Bowl season is upon us, and if you can't travel to watch your alma mater in person, the best way to cheer for the team is with fellow alumni. Washington is packed with alumni groups that go all-out on game day, decorating bars with flags, playing fight songs and continuing the school's traditions - West Virginia fans who gather at Ragtime sing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" after every touchdown, just as the students do at Mountaineer Field.
What follows is a list of places to watch the game that usually attract the largest and most fervent alumni groups. For neutrals, there are other options: When college sports are on, the Crystal City Sports Pub has one of the best atmospheres in the area. Other prime viewing spots include Mister Days, Grevey's and the Cleveland Park Bar and Grill.
Wednesday, Dec. 26
Motor City Bowl
Purdue vs. Central Michigan
Purdue alumni are loyal to the Bottom Line.
Friday, Dec. 28
Champs Sports Bowl
Boston College vs. Michigan State
The Eagles have been nesting at Porter's Dining Saloon for a few years. Meanwhile, the Rhodeside Grill will be swapping burnt orange for green.
Maryland vs. Oregon State
Terp fans take over bars in Bethesda, Silver Spring and College Park (think the Santa Fe Cafe or the Cornerstone), while the Beavers head for the 18th Amendment.
Saturday, Dec. 29
Meineke Car Care Bowl
UConn vs. Wake Forest
The Huskies will be at Grevey's, and the Demon Deacons are taking over the entire first floor of the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, formerly known as Top Shelf.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Penn State vs. Texas A&M
The well-organized Nittany Lions let their members choose between Carpool (Arlington), Union Jack's (Bethesda) and Rhino Bar (D.C.). Aggies, on the other hand, descend on the Crystal City Sports Pub.
Brut Sun Bowl
South Florida vs. Oregon
South Florida's also going to the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern (should be nice and cozy there). Oregon alumni will be at the Penn -- just kidding. They always go to Summers.
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Kentucky vs. Florida State
Grevey's, owned by former Wildcats basketball star Kevin Grevey, is a natural spot for Kentucky fans. Coincidentally, it's also the main game-watching haunt of Florida State. D.C. Seminoles can also find the game at Mackey's Irish Pub.
Indiana vs. Oklahoma State
Crystal City Sports Pub is where both the Hoosiers and Cowboys head.
The Cowboys will be at the Crystal City Sports Pub, while the Hoosiers head down the street to Mackey's Irish Pub.
Clemson vs. Auburn
Both schools will be at the Crystal City Sports Pub.
Texas Tech vs. Virginia
The Red Raiders have their guns up at Finn Mac Cool's. Virginia's fans will be watching at bars throughout the region, including Mister Days and Crystal City Sports Pub, but the biggest alumni group hosts its parties at Bailey's in Ballston.
Capital One Bowl
Michigan vs. Florida
Wolverines can choose between the Pour House on Capitol Hill and Tommy Joe's in Bethesda. Gators fans also have options -- food and drink specials are offered at Joe Theismann's Restaurant in Alexandria and Bailey's in Ballston. Maryland-based alumni may find it easier to get to the Rocky Run brewpub in Columbia.
Illinois vs. USC
While the Illinois Alumni Club isn't officially sponsoring a viewing party for the game, it's a good bet you'll find Illini at the Crystal City Sports Pub -- the bar attracted large crowds during the regular season. Here's a coincidence: USC's fans took over the large third floor at the Crystal City Sports Pub on Saturdays this season, watching on the 12- and 10-foot projection screens. They'll be back to watch the showdown in Pasadena.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Hawaii vs. Georgia
The Georgia Bulldogs have a long-standing date at the Crystal City Sports Pub. Hawaii doesn't have anything official planned, but you can check the chapter's Web site (http://www.uhaa-ncrc.org/) for updates.
Wednesday, Jan. 2
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma vs. West Virginia
Sooners take over the bar at Mackey's Irish Pub in Crystal City. West Virginia fans meet for beers at Ragtime in Arlington, which is owned by an alum.
Thursday, Jan. 3
FedEx Orange Bowl
Virginia Tech vs. Kansas
As with Virginia and Maryland, the sheer number of Virginia Tech alumni in this area mean that the game will be on at pretty much any sports bar you wander into. The Northern Virginia area alumni association directs its members to Bailey's in Ballston and Grevey's in Falls Church, while the Annapolis chapter is hosting a party at the Sly Fox Pub. The Hokie Club, the university's official athletic boosters, suggest a number of spots on its Web site, including the Original Steakhouse and Sports Theatre in Ashburn. Jayhawks enjoy big screens and food and drink specials at both Bailey's locations -- Ballston and Crystal City -- and Porter's Dining Saloon.
Monday, Jan. 7
Allstate BCS Championship Game
LSU vs. Ohio State
LSU is throwing two parties for its alumni. The biggest is at Bailey's in Ballston, where the group has reserved the entire back room of the pub and will be serving free food and offering door prizes. There's another party at the 18th Amendment on Capitol Hill. Ohio State has hosted viewing parties with specials at Union Jack's and the Rhino Bar all season long.
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