• Find out the tailgate policies for the venue by calling the ticket office. Some designate certain areas of the campus; some require reservations or season passes.

• Give yourself plenty of time to set up and clean up, so you don't miss the kick-off. Depending on what you're serving, you should allow an hour to set up and cook, another hour to eat and enjoy, and at least a half-hour to clean up and pack up.

• First-timers should start with a simple menu. Don't try to deep-fry turkey or roast a suckling pig over a spit.

• If you're doing a potluck, be clear about arrival times. Assign pals who are always late to bring dessert or items that don't need cooking.

• Follow good food safety habits: Keep hot foods hot, cold foods cold and wash your hands after handling raw meat.

• Check the weather report. If it's going to be hot, find a location with lots of shady trees. If it's going to be cold, opt for chili and hot chocolate.

• Universities often host a pre-game tailgate meal, if you want to enjoy food and festivities without the hassle.