Even though Lexington lies on the northern portion of SEC country, southern flavor still lives strongly in Kentucky. The scenery toward Lexington is what one might expect with rolling hills giving way to fenced-in horse pastures. Fans tailgate around the stadium as sections of the Kentucky band visit random tailgates for a private show. The wide mass of fans dressed in blue moves like ocean waves toward Kroger Field to watch the band perform as the team makes their entrance during the pregame Catwalk. Kentucky’s band bangs out “Kentucky Fight” while fans welcome the team.
Wildcat enthusiasm took a huge hit as dreams of an SEC title game appearance evaporated with losses to Georgia and Tennessee. Kentucky has still produced a record setting season including its first win over Florida in 31 attempts. Senior day descended upon Lexington today with a deceptively tough Middle Tennessee team coming into Kroger Field and records that still needed breaking.
Before even having attended LSU, I described it as one of my top 5 visits along the college football tour. I just knew – and I wasn’t disappointed. Few places blend hospitality and hostility so well – the fans are most welcoming and the stadium is most intimidating. This is especially true on a Saturday night.
The stadium here at Florida is nicknamed The Swamp. Coined by coaching legend Steve Spurrier, the nickname caught on when he famously said, “In the Swamp, only gators get out alive.” That statement holds a lot of truth as Ben Hill Griffin Stadium stands tall, imposing, and loud.
Loud and rowdy fans.
Rivalry Saturday was alive in Gainesville.
Unique brands of tailgating are a college football tradition on all campuses. But, nothing compares to Ole Miss. The Grove is a ten acre space shaded by oaks, elms, and magnolias providing an elegant backdrop for thousands of Ole Miss tailgaters. Sporting News calls it “The Holy Grail of tailgating sites.” People stake their claim the night before and set up elaborate tailgates on gameday.
Ole Miss was the favorite in this year’s Egg Bowl. It would not be their favorite day, however. Apparently, becoming bowl eligible wasn’t enough for the Rebels, but ruining their chances was everything for their rival.
Fayetteville rocks on Saturdays in the fall. There is certainly no shortage of passionate fans and tradition here at Arkansas which is evident as the team runs out of a hog pen through the band-crafted “A” into an intimidating atmosphere in Razorback Stadium. That intimidation factor begins pregame with pro style tailgating surrounding the perimeter of Arkansas’s massive SEC arena.
Every team is a champion on opening day. Stadiums fill because anything is possible and optimism soars. Arkansas fans have been anxious for a breakthrough. Early stumbles have sullied recent hopeful seasons, and so few were looking past Louisiana Tech. Tailgating crowded the circumference of Razorback Stadium, eager for a fresh slate of games ahead, but from the first “Woo Pig Sooie,” it was evident that the Razorbacks would be in a fight in Fayetteville. Bret Bielema has brought a bullish brand of ball to Arkansas, and have successfully taken a bite out of the SEC. But, championships appear elusive at the moment, particularly when it’s a struggle to strike down LA Tech with ease.