Let’s talk tailgating. No, not what dudes in lowered, tuned up, bright purple, fart sounding 2008 Honda Civics do to you on the turnpike. We’re talking about the 5 or 6 (sometimes even more) hours before kickoff where family, friends, and even opposing fans gather in parking lots and fields outside football stadiums. We drink beer, liquor, and wine (responsibly), consume what seems like bottomless hotdogs and burgers (not responsibly because calories don’t count on game day), and dance embarrassingly to “Just Wanna Rock” by Lil Uzi Vert.
As a child, I would go to bed in the middle of June dreaming about waking up on Christmas morning, despite it being 6 months away. Now, at 28 years old, I go to bed in June dreaming about waking up at 5am to get to the Scarlet Lot at 7am for a noon kickoff against Norfolk State. Tailgating is special and something non-Rutgers or sports fans can still enjoy in Piscataway during the fall. While the team has struggled on the field since joining the Big Ten, tailgating a Rutgers game has never been a disappointment. I learned early on in undergrad that ”win or lose…we booze!” (responsibly and legally).
So, with the season only a few weeks away, let’s rank the best games to tailgate. First, it’s important to note there are NO bad tailgates. They’re all great and the only tailgate that is best is the next one. Before we start, as much as you want to tailgate, also remember that the team needs you inside the stadium. Have fun, bring friends, but do your best to get inside the game for kickoff. Remember, alcohol is serviced inside SHI Stadium. The selection is fantastic and there are tons of vendors!
#1 Virginia Tech (9/16 @ 3:30pm)
Okay, I have to admit this is an extremely biased pick. My fiancé (VT Grad) and I have been looking forward to this game ever since it was announced back in 2015 (I think). We’ve literally been waiting for this for YEARS!!! We purchased 45 tickets for our friends and family to enjoy this experience with us and will OBVIOUSLY be hosting a massive tailgate in the Scarlet Lot.
But why is this game good for YOU to tailgate? VT is a former Big East foe and we haven’t played them since losing in the 2012 Russell Athletic Bowl. Also, loads of Jersey kids go to VT and alumni still live here (there will be strong contingent of VT Fans at this game, believe me). This is also a must win for both teams, but even more so for VT. The Hokies have struggled mightily since Frank Beamer retired and last season was not pretty. VT needs to win this game for several reasons, mainly to avoid the threat of being left out of the recent conference realignment shuffle (sounds crazy, but it’s true). This will be a chance for Rutgers to get another regular season out of conference win against the ACC (third in a row???). I want to win this game BAD, but I also want to show VT fans a good time and prove that we know a thing or two about tailgating!
I highly recommend making your reservations early to get down to Blacksburg for our matchup in the 2024 season. Blacksburg is awesome and tailgating throughout the town is such a fun time. Be sure to set aside time for Sharkey’s and TOTS!
Fun fact: I attended my first College GameDay in Blacksburg when VT hosted reigning National Champs Clemson in 2017!
#2 Michigan State (Homecoming, 10/14 @ Noon)
Before we talk homecoming, I got to get something off my chest. I really hope people didn’t forget that Mel Tucker literally stole “CHOP” from Greg Schiano. Oh you take selfies while smoking cigars? That’s cool, so does my fiancés dad (sorry Greg) and every pledge that becomes a fraternity brother. What’s “swaggy” about getting a $95mm contract after literally one (very) good season? Oh, I know! Screwing up the market for heads coach contracts, thanks Mel!
Homecoming is great! Who doesn’t like reconnecting with old friends and fellow alumni? Get your tailgate passes early because homecoming always brings out a strong tailgating crowd. There simply isn’t anything like a cool fall tailgate. Miller Light just hits different on homecoming (not a sponsor).
#3 Temple (9/9 @ 7:30pm)
DANGER. PROCEED WITH CAUTION. Starting to tailgate at noon for a night game is obviously going to be a lot of fun, but it’s also sometimes unforgiving. Remember to stay hydrated and eat food (you brought a Chickfila nugget platter, remember? Probably not because your friend Josh just handed you your 5th fireball shot [consumed responsibly]). It’s important to take advantage of night games because they aren’t always a guarantee, especially a home night game. This one should be extra fun because it won’t be the dead of fall when temperatures begin to drop, and everyone should still have their labor day tans they got at the Jersey Shore. Look good, feel good, play good. Rutgers by a BILLION this game.
Quick thoughts on the other homes games
Northwestern (9/3 @ Noon) : Sadly, I wont be in attendance. I’m not sure I’ve ever tailgated a college game on a Sunday, but with Monday being Labor Day this gives fans a great opportunity to go balls to wall for the first tailgate of the season. This will be nationally televised game (OBVIOUSLY) and an awesome chance for Rutgers to gain momentum for the season.
Wagner (9/30 time TBD): Rutgers should win this game but that doesn’t mean we attack this tailgate with contentment. Use this tailgate to work through new ideas. Maybe this will be the game I finally figure out how to stream College GameDay on a TV in the back of my friend’s Ford F250.
Maryland (11/25 time TBD): Ah, the annual “let’s pull together a last-minute tailgate the Saturday after Thanksgiving” tailgate. Don’t overthink it, just DO IT!
OSU (11/4 time TBD): An excellent opportunity to work on your flip cup technique. As the tailgate progresses, so will my confidence. 30 minutes before kickoff I’ll probably find a way to place a hefty wager on Rutgers money line (responsibly).
Away Games (just two for the sake of time!)
Wisconsin (10/7 time TBD): Make plans to go to Madison. I went back in 2018 and had a fantastic time. We didn’t necessarily do a traditional tailgate but we hit up a bunch of bars that lead up to the stadium. Camp Randall should be on every college football fan’s bucket list.
Indiana (10/21 time TBD): It would be wrong if Rutgers fans didn’t set aside time to visit their son. I’d also recommend meeting with a tax advisor in Bloomington, owning an entire state is financially very complicated (I am not a tax advisor and this is not tax advice)!