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Don’t Watch This; Watch That: Week 3 and the Dumbest Road Trips We’ve Taken for College Football

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You’d think driving 24 hours to watch a 5-score loss to Tennessee would be the worst of the worst. You’d be wrong.

Northwestern v Nebraska
The Getty caption for this picture honest-to-goodness says “The Northwestern Wildcats sing to their small contingent of fans after beating the Nebraska Cornhuskers,” and Getty can fuck right off.
Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images

I must begin this week of your favorite college football viewing guide with an apology.

Army Black Knights, 2018 Don’t Watch That; Watch That Team of Choice, I am sorry.

I am sorry because last week I picked Ohio State-Cincinnati as a “Watch That” game and your now-memorable showdown with Michigan as a “Don’t Watch This.” Just a year removed from marveling at your wonderful, ball-controlling, analytic high-wire act, I threw that all away and opted for an in-state “rivalry” that was completely made-up.

I promise never to make that mistake again. Until I do. Go Army.


Some people felt compelled to check in with me after last week’s DWT;WT to ask if I was OK. As such, we’ll steer away from the Catholic/Protestant analogies and towards the shitty life decisions I have made.

Mouse Update: Wife and I are bracing for a re-invasion of the mice this fall when the temperature drops, but we’ve caught a couple under our kitchen sink this summer. One came when I was driving early-morning to Ames—she called me in a panic, saying one had gotten stuck in a sticky trap and died...almost. It smelled bad, but she wouldn’t kill it because it was still kind of twitching. “Go frying pan it in the driveway!” I shouted. “OHMYGODHE’SSTILLMOVING!” she responded. Eventually she just threw it in a plastic shopping bag and threw it away, then emptied the kitty litter on top of it.

Poll

You’re a mouse who’s trapped in MNW’s kitchen. How would you prefer to be put out of your misery?

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    the sweet release of FRYING PAN
    (180 votes)
  • 10%
    stuck to a trap, slowly suffocating under kitty litter in the garbage bin
    (20 votes)
200 votes total Vote Now

I’ve been to all the Big Ten stadiums except for Ohio State and Penn State. (I refuse to acknowledge Rutgers.) I’ve done a West Coast away game, a couple East Coast away games, and a handful of bowl games. I’ve eaten disgusting things like the Chessie (long may it reign), I’ve drunk Crown with a pastor in a Nebraska parking lot, I’ve slept in a bathtub rather than sleep in a bed with three colorguard members.

Lots of choices.

Along the way, though, I’ve had the time to reflect, and I’m prepared to rank away trips in which I drove at least 7 hours or through the night. Note that these rankings are not based on the outcome of the game (though it helps), but rather the stupidity of the trip, the things I did to my body along the way, and more.

12. at Michigan Wolverines, 2015 (L, a bajillion to 0): I was at a conference in Grand Rapids. I decided to hitch a ride and drop $75 on a ticket to the Big House. The people were assoles, the game sucked, the tailgate was in a suburban townhouse like, 3 miles away from the stadium and we decided to walk. Fuck Michigan.

11. at Nebraska, 2013 (THAT game). Pros: Met Jesse. Cons: EVERYTHING ELSE. Double-cons: Ghosted BRT that day, and she will not let me live it down.

10. at Iowa*, 2013 (L, 17-10, OT): I don’t even remember why I went to this game or who I stayed with. Northwestern played like shit, Mike Trumpy fumbled the infamous speed option, and I chugged gin out of a flask in front of my church liturgist after the ‘Cats yielded the game-winning touchdown.
*Iowa is not 7+ hours from Minneapolis or Milwaukee, but culturally they’re about 30 years behind.

9. at Iowa, 2015 (L, 48-7): Toured Iowa for grad school. Didn’t get into Iowa for grad school. Went to a weird history party. Stayed at a cool farm about 10 miles west of town that had llamas, though. Tailgated with Stew and the idiots. Met Mike Jones. Talk about a mixed bag.

8. Outback Bowl, 2016 (L, Tennessee, 45-6): I drove through a snowstorm to get to Milwaukee. I woke up and drove to Chicago. I got in a minivan with 6 others and drove to Louisville. I switched cars and slept on and off as my friend made the shitty decision to stay awake for 24 hours straight and drive through a storm in the Smoky Mountains and all of Georgia. The beach was fun, but Northwestern made asses of themselves and lost. We got pulled over in the hills of rural-ass Kentucky. I did not get to try gas station boiled peanuts.

7. at Indiana Hoosiers, 2011 (W, 59-38): Each year NUMB would take an “Unofficial Away Trip” where we band members would drive to an away game, tailgate and party like we usually couldn’t on gameday, and watch the ‘Cats. My now-wife came and, I think, lost a lot of respect for me. This game was fine but dumb, and the Indiana fans were stupid.

6. at Michigan State, 2009 (L, 24-14): This was my first Unofficial Away Trip. I got placed in a car with a bunch of Drumline people I didn’t know—one of them is a great friend, years later. The people we were supposed to stay with in East Lansing ghosted us, so we had to beg a flute/colorguard car to let us crash at their hotel. I was trying to avoid a girl who I thought was gross, so I said I had to sleep alone and slept in the bathtub. ‘Cats lost. On the way back we stopped in a Lion’s Den and it was definitely MNW’s first time in a Lion’s Den and dear God, never again.

5. at Purdue, 2016 (W, 45-17): Despite Clayton Thorson’s knee exploding this was a fun trip. Met up with my high school best friend (who got his PhD there), did lots of drinking around Lafayette and got breakfast at Triple XXX, tailgated with Hamm’s on some IM fields west of the stadium, and then enjoyed $5 People’s IPA in the beer garden. Met babaoreally, too. Good dude. I feel bad he had to meet me.
Stopped at the Battle of Tippecanoe site on the way back, too. NEAT.

4. at Duke, 2017 (L, 41-17): I was doing research in Atlanta at the time, and the ‘Cats happened to be playing in Durham that same weekend. Funny how those things work out, I told my now-wife. She is a lucky lady.
I drove through the night from Atlanta and the ‘Cats got embarrassed, which sucked, but while we were tailgating, I met a random dude who worked for the North Carolina ABC and gave me a bottle of Lagavulin 12 out of his trunk. I got back to Atlanta just before nightfall on Sunday, then Hurricane Irma hit and I stayed inside, drinking scotch and watching TV.

3. Music City Bowl, 2017 (W, Kentucky, 24-23): I’m still really pissed at the wife for this one, because she made us leave in the third quarter because she didn’t bring enough layers and was frozen. So we watched it on Broadway. Lots of breweries and general Nashville experiences, though, and I love the town. Great time. Bowl wins.

2. at Nebraska, 2011 (W, 28-25): Another NUMB Unofficial Away Trip, maybe? Or maybe we just wanted to go to Lincoln. I slept on the floor of some random dude’s apartment when we rolled in at, like, 2:30am because someone couldn’t possibly skip Friday class and leave early. Bought Andre at a gas station in Iowa for someone who needed mimosas. Parked and tailgated at the Indian Center, where Nebraska fans were ridiculously gracious—random folks kept calling us over to their tailgates with flat-screen TVs and fully-stocked coolers...the best of the group, however, was the self-described pastor who offered us Crown, then proceeded to say something along the lines of “Smart kids at Northwestern—I’ve wanted my daughter to find herself a nice, smart young man.” [He proceeded to introduce his daughter, who was quite beautiful.]
If “go to school, meet friendly fans, have said friendly fans give you gallons of booze and offer to set you up with their daughters, watch your team win, be congratulated on said win” was how it was always supposed to work, I would be very down with traveling even more. I think my wife would have a problem with that, though.
Oh, and that night after a couple pitchers of Elk Creek Water, we wound up at The Spigot, where the whole bar was singing along to Steel Panther’s “The Shocker.” Memories.

1. at Notre Dame, 2014 (W, 43-40, OT): I was there when.

Poll

Which of these sounds the best?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Lion’s Den and Michigan State
    (13 votes)
  • 16%
    $5 People’s IPA and Purdue
    (28 votes)
  • 4%
    Duke and free Lagavulin
    (7 votes)
  • 5%
    Music City Bowl
    (9 votes)
  • 31%
    Hail, Mary [I think that was her name ;)] Nebraska, pt. I
    (52 votes)
  • 34%
    still Notre Dame
    (57 votes)
166 votes total Vote Now

Friday

Don’t Watch This

Kansas Jayhawks at Boston College Eagles (-21, O/U 51) [6:30pm, ACCN]

Watch That

North Carolina Tar Heels at Wake Forest Demon Deacons

5pm | ESPN | Wake -3 | O/U 66.5

Washington State Cougars vs/at Houston Cougars

8:15pm | ESPN | Wazzu -8.5 | O/U 74 | NRG Stadium, Houston TX

Straightforward, no? You get to watch a silly football rivalry in the Carolinas at 5pm on No Coast, and then there’s a crazy-stupid-fun shootout in Houston where the Cougars gave up real home-field for some weird retractable sterility. I hope Mike Leach runs a play codenamed The Burning of the Philadelphia and everyone scratches their heads in confusion.

Poll

Friday night. What’s on?

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    UNC-Wake AND Wazzu-Houston
    (34 votes)
  • 9%
    Just UNC-Wake
    (11 votes)
  • 31%
    Just Wazzu-Houston
    (36 votes)
  • 29%
    I will wear my letter jacket down to the local high school and yell about how "back in your day, we put in another lipper of Skol and got back in the game!" Ideally, my breath will smell of cinnamon whiskey and light beer.
    (34 votes)
115 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Morning

Don’t Watch This

Pittsburgh Panthers at Penn State Nittany Lions (-17.5, O/U 53.5) [11am, ABC]
Furman Paladins at Virginia Tech Hokies (-21.5, O/U 64.5) [11am, ACCN]
Kansas State Wildcats at Mississippi St. Bulldogs (-8, O/U 52) [11am, ESPN]
Arkansas State Red Wolves at Georgia Bulldogs (-33, O/U 58) [11am, ESPN2]
Miami Hydroxide Redhawks at Cincinnati Bearcats (-17.5, O/U 49.5) [11am, ESPNU]
Ohio State Buckeyes at Indiana Hoosiers {SECOND HALF ONLY} [11am, FOX]
N.C. State Wolfpack (-6.5, O/U 45.5) at West Virginia Mountaineers [11am, FS1]
Chattanooga Mocs at Tennessee Volunteers (-28, O/U 51.5) [11am, SECN]
The Citadel Bulldogs at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (-27.5, O/U 57.5) [11:30am, ACCNx]

Watch That

Maryland Terrapins at Temple Owls

11am | CBSSN | MD -7 | O/U 66.5

Eastern Michigan Eagles at Illinois Fighting Illini

11am | BTN | Illinois -7 | O/U 55.5

Air Force Falcons at Colorado Buffaloes

12pm | Pac12 | Colo -4.5 | O/U 59

Ohio State at Indiana {FIRST HALF ONLY}

11am | FOX | OSU -16.5 | O/U 60.5

There are a couple rivalries in the “Don’t Watch This” category that I so desperately want to be good. I speak, of course, of (1) the desire to see Pitt beat Penn State, and (2) the Battle for the Victory Bell between YOUR Miami Hydroxide Redhawks and the Cincinnati Bearcats.

To review, Miami held a 59-44-7 lead after a 44-16 win in September 2006. The Bearcats have now won 13 straight, spanning such illustrious coaches as Luke Fickell, Tommy Tuberville, Butch Jones, Brian Kelly, and Mark D’Antoni. The last on that list is the last Cincinnati coach to lose to Miami Hydroxide.

After Illinois’ decided to do a high-wire act that had all the grace of me on the practice balance beam, they are deservedly just seven-point favorites against the Fightin’ EMUs. Mike Glass III looks much more competent than whatever freshman guido was the UConn quarterback, and at some point Reggie Corbin is going to show up and completely let down my fantasy team for the Illini. Why not this week? I’ll watch.

Buckeyes-Hoosiers?

And then you watch Old Yeller:

And then Ohio State covers the spread.

Poll

Good morning! Have some coffee, mix in some bourbon, and turn on...

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    Maryland-Temple
    (66 votes)
  • 4%
    EMU-Illinois
    (10 votes)
  • 6%
    Air Force-Colorado
    (13 votes)
  • 4%
    First half of OSU-Indiana
    (10 votes)
  • 15%
    ALL of OSU-Indiana, because I am a sadist.
    (32 votes)
  • 22%
    Something lame like Penn State-Pitt
    (45 votes)
  • 2%
    You’ve talked me into Cincy-Miami. (Which isn’t what I was trying to do, but I’m happy I could help.)
    (5 votes)
  • 10%
    Old Yeller
    (22 votes)
203 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Afternoon

Don’t Watch This

Norfolk State Spartans at Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (-27, O/U 48.5) [1pm, ESPN3]
New Mexico Lobos at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-35, O/U 63.5) [1:30pm, NBC]
Akron Zips at Central Michigan Chippewas (PICK, O/U 44.5) [2pm, ESPN+]
Georgia Southern Eagles at Minnesota Golden Gophers (-15.5, O/U 47) [2:30pm, BTN]
UNLV Rebels at Northwestern Wildcats (-18.5, O/U 54) [2:30pm, BTN]
Alabama Crimson Tide (-25.5, O/U 62) at South Carolina Gamecocks [2:30pm, CBS]
East Carolina Pirates at Navy Midshipmen (-7, O/U 53.5) [2:30pm, CBSSN]
Oklahoma State Cowboys (-14, O/U 64) at Tulsa Golden Hurricane [2:30pm, ESPN2]
Memphis Tigers (-19, O/U 58) at South Alabama Jaguars [2:30pm, ESPNU]
Army Black Knights (-17, O/U 45) at Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners [2:30pm, NFLN]
Bethune-Cookman Wildcats at Miami-Fluoride Hurricanes (-41, O/U 56) [3pm, ACCN]
Arizona State Sun Devils at Michigan State Spartans (-14.5, O/U 41.5) [3pm, FOX]
Southeast Louisiana Lions at Ole Miss Rebels (-31, O/U 53) [3pm, SECN]
Colorado State Rams at Arkansas Razorbacks (Ark -9.5, O/U 64) [3pm, SECN]
Louisville Cardinals (-10, O/U 51.5) at Western Kentucky Hilltoppers [3pm, Stadium, Nashville for some reason?]
Idaho State Bengals at Utah Utes (-36.5, O/U 64) [3:15pm, Pac12]
North Texas Mean Green at California Golden Bears (-13.5, O/U 50.5) [3:15pm, Pac12]
Cal Poly Mustangs at Oregon State Beavers (-17, O/U 76) [3:15pm, Pac12]
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (-10.5, O/U 57.5) at Bowling Green Falcons [3:15pm, ESPN+]
Idaho Vandals at Wyoming Cowboys (-25, O/U 55) [4pm, ESPN3]

Watch That

USC Trojans at BYU Cougars

2:30pm | ABC | USC -3.5 | O/U 56

Stanford Cardinal at UCF Knights

2:30pm | ESPN | UCF -7.5 | O/U 62

¡EL ASSICO!

Iowa Hawkeyes at Iowa St. Cyclones

3pm | FS1 | Iowa -2.5 | O/U 44.5

It is nigh. The matchup we all dreamed of.

In keeping with tradition, Iowa will win in a mollywhopping or it will be a three-overtime fiasco that Iowa State wins. Congratulations to the...

[/flips coin]

...ah, fuck. It’s the Hawkeyes again.

Anywho, hopefully Pac12 teams going various directions of east should whet your appetite when you realize that ¡EL ASSICO! was never all it was going to be cracked up to be.

Or.

OR.

You could try the “made-up rivalry” route. It’s a personal favorite of mine, where geographically-proximate schools with little-to-no history play one another for a weird-ass title. This week’s nominees:

  • ECU-Navy: THE BATTLE FOR TRIPOLI—play this game in Libya. It’s only appropriate to honor the founding of the Navy.
  • Oklahoma State-Tulsa: THE BATTLE FOR THE GOLDEN LASSO. Loser has to play Oral Roberts. Winners gets to get sneered at by Oklahoma for the next year.
  • Louisville-Western Kentucky: THE MINT JULEP BOWL. Really, just...why are they playing this game in Nashville? WHY!?
  • Bethune-Cookman vs. Miami-Florida: BATTLE FOR THE SIXTH-BEST TEAM IN FLORIDA.

Poll

Saturday afternoon! You are, of course, watching...

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    ¡EL ASSICO!
    (126 votes)
  • 23%
    My Big Ten team is playing at this time.
    (43 votes)
  • 6%
    Some random Pac-12 team playing
    (11 votes)
180 votes total Vote Now

Poll

By which other rivalry are you MOST intrigued?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    BATTLE FOR TRIPOLI
    (32 votes)
  • 9%
    BATTLE FOR THE GOLDEN LASSO
    (12 votes)
  • 25%
    THE MINT JULEP BOWL
    (31 votes)
  • 38%
    BATTLE FOR THE SIXTH-BEST TEAM IN FLORIDA
    (47 votes)
122 votes total Vote Now

Saturday Evening

Don’t Watch This

Buffalo Bulls (-6, O/U 55.5) at Liberty Flames [5pm, ESPN+]
Massachusetts Minutemen at Charlotte 49ers (-19.5, O/U 66.5) [5pm, ESPN+]
Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Troy Trojans (-2.5, O/U 48) [5pm, ESPN+]
South Carolina State Bulldogs at South Florida Bulls (-24.5, O/U 49.5) [5pm, ESPN3]
Florida Gators (-8.5, O/U 50) at Kentucky Wildcats [6pm, ESPN]
Kent State Golden Flashes at Auburn Tigers (-35.5, O/U 53) [6pm, ESPN2]
New Hampshire Wildcats at FIU Golden Panthers Sunblazers (-9.5, O/U 43.5) [6pm, ESPN3]
Texas State Bobcats at SMU Mustangs (-17.5, O/U 62.5) [6pm, ESPN3]
Weber State Wildcats at Nevada Wolf Pack (-9, O/U 51.5) [6pm, ESPN3]
Murray State Racers at Toledo Rockets (-38.5, O/U 70) [6pm, ESPN3]
Lamar Cardinals at Texas A&M Aggies (-43.5, O/U 63) [6pm, ESPNU]
Duke Blue Devils (-6.5, O/U 51) at Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders [6pm, Facebook]
Clemson Tigers (-27.5, O/U 62.5) at Syracuse Orange [6:30pm, ABC]
Florida State Seminoles at Virginia Cavaliers (-7.5, O/U 58) [6:30pm, ACCN]
Texas Southern Tigers at Louisiana Ragin Cajuns (-47, O/U 75) [6:30pm, ESPN3]
Hawaii Warriors at Washington Huskies (-21.5, O/U 59) [6:30pm, Pac12]
Northwestern State Demons at LSU Tigers (-51) [6:30pm, SECN]
SE Missouri State Redhawks at Missouri Tigers (-34, O/U 67) [6:30pm, SECN]
Texas Longhorns (-32, O/U 56) vs. Rice Owls [7pm, CBSSN, NRG Stadium]
Missouri State Bears at Tulane Green Wave (-29, O/U 55) [6pm, ESPN3]
Oklahoma Sooners (-23.5, O/U 72.5) at UCLA Bruins [7pm, FOX]
Northern Illinois Huskies at Nebraska Cornhuskers (-14, O/U 54) [7pm, FS1]
San Diego State Aztecs (-15.5, O/U 50) at New Mexico State Aggies [7pm, FloSports ($)]

Watch That

Ohio Bobcats at Marshall Thundering Herd

5:30pm | Facebook | Marshall -5.5 | O/U 49

Georgia State Panthers at Western Michigan Broncos

6pm | ESPN+ | WMU -8.5 | O/U 69

TCU Horned Frogs at Purdue Boilermakers

6:30pm | BTN | TCU -2.5 | O/U 51.5

So many games. So much butt.

Oklahoma is gonna roll UCLA, no way NIU makes it competitive against UNL again, and God love Florida-Kentucky (He doesn’t), but now that the Wildcats have broken the streak, the luster is gone.

Instead, I can’t recommend the joy of watching shitty football on Facebook enough. Was Hawaii-Oregon State every bit the shitshow it was supposed to be? Reader, you bet your ass it was. Did it practically ruin my phone battery (I needed the laptop to pick fights with idiots on Twitter)? Sure! Worth it.

Anyhow, Ohio and Marshall also battle for a bell, and that’s pretty cool because they’re actually two pretty fundamentally-sound teams that are well-coached and play good football. Also Marshall (Huntington, WV) is farther west than Ohio (Athens, OH), and that simple fact is blowing my fucking mind right now.

An O/U of 69 between two G5 teams with nothing to lose is worth at least a peek—flip over to GSU-WMU at halftime of something else and see how quickly Levante Bellamy finds the end zone. Then remember that Panthers defense beat Tennessee.

Poll

Saturday evening! You’ve got better things to do, like grill more meats, but what’s on in the background?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    NIU-UNL
    (24 votes)
  • 4%
    Florida-Kentucky
    (6 votes)
  • 7%
    Battle for the Bell
    (10 votes)
  • 9%
    ROW THE PANTHER
    (14 votes)
  • 61%
    Frogs-Boilers
    (88 votes)
142 votes total Vote Now

It’s late and I’m drunk...

Don’t Watch This

Portland State Vikings at Boise State Broncos (-31.5, O/U 54) [9:15pm, ESPN2]
Montana Grizzlies at Oregon Ducks (-36.5, O/U 64.5) [9:45pm, Pac12]

Watch That

Texas Tech Red Raiders at Arizona Wildcats

9:30pm | ESPN2 | TTU -2.5 | O/U 77

This one’s so obvious that if you watch anything else, I can’t help you.


Enjoy the games.