This does not mean that you should invite your enemies over for sleepovers, but it does mean paying close enough attention that your enemy cannot gain the upper hand on you in battle.
The battles on the gridiron are fierce, and information about the enemy is scarce. Spring games are one of the few places one can gain valuable information about the opponent before the season kicks off.
These five games stand above the rest as rare opportunities for fans to gain insight into the opponent's tactics before the 2012 season gets underway. (LSU has already played its spring game, so that's why it's not on the list.)
(Also, if you're looking for something to do to make the day more special, put out a normal college football game day spread for the spring games on Saturday, Apr 14. I highly suggest some buffalo wings, seven-layer dip or chili cheese fries to make the day more authentic.)
*All scheduling information from fbschedules.com
*I will update this article with links to watch the spring games online as the links show up. (Especially in the case of the two games not slated for TV.)
USC regains postseason eligibility in 2012, and it comes on the heels of a 10-2 season that could have seen the Trojans in a BCS bowl.
The Trojans appear lowest on this list because the Tide have an extremely long and arduous road ahead of them on the way to playing USC in any postseason game.
The Tide and Trojans would be an excellent national championship game, and I would relish watching it. In the meantime, there is almost a year between now and the 2013 BCS title game.
Fans will have to settle for watching the spring games. (I certainly hope there are replays available online for the games that aren't televised.)
USC's spring game: Saturday, Apr 14 @ 4:30 ET, not slated for TV
Alabama has a bye week before playing the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field (the Tigers' home field).
Though the Tide will have plenty of time to prep for the skirmish, there is no such thing as preparing too much for a formidable opponent.
Missouri has a great opportunity to enter the SEC East in the middle of the pack, but a win here would certainly establish them as a force to be reckoned with in the future.
A possible trap game for the Tide, a season-maker for the Tigers. It all starts this spring with the video analysis in the caves of Tuscaloosa.
Missouri's spring game: Saturday, Apr 14 @ 2:00 PM ET, not slated for TV
Arkansas kicks off the Tide's SEC schedule in Week 3 of the 2012 season, and the Tide will need to be much more defensively skilled than in the Michigan game.
Arkansas is returning a potent offense, and the spring game is where the Razorbacks will unveil that potency.
Arkansas will have to outperform Alabama by 24 points compared to the 2011 game in order to win, but watching the footage from this spring game should help ensure the Tide rolls yet again in 2012.
Arkansas's spring game: Saturday, Apr 21 @ 3:00 PM ET, televised on CST and ESPN3
As the first battle of the season will be against Michigan, this game is nearly the most important of the season.
Michigan will be prepping hard for the season opener against Alabama, and this game is the first glimpse the Tide can get into the mechanics of the enemy's game plan.
If Alabama is going to stomp Michigan, this game will provide the Tide with footage to plan against.
Michigan's spring game: Saturday, Apr 14 @ Noon ET, televised on the Big Ten Network and BTN2go
"Keep your friends close" is the first half of the quotation from the intro slide.
Alabama is the friend here on the Crimson Tide page. No amount of information about the enemy can overcome weaknesses in the Tide's game plan.
Alabama must be firing on all cylinders from game one in order to have a shot at defending its title.
Alabama's spring game: Saturday, Apr 14 @ 3:00 PM ET, televised on CSS and ESPN3