The Mid-America Classic between Eastern Illinois and Illinois State began in 1901 and is the oldest college football rivalry in Illinois. Despite not having played in the same conference since 1995 the two schools typically meet each year helping preserve the intense rivalry. Illinois State leads the all-time series 54-41-9, but you won’t want to miss it when the Panthers try to draw nearer when these two meet.
Fans of both the Panthers and Sycamores travel well to the away games for this rivalry as the schools are only 50 miles apart. The Eastern Illinois-Indiana State rivalry was renewed in 2017, and the two schools will play a home and home series until 2020, so make sure to get your tickets when the Sycamores come to town.
The in-state rivalry between the Eastern Illinois Panthers and the Western Illinois Leathernecks dates back to 1930. The two teams were conference rivals until the Panthers move to the Ohio Valley Conference in 1996 developing a lot of bad blood between the two programs. While the rivalry hasn’t been played regularly since then, you won’t want to miss it when these two teams meet next.
Eastern Illinois Panthers Tailgate Guide
You’ll want to get to O’Brien Stadium bright and early when attending a Panthers football game. There is a ton to do at an Eastern Illinois tailgate and Panthers fans go all out to throw some of the best tailgates you’ll find in the state of Illinois. Everywhere you look on game days you’ll see a sea of blue tailgating outside O’Brien Stadium as the whole town comes out to support the Panthers.
Eastern Illinois makes it easy for you to set up your tailgate party and join the festivities as there is plenty of space to tailgate. Those of you who are looking to throw a big tailgate bash will without a doubt want to take advantage of Tent City, which offers 40×40 tailgate spots.
In addition to the wealth of people tailgating, Eastern Illinois also provides tons of pregame entertainment. The band concert and Spirit Walk are the perfect way to get into the game day spirit, and if you’re looking for something to entertain the kids, then you won’t want to miss Billy’s Backyard Kid’s Zone. Tailgate fans will also love Tailgate Alley, and die-hard Panthers fans won’t want to miss the opportunity to check out the EIU Hall of Fame inside Lantz Arena.
Tailgating is a huge part of attending an Eastern Illinois football game, so get here early and enjoy all the sights and sounds a Panthers pregame has to offer.
Concert at Booth Library - The Eastern Illinois Panthers Marching Band performs on the steps of Booth Library an hour before every football game. During the show, they play selections from the halftime show as well as traditional school songs. Stop by Booth Library to enjoy the concert and get into the Panthers game day spirit.
Following the pregame concert at Booth Library, the band leads the fans, dance team, and cheerleaders to O’Brien Stadium in the Spirit Walk. The Spirit Walk is one of the best pregame traditions at Eastern Illinois, so make sure to take part in it before the game.
Stop by Billy’s Backyard Kid’s Zone before the game. Billy’s Backyard Kid’s Zone is the perfect place to keep kids entertained before the game and features inflatables, obstacle courses, and other kids activities.
Check out the Eastern Illinois Athletics Hall of Fame in Lantz Arena before the game. The Hall of Fame is located in the main entrance and is a must-see for any Panthers fan.
Where to tailgate
Tent CityIf you want to enjoy EIU tailgating at its best, then reserve a spot in Tent City for $40 per game. These 40x40 tailgate spaces give you plenty of room to tailgate no matter what your party’s size, making them a great place to throw a tailgate bash before the game.
Panther Club ParkingThose of you who are Panther Club members will want to take advantage of the ability to park in the O’Brien Field Lot and J Lot putting you right at the heart of the action.
Free ParkingIf you want to enjoy a Panthers game day without paying for parking, you’re in luck. Eastern Illinois offers free parking in the grass lot west of the stadium and the pathed lot south of the campus pond.
Eastern Illinois Panthers Stadium Guide
O’Brien Field is the center of all the action going on in Charleston, Illinois on Saturdays in the fall making an Eastern Illinois football game quite the event. Fans from all over the area come out to support the team creating a fun atmosphere inside O’Brien Stadium. If you’re a diehard college football fan, then you’ll love attending an Eastern Illinois Panthers football game.
The fantastic fan support and atmosphere in the stands isn’t the only thing that makes attending a Panthers game a fun experience. The spirit groups at Eastern Illinois also make a trip to Charleston a memorable experience. The band, mascot, cheerleaders, and dance team are all top-notch, so enjoy their performances and the pageantry they provide at the game.
Finally, take a minute to check out the retired numbers banners, which honor two of the best quarterbacks in Panthers history. Tony Romo went onto have incredible success as a player in the NFL, and Sean Payton holds the distinction of being the only coach in New Orleans Saints history to win a Super Bowl. You’ll get to see where it started for these two accomplished individuals making a trip to Charleston a fun one for NFL fans as well.
An Eastern Illinois football game is a fun time for any football fan, so start planning your trip to Charleston, Illinois today.
The Panthers have retired two football numbers over the years; 17 and 18. On October 17, 2009, the school retired Tony Romo’s #17 jersey. Romo won Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year three times during his collegiate career and went onto star as the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL. Sean Payton’s #18 jersey was retired on September 11, 2010. Payton finished his collegiate quarterback career with 10,655 passing yards, holding the school’s career record. He also led the New Orleans Saints to their only Super Bowl championship in 2010 as the team’s head coach.
Enjoy the performance of the Panther Marching Band throughout the game. The Panther Marching Band puts on a great show and creates a fantastic atmosphere during the game making them one of the most important parts of any EIU football game.
The cheer team pumps up the crowd with their cheers and chants throughout the game, so join in and give the Panthers an incredible home field advantage.
Eastern State March
We are loyal EIU,
We’re loyal and true;
Though the odds be great or small,
we’ll still be cheering you;
(Rah! Rah! Rah!)
Fight you Panthers for the glory
Of our dear name;
Fight on for Eastern,
Come on you Panthers, win this game.
(E! I! U! E-I-U!)
(E! I! U! E-I-U!)
Late one night
When we were all in bed
Old Mother Leary
Left a lantern in the shed
And when the cow kicked it over,
She winked her eye and said,
“There’ll be a hot time
In the old town, tonight.”
I’m So Glad
I’m so glad/I go to EIU (3x)
Singin’ “Glory Hallelujah”!
I go to EIU!
For Us Arose
For us arose thy walls and towers;
Their beauty, strength, and grace are ours.
Thy hills and prairies at thy feet
For us in lovely landscape meet.
So must our hearts remember thee,
So may our lives a tribute be;
Strong, true, and beautiful and brave and free,
So shall our hearts, our hearts, remember thee.
If you're looking for a place to get hearty, delicious food on campus, stop into Original Joey's Place. Here, we bake our own buns, grind our own hamburgers, and cook our burgers the old-school way to give you a better tasting burger than any other restaurant in town.