This was a special week for the Texas fans. Texas coaching legend Darrell K. Royal passed away on Wednesday at the age of 88, and the flags were flying at half-mast. For those of you unfamiliar with Texas football, Coach Royal was the inventor of the wishbone offense in 1968. This offensive formation enabled Texas to win 30 straight games and six consecutive Southwest conference championships. He summed up his offensive philosophy very eloquently by stating, "Three things can happen when you pass, and two of 'em are bad." There was a nice tribute before the game and at halftime for the man whose name is on the stadium.
Without further ado, It's time for the ratings: Stadium -
Darrell K. Royal Stadium is big. Texas big. It's in the 100k club with a listed capacity of 100,119 after a recent expansion was completed in 2009. It's the 6th largest stadium in the United States and the 9th largest non-racing stadium in the world according to Wikipedia. The official attendance at the Iowa State - Texas game this weekend was 100,018, although there were certainly more than 100 empty seats in the stadium. There is basically a horseshoe around the lower level with the south end zone being separate from the rest of the stadium. The upper deck is continuous on the north and east sides with a much taller section on the west side. It took quite a while to navigate a series of ramps and escalators to the upper deck to watch the band at halftime. There is a very large jumbotron in the south endzone. The rumor is that they had to put in one that big to have one bigger than the high school down the road. It's an impressive structure both inside and out, and it has good amenities. The surprising thing, though, is it really didn't seem that loud for a stadium with 100,000+ people yelling at critical parts of the game. Rating - 8 of 10.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darrell_K_Royal-Texas_Memorial_Stadium Tailgating -
This game had an 11am start, which certainly put a damper on tailgating. We arrived at about 9am at the ISU Club of Austin tailgate and barely had enough time for a few beers, a breakfast burrito, and a brisket sandwich before having to head off to the game. I had several Texas fans tell me that it normally is a bit more lively when the game starts later in the day. The stadium really isn't in a great location for prime tailgating, as it is surrounded by other buildings. The campus is just north of the state capital building, and every parking lot in that part of town had a tailgate going on in it, but it seemed very disjointed and compartmentalized. But what I did see had some good Texas BBQ cooking, live bands, and tailgating games. One advantage to an early game is that it is over by 2:30pm, so the tailgating kicks off again after the game, although not at full strength. Rating - 7 of 10. The Game -
Texas started the game off in the wishbone formation as a tribute to Darrell Royal. The crowd loved it, but they really loved it when the fullback motioned out of the formation, and a trick play with a double pass resulted in a 47-yard completion on the first play of the game. Ironic considering Coach Royal's preference for the run. Texas made quite a few big plays to jump out to a 20-7 lead at halftime, including a 61-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the drive after the first touchdown. Iowa State actually had a decent amount of success running the ball against the Texas defense, and they would have broken a few for long gains if the wide receivers had been able to throw some better blocks. Unfortunately for the Cyclones, they were playing from behind nearly the entire game, and they were forced to throw more than they probably wanted to and had less success with the passing game. The outcome wasn't really in doubt once Texas pulled ahead 30-7 with 12:38 left in the 4th quarter, and they pulled out a 33-7 victory over Iowa State. Rating - 5 of 10. The Band -
We walked into the stadium while the band was playing pregame. I was pleased to hear Iowa State's alma mater, The Bells of Iowa State, being played. At first I thought that the ISUCF"V"MB had made the trip, but I when I emerged from the tunnel, I was surprised to see that it was the Texas band playing Iowa State's song. Classy.
The Longhorn Band's halftime show was all about tributes. The majority of the show was a Veteran's Day tribute to the armed forces. The band played the anthem for each service branch while making some very cool formations, including a Coast Guard cutter, an Army tank, a Navy submarine, the Marine Corps seal, and an airplane for the Air Force. The formations were fairly complicated, and once they made them they simply marched down the field at an 8 to 5 cadence with a low step, changed formations for the new song, and marched 8 to 5 the other direction. For those of you who have never been in a marching band, 8 to 5 means 8 equal sized steps for every 5 yards. When I was in the band at Iowa State, we drilled this over and over again until we could take a 22 1/2" step without looking down at the lines anymore. That is how bands can take a complicated formation and hold it while moving down the field, just like Texas did. I really liked the fact that they moved the majority of the show rather than standing and playing like a lot of bands do. After the military tribute, they played "The Eyes of Texas" as a tribute to Darrell Royal. It was a very nice moment, and the Texas fans all held up the Hook 'em Horns hand signal while singing along. The band had a very clear tone, but this is a hard stadium to fill with sound. I would have liked a bit more volume. Rating - 9 of 10
Here's a link to the halftime show...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-igs3WtbME Fans -
There was a bit of a somber tone in the stadium at pregame due to the passing of Darrell Royal, but that quickly wore off once the game started. The Texas fans stood the majority of the game cheering for their defense, and being appropriately quiet when their offense was on the field. They also have a fantastic tradition of remaining quiet and holding up the hook 'em horns symbol while there is an injured player on the field, regardless of which team they are on. They were very classy fans. I did notice that the seats cleared out a bit after halftime, and there were some prime 50-yard line seats open that we may have tried to sneak into had we not been wearing Iowa State colors. The Longhorns were ahead, but the Cyclones had just scored. The game wasn't well enough in hand to not come back.
This rating is for the Texas fans, but there was one Iowa State fan in our section that deserves some mention. Let's call him "Jim." At first Jim was rooting for his team very positively, and had established some rapport with a Texas fan in the Iowa State section. As the game wore on, Jim became more and more agitated with the play of the Cyclones, and suddenly there were some F-bombs interspersed with the more positive "Go Cyclones!" and "Let's go defense!" The action culminated when Jim slammed his hat down on the bleacher in frustration without realizing that his sunglasses were perched on top. He sheepishly accepted pieces of his shattered glasses that had been retrieved by the other fans in the area. The rest of the Iowa State fans were pretty good. They actually stayed most of the game even though it became clear Iowa State wasn't going to pull of the upset.
This is the first game I've been to wearing the visiting team's colors, and I have to say, Texas fans know how to treat their guests. They were extremely hospitable. There was absolutely no negativity pointed our way before, during, or after the game. Even towards Jim. Well, you could count the guy that hollered "Go back to Iowa, you hippies1" into our tailgate before the game, but that was actually kind of funny, especially considering some of us actually live in Oregon, where you are much more likely to find a band of hippies than in Iowa. After the game, we stopped by Scholtz Garten for a beer and to watch some more football, and a Texas fan stopped me to ask how everybody was treating us. He was pleased to find out that everybody was being great. As I was walking back to the hotel, I heard "Hey, Iowa State" shouted at me from a tailgate. I was thinking, "OK, here it comes." Then he followed up with, "Do you need a beer?" Well, I couldn't turn him down! Rating - 9 of 10Best Player -
Texas clearly dominated this game, so the best player award belongs to one of the many Longhorns that delivered standout performances. Two receivers racked up over 100 yards, including a 7 catch, 113 yard, 1 touchdown effort from junior Mike Davis and an 8 catch, 137 yard day put together by sophomore Jaxon Shipley (or as Jim called him, F'ing Shipley). The running backs were equally solid with sophomore Joe Bergeron gaining 86 yards on 12 carries and freshman Johnathan Gray adding 74 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. But, the best player of the game was Texas sophomore quarterback David Ash
. He had a terrific game with 364 yards passing with two touchdowns while completing over 80% of his throws. He also added 21 yards on the ground. Don't be surprised to see him on the Heisman watch next year. Also note that none of the players mentioned are seniors, and only one is a junior. It seems that the Texas offense is set for a few years.Overall -
The game itself started out fairly good, but it got less exciting as it wore on. That being said, this was a really good experience overall. The Texas fans were fantastic, the weather was good, and some of our good friends came to Austin to join us. I was also able to meet up with a friend from high school that lives in Austin and with a Texas fan I know from work. I would definitely make the trip again. Rating - 8 of 10
Iowa State at Texas has been circled on our calendar since the last time the Cyclones stormed into Austin and came away with a surprising victory over the Longhorns two years ago. Jason is an Iowa State grad and unfortunately missed that trip to Austin, so we were hoping for a repeat performance this year. Several Iowa friends from Portland came and met us there for that leg of the trip. Trent made his fourth appearance on the college football tour, and his wife Nicki came, too. Justin, Kevin, and Jen also made the trip from Portland, and our friend Jason from Austin and his brother Dean joined the festivities.