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Forget the foliage, cooling temperatures, and pumpkin-flavored everything—the best thing about fall (edging out the kids going back to school) is the return of college football. College football is religion in the South (bigger than religion in Texas), but you have to admit, those boys in the Midwest know a thing or two about preparing for gameday themselves. Heading out to tailgate and watching a game—much like pizza and sex—doesn’t have to be momentous to still be pretty great. So instead of warring between SEC and B1G countries, let’s celebrate the differences. Here are a few things to check out this year.

FOOD

NORTH

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  1. Although the locals fight over the proper way to cook, top, and serve them, there’s no doubt that a Wisconsin brat from around Camp Randall Stadium before a Badgers game is bucket list worthy.
  2. A cinnamon roll with chili is a Nebraska thing, but if you want to kick it to stupid levels, try the Full Leaded Jacket at Leadbelly’s in Lincoln before the Cornhuskers play. It’s a burger with a cinnamon roll as its bun, and it’s served in a bowl because it’s covered in chili and drowned in melted cheese and toppings. It looks worse than it sounds, but it tastes magnificent.
  3. If you’re going to see the Iowa Hawkeyes, you need to stop outside Kinnick Stadium and pick up a Big Ass Turkey Leg. It’s nearly two pounds of drumstick coated with Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue Sauce and garlic powder.

SOUTH

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  1. Pretty much anything you’ll find around Louisiana State University’s Death Valley is to die for, be it jambalaya, gumbo, shrimp, muffuletta, or sauce piquante.
  2. Every region in the South has a specialty, and they’re all amazing. Texas brisket, Alabama ribs, Carolina pulled pork, etc.
  3. In 2017, five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson’s recruitment changed dramatically and unexpectedly. The reason? He tried honey fried chicken on a visit to Florida State. He’s listed at 332 pounds, so we assume he knows food.

TRADITIONS

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  1. Since 1936, the Ohio State marching band has been performing Script Ohio, a flowing weave of the largest brass and percussion band in the world. Dotting the “i” is the highest honor the university can bestow on a nonband member.
  2. Before the fourth quarter at Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium, House of Pain’s “Jump Around” is played, and absolute mayhem ensues with 80,000 people putting their hands up and … jumping around. The fact that it registers on the Richter scale two miles away makes it totally badass.
  3. The Army/Navy game. Steeped in tradition and pageantry, this annual showdown between the Cadets and Midshipmen is what college sports are all about.

SOUTH

football texasam

  1. “The 12th Man” refers to the crowd at Texas A&M’s Kyle Field. Yell practice begins at midnight of gameday and only gets louder and more impressive after kickoff with 103,000 people singing and chanting in unison.
  2. Kids get in trouble for TPing the neighbors, but Auburn fans love “rolling Toomer’s corner” in a fun, celebratory, family-friendly tradition that follows Tigers wins.
  3. Lots of teams tap signs or touch objects, but for some reason Clemson players rubbing Howard’s rock is on a different level. The rock sits on a pedestal overlooking the field for the players to rub before barreling down the large hill as the crowd gets whipped into a frenzy.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE

NORTH

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  1. Ohio Stadium packs in 105,000 fans for the Buckeyes, and the immediate surrounding area has double that amount tailgating and in bars. Between the band, traditions, history, and perennial playoff-contending team, it doesn’t get much better.
  2. They don’t call it “The Big House” for nothing. With a capacity of more than 107,000 fans, Michigan Stadium is the second-largest sports stadium in the world.
  3. Although the team has been fighting to stay relevant for more than a decade, there’s no doubt that history and tradition alone make Notre Dame Stadium a must-see. It features Touchdown Jesus, golden helmets, and the most recognizable fight song in the land.

SOUTH

football tennessee

  1. If you want to be immersed in Southern football from tailgate to the wee hours, Louisiana State University’s Tiger Stadium is the place. They call it Death Valley for a reason—it has some of the craziest, loudest, most hardcore (yet gracious) fans you will find.
  2. Not only is Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium the fifth-largest stadium in the country, but it is located right along a river that allows the Vol Navy to dock and “sail-gate” steps away. Add in the checkerboard end zones, running through the T, and “Rocky Top,” and you have a unique, iconic setting.
  3. Right in the middle of Georgia’s campus is Sanford Stadium, home to the Bulldogs (“Dawgs”) who famously play between the iconic hedges. A great venue, lovely fans, and lots of partying.
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