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College Football Rankings: Week 6's Best Games for Tailgating

Russ StantonContributor IIIOctober 5, 2011

College Football Rankings: Week 6's Best Games for Tailgating

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    What a week this has been in college football, especially as it pertains to the rankings.

    Teams that were out are in, some that were in are out, up are down and down are up. And, it’s only two weeks until the BCS rankings come out, then the real fun starts, especially in trying to figure all that out. I think it’s a dartboard myself.

    At any rate, here we are at Week 6 in the season, which means we’re almost halfway through the season. Say it ain’t so!

    Once again, there are some newcomers to the tailgating list this week, including Texas Tech, Purdue, Wake Forest, Nevada, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Pretty soon, we may have covered the entire country.

    I’ll have to go back through at the end of the season and make a comprehensive list of every school we’ve covered.

    Unless otherwise noted, all games occur on Saturday. Please check your local listings for a time in your area.  I've always wanted to say that.

    Forgive some of the repetition, but when a game happens at a great party school, you just can’t overlook them.

20. Colorado at No. 7 Stanford

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    The game itself probably won’t muster much attention since Colorado is 1-4 on the season, 0-1 in the Pac-12, but it is a Pac-12 contest and for Stanford every game counts.

    They are No. 7 in the polls, they have a second-year Heisman candidate in Andrew Luck, they are undefeated at 4-0 and they’re 2-0 in Pac-12 conference games.

    They did move down one point in the polls, but they have played one less game than most teams at this point in the season.

    Located in Palo Alto, Calif., the Stanford stadium has individual seats instead of benches like you find at most stadiums. That makes each fan feel special. And, the seats are cheap, starting at $14.

    On the tailgating front, you have to remember this is California, so instead of chips and dip, it's garlic fries everywhere.

    But the menu doesn’t stop there, and I have to say it’s unique compared to the majority of the campuses in the country.

    I found this statement on a blog talking about the upcoming tailgate experience at Stanford. “I am thinking a Dungeness Crab Cioppino, paired with a nice dry Barbera from Italy’s Piedmont region.”  Sound a little like USC, but don’t say that to a Stanford fan.

19. UNLV at Nevada

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    It’s not Las Vegas, but it’s pretty close. The University of Nevada is in Reno, just north of UNLV, a short trip, but another party Mecca in Nevada.

    This is not a conference game, but it is an in-state rivalry of sorts. Both teams have 1-3 records, so this is all about state bragging rights in Nevada.

    Tailgating at UN is a longstanding athletic tradition in Reno. It has to be, the football program doesn’t offer too much diversion.

    It’s pretty much like most colleges, with the exception that you have the beauty of a setting befitting the Ponderosa as a backdrop, quite different from the colleges of the east.

    RVs, campers, trailers and trunks are all used to store the tailgating necessities, parking just north of Mackay stadium and south of the Lawlor Events Center

    This is the only area where tailgating is permitted, but its still hours of fun ahead of kickoff and it’s free.

18. California at No. 9 Oregon (Thursday Night)

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    This is a Thursday night game up in Eugene, and it features the 3-1 Cal Golden Bears against the 3-1 and No. 9 Ducks from Oregon.

    It is also a Pac-12 matchup, although the Ducks are favored, their only loss coming at the hands of No. 1 LSU, their season opener.

    This is Oregon’s fourth tailgating game at home, so the fans have had a lot of experience in getting the festivities rallied around their team.

    Duck tailgating is all about green and yellow, on grills, cars, vans, buses, heads and bodies, and not in as much style as the team itself with their Nike Designer uniforms. But, it’s usually very 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.

    Other than that, it’s a typical tailgating scene. The weather is supposed to be beautiful, very pleasant, with a slight chance of rain, but what else is new for the Pacific Northwest.

17. No. 23 Florida State at Wake Forest

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    Despite their national ranking Florida State heads into Winston-Salem, North Carolina down in the ACC 0-1, 2-2 on the season. 

    Wake Forest on the other hand is 1-0 in ACC play with a 3-1 season record, so this is probably going to be a good game with a lot in the conference at stake.

    Tailgating at Wake Forest is in the Southern tradition of tailgating with coolers filled with beer, barbecue on the grill, nestled in this North Carolina campus.

    At Wake Forest they take the hassle out of it for you with the Deacon Club.

    This club offers packages that range from tables, tents and chairs, to full-blown stadium suites that you can rent, on the field or up in the stadium.

    They even have RVs that you can rent. All you have to do is show up with your beverages–adult or otherwise–food and folks.

    The stadium suites provide for your beverages and food, so that all you have to do is show up.

16. Missouri at No. 20 Kansas State

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    This is an interstate rivalry of sorts, but this year Kansas State has a national ranking, and Missouri is considering a jump to the SEC, so they want to impress.

    It’s a conference matchup in the meantime, and Mizzou has a 0-1 record and KS is 1-0 in the Big-12.

    Actually the Wildcats of Kansas State are undefeated, so the fans will be more than stoked for a party, pre and post game.

    With a 3:30 Eastern Time kickoff, I’m sure they’re hoping for something to celebrate after the game.

    Accordingly Kansas State tailgating soirees are legendary.

    You’ll see purple-painted faces, cars wrapped in banners and people teetering on stilts. That sounds like a circus.

    They sometimes gear the menu toward their opponent.

    For instance, if they’re playing Colorado, they eat Buffalo. If it’s Texas, then they eat steak. I guess it’s like consuming your opponent.

    One different menu item I came across was Quick and Easy Crustless Quiche. Really?

    I guess real men do eat quiche, at least at Kansas State. Something tells me there will be burgers, dogs and beer too.

15. Kansas at No. 6 Oklahoma State

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    Oklahoma State is having a banner year, after the knocking of Texas A&M in a tight one-point game.  Currently, they’re undefeated, ranked in the Top 10, and life is good for the Cowboys.

    Kansas comes into the state for this game, another Big-12 conference contest. However, the Jayhawks are 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the Big 12. They would love to be the spoiler in this contest.

    Cowboys and Cowgirls will take to the campus of Oklahoma State in the traditions of tailgating in Stillwater, OK.

    Dressing up just a tad is expected, but as long as it’s orange, I doubt you’ll get the fashion police on you.

    Parking lots open six hours ahead of kickoff, four hours for morning or early afternoon games, so note that this games starts at 3:30 eastern, 2:30 Oklahoma time. You probably should check ahead of time just to be sure.

    Everything else goes, including grilling, although they have restricted grilling to designated areas due to wildfire potential.

    But alcohol consumption is completely allowed as long as you’re 21.

14. Boston College at No. 8 Clemson

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    The Tigers of Clemson are having a stellar season, undefeated at 5-0, 2-0 in the ACC and a complete surprise based on preseason analysis.

    Boston College on the other hand is 1-4 overall, 0-2 in the ACC, so this conference game tends to favor Clemson to no surprise.

    But the tailgaters in Clemson, South Carolina, have a beautiful campus, hundreds of miles away from the urban campus of BC with acres and acres of tents, tables, southern hospitality and a sea of orange with Tiger paw prints in them hills.

    Expect that Southern hospitality, in the party area at least, will be welcoming to the Eagles from Boston.

    The dress code calls for sundresses, khakis, polo shirts and rarely do you see jeans.

    And, the food is dressed up too, with table clothes, platters of wings, shrimp, fried chicken and silverware–not 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.

    In the South, the fraternities are a centerpiece on the quad, and this gathering quickly becomes a frat party, with live bands and repeatedly the Tiger yell. 

13. Minnesota at Purdue

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    Purdue is rich in football history and tradition.

    This year, the team is not all that stellar with an overall record of 2-2, but have yet to play in their conference, the Big-Ten.

    Minnesota is also not having that big a year on the gridiron at 1-4 overall and 0-1 in the Big-Ten, but this matchup could be a good football game considering the history between the two, going all the way back to 1894.

    Tailgating at Purdue is steeped in tradition as well, and you’ll see black and gold painted vehicles everywhere, their sole purpose as a party wagon.

    The beanbag game Cornhole is also the rage, played at almost every spot, and it gets very competitive.

    Barbecue pork, wings, pizza, nachos, hot dogs and hamburgers are the typical fare, and for drinks, well they are the Boilermakers after all, so whiskey with a beer chaser or vice versa. After awhile, it really doesn’t matter.

12. Iowa at Penn State

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    This is another conference game, and these two teams have a lot at stake, at least in the Big-Ten.

    Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions have only lost one game, and that was to undefeated No. 2 Alabama early in the season. They are undefeated in the Big-Ten, 4-1 overall.

    Iowa on the other hand has played one less game, and have yet to play a conference game, but overall they are 3-1. This should be a good game for contention in the Big-Ten.

    As far as tailgating is concerned, to quote Pennstatetailgate.com

    “It is a sea of tens of thousands of people, eating, drinking, cooking, smoking, laughing, singing, and dancing. It is throwing a football, predicting the outcome, talking with the opposing school’s fans, posing for pictures, getting paws painted on your face, saying “I remember when…” and hoping it doesn’t have to end in November.”

    Their menu for the game is bacon egg and cheese sandwiches, hash browns, sausages, 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-thousand fans can be expected.

11. Syracuse at Tulane

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    Big East powerhouse Syracuse travels to New Orleans to take on the Green Wave of Tulane in what is honestly not a great matchup as a football game.

    But, 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 at home in Baton Rouge this Saturday too, basking in the glow of their No. 1 national ranking, so you’d better believe all over Louisiana will be rockin.’

    “Grill with the Green Wave” is plastered everywhere, and although Tulane plays at the Superdome, that doesn’t prevent partying before and after the game, usually.

    But, this game kicks off at 7:00 pm local time, so starting the tailgate in the morning, a tradition at most campuses, will provide plenty of party time ahead of the game.

    The tailgating usually happens on top of Garage 5 at the Dome, and is promoted by the University on their website

    New Orleans doesn’t have an open container law, but I would suggest you do as the locals do when it comes to college sports.

    However, the Tulane campus is right in the historic part of New Orleans, so you can enjoy the party not too far from Bourbon Street–where the party never stops.

10. Ohio State at No. 14 Nebraska

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    This is a Big-Ten conference game that both teams are desperate to win.

    Both are 0-1 in the conference, and over history, they’ve only played each other twice, Ohio State taking both of those games.

    In fact, this is Ohio State’s first trip to Lincoln, NE., and while there is a long-standing tradition of tailgating in Ohio, they may need to prepare themselves for the fans at Nebraska.

    The Cornhuskers have one of the best and most loyal fan bases in the country. Legendary coach Bobby Bowden called them “the best fans in college football.”

    This year, some predicted a run for the BCS Title for Nebraska, but now at 4-1, those dreams seem less likely now. 

    The fans will be running for corn on the cob, brisket, corn-fed beef, barbecued beef, sirloin sandwiches, all on the grill.

    It’s not your typical tailgating experience since alcohol is prohibited around or close to the stadium.

    But, close by, fans 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 the order of the day, but there are some elaborate setups with TVs, full bars with taps and Bloody Mary’s the norm up until about 11:00 am. It may go a little later considering this is an 8:00 pm Eastern Time kickoff.

    Grab your corn cob hat; we’re off to Nebraska.

9. Maryland at No. 13 Georgia Tech

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    Georgia Tech is having a banner year, now at 5-0 on the season with a 2-0 record in the ACC.

    They have an impressive offense, but the Terps of Maryland usually bring a good game, and love the role of the spoiler. 

    They are 2-2 on the season but 1-0 in the ACC, so considering the conference ramifications, this should be a good game.

    Partying in Atlanta is a unique experience, but at Georgia Tech, they have their own grounds for most of the tailgating.

    They aren’t playing at the Georgia Dome like the Georgia Bulldogs do when in town. They have their own field, their own campus and a history in football and tailgating that goes back a century or more.

    If you’re in town, you have to stop by the legendary Varsity, the best hamburgers, onion rings and milk shakes you can get your hands on, right on what is considered the Tech campus.

    But, it is across I-85 from the stadium, so after the game makes sense considering the 12:00 noon kickoff.

8. Vanderbilt at No. 2 Alabama

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    Alabama is gaining momentum in the BCS Title hunt as well as the SEC.

    This is a conference game, but underdog Vandy poses little threat to the Crimson Tide.

    But, this is the SEC where all things are possible on any given Saturday.

    Fraternities are in abundance on this pristine Southern campus, and it’s a vibrant society that parties hard, and mingles into the tailgating area of Bryant Denny stadium near Fraternity Row.

    These people take tailgating seriously. There is a sea of crimson and white tents, but a cooler and a tent won’t get it.

    Most have their own generators, satellite dishes, big screen TVs and a banquet lavish enough for Thanksgiving dinner.

    There is the requisite case of beer and the occasional keg, hidden in the RV, but the dress code is much more upscale like other places in the south; khakis, sundresses, polo shirts and Docksiders are the order of the day

7. No. 17 Florida at No. 1 LSU

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    This is a classic SEC matchup with the Gators looking to be the spoiler to the No. 1 team in the nation.

    However, Florida’s injured quarterback John Brantley may not bode well as they head into Death Valley.

    Baton Rouge, where the Bengal Tigers call home, takes advantage of some of the delicacies of Louisiana cooking that will definitely make for a lavish tailgate experience though.

    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.

    As I mentioned in a previous slide, Tulane is at home in New Orleans, and a short drive to Baton Rouge, mid-afternoon for tailgating at LSU, isn’t completely out of the question.

    If you take in both experiences, it will make for quite a weekend you’ll never forget.

6. Kentucky at No. 18 South Carolina

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    The South Carolina Gamecocks are still reeling from their first loss to SEC rival Auburn last weekend, that one also in Columbia, SC.

    Some big changes are afoot for the Gamecocks as they bench their senior quarterback Stephen Garcia for this game, so Kentucky may fare better than expected.

    The SC fans may need a little boost or bracer before the game begins just to prepare them for what the team will be able to do.

    The Gamecocks are known for their tailgating in the southern tradition, with something no other stadium has, the Cockabooses–which are twenty-two cabooses running alongside Williams-Brice Stadium.

    They have luxury amenities with full bars and a living room atmosphere.

    However, there is the traditional tailgate experience out in the parking lot.

    The traditionalist might prefer this setting with grilling, kegs and the overall traditional fall atmosphere that is football tailgating. 

5. Miami (Fla.) at No. 21 Virginia Tech

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    Yet another ACC game in the land of the Hokies, nestled in the Appalachians within the sleepy little town of Blacksburg, Virginia. 

    VT is 4-1 on the season but both teams share a 0-1 record in conference play, so they both need this game.

    Tech is still reeling from the shellacking they got from Clemson last week.

    Miami is 2-2 on the season, so they want to improve to a winning record.

    Blacksburg is a bit more upscale than the typical tucked-away country college. It is not Morgantown.

    Tailgating at Virginia Tech has gotten better in relation to how the team is actually performing. In other words, the party gets better the more the team wins.

    The Hokie Club has established a block of prime parking spaces near Lane Stadium. You can pick up your parking pass online or at eBay.

    Hokie tailgates are primarily about food and beverage, the food being ribs, Boston butt, or marinated whole chickens, and grilling is the centerpiece.

    But for the local fare, Hokie country is barbecue country, and the varieties of the many different sauces make it special.

    The backbone of any tailgate at Virginia Tech is the choice of beverages.

    They call it tailgating with "brown water," aka bourbon. A fine Kentucky bourbon or Tennessee whisky will certainly get you ready for the game.

4. No. 24 Texas A&M at Texas Tech

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    A&M is coming off an emotional loss to Arkansas at home last week, and traveling to rival Texas Tech means they have to be on their game in a big way for this Big-12 conference matchup.

    Despite their lack of national ranking, Tommy Tuberville’s Red Raiders are undefeated overall and 1-0 in conference play.

    Texas A&M is 0-1 in the Big-12. So, they need the win to save some face in Texas.

    This is Texas Tech’s first entry into our tailgating top 20, but anywhere you go in Texas is going to be a wild time. Check out this Video, that shows tailgating Texas Tech style.

    Monster grills are everywhere, since grillin’ at Texas Tech is what makes things special on a Saturday.

    Drinking and eating start early in Lubbock, so considering it’s a 7:00 pm Eastern Time kickoff, there’s plenty of time to enjoy the Red Raider hospitality all day long.

3. Georgia at Tennessee

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    Georgia is making a comeback on the gridiron after their win over Mississippi State last week.

    Tennessee on the other hand is not quite living up to their preseason hype, even though they have a 3-1 record, but 0-1 in the SEC.

    They also have a tough road ahead with LSU, Alabama and South Carolina in the next three games.

    They’d love to start off the month with a win over Georgia.

    Neyland stadium is on the campus of UT nestled in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.  The scenery is spectacular, but the stadium has another distinction, unique to the southeast.

    The stadium sits right on the Tennessee River, so on game day the river is crowded with boaters having their own tailgate afloat in front of the stadium.

    There are docks and water shuttles so that the boaters can make it to the stadium for kickoff.

    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.

    There is another drink called Calvados, although it is also referred to as apple moonshine, homemade of course, in the tradition of Smoky Mountain moonshiners.

2. No. 15 Auburn at No. 10 Arkansas

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    This could be the game of the day in the SEC.

    Auburn is consistently improving and Arkansas showed that they play with a lot of heart after coming from behind for a dominant second half against Texas A&M last week.

    The Razorbacks are finally back at their home campus in Fayetteville, AR., after being away for two weeks, so expect the fans to be over-the-top.

    As in most of the SEC towns, Arkansas provides the usual parking lot style tailgating on a first come, first served basis.

    But there is also The Gardens, a beautiful park setting where you can bring your stuff and tailgate in comfort.

    It’s quite similar to the legendary Grove over at Ole Miss, where the Southern charm drips from the trees.

    The Gardens are located at the corner of US 62 and Razorback Road, fairly close to the stadium. And, as convenience would have it, it’s a short walk to the liquor store for liquor, beer and ice.

    You’ll have to remember that there are strict open container laws in most of the south, except for New Orleans; just remember the plastic cup, opaque recommended and in Fayetteville, I would recommend Hog Red.

1. No. 3 Oklahoma at No. 11 Texas (Cotton Bowl)

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    This is the time honored Red River Rivalry that both teams wait all year for, so that they can get at each other.

    ESPN College GameDay will be in attendance and this year the contest is at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

    Both teams are undefeated and have identical records in the Big-12. I can just feel the excitement building as I write this.

    Since it is a neutral location, although in Dallas, you can bet both teams will bring their tailgating best to bear.

    The Sooners and the Longhorns alike take tailgating quite seriously. I think there is actually a course in the art at UT.

    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!”

    On Hulu.com, there is a video dedicated to nothing but tailgating at the Red River Rivalry. 

    It’s an early game with kickoff at 11:00 am central time, which is uncharacteristic for GameDay.

    I’d imagine the really good parties would be after the game. But it will still be interesting to see which hat Lee Corso puts on just before kickoff this week. 

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