After eight months of anticipating the start of the 2016 college football season, the sport has already once again proved to be worth the agonizing wait.
College football has the longest offseason of any major American sport and whereas the NFL has arranged its calendar to make it a year-round event, the dog days of summer feel like the Valley of Death for starved college football die-hards.
But the first two weeks of the season has reminded everyone that something magical happens on fall Saturdays that can’t be explained or replicated the following day by the NFL.
To be clear, both sports have had phenomenal starts to the 2016 full of thrilling games and epic finishes.
But like college basketball’s March Madness, college football takes you on a weekly, day-long roller-coaster ride of emotion that lasts from noon until the wee hours of the night. In Week 1, I spent my entire Saturday binging on games only to wake up Sunday morning and realize that the Northern Illinois-Wyoming game was still in triple overtime.
It was glorious.
Week 2 was supposed to be a “down week” because there weren’t any Top 25 matchups. Clearly, whoever said that wasn’t a college football fan because otherwise they’d realize that there’s no such thing as a down week in college football.
As NFL fans will surely point out, the first two weeks of the college season have not been without their warts. The clock management has been abysmal, the officiating has been even worse and the college kickers have been, well, #CollegeKickers.
But college football isn’t about everything being the best. It’s about the wacky, the bizarre and the flat-out insane that often result because of its imperfections.
We’ve already seen massive upsets like South Alabama over Mississippi State, Western Michigan and Illinois State downing Northwestern, Eastern Washington beating Washington State and Northern Iowa shocking Iowa State — OK, the last one wasn’t really shocking.
We’ve had instant classics like the overtime battles of Texas-Notre Dame, UCLA-Texas A&M, Northern Illinois-Wyoming and Arkansas-TCU — not to mention the “Holy War” between BYU and Utah that came down to a two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds.
And then there’s the sublime, like Central Michigan’s Hail Mary and hook-and-lateral on the same play to shock Oklahoma State, Arkansas’ double-reverse pass on a two-point conversion to force overtime, Texas Tech and Arizona State combining for 123 points in a single game, Louisville QB Lamar Jackson’s human hurdle and Houston’s 109.99-yard “Kick Six” return.
Because while college football will always cede to the NFL on quality, the drama of fall Saturdays will never be topped.
— Rankings by Jim Weber, a veteran college sports journalist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. Weber has written for CBS Sports Network, NBCSports.com, ESPN the Magazine and the college sports website he founded and sold, LostLettermen.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JimMWeber.
(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)