Road to Game Day: Week 12, Norman

Words by Keith Arnold, who is touring the country with his brother Phil as they invade a different college campus each Saturday during the football season. They’ll be reporting back in this space with their various adventures. You can also keep tabs on their vagabonding over at RoadtoGameDay.com. On Saturday, they were in Norman for the Texas Tech-Oklahoma game.
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↵It’s hard to put into context how disappointing Saturday’s Texas Tech-Oklahoma game was. Epically disappointing. Matrix III disappointing. Or worse yet, Godfather III disappointing. Before the game, as we sat in our seats that straddled the 50 yard-line, mesmerized by the absolutely electric environment inside Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Phil said, “I honestly wouldn’t be surprised by anything that happened tonight.” Fast forward three hours, after seeing yet another Sooner touchdown get put on the board, Phil just shook his head and said, “Well, I never saw that coming.” ↵

↵And so goes another blowout on the Road to Game Day. While part of me just wanted to yell down at the field and at least ask for a good game, that’s what makes college football what it is. There is no way that an HDTV or Vegas oddsmakers could capture how incredible the Sooners’ homefield advantage was Saturday night. As Oklahoma’s offensive line put the Texas Tech defense on rollerskates, and the Sooners front seven put Graham Harrell in tap shoes, you could see the snowball grow and grow, before the boulder that was a 28-0 lead became an absolute avalanche. No matter how explosive Tech’s offense might be, Saturday night, there was no escaping the Sooners. ↵

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↵In a time where both defenders and detractors of Oklahoma wondered what team would show up for this marquee matchup, it was made abundantly clear by Bob Stoops that he was still the coach that so many teams feared to face when all the chips were in the middle of the table. Ten minutes into the game, barely able to hear myself think, the woman sitting next to me, who had been going to games at Owen Field for over 20 years, stated matter-of-factly, “This is the loudest this stadium has ever been.” ↵

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↵The stadium’s roar had a cathartic feel, 85,000 fans finding redemption in the success of Sam Bradford and the Sooner offense. Four quick touchdowns weren’t enough to erase the heartbreak from defeats like USC, Boise State, or Texas in this year’s Red River Shootout. So they kept scoring. Thirty, 40, 50 points. (It got to 60, but we had already left.) Each TD celebrated with the same zeal as the last, bringing the fans to their feet, and an absolutely crazed Sooner sideline to a frenzy. ↵

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↵One of the positives of being kicked out of the hotel at noon and not being able to find a single vacant hotel room in Norman for Saturday night is that it forced us to get to the stadium ridiculously early. Settling into a table at O’Connell’s, an Irish bar that sits in the shadows of the stadium, we watched droves of Sooner fans congregate in the streets and parking lots surrounding the stadium. Live bands played, barbeques and grills cooked, many fired up hours before we showed up. For a town that seemed boring just 48 hours before, it became the epicenter of Oklahoma on game day. ↵

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↵Unfortunately, one of the negatives of being kicked out of the hotel at noon and not being able to find a single vacancy meant that we needed to get out of town. As the Sooners continued to pile up points late into the night, Phil and I escaped to I-40, where we began a marathon 1,400 mile, 19-hour, non-stop trek to Los Angeles. We’re regrouping here, seeking comfort in our own beds, a visiting family Thanksgiving in my tiny apartment, before preparing for another inevitable blowout that’s sure to come Saturday, as we watch the downtrodden Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on their cross-country rival, the University of Southern California Trojans. ↵

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↵At least we’ll be ready for this one ... ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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