Videos by OutKick
By Craig Hayes
The first time I heard of Clay Travis was when I picked up a copy of Dixieland Delight at a local bookstore a few years ago. At the risk of being accused of shamelessly kissing up to the editor of this site, I loved the book and truly envied the fact that he was able to take a road trip throughout the entirety of the SEC.
As much as I would like to duplicate Clay’s trek, I have a job and family obligations that won’t allow for such endeavors. And since I am only an amateur writer, I can’t exactly tell my wife that I’m going to visit some of the most attractive campuses in the country this fall, female and otherwise, just for research purposes.
But my wife has no problem with one “guy trip” during the year. Since I am obsessed with football and I am a New York based Seattle Seahawk fan, I have usually made the long 3000 mile trek to watch my team in person. But over the years I have managed to squeeze in trips to Pittsburgh, Washington D.C., Charlotte, and last year’s Chicago weekend when I attended a Cubs game at Wrigley, Michigan at Notre Dame on Saturday, and the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday (a great trip that I highly recommend but the dates don’t work this fall for all three, just Cubs & ND).
Any huge SEC matchup is obviously enough reason to take a long weekend and visit a campus, especially for those of you lucky enough to be able to make those trips without flying. But for those of us in the college football wasteland of the northeast, flights are part of the trip, so that is another reason I can only take one trip a year. I like to pick a weekend with at least two good games, and maybe a third event if you are lucky.
Besides, when you work long hours and have a family, a trip to Cleveland to watch the Browns is considered fun. Well, maybe not Cleveland, but you get my point. I am also aware that some of these driving distances aren’t exactly short in length (I can’t believe how far Nashville is from Knoxville), but they are all reasonable. What’s so tough about a couple of hours in a rental car with alcohol (not for the driver of course), a few good friends, and satellite radio? It beats working.
One last thing, I am basing these suggestions primarily on matchups and quality of football, with a little historical significance thrown in. This isn’t a list based solely on Tailgates and the quality of women. Granted those are important factors for some, especially the single fans out there. But you can get drunk anywhere, and there are attractive women at every Division 1 school in the country. Clearly some places are a little better than others (Ole Miss comes to mind). For a good wrap-up of the social scene of many of these places, check out Clay’s book.
Opening Day Trip:
September 7-8, UAB at LSU, Atlanta at New Orleans.
LSU stomping the Blazers isn’t exactly compelling football, but everyone I have ever asked about which venue to visit if you can only travel to one SEC game says LSU is the best. Plus, on Sunday, you get to see a Super Bowl favorite play a huge rival that will be chomping at the bit to put 2012 and Roger Goodell’s punishments behind them. Throw in Bourbon Street, and you’ve got yourself a great weekend.
Rematch of the Year:
September 14-15, Alabama at Texas A&M, Titans at Texans.
Sort of the opposite of the first trip; a great college game and a lousy pro game. Fly into Houston and take the 100 mile drive to College Station to watch Alabama try to avenge last year’s dismantling by Johnny Football and the Aggies. And on Sunday, well, if you have to watch the Titans this year you might as well include what could be the college game of the year on the same weekend.
September 27-29, Phillies at Braves, LSU at Georgia, Patriots at Falcons.
This is the only trip that has three major events and could result in the best matchups of any weekend this year. Fly into Atlanta, you start with a potential pennant race matchup on Friday, drive out to Athens on Saturday for a terrific SEC game between two Top 10 teams, then end the weekend with a Sunday night game that could be a preview of Super Bowl 48. I’m leaning towards this one.
QB of the past and the QB of the future:
November 30-December 1. Texas A&M at Missouri, Broncos at Chiefs.
Start the weekend watching Johnny Manziel take on the Tigers in an SEC newbie showdown; enjoy some of KC’s famous barbeque on Saturday night; then end the weekend with the legendary Peyton Manning in one of the NFL’s best rivalries. The weather may not be the greatest, but as long as the Mizzou sorority girls wear the miniskirts that Clay described last year then I’m all in.
October 12-13, Oklahoma and Texas, Redskins at Cowboys.
The Red River Rivalry in the Cotton Bowl followed by RG3 against the Cowboys at Jerry World, both in Dallas so no additional travel required, enough said.
If you HAVE to go to Detroit, might as well see some good football.
September 7-8, Notre Dame at Michigan, Vikings at Lions.
I have to make fun of how horrible Detroit is, the law is the law; but if you must go, why not pick a September weekend before the weather turns lousy. On Saturday you get two of college football’s most storied programs at The Big House and Sunday you have the Greatest Running Back on the Planet square off against the Greatest Wide Receiver on the Planet, and considering the respective defenses of each team you are bound to see them both run wild. (Thanksgiving gives you the Packers and Lions and Ohio State/Michigan on the following Saturday, a close second if you, once again, HAVE to go to Detroit.)
See The Next LT In Person.
October 19-20, South Carolina at Tennessee, 49ers at Titans.
It could be a long season to be a football fan in Tennessee this year (except maybe for Vanderbilt, shameless plug for my Favorite Editor LK), but Jadeveon Clowney is one of the few players to whom the cliché of “telling your grandkids about him” completely applies. So if you want to take a trip to Knoxville this year, why not watch the most dominant defensive player in the country today? And on Sunday, you get the Niners at Titans, so if you love watching great defense and don’t mind seeing a potential blowout, Tennessee in the fall sounds good to me. If you want to cut the 2.5 hour drive from Knoxville, Vanderbilt is playing Georgia on the same weekend. That is pretty much the best game of the year at home for the Commodores; most of their major opponents are on the road this year.
Seattle (It’s really not that bad). Not their official slogan but should be.
October 12-13, Oregon at Washington, Titans at Seahawks.
I will admit that I am biased to my favorite team/adopted city, but seriously, there is more to this place than rain and guys throwing fish to each other. While the bars are fun, this isn’t a “drinking with the guys” type of scene, definitely more a couple’s trip. Take a ride to Mount Ranier or spend the day in Pikes Market. Seattle is also a great food city, especially if you love seafood. The Ducks have two legitimate Heisman contenders in Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas and Husky Stadium is one of the most picturesque settings to ever see a game, right on the shore of Lake Washington. Sunday you can experience the lunacy of the NFL’s best fans (biased again but it is a Fact) in another great setting watching one of the NFL’s best defenses and the dynamic Russell Wilson. As a bonus, Monday is Columbus Day to help with what is for most people in the country a very long flight back home.
As Southern as Flora-Bama
October 19-20, Arkansas at Alabama, Camp World RV Sales 500.
Ok, so it isn’t two football games, but is there a more classic way to spend a fall weekend in Alabama? On Saturday you get to watch a team whose fan base cheers with pig calls play a team with fans who get married during their spring game. Throw in a NASCAR race in Talladega sponsored by an RV company on Sunday, and you’ve got the most southern weekend outside of the Mullet Toss.
I’m sure I am missing a few good ones. Feel free to suggest your own. Football is thankfully less than five months away so get planning.