Going to Austin and watching K-State beat Texas is becoming old hat for me. Saturday's game was the second straight K-State football win I've witnessed in Austin. Last time, it was Jordy Nelson wearing out UT's linebackers and Ron Prince stomping up and down the east sideline as K-State beat up Colt McCoy and rolled to a 41-21 win.
Of course, going to Austin for a game is about so much more than the game. For me, there are friends to see, and in Austin there are restaurants and bars to visit. Unlike last time when I went with my good friend mystman995 and lived Austin as a college student might, this time it was a husband-wife trip that featured a lot more tailgating and a lot less 6th Street. My diary of the weekend is after the jump.
The alarm rings for our 6:15 a.m. flight out of Kansas City. My wife hates mornings on approximately the level that Missouri fans hate Jayhawks, so the four hours of sleep just weren't going to cut it. I don't think she formed a complete sentence until we got to DFW Airport, when she said "I want Starbucks."
We meet our first fellow K-State fan traveling to Austin for the game when a woman and her husband, a Missouri fan, share our frigid waiting station for the bus from economy parking at MCI Airport. She's the first of many, as there was a noticeable contingent of purple headed down to Austin for the weekend.
I nearly lose my boarding pass after going through security, once again proving that I'd lose my head if it wasn't attached to my neck. And by "nearly lose my boarding pass," I mean "put it in the one pocket that I didn't check before almost losing my mind." Thanks to the economy bus's late appearance, we walk straight through security and onto the plane, where I promptly fall asleep...
...until I am jolted awake when we literally bounce onto the runway at DFW Airport. After flying into Love Field in Dallas many times during law school, where rough landings are the norm, I had been hoping for a better result at DFW. It was not to be. The look on my face was apparently pretty classic, as Mrs. TB told everybody we met about it the rest of the weekend.
Mrs. TB: "Hey, [random Longhorn fan at the tailgate], we bounced on the runway at DFW and you should have SEEN the look on his face."
Me: "Shut up."
However, my complaints about the landing quickly vanish as I turn on my phone and check Twitter only to see that Kurt Budke, Oklahoma State's women's basketball coach, Miranda Serna, an assistant, and two others were killed in a plane crash in Arkansas. It's hard to believe that two similar tragedies have struck the same university in just a little more than 10 years. My thoughts are with the families of those who died, and everyone at Oklahoma State.
We arrive in Austin to find that the Texas drought has taken an almost unbelievable toll on the flora in CenTex. It was dry. The trees had mostly lost their leaves in a climate where the high temperatures still regularly reach 80, and the grass was mostly brown. I know everybody faces hard times in life, but the drought in Texas right now is approaching epic proportions.
I eat at Chuy's. If you're not jealous, then you should be.
Our hosts for the weekend are my good friends TXHNY, a fellow blogger, and her husband. While we're all big football and Big 12 fans, the evening's game between Oklahoma State and Iowa State doesn't figure to be much of a contest. Instead, we drive 45 miles south on I-35 to fabled Gruene Hall to see the Turnpike Troubadours and Jason Boland and the Stragglers. Don't know how many of you are Texas Country/Red Dirt music fans, but Gruene Hall really is worth a visit if you're in Central Texas.
During a break in the action, I check my phone only to see that Iowa State is mounting a furious comeback against the Cowboys. While Boland plays crowd favorite "Somewhere Down in Texas," TXHNY's husband holds up his iPhone to reveal that Iowa State has pulled off the shocker. Chaos has kicked off.
Lee Corso says "aw, fuck it" as he throws SMU's megaphone in favor of choosing Houston on the picks segment. Chris Fowler's faith in the censor turns out to be misplaced, but it will turn out to be only one of many wild happenings on the day. I have to admit it, I missed the expletive in real time, but one of our hosts said "wait a minute, did Corso just say 'fuck it' on TV?" Sure enough.
I meet up with friend of BOTC Curtis Kitchen at Spec's liquor store and we buy six six-packs of Dublin Dr Pepper. It's the Dr Pepper that's made with pure cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, but TXHNY more accurately refers to it as "liquid crack." Don't bother looking for it in Kansas, it's only available in Texas.
We arrive at the tailgate. Now, Texas fans don't tailgate like most people tailgate. We have a large tent, a large flat-screen TV with satellite that is, unfortunately, tuned to the Arkansas/Mississippi State game instead of Missouri/Texas Tech. We have a huge pot of chili, a HUMONGOUS pot of gumbo (Kitchen took video of it, he was so impressed), and all the Shiner Bock and Lone Star a group of 70 people could drink.
I finally meet in person the gentleman who made this all possible or, as TXHNY refers to him, the BlogFather. Peter Bean is as gracious a tailgate host as he is a good blogger, and I discuss football and blogging with Peter and BON's GhostOfBigRoy. These guys are the consummate football fans. They know the game and they are welcoming to fans of opposing teams. As we leave, Peter asks if I'm still looking for a ticket. I am, and he says he may be able to find one for me.
After returning to our initial tailgate for a little more pregame preparation, it's time to get serious. The Texas fans really don't believe they have a chance against K-State, the Purple Overlords, Purple Kryptonite, led by Purple Merlin. Seriously, if Oklahoma had this type of streak against Texas, no Sooner fan would set foot in Austin. But the UT fans are almost amused by their inability to beat K-State lately. Granted, it helps that none of K-State's losses are ruining possible national title seasons like in 2006, but not a single one of the fans I ran into the whole weekend had any problem with K-State at all.
Peter texts me to say he has a ticket, so we go back by his tailgate. And boy, does he ever have a ticket for me. My seat is in the West Club level, a section so obscure that I miss the first three minutes of the game because none of the ushers know where they're supposed to send me. I sat in a burnt-orange leather chair with a Longhorn logo emblazoned on it and watch the Chisholm Trail Rivalry from about the 20-yard line.
11:10: Emmanuel Lamur steps in front of a David Ash pass and rambles 15 yards to the UT 16-yard line. We're in business. It's just a matter of time before Collin Klein and the offense punch it into the end zone. I mean, we're K-State, right? Unstoppable in the red zone.
7:10: Except we're not. Eight plays net 13 yards, and after an improbable four-minute drive from the opponent's 16-yard line does not result in a touchdown, I'm a little concerned about the offensive production. Still, the Cats lead 3-0 in what figures to be a low-scoring game.
2:51: Tramaine Thompson fumbles a Justin Tucker punt under heavy pressure, but an immediate flag gives me the peace of mind that he's going to be bailed out by a kick catch interference call. He is, but when they show the replay on the Godzillatron, which I can't see because of the overhang, the Texas fans are mad. And I don't mean just a little unhappy. They are pissed off, and will boo after every single play for the rest of the half and when the players and officials leave the field at halftime. I know K-State has been called the Angriest Fanbase in America for its tendency to boo, but the Longhorn fans took it to an impressive level I've never witnessed.
0:10: Klein hits Chris Harper on a perfect back-shoulder pass for a 16-yard touchdown to put K-State up 10-3. It's throws like these that make you wonder how good Klein could be, and he always seems to make one or two of them per game.
I go to the bar to get another Shiner Bock, and my polite smile at a UT fan is misinterpreted as confidence that K-State has this game in hand. Oh, no sir. Not at all.
10:50: Ty Zimmerman steps in front of another Ash pass, this one in K-State territory, and returns it to the UT 37. The Texas fans are resigned to it at this point. They've seen this show before. It doesn't matter that their defense has held K-State to practically nothing. Purple Merlin is going to find yet another way to win.
6:55: It takes almost four minutes for K-State to move less than 40 yards, and it also took a pass interference penalty to move the ball to the two-yard line, but K-State punches it in to take a 17-3 lead. At the time, I thought it was probably enough to win, but I thought for sure we'd score at least once more. The magnitude of the Texas defensive effort has not sunk in yet.
6:51: Case McCoy takes over for Texas. About three minutes later, he will execute a beautiful double-reverse fake and throw to a wide-open Blaine Irby for a touchdown. I'm obviously disappointed, because now UT is within one score with more than a quarter to go, but I was in this very stadium when Irby's leg was destroyed against Rice three seasons ago. I can't begrudge this kid any success.
~7:30: Big Cody Johnson rumbles for 55 yards to the K-State 23-yard line, and I'm officially nervous. Worse, they've stopped selling Shiner Bock in the bar. Fortunately, I still have the one I got at the end of the third quarter. After another first down, the K-State defense stiffens and forces an incomplete pass by McCoy on third-and-eight from inside the KSU 10-yard line. Mack Brown elects to kick a field goal, no doubt noticing his offense has looked better in the second half and believing he'll have another opportunity to take the lead.
In fact, he'll get two more opportunities. In previous games, we could have legitimately hoped to take over the ball with 4:20 remaining and run the clock out. But not against this UT defense. Fortunately, Texas isn't built to score quickly, and UT won't do much better than midfield the rest of the way.
My phone has been dead since approximately the second quarter, so I make my way back to the tailgate hoping everybody else has found their way back to the tailgate. The tents are gone, but they are still there. TXHNY laments yet another UT loss to K-State, but she has had a little vodka, so she's OK with it. Mrs. TB and I head to the car and, much to her horror, I tell her she's driving. She has almost never driven in Texas, and refused to drive my car when I lived in Houston.
I spy a Whataburger. Ten minutes later, I have a Honey BBQ Chicken Strip sandwich, easily the greatest fast-food sandwich ever concocted.
After reading through the postgame joy on BOTC, catching up on all the incredible games and upsets of the day, I stagger off to bed. Austin weekend, accomplished.
We drive down to the East Austin barrio and eat at a little hole in the wall called Juan In A Million. They have a breakfast dish called the Don Juan, which includes egg, cheese and bacon. I add chorizo to mine. It's simply the best breakfast in the world. It's also the biggest breakfast in the world and, try as I might, I cannot finish it. For shame.
Naps were taken here. Yeah, I'm old and lame.
At Trudy's, I down a stuffed avocado and two Mexican Martinis. Again, if you're not jealous, you've never eaten at Trudy's. We follow that up with some Amy's Ice Cream, before dropping by a funky little joint called Spider House for a beer. This may be my favorite part of Austin. They have all kinds of weird-but-fun little places to grab a snack or a beer, and you could live there for years and not go to them all.
The alarm rings and it's off to the airport. Back to reality. Farewell, Austin. We'll meet again soon enough.