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.
A trip to Williams-Brice Stadium will satisfy all the elements of an electric SEC atmosphere. The energy that ripples through these stands is challenging to duplicate, and it can pulsate throughout Columbia on game day.
From possibility to instability – that’s the course taken this season by South Carolina. An opening win against North Carolina quickly turned turbulent with harsh SEC losses, the sudden retirement of their legendary coach, and an inexplicable defeat at the hands of the Citadel. Now, as the season came to a close, the Gamecocks hosted #1 Clemson – South Carolina’s bitter instate rival who is eyeing a national championship.