When it comes to tailgating, there's nothing quite like the college football experience on any given Saturday.
Sure, the NFL has plenty of extravagant tailgating scenes to take in each and every Sunday. But, perhaps aside from the WrestleMania-like feel that comes with the "Bills Mafia" in Buffalo, it seems somewhat static across the board.
In college football, it's the near polar opposite, to the point that just about any city one happens to drop into — assuming it houses a Football Bowl Subdivision team — something far more distinctive and passionate is bound to be causing a ruckus.
Since we're here to highlight the best of the best as it pertains to tailgating greatness, heading south to SEC country feels like the proper, sacred territory to begin with.
Yes, much as the Top 10 is often loaded with SEC teams, the same can probably be said for tailgating paradise.
Learn it, live it, love it.
The Grove at Ole Miss
It says a lot about a classic tailgating location when all it takes is for ESPN's incomparable "College GameDay" pregame show to give us a live look at the scene in Ole Miss and for the viewing audience to get an instant case of "FOMO."
The sheer number of people and tents seen at "The Grove," an area that covers a ridiculous 10 acres, gives the feel of an exclusive, festive partying village within a college campus. Throw in a sea of unusually crafted chandeliers within an endless array of tents, and you have yourself a true need-to-see-it-for-yourself escape from reality.
ESPN's Laura Rutledge recently said as much in an interview with The Spun when asked about her most coveted college football tailgating spots:
"Certainly Ole Miss — the grove at Oxford. You have the chandelier at the tailgate and just fabulousness across the board. It truly is just a party from beginning to end and sometimes well into the night with the celebration of college football."
The cherry on top of this visual feast is the "Walk of Champions," which was originally introduced in 1983. While many college football teams have some kind of player walk-in for fans to enjoy as they stroll along a path to the stadium, very few — if any — feature the players literally walking directly through what is more or less a tailgating mosh pit.
There's good reason that The Grove was once described by The Sporting News as "the Holy Grail of tailgating sites."
That sentiment likely won't be changing anytime soon, if ever.
University of Washington: Husky Harbor
Because it takes place on the West Coast in what's quickly becoming the conference formerly known as the Pac-12, "Husky Harbor" might not be as widely known to some fans. But, really, who says no to a tailgate that features thousands of fans arriving to the game by way of boat?
According to GoHuskies, "Husky Harbor" can dock up to 150 private boats of varying sizes on game day.
Think about that for a second. There's plenty to be said about enjoying a spirited tailgate outside the stadium in a prime parking spot. But it's quite another to imagine tailgating in a prime spot near the stadium in a boat next to a whole lot of other boats.
Tennessee's "Vol Navy"
Take the concept of "Husky Harbor" and then imagine "sailgating" in SEC country. The thought of that nearly instantaneously offers a sight to behold and sure seems like a no-brainer for anyone's college football bucket list, fandom be damned.
It's yet another one of those classic Southeastern Conference tailgating scenes. And, in this case, you probably don't even need to be in a boat to appreciate the daylong mayhem that takes place along the Tennessee River.
What a perfectly ridiculous scene. Just don't forget your checkered overalls.
Ohio State Buckeyes
The fact that Ohio State allows tailgaters to begin setting up at 5 p.m. on Thursday — seriously, Thursday! — prior to Saturday showdowns at "The Horseshoe" absolutely warrants a spot on the list. The generous policy serves as a nice, breezy, three-day week for students and sets the stage for certain chaos at its very finest.
The downside? Fans incessantly chanting "O-H-I-O!" for three days straight. This element of the experience is more commonly known to outsiders as "Nightmare City."
Clemson has some outstanding traditions when it comes to elements surrounding their pregame rituals, including head coach Dabo Swinney leading the charge down "The Hill" and onto the field at Memorial Stadium like an unhinged cartoon character.
But what might be the most underrated aspect of it all is that the tailgate truly never ends. Unlike a lot of schools, Clemson allows its fans to leave and re-enter the stadium, adding a whole new dimension to the scene outside the stadium that so often goes down several notches upon kickoff elsewhere. At Clemson, it absolutely does not.
For any college football fan, it probably goes without saying that LSU home games offer an incredibly wild atmosphere with very few dull moments to be found. So we'll go ahead and make this one aptly succinct with the following from SB Nation's And The Valley Shook in 2017:
"You can smell the bourbon on the field."
Sounds about right.
It's not a tailgating tradition that happens every Saturday, but it would basically be a criminal act not to mention Florida versus Georgia, formerly known officially as "The World's Largest Cocktail Party." This neutral-site matchup has always spoken for itself since the moment this classic began, with no additional context required.
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