In recent times, the NCAA has saved its finest Week 1 school soccer matchups for impartial websites — primarily NFL stadiums.
Final season started with an enormous matchup between Georgia and Clemson at Financial institution of America Stadium in Charlotte, dwelling of the Carolina Panthers. However the viewership paled compared to the 2022 opener between Notre Dame and Ohio State, performed at “The Horseshoe” — which racked up 10.5 million viewers.
Each video games have been clashes between high 5 groups, however the latter additionally beat each single recreation on the 2022 Week 1 calendar and was ESPN’s most-watched common season recreation on its networks since 2017, in keeping with the World Huge Chief.
Nonetheless, it took just one week for one more school soccer recreation to high it within the tv scores. Then No. 1 ranked Alabama traveled to Austin to face unranked Texas for a midday EST recreation. Regardless of the Longhorns not being within the High 25, the recreation nonetheless bested the aforementioned primetime matchup between the Preventing Irish and the Buckeyes — and Texas commit Arch Manning remains to be in highschool.
The individuals have spoken. They like school soccer to be performed on campus, not at Jerry World or the Citrus Bowl. For convention titles, bowl video games, and the Nationwide Championship, impartial websites are tremendous. However for years, school soccer has been reintroducing individuals to its product with out a key part — dwelling subject benefit.
Sans the rabid school spirit from the student section, college football truly is an amateur product. Extra points from the traditional line get missed, footballs sail backward, defensive backs end up 30 yards behind wide receivers, and most quarterbacks are not capable of leading their teams by relying on the forward pass. All of this while the games take significantly more time than they do in the NFL with the clock stoppages after every first down, and also longer halftimes.
Why watch this lesser product? The fans are a much more significant part of the show than they are in the NFL. The fans in Seattle rained down boos all night on Monday when Russell Wilson returned to town, but the intensity still didn’t match what it was at “The Swap” when Utah threw that late interception to give Florida the victory in Week 1.
Those are the moments that make college sports, especially football, an outstanding viewing experience. Auburn’s “Kick Six” against Alabama; Texas Tech taking down No. 1 Texas with Michael Crabtree’s last-second touchdown catch; any of Florida State’s missed kicks against Miami; that mega-pop from the crowd after it has been roaring all day almost leaves the viewer a bit winded from the intensity of the game.
There were a couple of big-time neutral site games in Week 1, but they were Georgia vs. Oregon at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta and LSU vs. Florida State at the Superdome in New Orleans. I’m sure the Ducks, who were blown out, 49-3, and the Seminoles — 24-23 victors — did not feel that the environment was neutral.
The opening weeks of the 2022 college football season have been spectacular, and yes the wacky plays are fun to watch, but without the screaming student sections, it’s really just second-rate football.
Home and homes for out-of-conference from now on college football. The passionate crowds are part of what makes the sport special.