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Behind Enemy Lines: Austin, Texas

I got a really neat chance to attend the Tech-Texas game this week. Here are my adventures.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

It was the middle of the third quarter. I was hanging out with a Texas fan I had met in the stands. We were bantering back and forth about youth, the superiority of the state of Texas, the weirdness of Texas Tech's play style, but in the middle of the third quarter our conversation turned towards our inability to stop the run. The rain picked up, and so did the Texas running game, and I spiked my empty stress beer that I paid around 6$ too much for into the stands in front of me. My new friend laughed, then turned to me and said, "Don't worry. Y'all will probably get it right back". I expected to come into Austin and be heckled and spat upon and all that. But the big thing that stuck out to me from my trip to Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium was the friendliness.

I started the day off with my little brother, who attends Texas. I stayed the night in his dorm room the night before, playing Halo 5 with him until all hours of the morning. For all the pundits that seemed to be saying that Texas was going to win in a close margin, I can sum up the feelings of the Texas fans I encountered with the line he delivered that night: "All y'all have to do is make one big play, then we'll roll over and die and we can go home and get out of the rain".

Around about 11 AM we met our parents for an impromptu Thanksgiving meal at Abel's On The Lake. It was weird, but the turkey was good, the Eagles were getting dusted by the Lions, and they had Shiner Cheer on the menu. I felt like I was living in the middle of a Zac Brown Band song. Life was just good. I talked with my Dad and my brothers about football, and my little sisters nodded and pretended to care. At this point, the nerves had begun to kick in, and I was getting incredibly antsy for some College Football.

My Dad is a Texas alumni, and he works a lot, so he wanted to go see the new movie about Freddie Steinmark, "My All American.

I'm a little bit of a movie nut. This was not a very well done movie, Texas rivalry aside. It was pretty much "Facing The Giants with less Jesus and a lot more football cliches. If "Invincible" had a baby with a B-list rom-com, it would be this movie. This frustrated me immensely, because the story of Freddie Steinmark is actually an amazing one. It transcends rivalries, it makes you feel something for a man wearing that damned orange and white, and it's just plain good. It was really sad that it had to be ruined by such a cheesy production. In the scale of movies, I rate it a 2/10, and if I was giving it a gif, it would be a picture of a dumpster fire. It was a dumpster fire, and it doesn't deserve a gif review. Read the book though. Seriously, I guarantee that you'll enjoy it.

After the movie we headed down to the stadium. The first thing you notice about Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium is that it mirrors Austin itself. Austin has many winding roads and random steep slopes. I went to go check out what the vendors were selling because it smelled delicious ,(it ended up being a corndog) and found myself completely turned around in an unnecessarily complex labyrinth of staircases. We get it Texas, you're big and complicated. No need to make existential architecture about your feelings on life.

Our seats were in the nosebleeds, all the way at the top of the stadium. I was born in Jackson, Mississippi and I was raised in Abilene, Texas. The highest thing I've been on consistently is an overpass. Probably the only "country" part about me is the most country thing of all: I have a deathly fear of heights. And let me tell y'all, DKR is tall. We got up to the very top of the stadium and the wind was whipping and it was pouring rain and I took one look at the distant field and said "absolutely not". I bailed on my family and made a beeline back down the stairs for the mercifully open seats on the visitor's side.

I could've sat so much closer, but I chose a seat up against the wall a fair amount up the stands. I wanted to watch the game, not be disturbed, take some notes, get some fire tweets off, and enjoy Tech Football. I had the fortune of sitting close to the aforementioned man, and we became quick friends. It was at this point that I realized my favorite part of the whole experience. Everyone was very friendly. I don't know if it was from Texas having such a down year that all the d-bags stayed away, or if I just got particularly lucky, or whatever, but Austin was a very friendly town to me.

The game itself might as well have been played on the moon. Rain was coming down in sheets and buckets or not at all. There were multiple times when I felt safe enough to take off my rain jacket only to have the rain come right back. Everything about this game was unpredictable, from the mercurial teams playing to the elements. I can tell you about many things that made me happy, from the audible Texas Tech fans in the stands to the Goin' Band's accidental "RAIDER POWER" chant during the UT Band's halftime performance. The 3rd down music was top-notch, I don't know many schools in the country that will play the instrumental to Dorrough songs as their team walks out to force a turnover. These things were all awesome, but the absolute best part was the sheer confusion at two separate moments.

How often do these plays actually happen? And how often do they happen in the same game? Both times Jakeem Grant pulled off his magic, the air of the stadium just left. It was completely silent, save for the incoherent screams of joy from Texas Tech fans and the collective "wait what?" from Texas's sorority girls. It was a beautiful sight. I wish I could say there were grown men crying, but Jakeem Grant definitely did break some hearts last night.

Possibly my favorite moment came as I was exiting the stadium. I was soaked from head to toe, shouting "POWER" back at any "RAIDER" I heard, and furiously social media-ing my excitement at our first win in Austin since '97. A young girl was being carried out of the stadium by her father. She was obviously asleep. Her dad hiked her up higher on his shoulder and asked his wife, "So what do we tell her happened?". His wife responded almost instantly, "That we lost, and that sometimes you lose, but no matter what, you cheer for your team".

And all in all, that's what it's about. It's been a wild ride in this regular season. We've had our ups, we've had our downs, but we're still sitting here cheering on the Red Raiders no matter what. And as of last night, I could not be more proud to tell everyone where I got my diploma from.

And our players feel the same way. Here's to a successful 2015.