This year I have neither the time nor the money. But if I did, here is the perfect season of travelling America to see the best in college football.
The First Week
Since the NFL regular season doesn't begin for another week, the first week of the year offers great opportunities for the college football fan.
September 1: UCF at South Carolina. The HBC is back in the college game with the same offense and attitude, but not all that many players. George O'Leary is trying to rebound from a disastrous first year in Orlando.
September 3: Boise State at Georgia. People who love upsets love this one as the Broncos take their 21-game regular season winning streak between the hedges. Jared Zabransky helped hang 40 points on Louisville in the Liberty Bowl and if D.J. Shockley struggles in his starting debut it could get very interesting.
September 4: Louisville at Kentucky. No team in the country is better set up for a perfect season than the high scoring Cardinals who have a schedule made in heaven. Rich Brooks begins his last season with a 40-point loss, but you take in this game to see QB Brian Brohm in action.
September 5: Miami at Florida State. Two new QBs take the help in one of the nation's top rivalries. Don't look for many points, but the defense and fierce hitting should be a welcome sight after that game in Kentucky.
Setting The Remaining Saturdays
September 10: Texas at Ohio State. The nation's intersectional game of the year pits two legit national title contenders. Mac Brown has tons of talent, as does Jim Tressel. Texas looks to replace running back Cedric Benson against as good a LB trio as any in the nation. Buckeyes need playmaking receivers Ted Ginn and Santonio Holmes to come through.
September 17: Tennessee at Florida. The Vols are #3, which seems awfully high for a team that won six games by six points or less in '04. Urban Meyer's debut season will in many ways be defined by this outcome.
September 24: Tennessee at LSU. Only time we see the same team on consecutive weeks, but this could be a top-ten matchup. Back to back road games against top caliber opponents are brutal. By the time this one's over, we could know if Tennessee is a contender or a pretender.
October 1: Notre Dame at Purdue. The Boilermakers are a fashionable pick this year because somehow they don't play Ohio State or Michigan. Charlie Weiss has it very tough in his first six games but this in-state battle is extra important.
October 8: Texas vs. Oklahoma (in Dallas). Four straight wins for Bobby Stoops have the Texas faithful on edge. The Longhorns should have an advantage with Oklahoma breaking in a new quarterback while Vince Young is one of the country's most dynamic athletes.
October 15: Southern Cal at Notre Dame. Our first look at the defending champs and our only trip to South Bend. This is a game that should not be close but you gotta love both fight songs and the history of this rivalry. Can the Irish wake up the echoes?
October 22: Michigan at Iowa. Kirk Ferentz is a great coach and this is a biggie in the conference that can't count. Not a lot of razzamatazz in this game, but solid football played at a high level.
October 29: Oklahoma at Nebraska. Can the Huskers begin their return to the elite of college football? Half the state will be there hoping that the hiring of Bill Callahan was not a colossal mistake.
A November To Remember
November 3: Pittsburgh at Louisville. Thursday night this might be the last chance for someone to beat the Cards. Could Louisville run the table and still miss out on the Rose Bowl? You bet they could!
November 5: Miami at Virginia Tech. The Hokies could also have a special season and the weather could play a major role in this one. The ACC's two best will battle for one spot in the ACC Title Game in Jax.
November 12: Auburn at Georgia. Both could be out of the running for the SEC Title Game by now, but maybe not. We'll see which team has bounced back best from losing a standout quarterback. Both teams will be coming off a week of rest since Georgia doesn't play the week before and Auburn takes on Kentucky.
November 19: Ohio State at Michigan. If you make a list of the best rivalries in college football this one has to be on it. 100,000-plus in real football weather.
November 26: Florida State at Florida. How has year one gone for Urban? Has Drew Weatherford been a miracle worker? The prestige of this one has dropped dramatically in recent years, but it's still intense.
One To Go
December 3: UCLA at USC. The Bruins scared the daylights out of USC last year and if they make any progress on defense they have the potential to ruin a run at a three-peat right here. Matt Leinart may also be gunning to wrap up his second Heisman.
So we made it to 18 games and never saw the same team three times. We did get to visit most of the classic settings for college football and saw all of the legitimate national contenders. If you need one more game and don't mind mid-week travel, September 21st sends Bowling Green to Boise State where there might be a hundred points scored. And you'll get to see one of Urban Meyer's best early recruiting scores, Omar Jacobs from Delray Beach, Florida. Jacobs passed for 4,002 yards last year with an impossible 41/4 touchdown/interception ratio for Bowling Green.