There’s always a sense of sadness when the last competitive game of the college football season ends. Football basically dictates how we spend our time every weekend during the fall. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we can watch division championship games and a lot of minor bowl games on TV. Watching on TV is not the same as being at a game in person, but we can at least see teams play that we haven’t had a chance to see all season.
Then there’s the Bowl trip – dictating where we spend our holidays – and more bowl games on TV. The Capital One Bowl gave us one last live game to see Penn State finish out the season and send the seniors off in good style. It was also a decent vacation break.
Finally there are the BCS games and the BCS National Championship game, the final college football bash of the season. We missed most of the Rose Bowl on January 1 because we were at the Capital One Bowl, then we suffered through 2 hours of traffic to make it back to our hotel. We were glad, though, to see Ohio State secure a big one for the Big Ten. We missed the Boise State-TCU game because we were traveling home from cold Florida to even colder State College. We watched the Orange Bowl intensely. Glad to see Iowa win, even though Iowa is turning out to be our nemesis in so many ways. Another important win for the Big Ten!
We watched the National Championship game with great anticipation. Terry was cheering for Texas. He likes Mack Brown better than he likes Nick Saban. I was cheering for Alabama. I want Penn State to go to Tuscaloosa and play the pre-season #1 team and beat them (somehow). The key play of the game of course was Colt McCoy’s 1st quarter injury. It was sad to see him not have a chance to play his final game, so I found myself wanting Texas to be competitive even though I wanted Alabama to win.
The game didn’t disappoint – Texas made the best adjustments they could given the circumstances, and true freshman back up quarterback Garrett Gilbert delivered an unforgettable performance in the second half to give Texas a chance to win towards the end of the game. What an opportunity – and a burden – for him to step into Colt McCoy’s shoes. The game would have been very different if McCoy had somehow been able to return.
But credit Alabama – they were awesome as a team. We especially enjoyed watching sophomore Mark Ingram live up to his reputation as this year’s Heisman Trophy winner. As a Penn State fan, I couldn’t help but think about September 11, 2010, when we travel to Tuscaloosa to play this team and see Mark Ingram perform in person. What are our chances? We’ll be debating that all spring… We have gaping holes to fill especially in our defense, and we will have an inexperienced quarterback at the helm….
So now that college football is over, it’s withdrawal time. We will have a chance to see a few Penn State players play in the East-West Shrine game this Saturday January 23 at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando – I hope they fixed that field! Darryl Clark, Jeremy Boone, and Andrew Quarless are now in Orlando preparing for this week’s contest.
Penn State players in other all-star games – the Senior Bowl on January 30, and the Texas versus the Nation all-star game on February 6 – have yet to be announced.
These all-star games are – well – a bit boring from a competitive standpoint. After all, who cares who wins or loses? Except possibly the state of Texas! The games, especially the Senior Bowl, seem to be focused on highlighting talent for the upcoming NFL draft. There’s no real excitement from watching them except that you have one last chance to watch some favorite Penn State players do well. For college football fans, it’s slim pickings, but it’s all there is. If you’re a pro football fan as well, you have a few weeks of playoffs, then the Super Bowl. After February 7, though, it’s a long wait until the competition starts all over again in August.
I had a colleague at work a long time ago who coped with winter by taping 6-8 college football games each Saturday during the fall. He would watch maybe one game per Saturday in the fall. He would save the rest for winter. I wonder if he still does that. Or does he, like the rest of us, watch classic games on ESPN and the Big Ten Network reruns, to get us through the winter?
What do you do to cope with college football withdrawal?