Posts Tagged ‘texas A&M’

Top NFL-College Football Sports Power Weekends in 2012

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012


There are so many great NFL-college football weekends each fall that it is hard to pare down the list. Nonetheless, here are, in my opinion, the 50 best NFL-college football Sports Power Weekends of 2012. The main criteria for this list was that it must include an NFL and college game. There are plenty of great weekends in September that feature MLB games with a great NFL or college game, but I wanted to highlight weekends that included at least two different football games.

I’d love to hear your feedback if you think I am overlooking a great weekend, or ranked one too high.

For more information about planning or booking a Sports Power Weekend package, please contact Jared Cooper at Jared.Cooper@SPWtravel.com, (646) 397-5350, or via twitter at @SportsPowerWknd.

1. Chicago, September 21-23

Friday
  • St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs
Saturday
  • Michigan at Notre Dame
Sunday
  • Rams at Bears

Wrigley Field, Notre Dame Stadium and Soldier Field during one incredible weekend based out of the Windy City. Sign me up!

2. New York, September 5-9

Wednesday
  • Cowboys at Giants (NFL Kickoff Game)
  • US Open Tennis
Thursday
  • US Open Tennis
Friday
  • Atlanta Braves at NY Mets
  • US Open Tennis
Saturday
  • USC vs. Syracuse at MetLife Stadium
  • US Open Tennis (Women’s Final)
Sunday
  • Bills at Jets (Home Opener)
  • US Open Tennis (Men’s Final)


Three games at MetLife Stadium on this weekend, including the first game of the 2012 season featuring the defending Super Bowl champs against their bitter rival, the Jets home opener, and Heisman and top pick front-runner Matt Barkley from USC. Also see Citi Field on Friday as the Mets host the Braves.

3. New Orleans, November 3-5

Saturday
  • Alabama at LSU
Sunday
Monday
  • Eagles at Saints (Monday Night)

A rematch of last year’s National Championship Game with the winner in great position to win the SEC West takes places on Saturday in Baton Rouge. On Monday night at the Superdome, the Saints host the Eagles in an NFC showdown.

4. Los Angeles-San Diego, November 24-25

Saturday
  • Notre Dame at USC
  • Stanford at UCLA
Sunday
  • Ravens at Chargers

The historic rivalry between Notre Dame and USC leads us to the Coliseum. A day later and two hours south, two perennial AFC heavyweights face off in San Diego. A nice Thanksgiving weekend in southern California.

5. Dallas, November 22-24

Thursday
  • Redskins at Cowboys (Thanksgiving)
Friday
Saturday
  • TCU at Texas
  • Baylor vs. Texas Tech (Cowboys Stadium)

Another great Thanksgiving option, this time in the heart of Texas. The Cowboys continue their Thanksgiving tradition, this time hosting their division rivals. On Saturday in Austin, TCU and Texas clash in the newly-remodeled Big XII. Cowboys Stadium will also host Baylor and Texas Tech on Saturday. (more…)

Facility Roundup: Houston and San Antonio

Friday, December 17th, 2010

NFL:

Reliant Stadium (Houston Texans)

Photo courtesy of AP Images

The Skinny:  Reliant Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium that, in addition to the Reliant Astrodome and other structures, makes up Reliant Park. The first NFL stadium with a retractable roof, Reliant Stadium plays host to the Houston Texans and has also hosted Super Bowl XXXVIII, US Men’s National Soccer matches, the Houston Bowl and the Texas Bowl, two Big XII Championship Games and the NCAA Tournament. In addition, the stadium will hold the 2011 Final Four.

Year Opened:  2002

Capacity:  71,500

Best Moment:  September 8, 2002. The Texans played their inaugural game as a franchise and the first game at Reliant Stadium against the cross-state rival Dallas Cowboys. In front of 69,604 fans the Texans defeated the Cowboys 19-10.

MLB:

Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros)

Photo courtesy of MLB.com

The Skinny:  The downtown ballpark home of the Houston Astros features a retractable roof and is connected to the historic Union Station. The Astros estimate that 60 percent of their fans enter the park through Union Station, and the stadium features a replica 19th century locomotive as an homage to the Union Station site. The unique field sports “Tal’s Hill” a 30-degree uphill slope in the center field warning track.

Year Opened:  2000

Capacity:  40,950

Long games:  In 2005, Minute Maid Park hosted the longest postseason game and the longest World Series games ever played. The longest game was an 18-inning, five hour and 50 minute victory for the Astros over the Atlanta Braves. Two weeks later, the Astros and Chicago White Sox battled to a 14-inning, five hour and 41 minute game that the White Sox won. It was the first World Series game played in the state of Texas.

NBA:

Toyota Center (Houston Rockets)

The Skinny:  Both the Houston Rockets and AHL Houston Aeros call the Toyota Center home. The arena has become a premiere venue for concerts and events as well, being named as a finalist for the “Best New Concert Venue” award by Pollstar Magazine in 2004.

Year Opened:  2003

Capacity:  18,300

Record Attendance:  Houston Rockets fans packed the Toyota Center for Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Lakers on May 14, 2009. The Rockets defeated the Lakers 95-80 behind a crowd of 18,501, setting the single-game record in the arena.

AT&T Center (San Antonio Spurs)

The Skinny:  The arena opened prior to the 2002-03 NBA season as the home court of the San Antonio Spurs, who had been at the Alamodome since 1993. The stadiums also hosts the WNBA’s San Antonio Silver Stars and the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, as well as high profile concerts, WWE events and the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo.

Year Opened:  2002

Capacity:  18,581

Best Moment:  Since moving to the AT&T Center, the San Antonio Spurs have clinched two NBA championships on their home court. In their first season at the arena, the Spurs won Game 6 of the 2003 NBA Finals over the New Jersey Nets. Two years later, the Spurs topped the Detroit Pistons in Game 7 of the 2005 NBA Finals, the first Game 7 since 1994.

College Football:

Robertson Stadium (Houston Cougars and MLS Houston Dynamo)

Photo courtesy of UHCougars.com

The Skinny:  Robertson Stadium opened in 1942 and has undergone several renovations since that point, most notably in 1999, when a $6M gift added 20 luxury suites and increased capacity to 32,000. Currently, the Houston Cougars and MLS Houston Dynamo play home games at the stadium; the Cougars since 1998 and the Dynamo since 2006. The University of Houston is weighing options to replace Robertson Stadium, and the Dynamo are scheduled to move into a new downtown soccer-specific stadium in 2012.

Year Opened:  1942

Capacity:  32,000

The History: Robertson Stadium hosted high school football until the Houston Cougars called it home in 1946, playing there until 1950. After stints at Rice Stadium at the Astrodome, Houston moved back to Robertson Stadium in 1998. The expansion Houston Oilers of the American Football League began playing there in 1960 and did so until 1964. The 1960 and 1962 AFL Championship Games were held here, as the Houston Oilers faced the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Texans, respectively.

Rice Stadium (Rice Owls)

The Skinny:  Rice Stadium has seen a lot of football since it opened in 1950. It has hosted the Rice Owls since that season, and also hosted the Houston Cougars from 1951-64, the AFL’s Houston Oilers from 1965-67 and the Bluebonnet Bowl from 1959-67 and 1985-86. In addition, Rice Stadium, which underwent a $6M renovation in the spring of 1996, hosted Super Bowl VII, won by the Miami Dolphins 24-7 over the Minnesota Vikings.

Year Opened:  1950

Capacity:  47,000, expandable to 70,000

Historical Significance:  On September 12, 1962, Rice Stadium hosted a speech by President John F. Kennedy in which he challenged Americans to meet his goal of sending a man to the moon by the end of the decade.

Kyle Field (Texas A&M Aggies)

Photo courtesy of AggieAthletics.com

The Skinny:  Known as one of the most intimidating venues in college football, Kyle Field in College Station, Texas is nicknamed the Home of the 12th Man, an ode to Aggies fans. From “Midnight Yell” practice to kissing your date every time the Aggies score, Kyle Field offers a top-notch game experience. It is no wonder CBS Sports named it the best venue in college football.

Year Opened:  1927

Capacity:  82,600

Decade of Dominance: n the 1990s, Texas A&M was dominant at Kyle Field with a 55-4-1 (92.5 winning percentage) record. During that span, the Aggies put together two of the longest home winning streaks in school history, a 31-game winning streak from 1990-95 (fifth-largest in Division I-A history) and a 22-game winning streak from 1996-2000.

Darrell K. Royal Stadium (Texas Longhorns)

The Skinny:  Keeping in line with the “Everything is bigger in Texas” mantra, Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium offers a 55 x 134-foot HD display board, one of the nation’s largest. With over 100,000 fans in the stands each week, the stadium offers one of the largest crowds in college football. The Longhorns have won 77.9% of their games in this stadium since it opened through the 2010 season.

Year Opened:  1924

Capacity:  100,119

Fun Fact: On December 9, 1988, Darrell K. Royal Stadium was the site of the 5A state semifinal game between Dallas Carter High School and Odessa Permian (won by Carter 14-9) that was the center of the Buzz Bissinger book Friday Night Lights.

College Basketball:

Hofheinz Pavilion (Houston Cougars)

The Skinny:  Hofheinz Pavilion has low ceilings and theatre-style cushioned seats that encircle the arena, giving fans the feeling as though they are on top of the action with an unobstructed view. The University has announced its intention to undergo a $40M renovation to the Pavilion to expand and upgrade the facility. The Houston Cougars have called the multi-purpose facility home since 1969, and the Houston Rockets played home games here from 1971-75.

Year Opened:  1969

Capacity:  8,479

Phi Slama Jama:  The nickname of the Houston Cougars basketball team from 1982-84 was Phi Slama Jama, quickly adopted by players and media. The team featured future Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, advancing to the NCAA Final Four three years in a row (1982-84).

Tudor Fieldhouse (Rice University)

The Skinny:  Previously known as Rice Gymnasium, Tudor Fieldhouse underwent a $23M renovation in 2008, which displaced the basketball team to the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas, Reliant Arena and the Toyota Center. The renovations have added a new sound system and scoreboard, as well as upgrading the concessions and restrooms.

Year Opened:  1950

Capacity:  5,208

Fun Fact: The arena was originally designated “Autry Court” in memory of Mrs. James L. Autry. Her husband James Lockhart Autry was a descendant of Micajah Autry, who was a hero of the Battle of the Alamo. Her daughter, Mrs. Edward W. Kelley, made a generous donation to the gymnasium building fund in honor of her late mother, an ardent supporter of Rice.

Reed Arena (Texas A&M Aggies)

The Skinny:  The Reed Rowdies help make the arena one of the most hostile in college basketball, similar to the atmosphere that has made football games at Kyle Field so popular. Reed Arena features parquet wood floors, and set a record attendance of 13,717 in a February 27, 2010 win over Texas.

Year Opened:  1998

Capacity:  12,989

Hurricane Relief: Reed Arena has served as a temporary shelter for evacuees during Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike. It served as the temporary home to Tulane’s basketball team in 2005-06.

Erwin Center (Texas Longhorns)

The Skinny:  Often referred to as “The Drum” because of its drum-like appearance, the Erwin Center is Austin’s premiere venue for special events and concerts, as well as Texas Longhorns basketball, of course. A 2003 expansion and renovation added 28 seats and increased seating capacity to 16,734, as well as a new Jumbotron.

Year Opened:  1977

Capacity:  16,734

Fun Fact:  The first sellout and largest crowd at the Erwin Center do not belong to Texas basketball. Lawrence Welk was the first sellout of the arena on March 12, 1978, and the largest crowd showed up for John Denver on May 6, 1978 to the tune of 17,829 fans.

Miscellaneous

Alamodome

Photo courtesy of AlamoBowl.com

The Skinny:  The Alamodome in San Antonio played host to the San Antonio Spurs from 1993-2002, and has hosted the Alamo Bowl since 1993 and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl since 2002. The New Orleans Saints played games in the dome in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina displaced them from the Louisiana Superdome. The dome also hosted the Final Four in 1998, 2004 and 2008, the NBA All-Star Game in 1996, and three Big XII Championship Games.

Year Opened:  1993

Capacity:  65,000, expandable to 72,000

New Tenant:  The University of Texas-San Antonio has added a football program to begin as a Division I-AA independent in 2011, with the plan to move to Division I-A in 2014. They are led by former Miami Hurricanes national championship-winning head coach Larry Coker, and will play home games at the Alamodome.

Facility Roundup: Dallas and Austin

Monday, December 13th, 2010

NFL:

Cowboys Stadium (Dallas Cowboys)

The Skinny:  This $1.2B palace is the largest domed stadium in the world, and sports the world’s largest HD video screen, which hangs from the 20-yard line to the 20-yard line, 60 yards long. The retractable roof stadium has hosted a number of events in sports and entertainment, including NBA All-Star Weekend in 2010 (with a record crowd of 108,713 fans), the Cotton Bowl, a number of college football and college basketball games, soccer games, boxing matches and high-profile concerts. The stadium will host Super Bowl XLV in February of 2011, and the Final Four in 2014.

Year Opened:  2009

Capacity:  80,000 (expands to 110,000 with standing room only seating)

Best Moment:  January 3, 2010. In a Week 17 game that would decide the NFC East, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-0 to win the division in their inaugural season at Cowboys Stadium. One week later, the Cowboys would host the Eagles again in a Wild Card Weekend playoff matchup, with the Cowboys again proving victorious, by a 34-14 score.

MLB:

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (Texas Rangers)

The Skinny:  One of the early retro-style ballparks, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington – which hosted the 1995 MLB All-Star game – incorporates features from Tiger Stadium, the old Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park. Greene’s Hill, named after former Arlington Mayor Richard Greene, is a sloped section of grass behind center field that serves as a “batter’s eye.” The Rangers have announced extensive renovations to upgrade the technology of the park that are set to debut for the 2011 season.

Year Opened:  1994

Capacity:  49,170

Best Moment:  October 22, 2020. The Rangers clinched their first-ever American League pennant at home by defeating the New York Yankees 6-1 in Game 6 of the ALCS. The Ballpark also hosted Games 3, 4, and 5 of the 2010 World Series.

NBA/NHL:

American Airlines Center (Dallas Mavericks & Dallas Stars)

The Skinny:  In addition to being a state-of-the-art sports facility, the American Airlines Center is also considered to be among the best concert venues in the country, even being named “Concert Venue of the Year” by Pollstar Magazine in 2006. Forbes ranked it the fourth most lucrative arena in the US in 2008. The unique design that includes retractable seating makes for a very easy transition between basketball and hockey, and results in great sightlines for fans on the north and south ends.

Year Opened:  2001

Capacity:  19,200 for basketball, 18,532 for hockey

Best Moment:  June 8, 2006. In their NBA Finals franchise debut, the Dallas Mavericks defeated the Miami Heat 90-80 in Game 1 of the 2006 NBA Finals. The Mavericks would go on to win Game 2 at home as well, but eventually lost to the Heat in six games.

MLS:

Pizza Hut Park (FC Dallas)

The Skinny:  Home to FC Dallas of Major League Soccer, Pizza Hut Park also sports 17 additional tournament-grade fields for youth and adult soccer, as well as high school sports and other events. The soccer-specific stadium located in Frisco has hosted FC Dallas since it opened in 2005.

Year Opened:  2005

Capacity:  23,500

Best Moment:  The stadium hosted the MLS Cup in each of the first two years it was open, in 2005 and 2006. Both of those games had thrilling finishes; in 2005 the LA Galaxy defeated the New England Revolution 1-0 in overtime, and in 2006 the Houston Dynamo defeated the Revolution 4-3 on penalty kicks after finishing 1-1 in regulation. The stadium also played host to the NCAA Men’s College Cup in 2008, and will host the NCAA FCS championship game in 2011-2013.

College Football:

Darrell K. Royal Stadium (Texas Longhorns)

The Skinny:  Keeping in line with the “Everything is bigger in Texas” mantra, Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium offers a 55 x 134-foot HD display board, one of the nation’s largest. With over 100,000 fans in the stands each week, the stadium offers one of the largest crowds in college football. The Longhorns have won 77.9% of their games in this stadium since it opened through the 2010 season.

Year Opened:  1924

Capacity:  100,119

Fun Fact: On December 9, 1988, Darrell K. Royal Stadium was the site of the 5A state semifinal game between Dallas Carter High School and Odessa Permian (won by Carter 14-9) that was the center of the Buzz Bissinger book Friday Night Lights.

Gerald J. Ford Stadium (SMU Mustangs)

The Skinny:  The bowl-shaped stadium within the Dallas city limits was the last on-campus Division I-A stadium to be built in the 20th century. It features Doak Walker Plaza outside the northeast corner of the stadium, honoring the former Mustang Heisman Trophy winner. The plaza features a replica of the Doak Walker Award trophy, awarded annually to the top running back in college football. In 2007, the stadium hosted a #1 vs. #2 matchup in high school football between Miami Northwestern and Southlake Carroll in front of 31,986 fans.

Year Opened: 2000

Capacity:  32,000

Best Moment:  September 2, 2000. In this inaugural game at Gerald J. Ford Stadium, the SMU Mustangs defeated the Kansas Jayhawks 31-17. It started a new chapter in the storied (but tumultuous) history of SMU football.

Amon G. Carter Stadium (TCU Horned Frogs)

Photo Courtesy of GoFrogs.com

The Skinny: The stadium has undergone a number of renovations over the course of its 80-year history, most recently in 2008, when capacity was expanded to 44,358. A $105M renovation is underway in the West stands that aims to enhance football fans’ experience at the stadium, with an expected completion by the 2012 season. The Armed Forces Bowl has been held here since 2003.

Year Opened:  1930

Capacity:  44,358

Best Moment:  November 14, 2009. The fourth-ranked Horned Frogs welcomed the 14th-ranked Utah Utes to Amon G. Carter Stadium, with ESPN’s College Gameday making its first appearance on TCU campus. TCU won 55-28 in front of the largest crowd in the stadium’s history, 50,307 fans.

Kyle Field (Texas A&M Aggies)

The Skinny:  Known as one of the most intimidating venues in college football, Kyle Field in College Station, Texas is nicknamed the Home of the 12th Man, an ode to Aggies fans. From “Midnight Yell” practice to kissing your date every time the Aggies score, Kyle Field offers a top-notch game experience. It is no wonder CBS Sports named it the best venue in college football.

Year Opened:  1927

Capacity:  82,600

Decade of Dominance: n the 1990s, Texas A&M was dominant at Kyle Field with a 55-4-1 (92.5 winning percentage) record. During that span, the Aggies put together two of the longest home winning streaks in school history, a 31-game winning streak from 1990-95 (fifth-largest in Division I-A history) and a 22-game winning streak from 1996-2000.

Jones AT&T Stadium (Texas Tech Red Raiders)

The Skinny:  Between 1999 and 2009, Texas Tech has spent $84M on on-going renovations to the stadium that have kept it modern and increased seating capacity by nearly 10,000 seats. Located in Lubbock, Texas, the stadium follows the Spanish Renaissance architecture seen throughout the Texas Tech campus.

Year Opened:  1947

Capacity:  60,454

Best Moment:  November 1, 2008. ESPN College Gameday made its first-ever trip to Lubbock to see Texas Tech knock of #1 ranked Texas 39-33 on a Michael Crabtree touchdown catch with one-second remaining in the game. The fans rushed the field (a bit early, actually), providing perhaps the greatest memory in the stadium’s history.

College Basketball:

Erwin Center (Texas Longhorns)

The Skinny:  Often referred to as “The Drum” because of its drum-like appearance, the Erwin Center is Austin’s premiere venue for special events and concerts, as well as Texas Longhorns basketball, of course. A 2003 expansion and renovation added 28 seats and increased seating capacity to 16,734, as well as a new Jumbotron.

Year Opened:  1977

Capacity:  16,734

Fun Fact:  The first sellout and largest crowd at the Erwin Center do not belong to Texas basketball. Lawrence Welk was the first sellout of the arena on March 12, 1978, and the largest crowd showed up for John Denver on May 6, 1978 to the tune of 17,829 fans.

Reed Arena (Texas A&M Aggies)

Photo courtesy of AggieAthletics.com

The Skinny:  The Reed Rowdies help make the arena one of the most hostile in college basketball, similar to the atmosphere that has made football games at Kyle Field so popular. Reed Arena features parquet wood floors, and set a record attendance of 13,717 in a February 27, 2010 win over Texas.

Year Opened:  1998

Capacity:  12,989

Hurricane Relief: Reed Arena has served as a temporary shelter for evacuees during Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike. It served as the temporary home to Tulane’s basketball team in 2005-06.

United Spirit Arena (Texas Tech Red Raiders)

The Skinny:  The arena has played host to the Red Raiders and Lady Raiders basketball and volleyball teams since opening in 1999. The building is named for United Supermarkets, the 68-store retail grocery chain that contributed the $10 million gift to kick-off construction of the arena.

Year Opened:  1999

Capacity:  15,000

Best Moment:  January 1, 2007. Texas Tech defeated New Mexico 70-68, giving head coach Bobby Knight his 880th win, making him the winningest coach in men’s college basketball history.

Miscellaneous:

Dr. Pepper Arena (NAHL Texas Tornado & NBDL Texas Legends)

The Skinny:  Located in Frisco, Texas, Dr. Pepper Arena serves as the executive offices and home practice facility of the Dallas Stars as well as the home of the Texas Tornado North American Hockey League team and the Texas Legends of the National Basketball Developmental League.

Year Opened:  2003, reopened in 2009

Capacity:  7,000

Top Sports Power Weekends: Houston & San Antonio

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010



Below are the Sports Power Weekend options in Houston and the surrounding area in the coming months. Please visit the Houston & San Antonio City Guide page for information on activities and events in these cities on days that do not have sporting events.

For more information on booking a travel package to Houston or San Antonio, please contact us at info@SPWtravel.com.

April 1-3 Friday
  • Spurs at Rockets
  • Shell Houston Open
Saturday
  • Final Four
  • Shell Houston Open
Sunday
  • Hawks at Rockets
  • Suns at Spurs
  • Shell Houston Open
Monday
  • NCAA Finals
April 8-10 Friday
  • Marlins at Astros
Saturday
  • Marlins at Astros
  • Clippers at Rockets
  • Jazz at Spurs
Sunday
  • Marlins at Astros
  • Whitecaps at Dynamo
April 15-17 Friday
  • Padres at Astros
  • Valero Texas Open, San Antonio
Saturday
  • Padres at Astros
  • Valero Texas Open, San Antonio
Sunday
  • Padres at Astros
  • Valero Texas Open, San Antonio
  • Revolution at Dynamo
April 22-24 Friday
Saturday
Sunday
April 29-May 1 Friday
  • Brewers at Astros
  • DC United at Dynamo
Saturday
  • Brewers at Astros
Sunday
  • Brewers at Astros

Top Sports Power Weekends: Dallas

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010



Below are the Sports Power Weekend options in Dallas and the surrounding area in the coming months. Please visit the Dallas City Guide page for information on activities and events in Dallas on days that do not have sporting events.

For more information on booking a travel package to Dallas, please contact us at info@SPWtravel.com.

April 1-3 Friday
  • Red Sox at Rangers
Saturday
  • Red Sox at Rangers
Sunday
  • Red Sox at Rangers
April 8-10 Friday
  • Clippers at Magic
  • Rapids at FC Dallas
Saturday
Sunday
  • Suns at Mavericks
April 15-17 Friday
Saturday
Sunday
April 22-24 Friday
  • Royals at Rangers
Saturday
  • Royals at Rangers
Sunday
  • Royals at Rangers
April 29-May 1 Friday
Saturday
Sunday
  • Galaxy at Dallas

Fields of Glory: University of Texas (video)

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010


Below is an episode of “Fields of Glory” focusing on Darrell K. Royal Stadium (University of Texas):

Fields of Glory: Texas A&M (video)

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010


Below is an episode of “Fields of Glory” focusing on Kyle Field (Texas A&M):

Sports Power Weekend: Greater-Houston Area, Texas, November 5-7

Monday, November 29th, 2010


Texas, the only state that was previously its own republic (1836-45), arguably has the most unique history of all the states of our great nation, and any true native Texan will be quick to politely stand by that notion.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

In addition to its intriguing past, it ranks second in the U.S. in geographic size and population and hosts three of the country’s 10 most populous cities.  Topping this trio is Houston, host of the fourth-most people in the nation and a number of great Sports Power Weekend opportunities.

Texas sports are frequently depicted in the media – fictionally, factually and sometimes a combination of the two – but you will appreciate having a personal taste of the Lone Star State’s high-level action on and off the often-discussed football fields.

One of the strongest aspects of your Sports Power Weekend is that there is a bounty of athletic, entertainment and dining options in the area.  From high school football under the Friday night lights to the Texans game on Sunday and hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants to five-star eateries, the choices in the greater-Houston area are practically endless.

Just make sure to rent a car for the weekend even if aiming to stay within the city limits.  The locals will tell you that everything is a “20-minute drive away,” but each jaunt is well worth the time spent behind the wheel.

As is the case with all Sports Power Weekends, determining which events to attend plays a key role in your trip, and this journey is no different.  Interestingly enough, the most influential decision affecting your time Houston this weekend involves an entirely different city – College Station, Texas, the home of Texas A&M University.

Although educators in Austin are typically referred to as the operators of the state’s flagship school, Texas A&M was the first public institution of higher learning established between the Rio Grande, Sabine and Red Rivers.  In 1876, the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas opened its doors before becoming the 38,000-plus research-intensive campus that exists today.

After over 130 years, it is no surprise that the Texas Aggies have a multitude of distinct traditions.  Every person joining the student body is taught the story behind each at a special separate orientation that is appropriately named “Fish Camp,” and among the many highlighted is Midnight Yell.

Texas A&M began hosting yell practices – Aggies never “cheer;” they yell – in the early 1900’s, but the first official Midnight Yell was held in a campus dorm in 1931 prior to that year’s game against ‘t.u.,’ a school most college fans refer to as the University of Texas (as the first school of higher learning in Texas, A&M does not call the Longhorns’ institution THE state’s university but instead another Texas university).

Midnight Yell occurs every Friday night at Kyle Field before each Aggie home game as well as at local sites for away contests.  Several thousand supporters show up to the stadium for the event prior to home games, and it truly is a great experience for anyone who has a deep appreciation for the unique atmosphere that only a college campus can provide.

For the purpose of a well-rounded Sports Power Weekend, this agenda highlights an initial evening in Houston that limits Friday travel and highlights increased nightlife options, but a night at yell practice is a solid choice, especially if you’re lucky with your lighter when it’s time to “flick your Bic” when it is complete.

FRIDAY

  • The Taste of Texas
  • High school football game
  • Main Street

Thanks to Houston’s location, it is a hotbed for all types of food, especially when looking for a hearty steak, true Southwestern barbeque, fresh seafood or authentic Tex-Mex.  The quantity of quality cuisines is only outnumbered by the amount of superb dining choices; so don’t be afraid to be adventurous if you have a hankering for something particular.

However, if you ever are in a bind and need a failsafe option throughout the weekend, there are two exceptional groups of Houston-born restaurant families that are scattered throughout the area: Goode Co. and Pappas. Each has easily accessible locations that cover a wide range of food fare, including Pappasitos (Tex-Mex) and Pappadeaux (Cajun/seafood) as well as Goode Co. Seafood and Goode Co. BBQ.  All Houstonians are familiar at minimum with these family chains, and I don’t know one who hasn’t had a pleasant experience.

For a true taste of Texas on your first night, there is no better destination than one that is named just that: The Taste of Texas (10505 Katy Freeway). The establishment sends steaks and pies nationwide, and in 22+ years of experience – my first visit was at two-months old – I’ve always left in an overly-full state of bliss.

The food is incredible and dining there is a true Texas experience. The classy, home-style ambiance is loaded with artifacts relating to Texas history and sports; so much so, the Hende family, who owns the place and is comprised of great all-around people, offers tours that focus on Texas history during non-operating hours to local elementary school students.

After eating your hand-picked steak from the butcher’s counter – don’t leave without a slice of homemade pecan pie with Blue Bell cinnamon ice cream and/or a cinnamon coffee – head to a local high school football stadium or downtown for drinks.

As easily guessed by Houston’s size, it clearly isn’t a place that shuts down entirely for Friday night games as the movies portray about smaller towns in Texas.  High school contests still have great energy, especially as teams will be preparing for the ensuing Texas state playoffs.  A list of games is available thanks the to Houston Chronicle, but the weekend’s biggest game doesn’t occur until Saturday morning.

Late-night downtown options are plentiful with numerous bars and nightclubs. For a casual drink before a full Saturday, check out the Main Street area where Flying Saucer, which boasts more than 200 beers, and Molly’s Pub are two good options to cap the evening.

SATURDAY

  • The Buffalo Grille
  • College Station

o   Chicken Oil Company or Freebirds or Layne’s
o   George H. W. Bush (No. 41) Presidential Library and Museum
o   Kyle Field
o   Texas Roadhouse
o   North Gate

  • Houston

o   Rhodes Memorial Stadium
o   Houston Museum of Natural Science/Holocaust Museum Houston/NASA
o   Pappasitos
o   Goode Co. Barbeque Armadillo Palace

Start the day early with breakfast at The Buffalo Grille (3116 Bissonnet), a popular early-morning eatery with Mexican breakfast combos, larger-than-life breakfast burritos and pancakes possessing diameters of over 12 inches.  Just get there around 9:00 am because the line gets long early throughout the week but even more so during the weekend.

After breakfast, it’s time to get prepared for football as usual, whether it’s in Houston or College Station.

College Station

Photo courtesy of AggieAthletics.com

Aggieland is a great place for a full college gameday so head north on Highway 6 to start the 90-minute trip.  The Aggies host its official Maroon Out game at 6:00 pm against No. 11 Oklahoma, and the official 12th MAN will be in full form for the primetime duel.  Take a quick pit stop in Navasota if you need to grab a coke or drive through a What-A-Burger and shortly after you’ll arrive in Bryan-College Station.

Depending on what you’re in the mood for, the best midday local food choices include the Chicken Oil Co., a tradition-rich burger shop that doubled as a gas station when it opened in 1977; Freebirds, a regional chain that serves burritos sized comparably to the length of a familiar Lynard Skynard song; or Layne’s, the Aggie-owned and operated home of the “soon-to-be famous chicken fingers.”

After satisfying the stomach, it’s time to feed the mind with a tour of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.  There are plenty of intriguing pieces from Bush tenure as the 41st President, including quality documentation of US involvement in the Gulf War.

Next get ready for the Aggies’ most anticipated home game of 2010 by heading towards Kyle Field after filling the cooler with Lone Star beer or Shiner, an extremely popular brewmaster that takes its name from its hometown in southeast Texas.

Prior to the game the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets will march into the stadium, led by the First Lady of Aggieland, a female collie named Reveille.  Then its time to hope the team puts up a lot of points because when the Aggies score so does the home crowd; it’s tradition to kiss your date after every point registered.

After the game, grab some great bread and a rack of ribs at Texas Roadhouse before hopefully celebrating a victory on North Gate.  The student body regularly fills this bar scene, and its where the campus’ most revered bar, the Dixie Chicken, is located.

Houston

Staying in Houston, the No. 3 Katy Tigers (9-0) face off against No. 13 Cinco Ranch (9-0) at 11:00 am at Rhodes Memorial Stadium with the District 19-5A title on the line in the final game of the regular season.  The Tigers, who have won the Texas 5A Division II state title two (2007, 2008) out of the past three years, have a rabid, loyal fan base that in its best showings can rival a small college atmosphere, especially in such a pivotal contest like this.

For a more cultural experience, the Houston Holocaust Museum and the Houston Museum of Natural Science are of the highest caliber. To truly experience “Space City,” you won’t have a problem if your destination is NASA’s Johnson Space Center, although it is a 40-minute commute from the heart of Houston.  NASA’s presence in Houston contributed to naming the city’s sports teams the “Astros” and the “Rockets.”

Now it’s time to experience some great Tex-Mex at Pappasitos, which also has great, well-priced margaritas.  Order a platinum margarita with the seafood enchiladas or your choice of a south-of-the-border beer with any fajita plate, including the Matamoros combo, which offers a half-rack of pork ribs and an order of chicken fajitas for one with all the fixings.

After eating, you can saddle up almost anywhere to watch the A&M-OU game or see the University of Texas play Kansas State.  Sam’s Boat and Texadelphia are just two options of many.

Close the night out with a chopped beef sandwich at Goode Co. barbeque while watching the late games or stepping into the restaurant’s Armadillo Palace across the street, where you can catch some live Texas country music.

SUNDAY

  • Brennan’s brunch
  • Reliant Stadium
  • Little Woodrow’s
  • Toyota Center

Photo courtesy of AP Images

Sunday morning brunch at Brennan’s, an elegant restaurant that offers a delicious New-Orleans style brunch, is a perfect way to prepare for the Texans’ game against the San Diego Chargers at Reliant Stadium.

When you arrive to tailgate at Reliant Park, be sure to catch a glance of the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Houston Astrodome.  The Astrodome is far removed from its glory days when it was the modern marvel constructed in 1965, but as a sports fan you should at least get a first-hand glimpse of the world’s first domed sports stadium.

After the Texans-Chargers game, Little Woodrow’s (2306 Brazos St.) will provide a great environment for the late afternoon games and is less than two miles from the Toyota Center.

In the newest professional arena in Houston, the Rockets take on the Minnesota Timberwolves in their third home game of the season.  The Toyota Center is also home to the American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros.