Finally, Gameday is here! With a 6:30 pm kickoff to the Fiesta Bowl, all we wanted was for the morning and afternoon to get over with as quickly as possible. As it turned out, we really had five days in one, and in the end, we didn’t mind at all.
Part 1 – Time Stands Still
Our family rustled themselves awake at various times throughout the morning. We had plans to leave the house around 2:00, so nobody was in much of a hurry to do anything.
Mallory and Marissa provided us a diversion by putting on a new act of their Angry Birds puppet show. (Good news, the bird got her egg back.)
Joe and Judy announced plans to go fill up their car and get a newspaper. I followed them in our van to do the same, just for something to do. While out & about, I did see two men driving a golf cart on the city streets in Sun City.
Later, our friends Mimi & Ross stopped by our vacation home to pick up a parking pass for the game. They stayed for an hour or so and we discussed our optimism for the outcome of the game.
At last, we loaded up our 11 Cowboy fans and got on the road, only to quickly realize we forgot several things. Unfortunately, when we re-entered the house, there was an operator error while disarming the alarm. The result was the most ear-piercing shriek we have ever heard. It sounded like a plague of crickets cranked up to 150 decibels. That’s okay, we had plans to scream our heads off at the game. The fact we were already deaf can only be seen as a positive.
Part 2 – Tailgate Party
We purchased our tickets through the Oklahoma State ticket office. Every game ticket came with a mandatory $20 ticket to a Fiesta Bowl-sponsored tailgate party. So, our primary time-wasting activity before the game was attending this party.
When we arrived at our parking lot (using our mandatory $20 parking pass that came with our game tickets), we were fortunate enough to find Pistol Pete. He was making his way through the pockets of fans meeting & greeting, kissing babies and taking pictures.
Mallory wore her “Pistol Pete is my Boyfriend” shirt to the game and we could not resist a picture.
With the photo opportunities complete, we made our way to the tailgate party, much to Miles’ delight. He liked to walk about a quarter mile ahead of us, which can only be interpreted as his way of encouraging us to pick up the pace.
At the entrance of the tailgate party was a kiosk selling game programs and Fiesta Bowl lanyards for $10 each. Stephanie walked straight up to the lanyard salesman, and not realizing they were not free, asked for 5 of them. She handed them to Stephanie and let her know it would be $50. We decided we could live with just one.
Inside the tailgate party, it had the appearance of a total madhouse, but it was actually pretty well run. Everybody at the party was treated to a complimentary BBQ sandwich, Tostitos chips, cole slaw, and a drink. Even though there were probably 15,000 fans in attendance, there were no lines deeper than just 2 or 3 people.
With that many fans, our family ran into several friends. Scott & Erin met someone they knew, and Joe & Judy found their friends, Bill & Karen Anderson from Holdenville, OK. Bill & Karen always seem to have some spare Oklahoma State wrestling tickets that they share with Joe, who in turn will often invite Scott, Miles and I. It was nice to see them and be able to give them an in-person Thank You for sharing those tickets.
While standing around eating our sandwiches, the OSU Cowboy Marching Band made an appearance. Fans flocked to the small area where they put on a short performance.
A short time after the Cowboy band departed, the Stanford band showed up. This struck us as a bit odd, because of the 15,000 fans at the party, probably 14,800 of them were OSU fans. We assumed this party was strictly for the Cowboy fans, but apparently not.
As the time approached 5:00, we began making our way to the stadium. We were ready for some football.
Part 3 – Pregame in the Stadium
The security to get into the stadium was the tightest I have ever experienced. Every fan gets a pat-down and bags are searched.
As you walk into the door of the stadium, you are immediately met with the overpowering smell of…cinnamon. Marissa pointed it out to me as I was thinking it. They were roasting walnuts and almonds and topping them with cinnamon. Every stadium should smell so good.
We were lucky enough to enter a gate that was logistically the farthest from our seats as possible. Free tour of the stadium concourse!
About a 1/3 of the way around the stadium, we stopped to take a picture, and one of the vendors noticed us and offered to take our picture. He really seemed to know what he was doing and took several pictures. He was so personable, he earned himself a tip!
As we continued our walk around the concourse, you could see glimpses of the field here and there. I will admit that I got some chills as I soaked up the atmosphere and appreciated being able to follow my team to this game. Any longtime Cowboy fan will surely be able to empathize.
We found our seats and got settled. Good news – only 90 minutes to kickoff!
Not too long after we had sat down, a young lady sitting in the row in front of us got my attention. She asked, “Are you from Morrison?” I told her that I was. “Is your last name King?” I told her that was right. She introduced herself as Jennifer Berkenbile. Now I know her! Her dad was my Vo-Ag teacher in High School. It was very cool to run into another person from my hometown at the game.
The pregame ceremony included an American flag the size of the entire football field, and performances by both bands. It was during the pregame that I got to see something I had never seen before – an entire fanbase booing the other team’s band.
I knew in advance that the Leyland Stanford Junior University Marching Band was irreverent, to put it mildly, but I had not expected them to take shots at my school and state. Boy was I wrong. The Stanford band obviously put a lot of effort into their pregame program where they did their best to make fun of Oklahoma, but all they really succeeded in doing was making themselves look like fools.
By the end of their show, the crowd was booing loudly, and of course the band ate that up. The crowd switched to loudly doing our own Oklahoma State cheers so that we could drown out their music. What can I say, the Stanford band promotes audience participation.
After hours of waiting, the Cowboy football team took the field. Go Cowboys!!
The team’s captains took the field, along with the honorary captains. Stanford was flanked by the one-and-only Tiger Woods, and he received his fair share of boos. Oklahoma State was accompanied by Rickie Fowler, the PGA Rookie of the Year, and all-around golf fashionista.
Part 4 – The Game
The Cowboys started unusually slow and fell behind two touchdowns before we had our second first down. However, the Cowboys owned the second quarter, and we went into halftime tied at 21.
The slow start had us concerned, but we were feeling pretty confident at halftime since we finished strong. We just knew that once we could get the lead, we would feel a lot better about things.
Halftime featured both bands again. The Stanford band was again making disparaging references to Oklahoma, but I think by this time most folks figured out their shtick, and it was already old.
The second half delivered more scoring. The OSU defense was unable to stop Stanford with much regularity, but the OSU offense was also a scoring machine.
In the fourth quarter, Stanford went on a 7 minute drive for a touchdown, to take a 7 point lead with about 5 minutes to play. The Cowboys answered, as they had all game, by driving down for the tying score with 2 minutes to play.
It’s hard to be disappointed with a tying score, but everybody knew we may have left too much time for Stanford to go win the game.
Stanford methodically drove down the field, with a few big plays sprinkled in, and lined up for a chip shot field goal on the last play of the game. All we Cowboy fans could do was yell as loud as we could and hope to extend our season.
The snap. The hold. The kick. NO GOOD! From our vantage point, we could not see the ball approach the uprights, so we just watched the fans behind the goalpost. When the fans in orange started going crazy, we knew that was a good sign.
To say it was pandemonium in our section would be an understatement. We were hugging each other, and high-fiving people we didn’t even know. Isn’t college athletics great?
We started overtime and Stanford had the ball. After a tremendous defensive stand, they were forced to kick a long field goal. Again – NO GOOD! Our odds of winning this game just went through the roof. Any points at all on our possession wins the game.
We thought we had won the game in a single play as Weeden threw a 25 yard pass to Chelf, and the celebration began. As excited as we were at the end of regulation – you could double the enthusiasm now. I remember yelling “We Did It!” again and again, but it was kind of a blur.
The referees then came out and told us that they ruled the receiver was down at the ½ yard line. We positioned the ball in the middle of the field on the next play, and then kicked a field goal. Game Over. The Oklahoma State University Cowboys are the Fiesta Bowl Champions!
Part 5 – The Celebration
Once the game was officially over, the celebration began. It is fair to say that not a single OSU fan left the stadium before the trophy presentation.
It took a bit of time for the officials to roll the platform to the middle of the field for the presentation. In the meantime, the fans were chanting, cheering, taking pictures and reliving all the missed field goals by Stanford.
Once the platform was in place and we were ready for the trophy presentation, we just had to wait for one final thing – the Stanford band to shut up. All the Stanford fans had left the building, and the only logical conclusion you can draw is that they were playing out of spite, just trying to slow down the presentation. It is not as though they were even playing their fight song. They were just banging on drums and making noise. They finally finished.
The trophy presentation was great. Reece Davis, of ESPN, did a great job emceeing the show. After it was all said and done, the Cowboy fans started making our way out. There was plenty of cheering as we walked down the stairwells full of fans. As we made our way outside the stadium, the random cheering and smiling continued.
We met up with our family from St. Louis outside and shared hugs and stories. We made plans for them to come over to our vacation home and continue the party there.
Once everyone arrived at the house, which was around 12:30am, we broke out the champagne. There are some long-suffering Cowboy fans in our family, highlighted by our cousin, Earlene. She has seen it at all, and as happy as I was about the game, I was even more excited that she could be at the game and experience it.
We celebrated into the early hours of the morning. Earlene and her family left after 2:00 am, and our day to remember came to an end.
We put the wraps on the greatest single season in OSU football history, which included a 12 – 1 record, Big 12 Championship, a BCS berth, and a Fiesta Bowl Championship.
The long drive back to Oklahoma just got a lot more enjoyable.