Heisman Hopeful Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor and his Buckeyes appear several times on Taking it to the House College Football Editor Kevin Hornung’s 2009 Ultimate College Football Road Trip
(Philadelphia, Pa) — The countdown to the college football season began on January 9th, 2009, the day after Florida beat Oklahoma 24-14 in the BCS title game giving the Gators their second title in 3 years. Now that countdown is down to about a week. What football fan isn’t excited this time of year? Seeing that the most recent Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots were over $200 million, it got me thinking exactly what I would do with all that money. Although the first couple things I’d do is make sure my family was taken care of and by a big, new house, I would then start out on my ultimate road trip. A trip that would take me to 56 games in 100 days, the off days I would need to recuperate from jetlag. So let’s get started on where the journey will take me.
Thursday, September 3rd: Oregon @ Boise St.- What else can you ask for on the opening night of college football? A pair of top 15 teams meeting on the blue turf in Boise. The Ducks, under first year coach Chip Kelly, are looking for revenge after the Broncos came into Eugene and beat Oregon 37-32 in 2008. Boise is looking for another perfect regular season and a return to the BCS. This should be a barn burner right away.
Friday, September 4th: Tulsa @ Tulane– The Golden Hurricane clashes with the Green Wave in this battle of colored nature. Tulsa, with its high flying offense, is looking for their third straight 10-win season while Bob Toledo’s Tulane team is looking to turn a corner in 2009 and fight for a bowl bid in Conference USA.
Saturday, September 5th: Georgia @ Oklahoma St.- The first full Saturday of the season takes us to Stillwater for a match-up of top 15 programs. Expectations are soaring for the Cowboys after a strong 2008, and fans are dreaming of a BCS title. Mark Richt brings his Bulldogs in with a chip on their shoulder after finishing 10-3 in ’08 after a lot of pundits picked them to win the title last year. Wonderful match-up between 2 of the best WR’s in college football with Georgia’s A.J. Green and Oklahoma St.’s Dez Bryant. Bryant is a sure fire top 10 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Sunday, September 6th: Ole Miss @ Memphis– This trip to Tennessee will give us a look at the best quarterback in the SEC. No, not Tim Tebow, but the Rebels’ Jevan Snead, The Texas transfer looks to get his team off on the right foot after Ole Miss went 9-4 in ’08, giving fans and alumni high hopes for the first time since Eli Manning left.
Monday, September 7th: Miami @ Florida St.- The Seminoles welcome the Hurricanes into Tallahassee for another edition of the Remember Bowl, as in remember when we were both at the top of college football and now we are just a part of college football. Both teams do have some good young talent but let’s face it, the aura of Miami and Florida St. is gone. Teams are not afraid anymore, in fact they lick their chops for revenge of past beat downs. I was going to go with the Cincinnati/Rutgers game in Piscataway on this date, but where would you rather go, North Jersey or Tallahassee?
Thursday, September 10th: Clemson @ Georgia Tech– We’ll stay in the ACC and take a look at the Tech running game led by Heisman hopeful Jonathan Dwyer. The Yellow Jackets have a good chance of winning the ACC in ’09, but will have to get by a Tiger team with a lot to prove. Clemson was a favorite to win the title last year, but got off a horrible start which led to the firing of Tommy Bowden (finally), and the hiring off Dabo Swiney. Swiney does have All-American candidate RB C.J. Spiller at his disposal to help improve upon last years 7-6 mark.
Saturday, September 12th: USC @ Ohio St.- What else can you ask for in the second week of the season? Two of the top programs in the country this decade have combined for 3 championships and they lost another 3 BCS title games between them. Both teams lost a heck of a lot from ’08, but with recruiting the way it is in L.A. and Columbus, rebuilding is not a word you will hear. Both teams just reload. Both of them also have big questions at the quarterback position. Although the Buckeye’s QB Terrelle Pryor started for them last year, and has more experience than anyone on USC’s roster, I’m not entirely sold on him throwing the ball just yet, and if defenses play back on the pass, and stay in their lanes, they could really stifle Ohio St.’s offense this year. This will be the first big test for USC true freshman QB Matt Barkley, who was just named the starter last week. This game will tell us a lot about both teams.
Thursday, September 17th: Georgia Tech @ Miami– Another ACC showdown brings us back to the state of Florida. This will be the second conference game for both teams already, so either of them can make a statement to the rest of the ACC in this nationally televised game. This tilt will also give us our second look at Tech’s Jonathan Dwyer and also a chance to see promising Miami RB Craig Cooper.
Friday, September 18th: Boise St. @ Fresno St.- It seems that Boise St. plays on the least amount of Saturdays than any other program in the country. After a long flight from Miami we get to see a WAC showdown between two of the top non-BCS programs over the last decade. A win over Boise will get Fresno back in the national spotlight after running into some tough times over the last couple years. Obviously the Broncos will have to win to keep any BCS dreams alive.
Saturday, September 19th: Nebraska @ Virginia Tech– An interesting out of conference match-up takes us to Blacksburg to see if the Cornhuskers can keep the momentum from their 9-4 2008 campaign, the first under Bo Pelini. This will be the Hokies second tough out of conference game after playing Alabama on September 5th. With RB Darren Evans going down with a torn ACL in summer practice, this also might mean a 1-2 start for Frank Beamer’s Hokies.
Thursday, September 24th: Ole Miss @ South Carolina– Steve Spurrier is entering his 5th year at the helm of the Gamecocks and fans and alumni are still waiting for him to turn the corner. A win over a highly ranked Rebel team on national TV could get the team going in that direction. Ole Miss QB Jevan Snead already has his second game on national television to impress Heisman voters.
Friday, September 25th: Missouri @ Nevada– Now this is a game I am looking forward to. Nevada is led by not-yet-so-well-known QB Colin Kaepernick who in his sophomore season had a combined 3,979 passing and rushing yards and 39 total TDs. The Wolfpack boast 3 players who have run for more than a 1,000 yards in a season (Kaepernick, and RBs Vai Taua and Luke Lippincott) and are licking their chops to avenge a 69-17 beatdown in Missouri last year. This will also give us our first look at highly regarded QB Blaine Gabbert for the Tigers and to see All-American OLB Sean Weatherspoon in action. Weatherspoon is one of the best linebackers in the country after recording 155 tackles (76 solo), 5 sacks, and 3 interceptions in ’08.
Saturday, September 26th: Oregon @ Cal– Offense, offense, offense. That is what we should see a lot of in this Pac-10 tilt. The Bears Jahvid Best and the Ducks LaGarrette Blount are two of the top running backs in the country and it should be fun watching both on the same field. Best, who averaged 8.1 yards per carry in ’08, is a Heisman candidate and has a chance for 2,000 yards this year. The winner of this game will be the main competition to end USC’s seven year reign over the conference, if they can beat the Trojans of course.
Thursday, October 1st: Colorado @ West Virginia– The calendar turns into October as we head to Morgantown to see a West Virginia team not led by Pat White for the first time since the 2004 campaign. This also ends a tough 3 game out of conference stretch in which WVU plays East Carolina and Auburn before this game. Buffaloes head coach Dan Hawkins is really looking to make a statement in his 4th season, and a road win could be a launching point for his team.
Friday, October 2nd: Pitt @ Louisville– Remember when Louisville looked like a program that was about to own the Big East and challenge for BCS titles. Well I hope you do because it wasn’t that long ago. Head coach Steve Kragthorpe is under pressure to get his Cardinals back into the postseason after posting an 11-13 mark in his first 2 seasons. Dave Wannstedt is coming off a huge 9-4 season which quieted rumors about his impending removal. The Panthers are trying to replace RB LeSean McCoy and have major quarterback issues. This game will tell us a lot about both teams.
Saturday, October 3rd: LSU @ Georgia– A Saturday night in the SEC is always the perfect way to watch a game. We’ll go between the hedges to see which of these teams can bounce back from disappointing ’08 campaigns. We’ll see if Les Miles has solved his quarterback problems which plagued his team a season ago, and will get another look at how well the Bulldogs are replacing first round NFL draft picks QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno.
Tuesday, October 6th: Middle Tennessee St. @ Troy– Although the Sun Belt is an afterthought on the college football landscape, it isn’t because of these two programs. Troy is one of the more underrated programs in any conference in the country, and MTSU is known for knocking off an occasional BCS foe, which they did last year in beating Maryland. The winner of this game will have the inside track to the Sun Belt title and a trip to the New Orleans Bowl.
Thursday, October 8th: Nebraska @ Missouri– We get our second look at both the Cornhuskers and Tigers in Columbia. Nebraska should be ready to go after losing to Mizzou 52-17 last season, and will have even more motivation playing against the Tigers QB Blaine Gabbert who backed out of his verbal commitment with the Huskers to go play under coach Gary Pinkel. It’s still early in the season but whoever comes out on top here will have the inside track in the Big 12 North.
Friday, October, 9th: Louisiana Tech @ Nevada– Our second trip out to Reno will bring us a WAC showdown between two teams who are trying to jump over perennial WAC champ Boise St. Both teams made bowls last year and are looking to improve on that. I would say neither team is very good on defense so another shootout is expected.
Saturday, October 10th: Alabama @ Ole Miss– It takes us ‘til October to get a sight at Nick Saban’s Tide, which got off to a 12-0 start in ’08 before falling to Florida in the SEC title game and then Utah in the Sugar Bowl. After seeing the Rebels twice already, Saban should give me a call for a scouting report. This is the first time we’ve been to Oxford though. One of the high points of this game is getting a chance to watch two All-American WRs head-to-head in ‘Bamas’ Julio Jones and Ole Miss’ Dexter McCluster.
Tuesday, October 13th: Arkansas St.@ UL-Monroe– The beginning of a very busy week brings us to another Tuesday night in the Sun Belt. Tuesday night is a strange night to have a college football game, but this is the ONLY way Sun Belt teams can get on TV. However as a huge football fan, and a huge fan of the draft, this is a perfect game to catch a sleeper. Arkansas St. QB Corey Leonard is a 4-year starter, who as a two way threat, has amassed almost 7,300 total yards and has improved as a quarterback every year. RB Reggie Arnold, also a 4 year starter, is shooting for his fourth consecutive 1,000 yard season. The Red Wolves appear to have a deep and talented offense that could surprise people. UL-Monroe also looks to be improved on its 4-8 mark of ’08, and can challenge for the conference crown.
Note: For all stat and number gurus out there, how about this stat dealing with Arkansas St. The Wolves bring back 101.3% of its rushing from 2008. How can it be over 100%? Departed players accounted for -33 yards rushing last year. Since they averaged 208.8 rush yards a game in 2008 (18th in the country) big things are expected from this offense.
Wednesday, October 14th: Boise St. @ Tulsa– How about this for a mid week game. Both teams are very fun to watch and could be one of the more entertaining of the year. This is the third time we have seen the Broncos this season. They have played on a Thursday, Friday, and now a Wednesday. Brilliant marketing by the athletic department of Boise. If you want to be recognized as a top BCS program you have to seen. I understand the MLB playoffs will be on, but a lot of college football reporters have no excuse whatsoever to not watch a good portion of these games. If they don’t, they are not doing their jobs. It also gives Todd Graham’s Tulsa team a chance to market themselves. This is also the second time we have seen the Golden Hurricane, after catching their game against Tulane on September, 4th. What day of the week was that? That’s right, a Friday. And we’re going to see them again. Couple guys to watch in this game are Boise’s QB Kellen Moore, RB Jeremy Avery, and CB Kyle Wilson. For Tulsa, RB Charles Clay is the most appealing prospect. He is big and fast, and is a wonderful receiver out of the backfield.
Thursday, October 15th– Cincinnati @ South Florida– We’re headed right back to Florida, this time Tampa, for an interesting game of two up and coming programs. The Bearcats are coming off a Big East title and BCS berth. Even though they lost to Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, they still finished 11-3 and put their program on the map. QB Tony Pike and WR Mardy Gilyard are worth watching for Cincinnati. The Bulls are led by fourth year starter QB Matt Grothe and DE George Selvie. USF is a dark horse in the Big East this season but needs more consistent play form Grothe. He’s exciting to watch but has to manage the game better. Something which he should have learned by now. DE Selvie is a major NFL prospect. Although his personal stats fell of last year, he was routinely double and triple teamed in ’08.
Friday, October 16th– Pitt @ Rutgers– Another non-weekend Big East football game. I understand why a lot of teams in non-BCS conferences play a lot during the week but why does the Big East need so many? Of course in a lot of ways the Big East should be a non-BCS conference. Amazingly, the Big East has zero teams in the preseason polls, and is not really backed by any prestigious program. I think as many as 4 non-BCS teams (Utah, TCU, BYU, and Boise St.) would have won the Big East last year. But, oh yeah, the game. It’s always fun to watch a game in Rutgers (well, for the last couple years) and it will give us a look at a Rutgers program who is yearning for a BCS appearance probably just as much as any program. A Big East title would do wonders for a Scarlet Knight program located in a very talent rich area.
Saturday, October 17th: Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas)– Number 2 versus number 3. Sam Bradford versus Colt McCoy. Bob Stoops versus Mack Brown. The Sooners versus the Longhorns. The Red River Rivalry. Was their any way this wasn’t going to be on the schedule? And do I really have to comment any further?
Wednesday, October 21st: Tulsa @ UTEP– Another mid-week game, another non-BCS school trying to get some respect. Actually it’s one of the same that we’ve seen twice so far this season in Tulsa. In this one I would expect a shootout. Tulsa beat UTEP 77-35 in last season’s game, and both are returning a lot form those teams. UTEP is led by underrated QB Trevor Vittatoe who threw for 3,274 yards in ’08 with 33 TDs and only 9 INTs. We know Tulsa is a threat to win Conference USA, but if UTEP’s defense can improve (gave up 37 points and 470 yards per game in ’08) they can also challenge for the league title under Coach Mike Price.
Thursday, October 22nd: Florida St. @ North Carolina. The upstart Tar Heels make their first appearance on our trip in what could be a special year in Chapel Hill. Coach Butch Davis welcomes back 16 starters from a team that won 8 games last year. For the first time since Mack Brown left for Texas, expectations are soaring for UNC. This will be the first time we’ve seen the Seminoles since Labor Day and by this point we’ll know if they will be challenging for the ACC crown, or just trying to make a bowl.
Friday, October 23rd: Rutgers @ Army– For an ultimate road trip like this, a journey to West Point is a must. Unfortunately this game does not seem to be competitive. Army has struggled for the last decade, while Greg Schiano’s Scarlet Knights have escaped from Cerberus in Hades to become prominent in the landscape of college football. By now Rutgers should be passed the sting of losing QB Mike Teel and WRs Kenny Britt and Tiquan Underwood from last years offense. Let’s try to enjoy the atmosphere more than the game for this one.
Saturday, October 24th: TCU @ BYU– A Mountain West game in the middle of conference season? That’s right, and the big reason is that the MWC is better than a few BCS conferences (hello Big Ten and Big East), and this match-up is exactly what I want to see. TCU is a threat to make the BCS while BYU, who has Oklahoma and Florida St. in its non-conference, has a good enough offense to ruin a couple teams’ season. A perfect head-to-head of offense versus defense. All the talk of this conference getting an automatic BCS bid is completely justified. If you don’t think so consider this: the MWC has more BCS victories than the ACC, and twice as many as the BCS darlings Notre Dame. How Notre Dame has its own set of rules when it comes to the BCS is worse than the BCS itself. Are you really telling me that Utah, TCU, and BYU have not been better programs than Notre Dame over this decade. Utah has 2 undefeated seasons, and 2 BCS wins since 2004. Notre Dame hasn’t had an undefeated season since 1988 and hasn’t been close to winning a BCS bowl game. The critics will say, yeah but look at the schedules. Unfortunately that argument doesn’t hold much water, because Notre Dame’s schedule is an absolute joke this season, as it is pretty much every season. And actually take a look at some of the big bad SEC out of conference schedules and tell me they don’t need some fixing. BYU (4), Utah (3), and TCU (2) all face more preseason ranked teams than Notre Dame (1). Oh and by the way the Irish scheduled a bye week before the only ranked team they play this season (USC). If the Irish go 11-1 they still should not make the BCS, they should have to go undefeated just like TCU, BYU, Utah, Boise St., and all other non-BCS schools. Sorry for the ramble but this is one of my hot spots.
Tuesday, October 27th: East Carolina @ Memphis– The Pirates are looking for bigger and better things in 2009 after having a surprisingly successful ’08, finishing 9-5, including wins over ACC champ Virginia Tech and Big East runner-up West Virginia. Coach Skip Holtz returns 15 starters but a brutal non-conference schedule will make a BCS bid almost impossible. The Pirates play consecutive road games at West Virginia and North Carolina at the beginning of the season and then play a home date against Virginia Tech in November. Maybe Notre Dame and the vastly overrated Charlie “I know my X’s and O’s” Weis can take a lesson from this aggressive scheduling. But oh wait, they don’t have to schedule anyone good do they. It’s amazing how this school is still living with this mystique from the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. Another sleeper to watch in this game is Memphis WR Carlos Singleton. The 6’9” senior has good skills and is an intriguing NFL prospect.
Thursday, October 29th: North Carolina @ Virginia Tech– For the second straight Thursday we get the Tar Heels, this time in Blacksburg. The ACC race should be starting to shape up by this point in the season, and the winner of this one may get the inside track toward getting to the ACC Championship game. One thing is for sure with Butch Davis and Frank Beamer on the sidelines, both teams will be prepared and ready to play.
Friday, October 30th: West Virginia @ South Florida– Once again another mid-week Big East game. This one has a lot of appeal however as the Bulls look to take down the Mountaineers once again. Since the Big East is so wide open this season, every game is very important. One bad game could send you from first to fourth in this tightly packed conference. Of course when you think that the MWC has 3 teams ranked in the preseason and the Big East has zero, which conference do you think should have the automatic bid? Although with stars like WVU’s RB Noel Devine and USF’s DE George Selvie on the field this one will be worth watching.
Saturday, October 31st: USC @ Oregon– We are going to go trick-or-treating in Eugene for this Pac-10 showdown that could decide the conference title and a BCS bid. This is towards the end of a tough stretch for the Trojans where they play 6 out of eight on the road. If they can get to this point undefeated they may be a lock for BCS title game since the remaining schedule isn’t nearly as daunting. If the Ducks can beat Cal on September 26th and then beat the Trojans, they also will find themselves on an inside track to win the Pac-10 and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Autzen Stadium is always a tough place to play and the place will be even more crazy than usual.
Sunday, November 1st: Marshall @ Central Florida– Our first Sunday night game will take us to Orlando, which means we’ll hit Pleasure Island after the game. This C-USA battle will have bowl implications for both teams. The Herd are looking to return to a bowl as are the Knights, who really missed RB Kevin Smith last season. The fans will be loud in UCF’s new Bright House Networks Stadium as their Knights try to improve upon the worst offense in total yardage in nation in ’08, averaging only 229.5 yards per game. Keep an eye on Marshall’s TE Cody Slate. He still has to add a little size, but he is a draft sleeper.
Tuesday, November 3rd: Buffalo @ Bowling Green– This Tuesday MAC showdown gives our first look at Turner Gill’s Buffalo team that shocked the world last year, winning 8 games and the MAC Championship. When Gill took over this Bulls program they were the worst team in college football. In 3 seasons he brought Buffalo a MAC title. Honestly, how he is still there is a mystery. Gill is ready right now for a bigger and more prestigious job. Unfortunately for the Bulls, and me, RB James Starks just hurt his shoulder and will miss the 2009 season. He was one of my top draft sleepers so now we’ll have to focus on WR Naaman Roosevelt who had 104 receptions for 1,402 yards and 13 TDs in ’08. Bowling Green has only 8 starters back from their 6-6 team in ’08, but QB Tyler Sheehan and SS P.J. Mahone are worth watching.
Thursday, November 5th: Virginia Tech @ East Carolina– On the 54th anniversary of Dr. Emmitt Brown discovering the flex capacitor, we’ll catch a revenge game in Greenville. The Hokies come in looking to avenge their 27-22 opening game loss to the Pirates in 2008. That one was on a neutral field, how amped up do you think the student body will be for this nationally televised game. Keep an eye on ECU’s DE C.J. Wilson. After flirting with entering the draft after ’08, he will be the radar of a lot of NFL scouts this fall.
Saturday, November 7th: Ohio St. @ Penn St.- The Big Ten makes a rare appearance on our trip. The Big Ten has been down for the last few years, but it’s not because of these two programs. Both the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions are coming off BCS berths, and as usual, both are coming off BCS losses. Expect a White-Out in Happy Valley for what amounts to be a play-in game for the BCS. There’s almost no doubt that the winner of this game will win the Big Ten again. Let’s just hope that they finally win one of those big games.
Sunday, November 8th: Nevada @ San Jose St.- Another cross country overnight flight takes up back to California for this WAC tilt. I’m happy anytime I can catch Nevada to see QB Colin Kaepernick run, and throw, all over opposing defenses. The Wolfpack are another example of a non-BCS team trying to get exposure through non-Saturday games. This is the third time we’ve seen them, and not once was on a Saturday. The Spartans return 11 starters from a team that was ticketed for a bowl in 2008, starting 6-3, before losing their final 3 games to be shut out of the post season. Nevada was one of the teams that beat them in that final 3 game stretch, a 41-17 beatdown in Reno. I think Coach Dick Tomey will remind his team of that before they take the field.
Tuesday, November 10th: Ohio @ Buffalo– For the second straight Tuesday we get a look at Turner Gill’s Bulls, this time in Buffalo. This also marks the first time we might see some snow on our trip. With the aforementioned loss of Buffalo’s star RB James Starks, this game could be the last chance for these teams to make a run at a bowl. Frank Solich (remember him?) brings his Bobcats into Buffalo looking to improve on his teams’ 4-8 performance in ’08, and will be trying to will them into a bowl game.
Wednesday, November 11th: Toledo @ Central Michigan– We’re headed to Mount Pleasant for a Wednesday night MAC game featuring one of the best quarterbacks you’ve never heard of in the Chippewas Dan LeFevour. LeFevour has put up Tim Tebow-like numbers in his career and is poised to turn the corner and become an elite player. Central Michigan has won 8 games in each of the last 2 season, but looks like the favorite to win the MAC. They welcome 16 starters back (10 on defense) from a team that actually started 8-2 in ’08 before losing their final 3 games, including a 24-21 defeat to the hands of Florida Atlantic in the Motor City Bowl. The Rockets offense should also be very good this year led by QB Aaron Opelt, RB Morgan Williams, and WR Stephen Williams. S Barry Church is a prospect to watch on the defense for Toledo. They also welcome back 16 starters from ’08, so this looks like a good game on paper.
Thursday, November 12th: South Florida @ Rutgers– OK, honestly, I’m really starting to have enough of the Big East. Here we go again with the Bulls and Scarlet Knights, and once again this game will have a huge impact on the conference title, a race which will likely go down to thelast weekend of the season. I’ve mentioned enough about both of these teams so we’ll have a good atmosphere in Piscataway to enjoy another Big East showdown. But please, let’s have an occasional Big 12 or SEC Thursday game. What a breath of fresh air that will be.
Friday, November 13th: West Virginia @ Cincinnati– I guess I spoke to soon. Is it just me or is the NCAA deliberately putting a ton of Big East games on TV in the hopes of marketing the worst BCS conference? All they would have to do is add Notre Dame to the Big East and a lot of troubles will be solved. It makes a ton of sense, but of course you know the Irish will balk at the talk of entering a conference. The Irish play a few Big East teams every year anyway, why not make it official. However, a Friday the 13th game in Cincinnati does sound appealing nonetheless. It does give us a chance to see if Cincinnati QB Tony Pike is progressing. If he is, he will work his way up draft charts this spring.
Saturday, November 14th: Florida @ South Carolina– I guess we can call this the Spurrier Bowl. This match-up would always be better in The Swamp, but it still has a lot of appeal. The Gamecocks have played the Gators pretty well in Columbia, so an upset of the loaded Gators is not out of the question. The big question is can South Carolina’s offense move the ball on what should be one of the best units in the country. Spurrier is supposed to be an offensive genius, but the other USC is no better on that side of the ball than they were when he took the job. Florida will probably be thinking title by this game, so the story will be Spurrier’s job security. With a 15-17 SEC record (28-22 overall) in his four years, the clock may be ticking on the 64-year-old.
Sunday, November 15th: East Carolina @ Tulsa– We’ll see the Pirates and Golden Hurricane again in what could be a preview of the C-USA title game. Both teams are really hoping to run the table and get some BCS attention, but with the player losses for Tulsa, and ECU’s schedule, it appears they will be playing for a Liberty Bowl berth. Both programs have done a nice job of getting exposure this year with plenty of non-Saturday games. This battle will be offense versus defense, as Skip Holtz’ unit looks to slow down the potent Tulsa offense.
Wednesday, November 18th: Central Michigan @ Ball St.- Boy this game had a lot more importance last year. The Cardinals had an undefeated regular season in ’08 before losing their final 2 games, and then suffered huge losses on both sides of the ball, most notably QB Nate Davis and 4/5 of the offensive line. At best they will be fighting for a bowl berth in ’09. RB MiQuale Lewis and WR Briggs Orsbon are worth paying attention to for David Letterman’s alma mater. By now if the Chippewa defense is playing better than they did in ’08, they could be well on their way to a 10-win season.
Thursday, November 19th: Colorado @ Oklahoma St.- You ask and you shall receive! A Big 12 Thursday night game. The Cowboys have BCS expectations this season and this will be the week before the Oklahoma game, so OSU fans are hoping to be undefeated at this point. Either way, their offense should be clicking by this point in the season. This will also be one of the last times you will have a chance to OSU’s WR Dez Bryant in a college uniform. Colorado and Coach Dan Hawkins will be hoping for bowl security by now. It would help that program something awful if it could get back to the postseason.
Friday, November 20th: Boise St. @ Utah St.- On paper this one is over now. The Aggies shouldn’t offer much of a fight against the superior Broncos. But then again anything can happen. Another weekday game for Boise, this team rarely plays on Saturdays.
Saturday, November 21st: Ohio St. @ Michigan– So what’s the over/under of Wolverine victories this fall? I’ll set it at 6 and let you decide from there. Year 2 of the Rich Rodriguez experiment wraps up with one of the biggest rivalries there is. Ohio St. should be cruising right along at this juncture, probably having no more than 2 losses (USC & Penn St.). This game will be much more important for Michigan. There is still a lot of talent there. They just need someone to step up at quarterback. With Rodriguez just mentioning on August 23rd that he may use 3 quarterbacks in the season opener against a dangerous Western Michigan, it sounds like another long season for Wolverine fans.
Tuesday, November 24th: Ball St. @ Western Michigan– We catch Ball St. playing another directional Michigan school. This time they have to travel to Kalamazoo to face a Bronco team that should have a dangerous offense. QB Tim Hiller (64.9% comp., 3,725 yards, 36 TDs, 10 INTs in ’08) and RB Brandon West (204 carries, 1,026 yards, 8TDs) are back, as are four of the offensive linemen. They only return one starter on defense, and the quicker they gel on that side of the ball will the key to their season. If it does come together, they could challenge for the MAC crown.
Thursday, November 26th: Texas @ Texas A&M– We’ll spend Thanksgiving in College Station and get to see if the Longhorns are still undefeated. Obviously if they are this will determine the national title picture, because the winner of the Big 12 South will win the conference and the BCS berth. Coach Mike Sherman will be finishing up his second season with the Aggies and a bowl bid is the goal. A&M will also be trying to avenge last year’s 49-9 shellacking to the Horns.
Friday, November 27th: Alabama @ Auburn– An exciting week continues as we head to the state of Alabama for the Iron Bowl. Nick Saban’s Tide will probably be playing for a spot in the SEC title game, while new coach Gene Chizik will be trying to get his Tigers back to a bowl after a 1-year hiatus. In one of the most heated rivalries in the country we’ll see if the Auburn fans are more against The Tide or Chizik. He was hired with a subpar resume (5-19 in 2 seasons as head coach of Iowa St.), and if they are not in bowl contention, the fans could start turning on him already.
Saturday, November 28th: Oklahoma St. @ Oklahoma– Another game that should be full of national title implications. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that both of these teams could be undefeated going into this game. Of course both of them will have to get through Texas to get there. With all the controversy about the Big 12 last year, what will they decide if Texas, Oklahoma, and OSU are all 11-1 after the regular season? It is certainly possible. One thing is for sure if that happens, one of those teams will not get a BCS berth, and what are the chances it will be the less celebrated Cowboys? I’d say 100%. Back to the game, expect more points than some college basketball games. Offensive stars galore in this one.
Thursday, December 3rd: Oregon St. @ Oregon– The calendar turns into December as we head down the home stretch of our trip. We’ll head to Eugene for another big time rivalry game, this time the Civil War. Both teams should be fighting for better bowl berths by now, and we’ll also get to see exciting Beaver sophomore RB Jacquizz Rodgers. Remember it was Rodgers who pretty much single handedly gave USC it’s only loss in 2008, running over them and through them. This will one should also produce a lot of points, but this game has been fairly competitive lately so expect a close, hard fought game.
Saturday, December 5th: Arizona @ USC– I guess this may change depending on how the conference championships turn out, but since those match-ups are far from being set will take a trip to L.A. to see if USC can win their 8th straight Pac-10 title. The accomplishments have been amazing for Pete Carroll’s bunch over the last 7 years, but they are still looking to get back to a BCS title game for the first time since Vince Young took them down in the Rose Bowl. The Wildcats lost a lot from their bowl team in ’08, and they will be trying to make it to a second straight bowl game for 5th year man Mike Stoops.
Saturday, December 12th: Army vs. Navy (Philadelphia)– The atmosphere of this game is always one of the best in college football. I still wish they would play it on their campuses, but in a bigger stadium more people can come, and of course that means more revenue. Navy has owned the Black Knights for the better part of a decade, and this year will be no different. Navy should be wrapping up an 8 or 9 win season (they play 13 regular season games), while Army would be happy with 5 wins. It would still be a pretty big upset if Army were to knock off the Midshipmen, but we’ll have a lot of fun in the crowd of this one.
Kevin Hornung is the College Football Editor for Taking It to the House and a chief scout for Great Blue North Draft Report. To talk college football with Kevin drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Filed under: 2009 Ultimate College Football Road Trip, Army-Navy, College Football, Kevin Hornung, Terrelle Pryor | Tagged: 2009 College Football Season, 2009 Ultimate College Football Road Trip, Army-Navy, College Football, Football, Kevin Hornung, Sports, Terrelle Pryor | 2 Comments »