Pigskin Pursuit

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

Tag: Texas A+M 2009 (page 1 of 2)

The Lonestar Showdown – Texas A&M vs. Texas

If my rambling post below was any indication, both of us were quite enamored with our Texas A&M experience.In fact we were so blown away that we quickly decided a return visit to College Station was in order. Coincidentally, A&M had an upcoming home game on Thanksgiving night against an undefeated Burnt Orange clad foe from the South, and College Station was already priming for a huge matchup against this fiercesome in state rival.

In lieu of bloatingly lounging around watching football on television, we decided to see this historic rivalry in person. As such, on Thanksgiving Day, back down to College Station we went to get another fill of the A&M experience as they hosted the #3 Texas Longhorns.This was easily the biggest game of the season in College Station, and 84,671 fans packed Kyle Field for an epic turkey day tilt.

Once again, with the help of our friend Christina, we managed to score ourselves some student tickets.This time our seats were in the second deck on the 40 yard line offering a phenomenal view of all the action on the field, considered by some of our Aggie friends to be the best seats in the house.A quick glance to the rear revealed the “Home of the 12th Man” block letters ominously perched above our shoulders.Given the magnitude of the opponent, the 12th Man on this night was borderline riotous.We could feel the entire second tier of the Kyle Field structure discernibly swaying as hordes of Aggie students belted out “Varsity”.

The game itself was a battle worthy of this heated rivalry.Both the Longhorns and the Aggies forsook any semblance of defense, and took to marching up and down the field on one another in one of the most dramatic shootouts we have seen all year, tallying over 1100 yards of total offense.We witnessed two true Texas gunslingers in action as both Colt McCoy and Jerrod Johnson each threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns apiece.It was gutwrenching to be a part of the A&M faithful however, as every time they made a big play to knot the score, Texas would answer with a drive of their own.The Aggies just couldn’t seem to focus for two consecutive series and get a critical stop out of their defense.The final Aggie touchdown to bring them within three with 7:10 left on the clock was promptly met with a 95 yard Longhorn touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff.With 6:57 left to play this all but sealed the contest for Texas, left their unblemished record intact, and ensured them a spot in the Big 12 Championship game.

Final Score: 49-39

Another fantastic trip to Texas A&M, an incredible atmosphere to be a part of, and a phenomenal game to watch.Thanksgiving leftovers are better the day after anyway….

Special thanks again to our friend Christina for her help with tickets, we are truly grateful for your efforts in making our A&M visits so remarkable.And of course another shout to our friend Allison for meeting up with us for another College Station gameday, and subtly persuading her little brother to make “the right decision”….

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And now formed at the North end of Kyle Field, the Nationally famous Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band…

One of the unique elements of College Football pageantry that often goes overlooked are the bands.Bands are an integral part of game day atmosphere, and their constant energizing thrum is a traditional component of college football grandeur. They are certainly a welcome departure to the overplayed jock rock and hip hop that you will find annoyingly piped in at most professional games.While at most sporting events halftime is an opportunity to hit the concession stands for another round of ten dollar nachos, at a college football game the halftime shows featuring the precise marches of university bands are usually worth staying in your seat for.

Although we both enjoy a good band halftime show, after a host of college games this year all the bands start to feel irritatingly similar. There’s only so many times I can hear a trumpeted version of “Livin’ onPrayer” or “Thriller” before I lose my fist pumping enthusiasm.Given my lack of musical knowledge, I would be hard pressed to tell any of the bands apart, and I don’t profess the acumen to discern the most talented and organized bands from one another.

What I can tell you is that the Fightin’ Texas Aggie band flat out crushes any other college band either of us have ever seen…period.

And it’s not even close…

The Fightin’ Texas Aggie band is peerless among all the bands that we have seen this year, and a unique departure from other standard university marching bands.The Aggie band is the largest military marching band in the US, performing exclusively military drill.They eschew rehashing exhausted pop culture favorites, opting instead for traditional marches and military cadences.What truly sets the Aggie band apart, however, is their extraordinarily precise marching.These rigorous marches are a sight to behold, and their dizzying complexity is enough to hold 80,000+ gape jawed fans in near silence.It’s purported that some of these marches performed are so difficult they are considered impossible to execute according to computer marching simulations.

Put simply, if you ever have the fortune to witness a game at Kyle Field, when halftime rolls around skip the nachos and keep your haunches in your seat.

You can read more about the Aggie Band here:

http://www.aggieband.org/visitors-about.php

Or a more in depth Wikipedia article (detailing interesting facts like the band living together as a military unit, practicing 15 hours per week, and wearing custom made $1,000 boots)

http://www.aggieband.org/visitors-about.php

And of course a few videos.

The first is from the Thanksgiving Day game this year. If pressed for time, you may skip ahead to 1:08 for the famous announcement, or 2:05 for when the band begins playing.

The second video is a bit shakier, but includes some decent close ups demonstrating the complexity of the marches. Announcement at :40, music at 1:45.

 

 

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Lucky Penny – Penny’s Diner

If its one long standing gripe I’ve had with Texas thus far it’s the seemingly statewide aversion to the classic 24 hour roadside diner.While I can get gut bomb tacos and a shiv to the neck at a shady gas station 24 hours a day, finding an acceptable greasy spoon in this state has proven a rather elusive challenge thus far.

Imagine my delight then, when 30 minutes outside of College Station in a postage stamp of a town called Hearne, I spotted a shimmering oasis of stainless steel and neon edged off the side of Texas State Highway 6.The vaporous glow of Penny’s Diner backlit plastic pierced the black Texas night, and our post game meal was quickly decided.(This was the meal following our Thanksgiving Day game at A&M vs. Texas)

On the inside the Penny’s is every bit as consistent as any diner loving patron would hope for, checkered flooring and stainless steel abound.The no frills menu was a lineup of breakfast, burgers and assorted classic diner fare dished out at affordable prices.I promptly ordered up a three meat egg scramble.The food was simple, quick, tasty and ample.The way honest diner food should be.I don’t think you could order wrong at this place, and Penny’s certainly satisfies.

What I was quite delighted to discover at Penny’s, however, was a true chocolate milkshake.Chocolate shakes are one of the great heavenly libations bestowed upon us, and I consider myself a purveyor of these creamy delights.Unfortunately, the understated art of the chocolate milkshake is, sadly, a dying one, and it’s a rare treat that I find an establishment that knows their way around a steel mixing cup.There are two critical subtleties to a real chocolate shake, both of which were found at Penny’s and make it worthy of my high praise.

1.The shake was made with real ice cream.It’s a shame I even have to mention this, but in our fast paced modern world it seems most shake vendors opt for the shortcut route of making their blasphemous shakes with soft serve ice cream product.

2.The chocolate shake was made with chocolate ice cream.The inferior, bastardized version that many of you may be familiar with involves vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.How this offensive practice ever became commonplace is a mystery to me, but I for one consider it a pox on the shake world.I ordered a chocolate shake for a reason, and only chocolate ice cream and syrup will properly satiate my chocoholism.

So if you ever find yourself cruising down Highway 6 in Hearne, Texas with a hankering for some classic roadside diner fare, pull on in to Penny’s Diner and settle into a booth for a quick bite.Just don’t forget the chocolate shake…

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Texas A&M vs. Baylor…..Whoop!

Plagued by yet another bout of rainy weather, on Saturday we braved the steady drizzle to witness our first game at Kyle Field pitting the Aggies of Texas A&M against the formidable Bears of Baylor University.In spite of the dreary weather, we were invigorated by the awe inspiring pep rally the night before, and the 40 yard line student section seats expertly procured by our friend Christina.As you have heard me preach before, student sections are the lifeblood of any college stadium atmosphere, and our fortune put us in the heart of the action between the Aggie Band and the Aggie Corpsman.

The in stadium atmosphere at Kyle Field is simply awesome.Despite the inclement weather and a lackluster opponent, 82,106 bodies packed the house to cheer on their Aggies.Additionally, the student section at A&M is widely considered among the great student sections in College Football.Unlike many other student sections which are tucked into a awkward corner of the stadium, at A&M the students enjoy some of the best seats in the house straddling the 50 Yard line. The students respond by standing the entire game, never leaving early, and continuously cheering through a series of complex “yells” directed by the Yell Leaders.The energy never takes a break, and you are cheering on every play.Of course all of this support contributes to what is famously known as the A&M 12th man…

The “12th Man” is an Aggie legend referring the always standing and vociferous students playing an active role in the game.It’s not only a moniker, but the term is emblazoned in block letters on the façade of the second tier.Furthermore tradition dictates that one lucky student, from among hundreds that tryout, is permitted a spot on the kickoff team during live Aggie games.The student wears the cherished #12 jersey, and is honored as a live representative of the 12th man during game action.You can read or watch about the entire history of this unique tradition below.

http://aggietraditions.tamu.edu/team/12thman.html

The game itself was predictably lopsided, as without their injured star quarterback Robert Griffin, the Baylor offense has sputtered all season.While their enigmatic defense managed to put the brakes on Baylor, the Aggie offense has been dominating the Big 12 all season, and recently laid a 65 point lashing on the Oklahoma Sooners a week before.The passing attack was led by quarterback Jerrod Johnson, who has quietly put up season statistics comparable to his ballyhooed neighbor to the South and heralded Heisman hopeful; Colt McCoy.On the ground, the Aggie rushing attack is equally formidable between the backfield tandem of Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray.In fact, phenom freshman running back Michael peeled of an impressive 97 yard touchdown run early in the second quarter that turned out to be the longest running play in Aggie history.This would prove to be the first of his two touchdowns and 116 yards on the day.Between the freshman Michael and stud sophomore Cyrus Gray (who ran for 106 yards himself), the future of the imposing Aggie ground attack is in talented hands.The Bears went down with nary a fight.

Final Score: Texas A&M 38 – Baylor 3.

But much to our delight, the festivities at Kyle Field hardly end after the final whistle.One final touch capping off this phenomenal experience, is that Kyle Field is open to the public following home games.Fans are free to mingle on the field, boot a few through the uprights, toss the pigskin around with the kids, and dive headfirst over the pylon.This is a rare, yet subtle touch that encapsulates the mutual respect that Texas A&M has for its fans and alumni.Every University should take note.

In the end, I would be hard pressed to think of a more complete and quintessential college football game day environment than Texas A&M.Between the passionate, generational fan base, the raucous student section standing the entire game, a student led pep rally that is second to none, Yell Leaders in place of pom-poms, a band that utterly dominates all other University bands (more on this to come), a field open to the public after games, great “college town” vibe, the 12th Man, and a storied program steeped in tradition, Texas A&M earns it’s reputation among the top of all College Football atmospheres.It is quite simply the most complete game day experience that you will find, and truly a treasure among College Football.

Gig Em’ Aggies!Whoop!

Big thanks to our friend Christina for the special experience of student tickets.More thanks to our Aggie friends Allison and Melissa, for putting together a spectacular itinerary for us and introducing us to the Aggie tradition.Thanks to Fed for the jersey, and Pablo for correcting a few of my oversights…

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