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The infinite Syracuse football road trip diary: Pittsburgh & Miami

Hoya Suxa is aiming to attend 7 of Syracuse's 12 regular season football games this year. He'll be filing short travelogues from his journeys.


“When things look worst, you’ll either die or get better.”

Men With Their Big Shoes, Shirley Jackson

This season is going to end because it has to end. I have no control over this: The road trips are infinite because the years, eventually, will bleed together but the seasons are finite because playing forever is merely a dystopian theory. I welcome the end — whether it be after Syracuse slices a gash across Boston College’s face or in a December exhibition in some forgettable town with a decrepit stadium and a bowl committee interested in funneling funds to personal trust accounts — and do not fear its arrival.

I’ve been on the road six of the last eight weeks, and my life is some odd combination of implementing heavy laundry austerity provisions, compacting 50+-hour work weeks into four-and-a-half days, having no idea what’s in my refrigerator other than a baking soda destinkafier, and knowing what week it is only by the opponent that Syracuse will play on the weekend. I am, at this stage, a human only in form; I am more an empty physical vehicle that appears at football stadiums for a few hours.

As mentioned last season: I do not recommend doing any of this unless you are either independently wealthy with few personal responsibilities or a nomad already breezing through life with few personal responsibilities. If you are anything in between — which is, basically, all of us — getting on the road for the bulk of the fall is an undertaking that can sap the life out of you, even though it is frequently punctuated with extremely high moments of fun.

Which is why I am not disastrously disappointed that I was not in the building for the Clemson game. There needs to be limits, and shuttling up to Syracuse for a Friday night game against the Tigers on a non-holiday weekend was a hard “Nope!” While there was always the possibility that the Orange would do what they did to Clemson, watching the game on glorified furniture was preferable to trying to wedge another trip into an already bulging autumn. I did not need that experience at the expense of trying to make it through to the end, and while I’ll never have that particular story to tell, I’ll have others that don’t require pushing my tank well past empty.

There is one definite trip left on the itinerary: Wake Forest. A final, wild card adventure against Boston College may emerge if Syracuse’s bowl eligibility turns on dropping the Eagles after Thanksgiving, but as of now, I am courting two weeks off with open arms and no regrets about what I’ve missed so far this year.


Inside this box are the most gruesome things known to man. This is a Raycom production box, its contents guarded by the ghosts of the Three Daves. The horrors inside are awful:

  1. The scissored portion of brain removed from the Mellow Mushroom mascot that left him placid after a lobotomy was performed on him to control his sociopathic tendencies when he was formerly the Murderous Mushroom.
  2. Discarded and ununsed player pronunciation guides.
  3. The rotting skull of Dale Sturm, patriarch of the Food Lion fortune and the first victim of the food lion. Food lions aren’t pets or grocery stores, Dale. They are vicious predators and get rightfully pissed when you try to use them to sell off-brand toilet paper.


I’ll be honest: I was skeptical about the pregame atmosphere at Miami. This trip has been circled in red ink for a few years now, but with Miami’s notorious attendance issues and its high volume of casual fans, I wasn’t sure if the scene prior to kick was going to bend in a direction where I’d believe that there are Serious Miami Fans. There are always pockets of diehards, those that will go to extreme lengths and build a culture — regardless of size — that embraces the quality aspects of a college football gameday, but I was unclear on the degree to which this exists in South Florida.

I was wrong, and it’s the good kind of wrong — while likely a highly-personal experience, we had just about the best pregame experience in all our years of travel. Our pregame party was around four tents wide with incredibly affable and welcoming hosts, a tailgate with tables full of food that allowed us to graze like the fattest species on the planet for hours on end. There was pulled pork, Cuban sandwich sliders, burgers, breakfast bites, a pasta dish that I can’t remember, dips and snacks for days, and Lord only knows what else was kicking around because I blinded myself eating until my eyes seceded from my skull.

Top (L-R): Cuban sandwich sliders, jalapeno bacon cheese dip, jello shots

Center (L-R): Pulled pork, half of the tailgate, part of the spread

Bottom (L-R): Maple bacon onion rings, jerry can of Frank’s, a fancy wine I’ve never seen before

There is the wrong way to tailgate, the right way to tailgate, and then there’s whatever the hell we did for the morning and early afternoon outside Miami’s building. Even with South Florida’s penchant for five-minute apocalyptic weather every 30 minutes, the day was a massive success because we were treated to the kind of pregame experience that was — at least in our minds — limited to Certified College Football Towns That Exist Only to Support College Football. I’m not sure that I’ll see another tailgate as ambitious as what we had for around five hours prior to entering Hard Rock Stadium.

The in-stadium experience wasn’t any less ridiculous than the pregame launchpad: With a club-level bar under our stand, I managed to upgrade from the Carrier Dome’s Cutwater Spirits — packaged wastewater — to actual distilled spirits:

That’s a “double” of Woodford Reserve on the rocks, a pint glass of goddamn rage. How is this remotely a good idea? It’s not — it’s a very dumb idea but one that is an idea, and as such, requires rigorous scientific testing to determine just how dumb of an idea that it is. And as the scientific process is one of expanding discovery rather than conforming to a rigid form, this foray into bourbon led, obviously, to testing how a peach margarita would impact the body after 30 minutes of football that merited 16 total points.

You should definitely not do this unless you are scientifically curious, and even then, you should probably pump the brakes and realize that some science should be undertaken by others and that you will merely read about the results. The peach margarita should have just been named Orange Death because there is no other explanation for its purpose on this planet. It was alcohol and . . . I don’t know, different kinds of frozen alcohol? This tasted 1,000 times better than any of Cutwater’s liquid garbage, but it also carried with it the sting of an alcohol-tipped nuclear warhead detonated in my stomach.


Games Attended: 6

Syracuse's Record in Games Attended: 3-3

Miles Driven: ~1,694

Miles Flown: ~5,474

Next Syracuse Game: Florida State

Next Syracuse Game I'm Attending: Wake Forest

Previous: Central Connecticut; Middle Tennessee; Central Michigan; Louisiana State