This was a fun post to visit last year, and we're rounding up the best in-game atmospheres of 2011. It's a question I'm asked very, very often, so here's a list of the five best to clear it up.
Just like last year, to be fair, I can't weigh in on games I didn't attend this year, so you can find the list of games I did attend at the bottom of this post.
As an added bonus, below the list, I've linked all our coverage from every game in the post, so you can go back and reminisce on a memorable season.
For a second consecutive season, a Kyle Field crowd tops the best atmosphere list. To be honest, this was a bit of a weak year when it came to atmospheres. Last year was much more memorable. That said, there were some classics.
1. Texas A&M vs. Texas at Kyle Field: So, yeah, maybe we could have predicted this one back in September, but the Thanksgiving night crowd lived up to the hype. They filled the stadium early and were loud from start to finish. Well, until close to the finish. After Texas' Justin Tucker won the game on a 40-yard field goal, the Texas sideline mobbed him in relative silence. There was only a small contingent of burnt orange that made the trip to College Station, but the atmosphere was by far the Big 12's best. Of all the games and atmospheres on this list, it's probably the only one I'll never forget. Compare that with last year, which had three I'd classify in that category.
2. Oklahoma vs. Texas at the Cotton Bowl: The 50-50 split wasn't deterred by the 11 a.m. kickoff at the State Fair. This game was the only one on the list that had ESPN's "College Gameday" in town, and former Sooners star Blake Griffin showed up on the sidelines to share his picks with Kirk, Lee and Desmond. The Texas fans had emptied out by the end of the 55-17 laugher, but this battle of then-undefeated teams was a fun one.
3. Oklahoma at Oklahoma State at Boone Pickens Stadium: This Bedlam didn't have the national title implications it looked like it might early on, but the Cowboys fans who came got a therapeutic experience. What's it like to take out a decade of frustration by embarrassing your rival on your home field to win your first league title in your current conference? Four hours of fun, capped by storming the field to celebrate.
4. Kansas State vs. Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium: These fans showed up early and were constantly loud, providing the best atmosphere of the bowls and one of the best of the entire season. The 19 decks of Cowboys Stadium were about 80 percent full an hour before the primetime matchup, and they provided a second consecutive year of a great atmosphere for the Cotton Bowl. Apparently, LSU fans aren't the only ones who can be loud. Both fan bases toted big travel parties, and it showed.
5. Oklahoma State vs. Stanford at University of Phoenix Stadium: Same story here. This wasn't as packed as the Cotton Bowl, but it was almost full, and the thriller only amplified the noise late. The Oklahoma State contingent exploded when Jordan Williamson yanked a 35-yard game-winning field goal attempt to extend the Cowboys' season and open the window for the eventual 41-38 victory.
Call this post a double whammy. Not only is it the best atmospheres, it can also serve as sort of a gameday yearbook. You ought to bookmark this one. All the pregame videos, all the in-game posts and instant analysis and all my gameday columns (you may need to scroll down a bit on some of the links to find the columns) in one place.
Week 4: Oklahoma State at Texas A&M
Week 7: Baylor at Texas A&M
Week 9: Baylor at Oklahoma State
Week 10: Kansas State at Oklahoma State
Week 11: Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Week 12: Oklahoma at Baylor
Week 13: Texas at Texas A&M
Week 14: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State