The Best Tailgate Recipe to Make for Your College Football Team

These schools take football — and tailgating! — seriously. Prove that you're a superfan with pregame grub that's meaningful to your college or state.

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Photo By: Matt Armendariz

Photo By: Matt Armendariz

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Cheer On Your Team with ... Food!

Maybe you always wear your team's jersey when you tailgate. Or maybe you sing the fight song at the top of your lungs. Or maybe you even paint your face or dress up like your school's mascot. That's all amazing, but we tailgating experts over here have another suggestion: Do not overlook how the food can help you celebrate your team! The right recipe can represent your state, showcase a local delicacy or make alums feel nostalgic for their days on campus. Food Network Kitchen matched the perfect recipe to each of these top college football schools, so you can carry on a tailgating tradition (or start a new one!) this season.

University of Iowa: Barbecue Turkey Legs

Many a Hawkeye alum will fondly remember singular Chuck Ford hawking (har har) his Big A-- Turkey Legs at Iowa tailgates. Food Network Kitchen's version of the mammoth drumstick starts in the oven, but it can then be popped into a cooler and transported to your tailgate for finishing on the grill.

Get the Recipe: Barbecued Turkey Legs

Penn State: Stickies

Made famous by Ye Olde College Diner at Penn State, this is a shortcut version of the sticky-sweet breakfast (and late-night) food that students love. You can get pretty close to the real thing with a tube of cinnamon roll dough (really!), first twisted and baked in a loaf pan, then griddled with some butter. Make it at home when you're feeling nostalgic for your campus days.

Get the Recipe: Cinnamon Roll Stickies

Ole Miss: Fried Chicken

Though rival fans might not want to hear it, The Grove at Ole Miss claims the title for hosting the biggest, brassiest college-football tailgate in the nation. And Jane Foster, organizer of The Grove's famous Zebra Tent, tells it like it is: "You can't do a tailgate without fried chicken," she says.

Get the Recipe: Classic Fried Chicken

Louisiana State University: Gumbo

At a Louisiana tailgate, expect to see giant stockpots with bubbling batches of gumbo, ready for ladling into bowls for a hungry crowd. This recipe is loaded with chicken, andouille sausage and shrimp, and it's finished with traditional gumbo file.

Get the Recipe: Gumbo

Arizona State: Pork Chimichangas

Once upon a time in Tucson (somewhere between the 1920s and 1950s), a burrito was dropped into a fryer, giving birth to the beloved chimichanga. The origin story is disputable: Perhaps it was an accident, or perhaps this Tex-Mex reinvention was intentional. Either way, Arizonans everywhere love to enjoy them on game day and every day — even Sun Devil fans in Tempe (whose rivals are at the University of Arizona in Tucson!).

Get the Recipe: Pork Chimichangas

University of Wisconsin: Beer Bratwursts

You can't go wrong with beer and brats at a Badgers game. In this recipe, the bratwurst is simmered with beer, onion, garlic and spices, then grilled and basted with butter and even more of the simmering liquid for extra flavor.

Get the Recipe: Beer Bratwursts

Ohio State: Buckeyes

Fans of Buckeye football love celebrating with the sweet that shares a name with their team. If you're not near campus to grab a peanut-butter-and-chocolate treat from Buckeye Donuts, this recipe for classic buckeyes will surely satisfy.

Get the Recipe: Buckeyes

University of Alabama: Grilled Chicken with Alabama White Barbecue Sauce

Alabama barbecue traditionally has a distinctive white sauce made with mayo, vinegar and horseradish — and spiked with a little hot sauce for zip. Place the chicken in a beer-based brine with garlic and a bay leaf at least eight hours before you start grilling to ensure a flavorful meat that pairs well with the sauce.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Chicken with Alabama White Barbecue Sauce

Florida State: Honey Fried Chicken Bites

A lauded dish in the FSU dining hall (especially among the football players), honey fried chicken is served the Monday after a Seminole victory. Not to mention, it might have convinced the No. 1 2017 defensive tackle prospect to sign with FSU. Food Network Kitchen's version of the dish is irresistibly sticky and saucy — and bite-sized for parties.

Get the Recipe: Honey Fried Chicken Bites

University of Southern California: Carne Asada Tacos

You might not be able to get Trojan fans to call the restaurant El Huero by name (they'll always use its original name, Chano's). But you certainly can get them to scarf down one of the 24/7 Mexican-American drive-thru's carne asada tacos. Food Network Kitchen's version is topped with guacamole and grilled scallions for extra fresh flavor.

Get the Recipe: Carne Asada Tacos

University of Tennessee: Chili Cheese Dog

If you cheer on the Vols in Neyland Stadium, chances are you've made a beeline for the arena's outpost of Petro's and picked up the signature chili-and-cheese-covered Frito pie. For something even heartier, chili cheese dogs (topped with tomatoes, sour cream and green onions, if you like) are also on order. When you make them at home, serve 'em with Fritos for the full Volunteer experience.

Get the Recipe: Chili Cheese Dogs

Clemson: Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Students and alums love to swing by Henry's Smokehouse to pick up chopped pork sandwiches on the way to the game at Clemson. But if you can't get there in person, you can re-create the experience with this slow-cooker recipe. Start cooking in the morning, and you'll have tender pork (ready to be topped with your favorite barbecue sauce and coleslaw, if you like) by kickoff.

Get the Recipe: Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork Sandwiches

University of Washington: Grilled Salmon in a Foil Pack

Husky fans give tailgating a nautical twist — they can sailgate, thanks to Lake Washington, which sits right behind the stadium. And you're bound to see a lot of grilled salmon on their menus. Director of athletic communications Jeff Bechthold says grilling the fish in a foil pack with onion, lemon and Italian seasoning is a popular (and easy!) way to make the dish.

Get the Recipe: Grilled Salmon in a Foil Pack

University of Oklahoma: Queso

If you're a University of Oklahoma graduate, you've probably sat down at The Mont for a drink and a generous helping of the restaurant's famous four-cheese queso dip. The Mont is currently owned by three alumni, and the dip (which inspired this recipe) is loaded with pico de gallo and chunks of browned sausage. It's the perfect snack for halftime.

Get the Recipe: Chili con Queso

Texas A&M: Southern-Style Brisket

There might be no place finer to enjoy some barbecue brisket than in Texas. Our at-home version lets you slowly smoke enough for a crowd of Aggie fans on your grill.

Get the Recipe: Southern-Style Brisket

Auburn University: Easy Boozy Lemonade Pie

If you're a Tiger fan, you've probably waited in line for a sip of the popular tart lemonade at Toomer's Drugs. For your next tailgate, we suggest you dial up that tradition a little bit and make a frozen pie with a graham cracker crust, lemon sorbet and (hello!) lemon-flavored vodka. Prep it in the morning (it takes only 10 minutes) and it'll be chilly and ready to slice by game time.

Get the Recipe: Easy Boozy Lemonade Pie

University of Michigan: Detroit-Style Pizza

Ann Arbor might be 40 miles from Detroit, but the city's venerable pan pizza (complete with crispy, cheesy edges and lots of tangy sauce) can be found near the university at the beloved Cottage Inn Pizza. This homemade recipe will satisfy your craving on game day if you can't get to the real thing.

Get the Recipe: Detroit-Style Pizza

Oklahoma State: Cowboy Caviar

Thank Oklahoma for this easy, bright and tangy salad — which is just too perfect not to make for a Cowboy tailgate. It's made with one of the state's staple crops, black-eyed peas (or cowpeas as some in the Sooner State like to say). With bursts of corn, tomato and pepper, it's a salad that can be served cold or at room temperature, making it perfect for a party.

Get the Recipe: Cowboy Caviar

University of Georgia: Pimento Cheese-Stuffed Corn Muffins

You can thank Georgia's pimento production in the first half of the 1900s for making this addicting cheese a national favorite — and these days you can hardly have a proper Southern tailgate without it. Here, instead of slathering corn muffins (another hallmark of the South) with the creamy-sharp spread, we decided to stuff them with it. The cheesy center is a welcome surprise.

Get the Recipe: Pimento Cheese-Stuffed Corn Muffins

University of Florida: Gatorade Margarita

Gator fans happily anticipate the Florida-Georgia game each season — the rivalry is such a big deal that the festivities are unofficially known as the The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. And this twist on a margarita celebrates another Florida claim to fame, as well; Gatorade was invented as an electrolyte-replenishing drink for the school's football players in 1965. Gatorade's electric hues have been a sporting staple ever since, so toast the team with this cheeky (and surprisingly delicious) cocktail.

Get the Recipe: Gatorade Margarita

University of Nebraska: Hand-Held Meat Pies

If you're a Cornhusker, you've probably had one of these meat pies — often called a bierock or Runza (also the name of a restaurant chain that serves them). These buttery palm-sized dough pockets encase a peppery browned beef, cabbage and onion filling. Great made ahead and heated up, they are built to travel; they'll fly off the table at your tailgate.

Get the Recipe: Nebraska Handheld Meat Pies

University of Louisville: Hot Browns

If this classic Louisville dish was hearty enough to satiate guests after a night of dancing at the Brown Hotel in the 1920s, it's definitely cheesy and meaty enough for a crowd of hungry Cardinals fans.

Get the Recipe: Louisville Hot Browns

University of Oregon: Cheesy Bacon-Tater Tot Pie

If, as an Oregon student, you loved digging into a plate of cheesy bacon Tots at Rennie's before a Ducks game, this at-home version will take you right back to campus. This recipe couldn't be quicker or easier — so you'll have no problem making a second batch for your friends after the first one disappears in the blink of an eye.

Get the Recipe: Cheesy Bacon-Tater Tot Pie

West Virginia University: Pepperoni Rolls

The pepperoni roll is a West Virginia tradition that dates back to the early 1900s, when Italian immigrants ate them while working in the coal mines. Today these pepperoni-and-cheese-stuffed pockets can be found in convenience stores across the Mountain State, and a platter of 'em would surely empty quickly at a tailgate. The soft rolls have a large chunk of pepperoni in the center (great for serious meat lovers — or those with a Mountaineer-sized appetite!).

Get the Recipe: Pepperoni Rolls

University of South Carolina: Carolina-Style Barbecue Chicken

Even if you're not lucky enough to tailgate in one of the famous Cockabooses, you can still have a blast rooting for the Gamecocks with this classic chicken recipe. Mustard, vinegar and brown sugar come together to make a South Carolina-style barbecue sauce that tastes great on juicy grilled chicken thighs.

Get the Recipe: Carolina-Style Barbecue Chicken

University of Texas: Texas BBQ Braised Beef Brisket

Rubbed with a mixture of paprika, brown sugar and cayenne, then slowly smoked on an outdoor grill, this is about as close as you can get to your favorite barbecue joint's recipe at home. And all tailgaters will clamor extra braising sauce to pour over their brisket slices — so don't skimp.

Get the Recipe: Texas BBQ Braised Beef Brisket

Notre Dame: Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

This Indiana favorite features a crispy pork cutlet so wide no bun can contain it! Piled high with lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles, it's an over-the-top dish perfect for celebrating the Midwest and the Fighting Irish — especially if you can't make it back to campus to buy burgers, hot dogs and, of course, Knights of Columbus steak sandwiches from the game-day stalls.

Get the Recipe: Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

University of Arkansas: Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Even though their mascot is a hog, Razorback fans can surely be found enjoying pork ribs (an Arkansas favorite) on game day. Food Network Kitchen's baby back recipe gets covered in a spicy, brown-sugar rub before getting smoked on the grill.

Get the Recipe: Smoked Baby Back Ribs

Boise State: Idaho-Style Finger Steaks

Chicken fingers' meatier, bolder cousins are an Idaho classic you'd be hard-pressed to find outside the Gem State. Dip 'em in barbecue sauce or cocktail sauce while cheering on the Broncos — just don't even think about calling them "steak fingers."

Get the Recipe: Idaho-Style Finger Steaks