Oklahoma State fans love their football, and this season has been a good one. The Cowboys are 10-1 and a win away from winning the Big 12 title and making a BCS appearance. But if there's anything fans in Stillwater love more than the Pokes -- and winning -- it's tailgating. Like any successful football school should, Oklahooma State does it big.
Cory Treece and Taylor York, editors at SB Nation Oklahoma State blog Cowboys Ride for Free, collaborated to explain how it all goes down in Stillwater.
"Tailgating at Oklahoma State is a sport unto it's own," they said. "The die-hard tailgaters will show up on Thursday night at 4:30 and wait to stake their claim when tents are allowed to be set up at 5. Tents are set up all around the north, south and west sides of Boone Pickens Stadium, predominantly on the south and west sides where fans can see The Walk. The Walk occurs about two and a half hours before kickoff, when the players and coaches get out of their buses about a third of a mile south of the stadium at the Student Union and walk up Hester Street toward the stadium. It's like a mini-parade, with tailgaters lining both sides and the OSU Marching Band playing the fight song along the sides."
The turnout of fans sounds legit, and so does the game-day cuisine. Because they're in Oklahoma, fans have experience with Southwestern fare, barbecue and more. That results in a fine tailgating menu.
"Beverage and food choices in Stillwater are all across the board. Personally our tailgate has a theme each game which usually consists of Cajun, barbecue, chili, Mexican and breakfast tailgates for the early kickoffs. Beverages are generally the same way, but you can't go five feet without seeing someone walking around with a beer in their hand, so I would say that definitely gets the nod over liquor. My wife says ice chests are good for one thing only... and that's beer. However, earlier this year, I saw the back of an SUV with a homemade multi-Chelf liquor bar -- see what I did there?! -- that would put typical franchise restaurants to shame. You know this town loves its booze when 'you honk, we drink' signs always get at least one honk from the cops."
Stillwater is a small town in north-central Oklahoma, home to a little fewer that 50,000 residents. As with most small college towns, the university dominates culture and daily life, providing employment for more than 5,000 people and educating more than 20,000 students. And like any good college town, there are plenty of good bars and restaurants.
"This is by far my favorite area right now. There are a ton of great spots, so I'll start with the closest to the stadium and work back. Stonewall Tavern is a stone's throw away from the stadium -- OK, maybe if you're a D-I QB you could hit the BPS parking lot -- and is always packed pre- and post-game. Whether you just want to watch a game, take a famous Orange Power shot, play shuffleboard, pool or darts, Stonewall has you covered. Two-dollar specials are common, and pitchers of beer are just a few bucks more. Next up is easily the most famous bar or restaurant in Stillwater, Oklahoma: Eskimo Joe's. Eskimo Joe's is the staple visitors flock to. The lines are long, the hallways are packed; but holy crap, if you have never had Joe's Cheese Fries with bacon, you have missed out on life thus far. With a bar on both the top and bottom floor, as well as many outside stations, beer flows like wine, and beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.
"Next up: Murphy's. Murphy's is the bar of choice for most OSU fans pre- and post-game. Jello shots and margaritas and their specialties, but beers and liquor are everywhere. Murph's always has the longest lines to get in, and it's always worth it.
"The Strip has a ton more bars and places to eat. If you want to dance, go to Outlaws. If you want the biggest and most alcoholic version of a limeade you have ever seen, go to the Copper Penny. If you are looking for a late-night snack, go to Coney Island, open until 2 a.m.. There isn't a bad thing on the menu, but my favorites are the onion burger, crawdaddy coney and cheese tots."
Obviously, the party-school atmosphere that is regularly associated with major football programs is prevalent at Oklahoma State. When football season rolls around, it doesn't matter who, the Cowboys are playing; fans will be out in full force all weekend. But this Saturday is different. Oklahoma is in town, which means it's the biggest home game of the year. The scene should be on another level because the Bedlam game is, above all, about one important thing.
"Hate. That's what we do best for Bedlam. There is no one single or special activity, but the week ahead is filled with slander, jokes and bringing up all bad aspects of either side's history of football (and endless jokes about players being kicked off for mischievous behavior). Everyone is full of trash talk before and after the game. This year will be very interesting because of the weather. Freezing rain, sleet, ice, snow and negative wind chills have been projected for Thursday to Saturday in Oklahoma.
"Nevertheless, OSU fans don't need much of an incentive for Bedlam to bring the rowdy to the stadium come kickoff."