The Ultimate Grillmaster.
Fans are one of the most dedicated aspects of sports programs. College football tailgates are one way to prove that.
Folks of all ages come to the stadium hours before kickoff to combine family, friends, food and football.
Every college football game has some form of pregame festivities surrounding the stadium. In this slideshow, I have chosen the 10 matchups that should yield the best tailgates in Week 5.
Let’s fire up the grill.
Rankings appear as follows: Number in AP poll/USA Today poll. Rankings as of September 26.
Week 5: Wake Forest vs. Duke
No, we are not talking about college basketball here. The Tobacco Road rivalry—which also includes North Carolina and North Carolina State—is definitely more intense on the hardwood, but it is underrated on the gridiron.
Duke has not defeated Wake Forest in football since 1999, but that could change this season. The Blue Devils have not made a bowl game since 1994, but they have three wins already this season. And the last time Duke won more than five football games? 1994.
Wake Forest also comes into the tilt with three wins, but its loss was a 52-0 shutout against Florida State in Week 3.
I have allowed Daniel Carp of The Chronicle, Duke's student newspaper, to help explain why this game made my list:
So if Duke hasn’t defeated Wake Forest since before Y2K almost happened, how has this one-sided relationship become a rivalry? Because nearly every meeting between the Blue Devils and Demon Deacons since Duke’s last victory has been a game to remember. Five of the last six contests have been decided by fewer than seven points.
Oh, and because the two schools are about a 90-minute drive from each other.
Week 5: Boston College vs. No. 17/16 Clemson
Clemson enters Week 5 just outside the top 15, but do not expect the Tigers to just walk over Boston College.
These two teams play for the O’Rourke-McFadden Trophy. Though 2008 was the first year for the trophy, Clemson and Boston College have met 21 times since 1940.
The Tigers do lead the series 10-9-2, but the Eagles have a 4-3 advantage since BC joined the ACC in 2005.
With the game at the underdog’s home stadium, it could go down to the wire. If Boston College pulls it out, that could be a huge win for a program looking to get back to the success it enjoyed when Matt Ryan was the quarterback.
Week 5 Game: Iowa vs. NR/No. 38 Minnesota
Iowa and Minnesota first met on the football field in 1891, and they have played for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy every year since 1935.
The Floyd of Rosedale is a bronze sculpture of a pig. Of all the pigs potentially consumed at this tailgate, I suspect the Floyd of Rosedale is the pig these fans want most.
Minnesota is seeking its third consecutive victory in this rivalry, which it leads 61-42-2. The Golden Gophers could have the better team heading into this game, as they are undefeated through four games. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, are 1-2 against FBS opponents (all games decided by three points or less).
If Iowa loses this one, there will be plenty of grills in the parking lot waiting to heat up head coach Kirk Ferentz’s seat.
Week 5 Game: No. 34/22 Oklahoma State vs. No. 12/10 Texas
This game pales in comparison to each school’s larger rivalry games, but Oklahoma State’s recent ascent into the college football elite could make this a more heated contest going forward.
A win against Texas could put the Cowboys back in the top 25 of both polls. A win against Oklahoma State could put the Longhorns in the top 10 of both polls. Clearly, there is a lot at stake in this matchup.
There will probably be a lot of steak at the tailgate, too.
Week 5 Game: SMU vs. No. 15/14 TCU
The name of this rivalry—the Battle for the Iron Skillet—follows along the theme of food preparation. The winning team receives an iron skillet.
TCU has a 44-40-7 advantage in this series, which goes back to 1915. SMU won last season in overtime.
Though the Horned Frogs have moved on to BCS football in the Big 12, they are not too cool for the Mustangs, as both programs have scheduled each other until at least 2017.
SMU should be heavy underdogs in this one, but in rivalry games like these, the numbers get thrown out the window—or, in this case, burned in the iron skillet during the tailgate.
Week 5 Game: No. 35/32 Texas A&M vs. Arkansas
In today’s trend of conference realignment in college football, the loss of rivalries usually gets mentioned. In this instance, though, conference realignment has made the rivalry a lot stronger.
Texas A&M and Arkansas’ showdown will be as intense as ever now that both programs are members of the SEC West. In 2012, Kyle Field—the home of the 12th Man—hosts the game.
What better way for the Aggies to begin their divisional slate?
This game looked more intriguing before the season began, when the Razorbacks were ranked No. 10/10. Even now, though, the contest carries great significance.
Arkansas leads the series 41-24-3. The two teams first met in 1903.
Week 5 Game: No. 1/1 Alabama vs. Mississippi
Alabama has dominated this SEC West rivalry, and it will likely continue that dominance in 2012, but the Crimson Tide have played Ole Miss too many times to not anticipate a good game.
The Rebels have won only nine times in 56 recognized tries, but this would be quite the season to get win No. 10. Ole Miss already has three wins, and Alabama is undoubtedly the No. 1 team in college football.
I apologize to all Crimson Tide fans, but I feel Alabama will lose sometime this season, and this could be the week that happens.
Either way, some great tailgating will ensue.
Week 5 Game: No. 20/18 Michigan State vs. No. 14 Ohio State
Many Big Ten teams have trophies or names associated with their conference games, but Michigan State and Ohio State do not share a special rivalry like those.
I put this game here because both teams are ranked in the top 20. If not for Ohio State’s bowl ban, I might have put this one closer to No. 1.
The Spartans will present the Buckeyes with their toughest test so far this season. Sorry, California.
This game means a lot more for Michigan State, so you know Spartan Stadium will be rocking.
Week 5 Game: No. 5/5 Georgia vs. No. 36/39 Tennessee
Georgia has silenced the doubters through four games this season, and I was one of those doubters. The Bulldogs’ chances of winning at least the SEC East title look good right now.
Tennessee plays in the SEC East as well. After struggling to put away Akron in Week 4, the Volunteers are a hungry football team looking for the upset.
For Georgia fans, the tailgate will be the appetizer.
Week 5 Game: No. 9/7 West Virginia vs. No. 25/24 Baylor
West Virginia, welcome to the Big 12. What a way to kick off conference play: a home game against a Top 25 opponent in Baylor.
There are only two games pitting Top 25 teams against each other in Week 5, but this one means more. The Mountaineers want to prove they belong in the Big 12, while the Bears want to prove they can beat elite competition without Robert Griffin III.
This game has so many tasty storylines that I have gotten hungry just thinking about them. Enter the tailgate.