Signs that summer is ending are everywhere, among them the start of the college football season tonight. 

Monmouth University Hawks at practice (Monmouth Athletics)

Monmouth University begins its 21st season with a road game that required a charter flight yesterday morning way out west.  The Hawks will face Montana State, who is ranked second in the nation among FCS schools and is coming off back-to-back 10 win seasons while winning three consecutive Big Sky championships.

This is actually the start of what is expected to be a challenging season for the Hawks and coach Kevin Callahan.  They are playing as an independent in preparation for joining the Big South Conference in 2014 and because of that the Hawks will play 8 of their 12 games on the road.  Next week they head south to Virginia to face Liberty, a future conference opponent.

Among Shore Conference alumni expected to be key contributors to Monmouth this season are wide receivers Neal Sterling of Manasquan and Lamar Davenport of Asbury Park, cornerback Joe Johnson of Manchester, defensive tackle Dimitrius Smith of Jackson Memorial and former Colts Neck kicker Eric Spillane.

Our Shore Sports Network is your radio home for Monmouth football with Matt Harmon and Eddy Occhipinti calling tonight’s action from Bozeman, Montana.  The game can be heard on 1160 & 1310AM and will stream on  Tonight will mark the first time Monmouth has played a game further west than Ohio.

Rutgers also begins its season out west and for just the second time in their 144 year history will do so in California.  The Scarlet Knights visit Fresno State in a game that kicks off at 10:30 tonight and will be televised on ESPNU.  Fresno State is a 10 point favorite in the game due in large part to the return of quarterback Derek Carr, who threw for 4100 yards and 37 touchdowns last season.

He is the younger brother of Giants back-up quarterback David Carr.  This is the final year for Rutgers in what is now called the American Athletic Conference as the Knights will join the Big Ten in 2014.  A player to keep an eye on is junior running back Savon Huggins from Jackson who played his high school football at St. Peter’s Prep.