Six Months to College Football, Our Patience Will Be Rewarded

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National Signing Day has come and gone, spring games are on the horizon (tailgate dry run), and the six-month countdown to college football season will soon commence.

Yes, we’ve got March Madness (1st round Thursday is the greatest Thursday of the year), WrestleMania, college baseball, and the summer MLB schedule to satiate us until early September, but the main course comes on Labor Day weekend.

My wife and I have renewed our Stanford football season tickets. The Farm has been our fall home since 2009. Now it’s time to suffer through the brutal stretch of time between the click of the “Renew” button on the tickets page, and when I can finally park my old pickup on the grove and grill some steak.

That six months, that half a year, seems like an eternity to wait. Six months until I get Tuesday MAC-tion back in my life. Six months until I can see Fresno State and Tennessee’s wonderful checkerboard end zones. Six months until a Lee Corso headgear pick! Six months until Michigan at Utah and North Carolina vs. South Carolina usher in a Labor Day weekend filled with intriguing matchups.

Jim Harbaugh’s return to Michigan and college football? I’m there.

Chris Peterson taking Washington into Boise? Can’t wait.

Wisconsin Badgers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide in AT&T Stadium? Hurry up and get here.

Texas at Notre Dame? Reputations alone make this one a must see.

Michigan at Utah

“Michigan Man” Jim Harbaugh has finally come back to Ann Arbor, and he’s kicking things off with a big non-conference game in Salt Lake City. The Utah Utes are coming off a stellar season capped with a 45-10 blowout win over Group of Five heavyweight Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Utah went 9-4, their best season since joining the PAC-12.

Michigan has been floundering since a Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech in early 2012. Now that Brady Hoke is a mythical fever dream, Big Blue can begin again. Even with the stiff competition on the road, anything other than a victory over the PAC-12 foe will be disappointing. Harbaugh is a man who turned Stanford around, so he’s going to be expected to win a B1G title very soon in Michigan.

Utah has separated itself from fellow PAC-12 newbie Colorado by making noise in their new home. The first big blow was upsetting number five Stanford at home in 2013. That was a five-win campaign but contained the big top-ten upset. Last year Coach Kyle Whittingham got the Utes in contention for the South title. They also went into the Big House and got a W. No matter how down Michigan is, Utah can boast a win in the biggest stadium on the continent.

Washington at Boise State

This story writes itself. Back on the blue turf, Peterson will be coaching in Boise for the first time since departing for Seattle in 2013. It’ll be interesting to see how the Smurf Turf faithful treat their old leader. I’d hope they would show him some respect as the man who helped build the program into a powerhouse. Hopefully they don’t revert to any Kyle Brotzman type behavior.

Alabama vs. Wisconsin

I can’t say I expect Wisconsin to put up much of a fight in the second half. They might hold on, then go the way of their LSU game last season. It’s marquee material anytime Alabama hosts an early season big time game.

They blew out Michigan in 2012: “What a dominant effort, honorary number one for life!”

They escaped West Virginia by ten last year: “Bama’s overrated! Drop ‘em in the polls!”

Either way, there’s conversation. It’s why they’re in this position in college football. People want to see what’ll happen with the Tide. No matter what the outcome, somebody will jump at the chance to praise or prod the Roll Tide community.

And good for them for scheduling these top notch non-conference games early. In contrast, I’d prefer the directional Carolinas/Georgias to be early and/or not appear on their schedule all.

New Cat in Town

Post-Nebraska Bo Pelini’s first game for Youngstown State is at Pittsburgh. All due respect to the Panthers, but I’m reluctantly rooting Penguins in this one. If Pelini’s cat comes to town, the Panthers might not even stand a chance.

Beamer vs. Meyer

Labor Day evening brings a rematch of Ohio State’s only loss last year. This time they head to Blacksburg to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies. Defending national champions going into a hostile stadium on a Monday night = eyes on the screen. The Buckeyes begin their title defense in what will surely be a packed Lane Stadium.

Friday’s Trio

We get three Friday games: Baylor at SMU, Michigan State at Western Michigan, and Fordham at Army. Hopefully I’ll be in the vicinity of a TV with CBS Sports because I’ll watch the triple-option any time I can. And any school whose abbreviation is FU gets a moment of my time.

Neutral Site Clashes

The premier kick off games always pit Power Five teams against one another with national perceptions on the line. Auburn and Louisville will meet in the Georgia Dome, while Arizona State travels to the Lone Star State to take on Texas A&M in NRG Stadium.

Personal choice: Stanford at Northwestern

I’m hoping to travel to Chicago to see the Cardinal vs. Wildcats. The LSAT/SAT/MBA Bowl might not light up the bottom line on ESPN, but it should be a great atmosphere between the B1G and the PAC-12.

Bonus: The first and only time I saw these two schools compete was a basketball game. A Northwestern fan got eternal awesome points for yelling “You shall not PASS!” during a Stanford free throw attempt. The Stanford section laughed heartily and gave a respectful clap. Stay nerdy everyone.

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