Auburn vs. Texas A&M: remembering 2013

Houston, TX, Friday October 18th, 2013, 5 PM. My wife, Melodye, and I are sitting in our little white Toyota Yaris on the parking lot that is I-10. We are hoping to get to our hotel, on the west side of the sprawling megalopolis, at some point that evening. Why does it seem like we ALWAYS hit the largest cities at rush hour? Oh well…

Tomorrow our 5-1, 24th ranked Auburn Tigers will go to war with the 7th ranked Texas A&M Aggies. If I said we overly excited and charged with eager anticipation it would be an understatement.+

The year before I had spent two weeks working in Houston as an inspector for AAA. That second week I had camped out at a Fairfield Inn By Marriott that we were attempting to reach on this pleasant Friday afternoon. I knew the lay of the land well and just wanted to get there.+

Sigh… COME ON TRAFFIC!!! MOVE!!!+

We FINALLY reach our destination well after six o’clock and were chomping at the bit to unpack and walk to a popular Mexican eatery I had come to enjoy back in 2012. But the bottom fell out and we had to drive the very short distance. The place was packed. The food was quite good. The drinks were cold and they helped to temper our mood which was now building to a fever pitch.+

When we got in our car the prior day, late Thursday after Mel arrived home from teaching school, I turned to her and said, “We are going to Texas for ONE reason and that is TO WIN THIS FOOTBALL GAME!!!” We then, in unison, went into a big WAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRR EAGLE!!! HEY!!! And off we headed to Mobile, AL to spend that night.+

It is now Saturday morning. We woof down some bacon, eggs and biscuits and we bound off to the Yaris for the hour plus trip to College Station. We arrive several hours before the 2:30 PM kickoff. The game is to be televised by CBS with Verne Lundquist doing the play by play and Gary Danielson taking care of the color duties.+

We park in the back yard of some student’s house just off George Bush Drive. Now it’s time to explore the Aggieland campus. It is a lovely place and HUGE. The enrollment is somewhere north of 50,000. You can smell the oil money.+

The massive end zone facade of Kyle Field rises before us, jutting regal into the pale blue lone star sky. We begin our walk and we glide with our feet, seemingly, off the ground. I get a lump in my throat, as I always do when I arrive as a first time visitor on the opposition’s ground. +

Wipe your eyes and take a deep breath Bird. It’s on!!!+

Now let me say this… we have been to EVERY campus in the SEC, except Missouri, and most of them multiple times. But we have NEVER been treated so warmly as we were in College Station. Great folks! We will make every effort to return there in 2015.+

So, after a few beverages and some great conversations we make our way to the stadium for the Tiger Walk. It turns out that the Tigers actually won’t be allowed to walk. The buses will drive through the throngs of people and pull into a fenced-in area beside Kyle Field and they will disembark there.+

Ok, the Auburn cheerleaders lead us in a few ‘War Eagles’ ‘Bodda Gettas’ and ‘Two Bits’. The band plays. And then we hear some sirens and spot the buses headed our way. There are a great many of the Auburn faithful here and they scream, shout and wave their shakers vigorously.+

We are very near the front of the crowd lining the street. Now the first bus moves toward us and we can see inside. There on the front seat, beside the driver and sitting by himself, is head coach Gus Malzahn. BOOM!!!+

The caravan rolls in and disappears from sight. The electricity is palpable now. Two hours until kickoff. Let’s grab a couple of bracers and find our way to the heights of the upper deck in the north end zone.+

We make our way through gate 11 and up to section 505, row 30, seats 1 and 2. End seats, just like our permanent spot in Jordan-Hare, thank you baby Jesus!+

Inhale… exhale… inhale… exhale. Now compose yourself and focus Bird.+

Wait, I can hear the starting lineups being broadcast over the PA system. The announcer is doing the A&M offensive first eleven. “At quarterback number 2, Johnny Manziel.” GULP!!! Chill bumps. GULP again.+

Well sports fans, you know what happens from here. High drama deep in the heart of Texas! The game goes back and forth and back and forth. How on earth did Johnny Football make that throw to Mike Evans? Did Sammie Coates just toss that defender like it was nothing? Can we at least slow them down? What a catch by Marcus Davis!!! Tre Mason! They reviewed it! He scored!!! Oh crap! There’s still well over a minute left. That’s an eternity for the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner to march the Aggies down the field. He did.+

BUT… Kris Frost runs Manziel down over on the left sideline. Oh mercy It’s 4th down! Manziel is back to pass… wait wait wait… he’s being chased by Dee Ford like a heat seeking missile… HE’S SACKED!!! +

Auburn wins!!! Auburn wins!!! Auburn wins!!!+

Auburn 45, Texas A&M 41+

The Tigers rush the field! They are leaping and hugging and crying tears of joy!!+

I sprint up and down the steep steps and bear hug my bride and our tears of joy flow as well!!!+

The band plays War Eagle over and over!!!+

I think this Gus Bus thing IS FOR REAL!!!+

We’re back!!!

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