07 September 2009

I was there.

I'll admit, there have been times when I've wondered whether it's worth it to make the road trip. The football Cougars' road record against ranked teams hasn't been very good over the last 12 years or so. I've been in the crowd for losses at USC, UCLA, SDSU, Notre Dame, Boston College, Arizona, Cal, and the list goes on. It's depressing to spend time and money to travel to far away stadiums, only to see your team come up short. But I've always known that one of these days they would win the big one, and there's no way I was going to miss it.

Sept. 5, 2009

I've had the date circled on my calendar for months. Just the chance to play #3 Oklahoma gives BYU credibility as a football program. My best hopes were that we would play a competitive game, keep the score reasonably close (a loss by less than 20 points would be fantastic), and showcase our team and our talent on national TV.

We flew to Dallas in Jeff's plane - a total coup d'etat compared to the rigors of normal travel to away games. I showed up at the Provo airport at 10:24 a.m. I parked 50 feet from the front door. There was no security, no baggage check, no lines. I walked straight onto the plane and we were in the air at 10:38 a.m. Pretty nice.

Once in Dallas, we drove along the Tom Landry Memorial Highway then turned onto the Nolan Ryan Expressway in Arlington. No joke, those Texans know how to honor their sports heroes. We parked about a mile away from the stadium because the parking was only $30 there (compared to $60 and up as we got closer to the entrance). As luck would have it, we parked right next to Colter's BBQ and it seemed like as good a place as any to grab some Texas lunch. Holy cow, it was awesome.

I would seriously go back to Dallas just to eat at this place. They have an all-you-can-eat option for $16.95 which I would have purchased if I hadn't already eaten two sub sandwiches on the plane. I opted for the half rack of baby back pork ribs, with sides of cheesy bacon potatoes and fried okra. They fry up the okra fresh when you order it - classy. I really wanted to try the pecan pie but I was so stuffed coming out of the joint that I could barely walk. (Also, I could barely walk because of the torn muscle in my left calf. I offered Scott Bodily $6 if he would carry me the 1 mile distance to the stadium, and he counter-offered at $1,000. So I walked.)

Check out my heapin' helpin' of Colter's finest:

It was a long, hot walk to the stadium. In case you aren't a meteorologist, let me just say that early September in Dallas is hot. We made it to the stadium and waited to meet up with the rest of our group. While waiting, I noticed this sign (the posterboard, not the Notice of Search):

After quite a bit of discussion, we still couldn't come to a consensus on whether this was a pro-BYU sign or an anti-BYU sign. We had compelling arguments on both sides. Somebody certainly put a lot of work into getting their vague message across.

Inside the stadium, we just kept saying "wow". Jerry Jones (the owner of the Dallas Cowboys) spent $1.5B to build this thing. It is the largest domed structure in the world and contains the two largest HD screens in the world (each one is 60 yards long and the picture is stunning). Even though our seats were only 19 rows from the field, I had to constantly fight the urge to watch the game on the HD screen rather than on the field. It was incredible. Here are a few shots of this beast in action. Compare the size of the images on the screen to the size of the players on the field, or even entire sections of the audience. Incredible.

Not to belabor the point, but this stadium is amazing. Everything was top quality, from the marble floors to the cushioned leather seats to the Dallas Cowboys embossed paper towels in the bathrooms. (Note: male Texans don't seem to take too kindly to other males taking photographs in the men's room. So if you need to photograph some paper towels, do it quickly and then split).

Oh, so there was this game . . .

We were pretty much in shock right from the start. The Cougars defense kept Oklahoma at bay throughout the first half and when Bradford went down I instantly knew we were going to win. I knew it. In fact, I yelled it loudly to the rest of the guys in our group, which didn't go over too well with the Oklahoma fans sitting right behind us.

BYU didn't move the ball very well in the 3rd quarter and I sensed that we were blowing our chance to overtake the Sooners. But our defense's goal line stand at the start of the 4th quarter was epic - I'll never forget it. Even the usually-stoic Bronco Mendenhall was fist-pumping on the sidelines.

Our 4th quarter scoring drive took more than 8 minutes off of the clock. It included a phenomenal 4th-down conversion from Hall to Pitta that took us all the way inside the 10 yard line. All of this happened down at the end of the field where we were sitting so we had a perfect view. When Hall lobbed the winning TD catch to Jacobsen, all 15,000 Cougar fans went berzerk. I snapped this shot of Max Hall coming off of the field after the play, stopping at the 6 yard line to scream euphorically at the Cougar section of the crowd.

We had to endure the final 3:03 of the game, staving off Oklahoma's 54-yard field goal attempt that would have won it for them. But the kick fluttered hopelessly wide left and short, which set off a scene of pure madness in the Cougar crowd.

As the game ended and for a good 15 minutes afterwards, we just jumped up and down screaming. Grown men were hugging while they jumped up and down. And by "grown men", I mean me and Jeff Hall. It's our signature move whenever BYU wins a huge game. At one point during the celebration Scott Bodily gave me a full embrace and screamed, "I love you!". Here's a shot of me right after OU missed the field goal attempt. This is just pure jubilation.

Jeff wouldn't stop jumping up and down so this blurry shot was the best I could capture.

We saw Justin and Angelique with Dougie in tow. You know those guys wouldn't miss being there for a game like this.

Maybe the best part of this victory story is that it hapened on my dad's 60th birthday. How sweet was it to be with my dad, on his 60th birthday, to witness this unbelievable victory together! We've suffered through a lot of BYU losses over the years. I can tell you, we will never forget the feeling of being there in person, together, as we took down the mighty Oklahoma Sooners.

I snapped a shot of this guy's poster as we were leaving the stadium. I love it. Take that, BCS.

Before the game we were discussing the possible final score, with everyone giving their best guesses. At one point Jeff Knowles said, "If BYU wins, I will eat 4 Atomic Fireballs at the same time." Well . . . the Cougars sure did win that game. Back on the plane, we put Jeff to the test. He only made it to 3 Atomic Fireballs before succumbing to the heat. He spit them out after about a minute and a half. Come on Knowles! Take one for the team!

We landed at the Provo airport at about 1:15 a.m. As we walked off the plan, a rapturous cheer erupted from the crowd of about 1,000 Cougar fans who had gathered at the airport waiting for the team plane. They started chanting, "We love the trainers! We love the trainers!" What, we don't look like a bunch of BYU linebackers?

What a game. What an experience. We may lose the next hundred road games I go to, but BYU fans will never stop talking about the night we went to Texas and beat the Oklahoma Sooners. And I was there.

Let's have one more look at that jumbotron:


Allison said...

We also loved watching that win! That makes me so happy for you and so happy for Dad.

jared said...

I knew we we're going to win this game the whole time. I can hear the victory bell when it's rung. I believe. lol

Natalie said...

I'm teary to think of what you and dad must have been feeling in that stadium! Such a girl, I know! But I'm SO happy that you both got to be there to witness a history-making game for the Cougs!

Samantha said...

I loved this post because I'm so jealous I didn't get to be there and I just want to hear every single detail about it. I love the picture of you being so SO happy after the missed field goal. And I love that I knew how to prounouce coup d'etat (as I read this post aloud for my parents) only from watching Jeff mispronounce it on Big Brother. haha

Our defense goal line stand was the craziest and most exciting part of the game for me too. That's the part I keep going back to. I won't forget it either.

That last picture of the Y on the jumbotron gave me goosebumps. GO COUGS!

duke of earl said...

Awesome account...what a fantastic experience. Mad props to the OU fans too. They were the classiest group of fans that I have ever encountered.

Supercords said...

Samantha said everything I was going to say. Great post, and I'm completely jealous.


Angelique said...

I'm with Sam, goosebumps all over. I also wanted to take a picture of the bathroom towels but didn't. I'm glad you did!

Lindsay said...

What a once in a lifetime experience!!! You are a lucky guy to have gotten to be there. And I'm sure that was the greatest birthday present dad could have imagined. Especially being there with you. Gotta love those cougars!!!!