Boots on the Ground in Kansas

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

I spent the weekend in Kansas City and Lawrence to watch the Bears continue their run towards a Big 12 championship.

As Mark put it last week, I was "on assignment" over the weekend to take in the Baylor-Kansas game in Lawrence last Saturday night. I get together with a group of guys from my undergrad days once a year to take in a road game. This year we decided to make a weekend of it in Kansas City and make the 45 minute drive west over to Lawrence for the game.

We got to the stadium at about 2:00 for a 6:00 game. This gave us a chance to walk around the campus a bit. If you’ve never been to Lawrence, there are a lot of rolling hills and trees so it was nice to just kind of walk around and take in the outdoors on a sunny 60 degree afternoon. We trekked over to Allen Fieldhouse to see if we could find a way inside but were unsuccessful. Right nextdoor is the Kansas Hall of Athletics and there were several relics from KU basketball’s history including the original floor at Phog Allen along with all of their national championship trophies. Although I don’t like them one bit, you can’t help but have respect for that program. I hope to see a Baylor game at Allen Fieldhouse at some point in my life.

Before the game, there was about as much activity around the stadium as one could expect for a team that has struggled as mightily as Kansas has over the last few years. Memorial Stadium is surrounded by residential areas on its north and east sides and we saw a lot of people tailgating on their front porches but the stadium lots were half-empty. Most of the KU fans that we came in contact with were very friendly and asked that our offense not score 80 points on them (I never have any idea of the proper response I’ve supposed to give to this statement). It was an atmosphere that reminded me a lot of what Floyd Casey was just a few short years ago. My how times have changed.

As for the game itself, what other superlatives can you use to describe this Baylor team? I really wanted to see the Bears prove to themselves that they could play dominant in a road environment. After the offense got those first couple of shaky series out of the way, the Briles machine got #turntup and put the game away in the 1st quarter. As small as it was, Kansas did have a home crowd behind them and Baylor never really gave them a chance to get into the game.

There wasn’t a huge group of Baylor fans but those of us that were there let our voices be heard. I always enjoy it when we start up Old Fight after a touchdown on the road without the band to help us, even if it does sound 100 times better when BUGWB is there! After the game, the players and coaches really went out of their way to show their appreciation for the Baylor fans that made the trip. Most high-fived fans on their way to the locker room. Bryce Petty even took a minute to take a selfie on a fan's camera phone. This team has a unique chemistry about it that makes them fun to watch and also fun to be around. Overall, we had a great experience in Lawrence. I’ll never be upset about a 45 point win on the road.

I’ll wrap up with a couple of food recommendations. If you’re looking for the best in Kansas City BBQ, it’s without a doubt Oklahoma Joe’s. The restaurant sits in an old gas station and the wait was an hour long even at 2:30 on a Friday. But it was absolutely worth the wait for those ribs. And if you ever find yourself in Lawrence, we had a great burger at The Casbah. The Smoke Burger and Cajun fries come DFank approved.

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