I have poured through each and every of the 128 Football Bowl Subdivision schedules for the 2014 season (now just 138 days away!) and pulled out 27 weird, wild and wacky nuggets worth knowing.
Here goes nothing:
1. Thursday, Aug. 28 is the celebrated opening date of college football's 2014 season but, in reality, the season kicks one day earlier, as ESPNU will televise Abilene Christian at Georgia State on Wednesday, Aug. 27. Thursday night as college football's opening kickoff only became a regular thing in 2005, and we could not find a year that kicked off on a Wednesday. If anyone has an example, we're all ears.
2. You may have heard something about South Carolina hosting Texas A&M on Thursday, Aug. 28 as the official kickoff event for SEC Network. This marks the South Carolina's seventh Thursday night opener since 2005; the Gamecocks have won each of their previous six Thursday night openers.
3. Ohio State visits Navy to open the season, the Buckeyes' first road opener since visiting West Virginia to begin the 1998 season.
4. Michigan State at Oregon. No note here except for that's a game that's really happening on Sept. 6.
5. Cincinnati is the last team to begin its 2014, waiting until Friday, Sept. 12 to host Toledo. That's the 170th game of the season, 16 days after Abilene Christian and Georgia State get things going on Aug. 27.
6. Louisiana Tech and Ohio win the award for latest home opener in college football. After visiting Oklahoma, Louisiana-Lafayette and North Texas to open the year, the Bulldogs won't play in Ruston until September 20. Ohio opens at Kent State, Kentucky and Marshall before finally hosting Idaho on Sept. 20.
7. LSU has an incredibly front-loaded schedule. After facing Wisconsin in Houston on Aug. 30, LSU's next four games and seven of their next nine are in Tiger Stadium. The trade off, though, is that the Bayou Bengals have the earliest Senior Day in college football, Nov. 8 against Alabama.
- Other home-friendly starts to the season:
- Central Florida: five of six at home in Oct. and Nov.
- Florida International: first four at home
- Oklahoma State: a neutral site game, then four straight at home
- South Florida: first four and five of first six at home
- Pittsburgh: five of six at home from late Sept. to early Nov.
- Syracuse (four of first six at home, plus a neutral site "home" game in New York City
- Vanderbilt: first four games all in Nashville
- Virginia: five of first six at home
- Wisconsin: one true road game before Nov. 1
8. Then there's Chuck Martin's poor Miami (Ohio) bunch. Coming off an 0-12 season, the RedHawks open with two straight at home and become college football's only team to play five of six on the road - all without an off week.
9. Kentucky also closes its home slate on Nov. 8, tied with LSU for the earliest in college football.
10. On the flip side, Georgia doesn't leave Sanford Stadium after Nov. 8. Same for Duke.
11. Seven clubs will make road trips to both coasts (or thereabouts) this year: BYU, Colorado, Idaho, Notre Dame, Rutgers, UCLA and USC.
12. A handful of MAC teams do not play a single Saturday game in the month of November: Bowling Green, Buffalo, Northern Illinois and Toledo.
13. And then there's poor Central Michigan, the only MAC team to play every one of its conference games on a Saturday.
14. Thanks to MACtion, we will be blessed with live football on television every night from Thursday, Oct. 30 through Monday, Dec. 1 except for Nov. 26, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Thirty-two out of 33 ain't bad.
15. In what has to be a record, Ole Miss will play three consecutive games in NFL stadiums. The Rebels closed last season in the Tennessee Titans' LP Field for the Music City Bowl, open 2014 with Ole Miss in the Atlanta Falcons' Georgia Dome, and then return to LP Field to meet Vanderbilt.
16. Massachusetts is the only team in college football to schedule all four of its non-conference games against Power Five foes. Mark Whipple's Minutemen open with Boston College and Colorado at home, and then visit Vanderbilt and Penn State.
17. Most Sun Belt or MAC schools line up one payday game against a college football blue blood, but Florida Atlantic is the only school brave (or dumb, or desperate) enough to play two in a row. Charlie Partridge's Owls (who play in Conference USA now but scheduled these games while Sun Belt members) open 2014 at Nebraska, and then at Alabama.
18. For the first time since joining the Big 12, West Virginia does not make trips to the heartland in two consecutive weeks. The downside, though, is that Dana Holgorsen's Mountaineers must visit Texas Tech on Oct. 11, host Baylor on Oct. 18, visit Oklahoma State on Oct. 25, host TCU on Nov. 1, and then visit Texas on Nov. 8.
19. Texas Tech has already sold a school record 34,100 season tickets, and is on track to sell out the entire stadium for the season. The Red Raider faithful is obviously enthused about the direction of the program under Kliff Kingsbury, but the home schedule also deserves a chunk of credit. Texas Tech hosts Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas in the same season for the first time in school history.
20. If ever there was a year to buy Florida State season tickets, this is it. There's obviously, you know, the defense of a national championship, but the Seminoles host an all-timer of a schedule with their ACC rivals (Clemson), their archrival (Florida) and everyone's favorite non-rival (Notre Dame) coming to Doak Campbell Stadium.
21. June Jones has his work cut out for him. SMU opens with road trips to Baylor and North Texas, then host Texas A&M and TCU, visit East Carolina, and then return home to face Cincinnati. That's five returning bowl teams, plus a club that the Mustangs are 2-12 against since 1999. The Mustangs could easily be an improved bunch from 2013 and still not win a game until Oct. 25.
22. After hosting Nicholls State on Sept. 6, Arkansas faces a grand total of one non-bowl team the rest of the season. The Razorbacks get Texas Tech, Northern Illinois, Texas A&M, Alabama and Georgia, a one-week breather against UAB on Oct. 25, then close with Mississippi State, LSU, Ole Miss and Missouri. By the way, Arkansas opens the season at Auburn.
23. Florida is the only SEC East team saddled with the one-two punch of facing both LSU and Alabama.
24. Utah draws the short stick among Pac-12 South members, hosting Oregon on Nov. 8 and then turning around to visit Stanford on Nov. 15.
25. The folks that run game day operations at Oklahoma's Memorial Stadium might as well shut things down and take a nice long sabbatical this fall. In the eight weeks between the Sooners' Sept. 13 home date with Tennessee and their Nov. 8 game against Baylor, Oklahoma will play one home game. They'll go on the road to West Virginia, take a week off, visit TCU, head back to the Metroplex to face Texas in Dallas, host Kansas State, take another week off and then visit Iowa State before closing with three of their final four in Norman.
26. John Swofford's new toys will meet for the first time ever, as Louisville makes a trip to Notre Dame on Nov. 22.
27. The SEC's end-of-season rivalry match-ups have shuffled around a bit. Louisville-Kentucky moves to the end of the season for the first time since the rivalry was renewed in 1994, while the LSU-Arkansas year end tradition-that-wasn't-really-a-tradition comes to an end. LSU heads to Texas A&M on Thanksgiving night, and Arkansas visits Missouri two days later.