Regional Tourism: I Survived Three Football Games in Two Days (and Won’t Do It Again)

As a fan of the Colorado State Rams, my wife and I gave a last-minute look at the schedule and took note of the Saturday, October 6, 2017, matchup with Utah State. We had attended the season-opening game where CSU dominated PAC 12-member Oregon State and I also traveled to watch the Rams take on Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

It was apparent early in the season that CSU was loaded with talent and that coach Mike Bobo has the team focused and motivated. They are an exciting team and we want to attend as many games as we can to support them.

The mission for three games in 24 hours began with the question of “what else should we do while in the Salt Lake City area?” I have been to the SLC on many occasions and knew that there would not be a whole lot going on – at least when compared to Denver – in the evening. The logistics of the trip would have us driving past Provo, home of Brigham Young University (BYU), and a quick glance at BYU’s schedule reflected a Friday night matchup with CSU’s conference foe, Boise State. This would be a great opportunity to compare the Broncos to my Rams.

I then looked at the University of Utah’s schedule and was surprised to see a Saturday night home conference game against Stanford. Three games in 24-29 hours; could we do it? Would my wife want to partake in this endeavor? Could she handle that much football? Could she handle the rush from game to game or the late-night hotel check-in? It all started with her enthusiastically saying yes. Let’s do it!

We headed to Provo (about a three and a half hour drive) on Friday afternoon without tickets or a hotel reservation; that’s how we roll. Parking was readily available and surprisingly close to the stadium. It was also free! We joked that the field we parked in was the prettiest and most pristine parking lot we had ever witnessed. Not the usual college football game day parking lot as it was void of beer cans, waste, trash or trash talking.

In fact, there were no people standing or gathering in the parking lot. All were in the stadium awaiting kick-off. We made it to the ticket window as the opening kick-off took place and secured two end-zone tickets. Our hope for three games in 24 hours passed the first hurdle.

I had attended a CSU/BYU game in Provo back when they were conference rivals and was looking forward to showing my wife the BYU game experience that I had enjoyed years ago. With that, the following are our/my observations:

  • BYU fans are very supportive of their team win or lose and fill the stands accordingly.
  • LaVell Edwards Stadium is a big-time stadium and a great venue to watch CFB.
  • The “pageantry” of a BYU game is highly choreographed.
  • Not a lot of spontaneity.
  • Reminds me of Texas A&M insofar as pageantry and crowd response.
  • BYU fans and stadium personnel are so very nice.
  • Highly recommend that everyone goes to at least one game at BYU
  • BYU football- record speaks for itself
  • Boise State does not appear to be as strong as they once were.
  • The fans stayed in the stadium in the 2nd half despite losing, the chilly weather and the late time.

Final thought on BYU? I think BYU thrived on conference foes strongly “disliking” them and that the crowd used to show much more enthusiasm (perhaps unfair due to current record) knowing that there was a hostile visiting crowd in the stands. It seems that the fire is gone and it’s now about the show surrounding the game and wanting to show the world what they have built in terms of facilities and tradition. The crowd reacts on cue rather than being spontaneous.

We left the BYU game and headed to the nearby Provo Marriott. It was approximately 11:30 PM and we were politely told that there were no rooms available. My wife was tired and worried that we would not find a room. For me, it was a relief that there was no vacancy, as this would give me a reason to drive 50 miles into Salt Lake City and that much closer to Utah State (in Logan, UT). Indeed, we stayed at the SLC Marriott City Creek and enjoyed a great night of sleep before starting all over again.

The trip from SLC to Logan went smoothly; the traffic was light and it was a beautiful fall day. The final 25 miles into Logan was very scenic and a pleasant surprise. Logan, UT is the Mayberry of the West. Such a nice vibrant downtown in an amazing location surrounded by bluffs, hills, valleys, and mountains. We cannot say enough about how beautiful and quaint Logan is. Utah State is a very nice campus. The town and the campus is a must-see locale.

I have always wondered from afar how Utah State stays relevant in conference play and how they attract quality players when Utah and BYU are just down the road. I had heard great things about Coach Matt Wells but still could not understand until this visit. What a great place to spend 4-5 years of your life.

Pre-game was spent at the visitor parking lot and a great time was had with mild tailgating. This is a typical Mountain West venue on a nice fall day. Everyone is out riding mountain bikes, hiking or hunting. Hard to compete with mother nature when the kick-off is at 2:15. Getting a ticket was no problem. We really liked the stadium; it’s a small venue of 25,000 seats, but it’s worth it because you are so close to the field and surrounded by mountains and valleys. I doubt there are any other stadiums that have seating as close to the field as Maverik Stadium at Utah State.

We sat at mid-field in the season-ticket section with long-term season ticket holders around us. It was apparent that they did not like us being in the seats we paid a premium for; it felt as though there were a bunch of hardcore rancher/farmers with pitchforks waiting for an excuse to get us and our CSU attire out of their territory.

This is the way it should be, it was good to be in an environment where they protect their turf. This is college football. And…the kid’s of these ranchers and farmers come and go from the stadium as they were having their own game out on the grass. What a childhood memory. Absolutely great place for a family to truly enjoy themselves.

  • Utah State locale was beautiful
  • Maverik Stadium at Utah State is a very nice small stadium
  • A great place to watch a game
  • Utah State is well coached
  • CSU is loaded with talent
  • Hard to see another MWC opponent staying close to CSU, including SDSU and Boise
  • Highly recommend Utah State as a place to visit.

To be honest, I did not think we would make the Stanford/Utah game. We had a few drinks prior to the CSU/USU game and sat on a hard bench for 3 hours for the second time in an 18-hour stretch. We had an 80 mile drive back to SLC and we had planned to valet the truck, have an hour of rest in the hotel and then take the TRAX direct to the stadium.

My wife was holding up like a trooper and luckily, she got an hour of good sleep as I drove back to SLC. Going up to the hotel room was dangerous as I know that bed would be comfortable and getting talked out of that third game would be way too easy. On top of that we had made ourselves a drink in the room and just chilled out for a while.

However, we came this far and we found a second wind to get us up and going. That second wind had more to do with the regional transit, TRAX, being readily available than anything else. A TRAX station was conveniently located next to our hotel and it drops you off right at the stadium. How nice! Great job SLC!

It was obvious the minute we got off the train that the stadium was packed. There were no tickets available at the ticket window. There were, however, two tickets available in the end zone seats from a scalper. Nothing was holding us back from attending all three games. We entered the stadium with approximately nine minutes left in the first quarter.

Utah is big-time football and let me say the atmosphere was electric. It was pure chaos. Everyone was going crazy and it stayed that way. This was a conference game and the fans and players were into it. This was college football. We still had our CSU attire on and nobody cared. They were into the game. The Utah fans were great. The stadium atmosphere of Utah was one of the best college stadium experiences I have been a part of. We missed the tailgating, however, it was apparent from the people sitting around us that there was plenty of tailgating going on pre-game.

  • Great locale
  • Great fans
  • Chaos
  • Great stadium
  • Regional transit to and from stadium is incredible.

We arrived at the hotel late and woke the next morning to wind, rain and cold. My wife held up great and never complained once. We realized then how lucky we were that all traffic, weather and accommodations fell into place. It was a great weekend and my wife went above and beyond to help make it enjoyable. It was a great weekend, however, we will never do it again.

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