It isn't safe for me to cover the Red River Shootout. Oklahoma and Texas play their annual game smack in the middle of the Texas State Fair, and the only thing remotely competitive about Saturday was the one-upsmanship going on at the deep-fryers outside the Cotton Bowl.
The carnies at the Texas fair will fry anything. Pop Tarts? Check. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Check. Ice cream? Check. Beer? Check. As someone who suffers from a slight addiction to comfort food, this did not bode well for my waistline or my cardiovascular system. Before the game, I tried a fried Snickers bar, which looks like something those Texas Tech pranksters might have smeared on Texas A&M's bus but tastes as if it were dropped directly from heaven.
When Oklahoma stretched its lead to 24 points shortly before halftime, I began dreaming of deep-fried treats. But since I'm a dedicated employee, I sat through the remainder of the blowout, dutifully catalogued the quotes of the participants and filed my column before heading back to the midway to see what else could be improved by dipping it in boiling oil.
I tried chicken-fried bacon next. In the day's only upset, it was merely OK. Texans assured me the fried bacon at Sodolak's Original Country Inn in Snook, Texas, will change my mind on this dish, so I'll table my verdict until the next time I cover a Texas A&M home game. I also ate deep fried Oreos. In the oil, the chocolate cookies fuse with the cream filling and morph into an entirely new food organism. Nabisco needs to begin mass-producing this immediately. I skipped the fried gum because it wasn't really gum; it was a fried marshmallow. I also skipped the fried butter. I've tasted butter melted into fried batter before in dozens of other dishes. The only reason to spend $5.50 on a few buttered batter balls is the shock value of telling friends you ate fried butter.
The true piece de resistance sold a few stalls over from the fried butter. It was a Twinkie, deep-fried and covered with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar. It was more than a gut grenade. It was sugary, batter-smothered proof that the terrorists will never, ever win.
Can't get to Dallas? Fear not. You probably live somewhere near one of this week's Top 25 teams. As a public service, my colleagues and I have eaten our way through the Top 25 to bring you the ultimate college football dining list.
NCAA Football Power Rankings
Next five: Florida, North Carolina, Michigan State, Houston, Wake Forest
Andy Staples' Power Rankings also serve as his ballot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.