It’s five o’clock on a Saturday night, and what are you doing? In the wonderful world of college you have several options, but usually this means you’re about to watch some football. It’s early December. This brings four little words to Southerners’ minds: The Big Twelve Championship.
I’m headed to Buffalo Wild Wings with my best friend Laura and her boyfriend Ryan. We’re meeting up with her dad and step mom to have a belated birthday dinner. Laura turned twenty-one last week. Being the college students that we are, we’re hoping for a free dinner, a drink or two, and some action-packed Oklahoma Sooner football. This year OU is playing the Nebraska Cornhuskers. What a “cornhusker” is exactly, I’m not entirely sure…nor do I care.
We’re promptly greeted and seated by hostesses in bright crimson jerseys. Everyone is smiling and seems to be in good spirits. After all, our team just beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who are our most hated rival, besides Texas. How could anyone within a thirty mile radius of Norman not be happy?
We decide to order some mozzarella sticks while we wait on Laura’s parents. The game doesn’t start for two more hours. Now, I have to admit, I’ve never not watched a football game either a) in person or b) on my sofa. The thought of sitting in a chair that can’t lean back wasn’t too appealing. I got over it though. I wanted to see what it was like to watch a game here. Plus, you can’t forget the first rule of college: never pass up a free meal.
An hour went by, and that fried shrimp appetizer we’d hesitated about ordering was sounding better by the minute. Still no sign of the parents. I started realizing that we’d only been sent here this early to guard the table.
“You know, when Ryan and I went here in Tulsa for the Bedlam game there was a fight,” Laura says with a perturbed look.
“Yea, some OSU guy was drunk out of his mind and just smashed this guy’s face on the bar,” Ryan says. “It was awesome.”
How typical of an Oklahoma State fan, I think to myself. What is it about football that makes normally rational people want to fight each other for liking a certain team? Furthermore, why do people like wearing orange?
A hideous orange T-shirt materialized in front of us, in the form of Laura’s dad. How embarrassing. The only person with enough nerve to wear a Cowboys shirt into a crowded restaurant full of Sooners would be him. Typical.
“Why are you wearing that shirt here?” I ask him. “It’s disgusting.”
When you’re wearing a rival shirt you don’t get a proper greeting from me. Even if you’re buying my meal. Fortunately, he has a good sense of humor and laughs it off.
“I told Lance not to wear that,” Laura’s step mom says. “He’s going to get us killed, or thrown out of here.”
They both shrug and sit down. Lance looks oddly out of place in his gaudy orange attire, but no one says anything rude to him. We all order dinner (a crap load of chicken wings) and Laura gets to legally have some beer. It’s a good time filled with laughter, birthday presents, and talk about what lucky player will get the Heisman.
After what seems like centuries, it’s finally game time. You know how they say “You can feel it in the air?” Well, when it’s football time in Oklahoma, you literally can. For the next three hours, nothing else will matter.
The entire restaurant is buzzing with electricity. An obscene number of football jerseys forms a sea of crimson and cream. I can feel the hairs on my arm standing on end. Suddenly, the chatter amongst the customers stops. The surround sound kicks on. All of the TVs switch to ESPN. The commentator’s voice booms through the place like some kind of monstrous avalanche on steroids.
There’s a bitter cold draft coming from the front door. I feel bad for the normal people who just want to have dinner. There is no way they will be able to get a table in this lifetime.
The minute the game starts, it’s a nail biter. Nebraska scores the first touchdown, but we’re holding our own and making them work for it. The atmosphere of Wild Wings distracts me from the game a few times, but in a good way. People from all walks of life are there to eat some tasty wings and root for the Sooners. They’re watching the big screens like hawks, never once peeling their eyes away. Well, unless it’s to order a round of celebratory shots for their friends.
Even Lance is cheering for OU to win. As much as he hates Oklahoma, he hates Nebraska more. Secretly, I think he’s just gotten tired of rooting for teams that usually end up losing. I decide it’s best to keep that thought to myself though.
Nebraska leads the scoreboard for most of the game. No one is worried though. The entire restaurant is cheering, “Boomer soonering,” and waiting for us to rip the lead away from the Huskers.
A guy at the table next to us, Jim, starts talking to me during a commercial.
“My wife and I started watching OU games here about two years ago. The atmosphere is contagious. Plus, it beats going to the game and sitting in the cold for hours on end.”
He does have a point.
Just seconds later, the play we’ve been waiting for all night happens. With eight minutes and twenty two seconds to go, Jimmy Stevens kicks the field goal that puts us three points ahead – twenty three to twenty.
The game clock is ticking down, and victory is within reach. The electric feeling in the air gets even more intense. When it reaches one minute, every single person jumps to his or her feet and starts screaming. The Sooners have just won their seventh Big Twelve Championship. Sorry boutcha, Nebraska.
Jim and his wife give me high-fives, followed by Laura and Ryan. Lance looks slightly disgruntled.
Then someone gets on the loud speaker.
“We’re going to another bowl game, baby!”
Yes sir, the Fiesta Bowl is sounding pretty good right now. And I think I could get used to Buffalo Wild Wings.
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