Schedules have been planned. Uniforms have been selected. Equipment has been loaded.
Not for coaches and players, but for the seasoned tailgaters who invest just as much care and thought into their pre-game routines. Many have planned for an early start this week for the primetime matchup between Clemson and Notre Dame.
Mix two undefeated Top 15 teams. Throw in a national television broadcast. Add in a visit from ESPN’s popular pre-game show “College GameDay.” Top it all off with an 8 p.m. kickoff.
It is a recipe almost as mouthwatering as the thick aromas of barbeque that will hover over the parking lots outside of Death Valley. It is more than enough to entice some occasional tailgaters to enjoy their first taste.
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Experienced tailgater Cindy Carter has simple advice for any novice considering a visit to Tiger Town on Saturday.
“Arrive early,” said Carter, a Spartanburg native who now drives from Hilton Head to tailgate at every Clemson home game. Carter plans to arrive at her familiar spot at 6 a.m. Saturday. That allots a 14-hour window for food, friends and football— before the game even begins.
Carter estimated that with travel, tailgating and the actual game, Saturday can easily become a 24-hour undertaking. To ensure they do not wear themselves out before kickoff, tailgaters must have a game plan— or better yet, a meal plan. Bryan Freeman plans to arrive at Clemson at 8 a.m. with a straightforward opening play.
“Chicken biscuits at 8,” he said, before also sharing plans to visit the “College Gameday” set. “Then more food and festivities until gametime.”
Veteran fans do not mind clocking those long hours. Newcomers are encouraged to join them early. The enthusiasm, the passion, the aromas will make the game much more than an event.
They will make it an experience.
TIGERS vs. IRISH
Who: No. 12 Clemson (3-0) vs. No. 6 Notre Dame (3-0)
When: Saturday, 8 p.m.
Where: Memorial Stadium, Clemson