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Next in a series from Road to CFB of first-hand game day experiences at stadiums across the country:

College football is a regular season sport. What draws me in so intensely to college ball as opposed to the NFL or other pro sports is the unbridled passion you find at each campus. I've never been too invested in its postseason.

That said, I'd be remiss to not check out the Big 12 Championship game in Arlington.

Turns out, that was a good move.

A Game of Inches!

#9 Baylor 21, #5 Oklahoma State 16

I'll say this up top– I was blown away by this game experience. I was blown away by both Baylor's and Oklahoma State's fans: their passion, and their energy. I was blown away by the game that unfolded in front of me.

The Big 12 Championship game has been held at AT&T Stadium since its most recent iteration starting in 2017. I'd never been, but this being my only year living in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro, I couldn't pass it up.

Good thing I didn't.

The Pokes were in the conference title game for the first time ever, which was pretty cool. Even cooler, they had the hopes of a College Football Playoff berth on the line. Baylor was chasing title number three, but the first since 2014.

You all watched the game surely and if you didn't, you can. It was filled with turnovers, defense, and that Big 12 magic that causes the game to not make a whole lot of sense. But for the game to be decided on the one inch line was something else.

Just ridiculous.

It brought the 2021 Road to CFB campaign full circle, a campaign that began with Baylor's Green & Gold game back in April. I took an action shot of one of the quarterbacks (before the team had named a starter) and it turned out to be Blake Shapen– the emergency quarterback who led the Bears to a win here.

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But that last play... it was so sweet. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat culminated into a single one-yard run that failed. This is what college football is all about, and I'm glad it's how the 2021 season was capped.

I was seated in a section of Pokes fans, but four Baylor fans happened to be sitting right in front of and behind me. Watching and hearing the absolute elation from them reminded me what Road to CFB is all about.

Blurry as it is, there was a brief frame in the video I took of the last play of the game that captured it perfectly.

The exhilaration from Baylor (double fists) and the disbelief of defeat from Oklahoma State (just in front him). 


'Til next time.

Game Day Grades

Stadium: N/A. I've shared by thoughts on Jerry's World.

Tradition: C+. Oklahoma State has a litany of cool chants like their Oooo-Ssss-Uuuuu... COWBOYS! but Pistol Pete fired his gun just once. Pretty typical chants, bands, and the works. It was fine.

Atmosphere: A+. Truly incredible. It was a championship crowd with championship energy and championship enthusiasm. It's the third time this season I've been truly awestruck.

Tailgating: N/A. It's away from home and I know both of these schools know how to party. But today was about business. The tailgating was nonexistent.

Fans: A. Oklahoma State was appearing in its first Big 12 Championship game with a trip to the CFP on the line. Baylor was ready for their third title. It was mayhem and the fans showed out.

Extracurriculars: A+. I've talked about Arlington before.

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