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Students travel to Tennessee fotball game

Katie Perry | Friday, November 5, 2004

Notre Dame students are touted as some of the best college football fans in the nation, and as will be proved this weekend, with good reason. Countless Domers will hit the road today on the 500-mile trek to Knoxville, Tenn., not only hoping to witness an Irish upset, but also to experience the atmosphere of a quintessential southern college football game.

One die-hard making the eight-hour journey is second-year law student Sean Seymour. Ironically, Seymour received his undergraduate degree from Tennessee before coming to Notre Dame for post-graduate work. Seymour’s connection to both schools provides some incentive to attend the game, but most of his motivation stems from knowing the thrill of going to a Tennessee football game.

“SEC football is totally different from ND football in that southern football is a part of the social fabric of the South,” Seymour said. “Some fans actually attend the games in their Sunday best.”

Unlike Seymour, senior Pete Mahoney will experience southern football for this first time this Saturday.

“It’s such a honor to go to this game because I know that given the amount of fans that Tennessee brings, it will be a great atmosphere,” he said.

Although cheering the Irish “onward to victory” is always a top priority for a Notre Dame student, Mahoney admits that he will likely enjoy himself regardless of the game’s outcome. For him, part of the fun of going to an away game is experiencing the idiosyncrasies of other colleges.

“I hear Tennessee has a great ‘strip’ so [my friends and I] are excited to check out what a real college town is like,” Mahoney said.

Senior Matt Wooldridge is a veritable expert on the ins-and-outs of Notre Dame’s opponent schools. The Knott Hall resident assistant has attended every Irish road game this year and is actively planning his trip to USC for the regular season closer.

“It’s been a really fun fall semester, albeit a costly one,” he said.

While Wooldridge has seen numerous campuses across the country this year, he is still galvanized by the mystique of the Tennessee football experience.

“I’m really looking forward to the experience at Neyland Stadium,” he said. “I’m

told it’s among the best college football atmospheres in the country.”

Sports Illustrated On Campus would agree. In their September issue, Knoxville was named the best college football town in the country. Though Notre Dame ranked fifth on the list, many Notre Dame students were eager to go the extra mile – or several hundred miles – to experience an entirely different brand of collegiate football.

Tickets for the game against the highly-ranked Volunteers were few and far between, so students had to rely on obscure connections and extreme measures to ensure seats in the 108,000 capacity stadium.

Seymour, for example, purchased his tickets through eBay. Wooldridge received them through a friend who is a varsity athlete at Tennessee. The drawback: his seat is in the Vols heated student section.

“I might decide to wear my Knott Hall orange rather than my Notre Dame green,” he said.