it’s time.

Did you feel it this morning? I did.

I’m sure it has more to with the northerly wind pulled down towards Pittsburgh by Hurricane Irene than it does an actual change of seasons, but when we walked out of the house today to hunt down some breakfast, I was hit by a cool breeze crossing our front porch.

And it felt like fall.

We’re just a few days away from the start of the season, one that felt like it would never actually get here. It’s going to be an unusual one, with the suspensions, the addition of a new rival that could win the conference in its first season … and the possibility that the NCAA could still drop a nasty surprise in our laps before the end of November.

That’s all real, and it will all have a bearing on what happens in Columbus in the fall of 2011.

But once I felt that breeze this morning, none of it mattered.

What does matter? Arriving in Columbus on Friday. Visiting Buckeye Corner and The Andersons and Giant Eagle. Checking on all the gear Friday afternoon. Checking it again Friday night. Trying, unsuccessfully, to get enough sleep on Friday night that the alarm going off at 5 Saturday morning won’t be too painful. Getting in the lot — whichever lot it turns out to be — at 8, pulling out chairs, starting up the stove, having the first bloody mary, welcoming friends back for the first time since the end of November — that’s what matters.

In terms of the weather, I don’t think it’s going to feel much like fall on Saturday — it’s supposed to be close to 90 by the time the game against Akron is done — but that won’t matter either.

Fall is here. Football is here. And I’m ready to go.

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2017 schedule

Aug. 31: vs. at Indiana, 8 p.m.
Sept. 9: Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16: Army, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: UNLV
Sept. 30: at Rutgers
Oct. 4: at Maryland
Oct. 7: Maryland
Oct. 14: at Nebraska
Oct. 28: Penn State, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 4: at Iowa
Nov. 11: Michigan State
Nov. 18: Illinois
Nov. 22: Indiana
Nov. 25: at Team Up North, noon
Dec. 2: B1G Championship, 8 p.m.

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