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Columbia Missourian

Missouri-Arizona State game less crowded than Georgia game

By Richard Fernandez
September 15, 2012 | 9:18 p.m. CDT
Russ Stokes, left, and Dotty Frier, top left, tailgate with Betty Stokes before the Arizona State game Saturday outside Memorial Stadium. Russ Stokes has been to every game except for one season since 1960.

COLUMBIA — Football goes on. Even after the Missouri football team took its first Southeastern Conference loss last week, fans made their way out to Memorial Stadium on Saturday to tailgate before the Tigers' game against the Arizona State Sun Devils.

Sun Devils fans did not have as much of a presence at the stadium as Georgia Bulldogs fans did last week. At 4:15 p.m. outside the northwest corner of the field, a few Arizona State fans stood waiting to get in the stadium.


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One of them was wearing a Pat Tillman jersey. Tillman, who played for Arizona State from 1994 to 1997, was killed by friendly fire while serving in the army in Afghanistan.

A larger group of Arizona State fans gathered outside the north end of the stadium, where it was noticeably quiet. The area surrounding the stadium was far less crowded than before the game last week, when people walking looked for holes in crowds of fans like a running back looking to get through a crowd of lineman.

On Saturday, though, there was plenty of room for walking. Conversations under tents could be heard from 100 feet away.

Even the food in this area was less exciting. While the scent of brats, sausage, burgers and sauteed onions filled the air around other areas of the stadium, one group in this spot simply had buckets of chicken.

On campus, students and parents sat together under tents. One family had a tall black van, built for game day with a flat screen television and a sound system built into the trunk. The screen displayed a college football game while the song "More than a Feeling," by Boston played from the speakers.

Nearby, a little girl took a snap from her dad, who coached her on her footwork before she fired an underhanded two-handed pass to her big brother.

Parking lots were more crowded on the west side of the stadium, where the pounding of bass overpowered music from car sound systems and game commentary coming from TVs.

On the east side of the stadium, near the Hearnes Center, a predominantly older crowd of Missouri fans tailgated in style. One group with a giant RV played the 1960s hit, "This Old Heart of Mine," by the Isley Brothers.

In front of the side-door of the RV lay a black mat with a Missouri Tigers logo for people to wipe their feet before stepping into the luxurious vehicle.

In the same parking lot two young boys played catch while pretending they were Missouri football players.

"Franklin back to pass, throws. D-G-B! Touchdown!" one of them commentates as he throws to the other.

Back behind the south end of the stadium, fans enjoyed the nice weather. A couple of women sat in the cool weather in lawn chairs.

One sat in a giant black lawn chair with a seat about three feet off the ground and a backrest that stood about 5-and-a-half feet tall. The other woman sat in a much smaller green chair, with a seat just one foot off the ground. The small chair had no cup-holders, which was OK because the big chair had six of them.

Near the mismatch of chairs, a small boy with blond hair, wearing a gold No. 28 Missouri football jersey, got ready for the game by practicing kick returns. He had a big smile on his face as he looped back behind a chair to set up a return. Standing up, the boy's head didn't even reach his father's waist.