hokies take on the Fighting Irish. Often held up as a must see destination for college football, Notre Dame did not disappoint. It was a weekend’s worth of fun with nary a drunk frat boy killing the buzz. Had the Hokies not choked away their seventeen point underdog upset, it would have been a perfect weekend. It marked the fourth game this season that came down to the wire. I couldn’t ask for much more.
And with that, here are the 2019 Stats:
Games and Teams
Total Games Attended: 8, up 2 from 2018
Best Team Seen: # 5, Oregon, far better then prior year’s Michigan (#14).
Final AP Top Twenty-Five Teams Seen: 4 versus 3 in 2018 (Oregon, Alabama, Notre Dame, Utah)
Worst Team: 4 – 8 Ole Miss, (#5 in the Bottom 10). Also making the list: UConn and South Alabama. I continue to excel at seeing some of the worst teams in the country.
Best Game Seen: Notre Dame 21 (#20) – Virginia Tech 20, 9/2/18. – Maybe not an Instant classic, but close.
Worst Game Seen: Utah 52 – Oregon State 7 – Absolute blowout.
Bowl Game Teams Seen: 8 ( and 4 won their bowls). It was much better than last year where only 2 won.
College Award winners seen: One, Outland Trophy (Best Interior Lineman): Penei Sewell, Oregon, one more than 2018.
All Americans: 11 A great year with plenty of help from Alabama.
The Stadiums (of 2019 visits)
Best Stadium: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana. A must on any college football fan’s bucket list.
Worst Stadium: Legion Field, UAB, Birmingham, AL. – Thank god they are building one on campus, because it was a dump with lousy customer service as well.
Best Game Day Experience: Notre Dame (but we had a suprisingly good time at UConn as well). Pricey for sure, but the tradition, ohh the tradition.
Easiest Stadium to Get To: Reser Stadium, Oregon State. Navigating Corvallis was easy and there are multiple tailgating options along the way.
Hardest Stadium to Get To: Aloha Stadium, Hawaii – I mean it isn’t exactly a quick trip from anywhere.
Best Concessions: Aloha Stadium, Hawaii. Plenty of variety from local vendors.
Worst Concessions: Ladd Peebles, South Alabama. No souvenir cup.
Best Souvenir: Oregon, A ton of free little flashlights
Worst Souvenir: UConn, $31 for a hat? I think not.
Best Cup: Oregon, but Notre Dame was not far behind
Worst Cup: UAB, but at least they had a cup. Shame on you Hawaii and South Alabama.
Total Season Spend: $4,800 ($3,500 ex mileage) not including Hawaii which was really a vacation as well; Ave per Game: ~$600 (ex mileage ~$433) down nearly $100
Most Expensive Ticket: Colorado vs Oregon – $50 actual (Stubhub) with a $80 face
Cheapest Ticket: Alabama – Free!
Average Ticket Price Paid: $25 (up $8 over previous year)
Average Savings on Tickets over face: $14 saved per ticket
Miles Driven: ~2,300 vs prior year 2,400
Miles Flown: ~16,000 (Hawaii, Albany (to UConn), Atlanta, Oregon, Chicago)
Two Game Weeks: Two – South Alabama / UAB; Oregon / Oregon State
Best Fans: Oregon. The guys around me were a lot of fun.
Worst Fans: UAB, but to be fair, they weren’t too bad.
Most Pleasant Surprise: South Alabama- Mobile was really pretty cool.
Most Unpleasant Surprise: UAB, I now have a new worst stadium.
No game again this week which will allow me to catch up on some reviews (but maybe not yet the Ducks and Beavers) and do some planning for next week’s big game at Notre Dame. Before I go into my picks for this week, just a few thoughts on last week.
Why did Washington get called for unsportsmanlike for hiding the return man on the kickoff? Terrible
Va Tech UNC finish was not great football but was still a blast to watch. I really like the two point conversion rule.
And with that result, the ACC Coastal is officially a mess.
Texas escapes. I am not sure if they are as good as they think they are.
Vandy upsets Missouri – I knew the Tigers were overrated
Baylor exorcised some demons against Oklahoma State. Maybe they are legit.
Even though the Ducks won against the Huskies, Oregon’s defense laid an egg.
Gophers still undefeated and with the Terps coming to town they will probably stay that way.
South Carolina’s Coach, Will Muschamp, was completely right when he went off on the officials after their game with Florida. I can give a pass on the missed holding call given the angle of the official, but missing the offsides was inexcusable.
I finally had a good week with my picks. I went three and one with Appalachian State and Virginia rolling coupled with the upset by Vanderbilt. It was only a lackluster performance by ODU’s offense that kept me from four and oh. This week I like Tulane getting four against Navy. The Green Wave is having a good year. Even though they are home and have the same record as UCF at 5 – 2, Temple is still getting 11 points. Admittedly, I don’t feel great about it but I am taking the Owls. I do feel good about Boston College getting 35 against Clemson. The Tigers are shaky. I am taking the Utes over the Cal Bears on the transitive property. I saw Utah beat Oregon State by 45 two weeks ago in Corvallis and then last week the Beavers beat Bears. How can Utah not crush Cal?
Some other thoughts on Week Nine.
It will be interesting to see which Badgers show up at the Horseshoe. Will it be the team that smoked Michigan or the one that choked against Illinois?
App State should stay undefeated with an easy win against South Alabama.
Do they Scarlet Knights of Rutgers have any pride? Liberty comes to town at 5-2 but it would still be an embarrassing loss for the Big Ten.
Can I call Penn State’s contest against Michigan State a trap game with a looming game against a likely undefeated Minnesota?
LSU should handle Auburn.
Bargain of the week. UVA at Louisville tickets going for $2.
Not a bargain at any price: 1 – 6 UConn at 1 – 6 UMass.
The week started off great thanks to the South Alabama Jags. While they did lose the game against Georgia Southern, they still covered. It was also a very entertaining game to see live. South Alabama’s going to get a good review. Friday night was not nearly as satisfying as UCF lost to the Bearcats of Cincinnati. The Knights are dead to me and the New Year’s Day bowl selection committees. Saturday was a mixed bag. I really thought Troy was going to score enough against Mizzou to cover, but it was another loss. My UAB experience was dismal but at least the Blazers put it together enough in the second half to cover against Rice in the rain. It was about the only redeeming feature of my UAB experience. So once again, average reigns supreme at somanystadiums, where I went 2 -2 for the week.
Other observations on last week.
Big win by Florida, looking to the LSU game to provide some clarity in the top 10.
SMU wins in triple OT. Definitely trying to find a way to get to Ford Field this year.
Some good looking teams in the Big 10: Penn State, Ohio State and Wisconsin all dominate. And don’t forget Minnesota at 5 – 0 ?!?
Gotta give San Jose State some love. They win again to go 3 – 2 even it was against New Mexico
Oklahoma State just doesn’t seem to like success. Just when they crack the top 25, they get upset by Texas Tech
The ACC is a mess. Pitt beats Duke and Hokies upset the ‘Canes in Miami. Just nuts.
Whew: Michigan, Nebraska both escaped with close wins.
What, still undefeated? Baylor, Boise State, Memphis all still trucking.
I didn’t like the options for Thursday night, but I have to pick someone. I am going with the Bobcats of Texas State to cover at home against the ULL Warhawks. Friday night, it is an emotional hedge. I’d prefer a good game since I will be seeing it live in Eugene, but if it is a blowout, at least I get the win. Saturday is the same as I go with the Beavers to keep it close at home against the Utes. My other pick is Texas. I figure the Longhorns to keep it close in the Red River Shootout.
Other observations for Week 7:
I don’t think the Cavaliers will sneak up on the ‘Canes like the Hokies did. However, I don’t think it will matter either. Virginia wins.
Undefeated Memphis heads to one-loss Temple. I am pulling for the Owls because that will set up a great game against SMU the next week.
I would like to see Texas A&M give Alabama a good game, but that doesn’t mean I think that will happen
First real for Penn State as they visit Iowa. Some of the luster is gone after the Wolverines beat the Hawkeyes last week.
So how many times do you think ESPN will show an alligator grilling at a LSU tailgate. The answer is too many. I like the Tigers in this one.
Lastly, UNLV at Vanderbilt tickets going as low as $2, so if you are in Nashville this weekend…
This week, I am off to “Bama to witness the execution of Ole Miss at the hands of the Crimson Tide. I know what you are thinking: Why not save “Bama for a big game? I have been trying to for years, but between the strength of the Tide, their steady diet of cupcakes, and a generally weak lower half of the SEC all combine to make finding a competitive home opponent for a ‘Bama game more difficult than Antonio Brown taking the high road.
Notes Games 4
It was a good week to watch a lot of college football. Tulane broke out those sweet light blue uniforms (would have been perfect if only they had included the angry wave helmet as well) for their upset of the Coogs. The exciting finish with the fake kneel down was a sign of more exciting things to come for Week Four. My only regret is going to bed and seeing it the morning after. That put me down one on my picks, but sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. It was sweet hook job by LA Tech on Friday night with an onside kick-off TD return to get me my cover. Unfortunately UConn was clearly not as good on the road as at home. Apparently, even the 27 points they were getting were not going to get me the win against Indiana. (I did find the UConn home game experience to be enjoyable. See the latest review here.) However, ND saved my bacon with their late touchdown against Georgia to put my picks at 2-2 for the week.
Other thoughts for this weekend:
ESPN’s Game Day feels like it needs a bit of a shake-up. The “you had one job” is getting stale. It is everything you have already seen on Twitter, Reddit, etc.from the previous week. Perhaps, some “On the road” feeds from lesser known stadiums would be a good feature. We, at somanystadiums are ready and willing.
Despite not being selected to share my experience on the “150 Years of College Football”, I did love the Chocolate Labrador storming the field at Georgia story. I am a sucker for dog stories, especially ones with Labs.
I thought Notre Dame played fairly well against Georgia. I am not a big Notre Dam fan, but their tight end Cole Kmet is a stud. I wouldn’t characterize the Dawgs as holding on though. The Irish were in full desperation mode at the end.
I would say the same about the Texas A&M and Oklahoma State near comebacks, more “a hope and a prayer” than anything else. And, while I loved the Pitt win, it did feel like UCF was the better team even though they lost.
But look, they were all certainly much more competitive than Michigan at Wisconsin. There’s nothing positive for the Wolverines to take away in that absolute beat down. It is beginning to feel the Harbaugh era will be one of good to very good, but never great.
So ODU almost beats VA, Maybe Va Tech is better than I think? Furman did just pound Mercer and nearly beat Georgia State. And, didn’t Georgia State beat the SEC’s Tennessee. And well, beating an SEC team is something right? Wait, San Jose State beat Arkansas this week?!? Nevermind. Va. Tech is still clearly a wait and see proposition.
Pitt upsets UCF, Think about that statement, Pitt upsets UCF. I am not sure the AAC is comparable to the ACC, but it is getting much closer. Open the playoffs to eight teams and you may get some surprising answers.
UCLA vs. Washington St. – Again, I went to bed. The Bruins were getting boat-race and then a track meet broke out. UCLA roared back for the win. The tackling was atrocious in that game. The defenses were so bad, both teams covered the Over.
Whew: Virginia over ODU, Cal over Ole Miss, Fla St. over Louisville
Doh: TCU loss to SMU, Washington St. loss to UCLA UNC loss to App. State.
Lastly, it is a poke in my eye every time ESPN runs that ad for their new relationship with the ACC network, immediately followed by an ad for Xfinity, who has not yet picked up that network. My only satisfaction is that some poor bastard at ESPN is stuck serving the Comcast/Xfinity relationship.
Week 4 will be tough to match, but there are some good games on the slate this weekend. I am staying consistent with picking Thursday and Friday games. I really don’t like the Navy Memphis game because I don’t think we know enough about either team. Since I have to make a pick, I am going with Navy being able to at least keep it close. Friday night was easy. I think PSU will roll over Maryland despite the extra seats and fans. Saturday, I feel compelled to pick the Ole Miss Bama game since I will be there. The line is 38.5 which seems crazy high, but Ole Miss has looked pretty bad. For my last pick, I am going to keep riding the La. Tech Dawgs. Rice is just struggling.
Other thoughts on this week’s slate:
Pretty good slate for Friday night. Beyond PSU, the Duke vs Va Tech game should be a good one. I also think ASU can play with Cal. Will have to find a sports bar in Meridian, Mississippi for the night.
I am guessing Michigan will take out all their frustrations on poor Rutgers
Same for the Aggies against the Razorbacks
NIU could give the SEC another out of conference loss. Stay sharp Vanderbilt
Delaware at Pitt – A classic trap game, especially after Pitt upsets UCF
I can’t make heads or tails of the PAC12 – Maybe I will understand after USC vs Washington
Ark St. vs. Troy – A Sun Belt classic. Seriously, I could see myself watching that game
Bleh game of the week: 0-4 Akron at 0-4 UMass. I guess somebody has to win, but it won’t be the fans.
2019 is a big bounce back year with a great schedule and some great locations: Hawaii, Wisconsin (SI #19) and Notre Dame (SI #7), who is hosting Virginia Tech (SI #22). We also have some double weekends in Alabama (SI #1) and Oregon (SI #9). If I factor in seeing Oregon State host Utah (SI #14), I am seeing six top twenty-five teams (per SI) this year, including the number one. Big time indeed.
Game 1 – 8/24/2019, Arizona at Hawaii: While the second game of the weekend, it is the first true college game of the season. Miami plays Florida in Orlando first, but neutral sites don’t count at somanystadiums.com. Hawaii is certainly one of the better locations to see a game. This should be a good game where the Rainbow Warriors home field advantage offsets the depth of the Wildcats.
Game 2 – 9/7/2019, Illinois at University of Connecticut: So not exactly a marquee match up with UConn going 1-11 in 2018 and Illinois finishing at 4-8, but I had to hit East Hartford, Connecticut at some point. As a consolation, the Steelers host the Patriots the same weekend. So there is that.
Game 3 – 9/28/2019, ‘Ol Miss at Alabama (SI #1): After a couple of weeks off, I’ll be heading over the Tuscaloosa to see an SEC classic when ‘Ol Miss takes on Alabama. Unfortunately, I have the feeling the only thing that will be classic about this game will be the traditions. The Tide will probably roll all over the Rebels, er Black Bears, er Landsharks – not exactly sure what the Ol Miss mascot is these days. Rebels is not exactly the most PC nickname, but if the NFL will still let Washington run with the Redskins moniker, “Rebels” seems pale in comparison.
Game 4 – 10/3/2019, Georgia Southern at South Alabama: It is right back to the great state of Alabama for the following weekend. I hear Mobile, Alabama is actually a pretty interesting city so maybe it will be a good Thursday night. South Alabama’s program is a baby, having just started in 2009 and they went 3 – 9 last year. Georgia Southern, on the other hand, has rich a history (first game in 1924) and six FCS championships. They went 10-3 and won their bowl game. It might be a rough week for the Jaguars if the Eagles fly high.
Game 5 – 10/5/2019, Rice at UAB: It is a short(?) drive up the road to Birmingham for another potential blow out as UAB hosts Rice. The UAB program was resurrected from the dead after a two year hiatus in 2017. A short year later, UAB went 11-3, won their first Conference USA title and their subsequent bowl game. Rice, on the other is a program in serious decline, having gone 2-11 last year. It is not exactly the most appealing weekend on the schedule. It’s not all Game Day and rich traditions out there – sometimes it is just a plain old slog.
Game 6 – 10/11/2018, Colorado at Oregon (SI #9): Things take a remarkably better turn in Week 7 as I head out to Oregon for another double header weekend. The Ducks need to turn it around or it is probably curtains for their coach Mario Cristobal. I look forward to checking out Eugene on Friday night and seeing the team Phil Knight built.
Game 7 – 10/12/201, Utah (SI #14) at Oregon State: Saturday, it is a short drive up north to Corvallis to see the Beavers host the Utes. The Beavers had a disastrous 2 -10 season last year. The Utes were decent at 9 – 5 and are ranked in the SI top twenty-five. This might be a blow out if the Beavers 2nd year coach, Jonathan Smith can’t right the ship. Still, it is the Pacific Northwest in early autumn so it is probably going to be a good weekend regardless.
Game 8 – 11/2/2019, Virginia Tech (SI #22) at Notre Dame (SI #7): I had always planned on saving South Bend and Touchdown Jesus as the final stadium in the list. However, when I saw the home and away with Virginia Tech, it was too good to resist. Add to it a strong connection with a number of Midwest guys and the Golden Domers got put on the schedule for this year. Tech has been hot or cold, but they seem to always play to the level of their competition. Hopefully they remember they are playing the Fighting Irish and not the Old Dominion Monarchs. Twelve to sixteen guys in an AirBnB – what could go wrong?
Game 9 / 10 – 11/23/2019,Purdue at Wisconsin (SI #19) and/or Minnesota at Northwestern. It is nearly a month off before I catch another game, although there is always a chance I could zip over to SMU in between games. The Mustangs are always dependent on weather and the matchup (and if I can get someone to go with me). The kickoff for both the Wisconsin and Northwestern games are TBD so there’s the outside chance I could pick up the rare Saturday double dip. Ideally, the Northwestern game goes off at noon and is a blowout by half time. Then, if the Wisconsin game is prime time, we could head off for what looks to be a three and half hour drive. It would be really tight, but you could kick it around Madison afterwards. Otherwise, I will just have to pick one.
Game 11 – 11/26/2019, Western Michigan at Northern Illinois: This last game is really dicey. It is a MACtion Tuesday night game the week before Thanksgiving. I am typically off that week for vacation, so I can see an opportunity to catch this game in combination with a holiday trip. Maybe? Games this late in the season often get cut, especially the ones up North. I could see where the weather would be sub-optimal for a Tuesday night game in DeKalb, Illinois.
So there you have it. The one thing I have learned in the 78 games I have already hit, nothing is set in stone. This schedule is, as it is every year, a target. On paper though, it appears to be a good one. See you in the tailgate lots and in the stands.