It’s that time again! We’re talking conference tailgating and who’s the best. You’re up Big Ten! Let us know where you think your school should rank.
When it comes to tailgating at Northwestern don’t expect a rowdy crowd. There is little parking around the stadium that is conducive to tailgating unless you are a season ticket holder. The nearest lots on campus are a few miles away from the stadium, but there you can park, drink, eat, and come game time hop on a shuttle to the stadium. For a family-friendly option you can check out Wildcat Alley, a pregame event is put on by Northwestern and features the NU Marching Band, Wildcat cheerleaders, and Willie the Wildcat. But we think you should don your best purple and make it a weekend experience since Evanston is a short drive from downtown Chicago.
Minnesota is known for its passionate fanbase, and the Golden Gophers love their tailgating which is why most of the parking around the TFC Bank Stadium is home to these dedicated alumni and season ticket holders. There are a few lots for visiting tailgaters, but the best place to go is Dinkytown, a fun, vibrant area of Minneapolis right next door to the University of Minnesota. Dinkytown is famous for its unique history and for a wide variety of restaurants, stores and music scene. A pretty amazing folk musician got his start playing in these bars, while attending Minnesota. Bob Dylan lived in an apartment on 14th and 4th and believed to be his inspiration for his song “Positively 4th Street”.
Tailgating in Bloomington can sometimes out perform the game, as the on-field product has been lacking what a good drinking game can bring. Memorial Stadium is surrounded by plenty of paved and grassy lots for visiting fans and season ticket holders and might I add, right in the thick of all the action. Its not pure chaos like it used to be with the new “no liquor handles” rules for the Greeks, but tents, food, and lots of beer is on hand. You can also wear your cream and crimson and watch “The Walk” with hundreds of your fellow Hoosiers. The Marching Hundred and the cheerleaders will lead the fans in singing “Indiana, Our Indiana” and “Indiana Fight! If you are with the fam, check out Knothole Park and Hoosier Village prior to kickoff.
7. Michigan State
The Spartans are well known for solid tailgating, they have very friendly fans (unless you’re a visiting Michigan fan) and an impressive downtown bar scene. Popular tailgating locations include the tennis courts, where the students gather, and it definitely can get a little rowdy, “the rock”, and around the MSU library area on north campus. The sea of green supports the team during The Spartan Walk to the Kellogg Center. And don’t forget to get your pic with the Spartan statue, one of the most famous parts of campus, many will touch it before every game. During the week before the annual Michigan game, members of the MSU marching band guard it to prevent vandalism.
Nebraska fans take pride in being considered the “best fans in college football”, They are known to be super friendly and will gladly invite you to their tailgate for some corn-fed beef and beer. Some of these tailgates may feature the signature cocktail of Lincoln “the Red Beer” and the semi-famous sandwich the “Runza”(ground beef mixed with various veggies and seasonings). However, with limited space surrounding the stadium and rules against alcohol consumption on campus, it can be a bit tricky to have a big party before the game. So you may want to try Haymarket park which is a visitors best option for tailgating close to the stadium. If tailgating isn’t your forte you are still in the Haymarket District, which has plenty of pre-game options. Last piece of advice when tailgating: get into the stadium early – getting to your seat takes forever in Lincoln.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have been struggling on the football field for the past few seasons, but the tailgating is still going strong. The best place to be is Melrose Avenue, which seems to be the focal point of the Hawkeye nation. This is where it’s at – houses hosting beer pong, flip cup, boom cup, cornhole toss, you name it – oh and there’s food on the grill to eat as well. Once game time comes around fans wearing their black and yellow striped overalls head to Kinnick Stadium, known to be one of the toughest environments in college. Need a quick bite before heading into the game, check out the food trucks that cook up some of the best chicken fingers and street tacos you’ve ever had. You can even purchase a turkey leg the size of a football. The Hawkeyes need to start winning games again, but this is one of the best spots to tailgate in the Big Ten.
The Michigan football tradition is alive and well on game days. Thousands of fans flock to Ann Arbor to support their Wolverines, early enough to hit the tailgate fields before kickoff. The most well known places to set up the tailgating party are the field at Pioneer High School as well as the U of M Golf Course, which is unique in itself. You can practice with a putter in one hand and a beer in the other. Fans make sure make their way to the steps of Revelli Hall to see the Michigan Marching Band’s drum line perform their traditional “Step Show”. Shortly after, the entire band does the musical ‘March to the Stadium’ into the ‘Big House.’ This is one of the country’s most historic football programs and the Maize and Blue surely don’t disappoint.
3. Penn State
Penn State has put together one of the best traditions in college football. Games can draw as many as 115,000 fans to a town that has a population of a little over 40,000. Before home games, students camp out in tents in front of the student entrance to the stadium to ensure they receive the best seats – It is “Nittanyville.” This is just one of the many traditions that make this tailgating experience one of the best. In addition, to getting the best vantage point for football games, a stay at Nittanyville is packed full of fun and entertainment, including a slam-dunk competition; pep rallies complete with cheerleaders, chants and songs; and visits from Penn State coaches and others delivering free food to the “town’s” residents. The environment is as good as it gets in college football, as the community stops for Nittany Lions football.
2. Ohio State
Ohio State plays championship-worthy football, and the fans party like champions on game day. Surrounding the stadium on Saturdays are some of the rowdiest and most enthusiastic fans in college football. When it comes to food and drink, Ohio State fans take pride in laying out a full spread; barbecue, wings, seven-layer dips, and of course home-made peanut butter and chocolate buckeyes. But boozing is priority numero uno. They still have “Hineygate” one of the most recognized tailgating parties in the country and if you like the bar scene Columbus doesn’t disappoint with bars upon bars upon bars. Just look around. Anyone who wants to experience the game day party at a high level would do well to take in Columbus’ scene.
The Badgers students are known for their rendition of “Jump Around,” but it’s the pregame party that should get the most attention. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a place that has more fun on a football Saturday than Madison, Wisconsin. Known for their “hot bratwursts” the Wisconsin tailgate brings amazing food and tons of beer to the masses. The beer gardens line Regent Street and are flooded with cardinal red, but most of the pre-game shenanigans take place at house parties and bars that surround Camp Randall. A surplus of student housing surrounding the stadium makes for a rock concert type atmosphere. There are also multiple bars located within a short walking distance of Camp Randall. Madison knows how to party on Saturdays which is why it’s number one on our list.