Fri Nov 14 09:56am EST
Believe it or not, Maryland still controls its own fate re: the ACC Championship game, making Saturday's showdown with North Carolina a battle of unlikely division frontrunners -- one of which won't be in first place by the end of the day. The stakes are high, but at least Holly Anderson's weekly tailgating guide is here to ensure stress-free partying in College Park for the rest of the weekend.
We're moving out of the SEC for the first time in weeks, so novice tailgaters may relax their guards, loosen their standards a little. Don't be fooled, however -- these Terps, though a little more laid-back than what you may be used to in the South, are capable of concocting cream-and-seafood based food products that won't land you in the hospital in a tailgate setting, and as such deserve your respect.
Kickoff's not until 3:30, and you could do a lot worse than spending the morning just wandering around the gorgeous College Park campus. Prime tailgating spots go fast, but we recommend heading over to the business school: There's more space, better stadium proximity, and bathrooms are close. There's also a lovely stretch of green and an oak alley in front of the library, which is an ideal place to let the kiddies roam free, or to let the dirty, desperate hippie that you keep chained inside yourself out for a few minutes to breathe, you cold corporate bastard. There are huge turtle statues placed around campus. See if you can find the ones painted like Old Bay Seasoning and Edgar Allan Poe.
A word about those turtles: If you see a statue of a turtle, or a person dressed as a turtle, or an actual live turtle, pet its nose. If you don't, the Terps will lose. Almost as importantly, the Terps fans surrounding you will remove your entrails and use them as a decorative wreath for aforementioned turtle. In related information, Maryland state law prohibits open alcohol containers on public property.
Not to be missed: "Terp Alley," taking place a couple hours before kickoff. The team makes its way to the Field House accompanied by the band, a large, writhing turtle mascot, and, in fair weather, some of the most trashily-attired cheer/dance creatures we have ever seen. (Yeah, it's November, but maybe their ponchos will be short. Right?) This is your best opportunity to fulfill that lifelong dream of having Ralph Friedgen sweat splattered on your person at close range. Capture that dream, gentle readers. Capture it.
What to Wear
A turtle costume, if you're of a mind to be petted. Otherwise, again, it's probably gonna rain, so pack your plastic couture. For guidance in this matter, see the enthusiastic gentlemen of Friedgen's Legions:
Helmets not required. Recommended, obviously, but not required.
• Ratsie's Terrapin Eatery, 7400 Baltimore Ave. A pizza joint that does not, despite its excellent name, serve turtle in any form.
• Plato's Diner, 7150 Baltimore Ave. Open 24 hours on the weekends in case you need post-bar sustenance or Sunday breakfast (if there's a difference).
• This website. (Just go ahead and take a long lunch and settle in with this delightful toy. Thank me later.)
• In all seriousness for just a second, whatever you do at the tailgate itself? Save room for some Boardwalk Fries with apple vinegar inside the stadium.
• Varsity Grille, 8424 Baltimore Avenue. This place is pretty new, but can you go that wrong with a sports bar on a fall Saturday? Nah.
• Cornerstone, 7325 Baltimore Ave. Ostensibly the largest sports bar in College Park.
• Santa Fe Cafe, 4410 Knox Road. This place touts itself as the largest bar in town, period, which must create some friction with the Cornerstone. We suggest somehow playing the rivals off each other in the fine Old Line State tradition -- think Stringer Bell's move against Omar and Brother Mouzone in Season Two of The Wire -- although we hope it ends better for you in the end than it did for String. (*sniffle*)
What to Drink
The Maryland Bloody Mary: Throw some Old Bay in your morning cocktail for an Atlantic coast classic. Oh, and did we mention? Fear the Turtle, y'all.
- - -
Big ups to Maryland überfan Joan Williams and the crew of Testudo Times. Holly is a Tennessee-born writer and digital film editor based in Los Angeles, associate editor of Every Day Should Be Saturday, and 1/15 of the PtF coven. She welcomes your adulation and scorn at nastinchka-at-yahoo, etc.