Happy Thanksgiving!! In other news, college football sure is great.
Week in and week out it is the only sport in America that consistently entertains, delivers, surprises, and boggles.
College football is great for so many reasons, and it makes no sense to recount the many hackneyed references that so many bloviate about in end of the season highlight clips from ESPN. The real joy of college football is hidden in the nuance of every weekend.
Of all of the sports in this fair nation of ours, the rivalries in college football are unmatched in both number and quality. Virtually every college football program has a significant game against a hated rival every season. That rivalry may be borne out of a long-standing border dispute (see Pittsburgh and West Virginia), deep-seated hatred (see Georgia and Georgia Tech), vitriolic bragging rights (see Auburn and Alabama), the charm of toughness (Army and Navy), or just consistently great football (see Ohio State Michigan). Rivalries matter, and the volume of rivalries in college football simply cannot be, well, rivaled by any other sport.
The palatial surroundings these teams play in adds to the grandeur and awe of the sport as well. Whether you are in The Big House in Michigan, Happy Valley in Pennsylvania, Neyland Stadium in Tennessee, or Autzen Stadium in Oregon, great stadiums and local, traditional atmosphere’s abound across our fair nation. Contrary to what your college experience may have been, college football is not solely about drinking and stumbling to a game that becomes a foggy memory. It is about feeling the emotion course through you when your team scores a big touchdown or makes a big fourth down stand that is sure to turn the season around.
College football is also – for better or worse – historically amazing at setting expectations before a season begins. This may seem inconsequential, but it does berth a bunch of exciting games, even in the first week of the season. Plus, just in this season alone, several games have come down to a final possession, a final play, that for good or bad can turn an entire season. Think back to the dropped pass in the end zone Clemson had against Auburn. A catch in that moment – overtime – would have dramatically turned the season for both teams. If Michigan State is unable to convert on a fake field goal to win the game against Notre Dame, perhaps Notre Dame solidifies some swagger and Michigan State again falls into the middle of the Big Ten like usual. No other sport is setup where a single play that completely change an entire team’s season like college football. Plus, games are exciting from the very beginning of the season because of the expectations set by those seemingly ridiculous pre-season polls.
The NHL is not a great league. Major League Baseball has come off of an interesting year with some new star players beginning to emerge, but the sport does not build up the emotion that college football does. Sure, the NBA has its share of drama, and so does the NFL. But none of the above have the history, tradition, and pageantry that college football also includes in its full package. Professional athletes – like it or not – are mercenaries. Though some may argue that college football players share some traits with mercenaries, the only reason those kids play is because they truly love the game. Every game is important, every game is an emotional roller coaster with a plot that twists and turns… with big games that end as surprisingly as a great film.
Check out the full slate of college football games we can enjoy this weekend. Every ranked team is in action, many of them playing against another ranked opponent. And, many of those games are also featured rivalry games. Oklahoma plays Oklahoma State, LSU plays Arkansas, Ohio State plays Michigan, Notre Dame plays Southern Cal, Missouri plays Kansas, Auburn plays Alabama, and Texas A&M plays Texas. Each game is personal, regional, and nationally important. No other modern sport boasts so many games in a single weekend with national implications. The professional leagues never come close. College basketball has the tournament which can create great matchups for one or two weekends, but not consecutive amazing weekends of close games like college football can.
While college football has lost a measure of its innocence in 2010 with the way the Reggie Bush scandal wrapped up, and the way the Cam Newton scandal seems to be progressing, it is still the most pure and entertaining sport on the market. And for that I am very thankful.