Tucker Talks: Razorbacks create Hog Heaven in Texas

Everything really is bigger in Texas. New Cowboys Stadium is built to epically large proportions, but the Arkansas Razorbacks felt right at home in their first appearance on the new field.

The real attraction of the game was no doubt the venue in which it was played. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, an alum of the University of Arkansas, spared no expense during construction of football’s crown jewel.

While official figures have put the stadium’s cost at $1.15 billion, a tour of the mammoth confines puts the number at an astounding $1.4 billion and even suggests the inflated number could still climb.

The 60-yard video screen is mesmerizing and the cascading levels of seats and luxury boxes stretches to towering heights.

The view from outside may be the most spectacular. The exterior is almost entirely glass and the structure itself is so colossal it can be seen for tens of miles.

Nothing quite like it has ever been built and it’s hard to believe it is real even when you are standing in its shadows.

“Jerry World” or “The Death Star” is something truly incredible to behold even if the sheer size of it conjures up frightening images of an alien spaceship concocted in Hollywood.

On a cold, rainy day outside the Arlington-based stadium, the Hogs burned up the turf inside routing the Texas A&M Aggies 47-19.

A&M took an early 10-0 lead as the Arkansas offense was forced to punt on their first three possessions. Once they got going it was a very one-sided affair.

Hogs QB Ryan Mallett threw four touchdowns to four different receivers and Arkansas seized control of the game in the second quarter racing to a 30-10 lead at halftime.

Texas A&M came in undefeated and featured the nation’s leading offense that was generating almost 575 yards a game and also led the country with 4.67 sacks a game.

But Arkansas proved stronger than the weak opposition the Aggies had racked up stats against. A&M wore white helmets for the first time in more than 30 years and had their half of the 71,872 fans in attendance rocking back in forth in the spirit of their famous “12th man” early on, but Mallett was too much.

The sophomore transfer from Michigan grew up going to Arkansas football games before moving to Texas where he led Texas High School (Texarkana, Texas) to a state title in 2006. In four games he has thrown for 1,148 yards and 11 TD’s.

The biggest play of the game happened halfway through the second quarter. Trailing 14-10 but inside Arkansas’ red zone A&M fumbled and Razorback linebacker Jerry Franklin scooped it up and took it 85 yards the other way for a touchdown.

What could have been at least three points for the Aggies ended up being seven the other way and they never threatened again.

The Southwest Classic, named for the now defunct Southwest conference of which both teams used to routinely battle for supremacy, has a 10-year commitment from both schools and Cowboys Stadium.

Texas has always been a mecca for football and all the passion and craze that goes with it. The pilgrimage to the new altar was every bit the once-in-a lifetime experience the trip entails.

Anticipation of the trip to Texas

In Southern California, there are so many professional sports teams it’s hard to keep track of them all.

In some of the more sparsely populated Southern states, there are none.

Football is king. From college to high school, fall is the biggest time of the year.

So as an avid football fan I travelled to Fayetteville, Ark., last October to see the eventual national champion Florida Gators and their Heisman-trophy winning quarterback Tim Tebow take on the Arkanasas Razorbacks.

It was wet and Florida started slow. But late in the third quarter they took over en route to a 38-7 win.

Earlier this month Florida coach Urban Meyer said the strong finish in that game really ignited the Gators run to the title.

The story I wrote at the time was about getting to see college football in the South — where it matters most.

This year’s trip is about pigskin worshipping of a different kind, where everything is bigger and the football frenzy might be greatest.

So today, I travel to Dallas to see Arkansas and Texas A&M play at the monolith that is the new $1.15 billion Cowboys Stadium.

If the Coliseum was the center of the gladiator world, then surely this is the new mecca for football.

Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones spared no expense on his football equivalent to the Egyptian Pyramids.

It’s one of the largest domed structures in the world with more than 660,000 square feet and those are accompanied by two features that are unrivaled anywhere.

At each end of the stadium are 180-foot-wide by 120-foot-high glass doors, that can be opened, the largest of their kind in the world.

Looming over the playing surface like the alien mothership in District 9 is the world’s biggest HD video screen. The four-sided board houses 30-million light bulbs and stretches 60 yards between the 20’s and at $40 million cost more than the original Texas Stadium in nearby Irving.

In the first regular season game two weeks ago, an NFL regular season record of more than 105,000 took in the Cowboys-Giants game in a mass usually reserved for packed Saturday college games at Michigan and Tennessee.

They say everything is bigger in Texas and this stadium certainly fits the bill.

With recent budget cuts in the CSU system and more to come, football at Long Beach State couldn’t be further from returning.

The tens of millions of dollars needed to re-start a program certainly sits on the back-burner amidst furlough days and crowded classrooms.

So I hit the road again to see college football on the biggest and brightest new stage. When the lights go on, the excitement will be palpable.

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