Thanks to Hurricane Harvey, I wasn’t able to get out of Houston to make my three game weekend in the Chicago area. I was to start in Bloomington for the Ohio State – Indiana game. While the Buckeyes pulled away in the second half as expected, the atmosphere looked awfully good in the first half. Friday was the BC – NIU game. Wouldn’t you know that the game went right down to the wire, when BC kicked a late field goal to avoid the upset. Saturday’s Nevada – Northwestern had a 2nd half Wildcat comeback in another close game. So Hurricane Harvey kind of screwed me. I say “kind of” because at least my house in Houston stayed dry. That would have been a far worse result for the weekend.
My Thursday, Friday and Saturday, when not helping neighbors pull out wet drywall and fiberglass, was focused getting my man cave back into CFB mode. My observations from a weekend of watching instead of attending games:
Well, that was entertaining:
The Battle for the Black Diamond: The Hokies and Mountaineers renewed their rivalry after 12 years and it was worth the wait. Uh-oh ACC – Va Tech’s freshman QB, Josh Jackson had a better opener than Michel Vick did in his first game.
Meanwhile on another TV: Thankfully, I didn’t turn off the A&M – UCLA game even though the Aggies were just spanking the Bruins. Every time I glanced at the TV in the second half, it seemed liked UCLA was scoring. Even I didn’t have the heart to text my Aggie buddies to rub it in.
The Monday night game didn’t disappoint either. Tennessee gives the SEC a much needed win by beating Georgia Tech in OT.
NC State vs. South Carolina: This game delivered excitement throughout. It was a good back and forth battle that was worth watching.
The Terps upsetting UT: The Tom Herman era starts with a whimper and not a bang.
Louisville beat Purdue 35 -28 in a sloppy but entertaining game.
Based on the highlights, the USC – Western Michigan seemed to be pretty exciting, but I couldn’t seem to find it on my myriad of televised options.
ESPN’s College Football Final: I wasn’t the biggest fan of the show last year, perhaps because I really liked the Rece Davis, Mark May and Lou Holtz version. However, the show seemed to be in midseason form already. Well done, Adnan Virk, Joey Galloway, and Jesse Palmer.
Don’t jump to conclusions but:
I loved Lee Corso dishing out a bit of reality on ESPN Game Day when he said he would schedule all the cupcakes he could if he were still a head coach. The truth is coaches are measured by wins and losses and until the committee sends a message to do otherwise, the first three weeks of season will remain, for the most part, a trip to the bakery.
The Penn State offense looks really, really good. I know it was Akron, but Bowden has been steadily improving the Zips.
‘Bama being ‘Bama: Honestly, we may be watching the best operating football program ever. Saban is making the case for G.O.A.T of college football coaching. The best example of reloading versus rebuilding in the game today.
I can’t tell if Michigan is really good or Florida is really bad.
Classy move by USC to bring on their blind snapper, Jake Olsen to get in the extra point snap.
How’s that sweet tooth?
Baylor loses to Liberty. I guess God likes tele-evangelist Baptists over traditional Baptists.
UNLV, a 45 point favorite over FCS opponent Howard, loses 40-43. How did that cupcake taste coach?
How far has East Carolina fallen? JMU is certainly a great FCS program, but it wasn’t too long ago that the Pirates were giving teams like the Hokies a challenge. Getting smoked by the Dukes 34 – 14? Arrrgh, indeed!
Dodging the bullet: Illinois, Nebraska (doesn’t say much for the Big 10), and Louisiana Lafayette escape with close wins. And Pitt needed OT to get past the pesky YSU Penguins.
Up next week:
I am considering a trip up to U Conn where the Huskies are set to host the 2-0 Bulls of South Florida. My challenge is that the current price of the flights is beyond the Somanystadiums budget. I am hoping a can get a steal on Tuesday night.
If I can’t make the trip, here’s the games I plan on watching:
Auburn at Clemson: I bet the Tigers win (hahaha)
Pitt at Penn State: I am hoping the rivalry elevates Pitt’s game. Otherwise it could be a long day for the Panthers
Oklahoma at Ohio State: The Big 12 really needs a good performance by the Sooners.
Stanford at USC: A rivalry that in the past has provided some great moments.
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 email@example.com 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.
Hard to believe that I am publishing my 2015 review in early June of 2016 and it is still a month earlier than last year’s review. I guess I was doing better than I thought. The same could be said for my 2015 season. Before I started crunching the numbers and looking at the reviews from last year, I would have said my season was okay. In retrospect, I had a pretty good year.
I only saw eight games in 2015, so it was a light year. I knew it was going to be a challenge to get numbers because I was losing weekends in bunches. It was my 25th wedding anniversary so I had to sacrifice, err celebrate, for a couple of weekends. In addition it was my third year in a row that I had to travel to the Far East during football season. Nothing gobbles up weekends, like 16 hours in a plane. But like I tell my wife, it’s not the length of the season, but the magic of the moments.
I started out with what I thought was a no stress setup for the first game. We had moved back to Houston for the third time in 2015 so a quick trip to catch the Cougars was going to be easy. When I saw they were playing T. Tech, I figured an in-state rivalry game with the Red Raiders had the potential for high drama. Unfortunately, it wasn’t til the Friday before the game that I realized it was not Texas Tech but rather Div 1-AA Tennesee Tech. I was going to just skip it, but than Saturday rolled around and it was just too nice of night not to scratch my College Football itch. I downloaded some tickets and my son and I jumped in the car and headed downtown. Two fake tickets later, we entered the stadium with Cougars up by 21 – thanks a lot Vivid Seats. We didn’t realize it at the time, but it wasn’t about Tenn Tech being bad so much as Houston having a really strong team. They finished 13 – 1 and smacked #9 FSU in the Peach Bowl. It was one of five 2016 final top twenty teams I saw.
A week later, I would have about as good a football weekend as I ever had. My buddy Doug Moore hosted me for the Iowa vs. Iowa State game in Ames. From a private tour of the football facilities to sideline passes for the game, I have never had such star treatment. The only downer was the Cyclones lost a very tight game to what turned out to be a sensational Hawkeye team. Unfortunately for Iowa State, it was a glimpse of what their season was to become; one of opportunities lost. Still, it was top five experience for me.
Next we were off to LSU, which I had assumed would easily be a top 10 experience if not top 5, especially when they were playing SEC rival Auburn. Instead, we were got baked (and not the good kind of baked) at Tiger Stadium where the only highlight was watching Leonard Fournette rolling over Auburn DB’s like so many orange, white and blue pins. He was one of ten All-Americans I would see in 2016.
A month later, I made my first solo trip of the year, heading to Baylor to see track meet against WVU. To my surprise, a football game actually broke out. It was entertaining in an average kind of way. The weather for that game was warm and sunny, but weather man was forecasting dark skies for my next game. Realizing that misery loves company, I conned a couple of buddies
to come see Army take on Rice in the pouring rain. The funny thing is that we actually had a great time, particularly due to a plucky Army team that never gave up and nearly pulled off the upset. It took me a couple of weekends to dry out and then I was off for my only double game weekend of the season. I flew into Atlanta to join my son and some other young Hokie watch Va. Tech take on Ga. Tech in a battle of top engineering schools. It was another pleasant surprise as the tradition rich experience at Bobby Dodd Stadium did not disappoint. I suppose the low scoring, mistake plagued game looked bad on TV, but in person, it was a blast; a visual tableau of fan-suffering anguish as each team took turns finding ways to throw away the game. There aren’t too many better ways to spend a a cool, autumn Thursday night with your son, especially when his school wins. After a day off rest visiting some long lost relatives, I trucked on over to Mississippi State to see the mighty Crimson Tide hammer the Bulldogs. I had to watch from the Standing Room Only section when I bought my second fake ticket of the season. It had never happened to me before, but that made it twice in one season. However, the generous fans of Mississippi State had put me in such a good mood that I really didn’t mind.
I was next scheduled to see a late season gem with Baylor visiting TCU on Thanksgiving weekend. The weather turned nasty with a forecast of freezing rain for the game. Having already been roasted and drenched this season, I mailed it in and spent the day watching a ton of games in my man cave. I finished a couple weeks later in Lafayette, Louisiana where the Cajun’s were definitely not Ragin, The Men of Troy, Troy State that is, cruised but it didn’t matter as my friend and I enjoyed several of the cold adult beverages sold at Cajun Stadium sitting in the warm, setting sun.
Total Games Attended: 8, down 4 from 2014
Best Team Seen: National Champion Alabama – compare that to the best team I saw in 2014, the lowly #14 Missouri
Final AP Top Twenty Teams Seen: 5 versus 1 in 2014
Worst Team: 3 – 9 Georgia Tech, (but none in the Bottom 10)
Best Game Seen: Va Tech 23 Georgia Tech 21, 11/13/15, Honorable Mention: Iowa vs Iowa St, Army vs Rice
Worst Game Seen: LSU 45 vs Auburn 21, 9/9/15
Bowl Game Teams Seen: 8 (7 of which won their bowl).
College Award winners seen:
Heisman, Maxwell (Best All Around), Doak Walker (Best RB), Walter Camp (Player of Year): Henry, Alabama RB
Biletnikoff (Best Receiver): Coleman, Baylor WR
Thorpe (Best DB): King, Iowa DB
Rimington (Best Center): Kelly, Alabama Center
All Americans: 10, 4 Unanimous
The Facilities (of 2015 visits)
Best Stadium: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Ga. Tech, Atlanta, GA.
Worst Stadium: Rice Stadium, Houston, TX
Best Game Day Experience: Mississippi State
Easiest Stadium to Get To: Louisiana Lafayette
Hardest Stadium to Get To: Houston – very limited signage
Best Concessions: Louisiana Lafayette – Beer and more beer
Worst Concessions: Baylor – all of halftime and then some to get some cold BBQ sliders
Best Souvenir: A slew of t-shirts and hats from San Antonio Lids Clearance Sale
Worst Souvenir: Free Rice poster and sticker.
Total Season Spend: $1,600 ($500 ex mileage); Ave per Game: ~$230 (ex mileage ~$70)
Most Expensive Ticket: Auburn vs LSU – $95 face and actual
Cheapest Ticket: Iowa State: Free!
Average Ticket Price Paid: $37 (Same as previous year)
Average Savings on Scalped / Internet Site Tickets: $9 saved per ticket
Miles Driven: ~1,900
Miles Flown: ~2,000 (Des Moines, Atlanta)
Two Game Weeks: One – Ga Tech / Mississippi State
Best Fans: Mississippi State – They gave me a bell
Worst Fans: Rice, only because there weren’t any
Most Pleasant Surprise: Louisiana Lafayette’s souvenir beer cup – classic!
Most Unpleasant Surprise: LSU Experience – A hot, muggy blowout
Z Celebrity Status: One recognition from the radio and one photo request
I realize this is very late, but we’ve been preoccupied as the parent company of somanystadiums.com recently relocated to the great state of Texas. This took away much of our focus here at SMS, but we are slowly getting back in gear.
2014 was, well, generally unsatisfying in terms of the games I saw. It was a rough year to schedule, with work commitments stealing three key Fall weekends. What I was left with was a schedule that maximized multiple game weekends at the expense of quality football. Little did I know when the “free tickets” to the Toledo home opener didn’t pan out, this would be a season of unfulfilled expectations. It seemed like every game was either non-competitive or just plain sloppy. It was fairly indicative that, excluding the stats of Div I AA New Hampshire (12-2) from the list of teams I saw, the cumulative won/loss record of the teams I saw was a paltry 118 – 122. As a further sign of the poor caliber of football witnessed in 2014, I saw only one major college football award winner. It was for the premier scholar athlete award earned by Duke’s linebacker Dave Helton. And while I am sure Dave’s mom is justifiably proud, I don’t recall any outstanding defense at the UNC Duke game I attended. I am sure Dave is hell with a slide rule and graph paper, but that’s not exactly what you are hoping to see on Saturday afternoon. The prior year was a feast of talent where I saw six major award winners, including Heisman winner Jameis Winston. So yeah, a bit of a disappointing year.
Even when I had close games such as thrillers at South Carolina and Florida, the home team lost! So much for a little post game celebrating with young coeds. Instead, I got to enjoy the slow, somber funeral procession to the parking lot. I did see Wake Forest upset Virginia Tech in double overtime in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Of course, my son and, I by extension, are Hokie fans so we took no joy in the win by the Demon Deacons.
Of course, I am reminded that bitching about not always seeing great games should be balanced with the fact that I still spend most weekends at great venues, more often than not tailgating with family and friends from all over the country. A really bad weekend of college football beats the hell out raking leaves, cleaning out the gutters, or any other number of mundane domestic fall activities. Indeed, even when the games were bad, I still managed to have a good time, often at other activities. My west coast trip was saved by watching the Casa Grande Gauchos Cross Country teams smoke the competition at the Castro Valley Cross Country Invitational. One would have thought the Cal Bears could have mustered a similar effort for their homecoming game. Alas, there was no bite in those Bears. When Florida gave away their game to South Carolina, I took my Dad to the Tilted Kilt to catch dinner and finish watching the other games from the afternoon. My Pops wasn’t sure what to make of this establishment, which likely provides a seemingly harmless first step to adult film stardom. My focus was on Northwestern upsetting Notre Dame; the old man not so much.
So in the end, 2014 was still a good year. But oddly enough, the best game I “attended” in 2014 was a live broadcast of the Netherlands Spain soccer match at a huge park in Amsterdam. When the Orange lit up Spain 5 – 1, the city became one big party. I don’t remember everything from that night, but I know it was the best futbol I saw in 2014. Here’s to hoping my 2015 college football tour will deliver similar results.
Total Games Attended: 9 (11 if you include duplicate games at Pitt and Va Tech)
Best Team Seen: Missouri, #14 in final AP poll (and UNH, DI AA – 12-2)
Final AP Top Twenty Teams Seen: 1 versus 6 in 2013
Worst Team: Miami, Oh, #7 in the Bottom 10.
Bad Teams Seen: 2 – Miami, O (2-10)., Kent State (2-9), Wash State (3-9), Wake Forest (3-9)
Best Game Seen: Va Tech 3 Wake Forest 6, 2 OT, 11/22/2015
Worst Game Seen: UNC 45 vs Duke 20, 11/20/2014 (At Duke!)
Bowl Game Teams Seen: 12 (which only goes to prove it is way too easy to get to a bowl).
College Award winners seen:
William V. Campbell Trophy: premier scholar athlete, D. Helton, Duke
All Americans: 10, 1 Unanimous: Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington Linebacker
The Facilities (of 2014 visits)
Best Stadium: Williams-Bryce Stadium, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Honorable Mention: Heinz Field, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
The 2014 College Football Season is off to a rousing start, and the boys at somanystadiums are in already in the mix – picking up 6 games in one weekend. Shady was out of the gate first, heading to Atlanta to catch the kick off classic. Neutral site games don’t count, but his love of the Broncos runs deep. In what he described as an offensive mess of a game, Ole Miss blew up on Boise in the 4th quarter to run away with it.
Shady continues to support his favorite teams, traveling up to UConn on Friday night to see BYU tackle the Huskies. He wraps up an epic weekend by attending the Fla St. vs OSU game in Dallas. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s Atlanta on Thursday to Hartford on Friday with a finish in Dallas on Saturday. When we say we are fans of college football, we mean it.
Pat is Houston to watch the LSU Tigers play the Wisconsin Badgers. He doesn’t pick up another stadium as it a neutral site but it should be a great game. As for me, Tree, I am heading over to Toledo to catch the Rockets play New Hampshire. It is a 7pm kick off which has presented a unique opportunity. Pitt hosts Delaware at noon on Saturday. I have already been to the old Pitt stadium so I wouldn’t pick up another stadium, but I haven’t seen the Panthers play at Heinz field. It presents a bit of a logistical challenge if the game goes the distance as it is about a 4 hour drive to Toledo from Pittsburgh. So noon start at Pitt puts me at say 3:00 – 3:30 and then 4 hour drive to Toledo says I miss the kickoff and a robust(?) tailgating scene. On the other hand, say Pitt blows out UD early, I could bolt at 2 pm leaving plenty of time for Toledo. Since I got free tickets to the Toledo game, the Pitt tickets wouldn’t hurt the budget. Confirmed as I just bought the tickets. Pitt here we come.
One thing is for sure, whether it is I79 South or I90 West, we’ll be getting our game on in the heart of football country.
Unless Momo’s got a secret schedule going, the team of Tree and Shady will add two more stadiums to what is already a sizable lead.
Shady: Boise State Broncos vs Ole Miss Rebels, in Atlanta, GA on Thursday night.
:BYU Cougars vs UConn Huskies, in Hartford, CN, Friday night.