The Sweep

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Mandel_stewart
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T1_texastechbuilding
It's certainly a hassle to travel to Texas Tech, but the school's breathtaking campus is worth the trek.
Stewart Mandel/SI

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Pulling up to the Texas Tech campus is a lot like approaching an oasis in the desert. After driving through traffic light after traffic light of what is (no offense to the fine folks here) a flat, largely colorless town, you suddenly find yourself at the entrance to what is easily one of the 10 most beautiful campuses I've seen.

It caught me completely off guard.

Every single building -- from the science building to the football stadium -- bears a matching, Spanish Renaissance-style brick exterior. Before going to the stadium, we pulled up to Memorial Circle, a lovely oval in the center of campus that features a red statue of Will Rogers wrapped in red. I didn't ask for an explanation. I just took this picture in front of it:

T1_willrogers
Nobody loves Will Rogers like the fine folks in Lubbock, Texas.
Stewart Mandel/SI


The campus is massive, which means the tailgating scene is extremely spread out. I walked around mostly outside of the stadium, where fans with a variety of tents and barbeque spreads had no shortage of extra space to lounge and toss footballs.

Here's my only beef with today's scene. As I wrote several weeks back, the "[Insert color here]-out" craze has officially jumped the shark (except at Penn State). Despite the fact that Texas Tech's team is the Red Raiders, the fans have organized a Black Out, which is both visually unappealing and, quite frankly, uncomfortable looking.

The sun was shining bright all day today, the temperature in the low 80s, yet that didn't stop an army of female Texas Tech students to dress for this game like they're going to a Goth prom. We're talking black, low-cut dresses and knee-high black boots. Plenty of black face and body paint on the gentlemen as well. I almost began sweating on their behalf.

T1_texastechgirls
Who decided to schedule a "Black Out" at Texas Tech? Red Raiders, people ...
Stewart Mandel/SI


So now, we're about two hours away from kickoff. As I write this, Florida is beating the snot out of Georgia, which officially knocks one BCS title aspirant out of the picture. Later tonight, we'll find out whether Texas remains at the top of the pecking order or Texas Tech wants to join the picture.

I hope you enjoy watching it as much as my new friends here.

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