Gameday Guide: Texas Tech

As I have said many times, Lubbock isn’t exactly my favorite town. Despite that, there are several spots you need to go to (and steps you need to take) in order to maximize your college football Saturday.

Weather

As of Thursday morning, we are looking at around 60° and partly cloudy for kickoff with the temperature dipping into the 50s as the night goes on. A light jacket and pants will be just fine; perfect football weather.

How to do Gameday

We finally get a road night game, which means the full Gameday experience will be on display.

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The OU section is in section 111. In typical Tech fashion, they made sure to make OU’s angle as hard as possible. As you can see from the seating chart above, many of the seats are behind the enormous video board which is literally the only one in the stadium. The other board to the south is an old school scoreboard shaped like a double-T with no video capability. In other words, expect an old school experience.

As with most stadiums nowadays, Jones AT&T Stadium has a clear bag policy like OU’s. I don’t believe there are metal detectors, but as always, be safe and go plastic.

Jones AT&T Stadium is to directly to the south of Marsha Sharp Freeway. While there are some parking and tailgating spaces around the stadium, I would recommend going further south of the stadium for entertainment options. Most of the college-type bars are directly to the south, as are some of the larger tailgates.

Expect to be heckled the entire time you are walking around, especially if you are wearing Crimson and Cream. Travel in packs; trust me on this.


Where to Eat

Lubbock isn’t exactly a mecca of culture. With that being said, it does have one of my favorite college bars and a few spots here and there to focus in on.

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Spanky’s

Ohhh do I love Spanky’s. This place is a perfect college bar/restaurant that can best be described as the Texas Tech Eskimo Joe’s. The burgers are solid, but the true star of the show are the incomparable cheese sticks. These things are not only massive, but they are the best mozzarella sticks I’ve ever had. Leaving Lubbock without one would be a disgrace; I think I might be going back pretty much just for them. Expect Spanky’s to be pretty packed on Gameday, so plan your trip accordingly.

Some Chain Restaurant, I Don’t Really Know

This town is a bit of your standard town. Last time I was there, we went to Salt Lick, Spanky’s, Pizza Hut (it was late and we were exhausted, don’t judge), and Spanky’s again before we left. Not exactly the most interesting spread, but talk to the locals and figure it out.


Where to Drink

Last time I was in Lubbock, most of my crew was under 21, so bars were out of the question. Plus, after that grueling duel with Patrick Mahomes, could you blame us for wanting to go home and sleep? Either way, here are a few watering holes to stop by before or after the game.

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Chimy’s

ANOTHER CHIMY’S TOWN! This one is quite a bit cooler than the one in Fort Worth. Expect your standard Chimy’s experience; great margs, decent food and a solid place to party.

Fun Fact: Baker Mayfield got kicked out of this place in 2015 just for being Baker Mayfield. Iconic. 

Any Bar around University and Broadway

Again, Lubbock isn’t exactly my specialty. Most of my partying experience has been outside of bars in this town. Most of the good bars are on the corner of University and Broadway, so I suggest perusing around that area for a good spot. Honestly, just get booze in this town and you’ll be fine.

 

Gameday Guide: TCU

Over my years here at OU and traveling the Big 12, one town in particular stands out to me as the clear favorite: Fort Worth.

Yes, yes, I know it’s a city. And while it might be cheating to put a major city as my favorite place to visit in a conference full of one horse towns, the TCU area is sequestered enough to give you a legitimate college-town feel without feeling like a metropolis. It’s a fantastic combination.

Anyways, for those of you who are headed to the game Saturday, here are a few recommendations from someone who has been to Fort Worth and TCU far too many times to count.

How to do Gameday

11 AM games suck for the gameday atmosphere, as we know all too well. The Frogs have plenty of tailgate space, which makes the kickoff time feel more like a waste due to the fact that they’ll probably not utilize it for an early kick for a 3-3 team. At least you can be comforted by the fact these are private school kids, so you know the mimosas and White Russians will be flowing.

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Amon G. Carter Stadium is in the middle of a massive renovation, so some gates might be inaccessible. This is extremely pertinent as the visiting sections are on the side of the renovations. This might jam up entry, so plan accordingly. TCU also has the increasingly standard clear bag policy, but you all are probably prepared for that by now.

While alcohol isn’t sold in stadium, re-entry is allowed at Amon G. Carter, so if you want to skip the Pride and TCU band for a little mid-game pick-me-up, go for it.


Where to Eat

There are plenty of great options in Fort Worth, with plenty of high quality, nice restaurants in the downtown area. However, these suggestions are for the common man that you can’t miss.

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Haim Barbecue

Heaven is a place on Earth, and that place is called Haim. This spot is a little outside the TCU bubble, but is 100% worth the visit. I fancy myself a barbecue aficionado and this place might have my favorite barbecue on Earth (Jack Stack in Kansas City is a legitimate competitor).

While this place is FAR from a dive, the process is certainly modeled after one, yet in slightly more upscale package. As with any true barbecue restaurant, Haim only offers what it hasn’t sold out yet. In other words, take an early dinner to beat the line and get some delicious brisket and the absolutely can’t miss bacon burnt ends.

Rusty Taco

Is this a chain? Yes. But since it isn’t in Norman or OKC, I’m letting it pass. Formerly R-Taco, this place is a perfect pregame spot. While the tacos are just fine (think Torchy’s level), what really boosts this place to the next level are the margaritas. These things are cheap, delicious and can get you perfectly revved up for your night out.

Buffalo Bros.

This place is the move after the bars, especially if you are hitting the bars near the TCU campus. Sure, you might regret it the next morning, but these are some of the best wings I’ve had in my life. They also allegedly have a concession stand at Amon G. Carter stadium.


Where to Drink

Fort Worth has an abundance of great places to drink; I know this all too well. They have a drinking district, West 7th Street, that is somewhat like a spin on Sixth Street in Austin. There are a few bars near campus, but most tend to hit or miss. With that being said, here are a few of my favorite watering holes.

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Wild Acre Brewing

While the brewery taproom is only open on Thursday and Saturday, this could be a great option to unwind after game, given the fact Saturday’s game kicks off at 11. For 15 bucks you can four hefty pours and keep the glass, which is a phenomenal deal with beer this good. The taps are always rotating, but I suggest a nice Billy Jenkins Bock or Moonlight Shine Golden Ale. Of course, you can find pretty much any Wild Acre beer in Fort Worth liquor stores, so you can take the experience with you.

Chimy’s

Only an idiot would forget to put a location of the greatest Norman bar of our time, right? The legendary Campus Corner bar, Chimy’s, actually got its start in Fort Worth, where the original location is still kicking. While you’re in town, make sure to pay your respects to an absolute legend with an iconic DP Shootout for old time’s sake.

The Yard

This is one of the newer spaces on West 7th, but might be my favorite. Plenty of places along West 7th focus on a multi-bar layout with a focus on outdoor space and yard games. Given the name of this, you can clearly tell this is one of them. The drinks are reasonably priced, the games are fun and overall it’s probably my favorite space on West 7th. The Yard also has a stage with frequent concerts.

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America Gardens

Honestly, you could just copy and paste my Yard description and you would understand the type of place this is. Yard just edges out America Gardens, but both are worth a look.

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Varsity Tavern

Looking for a more upbeat venue? This is it. Varsity is a tower of bars and in a way, a conglomerate of atmospheres. You could be out in a yard type atmosphere one moment, then be in the middle of night club the next. It’s a fun change of pace.

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University Pub

This is not just my favorite bar in Ft. Worth, it might be my favorite college bar ever. A little hole in the wall just across the street from TCU Pub is, simply put, a damn icon. It isn’t “lit”, but it has everything I want in a college bar; Shiner signs, two pool tables at the back, a wide (and affordable!) beer selection, pitchers, a juke box and free (yet questionable) Shiner Bock brats in a crock pot in the corner. This is a place to gather your crew, grab some beers and talk about football, life and anything else under the sun. In a place full of highly marketed, well researched patio bars, Pub stands out by focusing on the basics; good beer, good friends and good atmosphere. Campus Corner could learn some lessons.


Just wanted to give a huge shoutout to everyone who has shown me around Fort Worth the past few years. Some of my best times in college have happened with Chris Dorr, Andrew Wilson, Chris Ilenstine, Jake and Jordan Agajanian, Jack Bosworth and obviously and most importantly the guy who introduced me to them all, the Crowleyman, Blake Crowley.

Blake, thanks for letting me (and on one occasion, my girlfriend and Mike) crash at your place intermittently for the past four years. I loved every trip and every stop, even my only road loss ever in 2014. I’ll down a Salty Lady in your absence for you this weekend. 

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Ames

Oklahoma sports has taken me amazing places. I’ve seen the Sooners play from coast to coast, from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to Pro Player/LandShark/Sun Life Stadium in Miami. I once watched a basketball game on the floor of a football colosseum. I’ve witnessed Baker plant his flag in The Shoe, three bouts of Bradford vs. McCoy Red River Shootouts and the last OU-Nebraska game in Lincoln (for now).

I have seen great things in these 23 years. Ames ain’t one of them.

The Big 12 has plenty of get small towns. Some of my favorite destinations are places that you would overlook otherwise. I’m not a town snob. On the surface, Ames should be one of them. But like with most things on this trip, it just fell short. Something wasn’t there. It was almost cool.


Due to a late exit time from Norman (12:30 PM for an 8 1/2 hour drive), we rolled into Ames past the golden hour of bar time. I should have known something was up the second we rolled into the heart of Campustown, the Iowa State bar hub. As a group that loves to rile up the opposition, naturally we started blaring “Boomer Sooner” from the Honda Pilot speakers with the windows down.

No reaction, at all. I think someone gave us a friendly wave, but other than it was clear that this was a different type of town. In another other town we would have been booed or jeered (in Lubbock we would have been shot), but these people just didn’t care. It was weird.

One of the most unique parts of the trip was that we didn’t even stay in Ames, although we were almost in town. Technically, I’m not even sure we were in a town; our Air BNB was an RV Camper 15 minutes outside of town in a field by a small regional airport. As such, it made travel decently frustrating. The camper was sneakily nice though.

However, we were immediately crunched for time. The prime bar time was running low, so we got bar ready, met up with Bar Review veteran Ryan Granger who drove in from Chicago, and made our way into the heart of the Iowa State bars.


Iowa State had what appeared to be a really cool bar district from the outside, but turned out to be bizarre from the inside. The first stop was a double concept bar with the top being Paddy’s Pub, a semi attempt at recreating the iconic bar from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the bottom bar, a bizarre cave of a place called Sips which could only be described as the lovechild of Logie’s and the basement of an outdated fraternity house. Sips inexplicably had a bottle service area, despite clearly not being a bottle service type of venue at all.

The next spot was a place I honestly completely forgot the name of, but was a several story bar with a pretty nice patio space on top. While I know that Norman has a weird obsession with heights, in Ames every bar seems to go vertical indoors. This leads to some interesting layouts.

Our final stop of the night was (for some reason) the country bar on campus, called Outlaws. This was the place I realized that Iowa State fans aren’t just nice, they are creepily nice. People would randomly start up conversations with me and not let go. Half of the conversations were just thanking me for coming to Iowa State (???) or discussing the despicable farm politics of Iowa Hawkeye fans (apparently they aren’t friendly towards the small town farmer).

Before we headed out for the night, we needed to make one final stop before setting off for our RV camper: the liquor store. Yes, even though it was 1:45 AM, the liquor stores in the state of Iowa stay open until 2. This is, by far, the best part of Iowa. It was also at this moment things started going downhill. I decided to purchase a handle of Hawkeye Vodka, a legendary cheap vodka brand that can only be bought in Iowa. We went to our Lyft and headed home for a short sleep before the Gameday began.


Ames has a legendary bar known as The Tip Top Lounge. While it is not the most notable looking bar, it is known for opening at 6 AM for cheap chili and beer on gamedays. I arguably drove to Ames to experience this just as much as the game.

We got up at 5:30 AM, still groggy from the night before, ready to roll out to Tip Top. However, as we were nearly ready to head out I realized something was dreadfully wrong; my wallet was missing.

We tore that damn camper apart and found nothing. My heart felt like it sunk deep, deep down. Not only would I be without my ID, but also my OU ID which allowed me into the game. Disaster had struck. We went into town hoping the liquor store might have had my ID from the vodka purchase the night before: it didn’t. We then went to Tip Top hoping the bar wouldn’t have a bouncer as it’s a dive and surely people weren’t up already: it had both.

Almost there.

I failed my entire group on the conquest for chili and beer. To say I was devastated would be an understatement.


On top of the wallet debacle, I had been nursing a pretty gnarly cough (If you read my previous travel blog about Lawrence, you can see why this is a bad omen). I decided to take it easy on the tailgate, not just due to cough and inability to buy alcohol, but because my stomach was so tight in knots about potentially missing the game that I physically could not drink much.

The reports about Ames having a good tailgate culture are true, but really that’s due to the ample space around the stadium. Jack Trice Stadium and the neighboring Hilton Coliseum (a concrete wart masquerading as a basketball arena) are south of the majority of Iowa State’s main campus and are surrounded by nothing but parking. While this is an ideal place to tailgate, the students didn’t seem to be having a wild time or anything. They all just stood around holding beers. While I’m in no position to complain as our tailgate culture is non existent (#FreeLindseyStreet), I was expecting more.

Finally, the moment of truth came: it was time to see if I could finesse my way into getting my ticket. Thankfully, the OU ticket office homies were able to accept a glance at my profile on one.ou.edu, so I got my ticket and we were set.


The atmosphere inside Jack Trice Stadium is not much. It’s just a standard midwest football stadium. It’s Kansas State without a quirky student section, Nebraska without size and tradition, Iowa without sick children to wave at. There’s just nothing of note here. They didn’t even play Cyclone by Baby Bash, which is a disgrace. Apparently their go-to song is “Sweet Caroline” which is the most mind numbingly generic song to be a go-to.

The stadium was also hot as hell. Despite the fact this is the farthest north I’ve ever seen a football game, the place was a damn sauna. The game was a slog, the heat was brutal and I still didn’t have my damn wallet. Thankfully, the Sooners got the W, I stayed for the chant in my 8th Big 12 stadium and left with my list of schools complete. Almost, anyways.


We made it back to the car, still nestled in the heart of the tailgate and chugged water while Cyclone fans filed out. It might have been the cough, the extreme dehydration, the three hours of sleep or the lack of a real lunch outside of some random ham a tailgater gave us, but I felt like absolute death. In the midst of all this, my wallet was found by our Lyft driver who had just woken up. A much needed silver lining. Eventually, we bailed and went to Olde Main Brewing a pretty damn good restaurant, although that might have just been the hunger talking.

Once we returned to the camper, we crashed, hoping for a rally that was looking more and more unlikely. Over the span on my two hour nap, my condition worsened; I wasn’t going anywhere. I had to wave the white flag on my one real night in Ames before it started. Such began one of the longest nights of my life.


Somehow, I survived. I still don’t know how. The next morning, we packed up and headed back to Oklahoma. In many ways, this was Marcus Dupree of trips; so much potential, only to fall flat on its face. It was honestly hardly a trip; on the way home we realized we never got any pictures of ourselves. The one outlier was a group photo of Granger, Bussow and Slater taken at the country bar and randomly put on its Facebook page (I wasn’t in the photo, as I was probably stuck in some lame duck conversation about corn).

As we rolled out in the Pilot among the corn fields, Slater summed the trip up pretty much perfectly: “This was really a once in a lifetime trip, mainly because I’m never coming back here”.

‘Nuff said.

Lawrence: The Lost Trip

*hit play for added effect*

As some of you know, last season I went to all the home and road games last season. You can read about my travels here. What you’ll notice however is the omission of a report from the OU at Kansas game last season; the final stop on the regular season tour. It was hard to put into writing what happened, so I didn’t. With Road Trip season starting up again this week with me going to Ames and hitting my ninth Big 12 town, I’ve realized I need to finally tell my tale of the weekend the wheels fell off the Schooner Blog. 

November 17th, 2017. Right from the start, the Lawrence trip felt different. For the first and only time this season, I was making the drive up solo. My childhood friend Justice went to Kansas and is actually in the same fraternity as me, so we had been planning on this weekend for awhile.

After a long, flat drive through the Flint Hills of Kansas, I finally made it to Lawrence. The town surprised me; I’ve only known Kansas to be flat, but this place was much more hilly, with some streets sitting at 45 degree angles. The town is honestly breathtaking.

However, almost immediately the debauchery started. We had a night out planned, and it honestly all went pretty according to plan, aside from some average coughing from me. We got properly “hydrated”, enjoyed some of Lawrence’s Main Street bars (very, very nice stuff all things considered) and ended the night back home safe with some scalding pizza rolls.


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The next morning, everything changed. The cough erupted from a minor inconvenience to a full blown disaster. I woke up in absolute agony, going to the bathroom every ten minutes to cough up. Eventually, it cleared up; after all, this was no time to be sick and there was a full gameday to be had. The game kicked off at 2:30, so time was of the essence to experience all KU had to offer.

Our first stop was a Kansas legend: The Wheel, one of three iconic KU bars known as the Triangle. As the sign in back proclaimed, The Wheel was voted the 3rd best college bar in the nation and it showed. Other iconic bars clean themselves up, advance and develop this sort of attempt at authenticity. Not The Wheel. This is a place that stares time in the face and says “not today”. They still only take cash and space lovingly scarce. Their decor was a beautiful time machine to the glory days of the Big Eight conference, with references to Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado still adorning the walls.

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Not every thing however was old and hallowed. Looming over the campus was a massive hotel, The Oriad. This place, spectacularly designed for visiting alumni before basketball games I presume, was incredible. At the top was a rooftop patio that without a doubt was not suited for the frigid and windy weather. The free beer made it more than bearable.

We retreated back to Justice’s house, mere steps from Kansas Memorial Stadium to resume the pregame. After stepping it up a bit, I was sufficiently juiced and ready to handle my self punishment of having to watch Kansas football, cough still present.

Then, we got the call.

I won’t divulge how, but we found ourselves in the place that every college student wants to be for a college football game: the Kansas Field Goal Club. Now, KU obviously doesn’t have a large fan base for football. So what do you do to appease the donors to get them to show up?

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Give them unlimited free beer and field level seats.

This was a dream. Being this close to the football game AND free craft beer? What could go wrong?


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The game was a great time. However, with the wind hitting me just as hard as the six point beers (actually six point; they were dark), my situation decreased rapidly. The game was perfect; OU slaughtered the hapless Jayhawks. I started to get emotional about actually finishing this wild trip, from Norman to Columbus and all around the Midwest.  I teared up a bit. Totally lame, I know. After the game, we made it bad to Justice’s house to recover for the bars…and I go to sleep.

A few hours later, the cough is worse. WAY worse. Some of the worst coughing I’ve ever done in my life. After a few bouts of spitting up blood, Justice decides I need the hospital. I eventually give in, they stick an IV in me and get some prescriptions to fill out in Oklahoma.

Justice drove back with me to Oklahoma; he headed back to his family for Thanksgiving. I was still stick to my stomach from the day before (as I would be the rest of the week), but I felt even worse about how the weekend ended than anything. I still feel bad about it to this day.


Lawrence was a cool town, but I failed to give it justice and it honestly bit at me for a long time. I hate that the journey ended like that. When the Rose Bowl passed, and I made a decision to stay home and save money, I couldn’t stomach to finish writing this. Well, Saturday, the show goes on.

A new journey begins. Let’s hope it ends with a title.

Stillwater

You know, I think I’d like Stillwater a lot more if I wasn’t an OU fan. From the unbiased eye, it kinda feels like a more country version of Manhattan, Kansas (that is saying something).But after so many Bedlam trips, I just am tired of the town. All that charm is tainted by that neon orange, desperate attempts to look relevant and lines at the bars.

Oh god, the lines at the bars.


img_3620Due to how close Stillwater is to Norman and a certain date party the night before, we made the early morning drive up I-35 that Saturday. The pregame for this game always feels like a bit of a high school reunion for me. My group was mostly my friends from back home, as we all were staying with our mutual Poke friend, Chase.

First move was grabbing some beer (of course). When you road trip with friends at the specific college, the move is always house party jumping over bars. Not only can you obviously bring your own stuff, it just is a better way to pregame.

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I gotta say this about Stillwater; they have the coolest liquor store/gas station thing ever. The Barn is a drive through where you can pick up a 30 of beer from the comfort of your own pickup. We walked through, grabbed some Coors and made our way to the Sixes.

The Sixes is a group of apartment just south of The Strip, OSU’s bar district. There was a massive house party group right out front where apparently half of the people I’ve ever known are. It was like one of those wild scenes from something you’ve seen on Barstool 5th Year. Actually, Barstool 5th Year was there for that matter!


As kickoff neared, it was time to make the move to the tailgates south of Boone Pickens Stadium. All the fraternities gather together and make a wild scene with some of the best tailgate food i’ve ever had. I’m talking jambalaya, boudin and sausage that tasted like they came straight from Bayou country.

Unfortunately, the tailgates also presented the biggest problem that day; the lines. Trying to pee in the heart of tailgate country is impossible. The port-a-potty lines were at least a thirty minute wait. I tried everything; the nearby bars were packed, the school buildings were locked and my friends were unwilling to form a circle (understandable).

The only remedy was to go in an hour early and use the stadium restrooms. Such a waste of some good pregame time.


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I forget just how awful OSU’s stadium setup is. The endzones run East-West instead of North-South. While this seems like a minor detail, try staring in the sun for a full game and get back to me.While I was happy my feet didn’t freeze (as is Bedlam tradition), the weather was brutally hot.

The game was an exhausting offensive duel. After Baker’s 4th quarter pick my heart gave out; I though there was no way we could stop Rudolph. Then, all hope returned with that last Oklahoma interception. I freaked out; the Pokes had choked again.

Of course, after that came the slow, insufferable drain of realizing we were screwed; we all became targeting rulebook experts that day. Thankfully, the Cowboys choked, as is tradition and a Trey Sermon touchdown got us out of the woods.

The important thing is, OU is firmly back in the Playoff race.


The long slog back to Chase’s was almost as draining as realizing how bad the food lines would be for literally everything. Me and my crew settled for Jimmy John’s (Editor’s Note: apparently now the official postgame meal of The Schooner Blog, we ate there after TCU too) and attempted to rally for the postgame.

We thought about going the house party route again; the bar lines were ungodly long. But when the party ended up blowing, we returned to Chase’s and were prepared to call it quits. That is, until Chase’s roommate called us out and brought us to The Copper Penny.

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The Copper Penny is a wonderful place. Half is outdoors, half is a little quaint indoor bar. The outdoor portion was pretty cool, but what separated the bar from anything in Norman is The Limey, a 32 oz drink with what has been described as “an 8 second pour of McCormick’s Vodka”. The drink is for two, but for those not exhausted by the night, one should be the perfect kickstart for the night. You can barely taste the vodka; it is beautiful.

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The Limey.


img_3634We ended up crashing early after meeting friends at the Penny. We got lucky by having some friends ditch out on riding back with us, so we got a bit of a treat by going to the Original Hideaway Pizza the next morning, which provided a nice bow to wrap up this trip.

As we merged back onto I-35, I realized something crazy; there was only one road game left on this wild, wild ride, with everything from here to Atlanta ahead of us.

Manhattan

There are some places that you know exactly what you are going to get. You expect greatness out of Columbus, Ohio, you expect dust and not much else in Lubbock, Texas, and so on.

With that being said, there are a few times you find a place that completely shocks you, like I did this weekend in Manhattan, Kansas.

I’m not a big Kansas guy. I’ve always considered it as the state with “the less cool side” of Kansas City, or the state you drive through to get to Colorado, or the state with equally shit liquor laws, or the state with an obnoxiously good basketball team (Yeah, the irony isn’t lost on me that i’m an Oklahoman and virtually everyone thinks my beloved home state sucks ass). I always imagined Manhattan being much of the same.

Oh was I wrong.


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Manhattan isn’t a big travel destination for Sooner fans, especially the week after the Red River Shootout. Which of course makes sense that only Derielle and I made the trek up I-35 through the vast scape of wheat fields that is Kansas. After the 4.5 hour drive through the Middle of Nowhere (a name Kansans proudly claim; it even has a Snapchat filter), we rolled into our traditional first stop: the local brewery.

Strangely enough, we had to cross the local homecoming parade to get there. Once did, we ran into a real gem at Tallgrass Brewing’s Tap House.

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Tallgrass, based in Manhattan, is a sneakily large operation that ships throughout the Midwest. Have a few of their beers and you can see why. There is a little of everything and plenty for the non-beer snob (AKA Derielle). The Blueberry and Raspberry Jam beers were incredibly refreshing; some of the best fruit beers i’ve had. Both Buffalo Sweat (Stout) and 8-Bit Pale Ale are staples that are perfect for those looking for more complex beers.


After the brewery stop, we went straight to meet up with an old friend of Derielle’s who happens to go to Kansas State. This guy, who for privacy’s sake i’m just going to call Tim, was just awesome. He had us over for burgers and after about a quarter .750 of my Crown Royal and his Even Williams, we became fast friends.

I had to go back to the AirBNB and finish an online test, but after that Derielle and I went back to scoop up Tim and head on out to the bars. Tim was our tour guide of sorts; the seasoned vet showing these outsiders the ropes. Oh and he was near blackout at this point, as we had fallen behind with my nerdy detour.We parked back at our AirBNB and strolled over to Aggieville.

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Aggieville might be the best bar district I have yet to see this season. Everywhere you could want to go in The Little Apple (and honestly everything they have in Manhattan) is right on a few blocks of Moro Street. The street was very similar to Campus Corner’s layout, but with one twist; all the bars were legit college bars.

Manhattan knows what it is. It’s a small college town that should cater to college kids. You won’t find any highrise pizzarias or nightclubs here, just good old fashioned bars with cheap drinks and open dance floors. It was beautiful.

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Stop one was a bar called Johnny Kaw’s Yard Bar, a relatively new addition to Manhattan. We got in early, so the bar was relatively dead, but you got the gist of what Yard Bar was about. The bar focused on your traditional bar games mixed with a few tailgate games with ample space for both. For the record, I don’t recommend beer pong in Kansas wind, it doesn’t end well.

  • Weird sidenote about Kansas State; they exclusively call 16 ounce tallboys “pounders”. As in, every bar refers to them as pounders and you can’t get one by calling it any other name. I don’t know if this is just me, but this baffled me.

We hopped around a couple bars, downing pounders and absurdly cheap wells and tried to find a bar with enough of a buzz to stay put for the evening. The memory is understandably hazy, but around the time we hit the original Johnny Kaws, our tour guide and noted drunk runner Tim vanished. Luckily, he made it home safe and not naked in the neighbor’s yard.

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Anyways, my top two favorites for Best Manhattan Bar are between Original Johnny Kaws and a really cool dive called O’Malley’s. Kaws had a great set up; a bar in the front, a bar in the side room and what can only be described as a freshman play pen called “The House Party”. Yeah, I know that sounds lame but imagine Logie’s but if you put all the 18+ underclassmen in a special section and out of your way? Not too bad if you ask me.

Kaws has a trait that a lot of my favorite bars tend to share; openness. Unlike seemingly every bar in Norman that tries to put as many useless barriers up from easy walking, Kaws just clears everything out and promotes free roaming. It’s a thing you wouldn’t expect helps as much as it does, but trust me it creates a way more fun experience.

O’Mally’s was also a pretty great option. While not as wide open as Kaws, O’Malley’s had tons of bars up and plenty of charm to overcome any overcrowding. The walls were covered in marked up dollars from all around the country, ala Edna’s in Oklahoma City. I even added one for the loyal 48 people that read this mediocre blog.

 

After our barhopping adventures, we went on the search for the perfect drunk food. In this case, it’s the wonderful Varsity Donut Truck, which serves a Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese worth missing the final bar stop for. Try it with bacon for full effect.

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We drug ourselves back to life the next morning completely exhausted from the night before. Any hard form of pregaming was out of the question; a beer at lunch would suffice. We made our way back out to Aggieville the next morning for some recovery food and settled at Keltic Star, a proper British pub. In an attempt to be cultural, next-day-drunk me ordered the bangers and mash, which was a tad bit of a mistake. Pro-tip; just go for the layup.

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Once we finished our lunch, we made our way back to Tim’s house to park and walk over to the game thorough campus. K-State’s campus has a very European feel with a ton of limestone and castle looking buildings everywhere. Their student union sells beer in it’s bowling alley (a sentence i’m not happy about writing about a non-OU school #MakeCampusWetAgain).

 

We finally made it across the endeavor-like trip across campus (super spread out) and arrived at Bill Snyder Family Stadium (or BSFS), which is as described, in the middle of nowhere. The Wildcats seem to have a good tailgate culture, but we didn’t know anyone tailgating and opted out. That being said, there was ample space to tailgate and it was rowdy.

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BSFS wasn’t anything particularly special. It was kinda small and really just some big stands kinda put together by walkways. Just meh. It was however connected to the Bramlage Coliseum, which made the perfect rain-delay hideout.

 

The K-State fans were nice, if not extremely quiet with the exception of the student section which was loud the whole game. While the atmosphere was nice I guess, K-State constantly crowed about being the “Best Fan Experience in the Big 12” which in my mind translates to “Most Surprising Fan Experience in the Big 12”. Everything they did was met with “oh hey that’s kinda cool”.

They also did the pledge of allegiance in pregame, which was weird. I guess when you have a middle-school nickname like Wildcats, you do middle school things.

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That’s the thing about K-State game days; they just take you by surprise so much that you automatically appreciate them more on sheer surprise alone.


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Two bad visuals

As you all know, the game started as a frustrated funeral to a previously well hyped season and ended in that all too familiar blend of excitement and stressed out relief. Kinda like peeing after holding it in for too long; a nice, soothing burn.

On our way out of town, Derielle and I stopped at a Wendy’s. Not only was it was the best damn Wendy’s ever, but it was the first time I sat down and took a breather all weekend. It dawned on me right there, that this season long road trip had only two more planned stops.

Much like the act of eating at Wendy’s, it was both exciting and a little depressing.

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Dallas

There really isn’t anything quite like Oklahoma and Texas on the second Saturday in October. Everyone will tell you that until you are blue in the face, but seriously there is nothing quite like it.

That being said, after 10 of them, I might be starting to wear out on the game. At least, until next summer when I book my AirBNB for round 11 or when i’m sitting at home with the biggest case of FOMO.

Sure, the whole experience is incredible and special. But honestly, year after year of fighting the crowds, inexplicably using weird paper tickets instead of cash or card and dealing with the madness of it all is exhausting.

The magic is wearing off and that’s a little depressing.


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There are three types of OU-Texas people: the Thursday people (mostly DFW folks going home early; sometimes they are just loaded), the Friday people (most common group; this is the best way to get a good amount of the weekend) and the Saturday people (old people missing out on Friday night, which is half the fun).

I’m a Friday person, mainly due to wanting to save money, so Derielle and I headed up early. Most of my sports road trips are either me and Derielle or me and random friend, so this was a bit of a classic trip.

After the early morning drive down I-35 (the most exciting part was figuring out how improved Denton traffic is), we made a straight shot to a Dallas barbecue joint called The Slow Bone, a name that gets dirtier every second more I think about it. The ‘cue wasn’t too bad; I had a standard chopped brisket sandwich and some Lone Stars. You definitely get a solid amount of food for what you pay for.

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As is tradition for Derielle and I trips, the next move was naturally, a brewery. The aim this time was Deep Ellum Brewing, a brewery named and inspired by the eccentric district it calls home. Deep Ellum is one of the banner craft breweries in the DFW area, so I was excited to give it a try.

The brewery and taproom itself is massive and looks something straight out of Mad Max. They may or may not have had a Thunderdome. Not only that, they had a full sized kitchen service, something legally impossible here in Oklahoma.

As for the beer, most of Deep Ellum’s offerings are of the IPA variety. As it was 4 PM, we had to stay relatively sober and both opted for blonde lagers (I got the impression that flights aren’t really a thing here) with Derielle having the ultra-popular Dallas Blonde. I would strongly recommend it if you ever come across it next time you cross the River.


img_3396After getting a buzz going, we met up with some of our friends at a solid burger place called Slater’s 50/50, mostly because it had the same name as Slater, one of the members of our crew (also an Ohio State road-tripper). The conversation was good, the beer was good (something called a Mr. Wiggles Double Dank IPA) and the burger was half-beef half-bacon, resulting in something that kinda tasted like ham. Which isn’t bad, it just was totally different.

The best thing about Red River Friday nights are the Bar Tabs. For those not in the know, some organizations will rent out venues and put a portion of their dues into paying for the drinks of the group. They are pretty great events that get your crew all in the same place. I don’t know about you, but friends always are cooler when you see them in different towns.

Oh, and the drinks are paid for. That’s more than nice.

This year’s venue was at HG Sply Co., which is an artsy way to say HG Supply Co. This place was a perfect bar tab location; big open rooftop bar and patio with plenty of space for your crowd. Unfortunately, my organization may have over invited, so our tab was drained quickly. But not without obtaining a solid ass buzz!

The next move was Uptown. As far as where in Uptown, we didn’t know. So me and our inner circle wandered around until we found The Common Pour, a little corner bar that didn’t have a line halfway to Fort Worth. There, we found the Mother of all Moscow Mules, a 120 dollar behemoth to be split by 6. I mean, look at this thing.

After battling through the copper mugged monstrosity, Derielle and I were about done. We retreated back to the AirBNB (not without taking the worst Lyft ride of all time around Dallas) and called it a night.


The next morning, we were both very drunk. My dumbass continued to drink more Crown Royal, as our coupon count was limited and I didn’t want to blow everything on wax cup beers. After my mini-pregame, it was off to the Fair via DART, the Dallas lightrail system. Things went pretty well, until Derielle and I realized we had made a mistake.

Everyone beat us there.

Turns out, you have to change your definition of early when OU-Texas kicks at 2:30 and not 11. More people do the Fair three hours before kick, because three hours before kick doesn’t mean 8 AM. It was a madhouse.

Luckily, we can prepared with our pre-bought coupons and skipped the Coupon lines entirely. The problem then was finding a properly quick Corny Dog line. Which of course, there was none. After a valiant search, we settled for a less enormous line in front of the Cotton Bowl.

We toiled through that line like Soviets waiting for a bowl of potato soup. At least the Soviets weren’t melting in Texas heat. I emerged with two Corny Dogs and a beer, and suddenly the world was blissful again.

And then it was gametime. We spent all our fair time getting a Corny Dog. No regrets here.

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The game itself was the spectacle as advertised. Honestly, it was the first time this game felt like a blood rivalry in years; both sides were confident. Despite the heat, we trudged on through and emerged from the Cotton Bowl exhausted, just like the other 90 thousand people inside.

Going out after OU-Texas is a myth. Especially with the 2:30 kickoff, there is no damn way to do it. You can’t squeeze in a nap before and it takes forever to get out via DART, which unfortunately we did. We spent the whole time, exhausted, waiting in line and wishing we just stayed to see the free Pat Green concert. Once Derielle and I got back, we ordered a pizza and called it quits for the trip.

The next morning, we took one last look at the Dallas skyline. Halfway through the season and this season long road trip, I realized this season was at a crossroads. A return to the DFW in December seemed so far away, but something felt like this wasn’t the last time we’d be in town this season.