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Best 25 College Football Tailgate Countdown: 15-11

Ohio State vs Michigan Tailgate
© Joseph Scheller/Columbus Dispatc/USA TODAY NETWORK

As we delve deeper into the world of college football tailgating, the competition heats up. From barbecue pits to gourmet food trucks, and from craft brews to time-honored cocktails, the middle five spots on our countdown offer a thrilling mix of flavors and traditions that make game day unforgettable.

In this segment, we spotlight the tailgates that rank No. 11-15 on our list of the top 25 college football tailgates. These schools have mastered the art of combining culinary excellence with spirited celebrations.

Our evaluation criteria focus on cherished traditions, mouth-watering signature dishes and iconic beverages. Get ready to discover tailgate experiences that perfectly capture the essence of college football, blending passion, flavor, and community into a pregame festivity like no other.

15. Texas A&M Aggies

The Texas A&M Aggies football tailgating experience is a vibrant celebration that encapsulates the rich traditions and fervent spirit of "Aggieland." Among the most cherished traditions is the "Midnight Yell," a pregame ritual that takes place the night before each game. Thousands of Aggies congregate at Kyle Field to sing the "Aggie War Hymn," listen to tales from yell leaders, and participate in rousing chants led by players, coaches and students. This gathering not only ignites the excitement for the upcoming game but also strengthens the bond among fans, creating a sense of unity and anticipation.

Texas A&M Tailgate
© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

On game day, the tailgating festivities kick off as early as 7 a.m., with fans setting up elaborate spreads of food, drinks and decorations. The atmosphere is electric, filled with laughter, music and the aroma of barbecues, as fans of all ages come together to revel in the camaraderie and joy of game day. The 12th Man tradition is a cornerstone of this experience, honoring the legacy of E. King Gill, who in 1922 suited up to support his team despite not being a member. Today, the 12th Man symbolizes the unwavering spirit and support of the Aggie fanbase, celebrated and embodied by every attendee.

Tailgate Highlights

Signature Food:

  • Aggie Brisket Bites: Tender brisket bites with tangy BBQ sauce

  • 12th Man Queso: Warm and creamy queso dip with tortilla chips

  • Maroon and White Cupcakes: Cupcakes topped with maroon and white frosting, decorated with Aggies logos or football-themed designs

  • Maroon and White Sliders: Mini beef or turkey burgers on small buns with all the fixin’s, dressed in maroon and white

  • Texas-Sized Brownies: Rich and fudgy brownies cut into football-shaped pieces

Signature Drinks:

  • 12th Man Punch: Fruit punch, lemon-lime soda and a splash of grenadine, served in a large jug with the Aggies’ logo

  • Block T Blonde Ale: Crisp and cold beer

  • Texas Tea: Sweet and tangy iced tea served in large jugs

14. North Dakota State Bison

North Dakota State University (NDSU) boasts a rich tradition of football tailgating, highlighted by the deep-rooted pride and fervor of its fans. "Bison Pride" is a cornerstone of the NDSU community, emphasizing values like integrity, hard work, high expectations and championship-level performance. Every Friday, known as "Bison Pride Friday," students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and fans don green and yellow attire to showcase their appreciation and support for the university in all its facets. This tradition not only strengthens the bond within the NDSU community but also sets the stage for the enthusiastic tailgating and gameday experiences that follow.

The Gold Star Marching Band, affectionately referred to as "The Pride of North Dakota," has been an integral part of NDSU football since 1903. Known for their energetic and dynamic performances, the band rallies the crowd with their spirited music, creating an electrifying atmosphere at the Fargodome. Another cherished tradition is the "Bison Chant," dating back to the 1920s, where the crowd passionately chants “On Bison, On Bison, On Bison” after every first down, fostering a sense of unity and support for the team.

NDSU Game Day Bus
© Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Leading the crowd in these spirited activities is Thundar, the official mascot of NDSU. Thundar is a beloved figure, known for his acrobatic stunts and engaging antics, often seen riding a unicycle and energizing fans with his infectious enthusiasm. "The Bison Fight Song," a rousing anthem sung by the crowd during games and other events, further amplifies the school spirit. Accompanied by the Gold Star Marching Band, this song is a rallying cry that echoes through the Fargodome, embodying the passion and pride of NDSU’s loyal fanbase. Together, these traditions create a vibrant and unforgettable tailgating experience that is uniquely Bison.

Tailgate Highlights

Signature Food:

  • Fargo Fritters: Crispy fried dough balls filled with cheese, sausage or chicken

  • Green and Yellow Bison Sliders: Bite-sized sandwiches with green and yellow toppings

  • Bison Pride Donuts: Sweet treats topped with green and yellow frosting

  • Horns Up Horns Down: Chocolate-dipped pretzels shaped like the “Horns Up” hand gesture

Signature Drinks:

  • Bison Brew: Beer, lemon-lime soda and grenadine syrup

  • Fargo Fizz: Ginger ale, pineapple juice and grenadine syrup

  • Bison Bite: Vodka, pineapple juice and ginger beer

  • Green and Gold: Gin, lime juice and ginger beer

13. South Carolina Gamecocks

Tailgating at the University of South Carolina is a vibrant and passionate affair, steeped in traditions that embody the spirit of Gamecock pride. One of the most iconic symbols of this pride is the "BEAT sticker," a must-have for any tailgater. Dating back to the 1960s, the "BEAT sticker" is a powerful emblem of the rivalry between the Gamecocks and their arch-rivals, the Clemson Tigers. Fans proudly display these stickers, showcasing their loyalty and anticipation for game day.

South Carolina v Clemson
© Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Cocky’s Corner is a popular pregame spot where fans can meet "Cocky," the beloved Gamecocks’ mascot, and snap a photo with him. This tradition adds a personal touch to the tailgating experience, bringing fans closer to the team's spirit. Equally iconic is "Sir Big Spur," the fighting cock mascot, who poses for pictures with fans, adding to the pregame excitement. The atmosphere is electric with pregame entertainment, including live music, a variety of food and drink options and the lively “Cocky’s Kickoff” ceremony, which sets the stage for the thrilling game ahead.

Tailgating at South Carolina also features a range of contests and activities that bring fans together in friendly competition. Whether it's a game of cornhole, ladder toss or beer pong, these tailgating contests offer the chance to win prizes and earn bragging rights. The combination of tradition, camaraderie and spirited competition creates an unforgettable tailgating experience, making game day at the University of South Carolina a true celebration of Gamecock pride.

Tailgate Highlights

Signature Food:

  • Gamecock Grilled Cheese: Gourmet grilled cheese with cheddar, provolone and caramelized onions on sourdough bread

  • Southern Fried Chicken: Crispy chicken tenders with creamy mashed potatoes and tangy coleslaw

  • Gamecock Gooey Butter Cake: Rich, buttery cake topped with gooey caramel sauce and a sprinkle of sea salt

  • Carolina Queso: Warm, cheesy dip with crispy tortilla chips and a side of spicy sausage

Signature Drinks:

  • The Cocky Cola: Cola, lemon-lime soda and a splash of citrus

  • Gamecock Ginger Ale: Ginger ale, lime juice and a dash of cayenne pepper

  • The Garnet Gimlet: Gin, lime juice and grenadine

  • The Carolina Cream: Vanilla ice cream, milk and caramel syrup

12. Penn State Nittany Lions

Penn State tailgating is a tradition that blends passion, community, and an electric gameday atmosphere. One of the most unique aspects of this tradition is Nittanyville, a week-long student tailgate that takes place outside the entrance of Beaver Stadium. Students camp out in tents, braving the elements, to secure the best student spots for the game. This dedication exemplifies the unwavering spirit of Penn State fans. Adding to the pregame excitement are the Blue Buses, which transport the football team to the stadium. Fans line up to cheer and create a spirited environment, welcoming the team in a sea of blue and white.

Tailgating at Penn State is a culinary and social experience like no other. Fans gather early to enjoy a wide array of food, from steaks and burgers to classic hot dogs, all while sharing stories and building camaraderie. The atmosphere is further energized by the sounds of "Zombie Nation," a popular tailgating anthem that pumps up the crowd. Adding to the festive spirit are Nittany Lion face tattoos, allowing fans to visibly show their support and team spirit.

Respecting tradition is key at Penn State, where fans take their rituals seriously. The tailgating experience is about more than just food and fun—it's about honoring the history and legacy of Penn State football. True Nittany Lion fans know that participating in and respecting these sacred rituals is essential, ensuring that the rich traditions of Penn State tailgating continue to thrive for future generations.

Tailgate Highlights

Signature Food:

  • Soft Pretzels: Freshly baked, must-have at Penn State tailgates

  • Primanti’s Sandwiches: Famous Pittsburgh deli sandwiches, such as the Italian sub

  • Shoofly Pie: Pennsylvania Dutch molasses-based dessert

  • Kielbasa: Grilled with peppers and onions, a popular protein option

  • Appalachian Trail Mix: Sweet and salty mix of nuts, seeds and dried fruits

  • Whoopie Pie: Classic Pennsylvania Dutch treat, soft cakes filled with creamy frosting

Signature Drinks:

  • Nittany Lion’s Pride: Blue curaçao, lemon-lime soda, pineapple juice and grenadine

  • Happy Valley Honey: Honey, lemon-lime soda and iced tea

  • State College Sour: Bourbon, lemon juice, blue curaçao and a cherry garnish

  • Lion’s Den Lemonade: Fresh-squeezed lemonade, blue curaçao and lemon-lime soda

11. Ohio State Buckeyes

Tailgating at Ohio State University is an experience steeped in tradition, camaraderie and vibrant team spirit. Fans decked out in scarlet and gray flood the campus, creating a sea of support for the Buckeyes. Among the must-try treats are the iconic buckeyes—peanut butter and chocolate candies shaped like the state of Ohio, serving as a delicious nod to the team’s mascot. The tailgating scene is a lively affair, with many opting for catered trays of food provided by the Buckeye Boosters Organization, ensuring that classic fare like burgers and hot dogs are always within reach.

One of the most anticipated events is the "Script Ohio," a beloved tradition where the Ohio State marching band forms the word “Ohio” on the field, mesmerizing fans with their precision and artistry. The "Buckeye Battle Cry" also resonates through the air as fans sing to get pumped up for the game. This collective display of enthusiasm and support sets the tone for the day, uniting everyone in their shared passion for Ohio State football.

For families, Ohio State offers a family-friendly tailgating experience, which includes a presale of tickets and an outdoor tailgate before kickoff. This ensures that fans of all ages can partake in the pregame festivities and enjoy the game day atmosphere together. Tailgating at Ohio State is not just about the food and drinks—it's about honoring long-standing traditions, fostering a sense of community and celebrating the enduring legacy of Buckeye football.

Tailgate Highlights

Signature Food:

  • Grilled Burgers and Hot Dogs: Classic tailgating staples with all the fixings

  • Chili: Famous Ohio State chili, topped with cheese, onions and crackers

  • Mac and Cheese: Comfort food classic, with options for added bacon or paprika

  • Buckeye Candy: Peanut butter and chocolate treat shaped like a buckeye nut

Signature Drinks:

  • Scarlet Red Punch: Fruit punch, lemon-lime soda, and grenadine syrup over ice

  • Buckeye Brew: Local Ohio beers like Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Edmund Fitzgerald Porter or Fat Head’s Head Hunter IPA

  • Ohio State OJ: Mimosa with orange juice, champagne and grenadine syrup

  • Scarlet Sunset: Cranberry juice, pineapple juice and grenadine syrup over ice

  • Buckeye Bourbon: Bourbon and cola over ice, garnished with a cherry and orange slice

  • Buckeye Beer: Maumee Bay Brewing Co.

As we reach the midpoint of our countdown, the middle five college football tailgates have showcased an incredible blend of time-honored traditions, delectable signature foods and signature drinks that epitomize the essence of game day.

These tailgates highlight the unique spirit and community pride that make each school special. With their distinctive flavors and festive atmospheres, they offer unforgettable experiences for fans and newcomers alike. Stay tuned as we continue our journey through the ultimate tailgating experiences in college football.

1 Comment

2 days ago

As an NDSU fan, this is absolute garbage.

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