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Ranking Pac-12 by Best Pregame Fan Experience

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com

Dan Kilbridge  | 7 mins

Ranking Pac-12 by Best Pregame Fan Experience

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Perfect temperatures, sweeping ocean views, and palm trees aren’t the first thing that comes to mind with college football tailgating. But that’s always been life in the Pac-12, featuring some of the best pregame environments, vibes and college football betting opportunities anywhere in the country.

Sadly, the Pac-12 party looks like it’s coming to an end.

This year will mark the end of the Pac-12 pregame experience as we know it. Washington, Oregon, UCLA and USC are all leaving for the Big Ten next season. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are off to the Big 12. 

The venues will stay the same, but there’s no telling what to expect as the former conference foes go their separate ways and leave the remainder in shambles.
The Pac 12 has long been host to some of the most unique tailgating scenes in the country, from the waterfront scenes in Washington to the big-game atmospheres in Salt Lake City and Eugene. But some schools do it better than others.

RELATED: Ranking Best Big 12 Football Stadium Pre-Game Experience

Bookies.com compiled a rankings list for every Pac-12 school in terms of college football pregame experience. The rankings were assigned from an algorithm based on multiple factors, including:

  • Location: Close to the action, accessible to fans
  • Tailgating: The ability to park and enjoy a fall day with a beverage and grill
  • Entertainment Around Stadium: A vibrant bar and restaurant scene within walking distance to your seat
  • Family Sentiment: Is the area safe and entertaining for kids and those with kids?

Here are all the Pac-12 football stadium pregame destinations, ranked. 

Ranking Pac-12 by Best Pregame Fan Experience 1

12. Washington State

Pullman, Washington isn’t exactly a major destination – especially considering some of the other campuses around the Pac 12. There’s not much in terms of views and it’s not the easiest place to get to. 

Options are limited in terms of restaurants and campus watering holes and there’s not much that helps the Cougars stand out in terms of atmosphere. 

11. UCLA 

First off, we should note that every college football fan needs to visit the Rose Bowl at some point. It’s one of the most iconic venues in sports for good reason and absolutely blows away first-time visitors. Having said that, it doesn’t necessarily translate to a bucket list pregame experience for Bruins fans. 

Traffic is, predictably, a nightmare, as you may have heard about the greater Los Angeles area. There also isn’t a ton in terms of entertainment around the actual venue, which is easily a 45-minute drive or longer from campus. Rose Bowl = Elite. UCLA's gameday atmosphere is underwhelming.

10. Stanford 

Most go to Stanford with the hopes of owning their own tech firm or becoming president or something like that. Chugging beers at 7 a.m. isn’t exactly the main draw for most of the student body, so it stands to reason these aren’t the biggest or wildest tailgates in the country. 

It’s a very family-friendly atmosphere and there’s plenty to do around town, but it’s certainly not a can’t-miss gameday atmosphere. 

9. Arizona 

The Wildcats definitely know how to have a good time. The weather is perfect and sports gambling is legal so placing bets on the Arizona betting apps adds to the fun. You’ll always find a party in Tucson.

The problem is there’s been nothing to celebrate on the gridiron for nearly a decade. Last year’s 5-7 season under Jedd Fisch is a step in the right direction, but you can’t fake a big-game atmosphere. Traffic can be a pain as well and with so much going for the school in general, we don’t feel too bad for Wildcats football diehards. 

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8. USC

There’s big-time football to be played again for the Trojans, who are among the College Football Playoff favorites going into the new season. The problem is they play at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, another beautiful, historic venue that creates some logistical problems for nearby fans and those coming from out of town. 

It’s not a family-friendly environment necessarily and while there are tons of entertainment options, they come with big-city issues like parking and fighting the crowds. 

7. Oregon State 

We give the Beavers high rankings for location, as Reser Stadium is a relatively easy road trip with plenty of major roads and not a ton of traffic. Oregon State also jumped up in our rankings thanks to an improvement in the tailgating scene – that’s what happens when you go 10-3 and everyone gets a taste of what a real gameday with big-time matchups looks like. They lose a few points for lack of nearby entertainment, but overall this is now a well above-average gameday atmosphere. 

RELATED: Ranking SEC Football Stadiums by Best Pregame Fan Experience

6. Arizona State

The Sun Devils are widely considered among the hardest-partying student bodies in the country and it’s hard to blame them. What’s not to love about Tempe in the fall? The football team, it turns out, can actually put a bit of a damper on the proceedings. 

The Sun Devils self-imposed a bowl ban for 2023 and fired coach Herm Edwards early last season amid an eventual 3-9 campaign. There’s no shortage of local entertainment options, and a competitive football team would send the atmosphere soaring once again. 

5. California 

As far as visual appeal goes, the Golden Bears are tough to beat. California Memorial Stadium is surrounded by tall oaks and natural beauty everywhere you look, making for one of the most unique and sought-after tailgating experiences in the country. 

Berkeley also scores big points as a college town, with the type of entertainment you’d expect in the region. There’s also easy access to nearby transportation and anything you could want out of a gameday, aside from maybe the raucous fraternity atmosphere prevalent at a few other schools in the conference. 

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4. Utah

Salt Lake City isn’t a notorious party town by any means, but they do it right on gameday with plenty of room for tailgating right outside the stadium. This is another beautiful stadium high up in the mountains, it’s fun for the whole family. We haven’t even mentioned the fact that the Utes have consistently been one of the top teams in the country for years, and they continue to scratch at the CFP door with star quarterback Cameron Rising back for 2023. 

3. Colorado

There’s very little separation among the top Pac-12 schools. They each offer something unique, especially compared to what you’ll find throughout the Midwest and other parts of the country. Colorado certainly fits the bill. Boulder is an excellent college town with a laid-back attitude toward just about everything, but there’s renewed excitement around the football program with Deion Sanders in town. Beverages and other substances flow freely and Folsom Field remains an iconic venue ripe for a Buffalos revitalization. We’ll see if Primetime can deliver. 

2. Oregon

The Ducks finally lost a home game for the first time since 2018 last season, but it’s not putting a damper on the party in Eugene. Oregon is doing it big one final time before heading to the Big Ten, and there’s everything you could ask for in a gameday experience. 

It’s a strong communal tailgate and a pleasant family atmosphere. There aren’t a ton of bars or restaurants within walking distance, but with a gameday scene like this, you really don’t need to venture too far from Autzen Stadium. 

1. Washington

The Huskies remain on top of our Pac 12 pregame experience rankings as they too prepare to jump ship to the Big Ten. They’ll likely go out with a bang, coming off an 11-2 season with star quarterback Michael Penix back for 2023. 

Lake Washington provides some of the best views anywhere, for those lucky enough to find their way to some type of vessel party on the open waters all morning and afternoon prior to kickoff. There’s plenty of entertainment to be found with Seattle nearby, it’s fun for the whole family and overall the best tailgating experience you’ll find throughout the conference. 

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About the Author

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com
Dan Kilbridge
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge writes about college football, MLB and other sports for Bookies.com after spending three years covering Tiger Woods’ comeback and the PGA for Golfweek.