If I had a lot of money and time on my hands, and I wanted to take a season off from being a die hard Gator fan, I would travel around the country each week to a different venue to watch my favorite sport, college football.
Each week I would choose a different place to go to based on the match-up or the stadium, or maybe both. I would try to make sure I hit as many different college football stadiums as possible, mostly for the game day experience. I want to see which places are the best college football experiences in the land.
If I were to do this tour in 2011, this would be my schedule.
Thursday, Sept 1.
Kickoff of the college football season would take place at Wisconsin. For one thing, if I'm going to Wisconsin, I'm going early. I'm not going up there when it's below zero. Of all the Thursday games this week, Wisconsin is the best college football atmosphere on the schedule I would think. I'd be looking forward to the end of the third quarter in this one.
Saturday September 3.
Boise State at Georgia edges out LSU at Oregon. Even though the temperature at Oregon would probably be a lot more pleasant, being a Florida guy, I can take the heat. Between the hedges at Sanford Stadium is a great college football venue.
Plus, this game is of national importance. Boise State could make big strides toward a national title run with a win on the road in the SEC. Or their season could essentially be over from the start. If I can stand the sound of grown men barking like dogs all day, this one would be the game of the day.
Saturday September 10.
If you're going to do this thing, you have to go to Happy Valley. If you're going to Happy Valley, what better game to go to then the Alabama game?
These two schools hooked up in one of college football's greatest games when Alabama made a tremendous goal line stand to win a national championship over JoePa and the Lions in 1978. Penn State will be jacked up for some revenge over last year's trouncing at he hands of the Tide. No stadium in the land holds as many fans as Beaver Stadium and they will all be wearing white.
Thursday Sept 15
Stark Vegas. Thursday night. LSU comes to visit. The cowbells will be ringing loud and proud that night. I was able to attend the Bulldogs win over Michigan in the Gator Bowl. These people were loving it. They have caught the fever and they can actually see their team beating the big boys in the SEC now.
Saturday September 17
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will be rocking on this day. It will be the SEC debut of new coach Will Muschamp in one of Florida's most bitter rivalry games. Tennessee thinks they have found something in Tyler Bray. He will be putting the ball down the field in this one, testing a young Gator secondary.
The Swamp is perhaps college football's most hostile environment with the raucous crowd, the stifling heat and the talented Gator teams. It's a don't miss.
Friday September 23
UCF comes to Provo to visit BYU. Provo has long been a college football venue that has not gotten a lot of attention, but has seen a lot of the greats of the game. The campus is a place I'd like to visit so what better time than when my alma mater is playing there? UCF brings a lot of talent into the game. This will be a good one.
Saturday Sept 24
I don't know how I would get there in time from Utah, but If I could I would go to this game the next day. Clemson fans will be jacked up for this one against the Noles. I would like to see the stadium all decked out in a sea of orange. Maybe get a picture of Howard's rock while I'm there too.
Saturday October 1.
I know we went there already but come on. This is Alabama and Florida. You love college football? This is a "cannot miss" game.
Saturday October 8.
This is a no-brainer. It's the Red River Rivalry. The Texas State Fair. A 50-50 split crowd. This is college football people. Texas vs OU. It's a blood feud. Now that Nebraska has jumped ship to the Little Eleven, these two have nobody else to hate anymore. Well, except for A&M.
Saturday October 15.
If you are going to tour all the best places in college football, you have to go to Neyland Stadium. Over 100,000 orange-clad Volunteer fans screaming for their guys, singing Rocky Top and amped up for revenge after last year's game in Baton Rouge make this one a must see.
Saturday October 22.
This one just edges out USC at Notre Dame. But no college football tour would be complete without a night game in Death Valley. Might as well go when the defending national champs are visiting right? I'm betting the Tigers will win this one. And it will be a nail biter. It always is when these two hook up.
Saturday, October 29
It's the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. It's college football's most bitter rivalry. It's the Gators and the Bulldogs. I wouldn't miss it. Another 50-50 split crowd in absolute perfect weather. A tailgate party like no other. And Coach Will Muschamp will be going up against the school he played for. This is going to be a good one.
Thursday November 3rd
These two schools get together to see if they can break the scoreboard. They have met in two C-USA Championship Games since 2005 and both were basketball scores. A night game in November in Orlando Florida. Where else would you want to be?
Saturday November 5.
This game could well decide which SEC team gets to be the sixth straight BCS Champ from the conference. The SEC West will likely be decided in this one. My guess is both will be unbeaten at kick-off. Plus, you have to go to Tuscaloosa at some point on this tour right?
Thursday, November 10.
Va Tech vs. Ga Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta. This one should be a good one. The ACC may well be at stake in this game, or at least whatever division these two play in which I can never keep straight. At least the ACC didn't name theirs something dumb like Legends and Leaders.
Saturday November 12
From Atlanta catch a ride up to Columbia to see two rivals battle to get to Atlanta. The Ole Ball Coach will take on his alma mater in a game that will likely decide the SEC East Championship. South Carolina fans pack the house no matter what. They will be jacked up for this one.
Saturday November 19.
Two of the nation's most storied programs will battle in this one in their first conference meeting. The Big House in Ann Arbor is a must visit on any college football tour. The place will be rocking for this one. The game should be a head knocker too.
Thursday November 24.
Thanksgiving football in Texas. You have to hit this one on your tour. Two bitter in-state rivals going after it for state bragging rights. It just doesn't get better than that!
Saturday November 26.
So many to pick from on this day it's hard to choose. But if I have to choose one, I'm going to the Iron Bowl. This game is a grudge match like no other. These two schools have produced the last two BCS Champions. The fans of these schools look forward to this game 365 days a year. No other game matters but this one.
Saturday December 3.
It's Bedlam. And likely will decide the Big 12...er 10...er...whatever they call this one now. OU is clearly the "Big Brother" in this one. A win for State would be huge for them.
Saturday December 10.
No college football season tour would be complete without going to this game. You have to go to it just to watch the two schools march into the stadium. Then you have the fact that this game is truly the only one that matters for these two schools. That and the fact that nobody on either team is going to the NFL. For the seniors, it truly will be the last time they put on a football uniform. Afterwards they trade it for a military uniform.
It's a must see.