College Football Week 2: The 20 Best Tailgating Games of the Week
Wasn’t it great to have five full days of college football last week? There was football from Thursday through Monday, and most of the featured games were outstanding.
Of course, there were runaway games, but as long as you had the tailgate going, nobody got bored.
This week, the action started on Thursday and goes through Saturday. Every team has shifted up or down in the polls. Some teams are out completely and others are out of one but not the other. It's going to be a wacky year.
But, then there’s the NFL that started Thursday too, with the Saints vs. Packers game at Lambeau. That was the perfect way to start the NFL; two Super Bowl winners at Lambeau Field. But I’m not here to talk about that.
It's College Football Week 2, and tailgating at the college level is the reason we’re here.
Just so you know how I’m picking these, it’s a delicate balance between good games and outrageous tailgating.
In some cases, it’s not that good a game, but you can’t ignore how good the party will be. In other cases, the game will make the tailgating extraordinary.
It's subjective I know, but that’s what the comments are for; let me hear from you, make suggestions.
So, let’s get started with the top 20 tailgate countdown for this Saturday.
20. Fresno State @ Nebraska (10) 7:00 PM ET
After a big win over Chattanooga in the season home opener last week, Nebraska maintained their ranking in the polls and will repeat by playing a weaker opponent from the WAC this week with Fresno State. Excuse me, but it's true.
Regardless of the opponent, the Cornhuskers have one of the best and most loyal fan bases in the country. This year, some are predicting a run for the BCS Title for Nebraska.
The fans will be running for corn on the cob, brisket, corn-fed beef, barbecued beef and sirloin sandwiches, all on the grill.
It's not your typical tailgating experience since alcohol is prohibited around or close to the stadium.
Close by, the faithful setup their grills and libations in designated areas at the other end of a pedestrian bridge or underneath the highway overpass for the underground griller.
You have to be sneaky with plastic cups being the order of the day, but there are still some elaborate setups with TVs, full bars with taps, and Bloody Mary’s being the norm up until about 11:00 am. It may go on longer this Saturday considering a late kickoff.
I’ll say it again; it’s the most fun you can have with a giant plastic corn hat on your head.
19. San Jose State @ UCLA 10:00 PM ET
It’s starting to feel a little like fall, even in the southeast, but it's always warm and sunny in Southern California.
The UCLA Bruins came back from Houston after a squeaky 38-34 loss to the Cougars last Saturday. So this is their home opener at the Rose Bowl.
Tailgating in Pasadena on Saturday, the UCLA fans will either be drowning their sorrows over last week, or heads will be high for a San Jose State game and what should be an in-state rivalry.
At least in the blogs the Bruins' fans are predicting huge offense and stingy defense.
Tailgating at the Rose Bowl is coming under some new restrictions that are a bit draconian compared to rules at other colleges.
If you didn’t know, at the UCLA/USC game last year, two men were stabbed in the parking lot before the game. So, in order to take some steps to curb possible violence, the new rules are:
- Alcohol consumption will be prohibited in all tailgating areas after kickoff.
- General parking lots will be open to the public six hours—instead of eight hours before kickoff.
- Games that involve the consumption of alcohol—such as beer pong—or use of alcohol-related paraphernalia—like the funnel—are prohibited.
This comes under “news you can use” and not as a remarkable tailgate experience. But, you never know. The folks in Southern California are known for their creativity, and I’d love to see some comments about how they make the most of these new rules.
18. Cincinnati @ Tennessee 3:30 PM ET
Tennessee is coming into the season with what is reported to be a much improved team, a coach with a year more experience in Derek Dooley and a chance to come alive in the SEC.
Cincinnati has been a comer in the last few years, especially on offense. Both teams are coming off of wins, so it could actually be a good game. The second one for the Volunteers tailgating at home; it helps to get that one under your belt and come more prepared, especially with the food and drink options you have at Tennessee.
Neyland Stadium, on the campus of the University of Tennessee, is located in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. The scenery is spectacular, if you can get a view that doesn’t have a sea of orange surrounding it.
This is one of two stadiums in the country with water access. On gameday, the Tennessee River is crowded with boaters having their own tailgate afloat, in front of the stadium.
While singing Rocky Top—so much so that it permeates the brain by the end of the day—the morning starts with Bloody Marys, but very soon migrates to Bourbon.
This is Tennessee, and your visit wouldn’t be complete without some Tennessee sippin’ whiskey.
Every now and then you’ll come across a drink called Calvados, although it is also referred to as apple moonshine, homemade of course.
Now, if I could only get Rocky Top out of my head.
17. Nevada @ Oregon (14) 3:30 PM ET
I think we all saw the 40-27 loss to LSU by Oregon last Saturday. Their dizzying drop in the polls was evidence of the feeling about their preseason hype.
This Saturday, the hype is gone and they’re playing an untested Nevada Wolfpack team, this being their first game.
This is Oregon’s first tailgating game at home too. Since they had to stake out every available square foot outside of Texas Stadium last week, I’m sure it’s nice to get back to the home digs.
My guess is that LSU was there days ahead of the Ducks, so there was probably limited space left (more on the Tigers later in this article).
Duck tailgating is all about green and yellow on grills, cars, vans, buses and bodies. It's not in as much style as the team itself, with their Nike Designer uniforms, but, it’s usually neat.
The city of Eugene does have some rules regarding tailgating, and it’s a little rigid with the exception of allowing alcoholic beverage consumption. You’re simply limited to starting the imbibing to four hours prior to the game and continuing until the game is complete.
Also, you cannot have alcohol in an open container, and you have to stay inside the designated drinking areas. Some colleges restrict alcohol, period, so that is pretty good.
Other than that, it’s a typical tailgating scene, and the weather is supposed to be beautiful this weekend. So, perhaps the Ducks will enjoy their time back at home with a brat, a beer and a win.
16. Hawaii @ Washington 3:30 PM ET
This is the second week in a row for Washington to be hosting a game, and Hawaii has a long flight to get there.
The Huskies are coming off a squeaker of a win (30-27) over Eastern Washington, and Hawaii is in the same boat. So, they are pretty well matched game wise.
What Washington does have is one week more under the belt tailgating, and I’m sure tweaks have been made to the tailgating offense.
It’s a unique venue for tailgating that’s for sure. Imagine taking your boat to the game on Saturday morning. I mentioned Neyland in Tennessee as one of the two waterfront stadiums in college football? Well, this is the second one.
Husky Stadium is located right on Lake Washington and there can be upwards of 12,000 people on the lake right next to the stadium. Some camp out there the entire weekend.
Just before kickoff, the University of Washington crew team offers shuttles between boats and the docks for fans to come to the game.
And, the food is unique as well. How about dining on Dungeness crab or other seafood delights?
You can tell these Husky fans are quite serious about tailgating on or off the water. An expansion of a state highway threatens to close the south parking lot to tailgating, which has the Washington fans in an uproar.
This week, they’ll need to take advantage of the beautiful 90-degree weather before heading off to a tough Nebraska team next weekend.
15. Wofford @ Clemson 3:30 PM ET
Clemson is coming off of a good game opener at home, beating Troy 43-19. There is little doubt they’ll have no trouble with the Southern Conference's Wofford this week.
Clemson will be getting a lot of experience in the tailgating arena too, hosting the first four games of its schedule, although after Wofford, they meet up with Auburn and Florida, so by then they’ll need a drink.
The saying goes at Clemson, “There’s something in these hills.” On gameday in Clemson, South Carolina, it's acres and acres of tents, tables, southern hospitality and a sea of orange with tiger paw prints in them hills.
The dress code calls for sundresses, khakis, and polo shirts—rarely do you see jeans.
And the food is dressed up too, with table clothes, platters of wings, shrimp, fried chicken, and silverware instead of the typical tailgating plastic.
Early on Saturday morning, it's screwdrivers, mimosas and Yuengling or Bud Light. And, this is a college campus, so beer pong tables are everywhere.
Because the fraternities are all together on the quad, this gathering quickly becomes a frat party with live bands and the Tiger Yell repeatedly. But, I’ll be quick to mention, Faber College and Delta Chi from Animal House it is not.
14. Utah @ USC 7:30 PM ET
So, you win a game and the AP kicks you out. A win by USC over Minnesota (19-17) moved USC out of their 25th position in the poll. I’m sure I could have some good conversation over a beer, or maybe some Chardonnay, outside the Coliseum with some Trojan fans this weekend, but let’s concentrate on the Pac-12 for now.
This is the first conference game for Utah and USC and it’s not that far for the Utes to come and enjoy the festivities
After all, it is Southern California and the weather this weekend is supposed to be spectacular.
Also, the fans are laid back, except after kickoff. And, outside of the legendary Coliseum, you’ll find just about everything under the sun.
USC fans have even organized and created the Trojan Tailgate Club, usually found at the southeast end of the Coliseum in the Sports Arena parking lot (lot 6). They provide a setup complete with DirectTV, Sirius Satellite radio, barbecue grill, poker table, food and drink. It's welcome to any USC fan and visitors are welcome to stop by too.
When it comes to tipping back the glass, the USC fans do have Bud Light, but more often you’ll see bottles of wine, premium or imported beers, and when it's time to do shots, it's not the bar brand tequila, it's Patron.
And, because of such a diverse ethnic population, the food is a smorgasbord of every flavor under the sun. You’ll see lamb on spits, tacos, enchiladas and many exotic foods, along with the usual chicken, ribs, burgers and dogs.
We'll have to see if they get back in the polls should Utah fall to the Trojans
13. Norfolk State @ West Virginia (24) 1:00 PM ET
The Mountaineers had a great game against their cross-state rivals Marshall last week, winning 34-13. It was good enough to move them from No. 24 to No. 19 in the AP, although the Coaches Poll decided to leave them at 24.
I’m sure there’s not that much complaining in Morgantown, since they’re poised to do well this year.
They got past their tailgating season opener too, so I’m sure they’ve made some adjustments as to loading up the barbecue more and maybe a case or two extra.
The fact about some of the rural universities is that you can find the best tailgating sites in places tucked away in the middle of nowhere. There’s much less distraction and the focus is on football, food and drink.
Morgantown, West Virginia is one of those places where Mountaineer fans have a blast and paint up their cars and faces to show their support for the team.
These are loyal local fans, and Tailgate Larry is a fixture at these events. He hosts a website dedicated to Mountaineer Tailgating with great recipes and tips for tailgating in Morgantown.
Dandy Man’s Teriyaki Steak, Janet’s Spinach Dip and Alisha’s Tailgate Hamburger Dip, are only a few of the dishes on the menu.
But my favorite is Recipe for Success: 3-4 cases of Ice Cold Beer, 15-20 Good Ol' WV folk, a bunch of Larry’s kick ass food, 1 Mountaineer Victory.
Norfolk State? Well, if you’re from West Virginia, beating anyone from Virginia is a good Saturday.
12. BYU @ Texas (21) 7:00 PM ET
This time last week, Texas was ranked in the Coaches Poll, but not in the AP.
After a big win over cross-state rival Rice 34-9, AP put them at No. 24 and the Coaches moved them up to No. 21.
So, there’s good reason for celebration in Austin this weekend. But any game in Austin is reason for celebration; the sun coming up is another good reason.
These Texans take tailgating quite seriously, and they have several websites devoted to the subject. There could actually be a course in the art at UT, I don’t know.
On Longhomtailgaters.com, their mission statement says "Longhorn Tailgaters is a community open to all Longhorn-Loving, Orange-Blooded, sooner-Hatin' Texas Fans. Come early, have a beer and watch ESPN GameDay!”
This group is actually a not-for-profit organization that helps out local charities from donations.
They have a dedicated location right on campus, not too far from the stadium where you can stop by Saturday morning, get entertained, have a burger and a beer and see which head Lee Corso puts on.
This week, with a 7:00 pm kickoff, that would be quite an early start, but what the heck, this is Texas, a land where a beer on Saturday morning is not only justified, it's required.
11. New Mexico @ Arkansas (13) 7:00 PM ET
The Hogs had a big win in their home opener in Fayetteville last weekend and not unexpectedly. It was the Missouri State Bears, and Arkansas came out on top 51-7 in a definite display of offense and defense.
This week New Mexico, at 0-1, is not much better competition than Missouri State, at least not for the No. 13 Razorbacks who are serious competitors in the SEC West again this year.
They have one more weekend at home before heading off to Alabama in their first road trip and SEC matchup. Maybe they'll party with the Tide.
But for now, it’s all about honing their tailgating skills in Little Rock, still very much a home game, although they have to give up the pastoral serenity of The Gardens.
War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock has a long tradition of hosting tailgating, especially at the golf course, which bears the same name. It gives it that “Garden” feel just like home in Fayetteville.
They actually promote tailgating in Little Rock, opening up at 6:00 am and there is enough space for large grills.
And, the food is always good. However, with a 7:00 pm start, that'll give you quite a wait. But, what do you care, you’re tailgaitin’.
10. Tulsa @ Tulane 3:30 PM ET
New Orleans or anywhere in Louisiana is party time on Saturday in the fall; come to think of it, it's party time everyday in New Orleans.
LSU is back home in Baton Rouge this Saturday after an opener in Dallas last week, and Tulane is home in New Orleans. You’d better believe Louisiana will be rockin’.
"Grill with the Green Wave," the Tulane nickname, is plastered everywhere, and although the Green Wave plays at the Superdome, that doesn’t prevent partying before and after the game.
The tailgating happens on top of Garage 5, and is promoted by the University on their website. New Orleans doesn’t have an open container law, but I recommend doing as the locals do when it comes to college sports.
However, the Tulane campus is right in the historic part of New Orleans, and with a 3:30, 2:30 Central, start, you can enjoy the after-party not too far from Bourbon Street, where the party never stops.
9. Alabama (2) @ Penn State (20) 3:30 PM ET
The Alabama-Penn State rivalry goes back quite a few years. There’s always that goal-line stand, where the Crimson Tide denied the Nittany Lions in the 1979 Sugar Bowl to win the national championship.
This year, Joe Pa is still at the helm of Penn State, as he was back in 1979. The coach of the Tide has changed quite a lot since then.
Regardless the ranking of the teams, it could go either way and Penn State is at home.
Pennstatetailgate.com posts their menu for the game. This week, it’s a made-to-order omelet bar, Baileys and coffee, and mimosas. This is a great way to start a Saturday morning in Happy Valley.
Beaver Stadium is the second largest stadium in the country and 100,000 fans is typical.
Tailgating in this crowd can seem a little overwhelming, but because of the rural location, there’s plenty of room. Every acre around the stadium is used for parking.
Like some other schools, the Nittany Lion fan base is heavy into RVs, so you’ll see plenty of them. Just wandering around, you’ll probably get invited to join folks in their RV, complete with satellite TV, kegs and open bar.
What to wear? You can’t go wrong at Penn State just wearing white. But, you’ll probably see some Crimson mixed in there this week.
8. Notre Dame @ Michigan 8:00 PM ET
Regardless of Notre Dame losing last week and moving out of both polls, all records go out the window with this rivalry.
ESPN Gameday will be in Ann Arbor for this one, since it does conjure up a college football tradition and means a lot to people, regardless of how these teams are doing this year, and regardless of whether you’re a Michigan or Notre Dame fan.
Likewise, tailgating in Ann Arbor goes back generations, and is steeped in traditions handed down by several.
But, some of the newer traditions are taking hold, especially at Michigan.
With the game not kicking off until 8:00 pm, there’ll be plenty of time to get in there early in the morning, have a Bloody Mary or two and then watch football all day long.
At Michigan Stadium, 42-inch LCD TVs with satellite dishes are quite the norm. Also, you’ll find iPads for streaming music in between games and generators for powering it all.
Then, how about a remote controlled cooler, that drives up to your guests to pop a cold one?
I guess for every old tradition, there’s a new one to take its place. What better place for the new ones to take hold than at Michigan, where most traditions were born.
7. Toledo @ Ohio State (15) 12:00 PM ET
OK, so they played Akron, and beat them 42-0. They move up three points in the polls. Now, they’re playing Toledo.
When the Buckeyes get done with the state of Ohio, they will move to their first road game in Miami of Florida. Until then, there’s lots to celebrate, regardless of the NCAA, NFL and the penalties former Buckeyes have suffered.
The Buckeyes, looking to make a statement after a tempestuous offseason, have managed to attain a No. 15 ranking after Week 1. They shouldn’t have any problem with Toledo.
Let’s head off this Saturday morning for some Bloody Marys under your red tent in one of the many parking lots that are turned into giant outdoor bars. We won’t have much time, because it is a very early game.
You could make friends with one of the many groups who have their own Buckeye-fashioned school bus, since there's plenty of time to party after the game waiting for the traffic to lighten up.
You should know that the best tailgating at Ohio State happens a little bit away from the stadium, across the river near the basketball and track stadiums.
That’s where you’ll find the most variety, and probably some unique approaches to imbibing and eating. Typically, they’ll serve breakfast with your Bloody Mary, and then chili, brats, pork, hot wings and so on.
Where else can you tailgate, and watch people cheer for that poisonous nut we love so much, the Buckeye?
6. Southern Illinois @ Ole Miss 6:00 PM ET
So, Houston Nutt and the Rebels took one on the chin at the hands of BYU last week, losing in a very tight game 14-13. Southern Illinois won their opener.
Perhaps, Ole Miss needed the opener to warm up The Grove, football comes next.
The Salukis from Southern Illinois may have never seen anything like tailgating in the SEC, and Ole Miss is a great place to get indoctrinated, Salukis included.
The Grove is legendary in tailgating lore. The tiny Mississippi town of Oxford is right out of a John Grisham novel. It’s what you picture when you think of the south, but not what you’d expect on a Saturday gameday.
Ten acres of green space used by students during the week, transforms into a tent city over night for 24 hours of tailgating. No cars are allowed, but thousands of fans from all over the southeast show up in the best attire.
Yes, no cutoffs and tee shirts. This is the social event of the fall for every Rebel home game, where people go from tent to tent socializing as only southerners do.
No open flame is allowed, so this changes the menu somewhat. But, it is a cocktail party atmosphere, with bar food, picnic-style sandwiches, and okra; all done southern style. The university even offers a catering service that you can call ahead for.
A couple of hours before game time, everyone lines a brick sidewalk for The Walk of Champions, where the team makes its way to the stadium, with fist bumps, chest bumps and rootin’ for the Rebs.
All together now:
Hell yes! Damn Right! Hotty Toddy, Gosh almighty, Who the hell are we, Hey! Flim Flam, Bim Bam OLE MISS BY DAMN!
5. UAB @ Florida (18) 7:00 PM ET
A good test for the new coach, Will Muschamp, was the Gators handily winning their home opener last week against Florida Atlanta, 41-3. That caused them to move up four points in the polls.
Maybe some of the sportswriters were at last week’s tailgating in Tallahassee; still, one of the best parties in college football.
Gainesville is the home of the Florida Gators and any opponent that comes into what is known as "The Swamp," dreads this field.
The fans and the PA system are loud, with everyone doing the Gator Chomp. Coach Muschamp has earned the nickname "Muschomp."
But before you get eaten alive in the swamp, you need to take advantage of some eats of your own out in the tailgating section.
This is Florida, so seafood is in abundance, with lots of shrimp cooked in a variety of ways, and the usual burgers, dogs, steak and of course beer.
This is a hard-partying school too, and nobody is safe from getting caught up in the revelry.
In fact, Gainesville, Florida was voted “best party school in the country” in 2008 by the Princeton Review. The Ivy League even recognizes it.
Here is another school that has a tailgating website dedicated to events, cooking, eating and drinking. Gatortailgating.com even travels with the team and sets up at the opponents tailgate venues.
You gotta love a school that asks the question, “do ya’ll think 60 Jello shots is enough?”
4. Northwestern State @ LSU (3): 8:00 PM ET
Probably the best game of last weekend was played in Dallas, where LSU proved something to the Oregon Ducks and the country. They could be No. 1 and there’s serious speculation about the SEC title.
I’m sure the Bengal Tigers are glad to be back in Baton Rouge, where the traveling party calls home, taking advantage of some of the delicacies of Louisiana cooking that will definitely make for a lavish tailgate experience.
There's pots of crawfish boiling on the grill, crawfish etouffee and other unique dishes that only the Ragin’ Cajuns can concoct.
The cooking in Louisiana is the best around and sets the LSU tailgate parties apart from any you’ve ever experienced.
The stadium in Baton Rouge is called Death Valley and the noise created by the fans even registered on the Richter scale in one Auburn game.
This game may be a runaway, but this is one of those outrageous tailgating experiences I mentioned at the beginning.
Tulane is at home in New Orleans, and a short drive to Baton Rouge for the night game and some campus tailgating at LSU, makes for quite a weekend you’ll never forget.
3. Charleston Southern @ Florida State (4) 6:00 PM ET
The Seminoles have to be thrilled in moving up to No. 4 in the Coaches poll.
The team lives up to that placement thanks to quarterback E.J. Manuel, who passed for 252 yards last week. They beat Louisiana-Monroe 34-0, and plan for the same kind of treatment of Charleston Southern Saturday.
Therefore, the party wagons will be rolling in Tallahassee once again this week.
But, why should this year be any different, other than having a better team than last year.
FSU has consistently ranked in the top 20 tailgating schools in the country and the warm weather and friendly student body are some sure reasons why.
As with any southern event, there's plenty of barbecue, burgers and kegs to go around. But you can’t beat a burger on your Bobby Bowden grill outside of Bobby Bowden Stadium. Can I get a tomahawk chop?
Maybe the momentum will reach a peak next weekend when No. 1 Oklahoma comes to town. Now that's going to be a party.
2. South Carolina (12) @ Georgia 4:30 PM ET
Georgia’s loss to Boise State was a major disappointment to the Bulldog’s and put Head Coach Mark Richt and the Georgia season on notice…again.
It is not going to be any easier, in fact it might be harder, because South Carolina is a major competition for the SEC East along with the Bulldogs, and SC has a good team that is maybe better than last year's.
But one thing the Bulldogs have going for them is the fact that they’re back home in Athens, GA, where they could get their Mojo back, both game wise and tailgate wise.
During football season, classes mostly exist to take up time in between games and tailgates.
Southern specialties, grilled delights and catered affairs, the food at Georgia tailgating is one of the main attractions and ranges from chic to college-style.
Some fans haul out grills and smokers, deep fryers, chairs, and picnic tables—everything but the kitchen sink.
After being in Atlanta, I'm sure it's great to get back to the frat houses, the quad and all that food.
The university website even states that tailgating is one of the “factors used to attract future freshmen and transfer students from all over the country."
The game itself is a great SEC matchup, and kicking off at 4:30 is a good time. It gives you plenty of time before and after the game to party like a Bulldog.
1. Mississippi State (17) @ Auburn (22) 12:21 PM ET
This is a controversial week, considering the defending National Champions and team with a 16-game winning streak was bumped out of the AP poll, even though they won their season opener.
Auburn stayed put at No. 22 in the Coaches Poll, reflected here, and this weekend’s game will determine where they go from here.
The Bulldogs from Mississippi State put up record offensive numbers last week, and Auburn displayed abysmal defense. It is one of the best matchups of the day, filled with heart and desire on both sides to take it all.
The tailgating will be a take-it-all situation too, with everyone starting early and getting in as much as possible by kickoff. With the game being over around 3:00 pm CT, the party could get intense by mid afternoon.
The first thing that hits you about the “Loveliest Village on the Plains” is the number of RVs that permeate the landscape on gameday, each one more lavish than the other. LCD TVs and satellite dishes are everywhere, and they all have amenities that make you wonder why you would ever go home.
These folks get to Tiger Town on Monday for a Saturday game, parking on campus and living the college life vicariously all week. Since last week’s game was at home, I’m sure there were folks who didn’t go home.
It is a beautiful southern campus as well, and everyone makes you feel like you are part of the AU Family.
Thevoodoochicken.com is a website dedicated to Auburn tailgating and they don’t miss a chance to make fun of Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban at every turn. Fans call on the Voodoo Chicken to jinx the opposing field goal kicker. The Chicken has his own tent at the tailgate.
Because the MSU game has a 12:21 PM Eastern Time start, that means 11:21 Central time, the Auburn fans will be out early. Tiger Juice is the drink of the day, and is a mystical concoction for gameday Saturdays. The Voodoo Chicken knows how to make it.
There's a lot on the line for both teams, and both want it all.