Even though Lexington lies on the northern portion of SEC country, the 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. Additionally, the fans might be what most expect as hoards of devoted tailgaters surround the stadium and songs like, “Shootin’ Rabbits With a 22,” tend to remind visitors that they are in the south. The wide mass of fans dressed in blue moves like ocean waves toward Commonwealth Stadium to watch the band perform its traditional parade around the stadium prior to kickoff. Kentucky’s band bangs out “Kentucky Fight” while fans stop to cheer along.
The gray, drizzly skies over Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky never gave way to raining cats and dogs, although there were plenty on the field to be had. The Wildcats and Bulldogs had plenty to fight about on Kentucky’s homecoming Saturday. One week removed from College Gameday’s first ever appearance to Lexington, Kentucky, and two weeks from being vaulted into the national spotlight with a thrilling victory over then #1 LSU, the Wildcats were in for a let down. Mississippi State, a program on the rise, was ready to take advantage. The game turned out to be an intense matchup, but the experiencing southern football and the fans that come with it was the real treat.
The smoke off the mountains welcomes visitors to Knoxville. These massive natural structures highlight the beauty of this Tennessee town. The Tennessee River that runs along Neyland Stadium adds to this picturesque venue and is the site of a tradition known as the Volunteer Navy. Here, a bevy of boats of all sizes line up along the river side to engage in pregame tailgating. Neyland Stadium is one of only two stadiums accessible by boat, and Vol fans have turned this into one of college football’s most unique traditions.
An aura of relief filled Knoxville, Tennessee last weekend. The feeling stemmed from the knowledge the Volunteer football had returned to national prominence. Last year, Tennessee experienced a rare losing season with no bowl game. Now ranked in the top twenty, Vol fans colored the campus orange with the hope of finishing the season strong and improving their bowl status.
Although Missouri football lacks a bit in tradition compared to its SEC siblings, Memorial Stadium offers plenty of atmosphere. Driving along Stadium Boulevard, parked cars are lined up for miles creating a pathway to the stadium. Welcoming fans into the arena is a large statue of Don Faurot for whom the field is named after. Faurot coached at Missouri and left a great legacy during the mid 1900s. However, the fans have seen mounds of frustration over the years and their mood reflects that.
Missouri football has been on the cusp of many breakthrough moments and when placed in the national spotlight, their program crumbles. Carrying one of their best records in years, the Tigers welcomed traditional power, Oklahoma, to Memorial Stadium in Columbia. Again, opportunity knocked and Missouri had a good enough team that could answer the door and storm through. However, the Sooners’ agenda failed to coincide with Missouri’s plan and Oklahoma kept all hopes of a Missouri resurgence bolt-locked.
Wisconsin fans poured down I-65 aiming for Nashville and their team’s appearance in the Music City Bowl. Auburn fans had a shorter path to travel and consequently, their fan base outweighed the red and white. The home of country western tunes hosts this bowl game with intense enthusiasm and the city comes alive as the contest is played on New Years Eve.