The Spread, Week 1: Don’t Stop Believin’

College football season. It’s the Sopranos to the off-season’s Jersey Shore. Now, finally, you can forget about autographs, tattoos, and dead fake internet girlfriends. Yes, these things will have an impact on the games we watch, but when the ball goes over, the only thing that matters is 57,600 square feet of grass (or, more likely, sand and rubber and polyethylene fiber).

Each year, for a few months in the autumn and winter, we are lucky enough to have seats at another performance of the world’s greatest dramatic masterpiece. Unscripted, improvised, the whole of a college football season is unpredictable, unknowable until it plays out in front of us. This is a nice little piece of irony from the universe, as the sport is built on the hard work of coaches and players who spend countless (or rather, strictly counted) hours attempting to know, predict, and script success for their teams.

For our teams.

Maybe you graduated from Ohio State, spent dozens of Saturday afternoons and evenings crowded into the majestic Horseshoe, losing your voice as you and 100,000 of your closest friends–your family–caused a vital false start. Maybe you just live in Columbus, or Ohio for that matter. Maybe you don’t. Maybe your parents were fans. Maybe your grandparents. Maybe you watched the Buckeyes win a national championship and decided that was your team. Maybe something else.

It doesn’t matter.

Being a fan isn’t about why. It’s about how. It’s about when and where. (That’s “always” and “everywhere,” for the record). It’s about those autumn and winter Saturdays and knowing, feeling, that in sixty minutes of football, it could all come together, or it could all fall apart.

This year, our expectations are sky high. We begin the season ranked second in the nation, and we have good chance of ending it ranked even higher. Braxton Miller is the favorite to win the Hesiman in the unbiased eyes of many. It’s entirely conceivable that Urban Meyer will begin his career at Ohio State with 26 consecutive wins and zero losses.

We might get to beat Michigan twice.

But that’s the thing about life, about football: just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, that’s when

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