After nine months of wandering aimlessly without any real football, forced to get our fix through the decision making of 18 year olds, spring practices, Canadian football and God forbid baseball (I don’t understand you people) real football is here. Saturday Dawg fans will make a short run up 85 to the loveliest village with a lake which by 8:00 will turn into the epicenter of the football universe. I’m really looking forward to this trip, not only because it is the first game of the year but because I love starting the season on the road and I love non conference road trips. Yes some would say NW State school for the deaf nuns would be an easier game and UGA’s national title run can make or break in the first game but that happens every week with every game. I love a good non conference game because we don’t normally have a reason to hate the other fan base so everyone is a little more friendly and you can just enjoy the atmosphere. This summer I have been able to spend a few weekends in Clemson and learned that the Auburn by the lake joke has some truth to it. Clemson is a tiny town along the interstate with ag roots, dedication to football, great small town and just replace kids from Marietta with Yankees, trailer parks with a lake and you wouldn’t know the difference.
Who: Clemson Univeristy
Where: Clemson, South Carolina
Stadium: Memorial Stadium, seats 81,500, natural grass
Distance: 79.9 miles from Sanford Stadium and is 4 miles closer as the crow flies than Bobby Dodd
How to get there: 441 North to I-85, exit on SC-187 to US-76 and get comfortable cause you’ll be there a while.
In Clemson: What makes Clemson such a great college small town leaves us with some pros and cons come game day. It is a tiny town with only three ways in and three ways out but once you are in there is plenty to do. If you get to town early enough and don’t mind fighting the crowd Pot Belly Deli has a great breakfast, if you come up closer to lunch you will not go wrong stopping in at the Smokin Pig. And if you want to do a tailgate right, there is a Bojangles in Seneca and Clemson. If you think you can fit in a round of golf Saturday morning or Sunday after the game I’ve been told the Walker course is a great golf course and if you want to enjoy the lake then there are four boat ramps near the stadium and you can enjoy the lake in the morning and the game that afternoon.
But honestly most of us going want to know how to get into town, where to park, what bars are around and how to get out. Well, back to my first point. Clemson is a university that has only enough space surrounding it to provide basic necessities. There are three roads leading in and after the games fewer ways out. Actually I went ahead and applied for SC citizenship cause I might still be sitting in traffic this time next week. I plan on coming in from Pendleton and parking at the Botanical Gardens which is a thirty minute walk to the stadium but also closer to I-85 when I’m leaving. Below I’ve posted a map with the four university general parking options but you may also be able to pay for a spot in one of the local businesses downtown if you get in early enough. Once you’re in town, game day will be on campus and there are a couple of bars downtown but they will be heavy on college kids. There is the iconic Esso Club, Mellow Mushroom, Tiger Town Tavern and DT’s. For food Pot Belly Deli is good, Palmettos restaurant is nice and serves beer and Grouch O’s has good sandwiches.
No matter what you choose you can’t go wrong. Football season has started, enjoy the day and the company, pick up some fried chicken or bbq, deviled eggs and cold beer. And as Lewis would say, “Dear Lord, bless all those not as fortunate as I.” Because on Saturday I will be in Clemson to watch Georgia play and I can’t think of anything better. Go Dawgs.