College pigskin fans are heading to the cinema this weekend as football flick The Express opens nationwide. For movie-goers inspired to catch a live game, ESPN/ABC's Ed Cunningham picks his preferred playing fields for USA TODAY's Rebecca Heslin.
Neyland Stadium Knoxville, Tenn.
"The Southeastern Conference deserves several on this list, because the game truly is followed more passionately in the Southeast than any other part of the country," Cunningham says. "You would be well served to learn Rocky Top before getting to Neyland Stadium, so you can join in with the 102,000-plus University of Tennessee fans who will be singing it at the top of their lungs if the Vols deliver a big win that afternoon." That is, if the fans still have their voices left from the infamous pregame tailgates.
Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Austin
If you're hoping to have a ball in Austin, plan accordingly. "With its mix of politics, hippie culture and the large, world-class University of Texas with a now-modernized Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, you'll need at least three days to take in a great college football atmosphere," Cunningham says. "Add in the music scene on Sixth Street and the Tex-Mex food, and this is always a favorite stop."
Husky Stadium Seattle
By land or by sea, the University of Washington's home field offers seats with a view. "Find a friend of a friend who can offer a boat ride on Lake Washington to Husky Stadium for the game to tailgate in a whole new way," Cunningham says. "If the sky is clear, venture up to the northwest upper deck and take in a spectacular view of Mount Rainier and the game."
Folsom Field Boulder, Colo.
"Situated in one of the most beautiful towns in all of America, you can catch yourself looking at the views more than the action at Folsom Field, home of the University of Colorado Buffaloes," Cunningham says. "If you happen to be lucky enough to be on the field for the game itself, always keep your eyes peeled for the running of Ralphie the Buffalo, the school's mascot. His handlers are not really directing him as much as hanging on for dear life."
Memorial Stadium Clemson, S.C.
The cheers and jeers of Clemson University fans in the newly renovated Memorial Stadium can be deafening, earning it the nickname "Death Valley." Says Cunningham: "Pack your earplugs for when the Tigers rub 'Howard's Rock' before taking the field, as college football's coolest team entrance gets the loyalists' vocal cords good and ready for the action. If you happen to go the weekend the hated Gamecocks of the University of South Carolina visit, plan an extra two to three hours to get to your seat, as more people come to hang outside of the stadium than go into it on that particular November Saturday."
Beaver Stadium State College, Pa.
Penn State fans take to the bleachers as much for the coach as they do for the players. "Go before Coach (Joe) Paterno stops roaming the sidelines of Beaver Stadium, which is one of the few venues in the sport that looks bigger in person than on your flat screen," Cunningham says. "Be in the building in time to see 'JoePa' greet the student section during warm-ups, and make sure to stop by the Berkey Creamery, the largest university creamery in the nation, to get a scoop of Peachy Paterno while on campus."
Lane Stadium Blacksburg, Va.
Virginia Tech's game-goers make a sport out of being a fan. "Make sure to take your 'college-football-is-so-much-better-than-the-pros' buddy to a Thursday night game at Lane Stadium and experience how the Hokies helped make that the Monday Night Football for the college game," Cunningham says. "Book far enough in advance to stay in Blacksburg, and you'll enjoy a great small-college town during your downtime."
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium Oxford, Miss.
If a Heisman were awarded for top tailgater, the winner would surely come from Ole Miss. Fans spare no expense as they set up shop before the game. "Pack a picnic and hit the Grove on campus early on game day, as the regulars often stake claim to their territory the night before," Cunningham says. "The day-long party is one of the great scenes in all of college football, and it will hit a fevered pitch when the Rebels walk through on their way to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium."
Memorial Stadium Lincoln, Neb.
At the University of Nebraska, they know how to make a showcase out of the sport. Pyrotechnics even breathe fire on the field during the game. "The all-red-clad patrons of Memorial Stadium make this a memorable place regardless of the outcome," Cunningham says. "Lincoln is one of those college towns that give the term 'college town' such special meaning."
Camp Randall Stadium Madison, Wis.
Only a few Hail Mary passes from the State Capitol, it's often the postgame festivities that fans love most at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "If you don't know where State Street is for the after-game festivities, just follow the masses," Cunningham says. "Make sure deep-fried cheddar balls are on the menu before fighting for a table. They are a delicious rite of passage."
Do you agree with this list or is your favorite stadium not included? Make your case for who should be in and who should be out.