The season is almost here.

You know what I’m talking about. We’ve been waiting all year for it. And now, it’s almost here.

But with the season, and the interminable quest for glory, comes the work. The early wake up calls. The pots of coffee lit by the moonlight. The lifting. Working on your timing. Developing muscles. Trimming fat. Pounding your target until it’s soft and pliable. Then walking away and letting that same target stew in its own juices, wondering what hit it.

You’ll sustain long drives. You’ll practice shotgun formation. Wing formation. You’ll learn to love the grind. You’ll perform through sweltering heat and frigid cold. You’ll do it because of them. Not for yourself, but for the others. The reason you’re here is for them. And today, while you do their thing, and they do theirs, you know one thing for certain:

You’re going to get balls-out drunk and eat 2,000 nachos.

Michigan v Alabama tailgate

Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

See, it’s nifty because you don’t know until the very end what I’m talking about. Haha! Isn’t that great? Ah well. You guys are terrific. Anyway, it’s true. The precipice of the 2013-2014 college football season. And in just six short days, we’re officially allowed to take to parking lots across these United States in celebration of knockdown, drag-out battles like [checking schedule] Towson vs. Connecticut. Now, if you’re new to the site, you may have missed out on an entire season’s worth of tailgating material. We went over the top 10 best tailgating schools, top 10 tailgating vehicles, heck even the top 10 (er, 9) legends of tailgating. But this year, we’re back, and like so many tailgaters, we’re hungry for more.

So, to kick us off for the season, we’re going to give you a sneak preview of what we think we’ll be the most extraordinary tailgates of the year. Although, let’s be honest — any tailgate you’re actually at is the best tailgate of the year. Now remember, while rankings slightly play a part in this, more so than anything this is predicated on what will be the most FUN tailgates of the year.

South Carolina v Clemson

Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Here we go:

Week 1: North Carolina vs. South Carolina

Now, conventional wisdom says you should check out a slightly higher profile game, like, say, Clemson v. Georgia. But think about what you have at stake here. Between the Carolinas, you’ll likely have some epic barbeque battles, meaning that whoever wins, it won’t be the hungry tailgaters who lose. Plus, hey, this is your chance to see Jadeveon Clowney before he becomes a Buffalo Bill.

Week 2: Notre Dame at Michigan

Ahhh, you gotta hand it to these two knucklehead teams. Typically, the south tends to dominate our Tailgate Fan Standings, but when it’s two old school teams like this? You’ve gotta make it out for a tailgate. Be forewarned, as a Notre Dame alumnus, I can guarantee that you’ll catch some snark coming from both sides of the field. But what fans of these teams lack in “genteelness” they more than make up for in alcohol consumption.

See highlights from the 2012-2013 tailgating season.

Week 5: Wisconsin at Ohio State

There will be a brat eating contest. In fact, they may cancel the game just to have a brat-eating contest. Winner gets to punch Urban Meyer square in the jaw, plus the chance to take Ohio’s prettiest lady on a date (she’s 700 pounds).

Week 7: Oklahoma vs. Texas

Ah, the Red River Shootout is always a classic. Held at the Texas State Fairgrounds in Dallas, this match-up pits two perennial contenders and rivals against each other in a fairly neutral meeting ground. The only thing more exciting than the match-up is the tailgating potential. Not only do both Texans and Oklahomasapiens know their food, but the Texas State Fairgrounds is infamous for being a hotbed of disgustingly decadent fried creations. Here’s a sample.

Florida v Georgia tailgate

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Week 10: Florida vs. Georgia

These two schools — each one of the world’s most prestigious football programs — boast some of the largest fanbases across the globe. Their annual game of outdoor football is usually one of the highlights of the season. Although we’re not supposed to mention the commonly recognized name of their pregame festivities, just know that when these two teams get together, it’s an even more grandiose spectacle than when either team plays against, say, a South Carolina Gamecock. Tail your friends if you don’t know how to get to the stadium — especially if you’re from out of town!


Watch Tailgate Fan at the 2012 SEC Championship.

Week 16: Army vs. Navy

Nope, no jokes from me here. Black Knight tailgates are regularly ranked among the best in the country, and there are few better examples of an Army crowd than their annual game against the Navy Midshipman. Stop by and have a few beers. Make sure to thank a few of the young men and women for what they’re doing for us.

Now, there are a lot of great teams and potential great games we may have left off the list. But don’t let that stop you. Just remember that any time you can catch a game at the University of Washington, the University of Tennessee, LSU, or Ole Miss, among others, you’re in for a good time, regardless of what team they’re playing. Now let’s get out there and tailgate!

Tailgate Fan will be checking in from the best college tailgates all season long.

Watch Tailgate Fan videos from last season and the off-season.

Check out Brian’s Tailgating Top 10s.

Brian Cullen will be attending the Jets vs. Giants preseason game on Saturday, and he’ll be reporting back blurry-eyed. Don’t forget to check out part 1 and part 2 of his Battle for New York Series! And check him out on Twitter @bucketcullen.


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