College Football In Mississippi

Mississippi fans approach college football games with a passion bordering on religious fervor. Saturdays in the South are often planned around football schedules from September to November’s end. Teams may win or lose games, but Mississippi always triumphs at tailgating.

Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss may be known for their pregame soirees, but when it’s time for gridiron action, Mississippi’s other universities score big, too. Their teams are fierce, and their tailgating manner is warm and inviting.

Visitors to any of our universities will want to experience Mississippi’s distinctive tailgating styles. Here are a few tips to help you tackle a football weekend in Mississippi:

Mississippi State University – Starkville

1. The Tradition
Who needs a chant? MSU fans celebrate the Bulldog’s advances with none other than the cowbell. The origins of this tradition are arguable, but one thing is certain: the cowbell is here to stay. BYOC (Bring Your Own Cowbell) to the game. The Lodge sells cowbells in varying sizes and styles. Please remember to #ringresponsibly and abide by the rules. Pro tip: You may want to bring earplugs to the game.

Starkville, MS

2. What to Wear?
Even if it’s a white out or black out weekend, State fans always sport a little of their school’s signature color. This fan base also proudly dons jeans and cowboy boots to their games.

3. The Souvenir
Don’t miss the MSU Cheese store, or officially the “MAFES Sales Store.” The Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station Dairy Manufacturing plant creates several products, including the big red balls of MSU’s famous and delectable Edam cheese, the ultimate souvenir from Starkville.

4. The Off-Campus Place to Be
Popular among university students, the Cotton District comes alive for pre- and post-game fun. Check out Bulldog Burger Co., Little Dooey’s barbeque or City Bagel Café for budget-friendly, locally owned fare. If libations are in order, Bin 612 is a favorite Cotton District spot.

5. The Team Tradition
Two hours before the start of the game, make your way to the Junction, a pedestrian park chock full of tailgating tents and Bulldog fans, for the Dawg Walk. Football players, coaches and mascot “Bully” proudly walk through the Junction to Davis Wade Stadium.

Ole Miss – Oxford

1. The Tradition
Vaught-Hemingway stadium may house the main event on game day, but the action begins and ends at The Grove. Likened to a block party with tents, this is tailgating with uncompromising flair and style. You’ll marvel at the chandeliers, antique silver platters and flat screen TVs glowing under otherwise unassuming tailgate tents. Pro tip: Drinking directly from a bottle or can is a faux pas in The Grove. Bring a cup of your own or a red or blue Solo cup.

2. The Chant
If you’ve never heard the Hotty Toddy chant before the game, you’ll know it by heart after an hour in The Grove. It’s the only appropriate response to “Are you ready?!”

Oxford Mississippi

3. What to Wear?
This is not your T-shirt-and-jeans crowd. Ole Miss fans have been known to dress to the nines, as in designer dresses, high heels, sport coats and ties. To play it safe, dress for a night out on the town.

4. The Team Tradition
Ole Miss football players and coaches begin their traditional journey to Vaught Hemingway stadium by way of a brick sidewalk bisecting The Grove. Known as the “Walk of Champions,” the fan favorite begins about two hours before kickoff, and fans crowd both sides of the walkway to cheer on the Rebels.

5. The Off-Campus Place to Be
The courthouse square is Oxford’s epicenter. Game days transform the busy town square into Oxford’s upscale version of Bourbon Street. Square fixtures like City Grocery, Ajax Diner and Bouré offer fans a superb repast. Visit the Burgundy Room above City Grocery Restaurant to enjoy a drink and spot famous Mississippians who frequent the watering hole.

Southern Miss – Hattiesburg

1. Tailgating Style
Hattiesburg, MSThe tailgating scene throughout the Southern Miss campus is amped up with excitement on game day, but The District is where the action is. Largely populated by USM students plus a DJ or band, the vibe of the district is a lively one. For a tamer tailgating experience, fans may want to opt for a more relaxed setting near the Rose Garden or the Dome.

2. The Chant
Do the letters SMTTT mean anything to you? “Southern Miss To The Top” is the battle cry of the Golden Eagles. Be prepared to see “SMTTT” scrawled on everything from koozies to onesies on game day. Remember, when someone yells, “Southern Miss,” the only acceptable response is, “To The Top!”

Hattiesburg, MS

3. What to Wear?
Black and gold are the colors of choice at a Southern Miss game. As for level of dress, think somewhere between Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Dressy casual wins the day.

4. The Team Tradition
In the spirited tradition of Southern Miss, the Eagle Walk is a game day parade. The Pride of Mississippi band marches Southern Miss players, athletic staff and university officials through campus to M.M. Roberts Stadium, a.k.a., The Rock.

5. Food and Drink
If you don’t want to travel far, check out Marlin’s Bar & Grill or Glory Bound Gyro, both directly across from the stadium. Hardy Street also offers plenty of options. For the craft beer aficionado, the Keg & Barrel features a selection of 120-plus beers. Other noteworthy establishments are Crescent City Grill, Purple Parrot Café and Mahogany Bar, all within the same building on Hardy Street.

Alcorn State University – Lorman

1. Tailgating Style
Bring your appetite. To display agricultural roots, Alcorn State University tailgates offer a huge and varied spread of Southern delicacies. Perennial

Alcorn State University Golden Girl dancer

tailgate favorites such as barbeque, burgers and hotdogs are common. You’ll also see spaghetti, fried fish and “junk pots,” large boiling pots of sausage, seafood, corn, chicken and other items spiced to perfection. The beautiful rural campus offers ample green space for children and adults to play.

2. What to Wear?
Purple and gold. The ubiquitous team colors extend to nearly everything for a tailgate including plates, napkins and cutlery. The accessory of choice: a purple and gold pompom. You practically can’t cheer for the Braves without one.

3. The Team Tradition
In keeping with the Braves mascot, the Tomahawk chop gesture is Alcorn’s victory cheer. Of course, you’ll hear a louder cheers in the Spinks-Casem Stadium too. Home to the Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite marching band, songs like “Brave Spirit” and “Funky Stuff” pump up the crowd. Also, don’t miss the team bursting into the stadium through the giant Alcorn inflatable.

4. The Off Campus Place to Be
If possible, save a little room for the buffet at the Old Country Store in Lorman, open each day until 4 p.m. Famous for “Mr. D’s” fried chicken, this restaurant has been featured on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” series on the Food Network.

Delta State University – Cleveland

1. The Mascots
Delta State University’s official mascot is the Statesman and its unofficial mascot is the Fighting Okra, created in the 1980s by students with a sense of humor who thought the Statesman was not particularly frightening. To marry the two mascots, the slogan “Respect the Statesman. Fear the Okra” was born. You’ll see the slogan in a variety of places on game days.

Cleveland, MS

2. What to Wear?
Casual attire and T-shirts depicting one or both of DSU’s mascots are perfectly acceptable on game days.

3. Tailgating Style
Cleveland, MSThe Levee, an area on the West end of Horace L. McCool Stadium is the new spot to tailgate at DSU. The athletics department rents picnic tables to tailgating groups, who bring their own spread of food complete with lots of Southern fare, including the divine Mississippi Sin Dip. At the end of every game, win or lose, the football team gives high fives to everyone along the fence of the stadium.

4. The Off-Campus Place to Be
For a snack/meal/libation pre- or post-game, check out Hey Joe’s for burgers and craft beer or Airport Grocery for authentic Mississippi Delta hot tamales as well as barbeque. Both restaurants have a music-centric vibe.

Jackson State University – Jackson

Sonic Boom of the South band, Jackson State University

1. The Tradition
Five words: Sonic Boom of the South. Jackson State University’s nationally recognized marching band, paired with the Prancing J-Settes, make for a do-not-miss halftime show. Pro tip: Take your breaks during a lull in the game. There is no lull in the halftime performance.

2. What to Wear?
Blue and white rule a Jackson State game. You can’t go wrong wearing an official JSU t-shirt, preferably one proudly displaying the Tiger mascot.

3. Tailgating Style
Starting Friday night before home games, you can already smell the salivation-inducing scent of barbequed meat on huge smokers outside of Veteran’s Memorial Stadium. On Saturday, pork, chicken, sausage, steaks, ribs and even freshly fried fish are the fare of the day. To score decent parking, always arrive early to JSU games.

4. The Off-Campus Place to Be
One of Jackson’s most eclectic areas, the Fondren district offers fans shopping, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, art galleries and more all within walking distance from the stadium.

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