It was Friday, August 29, 2014 at 6:30 am when my alarm went off. The action itself was totally unnecessary, as I had been awake for nearly an hour with the jitters you get when you’re about to make your first appearance in a high school game with your girlfriend in the crowd. I hopped out of my bed, grabbed the number 99 jersey laying on the floor and walked to John Tallent’s room next door.
Without knocking he opened the door wearing his number 99 jersey as if we had planned it out and been doing it for years. “Happy fucking game day, happy fucking game day, HAPPY FUCKING GAME DAY!!” we yelled louder and louder until our other two roommates awoke with looks of absolute disarray on their faces. We ran downstairs and plugged in my iPhone to the speakers, grabbed a beer and began blasting the fight song on repeat for the foreseeable future. After 9 months of waiting, it was finally here, UConn football game day against the Brigham Young Cougars.
There’s really nothing quite like college football. The combination of the weather turning to fall, the students returning to campus, and packed stadiums across the country with fans who all have hope that this year is their year makes for an orgasmic combination. While there is a four game playoff at the end of the year (finally) the regular season is a tournament of its own, which you must survive in order to advance to the final four. Every game has such heavy implications.
It’s what makes us watch Michigan State play at Oregon in the second week of the season, knowing the loser is now on the outside looking in, hoping one of the favorites drops a game along the way it isn’t supposed to. It’s what makes millions of people across the country tune into the Big Ten Network to watch Appalachian State topple Michigan in the Big House.
When the big boys play these small teams, it’s like the first weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament, only it happens every week. On Tuesdays in November there are hundreds of thousands of people glued to the TV watching Bowling Green play at Toledo in what ESPN has so famously dubbed “MACtion”.
This week is Boise State at Rentschler Field (12PM, ABC/ESPN2 mirror). What reason is there for optimism some people may ask? Look at the improved play from the defense last week, which for a majority of the game smothered Stony Brook and didn’t allow for them to get into the end zone on their own accord. Byron Jones has spoken up. Obi Melifonwu has spoken up. Geremy Davis has spoken up. These players want this bad. They want it for themselves, for their fallen brother Casey Cochran, for their university, and for their state. And quite frankly the students want it too.
It’s so easy to feel it walking through campus; this student body wants a winner. The team deserves our support, and that’s why we will show up in droves Saturday and help push this team to whatever heights we can help them get to in order to chase an ever elusive win against a “Big Boy” program. Each game represents a new opportunity for not only the team to get better, but for the fan base to improve upon itself.
If you watched even one snap of the BYU game or you’re an outsider to the UConn program, you would give UConn no shot to win this game. But the beauty of college sports is that raw emotion can overcome any sort of talent difference on the field. That’s why we will show up this Saturday and support the Huskies until the final whistle, because even though we shouldn’t, we believe at the bottom of our hearts that this game is ours.
Even if things don’t go our way this weekend, the beauty of the sport is that we will live to fight another day, and I’ll wake up on September 27th ready to scream my head off against Temple.