As fall approaches, summer flings across the nation draw to a close. Perhaps you enjoyed a brief tryst with the NBA playoffs or a magical, once-in-four-years dalliance with the Olympic games.
Now, it’s time to get serious and dive back into the dating pool. Week One, you went on first dates with a slew of college football teams eager to win your heart. Which schools will appear in the love stories you tell your grandchildren, and which will be relegated to the horror stories you tell on a third or fifth date with someone else? Let’s find out.
Block them. Block them and never look back
Being rude to waiters. Only talking about yourself. Going 55 consecutive minutes without scoring against an FCS school. Some behaviors simply are inexcusable. Do to Washington what its offensive linemen couldn’t in Week One, and block them.
But it was opening day. It’s normal to be nervous. Who cares if Dylan Morris couldn’t quite get it up in the passing game? Come on, this is still Washington we’re talking about.
Look, I get it. Nobody’s discounting all the touchdown (not a typo) the Huskies scored in the Playoff five years ago. But I can’t ignore the obvious.
With five minutes remaining in the first quarter, Morris connected with wideout Taj Davis for a 14-yard first down. The play-by-play announcer incredulously commented, “I mean, this man can’t miss.”
He could. He most certainly could.
Maybe you’re right and Week One came down to simple jitters. And hey, Morris’ quarterback rating might even crack the double digits tomorrow at Michigan. For now, though, I only see a fling with the Huskies going so far.
Unfortunately for your relationship with Washington, the (Big) Sky is the limit.
Ghost them, but keep following them on social media in case they get hotter
Wisconsin & LSU
If you’re on a date and you’re totally distracted by someone else, take it as a sign. Opening week with LSU, that someone was UCLA. I mean, wow. The Bruins must have the absolute slickest uniforms in college football — literally. Given LSU’s laughable display of open-field almost-tackling, I assumed Nike hooked UCLA up with limited edition grease-covered alternates.
Wisconsin? Yeah, it’s been a while since we stopped talking. Graham Mertz looked pretty good that one time 11 months ago, I guess. It’s just a shame his receivers didn’t have the 10 yards of open space the Wisconsin secondary so kindly gave Penn State’s wideouts last week.
There’s a chance both of these squads get their act together and have an impressive season, but why wait around? Do what any normal, healthy person does and stalk them relentlessly on social media in case they once again offer something of value to you. It’s never too late to dust off your custom-made Joe “Burreaux” jersey and slide into the Tigers’ DMs like Zach Charbonnet through the LSU defense.
Ask your friends and ignore them when they tell you to move on
North Carolina & Indiana
Just because something isn’t healthy for us, doesn’t mean we’re going to quit it. Cigarettes and junk food? They’re nothing compared to the ecstatic highs and soul-crushing lows of rooting for an inconsistent college football team.
Your friends tell you North Carolina is no good for you. They say the Tar Heels have been leading you on ever since they nearly upset Clemson in 2019. But you know a spark when you feel it. It’s the same way you felt about Indiana last season whenever the Hoosiers beat a ranked school that immediately fell out of the top 25.
You could possibly delete them from your contacts to prove a point, only to move the conversation to Snapchat. Sure, it’s childish, but sometimes it’s nice to get a little attention. If you send a late-night photo to Sam Howell or Michael Penix Jr., I doubt you’ll have to wait long for them to shoot you a pick or three.
Grab drinks or coffee without explicitly using the word “date”
Miami, Iowa State, Iowa, Penn State, Oregon, Florida, USC, Texas & probably some others
Dang, these teams are fiiiineee. No, seriously. They’re fine. Certifiably above average.
For now, there are simply too many question marks to commit to anything long-term. For example, isn’t it kind of weird that Iowa State always has so much trouble getting over Northern Iowa? The Cyclones are totally out of the Panthers’ league, both in terms of looks and, you know, the whole FCS thing.
The next-to-last thing you want to do is give your heart to an unworthy suitor. The actual last thing you want to do is spend money on them. Nobody wants to be halfway through a $40 filet mignon when the person across the table mentions they still rent an apartment with their ex.
Start small, and go out for drinks. If you’re a real bargain hunter, claim you’re on antibiotics and you’d better stick with water. Even if your non-date bores you to tears with repeated assurances that Michael Dyer was down in the 2010 National Championship, your wallet won’t feel the same pain you do.
Texas A&M, Clemson & Notre Dame
We’ve all had times when we were hesitant to meet someone one-on-one. Perhaps you’re a man who worried a woman would be too clingy. Maybe you’re a woman who worried a man would be too murdery. Dating vexes us all in unique ways.
I’m not prepared to go steady with any of these schools after their performances Week One. I like Clemson, I really do. But why should I be exclusive if the Tigers will let basically anyone in through their offensive line?
This is the perfect scenario for a group date. Gather some friends and pray the loose romantic undertones amount to something more than 60 minutes of impenetrable awkwardness in a bowling alley.
Fair warning, not everyone will tolerate being put in a group. You may have someone like Texas A&M who feels left out of the action. Meanwhile, some people simply don’t play well with others. I’m looking at you, Notre Dame. Get over yourself. Nobody likes a selfish lover.
Invite them over
Georgia, Oklahoma & Ohio State
To borrow words from the great post-classical poet Walker Hayes, these are the schools you take to Applebee’s on a date night, ideally with that Bourbon Street steak or perhaps even the Oreo shake.
Nevertheless, you’re not completely sold. These teams are reliably competent and have huge upsides, yet the letdown potential is there, too. That’s why you need to have an honest conversation. Invite them over for a drink and let the truth flow, keeping an eye out for warning signs.
We have a great shot at a title, we just can’t quite get over the third-best team in the Big Ten West. Red flag. We actually might go with a two-quarterback system against Alabama in the SEC championship to spice things up. Red flag.
Alex Grinch is OK, but I kind of miss the clean, old-fashioned Mike Stoops defense. Also, have you ever heard of Joe Rogan? The guy makes some pretty interesting points. Baker Mayfield waving a giant red OU flag over his head before spearing it into the ground.
Introduce them to your parents
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You hate Alabama. You detest its breathtakingly efficient offense and its dominant defense. The Crimson Tide is what keeps you up at night. You might say you can’t get it out of your head.
The truth is, year after year there’s only one team you can really trust with your heart.
Be honest. If you allow yourself to fall for Georgia or Oklahoma, what are the odds you end up heartbroken in January?
Alabama is the conventionally attractive partner with a stable income. It’s the mid-century modern with a three-car garage and an open floor plan. It’s the 74-year-old man who jokes about how he kept wearing his wife down over and over until she finally succumbed — I mean surrendered — I mean decided she genuinely loved him after all.
You know what? No. I’m done pretending to be something I’m not. College football is made for hopeless romantics like us. Just because most marriages are devoid of affection or passion, doesn’t mean every iconic American institution has to be. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I owe a dance to a certain Roofclaim.com Boca Raton Bowl hopeful.
Hm? What’s that? Alabama landed a six-star recruit? Insane. Didn’t think that was possible.
Anyway, like I was saying — Mom, Dad? I’d like you to meet Alabama.
Bradley Hohulin writes every Friday for SolidVerbal.com. Follow him at @BradleyHohulin on Twitter.