Hit the road with Illinois football

By Meghan Montemurro

Whether you weren’t able to secure those Fighing Illini home football tickets or you just want another opportunity to catch the Orange and Blue in action, road trips to away games can be the perfect solution and a great time.

Of course, there are monetary factors to consider, which include the price of tickets, gas, other traveling expenses and a hotel room for destinations that require an overnight stay. The Illini’s 2008 schedule features six road games spanning all across the Midwest. Those looking to stay close to Champaign need to drive north for a few hours to Evanston, Ill., to watch the Wildcats battle Illinois.

For fans wanting to experience a true road trip, consider a visit to Happy Valley, Pa., as the Illini face off against Penn State. While the trek requires traveling more than 650 miles and 10 hours, it is a night game. The Nittany Lions announced the matchup would be their white out game – where all fans wear white – a sight that can be intimidating to opponents while enhancing the opposing team’s colors in the stands.

Fans have multiple options when purchasing road tickets. The Illinois Athletic Ticket Office offers tickets in an allotted Orange and Blue section; however, ticket availability varies for each game. An attendant at the Illinois Athletic Ticket Office said the games against Missouri, Penn State, Michigan and Wisconsin have already sold out through the University. Web sites such as stubhub.com and eBay.com afford fans the chance to buy tickets even after games have sold out, though it will cost more; eBay.com tends to have lower ticket prices at the start of a sale because it is an auction Web site.

The 2008 State Farm Arch Rivalry against Missouri, which will be featured on ESPN, was already sold out as of July 22.

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“The excitement surrounding the Illinois and Missouri football programs is taking the game to a whole new level,” said Kathleen Ratcliffe, president of the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission. “We’re looking forward to the incredible atmosphere the matchup will create throughout downtown and inside the Edward Jones Dome on Aug. 30.”

For fans without tickets who still wish to experience the atmosphere, tailgating is an option and a must for any fan that chooses to go on a road trip. Things to bring include a small, portable grill and subsequent grilling food and beverages in coolers, portable chairs and games, and everything and anything that shows support for the Orange and Blue.

There are some important things to keep in mind when going on road trips. If driving to the venue, try to take a car that offers the best gas mileage in order to save money. Also, the more the merrier; traveling and tailgating with a large group of friends can not only be a lot of fun, but it also is cheaper to divide costs among more people.