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Colton McWilliams Sports Editor

Colton’s Corner: I-35 Rivalry is what college football is all about

Thursday, September 14, 2023

In some ways, I’m still new to Texas State since moving to San Marcos in 2019.

So last weekend was a revelation when I made the trip down to the Alamodome to cover the fifth edition of the I-35 Rivalry Showdown between Texas State and UTSA.

The game was very competitive between the established power in UTSA and the up-comer in Texas State.

But beneath the rivalry and the showdown between head coach G.J. Kinne and his mentor Jeff Traylor, it was the atmosphere that really stole the show.

Over 49,000 fans packed the Alamodome to watch the Roadrunners and the Bobcats square off.

To the naked eye it seemed like Texas State was competing in a hostile environment akin to Kyle Field or DKR Stadium.

But the atmosphere was more akin to the Red River Shootout.

Nearly half of the stadium was filled with Texas State fans and alums cheering on the Bobcats as they took on their longtime rivals.

In fact, if you listen to the broadcast, every time the Bobcats would score, you could be mistaken it was Texas State playing at home.

How is that possible? Well, the answer came to me before the game had even kicked off.

Before the game, I wanted to tour the tailgate scene at UTSA to see and experience what Roadrunner fans had to offer.

What shocked me was that amidst the navy and orange flags and tents, were splotches of maroon and gold.

Before long, I had found myself under a tent of a couple of Southwest Texas State alums who invited me to their tailgate , as the three of us were showered with the boos of the UTSA fans.

The duo, having grown up in San Antonio, talked to me about how the I-35 Rivalry runs through their family.

Their story lines up with perhaps thousands of other families who have either gone to Texas State or UTSA.

It was here where it finally hit me.

This is what college football is all about.

In an era of Super Conferences where college athletics programs are now paired with other schools spanned across multiple timezones, we are slowly losing the aspect of regionality that made the sport so special.

Back in the days of the Southwest Conference, everyone at least knew someone who went to either Baylor, Houston, Rice, Texas, TCU, Texas A&M or Texas Tech.

Bringing it further down to the small school level, folks knew people who went to either Southwest Texas State, Sam Houston or Stephen F. Austin.

But as realignment has slowly pulled apart these rivalries that had become a fixture in people’s lives, so, too, is the regionalism of the sport itself also affected.

In the case of Texas State, the Bobcats are the only member in the conference that is from Texas.

Despite the closeness of Arkansas State, Louisiana and Louisiana Monroe, chances are that most people don’t know anyone that has attended any of the universities, not to mention Southern Miss, Troy and South Alabama.

Then you have the Bobcats East Division in App State, Coastal Carolina, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, James Madison, Marshall and Old Domion, schools that are located on the other side of the country.

That is what made last weekend so special.

The I-35 Rivalry runs through so many families that it effectively ties them to this game, as over 49,000 folks packed the Alamodome to see their respective alma maters compete against each other for nearly three hours.

This is what college football is all about.

This is why people come on Saturdays to see their respective alma maters.

Luckily, the I-35 Series will be continued through 2031, so the showdown will hopefully create a new generation of fans. Twitter: @ColtonBMc

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666