Greetings to my fellow survivors of the long, dormant abyss known as the college football offseason. I can feel your excitement for the new season because I can understand the frustrations and concerns you’ve struggled through...what we’ve all struggled through, together, over the past seven long months, since the glorious sights and sounds of collegiate-level amateur** football graced the front screens on our television sets and the fullness of our subconscious brain activity.
So excuse us, you unwashed, heathen non-believers of college football, if you can’t comprehend why we’re so excited for the return of our favorite pasttime. Sure, to you, college football is just another dangerous, corrupt sport that eats up our fall weekend productivity and leaves most of us angry, broke, emotionally drained, and/or drunk, spending our Saturdays irrationally yelling at 19-year-old college males who cannot hear our incoherent ramblings and do not care about us or how much money we claim to gave to our alma mater so we can watch him drop that TD pass.
To us, college football is far more than that. Our college football fandom is an investment, a religion, a social identity, an escape, and a much-needed distraction from our real-world problems, all wrapped into one. In these ever-changing and trying times, college football is that warm, familiar security blanket we so desperately cling to when the world outside gets cold and scary. College football still reigns supreme because it remains our beloved, (mostly) unchanging, and constant force that propels forward our collective well-being. We desperately need a strong, stabilizing force in our lives right now, as well as a unifying message that we can all rally behind (i.e. everyone hates Urban Meyer, RPOs are ruining college football, kickers aren’t really people; why has no politician adopted any of these as their campaign slogan yet?).
How can we selfishly worry about something as silly as nuclear war with North Korea when Jim Harbaugh is out here touting his latest endorsement with Lululemon khakis?
Nick Saban didn’t give a crap about this week’s eclipse, and Will Muschamp was either not aware of what an eclipse is, or was otherwise confused by something that he could not physically punch into submission.
You think you’ve got legal or financial problems? Mike Leach can’t be distracted with football right now because he’s still busy arguing legal intricacies with the Texas legislature over a paycheck he alleges he didn’t receive a decade ago.
Did you make a bad bet with a loan shark? Jim McElwain knows a thing or two about lost bets with sharks, and speaking of terrible bets, he might start Luke Del Rio against Michigan.
The Champions of Life still haven’t won the SEC East, no one can understand anything Ed Orgeron is trying to say, and Ole Miss is once again an irrelevant, bottomfeeder program marred in a new controversy that oddly has nothing to do with their association with Confederate imagery. How progressive of you, Ole Miss.
So if you thought college football had somehow changed for the worse or brought more unforeseen turmoil to your life routine, you’re dead wrong. The examples above show just how wrong you are. Nothing has changed, trust me, we have the least change you’ve ever seen, tremendous no-change, everyone tells me I’m right.
And if you thought the college football season started next weekend, you need to mentally prepare yourself for the soft opening week zero of college football. Sure, there’s only a handful of games, and sure, the big games don’t start until next week, and sure, I don’t know off the top of my head which conference Portland State plays in, or which coastal bookend city of Portland their campus is located in, or what their mascot is, or any of the current players on their roster, but all that doesn’t matter because college football is finally back this weekend, baby. The world may be a mess, but bad football is better than no football, so in a sense, everything is right again in our beautiful bubble of a world. Get your mind right, your priorities straight, and your fridge stocked. We have reached the light at the end of the tunnel.
Let’s get to the first installment of our weekly FSU Football Fan Rooting Guide for the 2017 season.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Texas Southern at Florida A&M, 12:00 PM (EST), ESPNU: FAMU. The opening televised game of the 2017 college football season is in Tallahassee. This game has little to no importance on the wider college football landscape, or Florida State’s season outlook, so ’Noles fans should pull for our crosstown neighbors. Go Rattlers.
Oregon State at Colorado State, 2:30 PM (EST), CBSSN: Colorado State. In the first FBS matchup of the new season, the Colorado State Rams open their beautiful new stadium on Saturday when they host the Oregon State Beavers. Colorado State is Bill Connelly’s favorite to win the Mountain West, a non-Power 5 conference, while Oregon State is a mid-level member of the Pac 12, a conference that some say is a Power 5 conference. Thomasville (GA) native, former UGA quarterback, and long-time UGA offensive coordinator Mike Bobo replaced everyone’s favorite shark enthusiast as the head coach at Colorado State and has the Rams trending in the right direction heading into Year 3. This is important because Colorado State plays Alabama in Tuscaloosa on September 16. Colorado State scored at least 45 points in each of its last 4 games during the 2016 campaign, which is the longest active streak in the FBS.
In this toss-up, it’s better for FSU fans to root for the non-Power 5 school Colorado State over the Power-5 school Oregon State. Regardless of the outcome between FSU and ’Bama next weekend, it would be helpful for the Rams to have some momentum going into their game in Tuscaloosa. Equally crazy things have happened.
Portland State at BYU, 3:00 PM (EST), ESPN: Portland State. Did you know there’s a school in Oregon named Portland State? Did you know they allegedly field a college football program? Portland State, a member of the FCS Big Sky Conference, will travel to Provo to face FBS Independent BYU on Saturday. For some reason, this game is being televised nationally. For some reason, we’ll probably all watch. Let’s root for the Vikings to pull the upset.
Hawaii at UMass, 6:00 PM (EST): UMass. The usual northern UM juggernaut that UF schedules for season openers is instead hosting Hawaii on Saturday evening. After UMass traveled to Honolulu in November last season (UH won that game 46-40), the Rainbow Warriors are returning the favor of travelling over 5,000 miles and crossing six time zones to play FBS independent UMass in its 17,000 capacity stadium in Hadley, Massachusetts. It’s likely the farthest two teams have traveled for a home-and-home series in college football history.
Can you imagine the ridiculous recruiting pitch Hawaii’s coaching staff has to make to its targets? “Hey 3-star recruits, come play at Hawaii. We’re in the Mountain West, which is a non-Power 5 conference (not just an odd-sounding description of a region of the country), even though our campus is one thousand miles from our nearest conference foe and the cost of living here in outrageous. Hawaii is beautiful and tropical and remote and everyone on our roster has to adjust to severe jet lag because, on occasion, we schedule a home-and-home series with some random program from Massachusetts you’ve never heard of.” Sounds like fun, Coach, sign me up.
FSU fans should root for UMass because they’re independent, not very good, and early-season scheduling fodder for big programs. At least they got a trip to a tropical paradise out of it last season. Not so much this year.
No. 19 USF at San Jose State, 7:30 PM (EST), CBSSN: San Jose State. This is Charlie Strong’s first game at the helm of USF. I hear he’s had prior experience with USF’s “Bulls Up” hand gesture, so at least that transition has been seamless for him. South Florida is opening the season ranked in the AP poll for only the second time in school history and the first time since 2007, when it climbed all the way to No. 2 in the AP poll before dropping 3 of its final 6 games (2007 was the year that featured USF and Boston College in the top 5 and is therefore scientifically proven to be the worst season of college football in recent memory).
Meanwhile, San Jose State is a mid-level member of the Mountain West Conference. Like USF, they’re also breaking in a new head coach, Brent Brennan, the 44-year-old former WR Coach at Oregon State. SJSU is likely in rebuilding mode coming off a 4-8 record in 2016 and won’t be competitive.
There will be FSU fans rooting for USF for some reason, but I don’t see why that is necessary. USF might already be the second-best team in the state of Florida, Quinton Flowers has developed into a solid, playmaking quarterback who’s fun to watch, but USF didn’t schedule UF or Miami this season, so we can’t hope for a USF head-to-head matchup with our rivals. The Bulls can easily win 10+ games without much effort, and may be the frontrunner to win the weak AAC. FSU fans should root for the unlikely San Jose State upset in this one. USF will be just fine.
No. 14 Stanford at Rice, Sydney, Australia, 10:00 PM (EST), ESPN: Rice. It’s time to put another shrimp on the barbie because Stanford and Rice are playing this year’s version of the annual “Two Rich Private Schools Are Opening Their Season in Sydney for Some Reason” Classic. I don’t really understand the logic of playing this August college football game in Australia since that country already adores rugby, a sport that is similar to American football if American football was physically tougher yet somehow less sensitive to CTE issues. On the other hand, if we can name a mediocre bowl game played in an indoor baseball stadium the BAD BOY MOWERS GASPARILLA BOWL, I guess we can also have a random kickoff game in Australia for reasons unknown. College football is not rational, and I don’t have to defend it.
FSU fans should root for a Rice upset in this one because Stanford is ranked and likely to compete with USC for the Pac-12 title this season. Rice is in the non-Power 5 C-USA and coming off a 3-9 campaign in 2016. This game will be (inter)nationally broadcast at 10 pm EST on ESPN, so think of this as your tune-up for Late Nights With the Pac-12 starting next weekend.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
Richmond at Sam Houston State, 7:00 PM (EST), ESPNU: Richmond. According to Lord Google, Richmond is the only university in the United States with an arachnid mascot. Their helmets are awesome. They’ve been to the FCS playoffs 11 times, winning the national title once, in 2008. They’re coming off a 10-4 campaign last year with an appearance in the semifinals. And like nine other teams last year, they beat Virginia in football. The only downside to Richmond football is that Todd McShay played there.
I’m selfishly taking Richmond in this one because (1) I’m still recovering from the near-heart attack I suffered this spring when Sam Houston State came in to the Tallahassee Super Regional and jumped out to a huge early lead over the ’Noles in Game 1; and (2) any institution of higher learning that misspells “Bearcats” is unworthy of being chosen in our rooting guide. If we’re being honest, however, this is a televised Sunday night college football game. We’re all winners.