The Grove at Ole Miss is legendary in the tailgaters’ world. The 10-acre, tree-shaded campus parcel attracts the most rabid alumni, and fans, including well-known politicians, find their way to The Grove the night before most games. Whether the Ole Miss football team wins or loses, fans still party till the wee hours as if they were constantly on the verge of winning the championship game. No sore losers here!
To make for your tailgate: Fipps family potato salad.
Known for having lavish spreads of Cajun-inspired food, including jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, and gumbo, tailgaters at Louisiana State University go all out for every game. Not only is painting yourself purple to show school spirit a norm, but so is arriving the night before the game to claim the best tailgating spot and ferociously yelling “Tigah Bait” at every opposing team fan. Geaux, Tigers!
To make for your tailgate: crawfish étouffée.
Penn State — University Park
Commonly regarded as one of the top tailgating schools, we wouldn’t think of leaving Penn State off of our list. Nittany Lions fans are so plentiful during game days that more people come to tailgate than can actually attend the game – by the thousands. You know that Penn fans tailgate hard when the university has to implement drinking rules for outside the stadium during the game!
To make for your tailgate: not-your-everyday burgers.
When football fans hear talk of Alabama, they think first of a sea of people wearing crimson. This Deep South school offers abundant Southern hospitality and fanatical followers who constantly yell "Roll Tide Roll!" and recite the Rammer Jammer Cheer. If you get the chance to go, beware of the ‘Bama Bombs’ (vodka-soaked cherries) – they really pack a punch! But, definitely indulge in the fun tailgating traditions.
To make for your tailgate: barbecue deviled eggs.
Texas A&M — College Station
As they say in Texas, tailgating in Aggieland is an honor. Fans here are much like those at Ole Miss – neither depends on the score of the game to enjoy the tailgating atmosphere. If the social scene is not impressive enough, your breath will probably be knocked away when you walk into the stadium. The entire student body stands for the duration of each game, demonstrating their readiness to help the athletic cause. Go, Aggies!
To make for your tailgate: Texas-style smoked brisket.
Washington fans are tough. Football weather in Seattle is normally cold rain with a chance of sun. However, when the sun actually makes an appearance, folks enjoy a breathtaking view of Mount Rainier. Although Washington may not have as many fans as other schools that tailgate, the ones that participate make sure they do things up right, including having impressive food.
To make for your tailgate: seafood paella.
Come to “The Hill” and be part of the army of excited Volunteer fans that shows up for every football game. The University of Tennessee's famed alumni (which proud fans won’t hesitate to share with you) include Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and football legend Robert Neyland. The university picked its colors well; during the fall, even the trees seem to be decorated with the school's bright orange shade!
To make for your tailgate: spiced pulled pork sandwiches.
University of Oklahoma — Norman
Oklahoma fans have a lot to be proud of. With a national championship win this decade under their belt and a recent Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Sam Bradford, it’s hard to get the Sooners down. If there is one thing greater than going to church in Oklahoma, it’s college football. And just like a church potluck, UO fans know how to cook and eat well, as their tailgates prove.
To make for your tailgate: light pimento cheese-stuffed celery.
Cool temperatures are considered ideal football weather, and Madison, Wisconsin, is never short of a chill in the air, come autumn. Along with the perfect weather, Badger fans have one of the best locales in collegiate football; the campus rests along stunning Lake Mendota. As far as food is concerned, cheese plates are never forgotten (it is the Midwest!), and most tailgaters serve up bratwurst in one form or another.
To make for your tailgate: grilled bratwurst.
The beautiful Upstate of South Carolina is home to the Clemson Tigers. Every inch of this university is used for tailgating, and it still seems like there isn’t enough room! Fans show up hours early for every game, and throughout game day, Clemson chants can be heard from fans young and old. The stadium, Death Valley, has a reputation for holding some of the loudest fans in football.
To make for your tailgate: buttermilk oven-fried chicken.