Michigan State University Spartans
Though Michigan State is better known as of late for its basketball teams, its football fans are no less ardent and enthusiastic than any others. The rivalries with hated Michigan and Notre Dame keep the town rambunctious during the fall. Back in the mid-1960s, Michigan State was on top of the college football world with a fearsome defense led by Bubba Smith, he of beer commercial fame, and the rangy George Webster. Gene Washington and Herb Adderley are other famous alumni. Michigan State’s style of ball today is best exemplified by wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Charles Rogers, strong and tall players who are adept at wrestling the ball away from the skilled defensive backs that seem in endless supply in the Big Ten.
Southern Michigan is one of the best places in the United States to indulge in a variety of excellent beer. Many of the breweries have a beer bar where patrons can get a fresh pint or bottled beer to go. Most have an extensive selection of seasonals. Whether tailgating or hosting a party, you’ll find the selection of brews awesome. Fill your cooler with New Holland in Holland, Arcadia in Battle Creek, and Founders in Grand Rapids. Then guard it carefully.
University of Minnesota Golden Gophers
The University of Minnesota has in recent years fielded some entertaining, if not powerful, football teams. They give the Michigans and Ohio States of the world fits when they meet. But UM has produced some of the toughest and best athletes ever to play college football and has five alumni in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Perhaps the perfect gridiron name ever came from UM. Bronislaw “Bronko” Nagurski was a one-man wrecking crew for the Gophers in the late 1920s. He was the epitome of toughness and essentially defined football of the era. Bud Grant, who starred in three sports at the university, was a stoic but beloved ambassador for Minnesota football. Quintessentially Minnesotan, he spends his time now mostly hunting and fishing. Carl Eller, Bobby Bell, and Leo Nomellini were also among the best of their era. The bitter rivalry with Wisconsin transfers to the pro league, where the Vikings and Packers battle twice annually.
UM sits in the “land of sky blue water,” with dozens of glacial lakes scattered around the Twin Cities. The Cities are vivacious year-round and the social scene is vibrant. Not to be missed is the Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery. Within walking distance of the university and the football stadium, it is quickly becoming as celebrated as Minnesota’s legendary gridiron stars. The Masala Mama IPA may be the best selection, but a range of excellent brews awaits. Some are cask ales, some are Belgian, and all are delectable. For cooler fodder, look for bottled Summit brews. The porter, IPA, EPA and malty Oktoberfest are definitely tailgate-worthy.