Ultimate Tailgating Rivalries Slideshow
Held on neutral ground, in Dallas, this is college football’s classic Red River Rivalry. And the tailgates are taken just as seriously. Oklahoma’s fans bring multi-liter bottles of pre-made shots and set up their grills to make stuffed peppers, pulled pork, ribs, and hot dogs. While that may seem like a valiant effort, Texas’ food scene looks more like a county fair — their famous Corny Dogs, chicken fried bacon, fried cookie dough, fried guacamole bites, fried butter, fried Coke, and fried beer all make it to the game.
Winner: Texas Longhorns. (Anyone that brings fried beer to the party gets an automatic W.)
Called the Iron Bowl, this is one of college football’s most hard-fought rivalries. Even so, sometimes the tailgates are so good, fans don’t even make it inside the stadium. Which is fine for Alabama fans, since they bring flat screen TVs with their seven-layer dips, corn and shrimp chowders, Gumbos, and pots of chili. Auburn fans, too, have dedicated tailgates that have food so delicious, it’d be hard to steal away. Low Country boil, Cajun-style shrimp, deep-fried turkey, and classic barbecue like ribs and chicken are made in an old dairy truck-turned-grill with Bourbon and soda to wash it all down.
Winner: Auburn University Tigers. (Low Country boil beats seven-layer dip any day.)
Called simply “The Game,” this rivalry dates back to 1897. And while the head-to-head is still close, the tailgates have only gotten better since. Ohio State’s tailgaters spread all over campus. Early kickoffs mean a breakfast of homemade egg “McMuffins” and Bloody Marys by the field; while for lunch, they make buffalo wings, sausages smothered in marinara sauce, chili, and a whole roasted pig. Michigan goes big with themed tailgates (one organizing website had luau, white trash, and Mardi Gras themes lined up for the 2011 season). They deep fry Snickers, make mayo-and-bacon pies, and bring bagels and cream cheese for early kickoffs.
Winner: Ohio State Buckeyes. (A whole roasted pig trumps a white trash theme.)
Two of college football’s most trophied teams, this rivalry has an elite status (and not just because USC was once nicknamed the University of Spoiled Children). In keeping with the theme, some USC tailgaters start off with a cigar before doling out shots of Patron. They make a diverse spread of food with carne asada tacos, homemade sausages, ribs, chips and salsa, and a spit-roasted lamb among tailgaters’ favorites. Notre Dame equips themselves with “Chill’N Grills” (coolers with a stereo and gas grill built in) to make breakfast burritos, sausages, burgers, barbecued chicken, and some classic picnic dishes like potato salad. Beers and margaritas help to wash it down.
Winner: USC Trojans. (Cigars’N Patron are more elite than Chill’N Grills.)
This is one of the most storied rivalries in all of college football — and not just because the raucous tailgate is nicknamed “the world’s largest outdoor cocktail party.” And with a name like that, you can’t blame Florida and Georgia fans for almost coming together at Jacksonville Landing. Floridians bring sausage and pancake sandwiches, bushels of oysters, and bacon-wrapped everything while Georgians start their party a few days ahead with po’ boys, onion rings, and cocktails at St. Simon, nearby. The real tailgate starts when the Bourbon comes out and Low Country boils are shared between opposing fans.
Winner: Tie! (Call us cheesy, but if they can pre-game together, they win together.)
Rivalries between neighbors are tricky and this Lone Star state showdown is no different. Texas starts by throwing a Hex Rally during the week before the game against A&M, while on game-day they bring their big fried-everything game. A&M starts with their Midnight Yell where everyone packs into the stadium the night before to practice cheering. The next day, they make chili, wings, hot dogs, nachos, fajitas, and one major tailgater even grills quail and sets out fresh flowers to go with his flat screen TVs.
Winner: Texas A&M Aggies. (Fried butter sounds scarily good, but grilled quail is our jam.)
While their rivalry was officially “ended” in 2009, games between the Sooners and the Cornhuskers will always be a big deal. And the fans play a huge role in that. Barbecue abounds on both sides, with Nebraska cooking up brisket, beef, sirloin sandwiches, and brats and Oklahoma cooking up stuffed peppers, pulled pork, and ribs. But there’s one caveat — Nebraska doesn’t permit alcohol on campus, so they have to be stealth when it comes to beer and Bloody Mary consumption.
Winner: Oklahoma Sooners. (Hiding cocktails can kind of put a damper on things.)
These teams have been going at it since 1901. And while they may be neighbors, they couldn’t be more different. Ole Miss’ tailgates at The Grove are famous — with a dress code and no-open-flame policy, they are more like decked out picnics. No-crust sandwiches sit out next to fresh fruit salads, vegetables, and deviled eggs, while the dessert spread (think lemon bars, brownies, and pies) is often the biggest draw. They also have wine, cocktails, and beer on offer. Mississippi, on the other hand, sticks to their classic tailgate style with beers and barbecue at the fore. We hear they play a few games of beer pong, too.
Winner: Ole Miss Rebels. (We like beer pong enough, but we like lemon bars and brownies more.)
Harvard and Yale are rivals on and off the field, but only on game days do supporters get to come out yelling in full body paint. They also get to tailgate. Harvard tailgaters stop by Dunkin' Donuts to fuel up on their way to the field where they make spicy smoked sausages, shrimp cocktail, salads, burgers, pies, and candy apples. They prefer beer or Scotch to wash it all down. Yale fans bring homemade cider and hot chocolate for colder game-days along with mac and cheese, stuffed olives, bacon-wrapped snacks, and barbecued skewers. A few years ago, Yale officials banned alcohol at tailgates, though, and you know how we feel about that.
Winner: Harvard Crimson. (Candy apples and scotch sound like a match made in heaven.)
The Tiger Bowl is as ferocious as it sounds. The head-to-head is close and the tailgates are both taken seriously. LSU is known for their tailgate technique, with food taking top priority until kickoff. Cajun foods like fried alligator tail, fried frog legs, Gumbo, crab boils, jambalaya, crawfish dishes, and a full suckling pig are polished off before the first touchdown. And if that weren’t enough, oyster shooters, Bourbon, and beer keep things festive, as well. Auburn’s tailgate is a worthy opponent, what with Low Country boil, deep fried turkey, and barbecue ribs. They also break out the Bourbon for game-day.
Winner: LSU Tigers. (It was a close call, but a full suckling pig and fried frog legs are some serious business.)
This rivalry may be fought long and hard, but winning Paul Bunyon’s Axe as a trophy shouldn’t be easy. Minnesota brings plenty of food and drink to their tailgates, though none of it is groundbreaking. Think hot dogs, chips, burgers, brats, pizza, and beer — they are all delicious, but not in the face of just how cheese-heavy Wisconsin’s tailgates are. Brats, cheese, more cheese, and pizzas are washed down with mojitos, wine, beer, and Bloody Marys and beer pong and flip cup help to while the pre-game hours away.
Winner: Wisconsin Badgers. (We hear slicing cheese is easier when you have an axe.)
A cross-town battle of two LA schools, this rivalry may just be intensified by their proximity to one another. Regardless, it is a heated battle and each team has wildly different supporters. Bruins fans come out in wild costumes to play beer pong and munch on ribs, brats, barbecue chicken, chips, and salsa washed down with wine and beer. Trojans tailgaters, on the other hand, bring their a-game with spit-roasted lamb, carne asada tacos, homemade sausages, shots of Patron, and victory cigars.
Winner: USC Trojans. (That's Trojans: 2, boring tailgates: 0 for anyone keeping track.)