The scent of charred hotdogs smoking in the grill, the clamor of proud fans nervous for what’s to come, and the spectacle of colors flaunting a strong school spirit. It’s football season, and it’s time to tailgate.
American college football is unlike any other. Fans are deeply dedicated to their football team because they may attend college at that school, are a graduate, or perhaps grew up with a team favorite. College football is at the heart of everything all-American, and it is the classic trademark of a university experience. But most of all, college football in Mississippi is unlike any other.
The state of Mississippi has several large universities with strong football programs and proud enthusiasts of the sport. University of Mississippi (also known as Ole Miss) and Mississippi State University (MSU) are age-old rivals. These teams fight for their fans on the green battlefield, against each other and against other out-of-state foes.
On Ole Miss’ campus, the Grove in Oxford, Mississippi has been a popular tailgating spot since the 1950s. Fans show off in their best crimson red and navy blue attire while meeting up with friends to eat, drink, socialize and get pumped up before the game. In Starkville at MSU, there’s not much different, everyone gets together for the pre-game party, except for that the Bulldog fans sing their MSU chants in maroon and white.
International students who study in Mississippi find themselves as proud of their respective university football teams as the locals that have attended games and tailgated all of their lives. The excitement that football season brings is contagious, and no one escapes the fun. Tailgating is all part of the football tradition that will be kept alive as long as the sport continues to be an all-American emblem.