Good day friends and football fanatics and welcome to TGS ULTIMATE TAILGATE ROADTRIP! Thank you for joining us on the fifth stop in a recurring series of articles brought to you various writers and perspectives here at The Tailgate Society that will be covering a different marquee game each week of the college football season (as well as bowl games & playoffs). One rule we will stick to in these pieces is that the games must take place in a state that a current TGS Member lives in. Here at the Tailgate Society, we love all things football: the pageantry, the rivalries, the controversies, the Cinderella stories and of course – the upsets.
As most of you are, or should be aware, we are just 5 short weeks shy of the greatest time of year that the good lord has given us – College Football Season – so what better way to celebrate than taking a hypothetical roadtrip to visit some of the coolest Stadiums and games in our backyards!?! Seeing as we’re now officially broadcasting/typing out of 15 football friendly states, we’ll be going on a journey to various locations to show you what games we’ll be attending (or at least Tailgating for).
Week 5 – Whatever the Opposite of the Game of the Century is
On September 23rd, the University of Louisiana – Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns are going to make the 2326.5 mile trek to the Palouse region of the northwest for possibly the last time. These two teams do not have what you would call a rivalry. They do, however, have a bit of history. Currently the games won are 3-2 in favor of the Ragin’ Cajuns, in a series going back to 2001. ULL took the first three games, but Idaho won in 2004 and again last season on their way to a 9 win season and a Potato Bowl victory. Can Idaho even the series? Or will the Cajuns take out some of that infamous rage after dropping a close game to them last year at home?
ULL finished last season 6-7 after falling apart completely in 2015 after some, ahem, academic issues that they worked out with the NCAA. That doesn’t mean that the Cajuns aren’t fun to watch. They’re consistently an explosive team who generally excel on the ground and play very tough defense. They aren’t deep, but what Fun Belt team is? That’s like half the charm. Idaho is kinda in the same boat – the best players from 2016 are done and its time for the depth chart to shine. However, while ULL has a solid future in the Group of Five. Idaho will be moving back to the Big Sky – the second time landing there after getting booted out of a D1 conference.
(Maybe booted isn’t the right word. The first time, the PCC disbanded and made themselves over as the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU), and neglected to invite the Vandals or the University of Montana. That conference eventually morphed into the Pac 12 of today. This last time, after the WAC disbanded football, Idaho was forced to play indy until they joined the Sun Belt as a short term solution. The long term answer – move down a division starting in 2018.)
Neither of these teams is expected to be world beaters. The season is a success if both end up at a bowl game, and even better if that bowl game isn’t in their backyards. But maybe the game isn’t the entire draw.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to the William H. Kibbie-ASUI Activity Center, aka, the Kibbie Dome. It’s the smallest stadium in FBS, seating 15,200 of North Idaho’s finest citizens. Considering that this game falls on Homecoming/Ag Days weekend, that’s good for at least a 1000 high school students in town for livestock and crops judging who all get free football tix, then add the drunk-asses who have been partying out at FarmHouse all night, all the alumni in town for Ag Week, and the last Vandal homecoming in Division 1-A, you’ve got a party. There may not be enough Natty Light within 250 miles to supply the Palouse. Remember – WSU is only 7.4 miles away and they play the Nevada-Reno Wolf [SPACE] Pack that weekend at home as well. The only reason folks might set foot inside the dome is to grab a piece of the free pizza they use to lure the unsuspecting inside, but the Vandals AND the Cajuns fans are both fanbases who like a good time. The real show will be in the parking lot and at the bars after.
Look. The Cajuns are breaking in a new QB, the Vandals lost their “heart of the team” kicker Austin Rehkow to graduation and the Buffalo Bills, Louisiana has graduated…pretty much anyone who got them yards last season, so this game is likely going to be ugly. Even talented Idaho QB Matt Linehan can’t save it. ULL is athletic, but unproven. Idaho figured out how to win last year, but their play makers are green AF. This will also be the second game after playing Texas A&M for ULL. Teams who play a high intensity game and get a little beat up tend to play either very well or very poorly the next week, and then have a strange game after that. So, basically, freaking anything could happen here and it’s probably going to be a bit of a dumpster fire on the field. This isn’t a game to go to because it’s high quality football. It’s a game to go to because it’s a marker. The last Vandal Homecoming in FBS. The swan song celebration for a university that is a monument to everything right AND everything wrong about college football, and higher education altogether.
If You Go
lolz, who am I kidding, nobody is going to this thing who doesn’t already have a place to stay and know how to get there.
Other Games This Week
Georgia v. Tennessee
Navy v. Tulsa
Northern Illinois v. San Diego State
Texas v. Iowa State
Week 5 looks bland on paper. That pretty much guarantees wall to wall insanity all weekend long, right? Hopefully, Idaho and ULL do their part to contribute. This is a pretty even match up, considering Idaho’s emotional state in their final Sun Belt season, plus the travel distance and the pain in the ass, getting from Lafayette to Moscow. Both these teams should be on the cusp of finding an identity around this time in the season. The Ragin Cajuns just won’t have enough to outlast the Vandals in the Kibbie during Homecoming week, and UI wins this game by a TD. 21-14.