Stillwater, Oklahoma, is one of the staple college towns set in the middle of Absolutely Nowhere, U.S.A.: 62 miles due west of Tulsa and 64 miles northeast of Oklahoma City. Drop a pin anywhere along the route between those two cities on Google Maps and you’ll see how seriously isolated Stillwater is.
The city itself, however, is a serious party. The campus is one of the most beautiful in the nation and the bar scene is outstanding. Town itself isn’t much to shake a stick at, but everything one would need on a Saturday can be found within half a mile of Boone Pickens Stadium. With not much else left in town, game day is an event and everyone shows. The pregame spot is Eskimo Joe’s– one of Stillwater’s most critically-acclaimed joints. Eskimo Joe’s offers some great food, a packed but easy atmosphere, and some of the best local beer.
If this is your first blog post, I’m a sucker for local beer. It’s one of my favorite parts about visiting other towns, especially college towns. Oklahoma State offered one of the coolest local beers I’ve had, and maybe the best craft I’ve had on the tour: Iron Monk’s StillyWheat. It’s a crisp Witbier that was perfect for another warm day. I’d recommend nothing more in Stillwater than grabbing a can of StillyWheat.
Oklahoma State might have the longest team walk in the country; it crosses the entirety of campus and is accompanied by a full-on parade. A major part of the parade is a mix of the most iconic and most terrifying mascot in the country– Pistol Pete. At completely random, Pistol Pete fires off blanks from his rifle, which makes everyone in a 500-foot radius jump right out of their skin every time. While not a muzzleloader, the prop gun is as loud as one (if you know, you know). Another gem of the parade is iconic (and also controversial) head coach Mike Gundy and his unapologetic mullet.
Tailgating is a way of life in Stillwater, stretching for miles; Oklahoma State is one of the few campuses I’ve been to that allows tailgating on its campus. There were live bands peppered throughout the tents and plenty of friendly tailgaters. The school ROTC program was running around with a pushup board, hoisting any who wanted far above their heads to do 10 pushups in front of a dozen watchers. The tailgating density doesn’t wane as we exit the heart of campus and go toward the stadium.
One thing I learned this game day is that Boise State fans show up. They were one of the best represented teams on the road I’ve seen yet, and that’s from a fanbase coming from a school over 1,400 miles away. Granted, this was the Broncos’ biggest matchup of the year– a battle between two ranked teams televised on ESPN.
Boone Pickens Stadium is clean with a perfect mix of new and old in its look. Passing through the gates, you’ll find gold-plated designs on the floor and plenty of walking room. It’s the perfect midsized stadium.
The stadium also is among the few in 2018 that have jumped on board with reasonably-priced concessions. A souvenir cup (34oz.) is only $8.00 here– as opposed to $12 or $13 at other venues across the country. The bowl seating is a level horseshoe, with no stands sit aside or raised above others; it’s a clean, seamless horseshoe (something I haven’t seen elsewhere).
The aesthetic of this game specifically was incredibly pleasing. “Striping the stadium” was the theme of the game and mixed in was two of college football’s best uniforms. The game matched the grandeur of everything else, with several SportsCenter-Top-10 catches happening right in front of us in the first half. You really couldn’t ask for more in a casual game day.
The only annoyance came from a few drunk fans behind us that escalated to the point where someone’s wife punched a nearly-passed-out drunk guy and her husband pinned his throat to the rail behind him. The victim must have really been wasted, since the couple stayed put in their seats while the other guy was removed from the game. When you’re shoulder-to-shoulder with tens of thousands of other people, there’s always that one person.
In the end zone sits Oklahoma State’s most diehard fans– the Paddle People. Aptly named, the Paddle People wield paddles that are smacked against a padded wall to create this buzzing noise that’s loud enough to throw off young opposing quarterbacks. When Boise State was backed up against them, moving the ball and communicating was nearly impossible.
The Cowboys handled the visitors, but all sides were classy as can be about the handling. The Boise State section was quite loud for their numbers and the stadium is designed to trap noise, making Oklahoma State’s already-loud fanbase sound a whole lot more imposing.
Oklahoma State has one of the more easy-going game days with plenty to do but doesn’t leave you totally wiped by the end of it. I may be biased– my fiancée nearly went to Oklahoma State and accompanied me on the trip– but I was very pleased with Stillwater’s game day. And despite having just a few roads in and out, the traffic leaving town was incredibly smooth (seriously, there were zero slowdowns).
Though Stillwater is an unlikely destination and not really convenient to much of anything, I’d recommend hopping over for a Saturday should you find yourself in Tulsa (or Oklahoma City, for that matter).
Location: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK.
Score: #17 Boise State 21, #24 Oklahoma State 44
Weather: 88º, sunny & windy