Good day friends and football fanatics, and welcome to TGS ULTIMATE TAILGATE ROADTRIP! Thank you for joining us on the 1st 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 10 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 road trip 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 through these articles to various locations to show you what games we’ll be attending (or at least Tailgating for).
Thanks for joining us – now sit back, sip that coffee or crack open a cold one, and enjoy the ride!
(Oh, and Go Noles >>—;->)
WEEK 1: The Biggest Opening Game in College Football History
While my word and opinion may not hold much weight outside of Tallahassee and Atlanta (I doubt I have much clout in those cities either, actually,) and I have proven myself to be an unapologetically biased Seminoles homer…I truly believe this is the single biggest season opener in College Football history.
A matchup for the ages – and a game that would never be agreed upon in the days of the BCS, where a loss could cripple a season – FSU vs Alabama has been discussed and dreamt about by many fans on either side of the aisle for the past few years. While this won’t be the first time the teams faced off, it will be the first time these titans clash with the guru of College Football Nick Saban facing his most successful protege Jimbo Fisher – both currently at the top of their games and with powerhouse teams under their helm.
Their last clash in 2007 was an intense battle – but neither team was as potent as they are today (at that point Bama hadn’t contended for a National Title in 15 years, and FSU had been on the decline since winning their latest National Championship in the 1999 season). Since that last meeting, Alabama has gone on to win 3 National Championships (2009, 2011, 2012 & 2015) and have become the New England Patriots of College Football. Meanwhile down in Tallahassee, Jimbo Fisher officially took over the Seminole team that beat up on the Tide in Actionville, Florida that following season and led the Noles to a National Championship in 2013 and a playoff appearance the following year. Regardless of who wins – the other team (with the expectation that they have no other loses) could still be playoff bound – and this bout COULD be not only a rematch in teams for the National Championship – but they could also be battling it out on the same neutral site – as The Mercedes Benz stadium is also hosting the National Championship for the 2017 season.
FIGHT SITE: The NEW Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA
Since this has the makings of one for the ages, why not hold it in the most elaborate stadium the world (or at least the city of Atlanta) has ever seen? The taxpayers of Atlanta went all in to make sure the football experience here is top-notch – and this new stadium sure is a sight to behold. The Stadium’s roof opening spans 14.5 acres and was inspired by the Oculus in the dome of the Pantheon in Rome- which is a fitting tone setting the scene for a battle of this caliber.
Coming in at a mere $1.6 billion, The Mercedes-Benz Stadium is raising the bar on highbrow viewing and luxurious leisure that has become synonymous with getting extremely intoxicated while watching grown men in pads crush each other for our entertainment.
Now if you’re anything like me you’re probably wondering – “Gosh, I wonder what $1.6 Billion buys – aside from a small island, a 3rd world country and/or The Buffalo Bills franchise?” Well speculate no more, for I have found that out for you!
The main and most impressive feature of the new Falcon’s Choke-Dome is the ginormous Halo Viewing board. The first of it’s kind – the Hal Board will be the largest board in the world – nearly five stories tall (58 feet high) and 11,000 linear feet in diameter (63,800 square feet) hugging the ceiling of the dome. You can check out the video on twitter HERE or trust me that its the biggest thing you’ve ever seen…
But you know, I hear size doesn’t matter so…yea, who cares.
When you eventually get tired of seeing your team’s losing score on the biggest screen imaginable, you can wander on over to the northeast side of the stadium which offers the “Window to the City” and gaze out onto the gorgeous Atlanta skyline.
If the size of the Halo Boards doesn’t tickle your pickle, and you’re not amused by the pretty flashing lights of Atlanta’s midtown – maybe the rest of these oh so necessary amenities will help you (and your wallet) feel inadequate in the way you normally enjoy football:
- The Owner’s club has 190 Suites – Each located on the home side of the stadium at Midfield on the 1st and 2nd levels of suites – 35 rows from the field
- Caviar Water Fountains
- Club seats will feature nearly 60,000 sq ft of space. About 7,500 of the Stadium’s total 71,000 seats will be designated as club seats
- A private Stadium Entrance from the premium parking lot takes members directly into to club and the stadiums 7,5000 club seats
- 16 Touchdown suites located on the field and behind each end zone
- Platinum Encrusted Bidets in every bathroom
- The Champions Lounge Area – Features on-field patio areas, lounge seating, private bars and restrooms, as well as multiple high-def screens to keep up with the action on the field (reserved only for club seat holders in the 1st 35 rows from the field
- Located at field level behind each team’s bench & are going to be designed a the stadium’s largest space at more than 30,000 square feet
- Professional seat fillers so the stadium always looks at capacity
BACK TO THE RIVALRY-TO-BE: Matchup History: 2-2-1 Record
The rivalry does go deeper and has more more extensive ties than just a scuffle in North Florida 10 years ago. The fact is these two teams not only have fought it out a few times before – but their recent legacies are pretty intertwined:
Bobby Bowden grew up in Alabama, loved the Tide and aspired to coach there one day (which thankfully for Nole fans, never worked out). Bobby ended up at West Virginia before making his way down to Tallahassee. While coaching there he had heard of the passing of Nick Saban’s father and he offered a position on the staff at FSU so he could be closer to his family instead of in Ohio. Ironically, Saban ended up a coaching assistant at West Virginia down the road, side by side with Bobby’s sons Terry and Tommy.
Fast forward to the LSU years. Saban hired Jimbo Fisher to be his offensive coordinator in 2000, and together they brought the Bayou a National Championship before Saban left for the Miami Dolphins and eventually finding his home in Birmingham, Alabama. Jimbo of course, took the job at FSU under Bobby Bowden in 2007 (after the last Bama/Nole Matchup) and became the Head Coach of Seminole Nation in 2010.
There’s actually too much to cover here – so just click RIGHT HERE here if you want to see more information how their destinies have danced up until this moment for the last 10 years.
MY PREDICTION: GREATEST.GAME.EVER.
This is going to be an all out slobberknocker of epic proportions. Both teams are fully stacked with more 5 Stars than a Ritz-Carlton Yelp review, both have young returning QBs with cannons for arms and unfinished business weighing on their shoulders, and both have defenses that would make most offensive lines in the AFC South shiver with fear.
The Crimson Tide always offer up a fully loaded squad – and for the 1st time in four seasons, Saban has a starting quarterback from the previous year returning to Tuscaloosa with eligibility who is ready to lead the team. That said, the defense took a huge hit as the 1st 3 rounds of the 2017 NFL draft claimed much of it’s leadership (7 players in total). However, if Saban is one thing, he is prepared. Oh, and vengefully determined. After handing Clemson it’s first national title this past spring and giving the ACC the upper hand in the recent “my conference is better than your conference” pissing contest, you can be sure that Saban is on the warpath.
As far as the underdogs – with 17 returning starters, my guys in Garnet should be much further along to start the season than it was last year when it dug a big hole against Ole Miss and went on to sh*t the bed on the national stage in the Louisville blowout. A win over Bama will set the Noles up to claim their destiny and clear a visible and achievable path to the playoffs and the VERY possible rematch against the Tide.
We’re sure to see a stunning “Dueling Banjos-esque” offensive performance from Jalen Hurts and his insanely deep running back reserves (as if Bo Scarbrough & Damien Harris weren’t enough, they went and got another stud in Najee Haris) vs Deondre Francois and the 1-2-Punch combo of Jacques Patrick & Cam “the heir to Dalvin Cook’s Crown” Akers. That said – this game is going to come down to defense…and the difference maker is going to one dominant man in Garnet: FSU Safety and all around destructive force – Derwin James. James is the clear leader on this defense and while it will be an all out brawl, I got my money on Derwin giving Hurts too much to handle. Making Bama rely on the run and with most of the Nole defense returning this season – they will be able to slow down (not completely stop) the high-powered Alabama offense and their new (and unproven in a lead role) OC Brian Daboll.
It has been said – “To be the Best, you gotta beat the best…”and on September 2nd, that’s just what the Noles will do. This game’s going to get dirty – but the Garnet and Gold will come out on top.
Final Score: FSU 28, Alabama 24
Just in case that’s not enough excitement for one opening weekend – other notable games and my predictions include:
- Ohio State @ Indiana – Wishful thinking has me as a Hoosier…but doubtful
- Florida vs Michigan – No brainer – Gators go Down, all Blue in this one
- Virginia Tech vs West Virginia – WV in a battle
- App State @ Georgia – I’m in Atlanta, so this game matters here. BULLDOGS BABY!
- Troy @ Boise State – Troy is gonna buck the Broncos
- Tulsa @ Oklahoma State – Stoops stepped down? Tulsa for the upset
- Temple @ Notre Dame – I can taste Rudy’s tears: Temple takes this one.
- Texas A&M @ UCLA – Aggies all the way
- Tennessee vs Georgia Tech – Rocky Mountain FLOP, NERDS WIN…GT wins in Atlanta
Looks like we’ve covered everything you thought you needed to know and then some in this week’s Roadtrip – so now’s a good a place as any for me to wrap this thing up. Thanks for joining us here as we kicked off this little stadium tour of ours – please make sure to check back in as we cover every important game we see fit.
If you think I missed the mark – let me know below or angrily tweet at my editor @TedFlintKansas…but if you think I nailed it, you can reach me @curroneus – or in the comments below. Also make sure to check out The Tailgate Society’s new College Football Podcast “No Punt Intended” with yours truly & fellow TGS-ers Alex Gookin & Tyler Gross for weekly recaps, news, rumors, shaming and more opinions on such important things what we just covered here today.
Oh and don’t bother calling me biased or a Tallahassee Homer for two reasons: A) I know I am & B) Please refer back to A.
I may be a bit of both, but I do love College Football and stand by my prediction. Come September it will be the Season of the Spear >>—-;->
**Editor’s note: Shaun’s opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of TGS as a whole…we all think Bama is going to put on a clinic**
Thanks again for stopping by, have a fantastic week, and God Bless College Football.
See ya next weeek.