SATURDAY, NOV. 11
NEW MEXICO AT TEXAS A&M
ARRIVE IN College Station in time to enjoy a meal at the Dixie Chicken, adjacent to campus and an Aggies mainstay for beer, burgers and (of course) chicken. Then get ready for a unique brand of football, from a vibrant tailgating scene to the yell leaders to the moment when you realize all of Kyle Field is swaying on its foundation.
Going into the season, Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin should be at least a little worried about his job security after three consecutive 8--5 campaigns. His team hasn't had a winning SEC record since 2012, its first year in the conference. By November, Sumlin's fate may have been decided, but New Mexico should be a nice reprieve after the Aggies face Alabama, Florida and Auburn over four weeks. Last season, the Lobos offense focused on the ground and led the nation in rushing, although it lost its leading back, Teriyon Gipson, to graduation. But he was one of two 1,000-yard backs on the roster; the other, Tyrone Owens, will return for his junior season. New Mexico won nine games a year ago, so the game against A&M could be close.
After the final whistle you'll have six days to travel 22 hours to get to Los Angeles. Spend Sunday two hours down the road, in Austin, where you can tour the University of Texas's football facilities and eat at Franklin Barbecue. Monday, drive 11 hours to Santa Fe, and on Wednesday head for the Grand Canyon, another seven hours west. On Friday, take the southern route to L.A. and stop at Joshua Tree National Park. In the morning, it'll take you only three hours to get to the Coliseum.