Game Review: Oklahoma Sooners(#5) vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys(#12), 11/3/2017, 3pm
Final Score: Cowboys 52 – Sooners 62, Attendance: 56,790
Weather: Beautiful – 68; Ticket $210 (Face $150) – scalper, Parking $175
Orange you glad you came?
Oklahoma State plays at T. Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. My visit was part of double weekend where I visited Tulsa on Friday night. The stadium is located on campus and ESPN’s Gameday was setting up in the Library quad as well. I was struggling to find anyone to join me for the trip despite it being the biggest game of the weekend. Luckily my friend’s son attends OSU and was happy to bring some pals over to tailgate with us. As per most big programs these days, OSU segregates parking spots by alumni donations. So, if you are an out of town visitor, you are probably going to end up tailgating in some seedy, abandoned lot where you pay the recently immigrated Oleg $20 for the pleasure of eating and drinking in a place you would normally avoid like the plague. Fortunately, there is an aftermarket for the spots that the alumni get. It is an expensive market, but a market nonetheless. The going rate on Stub Hub for such spots was $300 so when I saw one in the Pistol Pete lots in front of the stadium pop up on Craigslist for $150, I jumped on it. It was easily the most I have spent for tailgating. However for my money I got a premium spot a stone’s throw away from the stadium, close to a row of porta potties, surrounding by some very elaborate tailgates and a steady stream of fans walking by. I had lots of folks stop by the tent and ask about somanystadiums.com. Additionally, we had room to play corn hole and generally had a great time tailgating. One of the regulars at the lot told me it’s a $6,500 annual donation for a spot in that lot so I guess I didn’t do so badly.
My day started out early because I wanted to be part of the Game Day experience and more importantly, get the somanystadiums.com flag on the telecast. I was there at about 8:30 and got a pretty good spot. The flag was captured on television about a dozen times, but thanks to the wind direction, it was mostly backwards. Once back home, I watched the broadcast on the DVR where my wife kindly pointed out that you can’t really read the flag. (Thanks honey!) It was not the first Game Day for me and while it is good to check it out live once, by 10:00 am I was more interested in having a beer and chair to enjoy it in. I headed back to my lot which gave me a chance to see a little of the campus which has some nice, classical architecture. I also was stopped by more fans asking about the flag and fixing me up with free beer and offers to feed me if I came back later. I found the fans to be very friendly. Being in Oklahoma, many of the women were sporting cowboy boots and western type orange and/or black gear. There were some guys in western wear, but not nearly as many as you would see at the University of Texas. Otherwise, it was a fairly traditional crowd.
I did not have a ticket to the game and I was planning to buy it the day of the game. Since I was a single seat for the game, I figured it wouldn’t be an issue. I did notice that the scalpers were patrolling the lots trolling for folks selling tickets. It immediately made nervous because that was a surefire indicator that demand was really strong. I asked a number of people informally and I didn’t find anyone looking to sell extra tickets. Online tickets were going for about $200 but they were looking to sell them only in pairs. This was less then an hour before the game so I was starting to feel the pressure. I then talked to another guy who said he had paid $440 a pair of tickets. Another scalper came through the lot looking to buy and I flagged him down. He said he one left for $220. I managed to get him to knock off $10. We headed over to the stadium about 15 minute later where I was disappointed to see a couple of fans selling single tickets. I probably could have got it a little cheaper from one of them. On the other hand, by the time I got to the stadium, there were a lot more folks looking to buy then there were those looking to sell.
The stadium seats 60,000 and I agree with my buddy’s review (see Shady’s review below), that there really isn’t a bad seat in house. The last time I paid over $200 for a ticket I was at Clemson and nearly got altitude sickness from how high up my seat was. With a medium sized venue like Pickens Stadium, you may still have to pay big game prices, but at least you will get a decent seat. There are are four video scoreboards, although unfortunately the largest one was directly behind me. Regardless, wherever you sit, you will be able to watch replays. There was also a video ribbon over the end zone that provided stats and updates on other scores from around the nation. I was sitting on a bleacher bench but my seat came with a seat back which was a much welcomed addition. The concessions were of standard fare. My souvenir cup was $6 but did come with free refills. The rest rooms were standard urinals but the wait was not unreasonable.
There are a lot of traditions at Oklahoma State. The students rhythmically slap the walls with paddles to generate noise. After big plays, there’s a chant of “O S U Cowboys” while spelling out the letters, ala “YMCA” style followed by a guns up sign. There was also a cheer where they spelled out Oklahoma, then yell State followed by beat OU. Or at least I think that’s what they said. That cheer was a bit harder to pick up. They also had a cheer of “Orange” on side of the stadium followed by “Power” on the other side. My favorite tradition, however, is when the Cowboys scored and “Bullet” the horse would be ridden out onto the field with the OSU flag waving in the breeze. The fans also wave their arms back and forth after a score, but no one could actually tell me where that came from. The OSU band was good and they even let the OU band play a couple songs.
Oklahoma State is in Stillwater about an hour and half from either Tulsa or Oklahoma City. I drove up from Houston and the portion of the drive through Dallas was a bear. Three times I got stuck in heavy traffic. Stillwater itself was a nice college town and I found it was easy to get around. After the game, I wanted to hit one of the two highly rated local haunts, Eskimo Joes and Hideaway Pizza. Unfortunately, both were jam-packed. I eventually gave up and decided to drive to my hotel in Ardmore as I was trying to get a couple hours of driving under my belt on Saturday night. That drive was not better than the drive up from Dallas. I would recommend you get a hotel room in Stillwater so you can enjoy the local sites.
I would be hard pressed to call this a football game, it was really a track meet. The scoring came fast and often. Oddly enough, the OSU defense came out with guns blazing. They had two defensive scores in the first five minutes. Unfortunately, both were ultimately overturned. From that point on, the floodgates were wide open. At half time the score was tied at 38 and the “over” was already met. It was one of those games that it appeared that the team with ball last would win. It almost played out that way. The Sooners were clinging to a three point lead late in the 4th quarter, but were driving. However, the Cowboy defense finally showed up and had an interception with three minutes left, returning the ball to the OSU 35. They drove all the way to the OU 38 before the turning over the ball on downs. The drive was aided by a targeting call that not only gave OSU 15 yards and a first down, but also reversed an interception that was ruled to have occurred after the penalty. I really thought the Cowboys were going to pull it out. OU obviously had other thoughts in mind for the finish and capped the game with another TD with 42 seconds left. This game was an absolute shoot out with nearly 1,500 yards of offense. I tend to prefer to see stifling defenses, but I have to admit that this contest was extremely entertaining. I never left my seat for the entire game.
This is easily the most I have spent on a single game but I would say it was absolutely worth it. I had a great time tailgating and I got plenty of exposure for the website. And while the ticket was expensive, on a per point basis it was actually a steal. The worst part of the trip was the drive back and forth from Houston. The other downer was that somehow I lost one of the bean bags to my corn hole set. There were a group of kids (6 – 10 years old) that wanted to play. The first group of boys were fairly mature and actually played a game. However, they then mixed in with a group of girls and it devolved into a bean bag dodge ball, none of which was appreciated by either me or the patrons walking by. I didn’t know any of these kids and their parents sure weren’t supervising them. I stepped in and collected the bags which at that point it looked like I had them all. We took down the tent and then went to put away the corn hole board. It was then I discovered the missing bean bag. The lesson learned here is to put the bean bags away when we aren’t playing.
So the missing bean bag only added to the bill for this stadium visit. And of course, Oklahoma State lost the game. Those were really the only negatives of day. I would highly recommend the OSU experience. The fans were very friendly and were particularly tolerant of a rather leather-lunged OU fan seating in our section. I have been in other stadiums where that guy would have got a fistful of knuckles. However, the Cowboy fans just laughed it off. Overall I would guess that a trip to Stillwater is probably going to cost less than what I paid. However, the “Bedlam” experience was worth the premium I paid. With that in mind, I would say visiting Oklahoma State is a must.
Game Review: Kansas State Wildcats vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys, 10/5/2013
“Wear your Orange” by Shady
At the turn of the century, Oklahoma State’s football stadium was known as Lewis Field. It was the oldest stadium in the Big 12 and looked the part. The rusty bleachers and lack of amenities made this stadium one of the worst in the Big 12. The outdated facility translated to a lack of talent on the field and few fans in the stands. It was easy to see why Oklahoma State football was one of the worst programs in the conference.
In 2004, the University began to renovate the old erector set of a stadium. The five year rebuild was helped in large part by a donation of roughly $300 million dollars from T. Boone Pickens. So long Lewis Field, hello Boone Pickens Stadium. The renovation/expansion created suites and club seats around the entire stadium and increased the capacity from 48,000 to 60,000. Although Boone Pickens Stadium is not the biggest in the Big 12, it is without a doubt one of the nicest in the conference if not the nation. The investment in the stadium translated to wins on the field. Oklahoma State became relevant in football and is now considered one of the top programs in the Big 12 and the nation.
The stadium itself is very intimate with not a bad seat in the house. There are stands on three of the four sides with Gallagher-Iba Arena arising impressively in the east end zone. The basketball arena nearly encloses the stadium and keeps the noise from escaping. The fans are right on top of the field. Students on the first row of the west end zone and north sideline pound the protective mats in unison with sticks creating an intimating environment for opposing teams.
The club level in the stadium serves up barbeque and pasta bars with ice cream, candy, cookies and a wide arrange of beverages. The concessions for the “cheap” seats are good but not really unique from other stadiums around the country.
Outside the Stadium:
With the investment in the program, fans returned and Stillwater became a great gathering place on Saturdays in the fall. The tailgating itself is very good around the stadium. It rivals some of the best tailgating in the SEC but on a much smaller scale. RV’s, tents, TV’s, food and drink can be found north and south of the stadium so it is easy to find a party.
Stillwater’s most famous hangout is Eskimo Joe’s, a mere 4 blocks from the stadium. If you get to town early on game day, stop off at Joe’s and try their famous Cheese Fries. Don’t forget to stop off at the apparel shop and pick up a t-shirt, hat or souvenir cup.
Anytime a game’s outcome is in doubt until the final 30 seconds you know you got your money’s worth. The game was back and forth throughout with Kansas State scoring first and the lead changing eight times during the game. The game featured a flea-flicker that nearly went for a touchdown and a blocked field goal that did go for a touchdown.
Oklahoma State struggled offensively throughout the game. Kansas State played well alternating two quarterbacks to keep Oklahoma State on their heels defensively.
Oklahoma State took the lead for good with just over four minutes remaining on a six yard pass from J.W. Walsh to Charlie Moore. The Cowboys tacked on a field goal with just over two minutes to play to go up by four points. Kansas State’s last chance comeback attempt ended when quarterback Daniel Sams threw an interception on the Oklahoma State 20 yard line with 30 seconds remaining.
All in all it was an exciting game to attend and it was fun to experience the amenities of the club level. Oklahoma State is a good place to catch a game but you better wear Orange if you want to fit in.