Vote for the best college football town in America

We’ve made it to the quarterfinals of the Shell Football Town Showdown.

As college football — and its fans — have returned to action in full force this year, we’re going to crown the nation’s best college football town. The eight remaining locales represent Ole Miss, West Virginia, Alabama, Penn State, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and Wisconsin. We’ve included breakdowns on what makes each remaining town special.

You can vote through Saturday night on Twitter @ESPNCFB — and make sure to come back starting next Wednesday for the semifinals, where you can vote on Instagram @ESPNCFB or on Twitter.

Quarterfinal matchups

Oxford, Mississippi vs. Morgantown, West Virgina

Why Oxford is a great college town: The Grove, complete with majestic oak trees and sprawling green grass in the middle of campus, is legendary for its tailgating. Talk about one big party. It never gets old, no matter how good or bad Ole Miss’ football team is that season. And if you want to go back in time, check out the Square just off campus, where eateries such as Ajax Diner offer the finest in true Southern soul food, and about 20 minutes outside of town, there’s Taylor Grocery. Get the catfish! Oxford is hardly a big city. The university is very much the heart of this cozy town of 28,000 people, and there’s a feeling of anticipation and good old-fashioned fun any time the Rebels are home at Vaught Hemingway Stadium. — Chris Low

Why Morgantown is a great college football town: West Virginia’s rolling hills on the banks of the Monongahela River set it apart from much of the Big 12 schools residing on the plains. This is one of college football’s great tailgating spots, notable for pepperoni rolls and a long, proud tradition of moonshine available in all different flavors. Classic college bars like Kegler’s and Mario’s Fishbowl are rowdy, and singing along with 60,000 or so friends to “Country Roads” after a big win will cap the experience — unless you stumble across a couch or two getting burned afterward.

Vote: Oxford vs. Morgantown

Tuscaloosa, Alabama vs. State College, Pennsylvania

Why Tuscaloosa is a great college football town: You can get a fabulous pork chop at Five and great sushi at Chuck’s, but the real appeal of a visit to the home of the University of Alabama is the sense of college football history it offers. At the Waysider, you can eat biscuits and gravy where Paul “Bear” Bryant once sat. At the Bryant Museum, you can see scores of football artifacts, even a Waterford crystal replica of the Bear’s famous houndstooth hat. And, as you head into Bryant-Denny Stadium for kickoff, you can stroll through the Walk of Champions, the home to statues of Bryant and Gene Stallings and every other Bama head coach to win a title, Nick Saban included. — Alex Scarborough

Why State College is a great college football town: State College is an oasis in the middle of Pennsylvania. It’s far from most of the major cities, but once you get on campus, it’s like very few in the country. On any given Saturday, the Creamery will have a line of eager fans wrapped around the block waiting for the famous ice cream. Those fans meander through tailgates and parties to eventually arrive at the stadium, and the focus on those Saturday afternoons is all about the football team. — Tom VanHaaren

Vote: Tuscaloosa vs. State College

Athens, Georgia vs. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Why Athens is a great college football town: With its unrivaled music scene, eclectic food and famous nightlife, the Classic City is a smaller version of Austin, Texas, or Oxford, Mississippi, on steroids (only better). The town that gave us R.E.M., the B-52s, Widespread Panic, Drive-By Truckers and so many other musical acts once offered visitors 80 bars in 1 square mile — more than any other city in America — and it has only gotten better with the addition of local breweries. And the best part is it’s all within walking distance of the UGA campus. Indeed, before Mark Richt and Kirby Smart arrived to coach the Bulldogs, Athens was the party town with the football problem. — Mark Schlabach

Why Baton Rouge is a great college football town: The vibe in Louisiana is different from anywhere else. The Cajuns are serious about their food, their drinks and their football. And all those things collide beautifully in Baton Rouge, which is home to more than its fair share of quality bars and restaurants. But to truly appreciate the city, you have to see it come alive on game day. You have to walk the campus, visit Mike the Tiger and drop into as many tailgates as you can, trying any cup of gumbo you happen to be offered. Chances are it’s going to be good. The pregame energy is palpable, and the stadium experience is arguably the best the sport has to offer. — Alex Scarborough

Vote: Athens vs. Baton Rouge

Knoxville, Tennessee vs. Madison, Wisconsin

Why Knoxville is a great college town: Neyland Stadium famously towers above the banks of the Tennessee River, making it one of the few on-campus stadiums in college football accessible by both land and water. The site of the Vol Navy pouring in on a Saturday afternoon is topped only by “Rocky Top” blaring across campus as orange-clad tailgaters revel in the pregame and postgame festivities. And right there close to campus is every type of restaurant and watering hole imaginable both on the Cumberland Avenue Strip and refurbished Market Square and Old City areas. The Smoky Mountains hovering in the distance combined with Knoxville being one of the biggest cities in the state of Tennessee make it a prime location to soak in the sights and sounds of college football. — Chris Low

Why Madison is a great college town: You won’t truly know how beautiful Madison, Wisconsin, is until you see it for yourself. If you’re driving in from the east, you will eventually split through Lake Mendota and Lake Monona that set the scene for the city, making it look like a real-life postcard. Once on campus, people flock to Mickie’s Dairy Bar for an old-fashioned breakfast or are spread across the town, eventually converging at Camp Randall Stadium. — Tom VanHaaren

Vote: Knoxville vs. Madison

First-round results

Oxford (58%) def. Boone, North Carolina (42%)
Morgantown (57%) def. Boulder, Colorado (43%)
Tuscaloosa (63%) def. Auburn, Alabama (37%)
State College (59%) def. Ann Arbor, Michigan (41%)
Athens (56%) def. Clemson, South Carolina (44%)
Baton Rouge (84%) def. Ames, Iowa (16%)
Knoxville (52%) def. Blacksburg, Virginia (48%)
Madison (81%) def. Pullman, Washington (19%)

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