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Ames travelblog: A long day of football at Jack Trice Stadium

Trips to Ames, Iowa, are exhausting yet fun. Iowa State University is just a cool place. A place with pride. That’s what I like about it.

OSU beat the Cyclones 34-27 Saturday in a rousing football game, and it was wall-to-wall football for Scotty Wright, Jacob Unruh and myself. We left our West Des Moines hotel around 9:45 a.m., were at Jack Trice Stadium at 10:45 so I could catch the kickoff of OU-Kansas State, covered OSU-ISU, worked until almost 10 p.m. and then drove all the way back to Topeka, Kansas, so we could get home at a decent hour Sunday.

Long day. But a fun day.

The Iowa State fans are great. They fill Jack Trice and have remained loyal despite no great winning heritage. The stadium is nice but not opulent and is quite approachable. That’s not really the case with a lot of college stadiums.

Traffic on the drive up from Des Moines was not heavy but had plenty of ISU flags flying. Ames’ estimated population of 67,000 makes it a little bit bigger than Stillwater and Manhattan.

Like most Midwest towns, Ames is well-kept and has a nice mix of new and old. I rarely go up to the main campus – the stadium is on the southern end of ISU – but I like what I’ve seen.

Jack Trice is south of Hilton Coliseum – picture Owen Field sitting south of the Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, and you get a good feel for what Iowa State is like. The stadium’s north, south and east sides have parking lots, which are full of tailgaters on game day.

Getting in and out of Ames and to the stadium is rather easy. The concourses are uncovered, behind the seats, which makes for a low-key feeling.

But the fans are not low-key. They are engaged, once they arrive from the tailgates, which sometimes can go a little long.

Ames can be hot early in the season and cold late in the season, but it’s usually gorgeous in October, and it was Saturday. Lots of fall foliage.

The pressbox was our home for almost four hours before kickoff, watching Kansas State stun the Sooners. I sat by Mike Hlas, the long-term columnist of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, and peppered him with all kinds of questions about Iowa. The political season. The weather. The ISU-Iowa fan makeup. I’ve never been to Cedar Rapids but I’d like to visit some day.

The game itself was great. Lots of interesting stuff, the Cowboys played well and won it in the end.

The post-game setup in Ames is the best anywhere. Especially with OSU. I counted only seven Oklahoma reporters, counting both television and print, interviewing the Cowboy coaches and players. The interviews took place in the Cyclone weight room, so there was plenty of space. It was fabulous, to have that much space and that few competitors for questions.

Iowa State is sort of strange in that it closes the pressbox soon after the game, and reporters work in the football building. The designated work room usually fills up, and this was no different, but ISU’s Mike Green took good care of us and placed us in an office, where we had everything we needed.

I finished up around 9 p.m., and Virgil (Unruh) loaded up the Kansas-Texas Tech game on his laptop, so we got to see that crazy finish.

We finished a little before 10 and headed out. I changed clothes in the stadium parking lot – sorry, good folks of Iowa, but it was dark. Then Scotty was a trooper and drove us all the way to Topeka.

I was trying to get back to downtown Oklahoma City so I could cover Thunder-Warriors at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, so we wanted to get all the way to Topeka.

We watched and listened to Oregon-Washington State, a late-night thriller, and that got us past Kansas City. We stopped in Missouri and got a sandwich at an all-night Subway.

Arrived at the Topeka Courtyard a little after 2 a.m., checked in and crashed.

Then we were up by 9:45 and on the Kansas Turnpike for the trip home. The guys dropped me off downtown a little before 2 p.m. A long trip, but to a good place and we saw lot of good football.

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Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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