Pigskin Pursuit

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

Tag: 2009 (page 2 of 13)

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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Bedlam! Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State

The last regular season game on our schedule was a return to the stretching plains of the OklahomaTerritory.We were in Norman to witness yet another one of the most storied programs in the history of College Football; the Oklahoma Sooners.Home to seven national championships, 149 consensus All Americans, five Heisman Trophy winners, and of course, Brian Bosworth.

It was rivalry week up in the SoonerState, and the Sooners themselves were hosting their hunter orange clad in state rivals from OklahomaState.“Bedlam” as the game is otherwise known, in parlance of this irritating modern trend of branding every rivalry contest.

Oddly enough, the roles were reversed this year.The perennial powerhouse Sooners were at the finale of a rather disappointing 6-5 season, largely driven by the delicate shoulder of injured Heisman winner Sam Bradford.The Norman natives were growing grumbly with long time head coach Bob Stoops.Proof that despite going to seven BCS Bowls (four championship games) and a career .801 winning percentage, your only as good as your last game in Sooner country.I for one would be more than happy to relieve them of the “visored one” for greener gridiron pastures in South Bend.

The Cowboys, on the other hand, came into the season with lofty expectations on the strength of their powerful returning offensive trio of Zac Robinson (QB), Kendall Hunter (RB) and Dez Bryant (WR).Unfortunately, Hunter went down with an injury, while Bryant managed to get himself suspended by the NCAA for the remainder of the season for talking to Deion Sanders (Proving once again that nothing good can come of conversing with Deion Sanders).Though their 9-2 record was impressive, a win over their heated in state rivals would be a nice little capstone to finish off the season, and vault them into a BCS payday.

That big payday would have to wait, however, because the Sooner defense absolutely stifled the Cowboys all day long, surprising considering Texas Tech had lit them up for 41 points the week before.In fact, smothering would be an understatement, as OSU could only manage 109 yards of total offense on the day, and didn’t convert a sole first down in the entire second half.Their punter may have needed a hip replacement after kicking the ball away a total of fourteen times.While Oklahoma’s offense wasn’t spectacular, Demarco Murray still scampered for two touchdowns and Freshman quarterback Landry Jones didn’t give the ball away.At the end of the day, Oklahoma strutted away with a dominant victory, blanking the ‘Pokes 27-0.

Despite the high caliber matchup on the field, this game was far and away the sloppiest we had seen all season.Although there were only four official turnovers in the game, in the first half alone the ball was fumbled five times.Even the officials bungled their duties, having to second review a handful of plays and dragging out an already glacially slow game.While these “official reviews” are a great time to grab a sandwich and beer at home, I wouldn’t advise it at The Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.I grew concerned that Mindy had been abducted when she disappeared for over half a quarter braving one of the woefully understaffed and serpentine lines at the concession stand.By my count there were a grand total of three soda fountains open to serve the entire 85,606 person crowd of crimson and cream.

Prior to the game, we had a chance to check out the infamous “Sooner Schooner”. The schooner is a replica covered wagon that the Oklahoma “Ruf/Neks” (no that is not a typo) parade around the endzone after each Oklahoma score.The Schooner might be one of the more impressive touchdown celebrations in College Football, as the wagon and horse team (Boomer and Sooner) race out onto the field with a Ruf/Nek precariously hanging out the back of the wagon gripping a flapping OU flag.They gallop out in an arc that nearly reaches the fifty yard line. Up close and personal, however, it’s deceptively small.Comically, the Sooner Schooner is about the size of a covered Radio Flyer pulled by a band of pygmy ponies.I think Ralphie the Buffalo is safe as the largest livestock mascot in the Big 12.

Although Norman is a storied and quintessential little college town, our trip to Oklahoma would be a short one, as we returned home promptly after the game because Mindy had caught a rather nasty bug.So on the next go around, I will be sure to swing into Earl’s RibPalace to give you some first hand reporting on their storied swine.

http://www.earlsribpalace.com

Despite the abbreviated trip, it was a gorgeous sunny day for football, and one could do a lot worse than spending a late fall Saturday afternoon in Norman when the Sooners are playing.

Boomer Sooner!

Special thanks to our friend, Eric, for the hospitality in the game-day village and helping us find some tickets to the game.

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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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