Road Game Report: BYU’s Win Capped off a Perfect Trip to Austin


The shrines of football come in many varieties. Lambeau Field likely has the ashes and remnants of former Packer legends built into the field. Notre Dame has the story of Rudy, national championships galore, and more All-Americans than anyone else. There’s the Horseshoe at Ohio State and the Big House in Ann Arbor. UCLA has the Rose Bowl and Oregon’s Autzen Stadium is supposedly the loudest in all the land.

I’ve been able to attend two games in the last three years in Austin and the gameday experience at Darrell K. Royal Stadium has become one of my personal shrines to the game. BYU’s 41-7 rout of the Longhorns provided the perfect end to the perfect game day in Austin Saturday night. Follow me through the start to end experience in Austin.

THURSDAY, 11:00AM: Longhorn fan sits next to me and my wife on flight. He was telling me that last week was the first UT home game he had missed since 1985. I love talking to fans like him.

Across the aisle is a family of Longhorns headed to Austin for the game. The wife asks, “You don’t still have that quarterback from last year, do you?” I reply that not only do we still have him and he’s better than last year. She asks “Better?? What, can he pass now?” I smile and nod. “Damn!” she mutters under her breath. They haven’t forgotten.

THURSDAY, 6:30PM: Black’s BBQ.  It’s about 30 minutes from Austin in a small town called Lockhart.

I’ve been to Salt Lick BBQ and to Franklin’s, two of the most popular BBQ joints in Texas. Black’s, we were told, is the best around however. We take the advice of several locals and make the trip to Lockhart. Ridiculously good BBQ. We have brisket, turkey, sausage, ribs, baked beans, coleslaw, mac ‘n cheese, and jalapeño cornbread. The meal is at least 10,000 calories, probably more, though you don’t count calories when eating Texas BBQ.

FRIDAY, 4:45PM: Tune in to 1300AM The Zone, Austin’s local sports talk radio. Total dumpster fire. No faith in new QB Tyronne Swoopes, offensive line, Charlie Strong, Bevo the mascot. They all predict double digit win for BYU. I’m still hesitant, though optimistically confident that this may possibly true. 2013’s 40-21 game was just a fluke, right?

6:30PM: Dinner at Vince Young’s steakhouse downtown. Glad to see that Vince has found some way to provide for himself. Food was as you would expect at a prime steakhouse. Restaurant is adorned with huge banners of Vince’s big plays. Good reminder of how big a player he was in Austin. The Longhorns absolutely revere Vince.

8:15PM: Head to 6th Street. Having an early early flight Sunday morning, we decide to hit up 6th Street Friday night so we can get back to our hotel after the game on Saturday night and get at least a few hours of sleep. To those unfamiliar with Austin, 6th street is like Bourbon Street in New Orleans but without the burlesque, boobs, and beads. Austin is a huge music town and 6th Street is lined with bars, restaurants, and clubs. Amplifiers blare good music as beer and drinks flow freely. I’m surprised to find 6th Street not as busy as it was in 2011, but BYU is well represented nonetheless.

8:45PM: ABC4 from Utah stops me on the street. Perhaps it was the Blue and White that set them off that I might be a Coug. They interview me about the Austin experience, BYU joining the Big 12, and the Cougs chances against the Longhorns tomorrow night. I feel that my responses may make me look intoxicated and fortunately they edit out most of my more interesting, though perceivably inebriated responses. Here’s the video below:


SATURDAY, 9:00AM: Eat Texas sized stack of pancakes. Everything is bigger in Texas. Waitress gets me a walker with tennis balls on feet to help me get out of the restaurant.

11:30AM: Weather report shows 40% chance of thunder and rain during game time. We swing in to Wal-Mart to buy ponchos. I was at the hurricane in Provo last year and don’t want to take any chances. Today’s gonna be a big day. Wal-Mart employee stops us for ten minutes to talk about the game today.

More from BYU Football

12:00PM: Arrive at stadium. Former Longhorn Head Coach Mack Brown used to say “Come Early, Cheer Loud, Stay Late” and the Longhorns certainly do all three.

We arrived 6-1/2 hours before kickoff and were hours late to the party. While there are “professional” tailgate parties that are run by businesses and you pay for entrance, the real tailgaters are in the stadium parking lot. While there are no official reserved areas for individual tailgaters, there is an obvious understanding that certain areas are reserved. We witness many of the same tailgate groups from 2011 in the same spots. Not a mean word is said towards the BYU team or Mormon religion by anyone. Instead, we are invited to sit down, grab a plate of food and hang out.

2:00PM: We accept the invitation to tailgate with Mary Ellen and her posse in their large, impressive tailgate spread. They’ve been in the same spot for over 20 years. Their tailgate space is comprised of at least 10-12 large popup tents connected to make a space large enough for dozens of tailgaters to congregate. A smoker out front is cooking up sausages, brisket, fajitas, and brats. A flat screen TV with surround sound is setup and is showing the games of the day. Mary Ellen tells us, “don’t worry, I bought a bunch of extra Sprite and Coke for today cuz I know y’all don’t drink beer.”

It’s over 90 degrees and humid from a week of on/off rain, so we gladly take a seat in front of the industrial fans Mary Ellen has set up under the popups. One of her fans connects with us and seems to know as much or more about BYU and the state of Utah as any of us. We sit with him for 45 minutes and reminisce about the Cougars of new and old. Mary Ellen sees to it that we take a drink and a plate of tacos for the road as we leave.

4:30PM: Team busses arrive. Hundreds of Cougar and Longhorn fans alike stand on the curb and it is a sight to be seen. Bronco has a smile on his face and I get my first first bump of the day. Fist bumps from Anae, Coach Holliday, Taysom Hill, and Jamaal Williams follow. Jamaal has a custom made bucket hat with his nickname “Swagg Daddy” stitched on it. Players seem confident and focused, but loose.

4:45PM: Enter the stadium. While I’ve been here before, I’m still in awe of DKR. The 102,000 seat stadium could easily be 120,000 if they closed in the south end zone. The massive monitor at the south end zone was coined “Godzilla-Tron” when it was first installed. While there are now a few larger screens in stadiums, it is still impressive.

Shortly after we enter the stadium, some Cougar offensive players take the field. While it’s only warmups, Taysom Hill doesn’t miss a single throw. I notice Coach Tujague as he enters the field and I laugh, recalling the somewhat controversial photo he took posted online with the offensive line standing at midfield during walkthroughs on Friday making the “down horn” symbol with the traditional “Hook ‘Em Horns” hand gesture pointed upside down. I yell “Horns Down” to Tujague and flash him the sign, which he simply smiles at and gives me a thumbs up.

6:15PM: Pre-game festivities on field are awesome. It is 94 degrees and 93,000+ fans in stadium make it even hotter. The local weatherman announces the weather forecast, stating that while he doesn’t know the exact heat index, he predicts it is about 130°. Texas’ marching band is larger than all three Utah university bands combined. They play at least half a dozen fight songs. Every Longhorn fan in the stadium knows every word. Band supposedly plays BYU fight song, though no one has ever heard the song before. Oops. BYU Basketball coach Dave Rose sits five seats away from us, next to Lavell Edwards son, John.

6:30PM: Game finally kicks off. Texas QB Swoopes is better than anticipated, completing his first eight passes. Longhorns move the ball well. BYU defense bends, but doesn’t break. BYU moves ball well, both through air and on ground. Taysom has explosive 60+ yard TD run including a stiff-arm at the 20 yd-line called back for holing. Two other scoring drives stall just outside of red zone, leading to two field goals and BYU leads 6-0 at halftime. While general feeling in stadium is that BYU has outplayed Longhorns, the second half is an unknown. Texas still has a lot of athletes on their side and we understand that in just one big play they can be back out front.

8:00PM: Second half starts and very quickly our halftime concerns are put to rest. BYU scores four touchdowns on first four drives of 3rd quarter. As Ron Burgundy would say, “That escalated quickly! I mean, that really got out of hand, fast!” Taysom dominates the quarter, scampering for three TDs. Included in the Hill scoring onslaught is a 30 yard run after avoiding the Longhorn pass rush, blazing up the left sideline and hurdling untouched over the Texas safety before throwing his hands in the air as he waltzed into the end zone. The once obnoxious, loud Longhorn student section is now quiet.

8:45PM: With 6 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, BYU has now turned a close game into a rout. While we still think that there is a lot of game left to be played, the Longhorns see otherwise. At least 10-15% of the stadium packs it in after BYU goes up 27-0. The student section empties, as does the alumni section. With 4 minutes to go, Taysom scores again and 34-0 sends another 10-15% heading for the gates.

9:45PM: Game finally ends with Cougars routing Longhorns 41-7. After the 17-16 heartbreaking loss here in 2011, the 2013 and 2014 victories are so so sweet. Never would have imagined the final scores of either games. We stay in the stadium for at least 30-45 minutes, taking in the celebration with the team and Cougar faithful. Forty feet to my left the Longhorn Network TV booth sits. While I don’t know what he’s saying, I can’t help but see now-commentator Vince Young shaking his bad repeatedly. Must be hard for him to see the team he led to such greatness fall to this.

10:30PM: Walk out of the stadium is fun. The promised rain that never manifested itself during the game finally starts to fall, though the light sprinkling feels good after the heat of the game. Several Longhorn fans at various levels of inebriation engage with us, all devastated for their own loss, but congratulatory to us. Just as the fan in the tailgate tent hours earlier, these fans know about BYU football. A Longhorn walks with me for 10 minutes and he asks me about Mark Atuaia, Kevin Feterik, and Itula Mili. You aren’t shocked to hear when people know about Jim McMahon and Steve Young, but Feterik? I’m amazed.

The experience of game day in Austin is unforgettable. There is so much tradition and passion not just for the Longhorns, but for the state of Texas and city of Austin. Being in Texas again makes me happy because the Texas way of life reminds me of how life should be lived. People live with passion and pride, with friendliness and acceptance of others, and unity for a common cause. While the phenomenal game day experience was evidence of how much the Longhorns mean to the state of Texas, tonight was all about BYU.