Labor Day weekend. The last of the summer days is spent by many on the beach or running out of town before September rolls again. But for those who prefer the college football variety over the NFL, the new season has already begun, made slightly better by the fact that it is one of the few fall weekends of the year when we have the sport to ourselves. The pinnacle of that first weekend of the season is often marquee games on Labor Day itself, and two of the most exciting games of the first weekend occurred in two local stadiums separated by just 32 miles apart. Even though most don’t feel like the DMV area is a hot bed for college football, for one night, the Capital was the center of the NCAA world.
First, in the matinée contest, the Maryland Terps and their fans trekked to Baltimore to face in-state rivals from the Naval Academy in the “Crab Bowl.” The game was the first the two Chesapeake rivals had played since 2005, and even though Navy dominated Maryland’s defense for most of the game, they were able to hold the Middies out when it mattered for a 17-14 victory, stopping Navy on 4th and Goal from the 1 with just a few seconds left on the clock:
That was nothing compared to the night contest at FedEx field between two preseason top ten teams in Boise State and Virginia Tech. The Hokies sloppy start gave the Broncos a 17-point spot in the first quarter, but Tech would roar back to take the lead in both the third and fourth quarters. But this is Boise State, of trickeration and gritty underdog fame. Two minutes, down by four, Boise Quarterback Kellen Moore had no problem driving the length of the field (thanks in small part to a personal foul on a late hit by one of VT’s young backs) to lead Boise to the 33-30 victory. It doesn’t get much better than this in sports, when an early season game could mean the difference between national championships and the Humanitarian Bowl.
In just a few days, the pros will be suiting up in that same stadium as week one of the NFL starts here at home on Sunday night with the Cowboys coming to town. The atmosphere for when new coach Mike Shanahan leads his Redskins out into the field will be exciting, but maybe not nearly as exhilarating as what happened just days before. The Redskins hope to keep playing meaningful games into January; at least there was something to get jazzed about in September, too, to go along with that optimism.