The pageantry of college football is something you don’t find when attending an NFL game. Every school across the country has a distinct identity, some electric entrances and an atmosphere unique to their hometown. That goes double in the south, because everything is bigger in Texas, and especially when there’s a cause for celebration.
On Saturday night, the Texas Longhorns played their 500th home game at Royal-Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. At an intermission in the fourth quarter of the team’s 24-10 win over the Iowa State Cyclones, a familiar stadium anthem played over the loudspeakers, and the crowd responded with an awe-inspiring salute to Texas football.
Though the stadium has stood since 1924 with multiple renovations and renaming ceremonies, Texas football now calls Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium home. Through the first 499 games at Royal-Memorial Stadium, the Longhorns program had churned out hundreds of wins, a national championship team led by Heisman Trophy finalist Vince Young, and countless memories as the team is returning to prominence under second-year head coach Tom Herman.
On Saturday though, it was all Texas as their defense smothered Iowa State’s freshman quarterback Brock Purdy on a night where the university planned to honor another benchmark in Texas football’s storied history.
During a fourth quarter timeout, the stadium’s staff played Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” over the stadium speakers for everyone to enjoy. What happened, though, was Texas fans pulled out their cellphone flashlights, lit up the Texas night, and had everyone, players included, pause for a few moments to soak in this incredible scene.
“That was incredible. All of a sudden, coach was like, all right lets go. And I?m jogging out and I tap [quarterback Shane Beuchele] and said, ‘Hey man, what?s the play?’ I don?t even know what we?re supposed to be doing.” — Senior tight end Andrew Beck, via HookEm.com
Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte said it best: “That was organic.”
The game itself held massive implications for Texas, who climbed to No. 11 in this week’s AP Top 25 following West Virginia’s loss to Oklahoma State. If WVU loses to the Oklahoma Sooners this upcoming Saturday, and the Longhorns handle their business and beat Kansas, then the Big 12 Championship title game will feature a rematch of Oklahoma and Texas — the Longhorns beat the then-No. 7 team in the nation, 48-45, earlier this season.
Game No. 500 was a win for the Texas football team, and it created a special moment for everyone in attendance that will be remembered for a long time.