Labor Day weekend may be the official start of the NCAA’s football season, but the second weekend of football was as anticipated as the first, at least for the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech. Instead of being played at either of the school’s respective football stadiums, the game between the classic rivals was played at a transformed Bristol Motor Speedway.
An event like that deserves one of the finest voices in music to sing the national anthem then, right? Well, they certainly got it.
Jennifer Nettles stood on a small stage on the field with a color guard in front of her and an enormous flag behind her, and she delivered one of the most stunning versions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” ever. Even Jennifer got caught up on the grandeur of the moment. In this video, you can see her beaming behind a soldier as she continues the song.
Those who arrived early on game day actually got a lot more country music than that. A pre-show tailgate party included performances from hit artists Kenny Chesney, Old Dominion, The Band Perry, Sam Hunt, Jon Pardi and newcomer Alyssa Micaela.
For those who are scratching their heads over why the game was played on a converted NASCAR track as opposed to the pristine college stadiums, here’s why. Attendance and generated revenue was expected to be so high that each school would reap greater benefits from playing at a neutral site. Their expectations were handily met as more than 155,000 football fans packed the grandstand and bleachers to take in the game.
According to SB Nation, each of the schools got a guaranteed $4 million, plus another $300,000 because the grandstand sold out. And while most students aren’t of age to buy beer, according to to David Hale of ESPN’s Twitter, 545,000 beers were sold.
The University of Tennessee ended up winning with a final score of 45 to 24.