HEBRON, Ky. — A flight full of Cincinnati football fans took off for North Texas with high hopes Thursday afternoon.
The team plays the University of Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
"I hate to say it, but this might be the only time in my life that UC makes the playoffs," said UC alumnus Mark Stargel.
Stargel joined fellow alums and long-standing season ticket holders as they checked in to their dream flight.
"It's something you want to be a part of and say you were there," fellow UC alumnus Jason Rinsky said.
Excitement soared among the 150 people whose chartered accommodations through Provident Travel included airfare, hotels, transportation to and from AT&T Stadium for $1,600. All, including one vacation-bound mom of an Alabama grad, separately purchased tickets to the game.
"I did let [my daughter] know that I was changing sides for this game," said UC grad Brooke Meszaros.
Rinsky said he kicked himself for not going to the Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl years before, prioritizing this once-in-a-lifetime experience with other die-hard fans.
"You can put lots of things on your bucket list, but how many people get to go to a playoff event like this?" said Barbara Laxton.
Jackson Copley hopes there's more than just this game.
"The Bearcats are going to crush Alabama," he said.
Copley's mom, Ashley, graduated from UC in 2005. His grandpa, Bert Cannon, got his UC business degree in 1969. Having watched past Liberty, Orange and Sugar Bowl games, both considered a trip to see the Bearcats compete in a playoff game the biggest opportunity yet.
"We did leave my daughter and husband at home," Ashley Copley said.
She and her dad brought Jackson, who hopes to be part of the class of 2035, to start a new era of memories.
"Traveling with all these great people, going to the game, being there to cheer them on, it's just an experience that who knows if we'll ever get to do it again," Copley said. "So we figured we have to go."
One alum said he is going to get a bus to carry his group to Indianapolis in 10 days.
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