Pigskin Pursuit

An eight year odyssey across the backroads of America during the ultimate College Football roadtrip.

Tag: Arlington

Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M vs LSU

Unlike the Poinsettia and Armed Forces Bowls that I attended recently, the Cotton Bowl Classic represents one of the most historic and prestigious Bowl Games in College Football. Tracing its roots back to 1937, the Cotton Bowl is the 5th oldest Bowl Game in the country, predated only by the Rose Bowl (1901), Sugar Bowl (1934), Orange Bowl (1934), and Sun Bowl (1934). Together, these five bowls represent the core of traditional Bowl games, although both the Sun and Cotton have recently found themselves excluded from the BCS. Traditionally, the Cotton Bowl Classic features a Big 12 team versus an SEC opponent, and this years contest would represent the 75th playing of the game.

Interestingly, however, for the first time in its history the 2011 Cotton Bowl Classic would be a bit of a misnomer. During the last seventy five years, the game has been played in its namesake stadium the “Cotton Bowl” itself, an eighty year old facility occupying the Texas State Fairgrounds in Dallas. With the arrival of the new Jerry Jones inspired Cowboy Stadium monstrosity in Arlington, however, the game has been moved to this sparkling new location replete with sushi, Grey Goose and glow stick worthy décor. Perhaps AT&T ought to consider dropping the word “classic” from the game title.

Despite being outside of the prestigious and lucrative BCS bowls, the Cotton Bowl was easily one of the more intriguing Bowl match ups of the season this year. As you have read on this blog before, both Texas A&M and LSU are two of the most revered game day atmospheres in the College Football landscape, and they each represent some of the most ardent fan bases in the game. While it certainly doesn’t equal the intrigue and prestige of the Connecticut versus Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl match up, I relished the opportunity to witness a clash between two of my favorite adopted College Football squads.

Joining me on the day were a handful of old friends Bryce and Jared, along with a newcomer, though big follower of the Pigskin Pursuit – Merritt. Luckily in town for work, Merritt had rushed out to the local Wal-Mart to procure herself an LSU t-shirt in a show of SEC solidarity (much to the chagrin of her bruised Alabama undergrad pride). The rest of us had opted for Aggie maroon, since we are in the Lone Star state after all.

Prior to the game, we met up with Kipper again for some tailgating festivities amongst the wafting aroma of his dual pit trailer. Enamored with his barbecue, I came to find out that Kipper in fact competes in regional barbecue competitions and has garnered a couple of first prizes on his chicken. On this day, however, I couldn’t take my eyes of the mouthwatering Turducken that he smoked, stuffed with a Cajun inspired crawfish and shrimp dressing. An enticing culinary nod to the two squads taking the field on the day, it was every bit as delicious as it looked.

On the carpet, the Aggies came out firing first, jumping out to a 10-0 lead amidst a shocked Tiger defense. The potent Aggie offense was rolling, and audible high pitched whoops flooded Jerryworld. The celebration was to be short lived, however, as the LSU defense stiffened up and the gears started turning on their unpredictable offense. Erratic quarterback Jordan Jefferson took the lead, connecting on one of three touchdowns on the day with receiver Terrence Toliver. Jefferson, who had been benched a handful of times this season, really found his stride in this game, using his agility to elude capture on several occasions. The Aggie defense simply could not make a big third down stop, giving up a handful of agonizing third down conversions longer than ten yards. Celebrated A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, a converted wide receiver who had reeled off five straight wins for the Aggies, was uncharacteristically inaccurate, tossing three interceptions at critical times. In the end, LSU walked away with a convincing 41-24 win, and Bryce and I remained after the game amidst hordes of purple and gold clad admirers vociferously belting out “Neck” in celebration.

This was a fantastic matchup between two classic College Football teams worthy of the Cotton Bowl heritage. While LSU may have prevailed on this night, both teams are going to be interesting to watch next year. They both feature a bevy of underclass starters, and should find themselves atop the rankings next season. Though I need little convincing to go watch either Texas A&M or LSU play…

This marks the end of the Pigskin Pursuit for 2011! It’s been a pretty wild 19 game ride that has taken me from coast to coast this year. But be sure to stay tuned for some more updates, and a sneak peek at what’s in store for 2011! There are some big surprises on the horizon and you’ll want a preview…

Thanks to my friends Brian and Federico for helping me find tickets to this game, it’s a shame you guys couldn’t join, but we’ll certainly catch up for a few games next year.

Thanks for Merritt for diligently following and finally being able to join me on the Pigskin Pursuit! Hopefully we can find our way down to Tuscaloosa next year.

Special thanks to Bryce and Jared for meeting up with me for yet another stop on the Pigskin Pursuit. Always a pleasure to have you guys along, and the tradition will continue in 2011!

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Big 12 Championship – Horns vs. Huskers

After the conclusion of our regular season, our ravenous appetite for college football had yet to be satiated.Fortunately one of the benefits of living in the heart of Big 12 country is the Big 12 Conference Championship game rolling into town a week after the end of the season.Both of us were anxious to see if the undefeated Texas Longhorns could overcome the Nebraska Cornhuskers to secure their spot in the National Championship game.I was also rather excited to be witness my first football game in the newly christened Cowboy Stadium, without having to suffer the indignity of actually watching the Cowboys play.

Coming into the contest, the Texas offensive juggernaut had run unchecked through Big 12 opposition all season, posting an average of 43 points per game, good for the #3 offense in the country.Behind the winningest QB in college football history and Heisman candidate Colt McCoy, the Longhorns were on the cusp of clinching their second National Championship berth in the last five years.

Standing ominously in their path on the other side of scrimmage, however, was the heralded Bo Pelini Nebraska defense.Nebraska boasted the stingiest scoring defense in the country, allowing an anemic 10.4 points per game. The Husker’s featured man child defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who, in addition to being named the defensive player of the year, had the rare honor being a defensive player mentioned in the Heisman conversation.Clearly, this was going to be a contest of the unstoppable force versus the immovable object.

Texas vs. Nebraska lived up to this hype, and proved to be the most exciting game that we witnessed all year.The Nebraska defense locked the Horns’ attack down all day long.Limited to a paltry 202 yards of total offense, the Texas attack was forced to punt nine times on the evening, and managed a lone touchdown.Despite a praiseworthy performance against Texas A&M the week before, Colt McCoy’s Heisman stock plummeted amidst his lackluster 184 yards and three interceptions.In fact Colt was picking himself up off the carpet for the better part of the day after being sacked nine times, including four of them by Ndamukong Suh.Suh was all over the place during the game, raking in 12 tackles alone and anchoring the Nebraska defense that kept the Huskers within a score the entire game (fortunate considering their offense barely managed over 100 yards all day).


The game got extremely nerve wracking for the burnt orange crowd with about 1:44 left to play when Nebraska kicker Alex Henery booted one through the uprights to give the Huskers a 12-10 lead.It seemed Texas would have to go nearly the length of field against the stalwart Husker defense to claim their spot in Pasadena…..or would they? The Nebraska kicker promptly booted the kickoff out of bounds, spotting Texas at the 40 yard line.At nearly midfield, McCoy then connected with his favorite receiver Jordan Shipley for 19 yards. The well disciplined, self aware Nebraska squad decided this would be an opportune time for a personal foul, so they spotted Texas yet another 15 yards on the end of the play.After a sack and a stuffed run, Colt McCoy then rolled out on a 3rd down passing play with :08 on the clock.Taking his sweet time surveying the field (and evidently unconcerned with the clock), McCoy then lazily lobbed the ball out of bounds as the final seconds ticked off.Instantly, the Nebraska bench rushed the field in victory, as throngs of red clad Husker fans erupted in celebration in the stands.A hard fought victory, and a salute to the old adage of “defense wins championships”.

But wait a minute…..”the previous play is under review”….With a collective sigh of relief for the burnt orange, the Huskers were corralled off the field to await the results of the replay trolls.76,211 stood in hushed silence, and after an agonizing five minute review, plus the requisite allowance for some atmosphere killing TV commercials, the officials determined that there was in fact :01 left on the clock.With that one second, the Longhorns BCS Championship dreams were still alive, and exclamation points would live on in facebook status updates for eternity.After a tenuous 46 yard kick by Hunter Lawrence that just eeked inside the uprights, the Longhorns were the ones celebrating under the ticker tape.Their next stop would be a trip to Pasadena to cap off a perfect season and play for the Big Crystal Football.

I somehow managed to capture the winning kick in mid air…

What a game…

Hook Em’ Horns!

Special thanks again to our friends Jared and Kimberly for helping us out with tickets to the game, and tailgating festivities.College Football is meant to be enjoyed in the company of good friends, and it is always a pleasure to hoist a few with some of our favorite ‘Horns fans.

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