A fifteen year odyssey across the backroads of America during the ultimate College Football roadtrip.

Tag: MWC

San Jose State vs San Diego State – Spartans conquered by the Aztecs…

On the list of sports destinations for fans in the Bay Area, San Jose State football, sadly, may not even crack the top ten. The city is a professional town first and foremost, dominated by the likes of the 49ers and San Francisco Giants. Even larger programs like Stanford, with their recent gridiron success, struggle to fill a 50,000 seat stadium and capture the appropriate mind share of fickle Bay Area fans. For smaller stature programs like the Spartans of San Jose State, being overlooked is simply part of the territory.

But not by me.

As I continue to probe further into the corners of the college football world, the Spartan program held a certain intrigue for exactly the reasons outlined above. Does a smaller program like San Jose State, completely overshadowed by the other options in town, still have the same kind of rabid fan base common to the college game? Can an under the radar city like San Jose, quietly the third most populous city in California, sustain a football program?

On Saturday afternoon I pressed south into San Jose to find out the answers to those questions. I’m on the third leg of a west coast tripleheader that would take me to three games in three days. Thursday night I had witnessed a Stanford thrashing of UCLA in Palo Alto, and Friday evening I watched a downtrodden Fresno State Bulldog team rescued by rain in the parched Central Valley. Today was the day for some Spartan football.

My journey begins perched on a barstool at Henry’s Hi-Life in the River Street Historic district of San Jose. Finding anything outside of a taupe colored strip mall in San Jose is a challenge, but the small remnants of the turn of the century, Italian immigrant, working class neighborhood remain in the River Street district. This run down, red clapboard building adorned with a glowing neon “Hi Life” sign started life as the Torino Hotel at the turn of the 20th century, and is purported to have been a brothel for some time. For the past fifty years Henry’s has called it home, and while the ramshackle structure would be right at home in a working class, rust belt city like Cleveland or Milwaukee, in a tech city like San Jose, it’s a standout. Dishing out beer and BBQ since 1960, the dark, oak and mirror paneled pub is a classic taproom. The kind of place where you grab a woven wood bar bowl of free peanuts and order up a boilermaker and Michelob. It even comes replete with a few barflies squabbling about the San Jose Sharks. Who knew there were actual sports fans in San Jose…

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I pull up a stool along the slick, red leather bar rail and quickly settle into a pint of draft Shiner Bock. The only menu they have is painted up on the wall, to which the barkeep gestures with an outstretched index finger, a dingy bar towel draped over his shoulder. I opt for a two meat combination of their sole barbecue offerings: pork ribs and chicken. A steady stream of customers flow in behind me, each of them issued a plastic, numbered token by the hostess as part of Henry’s odd cueing system for dining room seating. Evidently, all dinner orders are placed at the bar, and then, only when the food is ready, are patrons finally escorted into the dining room for seating. A few newcomers audibly groan at the confusing process, pleading their case to the obstinate hostess who simply wags a finger at the sign in retort. I chuckle at the confused patrons like a grizzled regular. Hell, if it’s been working at Henry’s for 55 years – take a number and fall in line….rookie.

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Surprisingly, the barbecue here is decent stuff. While “bar” BBQ usually draws a healthy dose of skepticism from my discerning taste buds, Henry’s proves a pleasant surprise. Chicken is tender and lightly glazed with a sweet barbecue sauce and moist all the way through. The pork ribs would be closer to grilled instead of slow smoked, they have excellent texture, pulling cleanly from the bone with only a gentle tug. It’s not Lockhart, but for San Jose – it’ll do. With a heaping pile of BBQ in front of me, cold Shiner on tap, and the Irish playing the despicable Trojans on of the television perched over the bar, it’s tempting to wallow away for a few hours in the dark pub. But, alas, a Spartans game beckons…

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I take a customary tour of the San Jose State campus, a compact urban property that appears mostly a commuter school and lacks the sprawling beauty of its neighbors like Stanford and Cal. Strolling down the main palm tree lined walkway, a few tile roofed Mission Style buildings flank the main quadrangle, at the center of which stands a massive 22 foot statue erected in tribute to the 1968 Olympics “Black Power Salute”. The statue memorializes the political statements of SJSU alumni Tommie Smith and John Carlos. The two sprinters, both African American athletes, won Gold and Bronze, respectively, in Mexico City in the 200M. During the proceeding medal ceremony, they each stood on the podium in black socks, bowed their heads, and raised a lone black gloved fist into the air during the entire rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Captured during the height of the US civil rights struggle, the photo of their protest, and subsequent imbroglio that followed, has become one of the most enduring images of a political statement made at a sporting event.

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From campus, I make my way south a few blocks and find easy street parking on the corner of 8th and Martha Street. The residential neighborhood is quiet on a Saturday evening, a few dogs bark in the distance, the rattle of a few lawn sprinklers rhythmically tapping away. Tailgating is all but absent from the area, and it could be any peaceful family neighborhood in America……. That is, until you reach 10th and Alma Streets, where you’re thrust into the throbbing epicenter of a borderline riot. Loudspeakers crackle with the latest pop tunes, the grass crunches with empty beer cans and a potpourri of beer, smoke, sweat and sunscreen wafts over the area like a fog. Students are swarmed around trucks and tents like packs of wild jackals, crammed into the woefully undersized (and underserviced) lot provided to them by the University for tailgating. Caged like animals in the fenced parking lots surrounding Spartan Stadium, it’s like walking by a zoo. I don’t dare feed them.

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Frankly, it’s a pleasant surprise to find so robust a student tailgating scene at a place like San Jose State. This is exactly the kind of loud, boorish, inebriated and unsterilized environment that student tailgating should be, and it’s alive in well in the tiny program. Across the street, in the older, more civilized alumni lot adjacent to Spartan Stadium, where the shitbox cars and compact trucks turn into luxury SUV’s and flat screen TV’s, I ply my trade on the ticket hunt. It’s not long before I track down my favorite ticket deal – a freebie – on the 40 yard line, courtesy of an old timer wearing a bright blue Spartans jersey over his pleated khakis.

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I find my way to my seats along the aluminum bleachers, and shortly thereafter the SJSU squad scampers onto the field through a gauntlet formed by the band, their electric blue helmets gleaming under the light towers that encircle Spartan Stadium. One of the more underrated helmet designs in the sport, Spartan headgear is festooned with a colorful silhouette of a Spartan Warrior helmet. The design is also replicated at midfield in a bright mosaic of blue, white and yellow.

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While the players continue the last few minutes of pre-game warmups, a bald, jort wearing, senior citizen clambers atop the concrete wall behind the player bench at midfield. Clutching a tambourine hand drum, the crowd cheers as he raises his hands, leading the stands in alternating chants of “San”….”Jose”…. like a denim clad pied piper. But after the PA announcer personally introduces “Krazy George” by name, it’s clear that this isn’t your run of the mill, boisterous lout.

George Henderson or “Krazy George” as he is affectionately known, may be the most famous (and amongst the “down in front” geezer crowd – reviled), sports fan in the world. It was here, in the Bay Area, at an Oakland A’s playoff game versus the New York Yankees on October 15, 1981 where Krazy George encouraged his entire section to stand and raise their hands in the air in unison, and then after encouraged the adjacent section to the same, thereby creating the first “Wave”. As Edison is to the light bulb, Crazy George is credited with inventing the crowd phenomenon known as “The Wave”.

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Today the 71 year old Henderson still patrols the San Jose State sidelines, enthusiastically thumping away his large tambourine to get the audience’s attention. During periodic breaks in the action, he leads the crowd in various chants, always followed by his signature wave. A professional cheerleader by trade, Henderson’s resume is lined with appearances at dozens professional sports teams all over the country during his storied forty year career. But his cheering antics all started here, at a San Jose State Spartans game, where he attended as a student in 1968. Krazy George, a local legend if there ever was.

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Unfortunately for the Spartan squad, despite having the world’s most recognizable cheerleader in their corner, they flounder on the gridiron. The San Diego State defense is smothering. They dominate the line of scrimmage, upending the porous Spartan offensive line, which is driven into the backfield on every snap. San Jose State quarterback Kenny Potter spends most of the evening scrambling for his life. Continually pursued by a pack of rabid Aztecs, he fires two interceptions on the night, while the entire Spartan offense squeaks out a meager 148 yards in total.

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While the annihilation unfolds on the field, I spend the game chatting away with a pair of ardent Spartan fans seated beside me. Dave and Mary, the latter an alumnus, are both garbed in head to toe SJSU gear and make the faithful trek in every Saturday from their home in Gilroy. Eschewing any plans in the fall in favor of football, they’ve had season tickets to Spartan football for over twenty years now. Despite the mounting futility of the SJSU squad, the couple still rises, cheering wildly on key third downs. Even in tiny corners of the game, passionate devotees are the backbone of the sport, and Dave and Mary represent the best of that fandom. Despite their best efforts, and the hijinks of Krazy George, the Spartan empire crumbles before the Aztecs in a lopsided 7-30 defeat. But, fortunately, spirit is alive and well in the humble SJSU Spartan program….



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Fresno State vs UNLV – Bulldogs take a bite out of the Runnin’ Rebels…

Daybreak in Palo Alto finds the pavement slick with a much needed bout of rain the night before. I jump into my rental Kia, set the coordinates into the iPhone, and speed South on route 102 towards Fresno for a Friday night kickoff.

I’m on my way out to Fresno State as the second leg of a west coast triple header, and it’s a three hour jaunt from San Francisco, the nearest city with an international airport. After witnessing a smashmouth Stanford squad lay waste to UCLA the night before, I’m speeding off to the second game of an elusive west coast tripleheader.

I exit route 102 in Gilroy, California home of the infamous Gilroy Garlic Festival, and lope onto the winding stretch of Highway 152 that snakes through the soft, round hills of the Diablo Range. Craggy oak trees, bent and twisted like old scarecrows, dot the hillsides. Gnarled limbs outstretched into great, leafy umbrellas, they form little round pockets of shade that dot the hay colored meadows A few steers peer up from the shelter beneath, their soft eyes obsidian and serene, chomping on mouthfuls of the lush, sweet grass.

Agriculture abounds here, and the roadside is blanketed with fresh produce stands every few hundred yards. Colorful, hand painted signs proffer fresh goods inside the little, ramshackle plywood huts. Overflowing wooden crates of peaches and grapefruits are stacked outside, the plumpest and roundest of them arranged neatly on top. Cartons of strawberries and garlic are set out on makeshift sawhorse tables next to neatly stacked mason jars of fresh olives. Nearby sits a basket full of avocadoes, their leathery skins black in the shade, hawked at six for a buck.

Continuing on past the San Luis reservoir, the road descends from the hills and straightens, bisecting the broad, flat landscape like a black razor. The California Central Valley. Roughly the size of Tennessee, the 450 mile long valley is the largest, most productive agricultural area in the world. It’s estimated that half of U.S. fruit and vegetables are grown here alone, and nearly all of specialty tree crops like almonds, walnuts and olives. Both sides of the highway are flanked by endless rows of nut trees, fruit trees, and grapes; all arranged into neat grids with mechanical precision. Passages from Steinbeck fill my head as I whistle past the groves.

“…And all the time the fruit swells and the flowers break out in long clusters on the vines. And in the growing year the warmth grows and the leaves turn dark green. The prunes lengthen like little green bird’s eggs, and the limbs sag down against the crutches under the weight. And the hard little pears take shape, and the beginning of the fuzz comes out on the peaches. Grape blossoms shed their tiny petals and the hard little beads become green buttons, and the buttons grow heavy. The men who work in the fields, the owners of the little orchards, watch and calculate. The year is heavy with produce. And the men are proud, for of their knowledge they can make the year heavy. They have transformed the world with their knowledge. The short, lean wheat has been made big and productive. Little sour apples have grown large and sweet, and that old grape that grew among the trees and fed the birds its tiny fruit has mothered a thousand varieties, red and black, green and pale pink, purple and yellow; and each variety with its own flavor. The men who work in the experimental farms have made new fruits: nectarines and forty kinds of plums, walnuts with paper shells. And always they work, selecting, grafting, changing, driving themselves, driving the earth to produce.”

The area today is embroiled in a devastating drought. Instead of advertising fruit stands, the medians here are littered with hand painted signs that read something entirely different. Affixed with messages like “pray for rain” or “dams or trains, build water storage now”, the drought is here is palpable, even to the casual observer. A bridge over the Fresno River bed reveals little more than a dry wash of rock and sand, while the green waters of the San Joaquin River flow well below the creek walls, the steep banks parched and crumbling. Given the national dependence on the food supply produced in the Central Valley, this isn’t a California crisis – it’s a national one.

Arriving in Fresno with an appetite, I pull into the Westwoods BBQ company as they’re opening the doors for lunch. The sprawling new building is an homage to nouveau ranch architecture and comes complete with a galvanized tin roof, windmill, and a Massey Ferguson tractor parked out front. A voluminous interior features spectacular exposed timber beams, garage doors, and the rusting remnants of a mechanized planter set out for display alongside a few other artifacts from the regions’ robust agricultural heritage. It’s an admirable attempt at authenticity for a place that sits between a Joanne Fabrics and Chick Fil A.

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The waitresses all wear cowboy boots and jean shorts here, and the bubbly blonde taking orders gasps at my four meat combo request of tri-tip beef, beef rib, pork ribs, and fried chicken. By middling California standards, the cue’ is good here, but lacks the smoky punch I’ve come to revere from places in Texas and Kansas City. The ribs (both pork and beef) are prepared well, pulling cleanly from the bone, but lack any actual smoke profile, and likely emerged from an electric job given the hulking size of the kitchen. Tri-tip beef, however, is a clear standout. Delicately pink in the middle, with a crust dusted in an intoxicating dry rub containing notes of garlic and celery, this tri-tip is a fine example of the “Santa Maria” style BBQ indigenous to central California.

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I walk off the heavy lunch with a stroll through the Fresno State campus, alive on a pristine Friday afternoon. Skateboarders cruise past on the slick concrete walkways, while a central fountain offers refreshing mist from the high afternoon sun. A few frat house recruiting shacks line the main walkway, the colorful wooden structures decorated with bold Greek letters while the brothers and sisters intercept incoming freshman on the sidewalks. There’s a giant figurehead of Ghandi shaded under a grove of slender pines, while a somber concrete memorial to the Armenian Genocide anchors the other side of campus.

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But two of the greatest features to be discovered on the Fresno State campus aren’t on the main quad itself. Instead, it’s a few of the student run agricultural programs that offer their goods to the general public. Boasting the first University run winery in the country, the Fresno State University Winery has been producing student made wines since 1997. Scholars interested in furthering their studies in viticulture and oenology manage everything from the on-site vineyard to the full scale production and aging facilities found on site. The school produces around a dozen different wines, available for purchase in the area, and they have won over 200 medals at wine competitions over the past decade. And lest you think this is simply a major for that perpetually drunk, portly frat boy that everyone knew in college, the Fresno State Wine school boasts a 100% post-graduation employment rate. No word on how many of those esteemed graduates land jobs in the prestigious vineyards of Sonoma or Napa, versus slinging cocktails at the local watering hole, however.

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In lieu of the winery, I opt for something a little sweeter for an afternoon treat – ice cream – and I saunter over to the Gibson Farm Market for a few scoops. Like a few other schools I’ve visited, Michigan State and Penn State to name a few, Fresno State also claims its own on campus creamery. Tended by students in the agricultural program, Gibson Farm Market features a vast array meat, dairy and fruit products all produced on the 1,011 acre university farm. Naturally, my eyes gravitate towards the walls of coolers, all of them neatly stacked with dozens of tempting ice cream flavors packed into minimalist white cartons branded with a Bulldog emblem. As if the ice cream itself weren’t enough, with the cornucopia of on campus orchards and fruit groves, the ice cream stand doles out generous portions of student made preserves and jams to sample. In the end, I opt for a simple cup of vanilla, topped with a few viscous spoonful’s of their marionberry preserves.

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With the afternoon winding down, I poke my way towards Bulldog Stadium. Scouring the local side streets, all of them affixed with irritating game day parking prohibition ordinances, I’m eventually forced to park at the Wesley United Methodist Church for fifteen bucks. Approaching the stadium, sidewalks swell with red and blue jerseys, and the tailgating lots come to life. Vast swaths of manicured Bermuda grass surround the stadium on both sides, and the lawns are packed with the requisite tents, trucks, and a few custom tailgating jalopies for the die hard fans. There aren’t a lot of street tickets for sale, the market is predictably soft for the 1-5 Bulldogs, but I eventually track one down from a white haired old timer limping towards the stadium clutching a red vinyl Bulldog seat back in tow. His wife doesn’t like the night games he says, and we settle on a final price of $16 because he only has four singles for change.

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As the kickoff clock winds down, I find my seat in an empty expanse of the open aluminum bleachers. Massive cantilevered light towers hang over the stands, while the endzones are painted in the iconic red and white checker pattern, the hallmark of Bulldog Stadium. A team of parachutists jump in to deliver the game ball, landing precisely on the menacing open jowls of the Bulldog painted at mid field. Shortly thereafter, the inflatable orange tunnel on the South ramp starts to quake, and the Fresno State squad bounds onto the field, emerging from beneath a giant inflatable Bulldog, enshrouded in a stream of white smoke. Despite the high energy entrance, first half play is relatively quiet. The two squads swap a pair of touchdowns apiece, all of them on long, methodical drives; and the Bulldogs botch a field goal attempt. With the score knotted at 14-14, the two teams retreat to the locker rooms to strategize for the second half.


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At halftime, I do some strategizing of my own. I buy a customary stadium Coke for six bucks, and despite having already downed a few pounds of meat and ice cream during the day, my carnivorous instincts are tempted once again by a sign advertising student made hot dogs. In one of the most brilliant stadium concession ideas I’ve encountered, the all-beef dogs proffered in Bulldog Stadium are made entirely by students in the Fresno State Agricultural School, and proceeds from the dogs go towards fundraising for Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. So I pony up another six bucks for one of the plump franks, and slather it with a few pumps of mustard.

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There is, perhaps, no more appropriate higher educational cause for the PigskinPursuit to support, than the scholastic pursuit of encased meats.

After the break, the Bulldogs dig themselves into the doghouse in the third frame. They fumble the ball to UNLV, botch yet another field goal attempt, and yield two touchdowns to the invading Rebels to trail by 11 heading into the fourth quarter. But then, they do an about face. The defense stiffens, stymieing the Rebel attack while the Bulldog offense breaks through, punching in two touchdowns in quick succession (capped off by a two point conversion) to regain the lead 31-28. The second score, in particular, is a brilliant run by running back Martez Waller that carves the UNLV defense for 38 yards. With 2:37 remaining, the Bulldogs kickoff to the Rebels clutching a tenuous three point margin, the passive Friday night crowd comes to life.

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But 2:37 is a lot of time. And on the first play of the ensuing drive from his own 25 yard line, UNLV quarterback Kurt Palandech gashes the UNLV defense, sprinting for 39 yards deep into Bulldog territory before he is finally stopped at the 36 yard line. With two minutes remaining, and only 36 yards to go, it portends heartbreak once again for the Bulldog faithful.

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It is precisely at that moment, in the parched Central Valley of California, that the weather gods intervene in spectacular fashion. Just as UNLV huddles for the next play, the night skies open up, and a torrential downpour cascades onto the glowing field below. The drops fall heavy and cool in the tepid night air, liquid patters and chimes on the aluminum benches, the crowd rises and roars like a wilted flower refreshed. Both the ball and the field are immediately slickened, and the Las Vegas natives are ill equipped to deal with such elements. Their offense falters, tattered in the deluge, and they are swept away in four quick plays. The final two are sacks, where the Rebel QB is stuffed ceremoniously into the soggy turf to lie, defeated in a puddle of tears and rain. Dramatically, the Bulldog’s prevail 31-28. God is credited with one assist on the night.

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It’s a poetic ending for a game at Fresno State. The garden of America, scorched and cracked, thirsting for a few drops of water. A proud football team, struggling too, in need of a lift of their own. The green “V” on the back of the Bulldog helmets stands for the California Central Valley, the very mission of the school interwoven into the agricultural backbone of the of the state. It was a fitting end, then, that the Bulldogs escaped with a win during my brief visit to Fresno, both the team and the valley quenched by a few precious drops of rain.

footnote:  There are two other exceptional eateries to be found in Fresno during a game weekend that are worthy of inclusion for future reference.

  1. Mike’s Grill – which serves the best  Santa Maria style Tri-Tip sandwich that I’ve had anywhere in California, and is found in an unassuming shack in the middle of a strip mall parking lot.
  2. the Chicken Pie Shop – which specializes in, well, chicken pies and is a unspoiled, beautifully original, green vinyl boothed throwback to the golden age of the american diner.


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Colorado State vs UC Davis: Rams run roughshod over the Aggies…

It’s morning in Boulder, Colorado. The jagged peaks of the Flatiron mountains frame the skyline, and the rising sun burns through a thick mist hanging in the air. I’m in the car early, pressing northward towards my first of two games on the day; an afternoon matchup between Colorado State and The University of California Davis. I take the back road up to Fort Collins, bypassing the I-25 interstate corridor, and opt instead for a winding route that takes me through cornfields, cattle grazing land and across clear creeks flowing like fingers from the snow covered peaks to the west and into the broad flat valleys eastward. The mountain states never fail to impress.

I pull into downtown Fort Collins, flanked by classic brick buildings arranged into a neat grid like you’ll find in many western towns. Sidling into a stool at Snooze restaurant, I size up their breakfast menu. Reputed to be one of the premiere breakfast haunts in the greater Denver area, they’ve now expanded to seven locations across Colorado, Arizona and California on the popularity of their entirely scratch made morning menu. I settle on a plate of their house recipe corned beef hash, along with a side of chilaquiles eggs benedict. The savory fare, coupled with an elaborate hot chocolate that the barista slings onto the linoleum counter in a pint glass, will fend off my appetite during a whirlwind of football planned for the day.


Appetite satiated, I tour the grounds of the Colorado State campus in the heart of Fort Collins. Surprisingly quiet on a Saturday morning, I walk through “The Oval” – the iconic heart of Colorado State University. Shaded by dozens of majestic American Elms lining the main promenade, some of them more than a century old, The Oval is a splendid example of classic college landscape architecture. The remainder of the CSU campus is equally impressive, as dozens of sparkling new buildings line the sidewalks, flanked by well manicured landscaping and greenery. In true Colorado fashion, sustainability efforts are everywhere, from the ample bus lines to the dedicated electric vehicle parking spaces.

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From there I head to New Belgium Brewery, counted among the ranks of the most recognized micro breweries in the country on the strength of their ubiquitous Fat Tire ale. I show up at noon sharp, right when their tasting room opens for the day to squeeze in a few brews before the Rams kickoff at 2pm. Sizing up the neat array of taps, a chalkboard on the wall explains each of the different seasonal beers flowing through the gleaming stainless steel piping. I request “tastings” of six different beers, which the pig-tailed bar girl quickly fills into the 4oz glasses she pulls from the wooden racks above. Finishing each beer with a perfect 1/2” head, the foam traps the carbonation and notes in each glass for optimal flavor. With a perfect 75 degree morning, I retreat with my prize to the shaded patio outside: (from right to left) a fall pumpkin ale, La Folie (a sour beer), a belgian trippel, belgian abbey ale, 1554 black lager and Snapshot wheat beer.

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After the first round the beer taps call my name again, enticing me with their sweet nectar and inviting me to lounge on the comfortable patio for an afternoon. Reluctantly, I decline as the lure of an afternoon of college football beckons. Bisecting the city, I head towards Hughes Stadium on the west edge of town, the streets near the game already carefully coned off as local police efficiently direct traffic. Carved into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains Hughes stadium is reminiscent of Lavell Edwards Stadium in Provo, home of the BYU Cougars. But the tailgating scene is a bit more robust, as one might suspect, than Provo. Student spill out of SUV’s clutching cases of beer while loudspeakers pump out the latest pop tunes in the lush grassy fields surrounding the stadium. I even spot a converted fire truck turned tailgating rig, the owners busy playing corn hole and ladder ball.


I make a few circles around the stadium on the hunt for tickets. With plenty of tickets available at the box office, there are only a handful of resellers to be found. Like most scalpers, they try to drive a hard bargain on the price, pointing matter of factly to the $60 face value cost of the glossy green tickets. But my offer stands firm at $20, and after the usual rounds of protestations, one of the scalpers finally relents and I’m on my way into Hughes Stadium. As the kickoff clock winds down, a boom erupts from the ROTC cannon perched on the concourse and before the gun smoke clears the Colorado State Rams team screams out of the tunnel behind, appropriately, a lifted Dodge “Ram” pickup.

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Shortly after the game kicks off, the Rams onslaught begins. With a high powered offense, they light up the scoreboard, tallying 21 points in the first quarter alone. Senior quarterback Garrett Grayson slings the ball all over the yard, connecting for four touchdowns in the first half alone – two of them longer than 40 yards. He racks up 425 yards of passing on the day, roughly 2/3 of the Rams incredible 676 total yards of offense as they march down the field drive after drive nearly unabated. By the middle of the third quarter, with the outcome decided, the student section starts trickling out of the exits towards the beckoning coolers of the parking lots. Evidently the bevy of Coors products offered at Hughes Stadium wasn’t enough to entice them to stay for all four quarters. Little do they know that Hughes is one of only a handful of stadiums in the country that sells alcohol. In the end, the Rams run away with a lopsided 49-21 victory that nets some playing time for a few of the second stringers. If their high powered offense can keep firing, they should prove a rather formidable foe in the thin air of the Mountain West Conference.

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Once the final whistle blows, I hustle out of Hughes towards my little Nissan Versa rental. There’s a night game down in Boulder that I have to get to, and football is only half over for the day…

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