To help us get ready for the season, I will be doing rankings from each conference and a best of list. Today we start off with the best stadiums in each conference.
The SEC has by far and away the best stadiums in the country, much better than most of the ACC. In ranking the stadiums, I took into account capacity, winning percentage, location, and pregame experience. Here it is...
Saturday nights at Tiger Stadium are one of the true gems of college football. LSU fans tailgate with the best of them before heading in to watch their team in "Death Valley." The atmosphere is so electric inside Tiger Stadium that a small earthquake was registered on the school's Richter scales after a tying TD pass against Auburn back in 1988. Earthquake Game
The stadium is built for optimum noise containment, and Urban Meyer has made it a priority to win at home, with just one loss in three seasons in "The Swamp." Even though Steve Spurrier coined the nickname, Urban Meyer has made Ben Hill Griffin Stadium tough to get out of alive.
Neyland Stadium takes the No. 3 spot by a small margin due to its size and location. Tennessee is in a seat race with Michigan and Penn State every year for biggest stadium in the country. The atmosphere outside the stadium is unique, with the Volunteer Navy arriving to tailgate on the Tennessee River.
Georgia may have the best field of anyone in the SEC "between the hedges" in Sanford Stadium. Recent additions have pushed the capacity north of 90,000, and a rabid fan base keeps it sold out year after year.
It's not pronounced like "Jordan," but "Jerden" if you are around Auburn fans. The stadium also features hedges, but the main draw is the War Eagle intro. This stadium accents the loveliest little village on the Plains nicely. War Eagle Flight
Alabama announced their spot on the national stage again with a sellout for Nick Saban's first spring game a year ago. The Crimson Tide are looking to regain their spot at the top of the SEC West once again.
7. South Carolina
The most loyal fans in the SEC pack Williams-Brice Stadium year after year, win or lose in Columbia. Williams-Brice Stadium would be higher on the list if the Gamecocks were able to hold court better than they have.
Bring your earplugs for the calling of the Hogs in Fayetteville. Razorback Stadium has undergone recent renovations and has drawn more of the big games that used to be played in Little Rock. Still, the Razorbacks' lack of home dominance pushes them down the list.
If South Carolina gets the nod for most loyal fans, then Kentucky is No. 2. The Wildcats have had spotty success in football at best, but these basketball blue bloods still pack Commonwealth Stadium.
10. Ole Miss
The Rebels' stadium is only the No. 2 football attraction on campus behind tailgating at The Grove. Ole Miss is looking to recapture a consistent home field advantage not seen since the name of the stadium was coaching.
11. Mississippi State
Scott Stadium has come light years as a structure in the last 10 years. But the Bulldogs had not been able to take advantage of their cowbells and home field in Starkville until last year.
Vanderbilt is just lucky if their fans outnumber the opponents when teams like Tennessee and Georgia come to town.
The ACC is definitely a notch below the SEC in terms of stadiums. Some have unique charm, but only the top three really compare with the top six or seven in the SEC.
The Hill, Howard's Rock, and occasional purple pants make Clemson number one in the ACC. The stadium sits right on Lake Hartwell and seems to go straight up. If you want an idea of the noise, check out You Tube for the Clemson-Miami game in 2005. It was loud.
Lane Stadium lost out on No. 1 by a slim margin. I give the Hill entrance the slightest of edges over "Enter Sandman" in Blacksburg. The Hokies have recently added seating, putting their capacity in the upper echelon of the ACC.
3. Florida State
It used to mean when the spear was planted at midfield by Chief Osceola it signaled the end of the opponent's chances, but a few opponents have been able to crack the Seminoles' home dynasty in the last several years.
4. NC State
The Wolfpack surprisingly check in at No. 4. NC State has made a lot of improvements to Carter-Finley in Amato's era, bringing it up to snuff with the best in college. The fans are surprisingly loyal to the program even though it is largely considered a basketball school. Tom O'Brien hopes to change this.
5. Georgia Tech
What Bobby Dodd Stadium lacks in size it makes up for in location and history. The oldest stadium in Division I-A sits a stone's throw away from downtown Atlanta. If you want a great view, try the West side upper deck at a night game for a magnificent view of Midtown Atlanta.
6. North Carolina
Kenan Stadium may have the prettiest setting this side of West Point, NY. The Tar Heels have not been extremely successful at home, but the ambiance of the surroundings lifts their ranking.
7. Wake Forest
Before Jim Grobe came to town, Groves Stadium was marked a 'W' on most ACC schools' schedules—but not any more. The Deacs sell quite well for being one of the smallest Division I football schools.
8. Boston College
Alumni Stadium was a tough venue for foes in the Big East, and not much has changed since BC joined the ACC. The size of the stadium and sometimes lackluster crowd push the Eagles' stadium down.
Colin Cowherd made fun of Virginia's wine and cheese crowd a few years back, and while most of it is deserved, Scott Stadium is up there with Kenan Stadium for beauty. Cowherd Rant on UVA Football.
Byrd Stadium just lacks in all the major categories—size, ambiance, beauty, history...nothing really sticks out.
It's Duke...where they still have a track around the field, and football is just a diversion from basketball season.
Miami is not ranked due to having a new stadium this year (Dolphin Stadium).
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