No post-season? No problem. Probation hasn’t fazed North Carolina, and witnessing the wild white out that crowded Kenan Stadium, any casual observer would be hard pressed to find clues that this team has suffered a set-back by the NCAA. With the invasion of Virginia Tech and their fans, Chapel Hill was charged up with activity from Franklin Street to the Old Well and beyond. Fraternities spilled over with anticipation, fans climbed the famed bell tower and snapped pictures with Rameses, the band pounded out its pregame routine, and the crowd marched its way over to the stadium. Clearly, the NCAA crackdown wasn’t going to break the stride of gameday on this campus.
Maryland is so the new Oregon. Thanks to UO grad and Nike CEO, Phil Knight, The Ducks have recently been known as the team with a variety of uniform combinations containing loud neon colors. Well, Maryland grad and UnderArmour CEO, Kevin Plank, must have thought that two can play at this game. Prior to the home opener against Miami, the Terrapin players were donning tortoise shell helmets with matching uniforms. Nobody, not even the players, knew what would happen next. After the team went into the locker room after pregame warmups, the Terps reentered Byrd Stadium with wild and wacky uniforms splattering the Maryland state flag’s emblem all over in various ways. Even though these uniforms received much nationwide criticism, it charged up the packed house in College Park.
Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium is one of the few college football stadiums named after a company. But, that does not mean that it has sold out in the quality of atmosphere. The city of Louisville experiences a bit of an identity crisis as it is the southern point of the north and the northern part of the south. A sign providing all the different pronunciations of the city welcomes you into the stadium and it illustrates the identity issues this place possesses. The stadium is located on a sports complex that houses every sporting arena imaginable from swimming to lacrosse. The walk up to the stadium is interesting as one side reveals the many sporting arenas and a Papa John’s pizza joint (of course), while the other side is grossly industrial. It’s as if you are walking on the border between two different countries.
I know fans are crazy in the south, but I have been holding onto a misconception that the extreme craziness was reserved for the Southeastern Conference…until I ran into a throng of Middle Tennessee State fans. The passion began to border hostility which certainly was amazing for fans cheering on a 2-4 team from the Sun Belt conference. Anyhow, the Blue Raiders took an early 14-0 lead with an interception return for a touchdown followed by a halfback pass for another score. From there on, Louisville took over…
Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was not exactly booming with excitement on this homecoming Saturday, but the fans came in good force on a beautiful day that really was meant for football. The early lead by Middle Tennessee State caught the crowd off-guard. But, it did not take long for the Cardinals to make a second half push and hold off the Blue Raiders 42-23.
While Louisville fans casually walked away from an expected victory, Blue Raider fans kept the fervor comin’. A late mess of poor calls by the referees had the fans in blue screaming, yelling, and taking it out on those clad in red. All of this from a team working out of a conference that earns only one bowl bid a year? If this were a MAC team like Western Michigan or Akron, there would a few groans and grunts, but not the outright southern inhospitality that was displayed on Saturday. Honestly, I was impressed and wished more of that same passion from lower echelon midwestern teams. Nevertheless, Cardinal fans went received a happy homecoming while turning a deaf ear to their neighbors from the south.
How many different ways can oranges be squeezed into orange juice? Ask Syracuse. In Greg Robinson’s three years on campus, the Orange have experience only seven wins. Often the fourth year at a program is the lucky year for coaches. The trip to Evanston brought along hopes for a brighter future at Syracuse. Northwestern, under third year head coach Pat Fitzgerald, was looking for the next step that would lead them to the post season.
The old phrase, “What goes around comes around” couldn’t have been more fitting for our second game of the day between Duke and Northwestern. Each team exchanged turnovers on their opening plays validating that phrase with immediate gratification. To learn how this phrase applies on a more grand scale, we have to go back 25 years when Northwestern was riding a 34 game losing streak. The Northern Illinois huskies helped to snap that dreaded streak in 1982 causing fans to storm the field, tear down the goal posts, and hoist them into Lake Michigan. Now, in 2007, the Wildcats are in a better place athletically, but Duke is the team that comes in carrying a 22 game monkey on their back. On this day, it would be Northwestern’s turn to help end the pain of a dysfunctional football program. It would be done in heart-halting fashion, as well.
At the conclusion of this game, my brother turned to me and said, “Well, they scored on the first play and the last play and the Badgers roughed ‘em up in the middle.” Simply stated, this is true. After last week’s complete break down against UNLV, Wisconsin’s fans appeared forgiving as they crammed Camp Randall to capacity. The Badgers looked ready to atone for their errors and take out all aggressions on the baby blue from tobacco road. North Carolina and their followers stood out more than any other team I have seen enter this stadium. Their unique, yet well known shade of blue popped out from the bright red reflecting off the sunny skies in Madison. There was a good contingency from Chapel Hill and their team’s 0-2 start hardly seemed to faze them.
Nothing could stop the fourth annual Eddie Robinson Classic from kicking off the 2001 campaign – except lightning. The Badgers and Cavaliers had to wait to begin action in Camp Randall Stadium due to lightning cells that were threatening the Madison area. Officials had fans move into the field house and into the concourse of the stadium to wait out the weather. While huddled with thousands of anxious fans, rumors began to spread about the game being cancelled altogether.
The Kickoff Classic had become a highlight for college football as it “kicked off” the start of a new season. Played in Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, the event has seen many great players, teams, and games. This year’s battle was featured as the duel between Syracuse’s Donovan McNabb and Wisconsin’s Ron Dayne. It had all the elements of being a classic clash.
NO GAMES YET ATTENDED FOR:
September 30, 2017 vs. Florida State