My pal George Schroeder, who used to work for us at The Oklahoman but now is with USA Today, has an enviable first week of college football. He’s covering the North Carolina-at-South Carolina game next Thursday night, then has the Georgia-at-Clemson game Saturday night.
Quite a doubleheader, 48 hours and 130 miles apart.
And it got me to thinking. What kind of football tours could the enterprising fan pull off in the opening week, when we’ve got a bunch of games on Thursday night to kick off the season, a few on Friday night, a couple on Sunday and even a Labor Day night game?
Heck, if I really want to get my football fix off to a fast start, I could do a doubleheader. Not exactly the caliber of the PalmettoState, but I’ll be in Houston next weekend for the OSU-Mississippi State game, which is a solid opener. The night before, Houston U. hosts Southern U. That game, just like OSU-Miss State, is at Reliant Stadium, as the Cougars are in the process of building a new stadium.
Without jet-setting – or starting the adventure off with the Tulane-Jackson State game in New Orleans – that’s about the extent of that football trip.
Lots of Big 12 doubleheader possibilities abound.
You could check out the North Dakota State-at-Kansas State game on Friday night, then get to either the Louisiana-Monroe at OU game or Northern Iowa at Iowa State on Saturday night. Or take a reunion tour and go to Wyoming at Nebraska or Murray State at Missouri.
A really industrious fan could do a Texas tripleheader. Texas Tech at SMU on Friday night, Rice at Texas A&M at noon Saturday and back to the Metroplex for LSU-TCU at 8 p.m. Saturday in Arlington. In fact, that’s the trip I would make.
Unless I could make this one. The Labor Day weekend start makes it possible for a fan to get to five decent games in a five-day span, with minimal driving. Here’s the trip I would like to take:
Thursday:Tulsa at Bowling Green. Not a game of national repute, but I love following the Golden Hurricane and the ascension of Bill Blankenship’s program. Bowling Green, Ohio, is 954 miles from Oklahoma City, so you’d have to leave Wednesday. Leave at noon, drive to St. Louis, and then you could drive the rest of the way Thursday and make it in plenty of time for the 7 p.m. Eastern time kickoff.
Friday: An easy day. Leave Bowling Green and drive the 135 miles to East Lansing, Mich., for the Michigan State-Western Michigan game. Not a great matchup, but Mid-American teams often give the Big Ten a tussle. Plus it’s an opportunity to see a classic Big Ten stadium and those great green Spartan uniforms.
Saturday: Get up a little early, but not necessarily at the crack of dawn, and drive 160 miles to South Bend, Ind., where Notre Dame hosts Temple at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. The Owls shouldn’t be much of a match for the Irish, but the chance to see any game in Notre Dame Stadium is worth it. I’m not here to tell you how to get tickets.
Sunday: This is getting good. The Ohio U. at Louisville game is at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. So drive to Indianapolis on Saturday night, and you’re more than halfway the 255 miles from South Bend to Louisville. And awaiting you is an interesting game. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a Heisman candidate, while Ohio is quarterbacked by Norman North’s Tyler Tettleton. Of Louisville’s 12 opponents this season, Ohio U. might be the best.
Monday: The Florida State at Pittsburgh game awaits, and only 387 miles from Louisville. Drive part of the way Sunday night, to Cincinnati or Columbus, and you’ve got an easy drive to Pittsburgh. Heinz Field is a fabulous stadium in beautiful downtown Pittsburgh. And Pitt will be making its ACC debut.
So five games in five days. Ten teams, some national contenders, some Heisman hopefuls, some famous stadiums, some historic affairs, even a local attraction.
Wish I had the time and the money to do it. Of course, I can’t complain about OSU-Mississippi State. And if I really can’t wait, there’s always Houston-Southern U.