Knoxville, Tennessee

Best College Football Weekends 2004


By Sports Illustrated

Updated: Monday October 11, 2004
By Matthew Waxman - Sports Illustrated

Maybe there's a better all-around college sports town -- we said as much last year -- but on any given Saturday in the fall, we know where we want to be: Knoxville
(CNN/Sports Illustrated)

Perennial powerhouses, six-digit crowds and serious tradition ensure a perpetually jumpin' vibe at Knoxville. Voted No. 1 By Sports Illustrated. Photo By Jeffery A. Salter

Knoxville, TN - Think your school's game-day experience is all that and a bag of chips? Universities like to carry the one definitive aspect of their programs around like a trump card. But Tennessee sees whatever your school is bringing to the table and bets the House That General Neyland Built that it's got you beat.

What's the competition holding? Washington shows its floating tailgate off Puget Sound only to have Tennessee match it with the Volunteer Navy. Next up is Georgia and its famous bulldog, Uga. Sorry. Compared with Smokey, Tennessee's unflappable bluetick coonhound, Uga looks as clichéd as a poker-playing bulldog.

Michigan and Ohio State put up the Big House (2003 average attendance: 110,918) and the pregame dotting of the i, respectively. Tennessee, however, responds with its own six-digit crowds ('03 average: 105,038), which detonate as the Vols run through the fabled T before the game.

The challengers keep coming: Auburn's Tiger Walk, Nebraska's Sea of Red and West Virginia's Country Roads. Tennessee answers: Vol Walk, Orange Nation, Rocky Top. And don't forget the fabled checkerboard end zone. King the Vols.

Total Score: 54

ATMOSPHERE: 10. There's plenty of local color, with the Fanta-flavored scene much like the line in Rocky Top: "Wild as a mink but sweet as soda pop." STUDENT SECTION: 8. Cargo-pocket roulette is a common method for sneaking Tennessee Mash into Orange Nation. GOD, COUNTRY, FOOTBALL: 10. Vols fans are notoriously loyal and will pay any price for a ticket. Good thing cops look the other way when it comes to scalping. GIPPER FACTOR: 8. Tennessee leads the nation in wins since 1926, when General Neyland took over. Phillip Fulmer has the highest winning percentage among active I-A coaches. IN-GAME TRADITIONS: 8. Pregame, the Pride of the Southland Band forms the T through which Smokey and the players run. After big wins the quarterback often will conduct the band. EXTRACURRICULARS: 10. "Lookin' for a moonshine still?" as Rocky Top asks. Then you must have a pregame Volguarita at Calhoun's while overlooking the Volunteer Navy on the banks of the Tennessee. But don't miss out on Vol Walk, when players strut down Peyton Manning Pass to the stadium.

2. LSU
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