Top 25 Football Tailgating Colleges Countdown Continues!
NO. 10 University of Wisconsin
There’s the land of milk and honey, then there’s the land of beer and cheese. Whether one is better than the other comes down to preference, but the latter lands on our list to kick off the top 10. The Badgers just finished off their fifth 10-win season in the last seven years, but, honestly, the fans would be there for the festivities even if they resided at the bottom of the Big 10. The special campus the locals have named “Madtown” takes on a whole other persona once the leaves start to fall in Madison.
An ocean of bright red and white covers the campus and the capital city, but under those tents lies a spread that rivals even the most tantalizing. One won’t find a longer list of sausage, kielbasa and bratwurst available this side of Germany. Camp Randall Stadium is also mere steps from student housing which makes for an ideal tailgating atmosphere that ranks up there with the top tier locations in the U.S. It’s safe to say Wisconsin would’ve easily ranked higher had many of the country’s programs not upgraded their various venues. UW is simply a tailgating original. No surprise that ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt named Madison the best college town in America.
For best results, start the day in Madison’s Capital Square where many fans meet at the local farmer’s market to gather up their goodies for the day. If you’re a farm-to-table type of person it doesn’t get much better when it comes to fresh meats, cheeses and produce. From there head to Union Square, a cheese head favorite where fans congregate before heading to one of the university’s newest traditions: the Arch March. Fans gather to send the players into the stadium before rushing into Camp Randall themselves for another boisterous event that hopefully ends in another Badgers victory. Assuming Wisconsin wins the day, roll on over to State Street where the party is sure to last into the wee hours of the night.
NO. 9 Baylor University
Game day in Waco, Texas, is home to a spectacular football experience: sailgating on the Brazos River. While the reserved boat slips in the Baylor Basin stay sold out, there are tie-down areas for Baylor fans sailgating to enjoy both the water and the game.
While it’s all scenic parties on the water, Baylor fans enjoy a rousing bit of intimidation inside McLane Stadium. About forty-five minutes before the game, The Golden Wave Marching Band and the Baylor Line make their way across the Umphrey Bridge and into the stadium.
The Baylor Line, clad in golden shirts, will que behind the Berm entrance scoreboard, then run down the ramp, around the field and line up in the northeast corner to welcome the team. After the team enters, the Baylor Line fill the first thirteen rows behind the visitor’s bench from goal line to goal line.
In addition to sailgating on the river and traditional parking lot tailgating, Baylor also offers a family-friendly option at the old Floyd Casey Stadium. Touchdown Alley opens three hours prior to kick-off and offers food, drinks and activities for all ages.
To kick off the season properly, Baylor hosts a Traditions Rally on the Thursday night before the first home game. The evening begins with tailgating, games and live music followed by a pep rally and concert inside the stadium. With great campus traditions and a rising football program, Baylor has earned its spot in the national conversation of great college football experiences.
NO. 8 University of Oregon
If there is anything Oregon fans love as much as the Ducks, it’s beer. With multiple local breweries and homebrews, Eugene offers a unique beer-tasting experience for visiting football fans. Whether pregame or postgame, there are craft beers available for every taste around town.
Oregon’s stadium is not on campus, but just a short trek away. Fans can enjoy a pleasurable walk with some pretty great views along the way. The preferred walking route from campus to Autzen Stadium is through Alton Baker Park, where Franklin Boulevard and Agate Street intersect at Riverfront Parkway. A pedestrian and bike bridge crosses over Willamette River and leads fans right into the stadium.
For those not able or not interested in a hike to the stadium, Lane District Transit offers Duck Fan Bus rides from multiple locations around town. Whether in or out of Duck gear, fans can recognize each other by throwing the “O,” a gesture made by using both hands to form the letter “O.” The tradition began as a signal for the Oregon band to begin playing the fight song. It has become popular with fans since Joey Harrington, Duck quarterback, was photographed throwing the “O” after a big win in 2001, and the photo was featured on the front page of The Oregonian.
With an established winning tradition and an avant-garde attitude toward uniforms (thanks to hometown sponsor Nike), the Ducks are building a football empire that is full of excitement for both fans and visitors.
NO. 7 University of Tennessee
Whether it’s by road, rail or water, one thing is for sure: SEC fans will travel in style. Another great example of this is UT’s “Vol Navy” where hundreds of boats can be seen docked on the Tennessee River getting ready for kickoff. As a matter of fact, Neyland Stadium is one of only three college stadiums in America that’s located near a major body of water. The end result is a unique experience all its own and one that needs to be checked off the list of any true tailgating aficionado.
The barbecue is taken to another level when seafood gets added into the equation. After all, a steak without its shrimp or lobster seems like a very lonely steak, indeed. Before the main course, get things going with Rocky Top Popcorn where Vol fans sprinkle in bacon, parmesan cheese, melted butter and buttermilk ranch dressing mix for a delicious spin on a traditional appetizer. For dessert, another great hybrid the UT folks have discovered is a pineapple upside down carrot cake. The color orange was bound to find its way into the menu at some point.
Neyland Stadium is already a massive venue holding up to 102,455 fans, good for fifth largest in the country. The university planned massive renovations back in 2004 and made it through three of the five planned phases, but had to halt after spending upwards of $140 million in the process. Now, Tennessee appears to be ready to finish what it started and is looking at potential improvements that would expand concourses, restrooms and improve concession areas. Looks like the timing may be right for a trip to Knoxville, yet another timeless tailgate tradition in the SEC.
NO. 6 Louisiana State University
Louisiana State University fans have a reputation to uphold. They’re rowdy and loud, especially during night games at Death Valley, which the Tigers rarely lose. After all, later kick offs mean plenty of time for fans to drink during the day. Louisianans know how to throw a party.
But here’s the thing opposing fans may fail to recognize: LSU fans may be quick to taunt opposing fans and tease their coaches (especially if the visiting team is Alabama, led by former LSU head coach Nick Saban). But if you can take what they’re dishing, Tiger fans are just as likely to serve up a delicious meal. What makes an LSU tailgate special?
“Crawfish and jambalaya. And being the only big school in the state so everyone is a fan and their parents and family all probably went there. But mostly: jambalaya and gumbo,” says Elisa Munoz, class of 2002. “We have huge pots stirred with oars from men with last names of Guidry, Chauvin or Landry. Also, area shops rent daiquiri machines for tailgating. So it’s a tasty, sugary mess.”
So visiting teams, bring your manners and thick skin. Then get loud and rowdy alongside the crew decked out in purple and gold. After all, your team will need your support inside one of college football’s noisiest stadiums.
Stay Tuned for the final 5!