You really would need a certified travel agent to visit each of these football must-sees in Texas.
In a less reverential way, it’s like taking in Rome, the Holy Land or ancient Greece.
For a football fan, a bucket list of sorts begins with the state’s largest football place of worship in Arlington. But there are far more.
We’ve created a list of suggestions every football fan in Texas must see.
The $1.3 billion throne of the Dallas Cowboys is a shrine to Texas football and host to Super Bowl XLV in 2011. Built coincidentally along the Tom Landry Highway, AT&T Stadium is also home to the College Football Playoff’s Cotton Bowl and was the site of the CFP’s first national championship game. The stadium also usually is the destination of Texas high school football teams seeking a state title during championship weekend. (A scheduling conflict with the Cowboys necessitated moving the games to Houston this year.)
Red River Rivalry
The annual game played at the Cotton Bowl between Texas and Oklahoma is still one of college football’s great rivalries, in which both legends and goats have been born over the past 100 years. Since 1995 a Big 12 Conference game, the face-off between the Longhorns and Sooners got really heated when in 1931 the states of Texas and Oklahoma almost came to blows over a toll bridge crossing the Red River. The Bridge War ended with peace. Can’t say the same for the Red River Rivalry.
Find a high school rivalry
In this area, there’s nothing much better than the seasonal face-off between Brownwood and Stephenville or Denison and Sherman. Throw out the records. However, find a region of the state and you’ll find a heated rivalry between football communities that often dates more than 80 years. Odessa Permian vs. Midland Lee, the Guadalupe River Bowl between New Braunfels and Seguin, Celina vs. Pilot Point, the 100-year-old game between Longview and Marshall and Bay City vs. El Campo, the oldest continuous rivalry in the state at 104 years old.
State championship weekend
The Texas high school football season concludes every year with championship weekend, a marquee event with 10 state title games over three days, this year Dec. 17-19 at NRG Stadium in Houston. A true taste of just about every culture of Texas high school football, representing the state’s tiniest rural towns to its urban centers.
Battle of the Bands
Grambling State and Prairie View A&M have renewed the schools’ generations-old rivalry at the Cotton Bowl every year since the 1980s. No one leaves at halftime. That’s when the famed Battle of the Bands goes down, and it’s as competitive and passionate as the game. Equal parts marching band and Motown. Simply put... it’s awesome.
Super Saturday in Hico
Small-school Texas football shows off its unique brand of the state game with its annual festival at the Hico Six-Man Super Saturday. Ten of the best six-man football teams in the state play five games in one day, this year Aug. 29 at Tiger Stadium. The six-man jamboree draws thousands of fans to see teams from across the state.
That Aggie spirit
A home game at Texas A&M is more like a tent revival. On display are all of the various traditions of the Cult of Aggie, beginning with yell practice at midnight. On game day, the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, supposedly the largest military marching band in the world, keeps the 12th Man (Aggies fans) engaged. The fans of the home team never sit, waiting to respond with unique gusto to a signal from the yell leader, all dressed in white looking like Biff from Back to the Future. It all will make you want to impulsively yell, “Whoop!”
Visit the Cotton Bowl
A trip to Dallas for a game at the Cotton Bowl is a must for any real Texas football fan. Whereas the unknowing outsider might see a dump, another sees the deep roots of the history of football in Texas. Step inside and one can feel the spirit of Doak Walker, Davey O’Brien, Earl Campbell, Bob Lilly and all the rest who have played there in some of football’s biggest games.
A game at Jones Stadium in El Paso
Jones Stadium is said to be the first big concrete high school stadium built in the country. Opening in 1916, the stadium and El Paso High School are quite the sight to see, both built at the foot of the Franklin Mountains. The school wraps around the stadium and a set of stadium steps lead to the front door of the school.