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Football Saturday in Neyland Stadium: the stuff of goosebumps

CBS SportsLine's Clay Travis has embarked upon what he's calling the Dixieland Delight College Football Tour.  First stop, Tennessee-Cal at Neyland Stadium:

. . . . Even though we are only about a 100 miles outside of Nashville, the Vanderbilt game is nowhere to be found on the radio dial. "Unbelievable," says my wife, a current Vanderbilt grad student and a Michigan graduate. We do, however, manage to find approximately 15 radio stations discussing the UT-Cal game which will start in about 6 hours.

. . . . All around us, I-40 is like a huge Vol fandom slide ending in Knoxville. We pass car after car bedecked with Tennessee flags, Tennessee stickers and orange-clad drivers. . . . I-40 East on game day is like a non-circular Daytona track.

. . . . This is always said but it bears repeating. On game day, Neyland Stadium alone is the fourth largest city in the state of Tennessee. . . .

. . . . The band covers the field and the anticipation is building around me. When the band turns and begins their march toward the other end zone, the crowd's roar commences. When the "T" is split and the Vols come rushing out onto the field, there is just one large sound. It is so loud it almost seems as if I can hear nothing at all.

For the best approximation of what it's like to actually be there, play both these YouTubes at the same time.
. . . .  The Vols get another stop and then three plays later, Erik Ainge uncorks a perfect pass to a streaking Jayson Swain and, unbelievably, the underdog Vols are leading 28-0. Just that fast. Junaid and I are both speechless. The crowd is a roiling mass of orange excitement. It's like the largest Southern mosh pit you have ever seen.

. . . . The Vol defense gets another stop and then red shirt freshman Montario Hardesty breaks about 15 tackles en route to a 45-yard touchdown run. This seals the deal. Delirium descends in a veil of orange madness all around me. All is bedlam.

. . . . The crowd begins to chant, "SEC, SEC, SEC ... " There is no other conference more proud of itself than the SEC. SEC fans hate each other with a passion bordering on the pathological, but when success arrives, it is embraced not just for the winning team but for the conference at large. I suspect there are many reasons for this, not least the feeling among Southerners that the rest of the country just doesn't understand us and seeks opportunities to malign us. But on this night, the cheer rises into the darkened skies and washes down upon the orange-clad masses like the most refreshing shower imaginable. The losses of 2005 are behind us and another football season has begun anew.

cstv.com is doing something similar -- Mission SEC Football -- and has the stats to back it up:

And as for the Rocky Top stats....

# of times we've heard Rocky Top: Amazingly, 133 times
# of times Glenn has sung it randomly: countless...at least 25 times, but no exact number is available on just the times he's sung it.
# of different ways we've heard Rocky Top: 11 different ways, the newest being a ringtone on Bobby Fischer's (Bread Box/Conoco gas station) cell phone.

Don't miss their description of their first trip to Neyland.  An excerpt:

First, you really can't describe the size of the crowd. I could say it was a sea of orange, but that's a total understatement. Even saying it was an ocean of orange doesn't say it just right. The feeling is more or less like a mass exodus of people from their cars, houses, apartments, or wherever they came from, entering Neyland Stadium as if they were drawn to it magnetically.

The noise level brings a new definition of deafening. When Cal took the field, it was as if anyone dressed in white and blue had committed the most heinous crime ever to be committed on the face of the Earth. The boos echoed past the stadium and down the Smoky Mountains, telling everyone from Knoxville to North Carolina that there were unwelcome visitors in their house. When Tennessee took the field, it was as if everyone in that stadium had found out they won the lottery...at the same time. People were screaming, jumping up and down, hugging others beside them, almost in awe of these collegiate men of orange taking the field.

The view from Rocky Top is not only breathtaking at first glance, it is instantly addicting.  The stuff of goosebumps.