Whether it's a living, breathing animal, a student wearing a coonskin hat with a musket or someone wearing a costume with a big foam head, the mascot can play an important role on Saturdays in the fall.
Maybe he (or she) walks through the hordes of fans while tailgating, posing for photos and hugging the little ones. The mascot is doing its job.
It's hard to believe there are actually schools that don't have a mascot. Blasphemy.
For the programs that do have one, some do it better than others, and some are more recognizable.
Keep reading and you'll find out the top 25 mascots going today.
Testudo the diamondback turtle is not known for snapping at anyone, but he is lovable.
Maryland is one of the best at marketing in the nation. While many have copied it, the "Fear the Turtle" slogan was original when Maryland's marketing folks developed it.
Testudo is an extension of that program, and the mascot is wildly popular with students and at games.
Hey, Benny Beaver won the 2011 Capital One Mascot of the Year write-in campaign, so that shows he's loved by someone.
Benny has been considered one of the "bad boys" of mascots in recent years for his brushes with other mascots—most notably a tussle with Oregon's Duck.
The Beaver also has a few nifty dance moves.
With a head that resembles a Buckeye nut, Brutus is a huge fan favorite.
Brutus has been known to get blindsided by opposing mascots, but since Ohio State has been wildly successful for the past decade, he normally gets the better end of the deal.
Brutus is recognized across the country and has made numerous TV appearances, including a commercial on ESPN.
The Masked Rider leads the team out onto the field for all of Texas Tech's home games.
If you look close enough, the rider has his/her "guns up." For Texas Tech fans this is a universal hand gesture/greeting.
The Masked Rider began as a dare in 1936. Since no one knew the identity of the person riding the horse, he/she was called The Ghost Rider.
Buzz rivals Notre Dame's leprechaun as one of the shortest mascots in the college game.
It's also important that the unidentified student inside the Buzz costume be physically fit and athletic.
Because Buzz must be able to do a front "suicide" flip called a Buzz Flip.
Albert and Alberta divvy up different sporting events to attend as they support the Gators, but they both attend all home football games in The Swamp.
Whether the relationship is purely platonic is not clear, but they have been known to put an arm around each other on the sidelines.
Nebraska introduced Lil' Red about 20 years ago, but Herbie Husker remains the go-to mascot for most Cornhuskers.
Herbie and Lil' Red enter the stadium on a tandem bike just before Nebraska's Tunnel Walk.
Herbie earned the Mascot of the Year honor in 2005.
Did you know the falcon can reach speeds of up to 200 mph?
Add that speed to some grace, and you see why the Air Force Falcon is such a cool mascot.
Once in a while, the Falcon likes to make news.
The Sooner Schooner is a personal favorite. As a kid, I loved watching it dart across the field on TV, and I saw it many times live in the annual Orange Bowl game.
According to SoonerSports.com, it is a "conestoga (covered wagon) reminiscent of the mode of travel used by pioneers who settled Oklahoma Territory around the time of the 1889 Land Run."
All I know is watching the white horses Boomer and Sooner charge onto the field is classic college football.
While Bucky has a history of "playfully" fighting with other mascots, that practice is no longer allowed.
Now you are more likely to see the Wisconsin mascot hanging out in the rowdy student section, leading the group in cheers.
Interesting fact: Bucky's official name is Buckingham U. Badger.
When it comes to foam-head mascots, Sparky is the most intense-looking of them all.
The athletic program has undergone a major branding overhaul including new uniforms, but the most noticeable omission is the removal of Sparky from the football helmet.
They may not want Sparky on the uniforms any longer, but he remains an intimidating figure on the sidelines.
Smokey is a bluetick coonhound that just embodies Tennessee football.
As far as dog mascots go, Smokey is pretty docile, but that doesn't take away from his legacy.
Tennessee has a foam-head mascot as well.
Getting to ride on the white horse Traveler is about as cool as it gets.
The only person on the USC campus that the Trojan was ever jealous of was Matt Leinart.
Now the USC mascot is back in his rightful spot on campus as the top man.
The Donald Duck lookalike is loved by Oregon fans but hated by rivals.
Well, it seems the Oregon Duck loves to get into run-ins with opposing mascots.
Compared to other animal mascots, the Duck is one of the least intimidating. His appeal is more based on charisma.
The Mountaineer must try out every year, and the winner stops shaving (unless it's a woman) and gets to carry a gun.
When he shoots the musket after WVU scores, it startles the opponents and fires up the home crowd.
The Tree lacks any real endearing qualities and is barely a real mascot.
But it has its moments of pure genius, so the Tree can't go overlooked.
Past Trees have been suspended and ejected, and the beauty is that it is created new each year.
Bevo stays relatively calm on the sidelines, but he weighs about a ton and has the huge horns.
So what he lacks in motivational skills, he makes up for with intimidation.
When Chief Osceola rides out to midfield on his Appaloosa horse Renegade, Florida State fans go absolutely berserk.
Who doesn't love a burning spear getting planted on the field as the Seminoles go crazy?
The actual Seminole tribe is very supportive of FSU using the mascot, which is a bonus when most programs are looking to distance themselves from Native American mascots.
As the visiting team warms up at Tiger Stadium, Mike the Tiger is waiting for them to walk by as they make their way onto the field.
That's right—Mike is in his cage strategically positioned near the visiting team's tunnel.
Welcome to Death Valley, folks.
Anyone who has watched a Notre Dame game has witnessed the legendary leprechaun at work.
Notre Dame's mascot wields a shillelagh and likes to do flips and push-ups when the Irish score.
The little guy is the face of Notre Dame football.
Uga may not be the prettiest mascot, but the Georgia fans think the English bulldog is gorgeous.
Georgia's mascot is pampered.
The dog gets his own Georgia sweater and bags of ice to lie on when it gets too hot, and the Seiler family in Savannah, Ga., has taken care of the entire lineage.
The only exhilarating moment for Colorado fans in recent years has been when Ralphie charges out onto the field with his four handlers.
Colorado actually has two buffalo mascots—Ralphie IV and Ralphie V.
The enormous but majestic buffalo knows how to make an entrance.
Sparty, with his strong jaw and ripped muscles, is the Big Ten's best mascot.
What makes a great mascot is that it is immediately recognizable and known across the country. Sparty is the perfect example.
The big dude even has a solid résumé. According to Michigan State's website, Sparty is a three-time national champion mascot competing at the Universal Cheer Association Nationals Competition.
Auburn's eagle isn't really the mascot. That honor goes to Aubie the Tiger.
But there is nothing more awe-inspiring at a college football game than watching the crowd chant the War Eagle battle cry as the Auburn eagle soars and swoops around the stadium before the opening kickoff.
Give it up for the War Eagle, folks. I've got chills just thinking about it.