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.
What’s the good word? Yell this around Georgia Tech and you are likely to hear in response, “To HELL with georgia!” This phrase is as common as “Hello” around campus. It wouldn’t even matter if the Yellow Jackets were playing the Bulldogs – damning Georgia is a full time job. This is one of the more underrated rivalries across the country. It’s a classic “nerds against jocks” battle. Lately the Georgia Jocks have owned this matchup, but both teams came in today at equal strength with identical records. Georgia would have to deal without their superstar, QB Aaron Murray. He was replaced by the very capable Hutson Mason, but RB Todd Gurley would have to carry a larger load.
Built up as the “Brain Bowl” or “S.A.T Bowl,” Vanderbilt and Northwestern is a budding rivalry that produced a rare September showdown between the SEC and Big Ten. Today would also mark the second annual College Football Tour Northwestern tailgate. Thirty of us gathered on a gorgeous day in Evanston – the kind of early autumn afternoon that still is clinging to summer with all its might. Whether by el train or car, our group converged on a spot not far from Ryan Field to toss the football, toss a few bean bags, and banter about our favorite teams and conference supremacy. For half of the Big Ten, today would be a B1G disaster on the gridiron. However, this game provided the conference something to gloat about. Fireworks lit up the evening sky as the Wildcats emerged from the tunnel ready to prove that their thrilling victory over Syracuse a week earlier was a harbinger for even greater action to come. The “N” on both the Northwestern helmets and at midfield were decorated in stars and stripes to honor 9/11. Honoring military and country has been a major point of emphasis at NU and they have executed this quite well.
Set away from downtown Nashville, the campus of Vanderbilt is quaint and cozy. The same can be said for Vanderbilt Stadium, which certainly does not pose an intimidating threat. Beautifully set amongst the buildings on campus, the stadium does not possess the capacity power of its SEC brethren, but its fanbase is definitely loud and loyal.
This game was over as soon as it was scheduled. In fact, after the 35-0 halftime score, I thought ESPN might switch their broadcast to the national knitting competition. But, they stayed to watch the carnage in the second half, as well. Although, heisman trophy winner, Tim Tebow, did not play much of the second half. He was responsible for all five touchdowns that occurred in the first half of play…
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.