A College Football Fan’s Guide To The 2018 World Cup

I love soccer. I love college football. I wish the two sports collided more than they do. 

With that in mind, I have written a line or two about each of the 32 teams in this year’s World Cup and who I believe their college football equivalent is for those who couldn't care less about the world's biggest sporting event, but might get stuck watching it in lieu of daytime television anyway.

From East Carolina to the ESU Timberwolves, I’ve got you covered.

Argentina = Georgia

The accents are as weird as they are seductive, and the style of football is attractive to the purest.

Australia = Texas

Basically boasts an entire continent of fans, picks a fight with anybody who throws shade its way, hasn't been any good in a long time and isn’t quite as great a place to visit as it thinks it is.

Belgium = Boise State

A very small country, with a very small talent pool that continues to show up to big games and ruin every name brand program’s good time.

Brazil = Auburn

A favorite to win the whole shebang every year, with talent coming out of its ears, will beat the best team in the world only to lose to That One Team From Florida.

Colombia = Oklahoma

Talent—world class talent—up and down the roster, but can’t be counted on to win the big one because they can’t stop people from scoring. Goodness, this is painful.

Costa Rica = Central Florida

Nobody heard of them until they began taking down top 25 competition and ended up making the big boys  weep—while still being forced to make its own case as one of the best teams in the tournament.

Croatia = Oregon

We know them by their uniforms, flash and lack of championships.

Denmark = Oklahoma State

One of those teams that makes it to a big bowl, says hi, acts like they’re a part of the blue blood club and is dismayed when everyone’s response is, “Who let in the squeaker?”

Egypt = Virginia Tech

Is great at the special teams portion of soccer—set pieces—and not a whole hell of a lot else.

England = Southern Cal

They built this sport on pale legs, long balls and a sense of entitlement that befits their queen.

France = Ohio State

Fast, young and sexy in their French football fun. Can be counted on to score and get drilled by Iowa in a year when nobody else got drilled by Iowa.

Germany = Alabama

Technically and technologically the most advanced football country in the world, incapable of telling a good joke and probably let their boat run out of gas on open water.

Iceland = West Virginia

Small population with a tourism department working overtime and everybody’s new favorite Cinderella story.

Iran = Houston

The best player on the team is the coach, which is what Houston looks like at the moment.

Japan = Iowa State

A team full of aging players, pining for a sixth year of eligibility—but they aren't going to sneak up on anybody this year.

South Korea = TCU

You never expect them to win, but you always expect them to be in the mix because they’re well-coached and Star-Lord-plucky.

Mexico = Texas Tech

Has many entertaining rituals and lots of loud fans demanding a title they will never earn.

Morocco = East Carolina

Has one guy on the team every year that looks pretty good amid the mire. Some years it’s the head coach, some years it's a wide receiver.

Nigeria = Arizona

At one point, this team looked like a dark horse to contend for a spot in the quarterfinals—or New Year’s Six bowl—and then Rich Rodriguez got fired.

Panama = ESU Timberwolves

“Motto is Foul?! What foul?! Since when did football become a pansy sport? All we did was try to ruin a career.”

Peru = '14 Florida State

Its best player will probably be suspended for a game it needs to win.

Poland = BYU

If national teams were in conferences, Poland would be the class of the Mountain West.

Portugal = Penn State

They have one player. Actually, they have quite a few players—some of whom are pretty good—but just one we all care about.

Russia = Vanderbilt

Why did they let you in again? Oh, this is your place? You actually live in the region? Got it.

Saudi Arabia = Rice

Lots of money. Still really bad at football.

Senegal = Arkansas

It’s like Portugal Lite with fewer players to root for aside from that one guy.

Serbia = Iowa

They’re large. They’re slow, and you’ll probably limp away from the game.

Spain = Clemson

They play the beautiful game so elegantly that we hate them.

Sweden = Cal

Produces a once-in-generation talent twice in a generation—and is still trash.

Switzerland = South Carolina

Looks around at the tournament and truly believes it will win. Doesn’t. Its head coach will probably retire in September.

Tunisia = Liberty

Just so happy to be here it won’t even care that it gets drubbed.

Uruguay = Wisconsin

A good team that always has the talent to jump up and bite you.


RJ Young is a former Oklahoma Sooners football and basketball beat writer, investigative journalist, essayist, novelist, and Ph.D student. His memoir "LET IT BANG" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) hits shelves and earbuds in October. His YouTube channel is fire if you're into storytelling and topics ranging from Baker Mayfield to The Rock's early wrestling career to this one time when a guy got a little too interested in RJ's "Black Panther" cup at a urinal inside of a movie theater.

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