Hey, Cincinnati, are you staying in the queen city?
Looks like everyone and their uncle went down to Dallas to cheer on the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. And boy, do we know how to tailgate.
A whiff of LucyGate grill and it feels right at home, even though we are over 900 km away. That’s because grillmasters Eric Swartz and John Burgoon perfected the art of the hatchback, with UC tents, flags, red Solo Cups, and enough Cincinnati pride to fuel the AT&T Stadium throughout this game. tonight against the No. 1 college football playoff team, the University of Alabama.
Live updates, analysis: Cincinnati Bearcats face Alabama Crimson Tide in Cotton Bowl
During home games, Swartz and Burgoon say they regularly host hatchbacks for over 200 UC fans. In Dallas, their group was significantly smaller in number, but its UC pride easily tripled.
One of LucyGate’s other founders and die-hard Bearcats fan Mike Story passed away suddenly two years ago. Swartz said the team’s record has been excellent since then, confirming Story’s continued presence in every UC game since. Burgoon said he was well aware that Story was watching them today as well.
“He probably already knows the winner,” smiles Burgoon.
But don’t worry for those of us who made it to the car-free game for store-bought beer and tailgate grills – we don’t miss any pre-game parties. UC fans have found a hub at the Texas Live bar, a stone’s throw from the stadium which is now teeming with black and red.
“We are the little ones,” said Lisa Gastright of Florence. “But we are going to win.”
Inside the stadium, hours before the first of the tailgaters even arrived, workers scrambled to prepare for the madness of one of the biggest games of the year. The sound of stacked bags of nachos and Jim Beam bottles placed on shelves echoed through the hallways as members of the media entered security to set up cameras and prepare for the pre-game hype.
There are also fans from Alabama here, of course, who sing “Sweet Home Alabama” and applaud the Million Dollar Band in the parking lots. And while it’s difficult to gauge which fan participation is the strongest with the Sea of Red representing both teams, it’s fair to say that UC fans here aren’t at all disheartened to be the ones. outsiders of this match.
Terry Jaspers, a UC fan with rhinestone soccer ball earrings, thinks it will be a close game but expects the Bearcats to play a “fierce fight” against Alabama.
Marcus Jackson, a Cincinnati native living in Nashville, predicted a 30-23 Bearcat victory. His fiancee Alexus Leggett, wearing a University of Alabama T-shirt, gave him a defiant smile.
She thinks we’ll see a win in Alabama today, but admits it won’t be an easy win.
“It will be a close game,” said Leggett.
With less than an hour to go, UC fans are already celebrating like we’re on our way to Indianapolis for the Championship game.