-- What better time than July 4 to celebrate the long, rich and, yes, weird marriage between college football and food? From tailgating to meals at recruits' houses, food is a part of the sport's DNA. In honor of that tradition and the kickoff of summer picnics and BBQ season, we're taking a look at just a few of the many food-related stories dotting the CFB landscape.
College football fans are an inventive bunch as it is. Throw in some cake batter and graham crackers, and that fandom can really get bonkers.
Here's a look at just six of the many, many ways that college football die-hards have expressed their love through desserts.
A prank wedding cake with Nick Saban on an elephant?
Rob Sabin is a hard-core Alabama football fan. His fiancee, Amanda Perryman, is a Florida Gators fan. And on their wedding day ... well, late Amanda tell it.
"My husband is OBSESSED with Alabama. We call him Roll Tide Rob because he is so crazy. So I just knew he was going to do something completely over the top. Just as we were arriving at the reception, the baker was unloading the cake. Rob about lost his mind. He was strutting around the place as proud as could be of his cake.
"Nick Saban was perched on top of his elephant, holding the crystal ball and standing on the Alabama football field. I couldn't believe they actually pulled off such an extravagant cake. It really did look amazing. I let him have his moment though because I had a little something up my sleeve.
"When it came time to cut the cake, Rob was smiling from ear to ear. All his friends were going crazy over the cake, but then as we cut into it... surprise!"
Amanda had the inside of the cake done in Gator blue and orange.
"He really should have known better. ... This Gator bride wasn't going to let him get away with all that Bama shenanigans. And If you're going to give me the last name Sabin, I'm going to have the last laugh! (Thank goodness the spelling is different because that may have been just too much to take.)
"Luckily, he took it in stride and we're still married. We'll see what football season brings this year though."
The Horseshoe Cake
In 1991, a dedicated Ohio State tailgater made the ill-fated declaration that it would be impossible to replicate The Horsehoe in cake form.
By that year's Iowa-Ohio State game, voila! The Stadium Cake had been invented, and remains a staple Saturday creation on one fall weekend every season since 1991. Since then, the 200-plus pound cake has been constructed for display at the creators' tailgate party before and during one home football game each year.
It has become such a tradition that a Stadium Cake Scholarship Fund was started some years later, and since 2004, the school has awarded 57 scholarships through donations.
Home of the 12th graham cracker
As a college student, Andy Rowell had started building gingerbread houses as a Christmas break hobby. He did Big Ben, the Empire State Building and several cathedrals before tackling the ultimate: Kyle Field. Using 13 boxes of graham crackers and two pounds of icing, Rowell spent two weeks constructing his delicious nod to A&M football.
According to Jackie Bishop, owner of Art Eats Bakery, this wedding cake was created at the behest of a groom's mom for her devoted Clemson fan on his wedding day.
USC cake pops
Sick of traditional cakes? Then try one of these creative cake pops, devised and baked by a USC alum, Marilyn Johnson.
More cakes from Aggieland
Cake artist Audrey Ross was hired this spring to put together a wedding treat for a former Texas A&M player and his bride-to-be. Using her most precise guesstimation skills, Ross even attempted to duplicate his actual helmet size in what she calls "a challenging but ultimately satisfying cake."
How good was her recreation? When the groom's actual helmet was brought to the ceremony, a groomsman stopped and asked, "Why is one helmet on the table, and this other one on a stand?"
Said Ross: "When I told him it was because the one on the stand was chocolate cake, I think I became a sudden celebrity. ... They were all high-fiving me, it was hilarious."