By Marcy Franklin
The Daily Meal

Fall has arrived: The leaves are changing, the days are getting shorter, and our teams are lacing up their cleats. That’s right, it’s finally football season -- and more importantly for some, college football season.

Nothing quite inspires football allegiance like a nice cold brew, team colors, big-screen TVs, and rowdy fans. No, we’re not talking tailgates (though they're a hallmark of the season), we're talking sports bars. At every university with a decent football team -- or any school pride -- there’s that one meeting place that tops all the others; the one bar where students, football junkies, and alumni trying to relive the glory days of college congregate to scream fight songs and cheer on their team.

So what makes these bars stand out from the rest of football-gathering watering holes? After all, any bar can hang a big-screen TV, turn on the game, and call it a day. It's not just the location, usually near the football stadium or campus, that makes them the unofficial watch party for the game (though it doesn't hurt). These college football bars have the extras that take them from fratty college bars to well, decent bars.

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The Daily Meal: Best College Football Bars

A great selection of brews and bites makes games an all-day event. Take the cheese fries at Oklahoma State University's Eskimo Joe's, or the pizza at University of Kentucky’s Pazzo’s Pizza Pub, or yes, the Cajun gator tail at University of Florida's The Swamp; a great bite will keep you camped out from kickoff to the final touchdown. Not to mention the beer: It's Texas A&M's Dixie Chicken that proudly claims to have "the most beer per square foot of any bar in the U.S," one possible reason for its large crowds on game day.

Let's be real, these aren't the bars you're going to find a craft cocktail, or even a craft beer. Peanut shells, pool tables, writing on the walls, outrageous drink specials, and rowdy students practically come on a college bar checklist. But what makes these bars great is that they have heart; they’re institutions nearly as old as the football teams themselves. After all, President Obama didn't pick just any bar to visit while campaigning in Boulder, Colo.: He chose the Sink, best known for its burgers, beers, and crowds on game day. (And, for full disclosure: I, too, have a few autographs up on the wall of the Sink.) Whether your team’s undefeated or just barely scraping by, we can agree that these bars are always winning.

Best College Football Bars Slideshow


Buffalo Bros: Texas Christian University

While a bar inspired by the unique culture and flavor of Buffalo, N.Y., might not immediately scream "Go Horned Frogs!" it's the place to be for TCU fans come game day. Plenty of televisions, an ample beer list (with selections like Stone's Ruination IPA, New Belgium Brewing Co.'s Fat Tire, and Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale), and good food bring college students here in droves to show their school spirit. Get the wings with one of their special sauces or split a pizza with friends. And, it's only steps away from the TCU campus and a short drive from the stadium.


Corby's: Notre Dame

What better bar to enjoy Fighting Irish football than the place where they shot "Rudy"? When you’re done pretending to be in the film, you’ll enjoy the classic college bar atmosphere, cheap beer, and the pizzas from their recently redone kitchen. With an outdoor patio and a dance space, Corby’s is one of South Bend’s favorite pubs even when there isn’t a game on. Friday evenings are hectic, so be sure to get there early. It was also the scene for the watch party for Notre Dame's first game in the Global Irish Football Tournament.


The Dixie Chicken: Texas A&M

Cheering on the Aggies in College Station isn't complete without a trip to The Dixie Chicken. Located right across the street from campus, this Tex-Mex/burger joint has become a huge staple for any A&M fan over the years for before and after any game. "The Chicken's" main draw? Serving "the most beer per square foot of any bar in the U.S.," according to its website. (Plus, everyone say it's got the best burgers in town.) Per tradition, every Aggie must dunk his or class ring in a pitcher of beer and chug until all that's left is the ring.


Eskimo Joe's: Oklahoma State

If Playboy and Sports Illustrated get behind this bar for game day, you know you're onto something. The bar, decked out in OSU paraphernalia, is the place to be for Cowboys games; the bar sets up outdoor tailgates and venues complete with big screens, cold drinks, and food. (George H.W. Bush is apparently a big fan of the cheese fries at Joe's.)


The Half Barrel: Tennessee

Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the university area and stadium, The Half Barrel isn't only a great sports bar, it's also home to one of Knoxville's largest selections of Kentucky Bourbons. The bar’s central location to University of Tennessee's campus means that it's a popular hangout with students eager to cheer on their team. It can get cramped inside, but there's a porch out back that you can enjoy if the weather is nice. The Half Barrel was also the host for the kickoff pep rally for the football season.


Harpo's: Missouri

Not only is Harpo’s the place to be for all football-related events, the joint has recently stepped up its food game by installing a smoker and serving barbecue. Harpo's also has trivia nights and a decent happy hour, which keeps Mizzou students coming in even when there isn’t a game on. The large space means there’s plenty of room for everyone to enjoy, not to mention an outdoor deck for when the weather is nice.


King Avenue 5: Ohio State

You'll be pleasantly surprised with this Ohio State outpost's food selection: Buffalo chicken salad; the Diablo burger with jalapeños, sautéed mushrooms, and bacon; and the meatloaf panini, for starters. That, and a rowdy section of TV's, shuffleboard, and arcade games will do the trick for the crowds of OSU fans. And hey, college is the only acceptable time to order Natty Light -- on tap, no less -- on game day.


Nowhere Bar: Georgia

This bar is loved for its loyal local following, who pack in here every evening to play pool and listen to live music. The bar was opened in 1994 by a former University of Georgia football player who continued to support the football team. It's located across the street from the Georgia Theatre and only a short walk away from the main university area.


Olde Queens Tavern: Rutgers

This place is as old as your grandparents. It opened in 1933, and the tavern knows a thing or two about football. Don't let the name fool you, this sports bar dedicated to Rutgers has all the works: Free limo rides to the games (lest you drive with a few too many under your belt), bloody marys, mimosas, and screwdrivers on special, and the Scarlet Knight crowds.


Posse East: Texas

Texas takes its football seriously, and no one knows that better than the crowd at Posse East. The institution has a 40-plus-year legacy for Longhorn games, and is within a stone's throw of the football stadium. It has won numerous awards, including being named the home of the city's best salty burger and the best restaurant patio/beer garden by the Austin Chronicle.


The Sink: Colorado

This Boulder establishment has been around since 1923 and was featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It consistently turns out excellent food while retaining a dive-y college atmosphere that makes it a popular choice for both students and residents looking for a place to watch the big game. On game nights they serve discounted beers, helping fuel the home team passion. The burger is legendary, as is the pizza, and they’ve just added additional beers on tap that are sure to keep you coming back.


The Swamp: Florida

There's not a better place to watch Florida Gators football than The Swamp. This legendary bar, with its endless drink specials and unique food offerings (Cajun gator tail, anyone?), is located a stone's throw from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, making it a perfect spot for pre- and postgame partying. Playboy named it one of the best college sports bars in 2011.

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For the complete slideshow of Best College Football Bars, including USC, Clemson and more ...
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More Stories At The Daily Meal:
-- America's Best Sports Bars
-- Best and Worst Pre-Workout Drinks
-- Sports Drinks: The Myths Busted
-- Gridiron Drinks: Drinks for Football Season

-- With research and writing from Emilia Morano-Williams 

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