Road Warrior: Sooners quiet Wildcats

Sooners Illustrated's fan in the stands recaps his road trip to Manhattan and OU's win over the 'Cats.

As I write this, we are cruising southbound on the Kansas Turnpike, also known as I-35, headed back from a successful foray into the land of the Purple People. My lovely wife has agreed to drive so that I might make use of this time to update you on the happenings on the trip to the thriving metropolis of Manhattan, KS. Well, thriving metropolis may be a bit much, but it's a town, anyway.

We have just passed the sign in the back of some farmer's field with a big Powercat logo on it and "BEAT OU – BIG XII CHAMPS." That damned thing has been there for several years, with obvious additions after last year's debacle in Kansas City. To the farmer who belongs to that sign, I can only say: Eat it, my purple friend, and enjoy the taste, because you have no choice in the matter.

Jason White and the boys took care of that yesterday, as they finally quieted the yapping from north central Kansas that had persisted since December 6, or at least until the Wildcats were smoked at home by Fresno State a few weeks ago. Unlike many Sooner fans, while I had hopes of a blowout, I didn't think this would be an easy game, simply because we always seem to have trouble with KSU, no matter how bad they seem to be. Plus, Bill Snyder, for all his eccentricities, is a damn good football coach, and I knew they were going to throw some wrinkles our way.

Of course, I didn't think one of those wrinkles would be abandoning their offense in favor of a five-wide passing attack, but that's what happened. I didn't think Snyder was that desperate, but obviously I was wrong. The 'Cats hung their whole season, or what was left of it, on this game, and they hit us with their best shot. However, once the Sooner defense had a chance to adjust, it was all over for the KSU offense, and they didn't threaten to score after their second TD early in the second quarter.

It was good to see the defense respond as they did to the unexpected from KSU. Dan Cody and Rufus Alexander were outstanding, Cody in particular. By the fourth quarter, we had just worn out KSU's defensive line, and Cody was constantly in the backfield pressuring Dylan Meier, who was harassed all day and eventually knocked unconscious and out of the game in the fourth. I don't like to see anyone hurt in a game, and I wish Meier well, but I must admit that, after all the abuse our QBs have taken in the past few games against KSU, it was refreshing to see a purple-clad QB walking off the field woozy instead of one in crimson.

This was my 160th game in a row, and I have never seen such a classless display both before and during the game, and sanctioned by the host school to boot, as I saw yesterday in Manhattan. First, prior to the game, there was a "skit" on the field involving a student dressed as a hillbilly, purportedly to represent the Sooners. It involved mocking "Boomer Sooner" and ended with the KSU mascot, Willie the Wildcat, putting a big hit on the other guy at midfield, to the delight of those in attendance who didn't sell their tickets to Sooner fans for half price. It's one thing to put a silly little animation on the big screen. It's quite another to do something like they did at KSU. As annoying as it has been, I have to say that the Sooners' pre-game video announcement from David Boren, Bob Stoops, and Joe Castiglione about sportsmanship and the recognition and welcome of the opponent by the Pride of Oklahoma is far preferable to KSU's pre-game attempts at mockery.

The other thing that really made me angry was that when the Sooners would huddle up, the PA would start blaring rock music at twice the normal volume until there were only a few seconds to go on the play clock. This is, if I am not mistaken, a direct violation of conference rules. Whether it was a rules violation or not, it was one of the most classless things I have seen at a road game. It's one thing for the crowd to yell, but it's quite another for the PA to be blaring loud music to interfere with the opponent's calling of plays and audibles. And besides that, the music sucked. KSU Stadium is definitely Cliché Sports Music Central.

And, of course, they played highlights from last year's Big XII Championship Game just before kickoff, as you knew they would. Sorry guys, but that's pathetic. It was pathetic when we showed "Great Sooner Moments" of big wins over Nebraska while they were beating us by 50 points, and it was just as pathetic to show those highlights before this year's game.

Then there were the late-night visitors to the RV parking area, which I fortunately wasn't there to witness. The Sooners in RVs who arrived on Thursday awoke Friday to find their OU flags and such had been stolen during the night. Then on Friday night, bands of besotted (and progressively more so) KSU students circled through the RV area once an hour all through the night with bullhorns, blasting "F­K OU" and other vulgarities over and over again. Those people are truly pathetic.

On a side note, how creative is naming the place "KSU Stadium" anyway? I mean, I know when they built the place in the '60s they didn't exactly have people lining up to buy the naming rights, but still. I guess they haven't had anybody win the Powerball and offer them money to rename the stadium. Their main source of revenue appears to be Coors Light ad signs, which were on all the scoreboards. They even ran beer commercials on the big screen, which I have never seen at a college stadium. Heck, the only college stadium where I had ever even seen a beer ad sign on the scoreboard before this was at Colorado, and I think they took those out when they quit selling beer in the stadium.

In any event, we didn't arrive in Manhattan until Saturday morning, when our tailgate RV was already set up. We had one slight problem. You see, my wife normally watches the games from the tailgate. However, in Manhattan, we couldn't get the OKC local stations on the dish, because we were out of the broadcast area. We couldn't get the game over the antenna on the RV because the closest station was in Topeka. So, it didn't look like my wife would be able to watch the game. That was, of course, my fault, and I had to fix it.

Fortunately, someone had the bright observation that there was a TV satellite truck set up two RVs over. I went over and talked to the engineer and explained our plight. He agreed to help, and we ran a 50-foot cable from our TV under our RV, through a barbed–wire fence, and under another RV so that the TV guy could hook up a cable from his truck to our cable. And that's how my wife was able to watch the game – on a direct satellite feed straight from the TV truck. Classic.

This year they put my tickets in what passes for an upper deck in Manhattan, instead of in the low end zone corner where I had to sit before. The deck isn't particularly tall, but because everything else is so flat, to my right I could see the top of the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, while to my left I could see all the way to Wichita. Well, not really, but it felt that way.

Before kickoff I heard a guy a couple of rows behind me wondering aloud if the Road Warrior might be sitting in that particular section. The answer, of course, was yes, although I didn't tell him that at the time. I figured it would be more fun for him to find out here.

Next up, the other Kansans. If I can keep my Kansas-born wife from singing "I'm a Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jay, Jayhawk" all week, I'll be happy. Hey, she had to learn it in school 15 miles from Lawrence. Leave her alone. She's not really a Jayhawk. She's an Oklahoma Aggy. But that's for another time.

See you in Norman for the battle with the Fighting Manginos.

The Road Warrior is your typical OU fan in the stands, with one notable exception. He's been in the stands for every Sooner football game, home and away, for 160 consecutive games, dating back to October 12, 1991. His views appear in each issue of Sooners Illustrated.

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