ARLINGTON, Texas (WOOD) — Tens of thousands of Western Michigan University fans made the trip to AT&T Stadium outside Dallas Monday to watch the undefeated Broncos take on Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl.
About 1,000 fans paid to get into a pregame tailgate party at nearby Globe Life Park, home of the Texas Rangers. A smaller crowd gathered in a plaza outside of the stadium for the Goodyear Huddle Up pep rally, featuring the Bronco Marching Band, games and the life-sized Bronco made from recycled tires.
But the most enthusiastic crowds were found in the parking lots surrounding the stadium. Tailgaters met in large groups to celebrate the Broncos’ season with food, drinks and games.
Even some past Bronco greats joined in the fun. Former Bronco and NFL star Jason Babin took pictures and signed autographs as he celebrated with tailgaters across from the stadium.
“This is unbelievable,” Babin said. “Seeing everybody, hearing all their stories, hanging out with all the fellas, seeing the opposite side of the game. Now I see why everybody loves football so much.”
Despite the size difference between the MAC and Big Ten schools, the crowd of more than 59,000 fans at AT&T Stadium was nearly evenly split between Western Michigan and Wisconsin fans.
“Their support all season has been tremendous, making their way all the way down to Dallas. What a tremendous sight. It’s starting to become what you do in Kalamazoo — support the football team and show up,” WMU quarterback Zach Terrell said. “They did an awesome job of keeping us in the game with their energy, and I can’t thank them enough for how supportive they’ve been throughout our career but especially tonight.”
While the Bronco football team fell short of winning the game, fans still went home with smiles, proud of the team and the season they had.