College football returns to the gridiron

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

This is the week college football fans all across the country have been waiting for. The season has officially started. Close to home, fans can get their first taste of the action tomorrow night (Thursday, Sept. 1).

The University of Wisconsin Badgers will open their 2011-12 season in front of their home fans at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. The Badgers will host the UNLV Rebels in a nationally-televised game on ESPN. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The two teams met last year in the season-opener in Las Vegas, and the Badgers came away with a convincing victory, 41-21.

Local Illini fans will have to wait until Saturday (Sept. 3) to make the road trip down to Champaign to catch their team. The Fighting Illini will host the Arkansas State Red Wolves in Memorial Stadium. Game time is 2:30 p.m., and it will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

For an even shorter road trip, fans can take the less-than-an-hour drive down to DeKalb to watch the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Huskies begin their quest for a MAC championship. New head coach Dave Doeren will have all day Saturday to help his team prepare for their opener against Army. Game time for the NIU-Army game isn’t until 6 p.m.

The other team that seems to have a pretty faithful following around this area is the Iowa Hawkeyes. I’ve noticed a lot of people wearing the black and gold at a variety of local sports bars.

The Hawkeyes also open up their season with a home game this Saturday. They host the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. Hawkeyes fans might want to get to bed a little earlier on Friday night and be sure to include some donuts, coffee and bacon and eggs in their tailgate kits. This game is the only one locally that starts in the morning. Kickoff is at 11 a.m. in Iowa City.

It doesn’t matter if you cheer for the Huskies, Badgers, Illini or Hawkeyes, the time has finally arrived when we can all get back on the bandwagons and make some noise for our favorites.

I love this time of year! Go VOLS!

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2011, issue

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