DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — As smoke from the grill filled the air and burgers were flipped, thousands of Duke and Clemson fans flocked to Wallace Wade Stadium for a huge Monday night matchup.
“The excitement, look at this parking lot… it is just full,” said Duke alumnus Jacquelyne Stewart as she tailgated before the game. “It is really rocking here. And this is only one of several [parking lots] on campus, I’m sure.”
Many fans traveled from far away to get to Durham for the Labor Day showdown.
Stewart came down from Scranton, Pennsylvania.
“As far as football, Duke has always been known for baskeball,” she said. “But it’s time that we’re known for football as well.”
Because it was the first matchup of the season for both Duke and Clemson, many were excited to witness it all play out, firsthand.
Teresa Hickman drove up from Charleston, South Carolina, and said her family has been tailgating together for decades.
“Normally, it’s at Clemson but we were like ‘we’re not gonna miss it,'” she said. “Actually, this is our first time coming to Duke. So that’s like pretty incredible that we’re here.”
The game was the only major college football matchup on television Monday night, which placed the Bull City in the national spotlight.
“What do you have at your tailgate?” CBS 17 asked as Hickman showed off her setup.
“This is just a minimal tailgate, but we probably have about seven cars at Clemson that tailgate together,” Hickman said. “And they’ve been together for 40 years, probably.”
Locals like Jason Slaughter cheered on the Blue Devils.
“We’re getting after it out here like we always do,” the Durham native said. “Nothing changes for us. We don’t care who’s coming in here. Nothing changes for us Duke fans.”
It’s just the start, but both fanbases have high hopes for their teams this season.
“Everybody says Duke’s for basketball… never,” Slaughter said. “It’s always Duke football. Always has been, always will be.”