Sidelines Guidelines: How to step up your game for game day

Photo by Devin Arnold / Sidelines Archives

College game day. There’s nothing else in the world like it. Fans all over the country gather together at their respective schools and don the colors to watch their favorite team defeat their rivals.

What makes a game-day in Murfreesboro, Tennessee so unique?

It’s one of the biggest little cities in America (yes, including Reno, Nevada). In Murfreesboro, you can drive around downtown on your way to Floyd Stadium and see the MTSU flags hanging from the front porches of the old southern style homes, while only having to travel 45 minutes from Nashville to get to the stadium. After the game, Murfreesboro’s number of great bars and restaurants will make for a great nightcap after a Blue Raider win.

Here is how to get the most out of your game day experience in “the ‘boro.”

Take your tailgate to Walnut Grove

The best spot to set up shop when you arrive in the morning is Walnut Grove. Walnut Grove is arguably one of the most scenic spots on the Middle Tennessee campus and is a short walking distance from Floyd Stadium. Walnut Grove, which gets its name from the many walnut trees, offers both plenty of shade early in the season on those hot late-summer days and a nice view of the fall leaves falling to the ground mid-season.

Murfreesboro is one of the best places to find some good southern barbecue, and many people like to fire up their grills while tailgating. Since Walnut Grove offers plenty of open space, feel free to tow your smoker to the game if you have one. You will most likely be the most popular tent set up if other fans see the smoked pork.

Some activities that will be taking place in the Grove this coming Saturday when the Raiders host Vanderbilt will include a bounce house and face painting for the kids, a booth to purchase a custom made license plate and a photo booth.

Line the path for the Raiderwalk

Raiderwalk is one of the longest standing traditions at Middle Tennessee.

If you get there early enough, you can be one of the first people to shake hands with the players and coaches as the band plays the MTSU Fight song. Students chant and cheer and get hyped up for the game, and it’s something that players and fans alike truly enjoy.

If you have kids, Raiderwalk is one of the best opportunities that you have to get your kids’ MT gear signed by a player and get pictures with them.

You as a fan can have a good opportunity to have conversations with players and coaches and show how much you care about the program. After all, without the fans in the stands, there would be no Blue Raider game days.

Raiderwalk will be starting at 4:45. To get a good spot in line, we’d recommend getting there at least 30 minutes prior.

Gearing up for the game

Finding good Blue Raider gear can be hard to come by. Here is a list of some stores with links to their that you can find what you need to be the best looking fan in Floyd Stadium.

Alumni Hall

Textbook Brokers

Phillips Bookstore on the campus of MTSU

Academy Sports (Smyrna)

Dicks Sporting goods in the Avenue

RaidersTees

These are just to name a few. Out of a wide variety of things you can wear on game day, what will set you apart from everyone else?

If the weather is nice, any Nike tee is a must. Most Nike shirts are lightweight and with them being the official supplier of Blue Raider athletics, you will be wearing what the players are wearing under their jerseys.

If it’s a cooler night near the end of the season, Nike is again the way to go.  MT hoodie’s will look good by themselves or even with a heavier jacket underneath (if it gets “that cold”) and they also have some nice Blue Raider beanies and other types of warm head-wear.

At the game

Football fans almost have an etiquette on how to watch a football game live. When your offense is on the field, the ideal situation for your team is for them to be able to hear a nacho hit the ground in the stands. When your team is on defense, the people enjoying their evening at the house on Highland Avenue should be able to hear the “Rowdy Raiders” loud and clear.

What we’re trying to say is be loud and have fun. Don’t be embarrassed to stand up and make noise when it’s the time to do so. Being a “smaller school,” it can be hard to generate crowd noise that can help a defense more than you realize. Every decibel goes a long way.

For you as the fan, enjoy a nice cold drink on those warm fall afternoons and during the colder nights grab yourself a cup of coffee or hot cocoa.

One final thought: if you are one of the masses that are sitting in a bleacher style seat during the game, invest in a seat cushion or folding chair at any of the retailers listed above. Try a game without one and a game with one and you’ll see a big difference.

The post game spot

Where should you go celebrate the big win? Murfreesboro has quite a few places that you can go. We’ve narrowed down three of our favorite spots in the ‘boro that are Blue Raider friendly.

The Boulevard Bar and Grille

The Boulevard is located just off campus on the corner of East Main and Middle Tennessee and can be seen from Dr. McPhee’s doorstep.

The Boulevard is arguably the most Middle Tennessee fan friendly environment in town. Right when you walk in the door, you can see a giant wall with an MTSU logo and lettering that reads, “This is Blue Raider country.”

The menu features burgers, pizza, salads and wraps to go along with a wide selection of liquor and beer at the bar.

With The Boulevard being only 15 minutes walking distance from Floyd Stadium, this is the perfect location for you if you aren’t trying to be out all night.

Sam’s Sports Grill

If you are looking for a fun night after the game, Sam’s is the place.

Sam’s has been voted Nashville’s number one sports bar for 14 years in a row and was named one of Maxim magazine’s top 16 sports bars in the nation.

Parent’s, don’t worry. Unlike other places, Sam’s is kid friendly and even offers a kid’s menu.

With choices ranging from chicken to pizza, and 42 inch flat screen televisions with sports on and even MTSU students and alumni working there, Sam’s is definitely worth the money.

Toots

Arguably nothing is better than the Murfreesboro original.

Toots first opened their doors in Murfreesboro in 1985 on Broad Street and has since expanded to include locations on Church Street and Sam Ridley Parkway in Smyrna, Tennessee.

No matter where you are in Rutherford County or even if you are heading out of town, you are likely to stumble upon a Toots location.

Toots is famous for their boneless wings, and with a wide variety of sauces to have them “shaken” in, it makes for a perfect post game meal.

With all the tradition that Toot’s has, you will hear many stories about the Blue Raiders of old while you continue sharing the stories of today’s Blue Raiders in one of Murfreesboro’s most beloved spots.

Follow MTSU sports reporter Anthony Fiorella on Twitter at @A_Fiorella74 for more coverage.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis, email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

For more sports stories, follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter and Periscope at @Sidelines_Sport.

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