I'm following my blogging colleagues and taking a look back at the five best in-game atmospheres from last season. To be fair, I'm only considering games I attended in 2010.
1. Clemson at Auburn: Not only was this a terrific game, it was prime-time college football atmosphere. Clemson lost 27-24 in overtime, but I remember leaving the stadium thinking, "Wow, Clemson is good enough to do something special in the ACC this year." I really think that loss stuck with them and set the tone for the season. It's also pretty neat to look back and be able to say I saw the national champs play live, but I certainly wasn't figuring Auburn for a title contender after that game.
2. Florida State at Miami: It was the first time I had been greeted at Sun Life Stadium by such a crazy tailgating crowd. I'll never forget it. The traffic was horrendous. People were getting out of their cars and talking trash to each other, unloading coolers on the side of the road. I drove through an already packed parking lot as fans from both schools were yelling at me. And never, ever in all my years of covering college football had I ever seen such garbage left outside the stadium long after the fans had left. If only the game had lived up to the scene outside before it.
3. Virginia Tech vs. Boise State: The game at FedEx Field in Landover, Md., was one of the best all season, and the Hokies showed up in droves, as expected. I tweeted that the atmosphere there was better than what I saw in the Georgia Dome the previous Saturday night for the LSU-Carolina game. I'll never forget the press box literally shaking when "Enter Sandman" began to play.
4. Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech: It's tough to beat Lane Stadium on a Thursday night, especially when the Coastal Division is on the line. This one lived up to the billing, as the Hokies needed David Wilson's 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to get the win. This was also the game that ended the career of Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt, who broke his forearm.
5. Florida State at NC State: Gotta give the Pack faithful credit. This game was a Thursday night thriller. I can still see Christian Ponder fumbling the ball around NC State's 4-yard line in the final minute. Russell Wilson and Nate Irving were the difference-makers and NC State finally turned the corner under Tom O'Brien.
Here are the games I attended in 2010, which were the ones I based this list on:
WEEK 1. LSU vs. UNC in the Georgia Dome and Boise State vs. Virginia Tech
WEEK 2. No game
WEEK 3. Clemson at Auburn
WEEK 4. Miami at Pitt
WEEK 5. Miami at Clemson
WEEK 6. Florida State at Miami
WEEK 7. North Carolina at Virginia
WEEK 8. No game
WEEK 9. Florida State at NC State
WEEK 10. Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech
WEEK 11. Virginia Tech at North Carolina
WEEK 12. Florida State at Maryland
WEEK 13. NC State at Maryland
WEEK 14. ACC championship game