Welcome back to our fantasy college football road trip for 2015. We've logged many miles. Many more are to come. Let's hit the road.
Manhattan to Waco: 575 miles
Saturday, October 17 - West Virginia at Baylor: After taking a break in Oklahoma City's quaint downtown area to visit Bricktown Brewery and enjoy a Bricktown Brown or Millie McFadden Red Rye Ale, we head south to the banks of the Brazos. Here, we get a look at the Big 12's other title contender, as the Bears face the team that kept them out of the CFP in 2014. This is quite the revenge spot for CFP Committee truther Art Briles, and I expect the Bears to be very sharp. While it probably won't turn into the 2012 seven-on-seven game that ended 70-63, this should be a tilt that stresses the scoreboard lights severely.
Waco to Oxford, MS: 603 miles
Saturday, October 24 - Texas A&M at Ole Miss: We take the southern route through Shreveport, which allows for a stop at Great Raft Brewing to sample some Depeche Mode and Awkward Uncle. There was no way we were going to tour the country and not take in The Grove. It should be on any college football fan's bucket list. The people are top notch, and the scenery is unparalleled. The Oxford square also has some of the finest cuisine you will ever taste. The big question for the Rebels is whether they can finally get some consistent quarterback play to compliment their skill players and nasty defense. As far as the Aggies, let's hope they keep the all-male cheerleading team to a minimum.
Oxford to Jacksonville: 676 miles
Saturday, October 31 - Florida vs. Georgia: We don't have any problem with an off-campus venue here, as it's our chance to experience the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. So after a stop for some Snake Handler Double IPA and Oatmeal Coffee Stout at Good People Brewing in Birmingham, it's on to Jacksonville. This game provided one of 2014's most confounding results. An otherwise inert Florida offense passed the ball six times all day, and rushed 60 times. Those 60 rushes netted 418 (!!!) yards. Think about that. Georgia knew what Florida was going to do, and Florida averaged seven yards per carry anyway. Something tells me we'll see a more focused Bulldog defense this time.
Jacksonville to Clemson: 416 miles
Saturday, November 7 - Florida State at Clemson: No road trip through the deep south would be complete without a visit to lovely Savannah, Georgia. While there, we check out the fine folks at Service Brewing, and sample the Ground Pounder Pale Ale and a Lincoln's Gift Oyster Stout. Once we're done there, we head to South Carolina to see if Clemson can finally get over its FSU bugaboo. Two years ago, a presumed national title contender hosted FSU and its freshman quarterback in Death Valley. Well, the hosts got absolutely poleaxed, losing 51-14. In 2014, Clemson faced a Winston-less FSU due to suspension. The Tigers had the game won several times, and kicked it away at every turn. The result was an overtime loss and no chance at an ACC title. This game could well decide the division winner yet again, and Death Valley is sure to be rocking.
Clemson to Auburn: 333 miles
Saturday, November 14 - Georgia at Auburn: The Deep South's oldest rivalry beckons us back down I-85. So after a pit stop in Atlanta for some A-Town Brown and a Sacred Cow Chai Milk Stout at Red Brick Brewery, we roll in to Auburn to check out the Tigers, Bulldogs and a gigantic new scoreboard. We've actually seen this game in person once before. This happened. And to think there wasn't even a flag thrown! Junior Rosegreen would be suspended (with good reason) for at least one game if that happened now. This should be another good one, as at least one of the teams should be in the title hunt.
Auburn to Columbus: 671 miles
Saturday, November 21 - Michigan State at Ohio State: After a mid-point rest in the perennially awesome city of Nashville, in which a Sly Rye or three were consumed at Yazoo Brewing, we make our second stop in the Big Ten for the presumed game of the year. Michigan State was thought to be the conference alpha dog last year, until Urban's boys showed up in East Lansing and laid waste to Sparty. Since then, it's been all Ohio State, all the time. It isn't likely to change this season, but this is Ohio State's toughest test in an otherwise pillow-soft schedule.
Columbus to Austin: 1235 miles
Thanksgiving Day - Texas Tech at Texas: What comes to mind when you think of Memphis? Well, Wiseacre Brewing, of course. Memphis is a good midpoint stop on this leg, so we roll in for an Avasti Pirate Porter and a Holy Candy...something or other. After that, it's on to Austin. This isn't a very attractive game, and it's on the greatest American holiday. Why the hell are we here then? Well, our families assumed we were dead somewhere between Indiana and Texas, so there's no reason to turn back now. Also, we get to stand in line for six hours for the privilege of eating Franklin Barbecue's world-renowned brisket. Surely they're open on Thanksgiving, right? Right?! Oh well, this hipster paradise has a ton of great food to choose from, so we won't go hungry as we prepare to witness a game between two crappy teams.
Austin to Fort Worth: 188 miles
Friday, November 27 - Baylor at TCU: We go from an otherwise forgettable matchup to the game of the year in the Big 12, and one that is likely to have playoff implications. Before that, we make our final craft brweery visit of the trip. The folks at Rahr & Sons Brewing take the honors. On the menu are Buffalo Butt (had to try a beer with that name) and an Ugly Pug Black Lager. The loss to Baylor was TCU's lone blemish last season. The manner in which they lost was particularly tough, as Baylor rallied from a 21-point fourth quarter deficit to ultimately deal a death blow to TCU's title hopes. Hopefully Bob Bowlsby doesn't show up to declare both the winner and loser as league champion again.
And there you have it, our college football fantasy road trip has come to an end. We strongly considered one last trip to check out the Egg Bowl, but Starkville is a dump by all accounts, and we should probably head home to prove to our families that we still exist.
Here's our final tale of the tape:
States visited: 18
Miles Driven: 8,802
Price of gas (900 gallons at $2.45 per gallon because gas prices aren't criminal down here like out west): $2,205
Pounds of barbecue and pints of craft beer consumed: Incalculable
Happy football season everybody.