Last weekend was my annual out-of-state road trip with my brother. Catching a game in Oxford has been on my bucket list for years but last season we opted to start out our SEC road trip saga with a trip to Auburn....and as it turned out, the weekend A&M played Ole Miss was cold and rainy and we were rewarded for our patience by the SEC schedule makers with another game in Oxford again this year
one of the wildest games I've ever watched and Ole Miss has some offensive firepower this year which is scary with the lack of defense we've seen out of the Maroon & White.
Just a little house keeping....
- DT, Kirby Ennis, is out for year after tearing his ACL against Arkansas - he will undergo surgery
- Floyd Raven is listed as probable to play this weekend after breaking his collar bone early in the game against Sam Houston
We didn't have a hotel in Oxford and with the night kickoff we thought that we'd space out the drive over Friday and Saturday so we got a room in New Orleans for Friday night. I swung by Sean's place on Friday shortly after noon and we headed out on I-10 East towards the Crescent City.
|The view from our hotel window|
We figured there had to be some good food in the French Quarter so we headed that way.....and spent about an hour trying to park. Seemingly, a part of town built a century ago wasn't designed to handle modern day urban parking.
We weren't completely sure where we parked but were concerned that all the houses had gates and bars on them - but we figured it had to be an expensive area otherwise they wouldn't need the gates and bars. Sean was freaked out by the gas coach lights, the colored lights, and the thoughts of voodo.
We ended up eating at a place called Royal House Oyster Bar, which was really good - and reasonably priced. Then we went out in search of Bourbon Street.
It is safe to say that Bourbon Street is an interesting place. The people watching is phenomenal. Florida was playing at LSU the following day so there were a lot of Gator fans mulling around.
- Make sure you are conscious of where you are looking - there are some things that you just can't unsee.
- Actually, there are many things.
- I got punched. It was completely random, but some girl threw a punch at me and hit me in my ribcage just on the inside of my arm. Not a friendly punch to get your attention but a real punch. I turned around and before I could say "WFT?" she was already shooting me the bird. Her eyes were completely bloodshot (and I was still so shocked by the whole thing) so I just let it be and caught back up with Sean.
- It was kind of like Northgate on steroids.
- They now sell alcohol in actual fish bowls.
After we saw that craziness we located the famous Cafe Du Monde and had a late night snack of beignets. The place is open 24-hours a day and Sean and I figured that they can cycle through about 45-50 parties of people per table per 24 hours. That is a lot of beignets.
I was also shocked to see that our two orders was less than $6. They could probably charge double and not lose any business simply because of where they are located and the novelty of it.
We also discovered that when I eat, I inhale into my lungs which can cause some big problems when eating something with a mound of powdered sugar on it.
It was delicious.
Thankfully, our car was still waiting for us where we parked it and we got back to the hotel around 1am with an early rise on Saturday.
Saturday Oct. 12th
My alarm went off at 7:30am and we hustled downstairs to eat our free breakfast....but it took FOREVER. We didn't end up leaving the hotel until 9am.
We got to Oxford around 3:15 and drove straight to The Square to find something to eat. The parking situation was pretty similar to the French Quarter.
There were lots of little boutique shops and a handful of restaurants. There is also a statue of William Faulkner, the great American author of which neither Sean nor I could name a single thing he has written.
We ate at a place called The Corner, which had lots of room, no wait, and lots of big TVs showing all the afternoon games (Clemson/B.C., Baylor/KSU, LSU/Florida, & Oregon/Washington).
We attempted to drive closer to the stadium to park but that was a really bad idea. Oxford doesn't appear to be equipped to handle gameday parking. Thankfully, we did our homework earlier in the week and had a list of the park & rides. Two and a half hours before kickoff and we just barely squeezed into the parking lot. At Ole Miss, the pre-game is much more popular than in-game.
We walked right over to The Grove. It was a sight to see. The pictures we took don't even do it justice, there were tents set up side-to-side across the entire 10 acres. It was packed - like walking through a crowd at a concert. Everyone dresses in their Sunday best and the tables are adorned with lace and fine cutlery.
There were even chandeliers.
The one thing that I really couldn't get over was that there wasn't anybody cooking. I've always considered that a key ingredient to tailgating, but it appeared that everyone brought pre-made food from home or had their tent catered. It was more like a giant picnic, than a tailgate.
It was really cool to see but honestly, I think it is slightly overhyped. I had it built up in my mind to be more grand than it was - I think the fact that everyone dresses up impresses most people and the fact that it is all consolidated into one location . That said, it was still quite memorable, impressive, and without a doubt a must see for any college football fan.
We made two passes through The Grove and then decided to head into the stadium. Thanks to some very kind Ags, we had picked up some free tickets in the player's family section. We walked down into one of the corners of the endzone to watch the players in warmup.
|Johnny with George Whitfield Jr (QB Guru)|
|Mike "The Beast" Evans|
Nehemiah Hick's family was in front of us and his mother was awesome.
The game itself was incredible. The score went back and forth:
7-0 -> 7-7 -> 14-7 -> 14-10 -> 21-10 -> 21-17 -> 24-17 -> 24-24 -> 24-31 -> 31-31 -> 31-38 -> 38-38 -> ???Watching the game, I didn't think that Johnny had his best night but all of a sudden the game was over and he had 470 yards and a pair of TDs.
There was a stretch of time at the end of the 1st quarter through the end of the half that neither team seemed to be productive - lots of punts, failed 4th down attempts, and FG attempts.
Also during that 1st half - Johnny went down with a knee injury. He was running with the ball but there was no contact. Everyone in maroon either freaked or got deathly silent. The Ole Miss students cheered.
The third quarter started much faster but on our second possession, Johnny was picked off in the endzone on a ball that he tried to force. Fortunately, Darion Claiborne returned the favor three snaps later. On the ensuing drive we got into a 3rd & 4 at their 14 yard line but had a false start that pushed us back to 3rd & 9. We couldn't convert and had to settle for another FG.
Ole Miss turned around and tied the game with a TD and then the unthinkable happened....Johnny fumbled. I honestly can't think of a time when that has happened before. Ole Miss turned that into 7 points.
Watching the game on TV when I got home I saw on the sidelines after that TD, the cameras flashed to Johnny and he was smiling as he put on his helmet. It was a smile like, "Challenge accepted."
We scored TDs on our next two possessions and would have scored one on our third except Sumlin decided to let the clock run down and Josh Lambo stepped up and kicked the game winning FG as time expired.
Our section went bonkers. Celebratory pictures were taken.
There were two other plays that I need to mention....
Mike Evans pulled off the hurdle over the defender leap to set up our final TD (a 6 yard Johnny scamper).
I thought that Trey Williams was the player of the game, regardless of how many yards Johnny put up and how clutch Lambo's FG was. I feel like it was his breakout performance. He looks to be fully healthy and when he is - WOW.
After the game, Sean and I hung around to cheer the players as they loaded up on the bus. Then this happened....
It was pretty awesome. The Beast is standing on the same level ground as Sean.
Ben Malena, Trey Williams, and Jake Matthews were also awesome and took pictures with all the kiddos who were there.
As the team buses pulled away we saw the line to catch the shuttle back to grassy field where we parked - after quickly consulting Siri, we decided we could easily huff it before we could get halfway through the shuttle line.
On the way back to the car, Sean was flagged down by an old Ag who was sitting on the curb. She was at least 75 - but when she realized he wasn't the young man who sat next to her during the game she dismissed him with a wave of her hand. It was awesome. He wasn't quite sure how to react.
We also watched a full out grown up thrown a temper tantrum as he flipped his Ole Miss rolling cooler in the street.
The two things I feel like I missed out on.....I didn't look for the 18 mph speed limit signs on campus and I somehow made it though the day without hearing Dixie played a single time?!?
Once we got back to the car we just headed out of town - our hotel was in Winona, MS, which we had driven through on our way into town....it was about an hour and a half south.
We didn't really get on the road until right around midnight and it was getting foggy. There was a scary moment when I started to strain my eyes and then look at Sean, who was driving, and he was doing the same thing. Then all of a sudden we realized, yeah - there was something in the road. It was a man stumbling down the fog covered interstate in the dead of night - right in the middle of the road, not off on the shoulder. That could have ended badly.
Sunday morning we were up early, chatted with a nice Ole Miss fan and his son while eating, and then headed back home to Texas.
We found a Whataburger somewhere in Mississippi, which was surprising.
Then we crossed the Mississippi River Bridge.
It was a great road trip, one I would recommend to anyone. I'm looking forward to our trip to Baton Rouge at the end of next month.