Bu≠s with Texas ties rel­ish a re­turn trip

There’s Whataburger to dive into – and what a chance for No. 11 CU to keep show­ing it cuts the mus­tard.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Nick Kos­mider

boul­der» It wasn’t as if Sam Kron­shage had to choke down the cui­sine from In-N-Out Burger af­ter Colorado road wins at Stan­ford and Ari­zona this sea­son.

As postgame re­fresh­ments go, it cer­tainly beat or­ange slices and trail mix.

Still, CU’s ju­nior of­fen­sive tackle opined to his team­mates that the pop­u­lar West Coast chain isn’t the holy grail of burger joints. There was some­thing bet­ter out there, he con­tested.

“I’ve had to tell them Whataburger is way bet­ter, and now they are go­ing to get to try it when we go out there,” Kron­shage, who is from The Wood­lands, Texas, said of the Buffs’ up­com­ing trip to the Alamo Bowl in San An­to­nio to play Ok­la­homa State. “We’ll put the taste to the test.”

The chance to digest a lit­eral taste of home is just one as­pect of the bowl trip, which be­gins for the Buffs when they fly to San An­to­nio on Satur­day, that has CU play­ers and coaches with con­nec­tions to the Lone Star State an­tic­i­pat­ing their post­sea­son des­ti­na­tion.

The rare trip to Texas, CU’s first since 2009, will serve as a home­com­ing for 10 Buffs, in­clud­ing five up­per­class­men.

“It’s ex­cit­ing to play your last col­lege game in your home state,” said se­nior Jim­mie Gil­bert, who went to A&M Con­sol­i­dated in Col­lege Sta­tion, 180 miles east of the Alam­od­ome. “I’ve got a lot of fam­ily mem­bers com­ing to see me play. That’s a lot of peo­ple who don’t nec­es­sar­ily have the time or money to travel and see you play. So it gives them a chance to come out and see me.”

Kron­shage com­mit­ted to CU in 2013 with­out a trip to his home state any­where on a fu­ture sched­ule. So the an­nounce­ment three weeks ago that the No. 11 Buffs (10-3) would get to play a mar­quee game against No. 13 Ok­la­homa State (9-3) was a hol­i­day sur­prise he never saw com­ing.

The Texas-heavy ros­ter for the Cow-

boys — which in­cludes five starters from San An­to­nio — gets plenty of chances to play in front of friends and fam­ily dur­ing trips through the Big 12. For the Buffs, this is some­thing new.

“I’m su­per pumped about it,” the 6-foot-6, 295-pound Kron­shage said. “When I com­mit­ted, I didn’t think we’d get to play a game in Texas. I’m pumped to get back home, pumped to eat Whataburger again and pumped to be in the Texas air. I’m ex­cited for it.”

The trip to San An­to­nio will also con­jure pos­i­tive mem­o­ries for CU coach Mike MacIn­tyre, who served as the de­fen­sive backs coach for the Dal­las Cow­boys for four sea­sons from 2003-06.

Dur­ing his first sea­son, Dal­las held train­ing camp at the Alam­od­ome. MacIn­tyre stayed at the Mar­riott on the River Walk less than a mile away from the sta­dium. He would head to work on his bike be­fore the sun came up and then bike back af­ter it had set.

“So I never saw the out­side too much,” MacIn­tyre said with a laugh. “I went out­side a few times. It’s re­ally hot there in Au­gust, but the hos­pi­tal­ity was great.”

MacIn­tyre learned first­hand about the wor­shiped na­ture of foot­ball in Texas at the end of that first train­ing camp, which would be fur­ther ce­mented later when he watched 17,000 peo­ple show up to a high school foot­ball game near his fam­ily’s home in South­lake, Texas, out­side Dal­las.

“We played the Hous­ton Tex­ans, not in a pre­sea­son game but in a scrim­mage,” MacIn­tyre re­called. “The Alam­od­ome holds 68,000, and there were 68,000 peo­ple at the scrim­mage for those two Texas teams. Every­body was there for a scrim­mage. They couldn’t fit every­body in there. Foot­ball is im­por­tant in Texas, there’s no doubt about it.”

An­tic­i­pa­tion for the game among CU fans has been re­flected in ticket sales. The school sold its al­lot­ment of 6,000 tick­ets and asked for about 500 more. And that’s pri­mar­ily just an in­di­ca­tion of how many fans plan to travel from Colorado. The school also ex­pects much of its alumni base in the San An­to­nio area to flock to the Alam­od­ome on Dec. 29.

“If it keeps go­ing, the way it looks to me, we’ll have the most (fans) the Pac-12 has ever had at the game,” MacIn­tyre said. “That’s ex­cit­ing. I hope more and more Buffs fans get ex­cited and get down there. Maybe they’ll sit around at Christmas and say, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ We’d love to see ev­ery­one we can there. I know it means a lot to our play­ers.”

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