Tag Archives: 2012

Leave It to Beaver (Nuggets)

2 Jan

TEXAS_oregonstate12Texas 31, Oregon State 27

Dec. 29, 2012 • Alamo Bowl, San Antonio

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You know you have a problem when, upon learning your team’s next opponent, your first thought is not how well your guys will fare against them. Instead of thinking of matchups, my first reaction was elation over knowing how I’d spell Texas! As soon as I heard we’d be playing the Oregon State Beavers, I knew I’d use Beaver Nuggets, and since the game was in San Antonio, that meant an excuse to stop at Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels along the way.

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For the uninitiated, Buc-ee’s is a roadside stop much-loved by Texans who crave the store’s overabundance of sweets, beef jerky, snacks and beaver-bedecked apparel. The New Braunfels Buc-ee’s is billed as the world’s largest convenience store. Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets are akin to Kellogg’s Corn Pops on steroids: crunchy and extra sweet.

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Of course, we took it for granted that Buc-ee, in spite of being a beaver, would be rooting for the Horns!

It was around the time of our Buc-ee’s stop that I learned the bad news: Early that Friday morning, two Longhorn players had been accused of sexual assault. While the San Antonio police were sorting out of the facts of those allegations, one fact was undeniable: These two players broke their 11 p.m. curfew, and for that, they were suspended from the team and sent home.

When Coach Brown announced the suspensions, he didn’t name names. Brett said, “Well, you know it wasn’t McCoy!” I agreed, saying our two CoC boys, Case McCoy and Jaxon Shipley, would never put themselves in that situation.

Imagine my shock when I learned that Case was indeed one of the two suspended. The other was Jordan Hicks, which was nearly as shocking. What in the world? Granted, I don’t KNOW either of these players, but their reputations had been spotless. Case, especially. The brother of Colt and son of Brad, Case comes from a great, Christ-led family. On Twitter, Case has been known to post scriptures and encouraging messages. Upon hearing Case’s name, I posted my shock and disbelief on Facebook. It was hard enough to think he broke curfew; it was beyond belief that he would sexually assault anyone.

So far no one has been arrested, and no charges have been filed against either player. I pray for everyone’s sake that no sexual assault occurred. But good grief, is it frustrating and flat-out sad that this happened at all! Less than 48 hours until kickoff, and these two were out on the town? What would possess these “team leaders” to do that? Huge, ridiculous, dumb mistake. Football-wise, it didn’t seem to be as bad as it could’ve been (Hicks has missed most of the season with an injury, and Ash had already been named starter at QB). But for the accuser and accused?  Devastating.

Enough of that. On with the recap:

After the requisite San Antonio tourist stops, we were ready for the game. Brett headed back to the hotel, and the kids and I met the team buses for the pregame “stadium stampede.”

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Mack

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New play-caller, Major

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DC Manny Diaz follows some of his guys

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Disney Spirit Award winner Nate Boyer and more of the team

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Defensive stud Alex Okafor greets a friend or family member

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Bevo!

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This guy really drew the paparazzi

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Benny the Beaver: I’m thinking our mascot could take him.

After greeting the team, we wandered to the north side of the stadium for the fan fest. There Ryan and Katie found some old pals.

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Inside the Alamodome, we discovered our seats provided us with a familiar view. (In DKR, our seats are in the corner of the endzone overlooking the band and Bevo.)

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Oregon State’s twirling drum major: The dude could twirl and hurl that baton!

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OSU band

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LHB pregame

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Pregame

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National anthem

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LHN Texas Gameday crew (including Ricky Williams, second from left)

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Here come the Horns!

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So how was the game? Let’s just say our first half stunk. Our offensive play-calling was way too reminiscent of our Greg Davis days, which was frightening. We threw sideline passes. On third and 9, we threw for 5. Our O-line was not helping our RBs find daylight. It was an abysmal first half, yielding few (if any?) first downs. I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be our future with Major Applewhite calling the plays.

Fortunately, the second half told a different tale. Ash threw more, ran more, took a few more chances, and it made a huge difference. So what happened at halftime? One friend speculated that since we had no real backup QB, Major was conservative early, playing it safe. Thank goodness he took some risks in the second half.

Our defense also came to life in this game. Alex Okafor was on fire, registering 4.5 of Texas’ 10 sacks. After coming back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to take the 31-27 lead, our guys needed that D to hold on for the win.

Images from the game:

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Kates with the Alamodome’s oft-advertised hand-dipped ice cream bar

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Press box

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LHB halftime

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Halftime extravaganza celebrating the Alamo Bowl’s 20th anniversary

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Offensive MVP Marquise Goodwin

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Players greet fans postgame

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The Eyes

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Trophy presentation

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Oak! Defensive MVP

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Kenny Vaccaro and Mack Brown attempt to lift the heavy trophy

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Fireworks and the s-l-o-w balloon drop

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Hook ’em!

It was the most unlikeliest of wins, but we’ll take it! So will our strong quarter and a half give us the momentum we need to succeed in 2013? We can only hope. Too bad we have to wait until August to find out.

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By the way, while in San Antonio our family visited Fiesta Texas, the Riverwalk and the Alamo. We also hit a couple of used bookstores in SA and in ATX and ate lunch at our beloved Kerbey Lane Cafe in Austin. Here’s a look at the rest of our weekend:

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We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend. We love San Antone, and the city did not disappoint. I told the mayor that, and he agreed, retweeting me!

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How’s that for a nice howdy-do!

Until next season, HOOK ’EM.

Not So Special

2 Dec

TEXAS_kstate12

Kansas State 42, Texas 24

Dec. 1, 2012 • Manhattan, Kansas

Same song, 12th verse. The 2012 regular season came to a close with another disappointing outing, a game that we COULD’VE won if it weren’t for a few plays.

But then again, it’s not as simple as that. Really, the problem seems to be systemic. Even magically reversing the two INTs would not right all the wrongs we’ve witnessed week in, week out. Between now and our bowl game, the needed overhaul is unlikely unless there’s a leadership change.

In this new mediocrity mindset, we’re left with consolation prizes: we had an unlikely lead at times, we saw some “McCoy to Shipley” magic, Malcolm Brown finally returned to form.

Is that enough for us Texas fans? That would be a big NO. Even the Special K cereal used to spell this week’s Texas is more satisfying.

But we’ll still be here, rooting for our guys, loving our Longhorns, hoping for better days. HOOK ’EM!

For ISU and DKR

10 Nov

Texas 33, Iowa State 7

Nov. 10, 2012 • DKR

First there were the “rib-I’s” on the grill. Then we had “Eye-owa State.” But this year, it was time to use ISU’s mascot to spell Texas!

What’s that? They’re the Cyclones? Maybe so, but this guy is their on-field mascot:

It’s a bird! With a maniacal grin! And teeth! If I were a crazy grinning cardinal with teeth who’s supposed to represent a weather phenomenon, I’d be pretty angry.

Voila! It’s ANGRY BIRDS!

For this early game, Ryan and I didn’t make it to our tailgate spot, so we spelled Texas at another fitting locale:

Beneath the giant star at the Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Speaking of stars and history, we lost a true Texas icon earlier in the week. Darrell K Royal IS Texas football. Not only did he guide the Horns to three national championships, but he did much to establish the traditions we enjoy today. After Texas jerseys had varied from brighter to darker oranges, it was DKR who decided once and for all that burnt orange would be OURS. Even our familiar Longhorn logo owes its design to Coach Royal. So on this special Saturday, when 100,000+ people would remember Coach in the stadium that bears his name, I felt compelled to spell this:

Yes, it’s silly and trivial, but my motives were sincere. So much of what I love about my Horns I owe to Coach Royal’s influence.

In the first quarter, Coach Mack Brown honored DKR by using Royal’s much-loved wishbone formation on our first offensive play.

Royal was famous for his many sayings, including this one: “I’ve always felt that three things can happen when you throw the football, and two of them are bad.” Well, our play callers decided to double our chances of success by calling a double pass on this opening play!

Here’s video a fan (with much better seats that ours) shot:

Later, the Longhorn Band presented its traditional Veterans Day recognition before honoring Royal in the halftime show:

(Another video I didn’t shoot! Thank you, aramarie1!)

The game was filled with tributes to our legendary coach. Another example: Before the LHB played “Wabash Cannonball” (as it does at the beginning of every fourth quarter), it was explained that DKR loved this song! That’s why the band started playing it all those years ago.

Of course, the greatest tribute was that big ol’ W.

Other highlights:

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The Buc Stops Here

3 Nov

Texas 31, Texas Tech 22

Nov. 3, 2012 • Lubbock

The Texas Tech tortilla tradition started back in the early ’90s, when I was but a fresh, young Texas Ex venturing out into the world. Some ESPN commentator had said there was nothing in Lubbock but Tech and a tortilla factory, so enterprising Red Raider fans took to tossing the flatbread-cum-Frisbees at their games.

I don’t know if Tech fans still throw them these days, but the connection remains. Year after year, I end up spelling Texas with tortillas. Gotta love a spelling medium that’s (a) cheap, (b) accessible and (c) easy to cut into letters!

Last year Katie and I took to the tortillas at our Austin tailgate in between sessions of a big marching band contest in San Antonio. This year, the Horns were in Lubbock, but I was back in SA for another band contest! On my way to Bexar County, I made my first visit to Buc-ee’s. And it wasn’t just any Buc-ee’s. This was the New Braunfels Buc-ee’s, the “world’s largest convenience store” that opened last March.

The beef jerky. The Beaver Nuggets. The 60 gas pumps. The palatial bathrooms. I’d heard all about it, so this was my chance to take it all in. How could I commemorate such an important occasion?

By spelling Texas there, of course!

Yep, those tortillas were placed between the two feet of Buc-ee himself.

Now that I’ve tasted the nuggets, I know what all the fuss is about. Pretty amazing, that Buc-ee’s. But you know what’s even more amazing?

Beating Tech. In Lubbock. THIS year.

While two of my football buddies were in Jones AT&T Stadium, I was in the Alamodome watching my kids march.

Since their prelim time was 2, I made a quick exit after their show to find a TV. I ended up at the Grand Hyatt just across I-37 from the stadium. It turned out to be the perfect place to watch the game.

Not only did I have a TV right in front of me, but I got to visit with some other football fans and eat lunch. (Well, I had good company once the sooner fans took a hike!) The Thai Chicken Quesadilla was delish, but the way our offense was clicking was even spicier. J Gray continues to shine, and a couple of TD passes from Ash (to Shipley and Davis) proved that the rumors of David’s demise were premature. After watching our D give up so many yards and points all season, it was mighty tasty to see our guys end the cycle of trading TD for TD. Once the Texas defense held Tech to field goals on two possessions, I was in. “I believe; help me with my unbelief.”

Around halftime I returned to the Alamodome to hear the prelim results. Once I found out our band placed second in its class and advanced to finals, I high-tailed it back to the bar to watch the rest of the game. The third quarter was rough for our Horns, but we pulled this one out relatively comfortably. The key possessions: With the Horns lead cut to 2, Ash hit “Magic Mike” Davis for a TD. Then our beleaguered defense managed to keep the Red Raiders out of the endzone even though they had 1st and goal! Once Carrington Byndom blocked the field goal attempt, we were in for the win.

That’s sweeter than a bag o’ Beaver Nuggets.

After the game ended and high-fives and handshakes had been shared, I was leaving the bar when I noticed its name: Bar Rojo. Ha! If I’d known the place was called the “Red Bar,” I probably would’ve been too superstitious to watch the game there!

No matter. By the time this game ended, that place had turned into Bar Naranjo.

P.S. – After the game I was back at the stadium for the marching contest finals. Our kids placed 10th out of 62 bands. What a great Saturday!

Happy Halloween!

30 Oct

Spelling Texas is not limited to football games. In fact, at our annual pumpkin carving party, I felt compelled to create my own “Script Texas.”

True to my obsessive self, I even kept the parts I cut out.

Our hosts think of everything. In addition to the over-the-top decorations and delectable Halloween treats, they even provided a tribute to our dearly departed Big Tex:

Happy Halloween, y’all!

Far from Flowery

27 Oct

Texas 21, Kansas 17

Oct. 27, 2012 • Lawrence, Kansas

Since Kansas is the “sunflower state,” we spelled Texas using sunflower seeds last year. I figured we’d stick with the theme this year but up the ante with the flowers themselves. Besides, sunflowers are so pretty and fall-y, you know? And since this game was going to be easy-peasy, why go for a tougher, more manly medium?

Ugh.

Our Horns were 12 seconds away from losing to Kansas. Kansas, the team that has never beaten us in conference play. Kansas, the team that came into this one having lost its last 16 Big 12 games. For most of this game, it looked like the Jayhawks were going to break that streak. Against TEXAS!

Our Horns again showed flashes of greatness here and there, but our team mostly looked hapless. For the second time in recent weeks, our QB was surprised to find the football in his face. Shouldn’t he be one of the two people in the whole stadium who know when the ball’s going to be snapped? We couldn’t wrap up tackles (STILL!). We couldn’t hang on to passes. When your tacklers don’t tackle and your receivers don’t receive, bad things happen.

A loss to Kansas would’ve been a very bad thing.

It’s funny how such a poor performance can surprise me. It really shouldn’t. We saw it against ou, and even though we beat Baylor, we saw many of these same problems against the Bears last week, too. Still, after our first defensive possession ended in a punt and we scored soon after that, I thought maybe we’d rediscovered our swagger. (Of course, I thought the same thing after last week’s quick score, too. I’ll never learn!)

When the bottom fell out, the tweets started flying. Of course, whenever our team’s struggling, the Texas beat writers flood the Twitterverse with critiques, but this time, national sportswriters were taking notice, too. Many were speculating which coaches would be fired Monday. A loss to Kansas could NOT go without some kind of retribution, a consequence that would not wait for season’s end.

Enter Case McCoy.

McCoy (the Sequel) replaced David Ash in the fourth quarter, and in his first possession, the coaches called for several running plays. Genius! I thought maybe the coaches had finally figured out a way to get the ball to our powerful backs. But no. After the game Case said he was cold (literally), so those hand-offs were intended to help him warm up!

I shouldn’t complain, though, because McCoy did get warmed up. The McCoy-helmed Horns scored to tie the game 14-14 in the fourth, and after a Jayhawk field goal made it 17-14 Kansas, Case led the Horns down the field for the winning TD. Along the way, we faced a 4th and 6 situation that was way too similar to that 4th and 18 in the nearly disastrous 2004 game. This time we didn’t have VY to bail us out, but we did have the tried-and-true “McCoy to Shipley.” Jaxon made the reception for an 18-yard gain, and just a few plays later, Case hit D.J. Grant in the endzone for the game-winner.

Where do we go from here? Who knows? I know we’re heading Lubbock to take on Tech next Saturday, but I don’t know who will start at quarterback. I know who our coaches are now, but I don’t know how much longer they’ll be at UT.

I don’t know if we’ll win another game this year, but I know I’ll be rooting for my Horns—and spelling Texas!

How Sweet It Is

20 Oct

Texas 56, Baylor 50

Oct. 29, 2012 • DKR

After two consecutive losses, this win was particularly tasty, but nothing could be as sweet as these “Honey Bears” from the Czech Stop in West. For past games against Baylor, UCLA and Cal, we’ve spelled Texas with honey, gummy bears and plenty of Teddy Grahams. This time, though, it was time to pay homage to that United Nations of college football fans, the little Czech bakery at exit 353 on I-35, where Texas, BU, Texas State and aggy fans all seem to converge on football weekends. 

From the outset we knew this game would not be a repeat of last week’s loss shellacking debacle. On our first play from scrimmage, Joe Bergeron exploded off the line, running 84 yards for a touchdown. That would be his first of five TDs for the night.

A defensive stop on Baylor’s first possession made us think that maybe our defense had turned the corner, too. But no. Of course, our special teams play didn’t help matters. On our next possession, we had to punt, but when the ball sailed over the punter’s head, Baylor got the ball on our 8. One play later, and the game was tied.

That’s pretty much how the evening proceeded: good defensive play followed by stupid misread; great run followed by unwise pass. For every gem (such as Johnathan Gray’s first of what should be many, many touchdowns) there was a D’OH (like QB Ash running for 6 yards before throwing the ball away).

With five games left in the season, it’s easy to see that that will be our lot: explosive moments on offense, total meltdowns on defense, and smart plays mixed with bonehead moves all around.

So Longhorn Nation begs for change, calling for new schemes, new coaches, a new direction for this program. Something or someone has got to get us back to our standard, but for today, I’m thankful for this sweet W.

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Far from a Fair-y Tale

13 Oct

ou 63, Texas 21

Oct. 13, 2012 • Cotton Bowl, State Fair of Texas

As the kids would say, “Oh. Em. Gee.”

What else can you say about a game that’s over in the first quarter, a catastrophe that results in not just a loss but also complete exposure of ineptitude? We were outcoached, outmanned, outplayed. (If I were a headline writer, I’d oh-so-cleverly capitalize the “ou” in each of those words, but I don’t capitalize “ou.” So there.) To add insult to injury—make that INJURY to injury—our star quarterback broke his left wrist before all was said and done. He’s out for at least one game.

This was not the game we thought we’d see when we pulled into the State Fair parking lot bright and early Saturday morning, our stomachs ready for corny dogs and our minds set on VICTORY. Although I was concerned our D would give up lots of points, I really thought our offense would be able to more than make up the difference. I thought our stud running backs would open up the passing game so we could amass yardage on the ground and in the air.

That’s what I get for thinking.

Speaking of “stinkin’ thinkin’,” I had a vision for how this week’s “Spell Texas” would go: I would find items around the fair that looked like the letters in Texas and put them together, all artistic-like. Riiiiiight. The result wasn’t quite what I’d hoped, but hey, you’ve got to try something new now and then, right? (Certainly would’ve been nice to try something new in our offensive plays, that’s for sure. Sideline passes and 5-yard routes on 3rd and 9? What, was this Iowa’s bye week? I would’ve sworn Greg Davis was back in that press box.)

For a more thorough review of what this loss means for us Horns, check out this great commentary from Barking Carnival. (Well, I hate to use the word “great” for anything related to this game, but anyway…)

It certainly seems like it’s time for a massive culture change at Texas. It may be time to give up my role as a Mack Brown apologist. I love Mack, but for goodness’ sake, I can’t stomach seeing so much talent wasted year after year. As the BC writer said, that second national championship is never going to happen if we stay the course. The ship is sinking. (Or should I be punny and say ’ship?)

I don’t have the answers, but this I know:

  • David Ash is a stud. Even in this loss, it’s easy to see he’s a great QB in spite of poor play-calling and a weak O-line. But what really got to me Saturday was when he left the field with a fractured wrist. Before I even knew he was injured, I heard the boos, a loud chorus from the ou side of the stadium. Then I noticed one of our guys walking past those fans with his Horns held high. The whole way to the tunnel, he hooked ’em. Only after he turned to go up the tunnel ramp did I realize that was Ash. Again, what a stud.
  • There’s nothing like seeing a player carted off the field to put things into perspective. We couldn’t see what was going on with our DT Brandon Moore, but the texts and tweets said he was motionless on the field before the trainers got him on a backboard and into an ambulance.  Scary stuff. By the time the game was over, we got word that he was moving his arms.
  • Fletcher’s corny dogs rock.
  • Shiner rocks, too. Especially when it comes in a wax cup.
  • I know he’s a steer, but Bevo is the man. Our mascot is just a thing of beauty. When the ou players first entered the field and took a knee in our endzone, Bevo promptly turned his back. Good call, dude.
  • I love my Longhorns, and I will support my team forever and ever. Several have asked if I stayed for the whole game. Well, DUH. The only way I’m leaving before “The Eyes” are sung at game’s end is on a stretcher.

I also know the answer to this question: Does ou still suck?

Even though there’s much about this game I’d like to forget, here are a few images from the day, including butter statues, a Lego Dirk Nowitzki and Yoda, the breakfast of champions, and more:

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Mountaineers Just Dew It

6 Oct

West Virginia 48, Texas 45

Oct. 6, 2012 • DKR

In honor of our inaugural Big 12 game versus the Mountaineers, we rolled out the Mountain Dew. (Yes, those bottles rolled all over the place at our tailgate site! That sidewalk ain’t flat, y’all.) While we’ve used State Fair wax cups to spell Texas, this is just the second time we’ve used a soft drink. The first was the Waco-born Dr Pepper for the Baylor game back in 2010, and we lost that one, too. Now that we’re 0-2 with the soda spellings, we may be avoiding this medium in the future.

Making this week’s Spell Texas extra-special: My daughter, Katie, took all the photos Saturday, which just so happened to be her 15th birthday!

Just like the hyper-caffeinated Mountain Dew, West Virginia hit Texas with tons of energy. Considering the ’Neers’ quarterback, Geno Smith, is a Heisman contender, that was no surprise. Our defense hasn’t exactly been a brick wall lately, either. Add to that our lackluster kickoff coverage, and we could’ve been blown out of the stadium.

Instead, the Horns put up a good fight. Give me any one of three plays back, and we win this one. Things didn’t look so great when WV went up by 14 early in the second quarter, but a quick, three-play scoring drive followed by a huge defensive TD gave us a brand-new ballgame. Suddenly, Smith looked more human than Heisman. The tide had turned.

And man, were we feeling it! The 101,851 in the stands, DKR’s largest crowd ever, was jumping—literally! And everyone (well, almost everyone) stayed for the whole she-bang. The close game, the great crowd, the perfect, low 60s football weather: all of it added up to an electric atmosphere.

Too bad it also didn’t add up to a win.

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Not-so-Jolly Ranchers

29 Sep

Texas 41, Oklahoma State 36

Sept. 29, 2012 • Stillwater, OK

Cowboys are right up there with bears when it comes to mascots that Texas has played most often. We have already played one cowboy team this season, and that’s in addition to all the other times we’ve played OSU. We’ve spelled Texas with a variety of  cowboy-worthy items: rope, Cowboy coal, hot dogs (think campfire out on the range), brisket, even Fun Dip (a.k.a. “chaw”). This time I figured I’d branch out a little with this homage to one place a cowboy can call home: the ranch. (This may be a sign that I’ve been reading a little too much Pioneer Woman. By the way, I seem to remember seeing photos of her kids in Okie State T-shirts at their ranch home.)

These Cowboys certainly felt at home on the range, breaking one big play after another, including that ridiculous game-opening possession that gave them the early lead. If this game were a rodeo, OSU would not be cowboys, though; they’d be the bulls that change direction every time their riders think  they have found their rhythm.  The Horns’ D, meanwhile, would be the rodeo clowns: They provide a distraction, but they have no intention of actually making contact with anyone. I mean, were they TRYING to avoid the ball-carrier or what? Good cattle!

It’s crazy to think that our defense gave up 576 yards (a whopping 8.6 yards per snap), and yet the Horns won. CRAZY! In spite of the porous D, our offense pulled out a win. QB David Ash was clutch. He threw one interception, but when the game was on the line, he converted on 4th and 6 to extend what turned out to be the game-winning drive. Johnathan Gray threw his own coming out party there in T. Boone’s stadium, and J Gray was just one of a posse of backs who traded carries. Jaxon Shipley earned a hat trick, scoring three touchdowns. Crazy how often good things happen when Ship (version 2.0) gets the ball.

For the record, I do believe Texas’ last TD was, in fact, a touchdown, that the ball crossed the plane before Bergeron fumbled it. I also believe that college football uniforms should never stray too far from their traditional look. (Those OSU unis looked RED to me, red-orange, if I’m generous. How do you run a commercial at halftime that says you’re “America’s brightest orange” and then wear that dark color? Bring back the traffic cone orange!) If you haven’t noticed, I also believe that it’s OK to be a “first-person fan” and use “we” and “our” when referring to the team you’ve cheered and loved since birth. And while I’m at it, Brett Hull’s cup-winning goal was legit and Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. End of rant.

ANYWAY, I’m always glad to see the OSU game in the rearview mirror so I can get back to rooting for the Cowboys. One of my UT buddies went there for his undergrad, and I figure UT and Okie State fans have that “My enemy’s enemy is my friend” thing going for them. Besides, how can you not like a college town that is home to Eskimo Joe’s?

Next up: West Virginia and Heisman candidate Geno Smith. It took forever for football season to get here, but since the first two back-to-back games, we’ve had a whopping THREE tailgate-less Saturdays. Let’s fix that next weekend when the Mountaineers come to Austin. WV beat an RG3-less Baylor 70-63 this weekend, so this may be another “last one with the ball wins” kind of game. But who knows? Maybe our D will morph from rodeo clown to cowboy by then.