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Austin power

Read part two of Alex's Texan story

Alex Ferguson Posted 7th September 2012 view comments

Skysports.com blogger Alex Ferguson spent last weekend checking out some college football in the the Lone Star State, Texas.

In part one of his diary, which you can read here, Alex ventured to the spectacular Eagle Stadium in Allen, but he had just as good a time in a sweltering Austin - as you'll find out by reading below...

SATURDAY

We arrive in Austin around 1pm, and the heat's already making everything a wee bit sticky.

Texas quarterback Ash put in a solid performance against Wyoming

Texas quarterback Ash put in a solid performance against Wyoming

Austin - the state capital of Texas and one of the prettier towns in the United States - seems to be wearing one colour: burnt orange. That's because the University of Texas (or 'UT' as it's known in these parts) is playing its first game of its College Football season against Wyoming, and everyone's pretty excited.

And while Southeastern Conference schools we've visited, like the University of Georgia, are celebrated for the scenic tailgate between the magnificent vistas of the campuses, we're reliably informed this doesn't happen in Texas - they simply gather in the multitude of car parks around the stadium and university - set up tents, and drink rather a lot.

Austin is a fun mix of students and city people gathered together to celebrate the sport they love the most, and the stadium is magnificent.

Alex Ferguson
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And while parts of you don't exactly enjoy supping beverages in the hot Texas sun while straining to get some cover underneath a tent, other parts don't find it that difficult.

Especially as when every few minutes you open your eyes at some of the sights wandering around, be it the men in - and we kid you not - large cowboy hats, leather waist jackets, and cowboy boots (they only miss the lasso, in our view!), and the women - all of them blonde-haired and beautiful, wearing white shorts or burnt orange skirts and cowboy boots.

It's quite a look, we can tell you. And listening to them dancing to R&B while waiting for the game to start? Even more amusing.

After making a ton of conversation about Texas' starting quarterback David Ash, the future for the Longhorns this season, and the laughably awful start of the season that former Texas 'Coach In Waiting' Will Muschamp has had at Florida (where they were dreadful in their victory over little-known Bowling Green) has had, we make our way to the 101,000 colossus that can only be called Darrell K. Royal Texas-Memorial Stadium.

The stadium itself is breathtaking, with three sides of the stadium (including the all-important luxury boxes and press box), and is crammed to the rafters with burnt-orange love. After all, for lovers of Texas Football, the opening day of the season rivals Texas' monster battle with Oklahoma in a few weeks' time - even for the most hardened lover of the Red River Rivalry.

And Texas football isn't just a 'man's sport', everyone is there to watch the game, and give their viewpoint on improvements. If you want scenic, it doesn't have the hedges that adorn the sidelines of other schools in the South, but it does have a mighty big screen in one end-zone, that might well be the biggest TV on earth (I'm already in love with it!), and it is a piece of breathtaking power. A pack of students stand below it and cheer mightily next the University of Texas Marching band, complete with every kind of instrument. You still come out with the words "Wow" when looking at the place, we can promise you!

The student section has already filled nicely with expectant Texas fans, and everybody's excited. The game kicks off to a cannon's roar (which makes this writer jump out of his skin!), everyone holding up the Hook 'Em horns sign, and an expected sea of burnt orange expecting an easy victory.

Well, after one quarter, a few hearts were in their mouths. The Longhorns were down 9-7, playing badly, and those who hadn't wilted in the 100+ degree temperature in the stadium seemed a little worried. After all, Ash and the Texas defence were being simply outclassed by Wyoming QB Brett Smith.

But in the second quarter, Smith threw two interceptions, Texas took advantage and scored two touchdowns from the situations, and it was 24-9 at half-time. My neighbours - two postgraduate nurses - were a little happier with life, as were about 100,000 Texas fans.

The Wyoming corner (let's credit them for travelling across the country for this, shall we?) was a little silent, but the burnt orange party didn't care. Second half, and it was all Texas. The team added two more touchdowns - celebrated with some joy by the fanbase and even more jubilation on the field - and the game was over. And the night was cooler.

Coming out of the stadium, there were a few notes of dissatisfaction. Although Ash didn't come out of the game with bad numbers - 20 of 27, 156 yards, 1 TD, and the running game - 280 yards, 4 TDs did well, many felt annoyed that the best player (bar the interceptions) was Smith, who had a tidy 276 yards and 2 TDs against one of the best defences in college football. "Why didn't we recruit him?" moaned one Texas fan. "Against a better offense, our secondary's going to be toast", said another.

And as for my experience? Austin is a fun mix of students and city people gathered together to celebrate the sport they love the most, and the stadium is magnificent. And if you have bad eyesight, look towards one of the end-zones, where all the great plays are replayed on the 81ft tall, 136 ft wide 'Godzillatron'. You can't miss a thing on that one!!

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