College Football Rankings: Week 10 Best Games for Tailgating

Russ Stanton@overtheedgenowContributor IIINovember 3, 2011

College Football Rankings: Week 10 Best Games for Tailgating

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    What can you say about this week, except there has been no talk about any game outside of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

    The LSU vs. Alabama game has eclipsed any matchup in recent history, at least in my imagination.

    However, there are other contests going on in the country and you can bet there will be some hearty tailgating going on.

    We’re at Week 10, for crying out loud, and every BCS announcement just gets more intense every week.

    At first glance, I thought that the lineup didn’t look all that stellar, but when I let the hype of the Tigers and Tide subside, I noticed that there are indeed some great matchups happening around the country, as well as some in-state rivalries.

    So, without further ado, let’s get into it without analyzing.

    Yet again: Bama’s defense or the Tiger’s offense?

No. 20: UTEP at Rice

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    Rice is part of the most competitive state in the country when it comes to football and tailgating.

    The Rice Owls don’t hold the same game-playing status as the Longhorns, the Aggies or even the Baylor Bears.

    However, they seem to take tailgating pretty seriously.

    HOOTS, the Higher Order of Owls Tailgating Society, has a motto of “Promoting Higher Education through Good Will.”

    The group does provide scholarships to children of university employees that work in the Facilities, Engineering and Planning, Housing and Dining, Transportation, Parking and the Rice University Police Department.

    They raise money for this through some of their tailgating activities.

    The University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP), comes into Rice for a cross-state rivalry, and their game-playing plight is fairly equal to Rice’s.

    So, this could be a good contest, and some good tailgatin’ for sure.

No. 19: Louisiana-Monroe at Louisiana-Lafayette

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    Anywhere you go in Louisiana, you’re going to find good food and lots of beverages.

    Actually, every gas station in the state has a mini liquor store behind the counter, and fine Cajun cookin’ is on every corner.

    So, why wouldn’t you think a cross-state rivalry between two Louisiana schools would be anything but a great party?

    Although a bit dated, a story in Sports Illustrated from 2005 stated that in all the country, the best tailgating food was at Louisiana-Lafayette. The story particularly called out the Andouille Bratwurst.

    Add some Zydeco music and you have a great time, plus a pretty good game too.

No. 18: Middle Tennessee at Tennessee

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    As you might imagine, the Volunteers need to win is of utmost importance. This week the Volunteers are playing their cross-state cousins, the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, and it is homecoming in Knoxville.

    Tennessee is not quite living up to their preseason hype, but there is Tennessee Pride at stake here.

    The tailgating is always special, and homecoming is guaranteed to be a winner in that department.

    As you probably know by now, Neyland 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.

    Bloody Marys start the day, but quickly migrates to Bourbon.  If it starts too soon, some may not make the game—considering it’s a 7:00 pm Eastern kickoff.

    There is that other drink famous to the mountain folk. Calvados, also referred to as apple moonshine, is homemade (of course) in the tradition of Smoky Mountain moonshiners.

No. 17: No. 5 Boise State at UNLV

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    And you thought Boise State didn’t have a tough schedule. Can you note some sarcasm in that statement?

    Still, a trip to Las Vegas has got to be special for Bronco fans, because in Vegas the party never stops.

    What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but the UNLV alumni have a tradition that’s always been there.

    Parties are everywhere around the stadium, and most of the students see it as the highlight of their football season at UNLV. Rowdy is an understatement, and for this game they’ve got all day to tune up for it.

    This one kicks off at 10:30 pm Eastern—7:30 pm in Vegas.

No. 16: Missouri at Baylor

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    These two teams are pretty close in terms of their records, Missouri at 4-4, 2-3 in the Big 12, and Baylor 4-3 overall, 1-3 in the conference.

    Missouri is headed to the SEC next year, but they’re used to being in a big league conference. However, they need to get used to performing better than they have in the Big 12.

    Either way, both of the fanbases will have an appetite and some excitement for tailgating.

    Tailgating at Baylor provides several options.

    There is Creekside tailgating, located along the creek on the west side of Floyd Casey Stadium—a perfect spot to host a small-to-medium sized pregame tailgate.

    Located outside of the south end zone is the Stadium Tailgating, perfect for a medium or large size tailgate party.

    Well, there’s always Student Tailgating outside the south end zone. Each spot is 30"x30" and includes: free cable hookup, free electric hookup and a parking pass for one vehicle. They’re available for a $30 one-game fee.

    Oh, and Beer Pong seems to be quite alive and well at Baylor. Their tailgating website even offers an entire section for Beer Pong accessories.

No. 15: No. 19 Arizona State at UCLA

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    The Sun Devils are obviously having a better season than their Pac-12 brother UCLA.

    However, it can always get dicey in Southern California.

    Tailgating in Pasadena this Saturday, the UCLA fans have their heads held high after a 31-14 win over Cal last week. The Bruins’ fans are blogging a prediction for a huge offense and a stingy defense.

    Tailgating at the Rose Bowl is 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, the new rules are (via The Orange County Register):

    • 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.

No. 14: Tennessee Martin at Mississippi State

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    It’s homecoming time at Mississippi State and in many other colleges around the country.

    Tennessee Martin doesn’t really pose a threat to the Bulldogs, but considering their season, you just never know.

    But with homecoming there is a specialty in the air, and tailgating takes on a whole new meaning on campus.

    The Junction is still going to be the hot spot to tailgate for Mississippi State fans, and is considered the quintessential MSU Tailgating Experience. Visiting fans are always welcome. After all, it’s the South.

    Check out the live webcam at the Junction if you can't be there.  

    There is also a large field in front of the Vet school where a lot of visiting fans gather with lots of room for tailgating.

    One thing to remember about tailgating at Mississippi State is that dogs are not allowed, which is ironic considering they are the Bulldogs. But, everything else pretty much goes with no problems.

No. 13: No. 4 Stanford at Oregon State

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    Oregon State is 2-6 on the season, so hosting the No. 4 Cardinal from Stanford has to be a real downer for the Beaver fans.

    However, that's all the more reason to celebrate the sport of football itself. Plus, you get to watch a stellar quarterback in Andrew Luck and a great football team.

    Tailgating at Oregon State is much like anywhere else in the country: get there early, setup your stuff, eat, drink and be merry.

    There is Fan Fest, which sets up about three hours before kickoff and offers a lot of activities for the kids, including a bounce house and sports games of all kinds.

    You’ll have to check out the Beaver Walk, which happens about two hours before the game. It includes the entire team walking to the stadium along with the band, cheerleaders and Benny the Beaver.

No. 12: No. 15 Michigan at Iowa

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    This is a Big Ten game between two teams that are pretty close in the conference. Iowa could pull an upset in this one.

    The tailgating outside Kinnick stadium in Iowa City actually starts on Friday night on the property outside the stadium.

    They have some pretty rigid rules where drinking is concerned, but they weren’t in place when the Hawkeyes made it to No. 9 in the Playboy 2009 Top Ten Party schools. 

    They also seem to have a robust pong society. Tables are available in many locations and branded with the Iowa logo.

    Both schools have a tradition of tailgating, and you can bet Michigan will bring their brand to share.

No. 11: No. 8 Oregon at Washington

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    There is a lot on the line for both teams in the Pac-12 contest, but on the national stage for Oregon.  And there is the rivalry between these two in a major northwestern competition.

    For fans, it’s a real pleasure for both, because Husky Stadium offers a unique venue for tailgating. Imagine taking your boat to the game on Saturday morning.

    The stadium is located right on Lake Washington and there can be upwards of 12,000 people on the lake. 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 a Dungeness crab instead of the typical burger and a beer?

No. 10: Purdue at No. 20 Wisconsin

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    The Badgers have fallen from grace and the Top Ten after two losses. This game matches Purdue with them equally in the Big Ten—that is, in terms of a 2-2 record.

    I would imagine Wisconsin will bring a lot to bear against the Boilermakers, just to make up for the last two weeks.

    The Badger fans haven’t had a home game in two weeks, so they’re primed for a good tailgating experience.

    In the land of cheese, you’ll find an abundance of that along with the local favorite brats and beer.

    A 3:30 pm Eastern kickoff, 2:30 Wisconsin time, gives the students and fans plenty of time to load up and hope for the best beforehand.

    The stadium is nestled within neighborhoods, so parking can be difficult. But, most of the enterprising neighbors will let you park on their lawn for a fee.

    Badger fanatics are some of the most passionate in the country. They will party hard and most likely see some redemption with a Big Ten win for their team.            

No. 9: Vanderbilt at Florida

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    Can you believe it?  Florida and Vanderbilt with identical records at 4-4 overall, and in the SEC they’re close. The Commodores are at 1-4 and the Gators are at 2-4.

    Football-wise, this could be a better game than it usually is. Vandy has been giving their opponents, especially in the SEC, some great competition this year.

    Still, anytime there is a game for the Florida Gators at home in Gainesville, it’s a special place for fans on both sides.  This is considered the best party school in the country.

    This is Florida, so seafood is in abundance with lots of shrimp cooked in a variety of ways, and the usual burger, dogs, steak and of course beer.

    This is a hard-partying school too, and nobody is safe from getting caught up in the revelry.

    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 opponent's tailgate venues.

    You can get into it ahead of time by joining one of the blogs there.

No. 8: Ole Miss at Kentucky

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    Talk about two schools with very close records, in and out of the SEC.

    Ole Miss has had a very disappointing season at 2-6 overall and winless with an 0-5 record in the conference.

    Kentucky is also winless in the SEC at 0-4 and 3-5 overall.

    There’s nothing to do but concentrate on the party outside of the stadium. It’s a 3:30 pm Eastern start, perfect for before partying and just right to get a breather before heading to the frat parties Saturday night.

    Kentucky tailgating appears to center around kegs, at least it seems to be a theme running through the typical setup.

    But, like Tennessee, don’t be surprised to see some Kentucky bourbon making an appearance just before kickoff, or even earlier depending on your preference. 

No. 7: New Mexico State at No. 18 Georgia

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    The Bulldogs of Georgia have definitely redeemed themselves after an 0-2 start, and they’re coming from the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. I guess this week could be the World’s Largest Hangover then.

    This week the Aggies from New Mexico State will bring nothing major to bear on the Bulldogs, and you can bet the Georgia fans will be doing what they do best on game day: party.

    Classes mostly exist at Georgia to take up time in between games and tailgates. That’s a joke, but some around there believe it to be more truth.

    The food at Georgia tailgates 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.

    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.

    Party on, Garth.

No. 6: North Carolina at North Carolina State

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    This is an ACC matchup with the Tarheels advantaged at 6-3 on the season, 2-3 in conference play. The Wolfpack is 4-4 and 1-3 in the ACC.

    But, the main thing here is that the records don’t count and the conference will take care of itself.  This is a major in-state rivalry that determines bragging rights for the next year.

    For all practical purposes, this will be a dual tailgate event, with plenty from both schools.

    Much more the reason that tailgating in Carter-Finley Stadium on the campus of NC State has to take on its own victory.

    Tailgating at State is another in the tradition of southern tailgating, and what it may lack in the small-town charm of Oxford (Ole Miss), it makes up for in intensity and panache.  Panache in the sense that it's different, not haughty.

    Almost everyone has some sort of pork, barbecue and pigs on rotating spits. And, the fans are not hung up on pristine delicacies that you might find in Tuscaloosa or Clemson.

    However, NC State is making a tailgate comeback, and at this point in time, from an incident that occurred back in 2004.

    A rowdier-than-normal group of tailgaters got out of hand and there was a shooting. The University reacted with major restrictions on the whole idea of tailgating, and whether you agree or not with their actions, they are making a comeback.

    Under new leadership, the tailgating experience is back with a fanbase that can now fully celebrate NC State football, and of course their rivalry with North Carolina.

No. 5: No. 14 Kansas State at No. 3 Oklahoma State

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    OK State has really come from nowhere and rocketed to the No. 3 position in the BCS.

    They remain one of the few unbeaten teams and are a real contender in the Big 12, to say the least.

    Kansas State comes into the game—no slouch either—with only one loss to No. 6 Oklahoma.  This will truly be a test for Oklahoma State, considering the offense of the Wildcats.

    But, cowboys and cowgirls will take to the campus of Oklahoma State in the traditions of tailgating with the game as a prime motivator for excitement.

    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 game starts at 8:00 pm Eastern, 7:00 Oklahoma time, so there will be plenty of party time ahead of the game.

    Everything else goes, including grilling and alcohol consumption, as long as you’re 21.

No. 4: Texas A&M at No. 6 Oklahoma

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    The Aggies from A&M would love to another spoiler for Oklahoma, who had their sights on a BCS contest in January. This is another Big 12 conference matchup that could see the Sooners struggling again.

    But, considering the win over Kansas State 58 -17 last weekend, they could also have their old swagger back.

    It’s still party time in Norman, OK, and it’s not quite the Red River Rivalry (Oklahoma vs. Texas), but its still a great party atmosphere with A&M in town.

    Just like most schools, the parking lots and frat house lawns are fair game for setting up your tailgate party. But keep in mind, the enterprising frat boys will probably charge you a fee.

    It gets started pretty early at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, and this game has a 2:30 pm Central start. 

    What kind of condition do you think most will be in by that time?

    You have a range of food from Oklahoma Chili, ribs, barbecue, hamburgers plus the normal fair.

    Also, beer is common, as are full bars, and tailgating trailers decorated in Sooner fashion.

No. 3: Texas Tech at No. 21 Texas

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    Whoever thought at the beginning of the season that the Red Raiders would have pretty even records with Texas?

    The Longhorns are 5-2 on the season and 2-2 in the Big-12, while Texas Tech has a 5-3 record, 2-3 in the conference.

    The Raiders are an ornery kind of team that will come after you. Just ask Oklahoma, who suffered their only loss to Texas Tech.

    This is also a bragging rights kind of game in Texas, and you can bet the visiting Red Raiders will bring some party strength with them to Austin.

    I still love the Texas saying on LonghornTailgaiters.com: "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!”

    I’m sure they could argue that to say “Raider-hatin’” as well.

    It’s an early game with kickoff at 11:00 am Central Time. I’d imagine the really good parties would be after the game. 

No. 2: No. 9 South Carolina at No. 7 Arkansas

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    This is probably going to be the game of the day in the SEC, that is of course outside of the LSU vs. Alabama game.

    The Gamecocks have been through a lot of turmoil in the beginning of the season, but with Connor Shaw, their relatively new quarterback, they’ve found their offensive slant.

    This will be an exciting game for both fanbases, and the Razorbacks will be tailgating with the best of them.

    As in most of the SEC towns, Arkansas provides the usual parking lot style on a first come, first serve basis. But there is also The Gardens, a beautiful park setting where you can bring your stuff and tailgate in comfort.

    It’s 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.

    But, remember, there are strict open container laws in most of the south, except for New Orleans. In Fayetteville, Arkansas I would recommend Hog Red plastic cups.

1. No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama

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    OK, this is the game of the decade as far as I’m concerned. It has taken on a life of its own.

    I don’t think we’ve ever had a seasonal matchup that would mimic the BCS National Championship like this one.

    At the end of the night, one of these teams will no longer be undefeated.

    With the Bengal Tigers bringing their own party with them, you can bet that T-Town—that is Tuscaloosa— will be rocking. In fact, it already is, and the parties will be of legendary proportion.

    I don’t think mentioning the traditional Frat parties or the usual tailgating outside of Bryant Denny stadium is worth it.

    This will be a unique time for both schools, and the word tailgating will take on a whole new meaning.

    This will be a championship atmosphere and anything I can say about Alabama tailgating would not do it justice.

    Basic commerce as we know it has ceased in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and in Tuscaloosa. That is except for bars and restaurants and beer and liquor stores.

    ESPN College GameDay will start things off in the morning as the frenzy commences on the quad, and as the other games go on, you can bet no one on this campus will be patient until the kickoff at 8:00 pm Eastern.