The Tour kicked off (quite literally) in Ypsilanti, Michigan, as Eastern Michigan hosted Charlotte on the first day of the 2017 College Football season. The Eagles start games off with a bang – the team gathers behind a cinder block wall while smoke billows and “Welcome to the Jungle” blares on the loudspeakers. Two team captains then break down the wall with sledgehammers and the team runs onto the field to the sound of their fight song.
Eastern scored first on a pick-6 by safety Brody Hoying (#24). Charlotte answered with a SportsCenter Top-10 catch in the corner of the end zone, but that would be the total of their scoring for the game. The Eagles handled the 49ers for the rest of the game, winning 24-7.
During the intermission between the third and fourth quarters, the stadium lights began to flicker, and the crowd began to wonder what was going on. Unbeknownst to us, but well known to the Eastern players on the field, this was part of the show. While Darude Sandstorm played, the stadium lights flickered and danced like a night club light show, and the players were fired up. It was a unique and really great way to start the final quarter, and no other stadium has replicated such a stunt since.
Overall, it was a quiet way to begin the tour, and the Friday-night-like atmosphere made the game seem more like a high school football contest than a collegiate one. But, the weather was just right and the uniqueness of the experience created a memorable game.
Stadium grade: D