Texas State Bobcats vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers, 11/5/2016, 2:30 pm
Final Score: Mountaineers 35 – Bobcats 10; Attendance: 28,472
Weather: Beautiful – 65; Ticket: $40 in advance from school; Parking: $10
Review: “It’s the tops, literally”
Appalachian State moved up to the FBS a few years after winning back to back to back FCS national championships. You may also recall that they upset Michigan in the Big House when the Wolverines were ranked number five in the country. It is and was the biggest FCS upset in FBS history. So, yes, this program has some impressive chops. Kidd Brewer Stadium, which they call the Rock (and more on that later), is on campus in Boone, N.C. It is surrounded by trees and mountains. At a capacity of 23,650, the stadium is just the right size for the program. They have a very strong fan base and it isn’t the easiest ticket to get. There were four of us going to the game and it was a must that we sit together. I had checked the school’s website a couple of weeks before the game and just about every section said there were seats available. I should have done some more digging. On the Tuesday of game week, I looked at various online sites and was shocked that four seats together were going at a $100 or more apiece. I was surprised because they were playing Texas State which isn’t exactly a powerhouse and that shouldn’t have been driving up ticket demand. It was family weekend at App State, but it still seemed awfully high. I then clicked the school’s site and picked a section to buy our seats. To my dismay, the only seats available were singles with the very rare double. I found each section had five or six seats available, all singles. It looked like my only option was either to pay through the nose or buy lawn seats. Either option would have given me an extended stay in my wife’s dog house. Desperate, I called the ticket office in hopes the site had not been updated. As luck would turn out, a student organization had just turned back in ten seats in the lower level on the 40 yard line. The tickets were $40 each and we picked them up at will call.
Similar to the tickets, parking passes on campus were at a premium. The ticket office recommended a couple of private lots, with the Hardees coming in very highly rated. There were some other lots including a funeral home so I figured we’d go a little earlier just in case. As we drove into town, we first saw the funeral home with a sign for tailgating. It was $10 and we knew to ask if we could drink alcohol on site. They said yes, but directed us to the grass lot across from the funeral home. It was a great spot to tailgate. We pulled up next to a large group visiting their kids at App State. They had a great spread and were happy to share with us. Perhaps they took sympathy on our paltry tailgate of Subway sandwiches, chips and beer. With an absolutely gorgeous fall day, we happily settled in. It was a relaxed tailgate but certainly enjoyable. We had about a fifteen minute walk to the stadium up through the Appalachian State campus.
The stadium has two decks and the end zone has a grass hill for general admission. The stadium, hill included, was at capacity for our game. Surrounded by the mountains, it is a picturesque venue that can get loud. The center sections have seat backs but everywhere else it is bench seating. There is only one video screen and it is not particularly good. The concessions were fairly standard, but they did have some locals selling small pies. I was still stuffed from the tailgate so I did not partake. The souvenir cup was a simple but elegant design. There wasn’t anything noteworthy with the restrooms. There is a Mountaineer mascot, Yosef, who patrols the sidelines and the band is decent. I don’t recall Yosef being particularly entertaining but he gets points for the unique name and looking like he just came off a package of hillbilly bread.
As I mentioned the stadium is small but with a packed crowd, it sounds louder than it probably is. The fans like to stomp their feet and hold up the three fingers on third downs. This is your more traditional college football crowd with lots of jeans and sweatshirts. There’s no fancy dress trend here. Just leather lung fans, letting the refs know when they may make a bad call. I felt right at home.
Boone is in the Blue Ridge Mountains and a travel destination year round. Accordingly, hotels can be pretty pricey. We opted to rent a cabin which was very affordable and allowed the four of us to spread out. It was also only fifteen minutes from campus so getting up early was not onerous. There are no direct flights to Boone so you will have to drive a couple of hours wherever you come from. Given the fall foliage, it likely won’t be a bad drive.
Texas State came to Rock with a record of 2 – 6. A couple of weeks earlier I had seen the Ragin’ Cajuns rock the Bobcats at home so I knew they were not very good. The Mountaineers, on the other hand, were rolling at 7 – 2. Things were not looking good for Texas State. However, they came in fired up and scored a field goal on the opening drive. When App State responded with a three and out, I thought we might actually have a game on our hands. However, it was not to be. App State proceeded to beat the Bobcats like a rented mule. It was 28 – 3 at the half and the game was effectively over. The Mountaineers rushed for over three hundred yards, with two rushers each going for over a hundred yards.
As I mentioned, Boone is in the mountains and there’s just about every outdoor activity imaginable. We even did a bit rock prospecting. Well, what we did was buy a big bucket of rocks that was seeded with various gem stones. We sorted them via a water trough. It sounds corny, but it was actually kind of fun. It is a touristy activity to be sure, but it was a pleasant diversion. Of course, the hiking is great and there are multiple hikes very close to campus.
All in all, we had a great time at Appalachian State. I really recommend making it a long weekend for the visit so that you can take advantage of everything the area offers. The biggest challenge may be finding a date where Appalachian State isn’t a prohibitive favorite. The program is consistently very good, so Sun Belt competition isn’t always up to snuff. The only thing I take exception to is the nickname the stadium carries. To me, there is only one “Rock” and that is located in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Given that Slippery Rock University was founded in 1889 and Appalachian State 1899, I think it is clear who came first. This is a small complaint and about the only one when it comes to visiting the Mountaineers. A true college fan should definitely add Appalachian State to their bucket list.