Chinstraps and Mouthpieces
Trip for Kansas game fun deep in the heart of Texas
Kansas Jayhawk football hasn't been the most enjoyable this season, but games can still be fun to attend.
Taking an excursion to a stadium or city you haven't been to before is exciting.
Traveling in a rental van equipped with two televisions, three fellow Jayhawk fans and I took a trip to Austin, Texas, for Kansas' game against once-beaten and No. 5 Texas.
The Jayhawks were pounded 59-0 for their fifth-straight loss, their worst streak since 1988.
Although some times are approximate, here are the highlights and lowlights of the trip:
3:30 p.m. Before leaving Lawrence we pick up KU car flags at Hy-Vee. We drive through Lawrence and receive funny looks for flying the flags on a day when the Jayhawks aren't playing. Unfortunately, Kansas didn't really play on Saturday, either. The flags didn't fly much after Saturday morning.
4:30 p.m. We arrive in Overland Park to pick up another passenger, but he opts not to go, and we receive the message too late. The miscommunication leads to an unfortunate later start on our journey south.
5:40 p.m. We stop at Ottawa for a meal. We realize we haven't made much progress when a KU basketball poster sponsored by Neu Physical Therapy of Tonganoxie, Baldwin and Lawrence greets us at the Dairy Queen entrance. After eating, we get back on the road. "Necessary Roughness" is put in the VCR and we enjoy the football classic starring Scott Bakula and featuring the Jayhawks as an opponent for the Texas State Armadillos. The team upsets the Texas Colts after tying Kansas too bad the 'Hawks didn't upset the real Texas on Saturday.
8:35 p.m. One television hooked to a Playstation 2 has another passenger and me playing he's Texas, I'm Kansas. After playing solid defense and establishing a surprisingly strong offense, I fall behind 10-3. The television is going in and out, so we decide to stop. My opponent wants another couple plays, which includes a kickoff. He kicks, recovers and scores a touchdown before deciding it is the proper time to end the game.
10:33 p.m. A food stop is needed again. We visit a Braum's somewhere in Oklahoma. Locals ask us about our KU garb. Sooner fans, they wish us luck in beating their rival Longhorns.
1:43 a.m. A passenger on the trip has a friend in the Dallas area, and we stop for a few hours. We thought about staying, but realized getting up for a three-hour drive to Austin wouldn't work for an 11:30 a.m. kickoff. After staying for some time, we continue the trip south.
4:02 a.m. We leave for Austin.
4:09 a.m. I fall asleep.
7:35 a.m. We arrive in Austin. I awake from my slumber. We proudly show our KU spirit by hoisting the flags out the van windows. A local resident notices our flags, expresses he doesn't like the Longhorns, and wishes us luck against Texas.
9:45 a.m. The game is set to start at 11:30 a.m., so we head to Texas Memorial Stadium, about 10 blocks from our motel.
10 a.m. After visiting the Erwin Center, Texas' basketball arena, we walk to the stadium.
10: 30 a.m. We walk around the stadium and notice no other Kansas supporters are there. One of my friends wears a Texas shirt and Kansas hat because he's from Texas but goes to school at the University of Kansas. A few fans ask questions and we explain the situation. They continue to give us strange looks.
Once we get into the stadium, we look for a general admission area or some sort of KU section. We locate it and find a seat. I motion to my friends that I think Brian McRae is sitting a row below us. A sideline pass on his belt makes it more of a possibility.
11:30 a.m. The first game under interim coach Tom Hayes begins. Kansas stops Texas from scoring on its first series, but the rest of the day is not as successful.
I'm startled the first time the 'Horns score. A canon near the north end zone is shot off every time Texas scores and on kickoffs. It became annoying about halfway through the first quarter.
12:30 p.m. The Texas band plays "Wabash Cannonball." Kansas State's rendition is better, but either way, it's reminiscent of the Jayhawks playing badly against a good opponent.
1:15 p.m. New York Yankee pitcher Roger Clemens is supposed to come out at halftime, but I never see an appearance. I apparently misunderstand the public address announcer.
3 p.m. The game is finished and we head back to the motel. The afternoon was enjoyable only because Major Applewhite played in his final game at Texas. A backup to the younger Chris Simms, the senior Applewhite ran in for a touchdown and threw the football into the student section. The crowd cheered and the referees flew penalty flags for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
4 p.m. We head to Sixth Street, Austin's highly touted downtown. After devouring a meal at a local restaurant, we watch Kansas State fall in a tough game to Nebraska. We spend the evening at different establishments and have more fun with Longhorn fans there than at the game.
1:30 p.m. We arrive in Fort Worth to visit my brother and his family. After eating lunch, my friends play soccer with my niece and nephew. One friend protects the goal against my 8-year-old nephew. My nephew doesn't score, but proceeds to hit one of my friends in the nose with the ball. Although my friend complains of a slight sting, he is able to shake it off and we drive to Denton.
Another friend on the trip once attended school at North Texas. We go to the bookstore for UNT shirts, but it's closed.
5 p.m. Our last stop is in Plano where the third friend's grandmother lives. We pass Lewisville, home of the Fightin' Farmers and home to the 1993 and 1996 Texas State high school football champions.
3 a.m. We finally get back to Lawrence. The journey was long, but nothing beats a trip to a college football game, even if your team isn't the winner.