The 2010 college football rankings are out and regardless of where your favorite team ranks it’s always fun to plan a trip to watch some of this year’s action live and in person.
I have to admit that I am a committed Georgia Bulldogs fan and, for me, there is nothing quite like being in Athens, GA on a Saturday afternoon! But my personal loyalties aside, college football has a culture all its own and worth experiencing from the bleachers at least once, if not at least once a year because there is nothing like being there with the melodious sounds of the marching bands, the extraordinary and copious tailgates, the cheers of arguably the most devoted fans, and of course, the inimitable college towns themselves.
Here are my recommendations for a little college football weekend getaway:
1. September and October are great months to catch a game in the Northeast in cities such as Boston. With Boston College and UMASS nearby, take some time to take in the autumnal display of foliage.
2. If you’ve never experienced college football in the South, I encourage you to find a weekend and immerse yourself in the tradition and celebration that is (predominantly) the SEC. Consider Oxford, MS. (Ole Miss), Athens, GA. (UGA), Baton Rouge, LA. (LSU) and Huntsville, AL. (the University of Alabama is ranked #1 pre-season).
Expert tip: Airlines will typically have NCAA fares in and out of cities near to top football towns. Sign-up for the deal emails and act quickly when you see the flight you want. Seats and fares are limited.
3. The crispness of fall is a bit more tolerable out west in places such as Tempe, Arizona. Consider Sun Devil Stadium to watch Arizona State where you can still wear shorts instead of that snowsuit you’ve been eyeing.
4. If you want to join 103,000 fans in the world’s largest sing-along then head to Knoxville, TN for a few hundred rounds of Rocky Top in the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium located on the banks of the Tennessee River. Gatlinburg is another nearby city and worth a night’s stay for a visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
5. Home of the College Football Hall of Fame, South Bend, Indiana is a great spot to pay homage to the legends of NCAA football and where a walk around the Notre Dame campus is a lesson in football history itself.
Expert tip: Chicago is an easy drive from South Bend so consider accommodations there and drive over for the game.
6. The Cotton Bowl is home to the annual Red River Shootout rivalary game played between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners. Played on neutral territory in Dallas, TX, it also coincides with the largest state fair in the U.S., the State Fair of Texas. And take it from someone who has been there; they can fry just about anything so get ready for some fun fair food and entertainment!
I know! I know! I left off a ton of great stadiums and schools. Remember, I write a blog not a book. BUT here’s your chance to share with me other great college towns and stadiums worth visiting this football season.