Pigskin Pursuit

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

Tag: 2014 (page 2 of 6)

Rice vs UTEP – Owls bury the Miners…

Friday afternoon I set out on the road from San Marcos towards Houston, opting for the rolling backroads of Central Texas in lieu of I-10. Cruising smooth ribbons of asphalt along State Highway 71, I zip through iconic Texas towns like Bastrop and Brenham bypassing hordes of Dairy Queens that mark each little downtown.

I stop only once, for lunch, at Zimmerhanzels BBQ in Smithville. Tucked inside the innocuous orange steel building lies some of the finest BBQ in Texas, along with an equally impressive collection of deer mounts. An old timer hobbles in line in front of me, dressed in crisp blue Dickies and a check pattern shirt, his deep wrinkled face bearing eons of work in the sun. An obvious regular, the counter girl recognizes him and offers a cheery “your usual chopped sandwich Jim?” Without a word the man nods, and the spunky girl drops his sandwich on the orange plastic cafeteria tray as he shuffles on down the line. Not a word spoken and the man gets a spread of some of Texas’ finest BBQ….impressive.

IMG_2664 IMG_2670

I opt for a combo of their brisket and sausage, arranged neatly behind glass display cases, waiting as the counter girl carves the meat to order. I pay cash at the end of the line (they take no plastic in these parts) then retreat to an arrangement of small school tables they have for dine-in customers. A few minutes later, the lunch rush pours in from an armada of heavy duty pickup trucks parked outside, wrangler jeans and muddy work boots spilling into the doorway – always a good sign.

IMG_2671

Pressing further east into Brenham, the wheel of the rental car swerves into the parking lot of the Blue Bell ice cream factory in a screeching cloud of dust. No stranger to a scoop, I saunter in for a few samples from the Texas ice cream staple. They have a few seasonal items on the menu, and I’m tempted into a couple modest cups of the chocolate cherry and spiced pumpkin pecan, generously doled out by the counter girl for a buck apeice. A few pints for the road look tempting, but against a few hours of hot Texas sun in the car, they stand no chance.

IMG_2674 IMG_2672

A few hours later, after braving the afternoon traffic on the outskirts of Houston, I meet up with my friend Brian. The same friend of Georgia fame from last year, when we’d witnessed the Dawgs vs LSU nail biter in Athens after pre-gaming between the hedges. While a pair of games at Rice and Houston didn’t have quite the same appeal as a duo of SEC juggernauts, he agreed to come along anyway and even offered to put a roof over my head for the weekend.

After a quick handshake, he guides me into the gated garage of his upscale apartment complex where I carefully squeeze my shitbox rental into a numbered parking space between a couple of exotic import cars. A Whole Foods Market is connected to the same building, and a few other high end shops dot the neighborhood. After being hosted by a handful of different friends this year in nicer parts of town, clearly I’ve become accustomed to some of the finer things. A college football bon vivant, if you will…

While the apartment might be swanky, my tastes remain humble, and we pop the caps of a few Shiners – that delightful Texas nectar – to get the night underway. I stuff a sack full of rain gear between sips, as the forecast for the entire weekend predicts nearly continuous bouts of rain. After a couple of brews, we order a car through Uber, a far more palatable alternative than the nightmarish traffic and parking in Houston – a city which simply grew too fast for its infrastructure. But the ride proves anything but easy, as the clueless driver struggles with the complex nuances of voice navigated, turn by turn GPS, and I’m forced to bark out instructions from the back seat.

We circle Rice Stadium for a few minutes, the parking lots all but vacant on a drizzly Friday night. With a stated capacity of 47,000, the stadium is far bigger than expected for the Owls program, and the hulking concrete grandstands towering overhead as stadium lights glow in the mist. We mill around for a few minutes until I spot what I’m looking for, a pair of free tickets from a kind woman in a navy blue Rice hoodie. Entering the stadium, we bypass the first deck, however, opting instead to hike up to the second level on the elusive myth of beer sales. A few amber colored, draught Ziegenbocks confirm the rumor, and we settle into the open grandstands as the Owls storm onto the field through an inflatable blue tunnel in front of a meager audience.

IMG_2678

IMG_2680 IMG_2681

With the field a bit greasy, the contest starts slowly as both teams struggle for position in the first quarter. The game picks up in the second frame, however, as the Owls finally start moving the ball on a pair of nice drives. Serviceable Rice quarterback Driphus Jackson connects with his favorite target, a speedy wide receiver named Mario Hull, who tallies up 150 yards on the night and a touchdown catch. While the Owls had several chances to close out the Miners, they keep the sloppy contest interesting before finally closing out the orange clad foes from the with a final score of Rice 31 UTEP 13. With the win, the Rice Owls have secured bowl eligibility and a trip to the post season!

IMG_2683 IMG_2684 IMG_2694 IMG_2695 IMG_2696 IMG_2697 IMG_2699 IMG_2700

During a break in the action, I climb a few rows up the stands to meet up with Jarrett and Al; a couple of college football fanatics that I’d located through their blog www.collegefootballquest.com. They’re easy enough to spot, as Jarrett is garbed in a signature blue Florida Gators cap, and the aluminum bleachers are all but empty. On a quest to see a game in every college stadium in the country, the dynamic duo has made it to about 27 venues so far and they keep an impressive running list of favorite spots and commentary on their website.

IMG_2691

Averaging about 5-6 games a year, the “Questers” take a more methodical approach than my exhausting weekly blitzkrieg. Slow and steady is the name of their race, and they anticipate completing the goal around 2030, no small feat when trying to coordinate schedules around two sets of wives, children and careers. Located on Long Island, Al and Jarrett share a similar logistical challenge as I in getting to games from the college football vacuum of the northeast and their woes of airline travel ring all too familiar. We spend a few minutes chatting, swapping stories about shared adventures and future plans, some of which may overlap in the pacific Northwest in the near future. It’s yet another incredibly rare opportunity to connect with some of the few other people in the world as fanatical about exploring the sport as I am.

IMG_2688

IMG_2685

Special thanks to my friend Brian (pictured) for hosting me for the weekend, and agreeing to come along to a few games that a lot of other folks might pass up. Can’t wait to hit a few more with you next year man!

Thanks to the College Football Quest crew for finally getting to say hello in person and being as devoted to their journey as I am. Also, thanks for tipping me off about the early Houston kickoff time the next day. Can’t wait for our paths to cross again fellas!
Full Clickthrough Gallery Below:

Drugs are sumptuous, and specific men cannot get the medicaments they need. Certain drugs are mostly used to treat varied types of infection caused by certain types of bacteria, such as tonsillitis and infections of the throat. If you’re concerned about sexual problem, you probably know about http://isviagraoverthecounter.com/Male-Enhancement-Pills.html. What are side effects of Cialis? There are different drugs for male impotence cure. Very likely Male Enhancement Pills Over the Counter is a very complicated topic. More information about Cialis available at best male enhancement pills over the counter. While the generic is credited with improving nausea, it may also kill the mood in bedroom. All kinds of medications, from those that are elaborate ‘all natural’ to those that are chemically produced in a laboratory, may cause some kind of aftereffects.

Share this post:

Texas State vs Arkansas State – Bobcats bite the Red Wolves…

Kicking off the weekend of my Texas triple header was a Thursday night Sun Belt showdown in San Marcos, Texas – home of the Texas State Bobcats. As one of a dozen FBS programs in the football crazed Lonestar State, the ‘cats had eluded a visit during my Dallas days. But the promise of a triple header weekend (with additional stops at Rice and Houston), along with the allure of some proper Texas BBQ, made a trip to San Marcos an easy sell.

It’s a long drive from Houston, but pleasant, after escaping the clutches of nightmarish urban congestion. Wide open plains stretch in the distance as I blast down I-10, the cruise control set at a comfortable 80mph. A few thunderheads ominously gather in the western distance, great columns rolling over in the horizon like black surf. Cattle graze listlessly on the lush fall grass, shaded under twisted live oak canopies poking out of the prairie.

Approaching the I-35 corridor, midway between Austin and San Antonio, San Marcos has experienced explosive growth in the past decade as part of the great population migration to business friendly Texas. Chain restaurants clump around the exits, their gaudy neon signs littering the skyline next to garish billboards. Naturally, I opt for something a bit more tasteful – a massive barbecue lunch at the newly christened Kent Black’s BBQ. Kin to the infamous Blacks Barbecue of Lockhart, the barbecue capitol of Texas, Kent Blacks only recently opened their doors but boast over 80 years of BBQ tradition attributed to the Black family name. Evidently, the brick pits at this new location are already chugging out first rate cue’ and I settle into a heaping plate of brisket and ribs, capped with a Jurassic sized beef rib.

IMG_2619 IMG_2623 IMG_2624 IMG_2625

Bellied up for the night, I head towards Bobcat Stadium and slip into some free parking next to a set of railroad tracks across the street , quickly setting off to survey the tailgating grounds. True to it’s reputation as one of the preeminent party schools in Texas, the revelry does not disappoint. While they may not enjoy the same mass following as their burnt orange neighbors to the north, pound for pound Texas State may have some of the most raucous tailgating in the game.

Lifted trucks are stuffed into the lots with giant speakers thumping in the beds, pumping out anything from Randy Rogers Band to Swedish House Mafia. A few setups even feature live bands, and dozens of cowboy boots scuttle rhythmically across the asphalt as tanned legs two-step to the twang. Beer cans litter the ground along with a few empty tins of dip, while the aroma of bbq smokers wafts through the humid night air. A few cops ride by in a golf cart chuckling at some of the outlandish antics, they keep an eye on things, but refrain from the need for heavy handed intervention. It’s a raucous yet positive, magnificent scene. The best of what tailgating should be.

As the lights of Bobcat Stadium flicker in the gathering night mist, kickoff beckons and I make my way towards the shining concrete facade. I score a free ticket from a woman draped in a maroon ‘Cats sweatshirt, she’s waving fistfuls of them outside the entrance gates as fans shuffle in from the parking lots. Booming across the loudspeakers, It’s senior night for the Texas State squad, and after each of the graduating players is personally announced they greet their family on the field. Shortly after, the rest of the team pours out of the tunnel as gold and red fireworks blast into the sky, the smoke hovering at field level for a few extra beats in the humid night air.

IMG_2631 IMG_2634

IMG_2636 IMG_2641

A light patter starts to fall as the game kicks off, but the Bobcats are undeterred. They run roughshod over the Red Wolves, jumping out to a 28-14 lead at halftime. Junior running back Robert Lowe annihilates the Arkansas State defense, gashing them for 236 yards against four touchdowns – a career night for the Waxahachie, Texas native. Despite the foul weather, the largest collegiate dance team – the Texas Strutters – make their halftime appearance. The crowd gazes for a few moments and undergrads cheer, as hundreds of mini skirt and cowboy hat clad women rhythmically dance and kick legs high in the air for the performance. The second half of football plays out much the same as the first, as the Bobcats run away with a lopsided 45-27 victory. They cement their position in the upper tier of the Sunbelt Conference with a convincing senior sendoff.

IMG_2642 IMG_2643 IMG_2646 IMG_2647 IMG_2649 IMG_2650 IMG_2651 IMG_2656

IMG_2645

Full Clickthrough gallery below:

Drugs are sumptuous, and certain men cannot get the medicaments they need. Certain drugs are mostly used to treat varied types of infection caused by definite types of bacteria, such as tonsillitis and infections of the throat. If you’re concerned about sexual problem, you probably know about http://isviagraoverthecounter.com/Male-Enhancement-Pills.html. What are side effects of Cialis? There are different drugs for male impotence cure. Very likely Male Enhancement Pills Over the Counter is a very complicated topic. More information about Cialis available at best male enhancement pills over the counter. While the generic is credited with improving nausea, it may also kill the mood in bedroom. All kinds of medications, from those that are considered ‘all natural’ to those that are chemically produced in a laboratory, may cause some kind of aftereffects.

Share this post:

Maryland vs Michigan State – Terps trounced in the Byrd…

After a Navy game in the afternoon, it’s a quick shot over to Landover for the evening tilt in Byrd Stadium. With only a few minutes to spare before kickoff, the parking situation on the Maryland campus is an absolute abomination. One narrow road leads into the parking lots and traffic backs up for miles as the hapless, yellow vested attendants direct traffic into a cluster of steel chaos. A line of gridlock stands between me and kickoff, and I’m not pleased about it.

After an agonizing 30 minute wait behind an endless line of tail lights, I pull into the first lot I am able, gladly forking over $17 in exchange for the freedom of walking. With kickoff a few ticks away, I quite literally sprint towards the stadium, snatching up a quick pair of tickets along the way for $30 apiece. Energy swells as I near the stadium, Terps fans rife with anticipation for their biggest home game of the year against Big 10 conference leader Michigan State.

IMG_2580

With cell phone service completely jammed, it takes a few minutes to locate my sister. In town for work, she’d reluctantly agreed to hit another game with me this year, despite the mercury dipping will into the 20’s on a frigid Old Line State night. Any hopes of entering the stadium quickly were soon dashed at the entrance gates, as a mob of fans stack up at the woefully understaffed iron gates. It takes another fifteen minutes to simply enter the stadium, the entire process backed up by a measly pair of security personnel, insistent upon the usual foolish rigamarole of frisking, patting and groping.

Put simply, the traffic and crowd control at Maryland is an absolute disaster. Easily the worst I have seen in all my travels. They have some serious work to do to better equip themselves for the task of Big 10 football.

IMG_2600 IMG_2590 IMG_2588

Despite the ambitious 51,802 turnout, Terps fans are quickly dismayed by the sound thrashing they receive on the field. They cough the ball up four times, victims of an anemic offense that manages only 6 yards rushing the entire contest. Michigan State fans erupt in celebration at each foible, our section in particular decked in a sea of green coats and winter hats. The Spartan faithful have turned out in droves for the contest, occupying nearly four full sections of the stadium, their boisterous cheering smothering the lifeless Terrapin crowd. Sparty tears up 482 yards of total offense, perfectly split between rushing and passing and asserting their dominance over the Big 10 newcomers. In the end, Michigan State rolls to an easy 37-15 victory, keeping their conference championship hopes alive.

IMG_2584 IMG_2586 IMG_2582 IMG_2589

IMG_2583

Special thanks to my sister for coming along on another frigid adventure this year, and perhaps next year in California we can catch something a bit more suitable to your climatic preferences.

IMG_2598

Full Clickthrough Gallery Below

Drugs are sumptuous, and definite people cannot get the medicaments they need. Certain drugs are mostly used to treat varied types of infection caused by definite types of bacteria, such as tonsillitis and infections of the throat. If you’re concerned about sexual problem, you probably know about http://isviagraoverthecounter.com/Male-Enhancement-Pills.html. What are side effects of Cialis? There are various drugs for male impotence cure. Very likely Male Enhancement Pills Over the Counter is a very complicated topic. More information about Cialis available at best male enhancement pills over the counter. While the generic is credited with improving nausea, it may also kill the mood in bedroom. All kinds of medications, from those that are considered ‘all natural’ to those that are chemically produced in a laboratory, may cause some kind of aftereffects.

Share this post:

Navy vs Georgia Southern – Middies march over the Eagles…

It’s an early Southwest Airlines flight on Saturday morning, and I touch down in BWI shortly after sunrise with a full docket of football ahead. With a Navy game scheduled for 3:30 in the afternoon followed closely by an 8pm night game at Maryland, it’s a tenuously tight window to catch two. Energized by the doubleheader prospect ahead, I jump into a rental car and dash southeast towards Annapolis into the orange morning light.

I get into town easily, then wind around the historic state capitol building on the narrow, brick lined streets of Annapolis. The labyrinth of one way streets and tight quarters confounds my GPS, and I rattle my way through cobbled side streets the old fashioned way (cursing and hissing) before slipping into a spot in front of the iconic Chick and Ruths Delly. I pull up a counter stool in the colorful, cramped, diner that’s been dishing out classic fare since 1965. Opting for a simple corned beef and hash breakfast, it’s a delightfully greasy affair that would be equally welcome at 3AM after bouncing through the numerous pubs in town. Washing the formidable meal down with a “regular” sized chocolate malt, I peer over an adjacent table of tourists attempting to conquer the “Colossal” sized shake the deli is noted for – a 6lb. bucket of pancreas busting ice cream delight.

IMG_2512 IMG_2515 IMG_2516

From there, I poke my way towards the United States Naval Academy where a guard stops me at the gate to check ID before waving me through the white concrete walls surrounding campus. Like my West Point trip earlier this year, the grounds of the USNA campus are immaculate. Perfectly manicured lawns are abutted with naval paraphernalia, as dozens of imposing black cannons and massive anchors flank the walkways or sit perched on building patios.

IMG_2519 IMG_2525 IMG_2527 IMG_2537 IMG_2538 IMG_2539

In the middle of the quad, in front of the impressive Academy Chapel, the Herndon Monument, aka “Mount Herndon” juts out of the turf – a scale replica of the Washington Monument. Its on top of this imposing 21 foot granite obelisk where the “plebes no more” tradition takes place at the USNA. One of the most revered traditions in the school, a cap or “cover” is placed on top of the monument at the end of spring semester. With the entire structure caked in a thick coat of slick lard, the plebe (freshman) class, must then work together to climb the monument and retrieve the cap. An accomplishment which signifies their progression as officers into the U.S. Navy.

IMG_2520

Wandering deeper into campus, I pass by the landmark “Tecumseh” statue, decked out for game day in Hulk attire, bathed in a fresh coat of green and purple paint. Behind it lies Bancroft Hall, the largest college dormitory in the world, housing all 4,500 midshipmen under one roof. Passing through the rotunda, and the “Commander in Chief” trophy which has been housed here for quite a few consecutive years, I pay my respects to Memorial Hall. A solemn tribute to USNA graduates that have given the ultimate sacrifice to their country in military operations, the names of the fallen are inscribed into the walls according to their respective class year.

IMG_2528 IMG_2536 IMG_2522 IMG_2523 IMG_2532 IMG_2533

In an adjacent nook, a diorama of Captain John Ripley details his heroic exploits detonating a strategic bridge during the Vietnam War. Reading like a real life action hero movie, the true story of “Ripley Under the Bridge” is near incredulous, the very definition of a man with “cajones”. For over three hours under enemy fire, he singlehandedly dangled underneath the Dong Ha bridge to place over 500lbs of explosives that ultimately annihilated it, thwarting the advance of an estimated 20,000 enemy troops. Do yourself a favor and read more about it HERE.

IMG_2534

Finishing up on campus, I hike over to Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, located about a mile and a half West of the Academy grounds. Shaded by soaring concrete grandstands as the late afternoon sun starts to dip, the lots are full of blue and yellow tents, many of them posted with signs for various classes and affiliations. Men and women clutch beers huddling within, while kids toss footballs between cars and alternate turns sliding down the grassy slope on the south side of the stadium. With tickets already secured from my college football cohort Bob, I pass through the entrance gates early, not wanting to miss a second of the Midshipmen pre game march on.

IMG_2544 IMG_2545 IMG_2546

A quick survey of the confines of Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, and I notice something rather unique. In lieu of retired player numbers, the facades of the press box are lettered with the names of global naval conflicts – Peleliu, Tarawa, Pearl Harbor and Guadalcanal, to name a few – a sobering reminder of the broader mission that awaits the players on the gridiron. Soon, the Midshipmen march on to the field grouped in neat square formations as the PA announcer calls out the respective companies. Donned in traditional white caps and long black wool coats the cadets are well prepared for the chilly afternoon, their numbers spread evenly taking up the entire field . Beneath the caps, a few of the middies sport wispy mustaches, a funny look if you ask me, but permitted under Naval Uniform Regulations 2201.1 so long as it does not “exceed 1/2” in length or extend beyond the corners of the mouth”.

IMG_2549 IMG_2550  IMG_2554

On the field, the Midshipmen make short work of Georgia Southern. They trounce the Eagles behind the strength of their traditional triple option rushing attack. Navy amasses 394 yards of rushing against only 71 yards of passing on the day, methodically grinding out five yards at a clip as the ball is pitched from one runner to the next. The Eagles, for their part, move the ball well. They put up nearly the same rushing and passing yardage as the Naval Academy, but the Southern squad is hamstrung by turnovers, coughing the ball up three times on key drives. Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds is the star on the day, piling up 277 yards on the ground and tossing a handful of completions during his rare passing opportunities. In the end, the Middies run away with a 52-19 victory, a convincing blowout win over the Sun Belt conference leading Georgia Southern Eagles.

IMG_2557 IMG_2562 IMG_2563 IMG_2564 IMG_2565 IMG_2566 IMG_2567 IMG_2573 IMG_2571 IMG_2551

Special thanks to my friend and USNA graduate Armando giving me the lowdown on all the history, tradition, and important landmarks to check out on campus.  Maybe one day we can meet up for a game in Annapolis and I can get the full tour!

Special thanks to my friend, and fellow intrepid college football voyager, Bob for the tickets to the game and continued support throughout the season.  I look forward to our paths crossing again next year!

Full Clickthrough Gallery Below:

Drugs are sumptuous, and definite folk cannot get the medicaments they need. Certain drugs are mostly used to treat varied types of contagion caused by specific types of bacteria, such as tonsillitis and infections of the throat. If you’re concerned about sexual problem, you probably know about http://isviagraoverthecounter.com/Male-Enhancement-Pills.html. What are side effects of Cialis? There are different drugs for male impotency cure. Very likely Male Enhancement Pills Over the Counter is a very complicated topic. More information about Cialis available at best male enhancement pills over the counter. While the generic is credited with improving nausea, it may also kill the mood in bedroom. All kinds of medications, from those that are considered ‘all natural’ to those that are chemically produced in a laboratory, may cause some kind of aftereffects.

Share this post:
« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2021 Pigskin Pursuit

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑