Ranking College Football's 50 Greatest Fanbases

Tom PerryCorrespondent IOctober 11, 2011

Ranking College Football's 50 Greatest Fanbases

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    In college football, you may have seen Penn State fans almost go full monty, and of course there is the incessant ringing of cowbells at Mississippi State.

    Once the game begins, some fanbases can really make a difference.

    Passion for your team is what will make you say and do things you'd probably never do under normal circumstances.

    Some of the best have taken their fandom to higher and higher levels, spending thousands of dollars traveling the country and buying memorabilia.

    If you aren't sure who the greatest fanbases in college football are...well, you don't need to look any more.

50. Pittsburg State

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    Pitt State may be a Division II program, but their fans are more loyal and savvy than any Pitt Panthers fans.

    The small community in Kansas is in love with the Gorillas, and they fill Carnie Smith Stadium, which is also known as The Pitt.

49. Kansas State

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    Now that legendary coach Bill Snyder is back in charge, the Kansas State faithful are enjoying another Wildcat resurgence.

    K-State is 5-0 and should be 7-0 when it takes on No. 3 Oklahoma on Oct. 29.

    Finally, Kansas State's fans have something to be excited about again, and they are letting the team hear them every game.

48. Rutgers

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    When Greg Schiano first resurrected Rutgers football, the fans responded in a big way.

    Who could forget when the Scarlet Knights upset No. 3 Louisville 28-25 at home?

    What ensued was a campus party for the ages.

    Rutgers is enjoying another solid season and could be a dark horse to win the Big East.

    It'll be interesting to see how the Jersey folks party then.

47. Illinois

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    Illinois football has been so up and down over the past few decades that the loyal fans don't get as much credit as they deserve.

    This week the fans are planning to stripe Memorial Stadium for the big game with Ohio State.

    The fans will wear either blue or orange depending on which section they sit. Therefore they should give off the illusion that the stadium is striped.

    If the Illini win, let's hope we don't have another free-for-all like the video posted here.

46. East Carolina

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    East Carolina fans are sort of the diet version of West Virginia fans.

    They'll do just about anything to show their support, but in the end they feel everyone else is out to get them.

    Dear Pirates fans, here is my attempt to pay you some respect.

    Great job getting crazy for your team.

45. UCLA

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    After a tough start to the season, UCLA has bounced back and is 3-3 right now.

    That has Bruins fans thinking a spot in the Pac-12 championship game isn't out of the realm of possibility.

    Thus, UCLA's special blend of blue and gold is back out at home and away games rooting on the Bruins.

44. Utah

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    Before joining the Pac-12 this year, Utah's fans have had some unbelievable moments to celebrate.

    Their mettle is being tested this season, as the Utes have yet to win a conference game.

    It still doesn't deter from their love of Utah and what Kyle Whittingham has built.

43. Navy

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    Whether it's the Army-Navy game or a home game in Annapolis, Navy's fans love football.

    Navy's students are the best.

    It's like they've been cooped up studying all week and have to follow all of these strict rules...oh wait, they do.

    That explains why they can be so over the top during the game.

42. Fresno State

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    Fresno State has a special bond with the people of the San Joaquin Valley, and it shows with the support the Bulldogs get from the community.

    Fresno's students are also a fanbase that's ready for games and the parties that come with it.

41. Air Force

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    Air Force is the least talked about of the military academies, probably because it is out west.

    Well, the 52,000 fans who take in the games at Falcon Stadium are a feisty group.

    They get even louder when the Falcons are playing Army or Navy.

    Now do you see why the Big East is interested in adding Air Force?

40. TCU

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    TCU fans have had a few rough moments this season, but the sadness over some early losses has been replaced with the euphoria of conference realignment.

    Yes, the Horned Frogs are one of the lucky ones and will be joining the Big 12 next year.

    As noted earlier in the Utah entry, TCU fans may become a little weary of what they get. Playing in the Big 12 could mean regular defeats against programs like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas and so on.

39. Ole Miss

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    During the game, Ole Miss fans are relatively average compared to their fellow SEC programs.

    When it comes to tailgating, few do it better than the Rebels in The Grove.

    Their ability to get primed for a game is worth the ranking.

38. Brigham Young

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    It wasn't BYU's brightest moment when the fans stormed the field after beating Utah State, but give them credit for getting excited.

    The Cougars are still adjusting to life as an independent (however short-lived that might be), and the fans have been able to enjoy some big games this year.

    A night game at LaVell Edwards Stadium can actually be an intimidating environment.

37. Baylor

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    We've saw what Baylor's fans can do with a big win over future Big 12 partner TCU.

    There was all of that gold in the stands and a student body that just didn't know what to do when their team won.

    With the hard-working Art Briles coaching the Bears, Baylor's fans may have more to cheer for in the future.

    Of course, it would be nice if they could find a way to keep Robert Griffin III around for four more years.

36. Colorado

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    Colorado's move to the Pac-12 has not really helped the program's fortunes on the field.

    The fans would love to win more games, but that doesn't stop them from cheering for Ralphie and an occasional first down.

    Colorado's faithful have a solid foundation, and they are just waiting for the tide to turn in Boulder.

35. Cincinnati

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    So what if Cincinnati can only seat 35,000 fans at Nippert Stadium?

    The fans are a boisterous group who love to get rowdy with their friends, especially during night games.

    Since Cincinnati's fortunes have turned for the better this season, the fans are back in full effect.

34. Arizona

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    The loud cheering you are hearing from the Wildcats today is because of the midseason firing of head coach Mike Stoops.

    Now the fans hope they'll have something to cheer about on the field for the rest of 2011.

33. Missouri

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    Missouri fans can turn Faurot Field into "The Zou" in a hurry.

    Just look at how they performed in last year's upset win over No. 1 Oklahoma last year.

    Those fans had an impact on the Tigers' performance that night.

32. South Carolina

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    South Carolina fans have taken some flak in the past for being SEC posers.

    I'm here to disagree.

    The Gamecocks have improved on the field, and the fans have also elevated their game.

    What the fans want now is for South Carolina to bring home that first SEC championship.

    Sorry, but Alabama or LSU will probably have something to say about that.

31. Oklahoma State

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    Oklahoma State is a mover and a shaker.

    The Cowboys have put a quality product on the field for about a decade now, and OSU fans have responded in kind.

    For a second straight season the fans have selected a special fan T-shirt that they wear to games. Of course, orange body paint is also acceptable.

    However, there is one thing that makes being an Oklahoma State fan downright miserable—the Oklahoma Sooners.

    The Cowboys are currently enjoying an outstanding 2011, but none of that matters without a win over the Sooners.

30. Georgia Tech

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    Here we have the people who hate the team in Athens, Ga.

    The student body would say they have better SAT scores than their peers at Georgia.

    While there are plenty of other things to do in Atlanta, the Ramblin' Wreck love them some Georgia Tech football.

    Bobby Dodd Stadium may be old, but the atmosphere on game day can be electric.

29. Iowa

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    Iowa's fans are fiercely loyal, and they live and die by the Hawkeyes.

    On Saturdays the 70,000 or so fans pay homage by getting crazy loud.

    Losing to Iowa State earlier this season was a serious body blow, and then they received an uppercut with the loss to Penn State this past weekend.

    All of them will be at Kinnick Stadium this Saturday as the Hawkeyes take on Northwestern. They just would like a win to get Iowa to 4-2.

28. Arizona State

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    When you see your first game at Sun Devil Stadium, you can expect two things:

    1. The Arizona State fans will look like a sea of gold in the bleachers.

    2. They will get real loud as they hold up the pitchfork symbol.

    Now that Dennis Erickson has ASU winning, the fans are even crazier.

    It should also be noted that Arizona State has some of the best-looking fans in the nation.

27. Michigan State

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    With a win over Ohio State already this season, and the chance to make it four straight against rival Michigan, the Michigan State faithful are enjoying a good run.

    Let them get 75,000 strong into Spartan Stadium, and you'll hear and see the passion the MSU fans bring to the table.

    The fans have even resorted to taunting their rival around the state.

26. Mississippi State

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    Cowbells. More ringing of the cowbells. Did I mention cowbells?

    Yep, Mississippi State fans that's what anyone outside of Starkville knows about their status as fans.

25. Boise State

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    Just 10 years ago it would have been hard to find anyone who would have argued for Boise State on this list.

    Now Broncos fans are probably upset they aren't higher than No. 25.

    Hey Boise, it's a sign of respect that you are this high.

    We get it. You're from a small state, the Broncos don't play in a BCS conference and you want some respect.

    Here you go. Say hello to No. 25.

24. Texas Tech

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    Texas Tech may not get the publicity of, say, Texas, Texas A&M or Oklahoma, but the Red Raiders are a crazy group.

    Maybe it's because they always feel like the overlooked team in Texas and they feel they have something to prove. But one thing that can't be denied is their overzealous behavior when it comes to rooting on Texas Tech.

    Tech isn't quite back to the Mike Leach glory days, but with Tommy Tuberville in charge the Raiders shouldn't fall too far off.

    Fans still have some bright days ahead.

23. Clemson

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    At Clemson, the fans are probably waiting for something bad to happen.

    They have to be saying to each other, "There's no way Dabo Swinney can keep winning, right?"

    Well, many of those same fans were adamant during the offseason that Clemson was ready to win the ACC.

    They just may be right, and the Tigers are enjoying every big win this season.

22. Washington

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    Washington's fans have a special connection with the Huskies players, and that is made clear at each home game.

    Another indication of Washington's love of the Huskies is their determination to fill the stands no matter how poor the weather conditions are in Seattle.

    Students have camped out the night before a game just to get a ticket into the Dawg Pack. Some have even watched the game while wearing a dog costume.

21. Florida State

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    One of the more impressive (or annoying, if you are a Florida fan) in-game chants is the War Chant by Florida State's fans.

    It seems to drone on forever, but that's what makes it work.

    While the tradition has been around since the 1960s, it really took off in 1985 and has remained highly popular among the fans.

    FSU's fans are having another tough season, but a win over rival Florida would certainly help alleviate the disappointment this year.

20. Texas A&M

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    Texas A&M's fans didn't get the nickname of 12th Man for being quiet.

    A&M's fans love their team so much that 40,000 or so attend the night before a game for Yell Practice.

    Texas A&M's student body actually stand the entire game and get rowdy, and when the team scores they get randy with their dates.

    A kiss after scoring is always a good thing.

19. Arkansas

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    From the day an Arkansas fan can speak, the first thing they learn is the "Woo Pig Sooie" chant—which is also known as a Hog Call.

    It's also cool to see a bunch of fans wearing a razorback head throughout the game.

    Has anyone ever worn a real razorback on their head?

18. USC

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    USC may be underachieving with Lane Kiffin at the helm, but that has not stopped the USC faithful from packing Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

    While the 90,000-plus fans are generating some serious noise, it just seems to dissipate out of the open-air, bowl-shaped stadium.

    It's also hard to intimidate your opponent wearing a Matt Leinart jersey or even a Reggie Bush jersey.

    Still, the fans love their Trojans, and you never know when Will Ferrell might show to fire up the crowd and team.

17. Georgia

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    For about 12 to 18 months, a vocal minority of Georgia fans have complained about the job Mark Richt has done with the Bulldogs.

    However, the majority have supported him, and that may pay off, as Georgia has turned its season around after a 0-2 start, and the Bulldogs could win the SEC East.

    Georgia fans also get to enjoy one of the best home fields in the nation at Sanford Stadium.

    UGA fans would love nothing more this season than a win over rival Florida.

16. Virginia Tech

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    Virginia Tech's growing fanbase has had plenty to cheer about for about two decades now.

    Of course, that also coincides with the Frank Beamer era.

    The Hokies may never win much more than the ACC, but that won't stop their fans from believing they are actually a national power.

    That belief is what makes them special and worth mentioning.

15. West Virginia

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    Anyone who watched West Virginia when it hosted LSU knows how loud and crazy Mountaineers fans can be.

    Of course, a week later first-year coach Dana Holgorsen was upset that Mountaineer Field wasn't full for a game with Bowling Green.

    Holgorsen wasn't wrong, but he was sort of overlooking a perfect storm of factors that resulted in the smaller crowd.

    WVU fans love the Mountaineers and will always give it their best.

14. Florida

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    Florida fans are another group that is more of a recent phenomenon.

    Of course, since the Steve Spurrier days the fans have packed Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on a regular basis. They create a lot of noise with the Gator Chomp.

    It starts with the students, but the alumni are now as fervent as ever.

    They'll cut first-year coach Will Muschamp some slack this season, but they will expect the Gators to get back on top in the SEC soon.

13. Oregon

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    Oregon fans are sort of new to the game compared to some of the other programs on this list, but if the Ducks continue to be a Top 10 program they'll certainly move up this list.

    Approximately 60,000 fans cram into Autzen Stadium each week and create one of the loudest environments in the game.

    Even when ESPN's College GameDay comes to town, the fans are at their best.

    Ducks fans have had a few tough losses of late (including two BCS bowls), but nothing keeps them from offering their utmost support.

12. Auburn

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    Auburn fans are better known for how they celebrate a victory, but the Tigers took it up a notch in the stadium in 2010.

    The BCS championship season was not only the team's moment to shine, but also a chance for a passionate fanbase to truly celebrate.

    With 87,000 fans jammed into Jordan-Hare Stadium, opponents can understand why Auburn's fans are ranked so high.

11. Wisconsin

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    When 80,000 Wisconsin fans meet at Camp Randall, all you get is one of the best home-field advantages in college football.

    There have been a few Top 10 teams who have fallen victim to the power of the Badgers. Just ask Nebraska what it was like to play its first Big Ten game in Madison.

    It's a questionable tradition, but Wisconsin's fans get really pumped up when they play "Jump Around" by House of Pain.

    It doesn't matter how old you are; you are expected to jump throughout the entire song.

10. Notre Dame

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    Notre Dame cracks the top 10 for one simple reason: The Irish have one of the nation's biggest followings.

    It may not be as large as, say, Ohio State's or Michigan's, but the Irish seem to be at least the No. 2 favorite team of every Catholic.

    Notre Dame's fans still pack Notre Dame Stadium each week, and they travel well.

    After a tough start to 2011, the fans' loyalty may finally get rewarded with the turnaround orchestrated by Brian Kelly.

9. Texas

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    Texas is football.

    They love their games on Friday night, but nothing tops a Saturday afternoon in Austin.

    The fans have been treated to some of the game's best players—from Tommy Nobis to Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams to Vince Young.

    Wow, there's been a lot to get pumped about at Texas (of course, if you don't count the David McWilliams years).

8. Michigan

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    Michigan fans have had plenty to get excited about this season, including that miracle come-from-behind win over Notre Dame.

    The Wolverines have a large fanbase, but they are considered the thinking man's crowd.

    The dedicated group packs the Big House every game, and they seem to be getting louder now that Brady Hoke is coaching at Michigan.

    Keep winning and they may seem even louder and more supportive.

7. Tennessee

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    Tennessee fans have endured a few rough seasons, but they still fill Neyland Stadium for every home game.

    The Volunteers have some of the best traditions in the SEC, including thousands of fans who travel to the game via boats as part of the Vol Nation.

    They cheer loud and long and are showing strong support for Derek Dooley, who inherited a mess after one year of Lane Kiffin.

    When Tennessee gets back to the upper echelon of the SEC, these fans will be going strong.

6. Oklahoma

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    I'll never understand why Oklahoma fans don't get credit as being one of the nation's best groups. It just seems they are always overlooked.

    Not here they aren't.

    Let them chant Boomer Sooner all day. That's fine with me.

    OU is giving them another season to remember, even if the Sooners have dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 in the rankings.

    The fans understand perfectly well: Keep winning and the Sooners will be playing for a championship.

5. Penn State

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    If Penn State wanted to expand Beaver Stadium to 250,000 seats, there's a good chance it could fill every one of those seats with a spectator.

    These same fans love their Nittany Lions almost as much as they love Joe Paterno.

    The erector set stadium isn't the prettiest thing in the world, but 100,000-plus fans all wearing white makes for an intimidating environment.

    The Nittany Lions are fortunate to be 5-1 right now, and they are actually tied for the lead with Illinois in the Leaders division.

    Penn State may be winning ugly, but the fans just love the victories.

4. Ohio State

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    If you live in Ohio on game day, you are going to see more coworkers or classmates wearing an Ohio State jersey or polo than normal work attire.

    Buckeyes football is their life, and no one will take that from them. Not the NCAA, and not Luke Fickell's dismal coaching job.

    Ohio State fans wear Buckeye necklaces and will chant "O-H...I-O" all day long.

    The 2011 season has been tough on this faithful group, but most of them know there will be better days, so they keep filling Ohio Stadium and wait for a brighter future.

3. LSU

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    Tiger Stadium packs in 92,000-plus for every home game, even when LSU plays Nicholls State. The deafening crowds have certainly meant a few extra wins for the Tigers over the years.

    The fans travel well and love the Tigers.

    This year has the potential to be a memorable one for every LSU fan.

    LSU fans get it right, from the tailgating to the postgame party.

2. Nebraska

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    If you have never heard of the Sea of Red, then you don't get what makes Nebraska's fans so special.

    Even the university pays tribute to its outstanding fans with the following phrase at every Memorial Stadium entrance:

    "Through these gates pass the Greatest Fans in College Football."

    And the fans pay tribute every time.

    Nebraska's fans have not left an empty seat in the place in more than 300 games.

1. Alabama

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    It doesn't matter if Alabama is playing Kent State or Penn State—Crimson Tide fans are always 100,000-plus strong for games at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

    They are loud and passionate about their team, and they'll let you know about it every chance they get.

    What other fanbase takes pride in having photos of former coaches hanging in their homes and offices? I can't think of one.

    Alabama fans have at least one photo each of Bear Bryant, Gene Stallings and Nick Saban.

    Sorry, there aren't too many of Mike Shula.