2017 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
Publish date:

2017 COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREVIEW

Author:

THIS IS HOW IT STARTED: Four SI editors were sitting around a table. One said a buddy of his had just retired, bought an RV and was going to spend the 2017 college football season traveling the country, going from game to game. A debate ensued. Where should he go? Suddenly, we had an organizing principle for our '17 preview. Staff writer Joan Niesen got the daunting assignment to draw up a 13-week itinerary with these parameters: Start and end in the same place, cover as much ground as possible and design a trip that is feasible—there has to be enough time to drive from game to game.

USING EXPERIENCE GLEANED from her eight years on the road as a sportswriter—plus stints living in St. Louis, Washington, D.C., New York City, Dallas, Minneapolis, Denver and Chicago—and tapping into the collected wisdom of her SI colleagues, Niesen put together a trip chock full of games that included at least one headline attraction: a rising program, a captivating player, a rivalry or an off-the-field tradition. She dropped in recommendations for places to eat and drink, sights to see and roads to explore. To supplement her suggestions we dropped in a few meals from Andy Staples's Top 25 College Town Meals (found in university towns of fewer than 500,000 people), which will run in its entirety this week on SI.com/eats.

THE TOUR PAUSES along the way to check in on the fate of the Big 12, the state of tackling and the new face of college football, Sam Darnold. The full trip is followed by our Top 25, with scouting reports that include insights from opposing coaches, statistical profiles and schedule analysis. So top off the tank, strap on your seat belt and rev up the engine. It's going to be a wild ride.

2017 College Road Trip Stops

1 USF AT SAN JOSE STATE

page 52

2 NORTH DAKOTA AT UTAH

page 53

3 COLORADO STATE VS. COLORADO

page 53

4 CENTRAL ARKANSAS AT KANSAS STATE

page 54

5 GARDNER-WEBB AT WYOMING

page 60

6 NEW MEXICO AT BOISE STATE

page 61

7 OREGON STATE AT WASHINGTON STATE

page 61

8 ST. JOHN'S VS. ST. THOMAS

page 62

9 TEXAS AT IOWA STATE

page 62

10 NORTHWESTERN AT WISCONSIN

page 63

11 MARYLAND AT OHIO STATE

page 64

12 CLEMSON AT SYRACUSE

page 70

13 N.C. STATE AT PITT

page 70

14 MICHIGAN AT PENN STATE

page 75

15 TULANE AT MEMPHIS

page 76

16 ARKANSAS AT OLE MISS

page 76

17 IDAHO AT TROY

page 76

18 LSU AT ALABAMA

page 77

19 NEW MEXICO AT TEXAS A&M

page 77

20 UCLA AT USC

page 78

21 NOTRE DAME AT STANFORD

page 84