Houston Presents a Pretty Picture

PonyStampede.com's George Brown recaps what the atmosphere was like in Houston on Saturday.

An hour before kickoff at Saturday night's game against SMU at Robertson Stadium, packed side fields and full parking lots held audience to a leisure crowd, filling up on music, beer, and enjoying the first tailgate after a marquee win over Texas Tech nearly one month prior. The Cougars won a nail biter on national T.V. against the Red Raiders to the largest crowd the Cougars ever hosted. But three road games following the benchmark win forced an elated home crowd to hibernate for four weeks, until their homecoming against the Mustangs.

Kickoff displayed a half full crowd, but the rowdy student body and loyal alums worked their way from the tailgating to the stands, bringing a boisterous near full capacity crowd, keeping on their feet throughout the game, chanting the first downs, cheering on the offense, and draining the Mustangs will, until the last nail was driven into the SMU coffin.

It was an atmosphere that SMU strives to accomplish in Dallas.

June Jones' hire posed a break in a twenty year tradition of effortless mediocrity for SMU. Since the death penalty was hammered down on the Mustangs' head in the late eighties, SMU fans had only minor guilt and major shame when it came to their schools prestigious football legacy.

The hope? Jones' build a program in which high schoolers would strive to be a part of and bring State, if not National, recognition back to a program that has been pumping dry.

But, regardless of being a second tier college in an urban city, full of alternative entertainment on a Saturday than watching the local school play football, Houston has found a way to pull past that. With a high powered passing game, and two major wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, the Cougars have found themselves in the thick of the BCS rankings and giving the fans a hunger for more.

"It's electric, that win over Tech may keep it like this for the rest of the season." said Randy Harcey, a longtime Cougar fan and season ticket holder for eight years. "It's great. I've been to every home game, but now it's starting to feel like everyone else wants in on it too. Hopefully, with the bigger crowds, we'll get more recognition, then, who know?"

Harcey's enthusiasm rings throughout the Houston campus. With second year coach Kevin Sumlin 13-6 record, it's no wonder that Houston has something strong brewing.

June Jones' first year and a half has been more of a work-in-progress than Sumlin's, but the hint of the same enthusiasm seems to be approaching, with the Mustangs eyeing a Bowl berth for the first time since those infamous days in the late eighties.

In Dallas, the crowds are already slowly rising. If you find yourself asking "How big could it get?" It's very likely that your answer already exists in an already budding Robertson Stadium.


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