It was 39 degrees at 5:30 a.m. on Friday.
I know this because I was awake, and also because by the time I landed in Ft. Lauderdale at noon it was 83 degrees and sunny.
Needless to say, yesterday was the first part of what looks to be a very, very interesting weekend for me here in Miami. Over the next two days I’ll be taking in two completely different football games in one stadium, with the University of Miami taking on Oklahoma tonight and the Dolphins hosting the Bills Sunday afternoon.
This fortunate scheduling coincidence is allowing me to do achieve two very important things in my sporting life, and it’s something I’m pretty excited about. The first one is easy: I’ve never been to a big-time college football game.
Of course I’ve taken in high school football and the occasional University at Buffalo game, but I don’t think I’ve never experienced just what college football is all about. Even walking around Coral Gables for a bit yesterday reinforced this belief: the buzz around this game is palpable even 30 hours before kickoff.
For as big as the NFL is, Hurricanes football connects with the city of Miami and its residents in a very special way. There are just some programs that hold a unique place in college football lore, and Oklahoma and Miami certainly fit the bill.
What I want to get from today is not only a good football game, but a better understanding of just what college football feels like when it really matters. What I mean is that this game isn’t just big for Miami or big for Oklahoma, this is big for the entire sport.
When Pitt came to Buffalo a few weeks ago it was an important moment for Buffalo and the University as a whole, but it was barely noticed by anyone outside of Western New York. Pitt rolled, the final score came up on SportsCenter, and that was that.
Today will be clearly different, and I want to get a feel for just what that means.
The second part of the equation is simple: attend a Bills road game. My experiences with football start and end in Orchard Park, and while that’s a fantastic place to be on Sundays, the larger world does loom large. I don’t think I’ll ever get to feel the full experience like some friends of ours, but I certainly want to try.
Miami seems like a logical place to start because it’s not going to be quiet on Sunday. At least a few thousand Bills fans seem to attend this game every year, and I know my flight had more than one Bills hat on it. For some this is a yearly tradition, for others the chance to reconnect with their hometown team after a migration south.
Either way, I plan on talking to a lot of people about the Bills on Sunday. I have a few ideas further down the road, but I really want to get a feel for the atmosphere that gets created at a Bills/Dolphins game in Miami. Any Bills fan can tell you about the atmosphere at the Ralph for Bills/Dolphins, and I’m hoping this can match it.
Of course this trip does have a few downsides. First, I’m missing the Sabres home opener becuase the UM/OU game starts at 8. That means I won’t see any Sabres hockey until at least Monday night when I touch back down in Buffalo.
However Chris will have you covered with the Sabres until I can see them for myself. I also have tickets for the Phoenix game on the 8th, so you’ll be hearing from me about hockey soon enough.
Expect more than a few things about the football game tonight. Expect a Bills gameday post well before kickoff, and be sure to join Chris for the WNYM liveblogs for both the UB game today and the Bills game tomorrow. Expect a lot, because that’s what I hope to have for you.
My expectations are high. At the very least I’ll have plenty to write about…