Hi. My name is Kevin McGuire and I'm addicted to college football.
It had been 233 days since my last experience with college football, but on Wednesday night I let it get the best of me. Part of me was ashamed to getting such a thrill by watching Georgia State and Abilene Christian, but the other part of me didn't care. Deep down inside I know in my heart of hearts that Georgia State and Abilene Christian is an inferior product, but the emotional high it gave me after so long away from it is difficult to truly put into words. I felt like I was given every reason to remind me just why I am so attached to college football.
I found myself itching for the game all day long, if not all week or month or -- let's be honest -- the past 233 days. I found myself reading up more than I ever have before about Georgia State football. I was looking over depth charts and sharing my thoughts to the world, as if anyone cared as much about Georgia State-Abilene Christian as I did. I mean, I know I am not alone in my cravings, but sometimes it felt as though I was all alone. Was I wrong to give so much attention to this one game? Maybe it goes against the grain, but on Wednesday I didn't care. I needed my college football fix and I woke up the next morning not regretting it.
I found myself attached to the story of Georgia State looking for their first win in 683 days, being the sucker I am for a good story in this glorious, yet flawed, sport. I had nothing against Abilene Christian, but I wanted to see Georgia State have their moment so badly to get the year started. For a while, it looked as though that would be impossible. Abilene Christian took a 16-14 lead late in the first half, seemingly seizing the momentum just before the half. With the clock hitting triple zeroes, Nick Arbuckle unloaded on a deep pass down the middle fo the field that landed in the hands of Avery Sweeting for a touchdown, capping a quick six-play, 74-yard drive and giving Georgia State a reason to smile heading to the locker room after what had been a frustrating half at times.
That was only the beginning. The second half was when the addiction really kicked into high gear. Abilene Christian took control out of the half, stringing together a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 30-21 point lead into the half. Georgia State struck back early in the fourth quarter with another touchdown pass from outside the red zone, but Abilene Christian responded four minutes later with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. With the score 37-28 in favor of the FCS visitors, it seemed as though all hope was lost for Georgia State.
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This is why college football is special. Even a team that lost every single game the previous season and failed to score more than 33 points in a game during that fall of futility is not out of a game until the final seconds tick off. Over the course of the final six and a half minutes, those who were caving to an addiction similar to me were treated to quite the high. Georgia State put together a 77-yard touchdown drive in just over two minutes, and probably benefitted from Abilene Christian's reluctance to go for it on a fourth and 1 from their 48-yard line. Abilene Christian even had two cracks at the fourth and short when an illegal formation penalty was negated by a Georgia State personal foul (which, of course, is silly in concept). On the game winning drive, a team that ranked 84th in the nation on fourth-down conversions in 2013 managed to convert both attempts they had on the game-winning drive. Arbuckle took manners into his own hands, or legs, to set up a kick that would prevent those watching along on Twitter to resort to the #collegekickers punch line. By picking up 30 yards on two rushing attempts with time running out and no timeouts to work with once the Panthers moved into field goal range, Arbuckle proved to be the most valuable player on this particular night. And the celebration of the Georgia State program and whatever of the 10,140 fans did remained to support the Panthers had their long-awaited moment.
It is still an uphill battle for Georgia State this season, but for one night none of that mattered. This is why college football is great. Moments like Wednesday night are to be cherished and remembered by those who are connected to a certain program. Georgia State is not playing for a spot in the College Football Playoff. They are still in the infancy stages of its football history, entering just the fifth year in existence. There is a long way to go, but on Wednesday night anything seemed possible.
Wednesday night's appetizer for the opening weekend on the FBS calendar had a little bit of everything. It had plenty of offense, questionable refereeing, a deep touchdown pass at the end of the half, a late rally for a late game-winning field goal, and a feel-good story for a program that had few moments of glory a season ago. And that is sort of the point. Odds are pretty good I will not watch much more Georgia State football this season, nevermind Abilene Christian. But on Wednesday I did, and I enjoyed it despite the ineptitude and penalties.
I craved college football and I was willing to take whatever was served to me, like a junkie no longer able to hold out. Now I want more. I want the best there is to offer and I will not settle. I got my dose of product with chili powder.
Now I want the best stuff college football has to offer.
Already I have completely succumbed to my addiction, and I am sure it will impossible to shake for the next four and a half months. It is an addiction, and I have let it define who I am. I would not want to have it any other way.