THURSDAY, SEPT. 14
NEW MEXICO AT BOISE ST.
6:00 P.M. MT
SATURDAY, SEPT. 16
Oregon St. at Washington St.
2:30 P.M. PDT
WHAT WOULD ANY exploration of college football be without a stop at the blue field of Boise? The teams of the Mountain West are catching up to Boise State, but the Broncos remain strong and New Mexico should pose little challenge. Keep an eye on junior quarterback Brett Rypien—nephew of former Redskins QB Mark—who's thrown 44 touchdowns over his career. The next day, make the six-hour drive north to Pullman, Wash. To the east of your route is a swath of national forests; stop and smell the conifers.
OREGON STATE AT WASHINGTON STATE
This brings us to our first conference matchup, a Pac-12 showdown that includes SI's preseason No. 22, Washington State. This game may also feature the most memorably massive player you'll see this season: Cougars left guard Cody O'Connell, who stands 6'8" and weighs 368 pounds. Last year he became the second unanimous All-America in Washington State history. He'll be a name to watch in next spring's NFL draft, as will that of Cougars quarterback Luke Falk.
From here, you have one of your longest drives of the trip, but you have a week to get to Minneapolis. Start out with the nine-hour leg back to Yellowstone, and stay there a night or two. Go an hour north to the scenic Big Sky country of Montana for another night, then trek another nine hours east to Mount Rushmore. From there, motor nine hours across South Dakota to Minneapolis. Get in a few days early and enjoy the city. Jog around Lake Calhoun, and check out the Surly Brewery. Catch a show at First Avenue, the venue Prince made famous, and be sure to eat a Jucy Lucy, the cheese-stuffed hamburgers many bars and restaurants feature. The Blue Door Pub and the 5-8 Club make two of the best.