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I'm a UMass fan. Here's what I learned at the BYU game on Saturday

I went to Lavell Edwards Stadium for the first time on Saturday, and the home of the Cougars certainly packed a bite — and it tasted like maple syrup frosting.

But we'll get to that later. I have much more to digest from my first BYU game ever.

UMass has been the only football team to attract me to LaVell Edwards Stadium (I graduated from UMass back in May 2013). Dressed in an aging gray hoodie that’s a size too short and a UMass beanie I first bought back when Mitt Romney ran for office, I drove to Provo to see what it would be like to be a Minuteman fan in a town full of Cougar supporters.

By the end of the game, a 51-9 bloodbath in which the Cougars' defense and special teams ripped apart UMass, retaining possession over and over in a game that seemed more like a training session for BYU, I could only shake my head in disappointment that the Minutemen couldn’t put up a better showing.

Video: @BYUfootball LB Francis Bernard with the pick-6 against UMass, giving the Cougars a 34-9 lead in an eventual 51-9 victory pic.twitter.com/JCnnf3Rjuc

— Brandon Judd (@brandonljudd) November 20, 2016

Maybe it was the altitude. Maybe it was skill. Maybe it was the Dunkin Donuts culture losing out to caffeine-free Diet Coke. Whatever the case may be, the result felt disappointing.

But I kept my head high when I left Provo. On my ride back to Salt Lake County, cruising up I-15, I thought about my experience in the heart of BYU fandom and what stuck out to me, a Massachusetts native who has never seen a BYU football game.

Here are my six big takeaways.


1. One fan shook his head at me


I’ll be honest, I can get a little rowdy at sporting events. I cheer, chant and yell for my team to get the ball down the field. I’m fully aware my voice echoes. It’s a northeastern thing. Or my Italian heritage. We tend to be loud.

Herb Scribner, a UMass grad, wears a UMass beanie and hoodie, along with a maroon and black scarf. (Credit: Herb Scribner (selfie), Deseret News)

One gentleman in front of me, who smartly came prepared with a cushion seat for the hard, steel bleachers, shook his head. I mentioned something about BYU not having any reception skills.


2. One fan told me 'bye' and 'see ya'


As I went down to grab some nachos and popcorn, I heard a fan from behind me bid me adieu from the stands. The fan also said “see ya,” a clear indication he thought I was leaving. I came back with a fistful of popcorn and a stack of nachos, a sign I wasn’t leaving this game anytime soon.


3. The concession cashiers are nice


LaVell Edwards Stadium may be a little older and less flashy than some modern college football venues, but at least the concession workers are nice enough.

When I ordered a Cougartail (we’ll get into my feelings about that below), the cashier simply explained to me what it was and what it tasted like. That ambitious side of me also ordered a BratTail, and the cashier went full foodie on me, explaining the difference between a sausage and a brat.

Later in the day, when I bought the nachos and popcorn, the cashiers didn’t ask me anything about my Massachusetts garb or poke fun at my maple sugar-coated beard.

Thanks, guys.


4. The Cougartail and the BratTail are not for me


OK, so, Massachusetts residents and much of the northeastern United States’ population are known for their maple syrup consumption. I mean, we are like a block or two away from Canada. So we know our maple syrup, and let me tell you — this Massachusetts native had too much Saturday.

Your first bite of a Cougartail or BratTail will make you feel happy, probably a result of a sugar rush that spews into your veins. But three or four bites in, expect yourself lucky to make it out of the game without a pounding headache and an aching stomach.

A BYU fan holds a Cougartail before the big game begins. (Credit: Herb Scribner, Deseret News)

The Cougartail is good if shared, but the BratTail makes me feel like I’m eating the most unhealthy parts of a Saturday morning brunch, only with no nutritional value.

Let’s stop pretending, these heavy-handed sugar bars are worth the cost.


5. Those mountains, though


OK, OK. So let’s get the silly comments about the food out of the way. In truth, the breathtaking mountains filling in the backdrop of the stadium make the sunshine beating on my face worth it. I felt so close to the mountains I could almost touch them. That’s definitely a new and fun way to experience college football.


6. I will go back


Some of the food (and the final score) may have made me sick to my stomach, but I’m fully expecting to go back to LaVell Edwards Stadium sometime in the future. The beautiful backdrop of the mountains, coupled with the friendly atmosphere, make for an overall joyful football experience.

Maybe next time I’ll go easy on the doughnuts. After all, this Massachusetts native will admit there’s such a thing as too much maple syrup.