But I remember Mizzou’s ridiculous loss at Troy (then doing business as Troy State) in 2004, so here’s hoping Barry Odom unleashes the hounds of hell defense and the Tigers rack up at least four times as many sacks of Troy as the Odyssey.
A demolition Saturday would free Tiger fans from anxiety and allow them to focus on the grand tradition of tailgating. While it may not be the magnificent, sprawling debauchery and revelry of, say, LSU’s tailgate scene in Baton Rouge, Mizzou fans know how to tailgate and have a good time. With that in mind, here’s an ode to tailgating, and all the accompanying good times.
The setup: The beauty of tailgating is its variety. It can be spare and simple, just a grill and a few chairs and plenty of drinks. Or it can be a tribute to beautiful American excess, tents and tables and TVs and a wide spread of food and an assortment of drinks that would make Dean Martin proud.
The schedule: Much of a tailgate’s structure is determined by the kickoff time. In the SEC era, these pretty much break down into three categories: the dreaded morning kickoff (11 a.m.), afternoon (2:30 or 3 p.m.), and evening (6 or 6:30 p.m.). Morning kickoffs are a struggle, with a not insignificant portion of Tiger fans wondering why Harpo’s and Fieldhouse have to have such reasonable drink prices the night before. There should just be people roaming the tailgate areas with water and IVs. A friend of mine used to loudly play the national anthem at the crack of dawn to get her friends up and going for morning kickoffs. Afternoon kickoffs are nice and produce reasonably measured tailgates, a good amount of time to live it up before enjoying college football in golden late-afternoon autumn sunshine.
Then there are the evening kickoffs, which means all-day tailgating and good times. Maybe you fire up the grill two different times, or eat at multiple tailgates. The chore here is making it to the game, but no matter what, it’s a day of joy. When Mizzou got a night kickoff for Homecoming next week, Missouri’s first home night kickoff for an SEC game since 2017, the reaction was pretty much like Auburn’s radio color commentator involuntarily yelling, “Oh my God!” when he realized Chris Davis was going to score on the Kick Six play to beat Alabama in the 2013 Iron Bowl.
The games: Sometimes when you’re eating and drinking and chatting, you get the urge to throw something through the air. That’s where tailgate games come into play. Whether it’s chucking around a football or a more organized game, these are good times.
The classic is the game where you toss bean bags at ramp targets. Some people call it cornhole, if you want to sound a bit crass. Others call it bags, keeping it simple. I have the creativity of an assembly line, so I just call it bag toss. Because, you know, you’re tossing bags. I do not excel at this game.
On one rare occasion where a friend and I won our tailgate’s bag toss tournament, there was a congress of models, or could-be models, playing bag toss at the tailgate next to us. I proposed a matchup of champions from our respective tailgates, and decided maybe the soccer World Cup just got started because people find Brazilians attractive.
Another option is frisbeer, or beersbee, basically a game where you throw a frisbee at a bottle perched on a stick. My friend’s brother showed up at a tailgate and crushed me at this game. I blamed the wind in my face, but really it was like a sling shot facing a Howitzer. Or Troy facing Missouri.
Also, if you’re really down home, you can play washers. If you’re like me and from the more rural parts of our country, there’s a good chance you made a washers set in shop class at some point.
The TV: Some tailgates go so far as to have a TV, checking out the games of the day in college football. This can be riveting, watching the big games around the SEC, or sometimes you can stumble into hidden gems like Eastern Michigan upsetting Purdue. Other times it can be maddening, like when you talked yourself into betting Tennessee to keep it within 14 against Florida and its previously shaky offense. Then you see the Volunteers Tennessee all over the field and you realize you’re an idiot and go seek more refreshments. Sometimes in life and gambling, it’s good to zag when everyone else zigs, but sometimes you just look stupid when the zig is “Tennessee is terrible” and your zag is “maybe Tennessee is not completely horrible.”
The food and drinks: All hail the stars of the show. Whether it’s burgers or steaks, pork or chicken, dips or desserts, or all of the above, good food makes for a good tailgate. And, of course, a wide assortment of drinks. Mimosas and mixed drinks, bourbon and moonshine, beer and wine, Dr. Pepper and Coke, and hopefully at some point some amount of water… these are the titans of tailgates, the lubrication that keeps the grand machine of college football running.
Enjoy your Saturday, Tiger fans.