This fall marks the 147th edition of college football, and the first full week of games is loaded. Opening with Houston — Oklahoma and climaxing with Alabama — USC, Sept. 3 promises to be a tremendous day of football, but that’s only the beginning. Buried inside the nation’s schedule are a slew of fascinating quirks that will add some zest to the 2016 schedule.
Here are five cool things hidden in the 2016 college football schedule:
1. Double Sooner for Scarlet & Grey
Ohio State has been playing football since 1890, and was a charter member of the Big 10 when it formed in 1913. Since then, the Buckeyes have played a slew of teams in non-conference play, mostly from the Midwest, but have only played two teams from the same state in non-conference play five times. This year marks the fifth time when the Buckeyes play Oklahoma, for the first time since 1983, and Tulsa for the first time in school history. OSU played Pittsburgh & Penn in 1932, Baylor & SMU in 1978, UCLA & San Diego State in 2001, and SDSU & Cal in 2013. The Buckeyes are 5-1-2 in those games.
2. The traveling Warriors
The circumference of Earth is 24,900 miles. Hawaii football will travel 46,800 miles this year. The Rainbow Warriors open the season traveling to Sydney for a game against Cal before flying back to Honolulu and then to Ann Arbor for a game with the Wolverines a week later. Sydney is 20 hours ahead of Honolulu and then Ann Arbor is six hours ahead as well.
Beyond the unfairly ridiculous opening week for the Rainbow Warriors, there will be three road trips to California, a game at Arizona, and a game at Air Force. Hawai’i also enters a home-and-home series with Massachusetts. The Minutemen travel to Honolulu this year and the Warriors will return the trip in 2017. The 5,006 miles between campuses will be the longest road trip in the history of college football for a road game at a campus site.
3. FIU’s B1G audition
When it comes to non-conference play, the law of the land is that the Power 5 schools host the Group of Five schools. Of course, there are exceptions. This year’s game between Miami and Appalachian State in North Carolina will be a raucous time, but this year’s Florida International schedule is truly exceptional.
The Golden Panthers open the season by hosting two teams from the Big 10. FIU gets Indiana on September 1, followed by Maryland eight days later. The Panthers return nine starters on offense and welcome Miami-Dade County all-time sacks leader — and Frank Gore’s cousin — Shakur Cooper to the defensive corps. They will have the biggest stage FIU football has had since T.Y Hilton wore the blue and gold.
4. First day Sunday
Notre Dame is as consistent as it gets with its schedule. The Irish will play Saturday. While top-tier games go down every week on Thursday — and Clemson is even playing on a Friday this year — the Irish always play their games on Saturdays.
Not this year.
Notre Dame will open its season this year on a Sunday in Austin against Texas. The game is just the ninth regular season, non-Saturday game the Irish have played since 1924, and the first since they beat Vanderbilt on Sept 5, 1996. The Irish played on Thanksgiving from 1899-1924 with the exceptions of 1905 & 1906. The list of midweek games is below:
- Beat Vanderbilt 14-7 on Thursday 9/5/96
- Beat Virginia 36-13 in East Rutherford on Thursday 8/31/89
- Beat Boston College 17-3 in Foxboro on Monday 9/15/75
- Beat Georgia Tech 31-7 on Monday 9/9/74
- Beat Air Force 48-15 on Thursday 11/22/73 (Thanksgiving)
- Lost to Syracuse 14-7 on 11/28/63 at Yankee Stadium (Thanksgiving)
- Beat Miami 14-0 on 10/7/55
- Beat Detroit 40-6 on 10/5/51
5—The Trapping Herd
Louisville has high aspirations this year. A consensus top-20 team, the Cardinals face a monstrous schedule as the calendar flips from September to October. After hosting Florida State — and a week before traveling to Clemson — the Cardinals make a trip to Huntington, West Virginia, to play Marshall.
Joan C. Edwards Stadium is a hornet’s nest on a good day, but with one of the best teams in the country coming to town, you can guarantee that the Marshall faithful will be out with zeal and the place will be hell for Louisville. The Thundering Herd are no slouch on the field either, coming off a 10-3 season with many key pieces returning to a team that was in the top half of the country in scoring and passing, as well as a top-10 defensive unit.
There are many trap games across the schedule but this one stands out for the unique location and the teams involved. On paper it’s reminiscent of last year’s Ole Miss — Memphis game at the Liberty Bowl, and we all know how that turned out for the Rebels.