The first cold snap of September means football weather, and for many of us, the change in temperature calls up some serious nostalgia for college game days from a simpler time. Donning school colors and scraping together enough change to split a cheap pitcher with a few buddies at a dive-y, yet charming, campus bar is a rite of passage for most American college students.
Nothing inspires football allegiance quite like a nice cold brew, team colors, big-screen TVs, and rowdy fans. No, we’re not talking tailgates (though they’re a hallmark of the season). We’re talking sports bars. At every university with a decent football team — or any school pride — there’s that one meeting place that tops all the others; the one bar where students (theoretically only those over 21), football junkies, and alumni trying to relive the glory days of college congregate to scream fight songs and cheer their team on.
While any bar can hang a big-screen TV, turn on the game, and call it a day, the bars on this list have become legendary for making fans feel like they’re watching the game at a second home, among family. It’s not just proximity to the football stadium or campus that makes these spots the unofficial hubs for campus-wide viewing parties (though a great location doesn’t hurt). These college football bars have the extras that take them from fratty college dives to well, decent bars.
A great selection of brews and bites makes games an all-day event. The cheese fries at Oklahoma State University's Eskimo Joe's, the pizza at University of Kentucky’s Pazzo’s Pizza Pub, and the Cajun gator tail at University of Florida’s The Swamp keep fans camped out from kickoff to the final touchdown. Not to mention the beer: it’s Texas A&M’s Dixie Chicken that proudly claims to have "the most beer per square foot of any bar in the U.S," one possible reason for its large crowds on game day. But let’s be real: you probably aren’t going to find a craft cocktail or even a craft beer at most of these bars. Peanut shells, pool tables, writing on the walls, outrageous drink specials, and rowdy students are practically game day prerequisites, and the alcohol need not be fancy, just abundant. What makes the bars on our list great is that they have heart; they’re institutions nearly as old as the football teams themselves in many cases. After all, President Obama didn’t pick just any bar to visit while campaigning in Boulder, Colo.: he chose The Sink, best known for its burgers, beers, and crowds on game day. Whether your team’s undefeated or just barely scraping by, we can agree that these bars are always winning.
#28 Buffalo Bros: Texas Christian University — Fort Worth
While a bar inspired by the unique culture and flavor of Buffalo, N.Y., might not immediately scream "Go Horned Frogs!" it’s the place to be for TCU fans come game day. Plenty of televisions, an ample beer list (with selections like Stone's Ruination IPA, New Belgium Brewing Co.'s Fat Tire, and Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale), and good food bring college students here in droves to show their school spirit. Get the wings with one of their special sauces or split a pizza with friends. And, it’s only steps away from the TCU campus and a short drive from the stadium.
#27 Kilroy's Sports Bar: Indiana University
If the weather permits, Hoosiers head outdoors to support the team by watching the game on two projection screens. Game day specials include 25-cent hot wings, $3 beer pitchers, and $1 well drinks. And you can soothe your pounding headache the next day with their Big Ten Hangover Brunch Buffet. No wonder this place has been a Bloomington tradition for over a decade.