College football in the Carolinas may not have the cachet of some other regions, but the experience is still a special part of each autumn. There are big-time places with 80,000 fans crowded into stadiums and smaller spots where the stakes aren't as high but the passion still runs deep. Observer sports columnist Ron Green Jr. picked five Carolinas college football destinations worth checking out:
CLEMSON'S MEMORIAL STADIUM: They already argue enough in the Palmetto State about which program is best, so we won't add fuel to the Clemson-USC fire. They're both outstanding. One of the sport's great traditions is seeing the Tigers run down the hill into the stadium just before kickoff on Saturdays. ( www.clemson.edu)
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA'S WILLIAMS-BRICE STADIUM: If you've never experienced Southeastern Conference football, you need to see the Gamecocks play. Traffic is a bear, but once inside the stadium you'll be glad you're there. When they play the theme from "2001" as the team hits the field, you'll understand the excitement. ( www.sc.edu)
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APPALACHIAN STATE'S KIDD BREWER STADIUM: They call it "The Rock," and it's home to a college football dynasty. Depending on the time of year, you may get to sit amid the mountains' autumn splendor or you could be bundled up as snow flurries fall. Either way, it's worth the trip to Boone. ( www.appstate.edu)
EAST CAROLINA'S DOWDY-FICKLEN STADIUM: Down east, going to see the Pirates play is a big part of the ECU experience. They take their football seriously in and around Greenville, N.C., where purple-and-gold shows up everywhere. Make sure to sample the local barbecue, true Eastern N.C. style. ( www.ecu.edu)
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA'S KENAN STADIUM: In the middle of campus and tucked among trees that peek over the stadium edges, it's one of the prettiest settings in college football. ( www.unc.edu)