Week 1 not only served as a trial-and-error process for teams, but also for what we truly love about college football: The tailgating. Yes, of course, the games – and the wins and losses – are of utmost importance. That being said, the fun of hosting or heading to a one-of-a-kind tailgate makes the losses far easier to swallow (unless you’re a little nauseous after that last beer funnel) and the wins just one of many excuses to go just a little bit bigger.
There was plenty of planning, but needless to say, last week’s tailgating can be done even bigger and better. Week 2 presents a relatively weaker schedule, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still throw down. With Michigan and Notre Dame playing a night game in the Big House, Florida heading down to Miami for Sunshine State bragging rights, South Carolina battling Georgia between the hedges, and LSU getting its first home game of the season, there will be plenty of mayhem to be had on Saturday.
We’ve ranked the top 10 places to be for some of the best tailgating nationwide and, yes, we’ve got our “B’s” in a row (beers, brats, burgers, BBQ, booze, babes, etc.) - hopefully you do too.
10. Southeast Missouri State at Ole Miss Rebels – Saturday, Sept. 7 @ 7 p.m. EST, ESPN 3/Local broadcast
Forget the matchup, folks, we’re talking about trying to win the game outside of the game. After winning the 2012 Egg Bowl in the season finale against Mississippi State and then the Compass Bowl against Pitt, the Rebs kept the momentum going to open 2013. Coach Hugh Freeze and his talented mix of freshman stars and veteran leaders went to Nashville and took down an excellent Vanderbilt team in an epic Game 1 contest.
Oxford will always be one of the best places to tailgate. Combine that with the fact that Saturday serves as the home opener for a team that harbors high expectations and you’ve got the recipe for one debauched gameday in The Grove.
9. San Diego State at No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes – Saturday, Sept. 7 @ 3:30 p.m. EST, ABC or ESPN2
After finishing 12-0 a year ago, Ohio State looked just the tiniest bit shaky on defense against Buffalo in Week 1. That should be reason enough to get the intense Buckeyes fan base energized for an even bigger out-of-conference showdown against an always-respectable San Diego State team on Saturday.
It’s not a night game, but with a few hours past noon to get the grills fired up and the drinks mixed, the tailgating in Columbus should be great come Saturday. Oh yes, and did we mention fans will be looking to take advantage of the warm weather before the leaves start turning brown?
8. No. 10 Florida Gators at Miami Hurricanes – Saturday, Sept. 7 @Noon EST, ESPN
Unfortunately, this amazing matchup gets docked big-time thanks to the early start time. These two in-state rivals and national powerhouse programs have not faced off since 2008 and likely won’t be seeing each other again after Week 2 for quite some time.
What’s more is how pumped the fans on both sides of this rivalry are for the game. Tickets are already sold out, meaning the Canes will be playing in front of their first packed house since 2010 (no joke).
Unfortunately, those fans will be more sober and less full of grub than they would be if this were a night game like it should be. Then again, kegs and eggs are never a bad way to start any gameday.
7. Washington State Cougars at No. 24 USC Trojans – Saturday, Sept. 7 @ 10:30 p.m EST, Fox Sports 1
Another home opener for a big-time program, USC takes on a Washington State team that doesn’t look like it will be a pushover in 2013. The Trojans looked shaky a week ago at Hawaii, but should remain in the top 25 following the win.
The win, the ranking and the matchup against another Pac-12 squad (as opposed to some FCS pushover, although don’t tell Oregon State about FCS pushovers) all add up to a phenomenal tailgating opportunity for Trojan Nation.
Remember, this is a fan base that has partied for some of the biggest BCS games ever. They know what they’re doing out in La La Land.
6. Syracuse Orange at No. 22 Northwestern Wildcats – Saturday, Sept. 7 @ 6 p.m. EST, Big Ten Network
This is one of the very few times you will ever see Northwestern on any list that involves drinking, parties or just good times in general. However, all the pieces are in place for some wild tailgating: Like USC, Northwestern took down its Week 1 opponent on the road. Like Ohio State, the ‘Cats are bringing in a respected brand that should provide a good game and bring in a solid visiting crowd.
You always need visitors to add that perfect mix of volatility and (sometimes) over-the-top partying (it’s not their campus, you know?) a great tailgating space deserves.
Because Northwestern has entered the year with high expectations, ticket sales are through the roof. Evanston is not quite as familiar to tailgating as other spots in the country, but this should be a fun one.
5. UAB Blazers at No. 12 LSU Tigers – Saturday, Sept. 7 @ 7 p.m. EST, ESPNU
It’s simple: It’s Death Valley. It’s late. Tigers fans won’t have to travel all the way to Dallas like they had to for Week 1′s win over TCU.
This is going to be a riot in the best kind of way. Hopefully UAB fans – who know a thing or two about Southern-style tailgating themselves – head over to Baton Rouge for the fun.
4. No. 3 Oregon Ducks at Virginia Cavaliers – Saturday, Sept. 7 @ 3:30 p.m. EST, ABC or ESPN2
After posting a 4-8 record in 2012, Cavs fans were nervous heading to the stadium to open 2013. However, Virginia took down a very good BYU team, 19-16, and now the anticipation sets in with Oregon coming to town.
These types of cross-country, ultra-rare meetings are always a great time for fans and a great opportunity to see a team that might not play at Virginia again for quite some time.
Of course, the Cavaliers may not win the game – Oregon is legit this year despite a new head coach – but they can at least show Ducks fans how to win the party.
3. West Virgina Mountaineers at No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners – Saturday, Sept. 7 @ 7 p.m. EST, FOX
We still don’t know how far West Virginia fans will travel – each year – to watch their Mountaineers take on a new slate of Big 12 opponents. However, we’re hoping they flock from the coast and out to Norman for what should be a great game and an even better tailgate time.
This contest serves as one of the few conference games in Week 2, adding to the fun. On a personal note, this blogger partied with West Virginia students once, and a few everclear-soaked cherries later, he learned just how hard Mountaineers can tailgate.
Hopefully, Sooners fans learn the same thing, and then some.
2. No. 6 South Carolina Gamecocks at No. 5 Georgia Bulldogs – Saturday, Sept. 7 @4:30 p.m. EST, ESPN
One team is coming off a big win against a tough ACC foe. The other is coming off a loss to a tough ACC foe.
Both, however, boast intense, SEC fan bases that take their tailgating only slightly less seriously than their actual football teams. After hosting North Carolina last Thursday, South Carolina fans are going to be headed to Athens in droves for this early-season showcase game.
Conversely, after making the trek over to Clemson, Dawg Nation will be partying with a little extra bite after losing to the Tigers last week.
Athens is one of the nation’s best college towns, and Saturday is going to be intense – on lawns, in parking lots, surrounding bars and on the field.
1. No. 14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at No. 17 Michigan Wolverines – Saturday, Sept. 7 @ 8 p.m. EST, ESPN
Everything about this game, this time slot, and these two teams just screams, “Tailgate here!”
Ann Arbor, like Athens or Madison or Austin, is college town heaven. With bars all over the place, expansive parking lots to rage face in and, of course, The Big House to pack into, there will be no better place on Sept. 7 to be.
Notre Dame fans should be headed there by the thousands. Maybe they’ll actually go to the game, maybe not. Either way, we’re excited for the far more than 100,000 people that will be teeming over Ann Arbor on Saturday. Wow.