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College Football Tailgate Quality Criteria

College football and meteorology fandoms often appear to have a significant overlap. This is likely due to the large pipeline of university meteorology programs from schools that also have rich football traditions. Perhaps the love of the outdoors also contributes to the overlap. Each week to satisfy this crossover, AtmoLife rates the tailgating experiences for the upcoming weekend’s slate of college football match-ups. Our tailgate ratings, based on a combination of weather and match-up qualities, will help you make informed decisions on which tailgates, if any, you should attend. It’s worth noting that we only rate FBS vs. FBS match-ups. There’s a lot of games out there to rate, and we don’t take kindly to your alma mater wasting our time by scheduling cupcakes. Below is our criteria for rating the tailgate weather quality and match-up quality.

Weather Quality Rating (out of 5)

Temperature, precipitation, and wind are the main weather factors we examine when rating how pleasant a tailgating experience will be. A calm, sunny day with typical fall temperatures is the ideal outdoor experience. Cloud cover is also important, and for the warmer forecasts, humidity may also sneak into our rating factors. For particularly heavy rainfall or strong wind forecasts, the weather quality rating (and possibly even the match-up quality rating) can be tweaked at our discretion.


  • 2 points: Temperatures between 55 and 75 °F. Ideal fall temps!
  • 1 point: Temperatures between 40 and 55 or 75 and 90 °F. Not perfect, but still comfortable if there’s low wind/humidity and you dress right.
  • 0 points: All other temperatures. Only the most dedicated fans enjoy tailgating in these conditions.

Precip/Cloud Cover

  • 2 points: < 50% cloud cover (and no precipitation). Just lovely.
  • 1 point: ≥ 50% cloud cover but no precipitation. No biggie.
  • 0 points: Precipitation occurring. Unfortunately, great FOOTBAW WEATHER ain’t the same as great tailgating weather.


  • 1 point: Winds below 15 knots. Your food plates aren’t blowing around.
  • 0 points: Winds above 15 knots. Your nearly empty bean-dip plate just made friends with your neighbor’s face!

Match-up quality rating (out of 5, but can easily be 6 or 7!)

The quality of the match-up is also vital to the tailgating experience. Good games sell tickets, and sold tickets fill parking lots. Our match-up quality rating criteria is certainly more ambiguous than our weather-related opinions, but the formula is still simple. We determine which teams belong in which tier of competitiveness (good, mediocre, butt). Teams are placed in tiers on a week-to-week basis entirely at our discretion. Afterward, the stakes of the game are evaluated to see if it is worthy of any bonus points. Point deductions may also occur for a particularly stupid match-up.


  • 5 points: Good team vs. good team. 2 points for each team being good, and 1 point for an intra-tier match-up.
  • 3 points: Good team vs. mediocre team. 2 points for the good team. 1 point for the mediocre team.
  • 3 points: Mediocre team vs. mediocre team: 1 point for each team being mediocre, and 1 point for an intra-tier match-up.
  • 2 points: Good team vs. butt team. 2 points for the good team. Zero points for the butt team.
  • 1 point: Mediocre team vs. butt team. 1 point for the mediocre team. Zero points for the butt team.
  • 1 point: Butt team vs. butt team. Zero points for each team being butt, but 1 point for an intra-tier match-up.

Some teams often find themselves ambiguously between tiers, in which case we’ll adjust the competitiveness score up or down a point at our discretion to see what feels right.

Bonus points

  • 1 point: Title implications, rivalry, special (good) venue/circumstances, etc.
  • -1 point: Special (bad) venue/circumstances, you’re playing an FCS opponent and I’m rating the game even though I said I’d only rate FBS vs. FBS games.

Tailgate Quality Rating (out of 10)

Add your match-up quality rating to your weather quality rating, and you got your overall tailgate quality rating. Enjoy what’s sure to be another great college football season!

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