Pigskin Pursuit

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

Tag: Texas Tech (page 1 of 2)

Get your guns up!!!

My stomach topped and finally appeased after a formidable meal from Spanky’s, we began our waddle down the sidewalk in search of game tickets, as kickoff was scheduled in another hour or so.

Among the unique Tech traditions that we stumbled across was the wrapping of the “Into the Sunset Statue” of Will Rogers and his trusty steed Soapsuds.The statue is wrapped in red crepe paper before every home game by the Saddle Tramps (a TT all male spirit organization).I’ll also give you one guess as to which certain Texas school the “Southeast” END of this “Northwest” bound horse is facing.

Scrounging for tickets at Texas Tech was almost too easy to be of any real sport.One of the scalpers gruffly proclaiming “things out here are tough today, there just aren’t a lot of extras for this game” was almost too comical to laugh.Unfortunately for him, the statement rang a bit hollow after I had already witnessed a half dozen or so people waving tickets around in a quick 5 minute walk.We even had a guy offer us a FREE single ticket, just so someone would use it.We quickly made our way to the Southwest corner of the stadium and were greeted by a sea of tickets thrust into the air for auction.

After perusing a handful of upper tier options, we quickly snatched up 2 two tickets in the 19th row of the lower bowl for 20 bucks a pop.Concerned that we had settled too soon, however, Mindy shortly found an older fellow pawning off some of his own boxed seats on the 50 yard line.We snapped those up as well, again for 20 bucks apiece ($39 face value each).Now with two sets of tickets in hand, I faced the dilemma being a seller in a market full of sellers.A quick walk down the concourse (and away from the throngs of people assuming the Statue of Liberty pose) with tickets above my head made quick work of the extras, however, as an eager young Texas Tech fan was thrilled to get them for the exact price I paid for them (20 bucks – We just wanted to sell them quickly and get into the game).

The game itself was a bit odd for a Tech game.Tech could usually be considered one of the most exciting and dynamic offenses in College Football.Typically, watching a Mike Leach offense is comparable to watching a red bull addled 13 year old rattling away on Madden 2009: jittery and lots of flailing.Saturday, however, was anything but, with a rather limp halftime score of 14-7 that left my eyelids getting a little heavy.The Red Raiders picked it up after halftime, however, on the strength of a QB substitution and marched to impressive 48-28 victory.

Overall, the stadium atmosphere was fair.Perhaps the function of a down year for Tech, an uninspiring opponent in New Mexico, and rainy drizzly weather, the 52,909 bodies at Jones AT&T Stadium never really came to life.The fans seemed flat, and unless their seat was on fire, standing was a reluctant rarity.Even the student section appeared uninspired and rather disjointed in sporadic bouts of cheering.On the whole, however, the fans were incredibly nice, polite and classy all the way around.It’s a gratifying pleasure to sit next to the family that you bought your tickets from (rather than a faceless scalper).Don and his wife Tammy were both gracious and knowledgeable hosts, and they treated us like their own for the entire game.

Final Score: Texas Tech 48New Mexico 28

And of course, no post about Texas Tech would be complete without mentioning the infamous bell ringer.I caught a picture of him, but I’ll leave the linked video to do the remainder of explaining….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I-4XS3XtZQ

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Spanky’s

Spanky’s rose to the top of my list of Lubbock eateries to sample after being recommended by several friends throughout the week.Its fate was sealed when I caught my first glimpse of the menu and noticed the “He-Man Woman Hater Burger”, which immediately piqued my curiosity (and large appetite).This Lubbock landmark, allegedly started by a couple of the more successful campus bookies, is right across the street from campus and a stone’s throw from the stadium.

After you figure out exactly how Spanky’s complex ordering and service system works (here’s a hint: don’t ask the surly waitresses), which is a unique combination of bar service, full service, and buffet self serve; you will be ready to dig into some pretty solid bar food.

Although I went there for the burger, the fried cheese stole the show. Appropriate considering it’s the flagship item on their menu.This lightly battered (not breaded) fried cheese was quite simply the best cheese sticks I have ever had..Even our local Wisconsin cheese expert begrudgingly agreed….It’s remarkable how much joy fried cheese can bring to a persons life

The burger itself was large and imposing, though not overly noteworthy.The middle bun adds to the “He-Man’s” formidable size, but I thought it dried the burger out a bit for my taste, and all that bun frankly just gets in my way.Though, given the choice I would definitely order it again and simply use the middle bun as a coaster.

Final verdict: worth it for the fried cheese alone.

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Friday Night Lights

After a quick 6 hour jaunt through the gently rolling backroads ofWest Texas, we made our final advance to the beckoning Friday night lights of Ratliff stadium in Odessa. Approaching the stadium from a distance, you can see the lights from over five miles away towering above the expansive flat of the Texas plains.We were there, of course, for the crosstown rivalry of Permian vs.Odessa high schools made famous in the bestselling book and movie “Friday Night Lights”.

On the surface, the game we were about to witness was no different than thousands of others being played all over the country.But for some reason, here, it just feels different.There is something about the influence of Friday night football in Texasthat embeds it into the very fabric of culture. Ratliff Stadium feels like ground zero.

The stadium itself lives up to its reputation.Every seat in the 20,000 capacity house was sold out, and we were glad to have purchased tickets in advance over the phone a week earlier.Between the opposing sides of black and red fans, two full bands, cheerleaders, bell ringing, spirit squads, press box, and jumbotron (with instant replay) the environment more closely resembled a collegiate atmosphere than any high school game I had ever been to.This was certainly a far cry from the meager hundreds of fans that my high school drew on the best of days.Still, the passion and emotion that high school players live and breathe with their teams was gratifyingly evident

Despite being mismatched from the start by the visibly larger and more athletic Odessa squad, the Panthers were further hamstrung by continually finding new and creative ways to shoot themselves in the foot during the game.By the end of the night the Permian QB had fumbled and thrown 4 interceptions, not to mention a flurry of other sloppy errors by the Permian squad.All told, the game should not have been as close as it was.The experience, however, was unforgettable.

Final Score: Odessa 26Permian 7

http://www.mojoland.net/

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Dr. Feelgood

If it’s one thing I love about driving in Texas, it’s getting off the highway and discovering some of the unique gems Texas has to offer along pristine ribbons of alluring backroads. On the way out to Odessa, we had to make one such detour to satisfy a sweet tooth or two.

Let me tell you straight up: If you are ever driving out to West Texas, take a detour, and stop in Dublin, Texas to go to Dublin Dr. Pepper.Dublin Dr. Pepper is one of the original Dr. Pepper bottling plants, and they still make it the original way: with cane sugar, and I believe they are the only place remaining that does so.

http://www.dublindrpepper.com/

Of course, the highlight of any trip to Dublin Dr. Pepper is a rather unassuming choice on the yellowed backlit menu board:the Dr. Pepper Shake.While I’m not really a soda drinker (at all) I do consider myself something of a milkshake enthusiast.This delightful concoction is well worth a sample, and could be considered a uniquely Texas experience.

The Dr. Pepper shake is really quite simple, basically a milkshake made with Dr. Pepper Syrup (instead of Chocolate) and a couple scoops of Blue Bell vanilla Ice Cream.After gleefully asking for a custom made medium size shake (they normally only come in small), I spent the next 30 miles blissfully slurping away in cool, creamy, sugar heaven.

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