Most of us could probably rattle off a list of college football stadiums in which visiting teams hate to play.
We could also list all of the varying reasons why these stadiums are some of the most hostile environments in the nation.
But what about the other end of the spectrum? Which stadiums not only fail to intimidate visiting teams but fail to pose much of a challenge?
While it's not always about attendance, we have to face the fact that poor home team support generally leads to a lack of respect from the visiting team.
So, here's our power ranking of the 35 least feared stadiums in college football.
When we think about our team traveling to Oklahoma for a game, it's only natural to feel a sense of impending doom.
Unless the game is taking place in Tulsa.
While Tulsa has fielded some decent teams lately (18-8 over the past few seasons), the Golden Hurricane is just 1-3 against BCS AQ programs during that span.
And Tulsa fans don't exactly make H.A. Chapman Stadium the most hostile of environments, either.
Last season, Tulsa averaged 22,541 fans—leaving almost 7,500 seats empty for home games.
A stadium of 30,000 isn't typically fearsome on its own. It's less so when it's a quarter empty every Saturday.
It's really hard to instill a sense of fear in your opponents when you have only won three games in the past three years.
The Lobos even tried to buy a game last season with a contest against FCS Sam Houston State. It didn't work out. New Mexico lost, 48-45.
Is it any wonder New Mexico barely surpasses the 20,000 mark in average attendance at home games?
It's hard to really grab a hold of what makes New Mexico's University Stadium in Albuquerque so completely unintimidating for visitors—the terrible New Mexico football team or the stadium that's a third empty and quiet as a tomb on Saturday.
Peden Stadium is home to one of the least-recognized football teams in Ohio. Curiously enough, that team also shares the name of the state: Ohio.
Contrary to what Ohio State fans would have you believe, the Buckeyes are not Ohio. That distinction belongs to the state's oldest institution, Ohio University.
Picking on a MAC school is a little like blaming the grass for being green, but we don't pull any punches here. At least Ohio still maintains its attendance qualification for FBS programs—something that can't be said by every MAC program.
Peden Stadium is one of the smallest venues in the FBS, seating a maximum of 24,000 fans. When your stadium is that small, filling it up each and every Saturday should be a given. But in Athens, Ohio, it's not. Somehow there are over 4,000 empty seats on game day.
A MAC stadium is a pretty docile place to play as it is. When there's only 19,891 fans in the seats (on average), it's downright benign.
Yes, we're picking on another MAC stadium.
No, it won't be the last one on the list.
The unimaginatively-named Husky Stadium at Northern Illinois is home to the—you guessed it—Huskies and their 30,076 fans.
Wait. Check that. Make that their 18,903 fans.
That's right folks. On average, NIU's stadium environment is just barely filled past the half-way point on Saturdays.
Okay, we understand that MAC football isn't really something to get super worked up over, especially in the middle of Big Ten country.
But your team has posted back-to-back 11-win seasons, including back-to-back bowl wins, and is on a four-season bowl streak.
You'd think you could at least be bothered to buy a ticket and cheer on your Huskies one day every other week, right?
Perhaps there's something more exciting going on in DeKalb, Illinois that we don't know about.
Everything's bigger in Texas.
Apparently whoever came up with that saying wasn't talking about Apogee Stadium at North Texas.
Not only does the Mean Green play football in this pint-sized Texas stadium, they play it particularly poorly.
Of all the NCAA football programs in the state, few have been worse over the past seven seasons than North Texas. The Mean Green have a combined 19-64 record since the start of the 2005 season.
Maybe that's why 30,850-seat Apogee Stadium sits nearly half-empty on Saturdays.
The truly sad part in this little story is the fact that Apogee Stadium opened just last season, and is not only state-of-the-art, but could be one of the truly awesome small venues in the FBS. If only the fans bothered to show up.
And putting that buffer track between the fans and the field won't scare anyone.
Welcome to Middle Tennessee State University, home to sparsely populated Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium and one of the worst teams in the Sun Belt (which is really saying something).
Even if we could get over the fact that the Blue Raiders managed a measly two wins last season (and only one win against the rest of the Sun Belt), we can't overlook the fact that MTSU's 30,788 venue is yet another example of a potential terror for opposing teams turned into a docile, quaint little stadium thanks to the plethora of empty seats.
In 2011, MTSU averaged 18,407 fans per home game—barely above the NCAA's 15,000 requirement for FBS status.
It wasn't all that long ago when the Blue Raiders were winning 10 games and traveling to a bowl. Now, it appears the fair-weather fans in Murfreesboro have found other things to do on Saturday afternoons.
Troy is home to yet another small program with big issues.
Traditionally, Troy is one of the stronger teams in the Sun Belt Conference, although 2011's 3-9 record didn't necessarily reflect that fact.
With a drop-off in wins, we can understand a drop-off in attendance. But in 2010, Troy only attracted 18,947 fans per game. In 2011, that number dropped to 17,898.
It's clear that win or lose, finding one's way into Troy's Veterans Memorial Stadium isn't the scariest thing a visiting team will do all week.
Nevada did a pretty smart thing by following teams like Boise State out of the WAC. The Mountain West is now the place to be for the non-AQ programs out west, and the Wolf Pack will try to keep their seven-season bowl streak alive in 2012 against a new conference schedule.
But as solid as Nevada plays on the field, it's likely not the fired up crowd in Reno that spurs the Wolf Pack on to victory after victory. Mackay Stadium seats a scant 29,993 fans, yet Nevada—and their seven consecutive bowl trips—only manages to attract an average of 15,776 fans.
Remember that 15,000-fan minimum the NCAA has for FBS programs? Nevada is flirting with danger if the attendance figures don't improve. Heck, even FBS newcomer South Alabama beats out Nevada's numbers last season. The Jaguars attracted 18,442 fans per home game in 2011—as an FCS program!
Okay, so Reno is a town that offers quite a few distractions on the average Saturday evening. But unless Nevada can find a way to lure people away from the craps tables, the Wolf Pack will always be viewed as a minor program with a quiet stadium.
To look at Aggie Memorial Stadium, you wouldn't get much of a thrill.
It's a pretty bland-looking bowl, seating 30,343 fans when full.
Again, like so many stadiums that fail to instill a sense of fear in the opposition, the stadium is rarely full.
Perhaps that's because New Mexico State is home to one of the worst football programs of the seven years.
The Aggies have managed just 19 wins to 67 losses since 2005, including never winning more than four games per season over that stretch.
No wonder no one shows up!
The Aggies came dangerously close to the NCAA's attendance requirement, attracting an average of just 138 fans more than the minimum 15,000.
If the horrible Aggies football team wasn't enough to make the visitors feel the complete opposite of fear, the half-empty stadium wouldn't even frighten a sleeping baby.
There aren't many football programs around the nation that play indoors.
Even fewer have an intimate setting like that of the Kibbie Dome.
The dome (if you can call it that—more like a large barn or half cylinder) is the smallest FBS venue in the nation, seating just 16,000 fans.
That means the Vandals must nearly sell out every game to have any hope of keeping the NCAA from calling.
Unfortunately, in 2011, Idaho was one of three programs that failed to reach the 15,000-fan threshold. Idaho attracted an average of just 11,980 fans to home games in 2011. That was even a drop from its 2010 numbers (12,730). In fact, Idaho hasn't met the 15,000 requirement since 2006.
Programs are supposed to meet the attendance requirement at least once in any rolling two-season period.
So what's stopping the NCAA from kicking the Vandals out of the FBS?
You'd have to ask them.
But the only reason the Kibbie Dome isn't the top team on our list is because even 11,000 people can make quite a racket in an indoor venue as small as the Kibbie Dome.
An definite outlier in the Big Ten, Ryan Field has consistently drawn small, quiet crowds of Wildcats fans.
Northwestern typically draws well below Ryan Field's capacity of 49,256. But the Wildcats only make No. 25 because the last two seasons have shown some improvement in attendance and fan excitement.
There's apparently been a direct correlation between success on the field and at the turnstiles.
Northwestern fell off slightly from their 2010 average of 36,449 in 2011. The Wildcats drew in 33,442 fans on average last season. And anyone who has attended a Northwestern football game will tell you that a good number of those fans are not cheering for the Purple and While.
Ryan Field is one of the quieter venues in college football, and is certainly one of the quietest in the Big Ten.
SDSU comes in at No. 24, and is the first on the list that plays in an expansive NFL stadium while drawing an average crowd that barely fills the place half full.
Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, home of the NFL's Chargers, seats 70,561.
San Diego State draws an average crowd of 39,865 in 2011.
Even if every single fan in attendance stood up and screamed at the top of their lungs, the stadium would still sound half empty.
Qualcomm is a great venue for the NFL. If San Diego State drew 70,000 fans for home games, it would probably make a nice venue for the Aztecs. But the seats in NFL stadiums are typically a bit further from the field than they are in collegiate stadiums. Add that to the fact that the place is only half full, and you have a recipe for an atmosphere that lacks that certain college feel.
UTEP plays at the Sun Bowl Stadium. It's a nice stadium, with nice amenities, and is definitely designed as a college football stadium. There's no upper bowl, and the stands are relatively close to the action.
Still, the Miners can't seem to get fans to show up to the games.
Sun Bowl Stadium is relatively small (compared to the big boys in the FBS), seating 52,000. You'd think an on-campus venue would at least be close to full on most Saturdays. But UTEP comes in with just over 26,000 fans per game.
Leaving half seats vacant in a 52,000 seat stadium isn't going to add to the environment on game day, and isn't going to frighten anyone.
Memphis is a great example of why on-campus sites should always be preferred.
The Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (62,380) isn't far from the campus. But when your team can only manage one or two wins per season and they're not playing on campus, it might be difficult to convince 62,000 people to show up at your games.
The fact that 20,087 people, on average, make it into the Liberty Bowl for home games is actually pretty decent, considering the factors mentioned. That's why Memphis isn't higher on this list.
Then again, the place is two-thirds empty every Saturday.
SMU's lack of an exciting football atmosphere was purely of their own making.
The NCAA's death penalty in the 80's did more than destroy a national powerhouse program; it killed any excitement about that program.
The lack of excitement continues today, two-and-a-half decades later.
SMU draws an average of 20,894 fans to home games. Their stadium holds 32,000. Perhaps more fans would attend and those attending would be more excited if SMU acknowledged and recognized some of the great players of their past.
While it's understandable why SMU would shy away from some of the greats that were playing during the height of the "pay-for-play" scandal, SMU shouldn't blame those players. SMU shouldn't treat them as pariahs.
SMU should make them a part of today's program. SMU should try to recapture its former glory in the right way. Build the program back into a proud, winning program, and the alumni, students, and fans will turn SMU back into a great place to play college football.
The poor Rams. If any school has been left behind by it's in-state nemesis, it has to be Colorado State.
Colorado is off to the Pac-12 after years in the Big 12.
Colorado State remains in the non-AQ Mountain West.
Worse than that, Boise State has come to town, and Colorado State can probably add one more loss to their record each year thanks to the Broncos.
The Rams attract 21,867 fans each Saturday—down from last season (23,220). Even with the announcement of planned expansion and the fact that you can actually buy beer there probably won't elevate Hughes Stadium to the level of some of its in-state rivals.
It must be hard being a school known for nothing related to football in the one of the most football-crazed areas of the country.
Monroe football took it on the chin last season, losing nearly 5,000 fans per game. Malone Stadium isn't big—30,427—but still sits half empty on Saturdays.
ULM attracted just 15,512 fans per home game last season. That's apparently 15,512 people who couldn't get LSU tickets.
Mount Pleasant, Michigan isn't on a mountain. And it's not really that Pleasant. There are two things in Mount Pleasant: a casino and Central Michigan.
CMU's football program is known for two things. They had a pretty good quarterback a few years ago, and it was Brian Kelly's first FBS coaching gig.
Beyond that, Chippewa football games are an excuse to tailgate, and then go home. Not many tailgaters actually make it into the stadium. Or care about the game, for that matter.
If you lived in Mount Pleasant, you'd probably just want to get wasted early in the morning, too.
No, it's not a joke. USC really is making this list, and comes in at No. 17.
USC plays at the LA Memorial Coliseum. That stadium holds 93,607 fans.
In 2011, USC averaged fewer than 75,000 fans (74,806)—the second year in a row the Trojans failed to attract at least 80,000 fans per game.
Sure, 2010 was a bad year for the Trojans, but 2010 was a bad year for Michigan, and they averaged over 111,000. In fact, Michigan averaged well in excess of 100,000 over those three abysmal Rich Rodriguez years in Ann Arbor.
And 2011 certainly wasn't a bad year at USC—unless 10-2 is what passes for bad these days.
So what is it, Trojan nation?
A major football program in the nation's second largest city, which incidentally does not have a professional football team, should be able to find enough fans to fill the stadium.
Again, we'll remind you we're talking about the stadium here, not the football team that inhabits it. Other programs absolutely hate playing the Trojans—but not because of the Coliseum.
Since USC had their chops busted, it's only fair that UCLA gets a little smack, especially since their attendance is worse off than USC's.
The Rose Bowl is one of those venues that can be defined simply as a "Temple of College Football."
UCLA, like USC, is in the nation's second-largest city. LA has no professional football team. So why does UCLA draw so poorly?
One can make the point that they draw worse than USC because they haven't been as successful. That's a valid point. But both of those teams should have no problem filling their respective venues.
Because the Bruins draw fewer fans (56,644) than USC in a stadium of comparable size in the same city, they make the list one spot ahead of the Trojans.
FIU's plans for the stadium can be described in one word: confusing.
FIU's football program is relatively new. FIU draws an average crowd of less than 20,000 fans (18,411), barely making the NCAA's requirement of an average of 15,000 fans per year at least once in a two-year span.
Yet FIU feels the need to expand their stadium to 45,000 seats (when Phase IV is completed; Phase III is complete for the 2012 season).
Why? So we can look at all the empty seats?
The only reason FIU isn't higher on this list is because their stands are almost on top of the field. That's never any fun for the opposing team.
But absolutely no one is afraid to play the Golden Panthers, and no one is afraid of FIU Staiudm—regardless of how many seats there are.
Here is another partially full stadium making our list.
The stadium itself, "creatively" named ASU Stadium, is actually pretty nice. But again, we have a school in a non-AQ conference playing football games in the middle of SEC-land.
Arkansas State was pretty darn good in 2011, finishing atop the Sun Belt with a 10-3 record.
Still, only 21,257 fans showed up on an average Saturday.
Combined with the open-air, side-of-a-hill feel, ASU Stadium isn't going to frighten many teams.
Back to the MAC.
Dix Stadium is home to the Kent State Golden Flashes.
At least Kent State knows what is good for them. They are one of the few FBS schools to upgrade their stadium by lowering its capacity.
Prior to 2003, Dix Stadium's seating capacity was over 30,000. Today, it stands at 20,500.
The Golden Flashes still have a tough time filling all of the remaining seats, though.
And Dix Stadium just looks... cheap.
Maybe we're starting to see a pattern with all of the MAC schools appearing on the list?
Coming it at No. 12 is our sole representative from the SEC.
It should also be noted that with the renovations currently ongoing at Vanderbilt, it's likely that in a few years time, Vandy may not even appear on such a list. But the point should be made that before you add seats, you should probably try to fill the ones you already have. After all, no visiting team is going to be intimidated by the sight of empty seats. Least of all teams like Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and South Carolina.
In the meantime, the Commodores are on our list.
And for good reason.
With one possible exception, Vandy fans haven't had too terribly much to cheer about recently.
At least they get to seem some really good teams from the SEC come in and roll over their Commodores, proving the point that nobody is really afraid of Vanderbilt Stadium.
Isn't it amazing how teams that fail to meet the 15,000 average threshold in one season magically surpass it by the skin of their teeth the next?
The Zips managed just 10,185 fans at home games in 2010, but that figure jumped to 15,734 in 2011.
Seriously, though, how can the Zips even claim to be a true FBS program with those kind of numbers?
If you have a 30,000 seat stadium, and you're only filling it a third full, you have some major issues with either your stadium, your athletic marketing department, or worse, your program in general.
At Akron, it's probably a bit of all three.
Perhaps the only thing keeping Akron out of the top 10 is the fact that InfoCiision Stadium is a brand new facility, and replaced the aging and run-down Rubber Bowl.
Another half-full stadium makes our list, breaking into the top (or should we say bottom) 10.
The Aggies of Utah State play in a half-empty Romney Stadium on Saturdays before an average crowd of 17,469.
Those 17,000 hearty souls brave the frigid weather in Logan to watch their Aggies get beat by the likes of Idaho, Louisiana Tech, and Wyoming.
Who can blame people from staying home?
You can sit in the warmth of your own living room and watch Utah or Boise State win.
Tulane makes the list at No. 9.
Tulane is another college football program that plays their games in an NFL venue.
This particular venue, the Louisiana Superdome, seats nearly 70,000, yet the Green Wave manage to draw an average of 19,728.
Having your stadium two-thirds empty for a football game usually makes any place seem on the quiet side.
It probably doesn't help that Tulane is situated in the heart of SEC country, either.
The Louisiana Superdome is an impressive stadium, and it apparently scared the living you-know-what out of LSU last January.
But the Tigers weren't playing the Green Wave in front of 20,000 people, either.
The newest (soon to be not-so-newest) member of the FBS makes our list with a small stadium and even smaller crowds.
It's hard to generate much of a big-time college football feel in a stadium that holds 22,000 fans.
It's even harder to do when that stadium is just over half full every Saturday.
Perhaps WKU misunderstood their obligations when they applied to move from the FCS to the FBS. They need to average 15,000 fans per game. The Hilltoppers attract just 14,577 fans on any given Saturday to Houchens Industries L.T. Smith Stadium in 2010.
Luckily, they attracted slightly more in 2011—16,637.
Maybe that's why WKU was snubbed for a bowl bid last season, even though the Hilltoppers finished with seven wins.
FAU finally moved out of Lockhart Stadium, which was one of the smallest stadiums in the FBS.
We guess that's what you get when you use a stadium built to host high school football games. In fact, Lockhart Stadium is still used by two local high schools for some of their games.
FAU finished their own stadium, located on FAU's Boca Raton campus, in time for the second half of the 2011 season. The new stadium will seats 30,000 fans.
While the new stadium is surly an upgrade from the glorified high school stadium of Lockhart, the Owls still have trouble filling their new digs.
In 2011, FAU averaged 17,565 fans per game. And while the new stadium certainly helped boost the attendance numbers, there's nothing about FAU Stadium that will frighten any team that strolls into town.
Uh oh. Here's comes the MAC again.
Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is home to the WMU Broncos. Unfortunately, it's not home to many fans.
Waldo Stadium's open atmosphere, and lack of noisy fan base leads this MAC venue into the top 10.
Waldo Stadium also has an unusual orientation (SW-NE), with an open corner of the stadium pointed due west.
This provides some unusual, and unpleasant sun angles late in the afternoon.
Waldo Stadium crowds have never been much to write home about. In fact, the record crowd of 36,361 came in 2000 against Indiana State. I'm sure the Fighting Sycamores were a headline match-up in Kalamazoo, but I would think that the Bronco faithful would be more amped up about a visit from some other foes to visit Waldo Stadium, such as Indiana, Virginia, or Virginia Tech.
Western Michigan definitely boosted the attendance figures in 2011, though, up to 16,637 from 14,255 in 2010.
That's probably just to keep the NCAA off of its back, because we know that there are mighty few teams afraid of the Broncos and Waldo Stadium.
Pretty much everyone knows how bad Rice's attendance figures are.
And we've all seen the comical pictures, such as the one at left, showing a nearly empty stadium.
Football is king in Texas, and Rice, accordingly, built themselves a 70,000-seat stadium.
Unfortunately, Rice football is not king in Texas. In fact, it's not even prince. Or duke. It's more like jester.
Rice Stadium does, however, hold the distinction of having been an on-campus college football venue that has hosted a Super Bowl (VIII).
Rice has several disadvantages in attracting an exciting college football atmosphere. First, they're not the only college game in town, and they're certainly not the biggest college football name in the state. Secondly, with the NFL's return to Houston, there's Sunday football to attract the casual non-alumnus football fan.
Rice attracts a mere 17,329 fans per home game, a major reason why Rice Stadium is in our top five of least feared college football stadiums.
Poor UAB. It can't be easy being an off-shoot of the University of Alabama while trying to maintain the same level of football program.
By all accounts, UAB is an incredible academic institution. In fact, Alabama's medical school moved from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham in the 1940's. Today, UAB actually outranks Alabama in several academic areas, including research activities.
One area where UAB doesn't even come close to 'Bama is anything having to do with football.
Legion Field, which seats over 71,500 fans, was the former host of the annual Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama.
Now used primarily as UAB's home stadium, the Blazers have a difficult time putting fans in the seats. In fact, the record attendance for a UAB game at Legion Field is just 44,669, in 2003.
In 2011, UAB managed just 16,579 fans per game at Legion Field.
Doing the math, the means UAB games only less than one quarter of the stadium's seats.
It's probably pretty easy to catch a nap during Blazer games.
Legion Field may have frightened teams in the past, particularly when Alabama was hosting someone in front of 71,500 screaming Tide fans. Today, however, Legion Field, with the Blazers at the helm, just isn't the same place.
It's not looking good for the MAC.
Yet another team from the Mid-America Conference makes our list.
University of Buffalo Stadium has a seating capacity of just over 29,000.
The Bulls made their return to the FBS in 1999 after a couple decades of rebuilding after the program was completely canceled in the 1970's.
Buffalo made a much-advertised "Run to Division I" in the 1990's, and part of that effort was the construction of the new stadium.
While the stadium itself is one of the newest venues in the FBS, the game-day experience at a Bulls game is somehow lacking that college feel.
It seems as if UB's reach outdistanced their grasp. In 2010, the Bulls struggled to draw 13,000 fans to home games. The 2011 season saw a modest jump, but only to 18,020.
If it wasn't for the nice layout of the stadium, the proximity of the fans to the action, and the absolutely pitiful performance by some other programs, Buffalo may have been a candidate for the top spot on our list of least feared stadiums.
Not surprisingly, there's another MAC school on the list.
Ball State gives lack of attendance a new meaning. In 2010, Ball State averaged a home crowd of a mere 8,947. In 2011, that number magically surpassed the required 15,000 mark—by 64 fans.
Uh huh. Right. Isn't that convenient?
To put those numbers in perspective, Ball State's entire attendance for 2010 is less than half of a single Saturday's crowd at Michigan Stadium. The 2011 numbers weren't much better, but were still worse than a single Saturday at most Big Ten stadiums.
It's really a shame, too. Scheurmann Stadium is a really nice venue. Like crazy nice for the MAC.
If Ball State could just manage to put a few more butts in the seats, Scheurmann may soon find itself amongst the most difficult stadiums in which to play.
But as it stands today, the days of instilling fear in the opposition are but a dream.
It probably won't shock anyone that our top least-feared stadium is from the MAC.
And given the facts that follow, no one can argue with the fact that Rynearson Stadium is the least-feared venue in the entire nation.
The stadium is actually pretty nice, and holds 30,200 fans.
But that's where the good news ends.
First, the seats are so far away from the football field, binoculars might be a good thing to bring with you on a trip to Ypsilanti, Michigan.
Second—and you'll love this—Eastern Michigan averages just 4,267 fans per home game last season.
No, that's not a typo. Four thousand two hundred sixty-seven.
Let's do a little comparison work, shall we?
EMU ranked 120 out of 120 FBS programs in terms of average and overall attendance.
EMU ranked behind all four programs transitioning to the FBS for 2012.
There were 37 FCS programs that averaged more than 10,000 fans per game.
There were four Division II programs that averages more than 10,000 fans per game—including one in the state of Michigan (Grand Valley State, 10,478)
There were four Division II conferences that averages more fans per game than EMU.
And perhaps most damning, there were eight Division III football programs that drew more fans per game than Eastern Michigan University.
This means that there are more than twice as many people in Michigan that will show up for a Division II football game than will bother to show up at an Eastern Michigan game.
And there are at least eight places around the country where people would rather watch a Division III game.
A stadium that sits more than 85 percent empty on Saturday, with the few fans so far away from the field is easily tops on our list of least-fearful stadiums in the nation.