Ranking the Most Loyal College Football Fanbases

Dan Vasta@CI_StatsGuruSenior Writer IIIJune 8, 2012

Ranking the Most Loyal College Football Fanbases

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    The word loyal may have different meanings to fans of all kinds, but it truly describes the way fanbases treat their beloved college football teams.

    According to dictionary.com, loyal means "characterized by or showing faithfulness to commitments, vows, allegiance, obligations, etc."

    In a nutshell, as diehard fans, we are obligated and just addicted to watching the teams and sport we love more than anything.

    Having written hundreds of articles involved with rankings thus far, putting together the most loyal college football fanbases is easily the toughest and yet most fluid and debatable list that could be put together.

    Everybody has a different opinion and may have biased feelings towards a specific team, but when looking at the most loyal college football fanbases, there have to be a few things kept in mind.

    Note: Feel free to discuss what, in your opinion, makes your own fanbase loyal and how you would rank such a difficult list.


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    When deciding a list like this, several things need to be stated and/or explained. Many people feel that rankings are all based on results even in rankings like these.

    Like most things in sports and in life, we rank based on a feeling and just go with it (the eyeball test works), and certainly some are biased, based on what they see.

    The first thing is that it obviously helps if your fanbase is popular, successful and/or prestigious.

    Regardless of whether you're on the best team on the planet or not, most diehard and loyal fanbases will scream their lungs off no matter how the team is playing. 

    That is arguably the true definition of a loyal fanbase, and they pick up their team even in the most difficult of times.

    So, looking at every single FBS team for the upcoming season, here are your most loyal fanbases in all of college football!

    Note: Teams that travel well have their large say in rankings like this, so clearly it is a disadvantage for lower ranked and unsuccessful teams. This isn't intended to be a popularity contest, but more times than not if your team wins there is no way to deny their popular status.

124. Idaho

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    Love me some Kibbie Dome!

    Unfortunately, most college football fans aren’t fans of having a wall behind an end zone inside a stadium that gets nearly zero support from its fanbase.

    Idaho loves its football if we are talking Boise State, but it has quite frankly been unfair with the lack of funding and support for this FBS program. Plus, having just 16,000 fans really isn’t considered much of a home-field advantage when there are 10,000 or fewer fans showing up.

123. New Mexico State

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    Remember when the Aggies had to beg their fanbase to help chip in money for snacks?

    Well, I certainly do, and many are questioning if the Aggies have what it takes to stay in the FBS. So many of these smaller schools have no chance at competing with the BCS schools because money will always have its say at the end of the day.

122. North Texas

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    Poor North Texas has a difficult life being in the Sun Belt, but to make matters worse, its record has not helped its support from the fanbase.

    Winning 11 games in four seasons is surely atrocious, but the hope is that Dan McCarney can wake up the fanbase.

121. Florida Atlantic

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    The Owls are coming off a forgettable 1-11 season and have gone bowling just twice in the program's history (2007, 2008).

    Carl Pelini has 15 starters coming back to help stop the bleeding, and he can only hope the fanbase in Boca Raton will hang with FAU for every step.

120. Tulane

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    How about a postseason trip for the Green Wave so the city of New Orleans can get behind its collegiate team?

    Two bowl games since 1988 has really put this program down several notches. Going back to 2002 is how far you need to go just to find a winning season. That is not easy for any fanbase.

119. Kent State

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    The poor Golden Flashes have only appeared in one bowl game in the history of the program. Plus, that Tangerine Bowl was way back in 1972!

    Since 2002 the football program has had just one non-losing season (2006, 6-6), and Darrell Hazell can only hope that bringing back 16 starters will help cheer up the fanbase, assuming they can find ways to win more games.

118. Buffalo

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    The Bulls are another team from the MAC that has not had much success no matter who the coach has been.

    Turner Gill took them to a MAC title (2008), but they would go on to lose their bowl game against Connecticut (International).

    Still, a 8-6 record was like winning the Super Bowl, and they can only hope that Buffalo gets back to winning a few more games to help a poor fanbase that is accustomed to seeing double-digit losses every year.

117. Louisiana-Monroe

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    Todd Berry is entering his third season, and though he is just 9-15, the future looks brighter by the season.

    This Sun Belt team has been abused in the non-conference slate for years against superior talent, and it often has cost them a bowl opportunity. Auburn and Arkansas will both be waiting again at home for the Warhawks, and we can only hope the fanbase can survive a few more thrashings.

116. UAB

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    The Blazers were worried about losing Garrick McGee after the Bobby Petrino drama, but UAB should be on the right track in the immediate future.

    This fanbase clearly misses Atlanta Falcons star wide receiver Roddy White running routes because they have not even come close to having a winning season since.

115. Eastern Michigan

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    Ypsilanti has not been treated with much success for the last decade. The Eagles have been abysmal in the MAC, although last season gave everybody hope with Ron English finishing 4-4 (6-6 overall).

    Still, the last trip to the postseason came in 1987, and the team has not won more than two road games in an individual season (kills the fanbase when you never win on the road) for the last 10 seasons!

114. San Jose State

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    Despite heading to the California Raisin Bowl four times in less than a decade ('81-'90), the Spartans have to just bowl since!

    Dick Tomey did everything he could in his power, and now Mike MacIntyre will hope for the best from his fanbase that has seen just one recent season ('06) with more than six wins.

113. Ball State

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    Pete Lembo could become the next big-name target to leave the MAC if he can put together a solid second-season campaign.

    However, the Cardinals still have some work to do, and the fanbase in Muncie can only hope Lembo does a better job than Stan Parrish (6-18 previous two seasons).

112. UTEP

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    Yes, that is Trevor Vittatoe pictured above because that was the last time the Miners were even a blip on the radar of college football.

    It was only in 2010, but a 6-7 season capped off with a loss in the New Mexico Bowl to BYU (52-24) put them back near the basement of C-USA.

    Mike Price is entering his ninth season in El Paso, and many fans are restless, wondering if they can ever become conference challengers.

111. Memphis

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    Tommy West ('01-'09) brought Memphis to five bowl games, and the fanbase is scratching their heads wondering what a bowl game is like since it feels like so long ago.

    The Tigers' last postseason appearance came in just 2008, but Larry Porter's quick two-year stint has ended, and now Justin Fuente starts from scratch. It can't get much worse since the program has gone 3-21 in the last two seasons.

110. Massachusetts

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    Having been members of the FCS/I-AA since 1978, the Minutemen are looking to make their mark right away in 2012.

    Charley Molnar takes over for Kevin Morris after having a few mediocre seasons, but the fanbase is excited to be members of the FBS.

    Playing in the MAC may not seem like the best of ideas from a geographical standpoint, but the solid competition should propel UMass to a brighter future.

109. Texas State

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    The Bobcats are now members of the FBS, and being in the WAC should make life interesting to say the least, though they will then move to the Sun Belt in 2013.

    Dennis Franchione will be coaching his second season with Texas State, and he is coming off a respectable 6-6 season. Although they faced all FCS opponents (and lower) one season ago, the WAC still has a few solid teams that will make their fanbase intrigued.

    Throw in Houston and Texas Tech in the first two games, and you have yourself a schedule that is loaded with potential bowl teams (Nevada, Louisiana Tech, Navy).

108. South Alabama

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    The Jaguars are an impressive 23-4 as an FCS independent, but the FBS will certainly challenge in the Sun Belt.

    Joey Jones is entering his fourth season and has done a magnificent job, so the fanbase cannot help but be pumped for the 2012 season.

107. Akron

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    Terry Bowden has 13 starters returning, but these Zips have gone just 2-22 over the previous two seasons, and they failed to record more than one MAC victory either season.

    Going back to 2005 isn't too far, but that would be their last competitive team that landed in a postseason bowl game. Bowden will get the fanbase behind him, but he has to deliver sooner rather than later in a MAC that is being dominated by the likes of Northern Illinois and Toledo.

106. Middle Tennessee

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    Rick Stockstill is on the hot seat according to most, but the Blue Raiders have appeared in three bowl games going back to 2006.

    The fanbase needs to enjoy the life of a participant in the Sun Belt a bit more, and last season was anything but enjoyable.

    The squad ended up at a miserable 2-10, and it doesn't help playing Georgia Tech and Mississippi State in the non-conference slate.

105. UTSA

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    The Roadrunners just became a football program last season, and Larry Coker coached them up to a 4-6 season. Coker, of course, is the former Miami Hurricanes coach that won a BCS title ('01), but the WAC certainly will bring interesting matchups this upcoming season.

    The fanbase obviously is ecstatic, and for a young team (only three expected seniors to start), I would bank on at least another four-win season at the very worst. That should buy time for a fanbase that will be eager to win.

104. Troy

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    Larry Blakeney has been at Troy since 1991 (22nd season), and we have seen several winning seasons along the way. However, many are pointing to an end of a beautiful era for this coach coming off a 3-9 season.

    Perhaps with 15 starters returning the Trojans may make a run at a Sun Belt title one last time, but the fanbase has been spoiled a bit with all of their winning.

103. Utah State

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    There were six games one season ago that Gary Andersen feels like his squad could have easily won. Instead, they suffered a tough 7-6 season that included six heart-throbbing losses.

    The season ended just how it had all started. Their road opening loss to Auburn to kick off the season was brutal, but they then ended the year with a disappointing loss to an Ohio team that they had practically owned for nearly four quarters.

    The fanbase has not been accustomed to winning at all (three bowls since 1962!), so patience is something they have.

102. Western Kentucky

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    Willie Taggart is entering his third season, and my goodness did the Hilltoppers get jobbed last season. They went 7-5 and could not get an invitation to a bowl game largely because they are new and not popular enough.

    Playing in the Sun Belt will be interesting again, and losing arguably the most productive player in program history (Bobby Rainey) will test your willpower as a team. One thing is for certain: The fanbase is all in with Willie Taggart.

101. UNLV

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    Bobby Hauck led Montana to three FCS championship appearances in seven years, yet he cannot buy a victory these days with the Rebels.

    UNLV has been porous, going 4-21 combined for the last two seasons, and many believe the Rebels will have no decision but to oust Hauck if he cannot pick it up. The fanbase wants to get to their fourth bowl since 1984, and things just do not look great these days.

100. New Mexico

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    If I didn't follow college football or New Mexico Lobo football, then I would call you crazy if you told me that the Lobos have gone 1-11 for three straight seasons.

    Mostly because you have to be overdue to win at least two games a season, right?

    This fanbase is thanking their lucky stars they landed Bob Davie, but many believe it will take a few miracles before they end up playing in the postseason.

99. Western Michigan

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    Western Michigan thought it was finally going to get its first-ever bowl victory, but it came up just short against Purdue in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl (37-32).

    Bill Cubit is entering his eighth season in Kalamazoo, and his program has made nice strides along the way. The fanbase has been supportive, and they have faith in quarterback Alex Carder to help continue their winning ways in a manageable MAC conference.

98. Arkansas State

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    Gus Malzahn is the hotshot type of offensive coach that should be able to lead the Red Wolves to a double-digit-win season in the immediate future.

    Coaching can change things in a conference like the Sun Belt, and with Michael Dyer eligible in 2013, the underrated and unknown fanbase might even be thinking about possibly having a Top 20 type of team.

97. Bowling Green

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    The Falcons are entering their fourth season with Dave Clawson at the helm, and their fanbase can only hope that they get back to relevancy in the MAC.

    Mediocrity is never a good thing, and let it be known that things do not look all that bright for your fans or your program when Florida, Toledo and Virginia Tech are lined up on that September schedule.

96. Wyoming

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    Laramie is not the most popular of college football cities out there, but Dave Christensen has the makings of letting the fanbase know just how good these Cowboys could become.

95. Florida International

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    For a program that became an FCS opponent in 2002-2003 (FBS right after), they have quickly picked up steam (fanbase has noticed—two bowls in a row).

    Thanks and credit go out to Mario Cristobal, who has surprised so many of us in the Sun Belt. He has produced solid performers on the defensive side of the ball, and in time the offense will hopefully improve with a few solid, explosive playmakers developing in time for the fanbase to be proud of.

94. Rice

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    David Bailiff is entering his sixth season with the Owls, and some firmly believe this is the season where they get back to the postseason after a three-year vacation, if you will.

    Sam McGuffie has been their star (only when healthy), and the key really is for him to stay on the field for as many plays as possible (sounds easy, right?).

    With McGuffie used as a slot receiver at times last season and even during the spring, this fanbase will be even more impressed if he can carry this squad to its third bowl trip since 1961-1962!

93. Louisiana-Lafayette

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    Appearing in its first bowl game since 1970 surely helped, but Mark Hudspeth was clicking all the right buttons in the dramatic New Orleans Bowl victory over San Diego State.

    The fanbase crowded and packed the Superdome with a ridiculous number of fans (program record 42,841). Throw in nine starters back on offense, and it wouldn't come to a shock if they pick up one more win than they did last season (9-4).

92. Miami-Ohio

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    Don Treadwell did not have the perfect start like he had planned with a 4-8 season, but with 16 starters returning there are only positive thoughts and expectations going around with the fanbase.

    Plus, the MAC does not give you a brutal schedule, and it is like heaven avoiding both Toledo and Northern Illinois in the cross-conference schedule.

91. Central Michigan

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    Dan Enos is praying he can avoid a third straight 3-9 season in the MAC, but the Chippewas have 16 starters back, so we can only hope success occurs in 2012.

    If not, the fanbase will become extremely restless, and a future change will be on the way for a once prominent MAC school under Butch Jones and Brian Kelly.

90. Colorado State

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    Some believe it was a bad move for Jim McElwain to leave Alabama as its offensive coordinator to come restore some order at Colorado State, but you cannot blame a coach who wants to make a name for himself.

    The Rams have been unpleasant for the last three seasons in Fort Collins, but they have 15 starters returning, and they should easily avoid a fourth straight season of going 3-9.

    If not, the fanbase should still feel better knowing that a coach who has seen a ton of success will likely eventually bring this program back into bowl contention.

89. Ohio

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    Frank Solich has already made his mark with the Bobcats after appearing in three straight bowl games. They finally got off the hook with a dramatic bowl victory over Utah State (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl).

    Still, a MAC title appearance last season along with 14 starters returning, including their star quarterback Tyler Tettleton, should really get the fanbase going.

88. Tulsa

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    The Tulsa Golden Hurricane made me stay up past 2 a.m. watching college football last season, but that was unfortunately one of the few things they did for me.

    Outside of appearing in a bowl game in which they lost in the final seconds, their fanbase did not get much either. Bill Blankenship did a solid job in year one, and even though he is losing his star quarterback, he has a potential star coming in (Nebraska transfer Cody Green).

    The future looks bright for this squad, and playing in C-USA will give it a legit chance to play in the postseason for many years to come.

87. Army

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    West Point is a beautiful campus during the fall (on the Hudson River), but it isn’t that easy to succeed for the Black Knights these days.

    Known for those legendary teams under Earl Blaik, Army has appeared in only five bowl games (only two since 1988), and the fanbase would really be in jubilation if it can get back to winning ballgames.

86. San Diego State

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    Qualcomm Stadium sure is a great place to play during the fall on Saturdays, but the fanbase was essentially a no-show in San Diego State's last bowl game.

    It was the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against Louisiana-Lafayette, which was playing in its backyard and in just its third bowl appearance in program history.

    However, the Aztecs fanbase could step it up a notch, because Rocky Long has continued the team's solid play in the underrated Mountain West.

85. Temple

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    The Owls made the switch from the MAC to the Big East, and even if the results do not follow, the improving fanbase will be right where Al Golden left it a few seasons ago.

    Steve Addazio will be entering his second season, and he just took the Owls to their fourth bowl game in program history.

    The fans would likely be better suited if their home stadium was on campus instead of Lincoln Financial Stadium (home of the Philadelphia Eagles), but the move to the BCS certainly should improve everything in the near future.

84. Connecticut

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    The Huskies did appear in a BCS bowl under Randy Edsall before he went off to Maryland, but the fanbase as expected did not travel all that well to Glendale, Ariz.

    Looking to be bowl-bound in the immediate future, this conference as a whole will be changed for good starting in 2013.

    Moving to the ACC would help add more excitement, but it would be intriguing to see how well they travel when they play teams down South.

83. Duke

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    "Nobody just walks into Wallace Wade Stadium and expects a victory" is what ESPN’s Rece Davis may shout while running through some Blue Devil highlights, but let it be known that the Dukies have not been to a bowl game since 1995.

    In fact, the program has only gone to two bowl games since 1960! It is not as if the program is abandoned by its fans, though, as the stadium only holds 33,941 at the moment.

82. Hawaii

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    It cannot be stated enough how great it is to end your college football Saturday with a late-night snack with the Warriors of Hawaii.

    The fanbase was vital in their 2008 trip to the BCS, and fans enjoy catching some pigskin at Aloha Stadium in the fall—but they need to have more than just 30,000 per game. They were coming off a solid 10-4 season in 2010, yet the home crowd was not quite the same last year.

81. Fresno State

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    Formerly known as the program that would play Silicon Valley after Silicon Valley (four straight from 2000-2003), Pat Hill was considered an honor to play for before his squad finally bottomed out.

    It happens to every program since the sport is so fluid, but the fans could show a bit more support for newly hired coach Tim DeRuyter.

80. Louisiana Tech

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    The Bulldogs started to pick up when Derek Dooley saw moderate success, and now they are back to staying competitive with the big boys under Sonny Dykes.

    Virginia, Illinois and Texas A&M are all challenges in 2012 for Tech, and the opener against those Aggies will certainly let us know just how far the fans have come.

79. Toledo

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    After Tom Amstutz was forced out in 2008, Tim Beckman coached for the next three seasons, and the Rockets saw immediate success after his first season.

    Now led by Matt Campbell, currently the youngest coach in the entire FBS, Toledo will look for more success in the MAC.

    Most fanbases in the MAC do not jump off the page since there is not a whole lot of national support, but the Rocket fanbase is solid for a school in Ohio.

78. Air Force

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    The Falcons have been a success in the Mountain West with their ability to consistently show up in postseason games, but the Air Force fanbase, along with the coaching of Troy Calhoun, has enabled them to achieve success.

    The fan attendance could improve a tad, though, and for a Mountain West squad that has seen its share of solid moments, the excitement should be a bit higher.

    Calhoun has 41 wins thus far in his five-year career at Air Force, and the fanbase should have been solid for Mountain West standards.

77. Southern Miss

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    The Golden Eagles had a fun ride with Larry Fedora last season, and it was a special season to upset Houston in the C-USA title game. Now it is up to Ellis Johnson and the fanbase to see if they can achieve their dreams of winning another conference title in the near future.

    Out of the 38,000 fans that their stadium holds, three-quarters of the seats have been filled up for the last few seasons.

76. Central Florida

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    The Knights were relevant two seasons ago, and then George O’Leary’s squad seemed to forget how to play elite-level football.

    The fanbase has not exactly wanted O’Leary to stay; some wanted him ousted years ago, but a lot of that has to do with the win-at-all-costs attitude.

    Some feel they only have a great chance to compete if they bring in a different coach, but a lot of that has to do with the likes of Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Florida and even South Florida achieving success.

75. Nevada

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    Chris Ault has turned this premier non-BCS program into a raucous atmosphere for the majority of their home games. The last two home games against Boise State have been barn burners (split the two), but this fanbase firmly believes they have the goods to compete with nearly anybody.

    Mackay Stadium only fits about 31,545 fans, and although they had five of their six games filled with less than 16,000, the fanbase has remained loyal for the entirety of Ault’s two tenures.

74. Indiana

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    The Hoosiers are a clear-cut basketball school that loves to party. (The campus went bonkers after upsetting UK, but can you blame them?) Kevin Wilson would dig it if the fanbase cut him some slack with his current football squad.

    The success has been impossible to stay consistent with since there are so many other prestigious programs in the Big Ten, but the fans have consistently showed up to games.

    It was one season ago when attendance hit at least 41,000-plus in all but one home game (Memorial Stadium holds 51,000).

73. Wake Forest

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    Wake Forest has been patient with Jim Grobe on account of it ranking among the bottom two or three teams in the ACC alongside Duke (before Grobe arrived).

    Nowadays the Demon Deacons are appearing in bowl games at a consistent pace, and many argue that Grobe is among the top three coaches in the ACC thanks to turning 2- and 3-star recruits into 3- and 4-star players. The same goes for their fanbase, because Winston-Salem has not been a friendly place to opposing teams.

    They have given Florida State some fits through the years (lost two of last three on road), and it has been those type of rowdy atmosphere victories that have enabled them to go bowling. (Give Grobe and the underrated small-but-loud fanbase their due.)

72. Minnesota

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    Glen Mason was successful at grabbing elite running backs, but eventually he couldn’t land any defensive difference-makers. Jerry Kill has failed to land either at the moment, and the results are obvious and glaring right now.

    The Golden Gophers fanbase is still in full support of Kill and his squad, but they are restless since it has been a whole three seasons since their last bowl game.

71. Northern Illinois

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    The NIU Huskies really may need some challenges, because they have been consistently abusing the rest of the MAC competition, and the same can be said for their fan support.

    DeKalb isn’t exactly the best city in the state of Illinois, but the winning ways of this team have impacted everybody around campus. That is why many argue that winning truly does cure everything.

70. Baylor

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    Before Robert Griffin III won the school’s first-ever Heisman Trophy, the fanbase wasn’t exactly loaded with diehards.

    Certainly one season can change things around, and I am giving them the benefit of the doubt a bit, but they did not let up one bit in their national and prime-time games (TCU and Oklahoma).

69. Marshall

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    The Thundering Herd is one of the highest non-BCS teams on this list thanks to some storied history and success during the 1990s.

    The fans of Huntington, W.Va., have traveled to bowl games mainly because the team has had so much success in the postseason (7-3 all-time). Just watch a game against West Virginia and tell me football isn’t that important to the Herd.

68. Navy

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    Go Navy, beat Army!

    That slogan in itself can get the fanbase going, and it should be on every fan's bucket list to catch a game between the two, as it is the final game of the college football season.

    Naval Academy’s fanbase truly is flawless to watch on Saturdays, as they always bring more than the listed stadium capacity (30,000).

67. Washington State

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    Pullman always has its own flag for College GameDay throughout the season, and that in itself is worth something extra.

    Now, if only they could get a few more fans' rear ends in those seats when the games are actually being played—then they could fly up these rankings.

66. Oregon State

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    Corvallis has been a nightmare for the visiting teams, and it has quite frankly been because of the number of fans that showed up expecting the unexpected.

    Certainly Mike Riley deserves a ton of respect and credit for Oregon State's achievements, but this underrated fanbase has given America some fond memories.

65. Rutgers

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    The fans had quite the ride with Greg Schiano. In the first two seasons (2001 and 2002), Rutgers combined to win just three whole games.

    Although the Scarlet Knights never appeared in a BCS game, the fanbase improved and became more relevant as the team succeeded a bit more after every season.

64. Kansas

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    The Jayhawks are such a prestigious program in basketball that it would be nice to eventually see them succeed like they did for Mark Mangino.

    The Turner Gill project did not work out, and most non-KU fans noticed, as the fan attendance dipped and the results were even worse. Hopefully Charlie Weis will give fans some extra incentive to remain loyal no matter what the results are in year one.

63. Kansas State

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    Wildcats fans have endured a whole lot, especially outside of Bill Snyder’s two tenures as the head football coach. We have seen them go from basement dwellers to BCS contenders thanks to Snyder.

    This program is once again back on the rise because of the future Hall of Fame coach, but props to the fanbase out in Manhattan for being able to hang in there through the tough seasons.

62. Northwestern

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    Pat Fitzgerald has done a solid job at Northwestern, but many fans want that epic bowl drought to just end already. Their last bowl victory was in 1948, but at least now the program has gone to four straight bowls.

    The biggest key is just ending that streak, but it is vital to avoid dipping down in wins to the point that they cannot even get an opportunity at a bowl game.

    In each of the last four seasons we have seen the Wildcats decrease in wins (9, 8, 7, 6). The fanbase can be loyal, but it takes a lot out of the supporters when the losing picks up an extra notch.

61. Houston

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    John O’Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium is the Cougars' home stadium and only holds 32,000 (give or take with standing only and extra ones on sidelines), yet there were 31,000-plus in all but one of their home games.

    Kevin Sumlin left Houston in a nice position before he bolted for Texas A&M, and Tony Levine will attempt to keep the loyal fanbase coming back for more enjoyable moments.

60. South Florida

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    Tampa is a nice destination to visit any time of the year, but on fall Saturdays, many Bulls fans want more loyalty.

    Raymond James Stadium can hold up to 65,000 fans, but through the recent years, we have seen the majority of games with under 50,000. If this fanbase wants USF to become a legit program, it may need to provide a bit more consistency for Skip Holtz and the squad.

59. SMU

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    The Mustangs only can host approximately 32,000 fans, but they have certainly been able to pack the stadium in University Park more times than not. June Jones has started to slowly instill a winning atmosphere, and 2012 should be a season to enjoy.

58. East Carolina

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    The Pirates would love to be as successful off the field as they are on the field. East Carolina’s fanbase has been known to tailgate with the best of them (after all, they are Pirates), and their consistent attendance rate has been staggering.

    Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium holds 50,000 fans, yet they have no issues filling up the stadium.

    Out of their six home games last season, only two had less than 50,000 fans (the two were at 49,000). It is not that we are talking about a premier team in C-USA either, since they have not won a conference title since consecutive championships in 2008 and 2009.

57. Syracuse

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    The Carrier Dome is one of the more popular and, more importantly, louder stadiums in the FBS (at least among the non-elites).

    Syracuse may not have the greatest of football programs at the moment with Doug Marrone, but it should be noted that it did have four games in which there were 40,000 or more fans in attendance for their home games.

    Lastly, just because the football team isn’t dominant like the basketball team doesn’t mean these fans aren’t loyal—the atmosphere and expectations are just a bit different.

56. Virginia

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    The Cavaliers are solid under Mike London, but even when they had a few struggling seasons under Al Groh, we saw the fanbase show up with authority.

    ACC athletics are passionate regardless of the sport for Virginia, and it helps that the campus of Charlottesville is a nice spot to catch a game of their hometown team.

55. California

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    Jeff Tedford has won ballgames during his nice tenure in Berkeley. The fans have come for the majority of their crucial home games, and 2010 proved that in their fan attendance. In games against the elites (Oregon, Stanford) we saw over 65,000 show up.

    In games against Colorado and Arizona State we still saw over 50,000, which is not too shabby. Look for improved fan attendance in 2012, especially since all the home games last season were played at AT&T Park (home of MLB's San Francisco Giants).

54. Maryland

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    "Fear the Turtle!" was once upon a time the saying around College Park, but once they lost their big man in Ralph Friedgen (two years ago), things have been a bit disappointing.

    The fans of Maryland basketball reacted the same way when Gary Williams left, and this is what happens to many programs when their own legends are done.

    Randy Edsall needs some quick success in year two since a 2-10 season certainly has tested the Terps' loyalty.

53. Cincinnati

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    The Bearcats are considered unknowns in the BCS world, and that is even coming off a double-digit-win season.

    Butch Jones is banking on even more success in 2012, but the fans came out and really supported their Bearcats in the Liberty Bowl (against an SEC school, Vanderbilt).

    Many Big East schools prefer their hoops over football, but at least the atmosphere is always high-energy with this fanbase.

52. Arizona State

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    Arizona State has been considered the true party school to attend because Tempe has it all: student body, weather, pools and parties nonstop. Even with everything on the list and then some, these fans know how to live a little while watching their Sun Devils.

51. NC State

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    The Pack always attempt to bring a party-like atmosphere to Raleigh every weekend. Since Chuck Amato was the head coach, NC State has not grabbed the attention of most.

    However, their fans show up ready to compete for ACC titles thanks to solid support from everybody on campus.

50. Illinois

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    The Fighting Illini will gladly enjoy themselves, as they have labeled their fanbase "Orange Krush."

    Most Big Ten schools enjoy the party life and really only care about having a good time once it becomes game day. Win or lose, they will go on happy knowing that they did everything in their power to give their team a chance to win.

49. Arizona

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    Tucson can sizzle up a bit during the early stages of the fall, and it is unfortunate since the fanbase is overanxious for a winning squad.

    Mike Stoops brought some immediate success, but they could never hold on to it, and the restless fans basically booted him out of town themselves.

    It was just two full seasons ago when they upset Iowa at home, with the entire crowd going bonkers with the hopes of contending for a Pac-10 title.

48. Louisville

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    Charlie Strong has surely won over most of their fans since he cares about nothing more than his football program.

    Bringing in a winning attitude has been enjoyable for the Louisville fanbase, and they certainly show up to every game with the full intention of winning. Not every Big East program is full of diehard football fans, but that would be the case in Louisville.

47. Kentucky

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    Lexington is the capital of the world for college basketball, but football, unfortunately, has not achieved half the success or reaped any benefits.

    That doesn’t kill fans' loyalty, but they could buckle up a bit better and lower the expectations with Joker Phillips as their coach.

46. Pittsburgh

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    The crowd would sing "Sweet Caroline" after every quarter if they blasted it over the speakers, but Pittsburgh sure enjoys their football.

    Going through four coaches in less than a decade is a lousy thing to be forced to go through as a fanbase, but they have quietly been loyal along the way.

45. North Carolina

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    The Tar Heels have a gorgeous campus and are well known for having one of the greatest basketball programs, but the football program has had a few famous players (Julius Peppers, Lawrence Taylor) who fans will never forget.

    Fans down towards the South really live and die by the results of their athletics, but their loyalty has arguably taken a step up after the loss of Butch Davis.

    It takes patient and obligated fans to shrug off all that had occurred, but clearly there is excitement with Larry Fedora coming to Chapel Hill.

44. Iowa State

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    The Cyclones are just accustomed to pulling off an upset every season, it seems. Make a note of all the shocking upsets we have seen through the BCS era.

    Iowa State has surprisingly had a few magical moments, but the credit truly belongs to an underrated fanbase. Iowa does not have many professional teams to cheer for (Indianapolis Colts), so football has become vital.

43. UCLA

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    The Bruins have patiently waited for their team to turn around, but they really believed in Rick Neuheisel when most non-UCLA fans thought they had zero chance at becoming national factors.

    That is what loyalty is all about. Seeing is believing, and they feel as if they have the pieces to no longer play second fiddle to USC.

42. Vanderbilt

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    The Commodores may not get a lick of respect in terms of competing with the studs from the SEC, but they sure as hell gave them just that during the regular season.

    It doesn’t matter, quite frankly, because the fans in Nashville have all the confidence in the world that they will become a legit program for years to come.

    James Franklin has changed the atmosphere, which is only going to make life that much better if you are an alum and/or diehard Vandy fan.

41. Stanford

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    The Cardinal are known as the smart ones since Stanford is such a great school to attend, but they have shown just how much they love football in recent memory. Before Jim Harbaugh showed up in Palo Alto, the program was not doing so hot.

    However, even after losing a great coach in Harbaugh, we have seen a ton of fans represent their school well with David Shaw at the helm. Even without Andrew Luck, the fans love their football since everything is going well these days.

No. 40 Utah

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    The Ute fans in Salt Lake City have seen two undefeated seasons with two different coaches in the BCS era, and they are looking forward to an improved season in year two in the Pac-12.

    It helps to have such a successful program so your fans never get restless, but even before they became a BCS program we have seen the enthusiasm reach a high point.    

39. Brigham Young

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    Provo has seen a ton of history from its program, and new stories are being written every season. The fans at LaVell Edwards Stadium show up with class and dignity since they know Bronco Mendenhall will only continue to keep up his winning ways.

38. Boston College

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    Ever since "Flutie Magic," the fans of Boston College have been passionate and loyal no matter what kind of success the football team has seen. The ACC has been kind to the Eagles, but they should be in for some more struggles, as Frank Spaziani is fighting for his job.

    The fans obviously want to win like any other BCS program, but the positivity and excitement they bring stacks up well with the rest of the ACC.

37. Purdue

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    "Boiler Up" will show up for any sporting event because this Big Ten school is always loyal. Plus, this party of a school gives off that type of rowdy atmosphere regardless of who their opponents are.

36. Missouri

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    Head to the SEC, and most of the time you will hear your team is not good enough to compete with the big boys. The Tigers have slowly started to realize they are officially in the top conference in America, but their fans sure are going to enjoy every second of it.

    Accustomed to taking on the Big 12 competition, Mizzou should be able to withstand everything that comes its way thanks to its tremendous fanbase.

35. Ole Miss

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    The Rebels have gone two seasons with winning only one SEC game combined, but their fanbase wouldn’t give any sort of clue for that stat.

    The Grove will always remain the best spot for tailgating to have amazing memories before and after games, but during the game the fans are upbeat and positive even through the most difficult of times.

    All of the teams listed ahead may have a ton more success on the field, but the diehard fans who show up for their team in Oxford did not get lost in the shuffle, in my book.

34. Georgia Tech

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    Paul Johnson has given the fans a few enjoyable and memorable seasons in Atlanta, but the fans have been appreciative for being able to be put back on the national map.

    It was tough to watch them struggle under Chan Gailey, but they are starting to reach their full potential under Johnson (though they have tailed off a tad the last two years).

    The loyal Jackets fans have stood tall through a whole lot in the ACC, and we will only see them develop into an even larger fanbase in time.

33. Colorado

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    Once known as one of the better teams in the country, Colorado is a program that is known for its underrated fanbase regardless of wins it achieves on the gridiron.

    Whether it is Ralphie running on the field in Boulder or a showdown with a newly acquainted Pac-12 squad, the loyal fans will be there despite the records. Throw them all out because the obligations for their entire community are only about enjoying their Buffaloes.

32. Michigan State

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    The Spartans love playing in front of their home crowd in East Lansing, and that is mainly because their fans have always been upbeat through the downtrodden seasons.

    The last two seasons have been tough since they came so close to reaching a BCS bowl. Mark Dantonio’s recent turnaround of this program has been evident with the number of NFL players they are producing, but the defense is nearly as special as their fanbase.

31. TCU

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    The Horned Frogs surely do not get enough love, and many blame it on their conference affiliation. The nation will see just how powerful the Horned Frog fanbase is in Fort Worth.

    TCU football has turned into a winning atmosphere thanks to Gary Patterson, but the fans have slowly started to take over the state of Texas. Can they keep it up with their move to the Big 12?

30. Mississippi State

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    The Bulldogs and their darn cowbells may be the most annoying noise if you were to ask the average non-SEC fan or coach, but it makes their fanbase that much more impressive.

    They have been accustomed to losing in the SEC West thanks to a few elite teams every season, but Dan Mullen has changed a whole lot in a short time. The fans will never die, as they keep coming back every season, awaiting more special moments for a program that is very capable.

29. Washington

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    Most Huskies talk goes unnoticed because we do not see Washington achieve a whole lot of success. However, their fanbase will show up even at the darkest moments for their program.

    Steve Sarkisian has them back on track, but the support he has seen has escalated in the blink of an eye. Although somewhat underrated, the Huskies get their due here.

28. Texas Tech

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    The Red Raiders have missed the days of Graham Harrell throwing strikes to Michael Crabtree, but all programs go through phases. The "gambler" in Tommy Tuberville is looking for a bounce-back season.

    Tech gets its rabid fans on their feet at every critical stage of the game, but they are vastly underrated because the Red Raiders have not achieved the same success as some of their counterparts (TCU, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas, Oklahoma).

27. Miami (Fla.)

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    Even after everything the program has recently gone through, people in Miami firmly believe that Al Golden is the one to lead the 'Canes back to the promised land.

    Remember, sports is filled with and watched for arguably the two biggest reasons: entertainment and expectations. Miami has been known for its swagger, and that is because the fans have been with it every step of the way—going through tough times is what makes you better.

    The fans still have high hopes, and in time their program will be back on track to contend with the best competition in the nation.

26. Oklahoma State

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    Boone Pickens Stadium has turned into a cathedral, but the fans in Stillwater absolutely love their squad. The state of Oklahoma is loaded with avid sports fans, and they love nothing more in life than screaming at the top of their lungs to see their team victorious.

    The Pokes have a new energy level thanks to Mike Gundy, and these fans go all out against some heavyweight programs (Texas, Oklahoma).

25. Clemson

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    Death Valley is thrown in there with all of the rowdy atmospheres, but the fans are the ones who keep things even-keeled.

    That may sound like an odd statement when we are dealing with a program like Clemson—after all, Dabo Swinney and his boys have never been able to close the deal.

    They came close last season after defeating Florida State and Virginia Tech (twice), but they were embarrassed by West Virginia in the Orange Bowl. Dabo’s crew is loaded enough to compete with everybody, but the inconsistency would make most fanbases jump off a cliff.

    Instead, Tiger nation has withstood a ton of adversity and is only a few signature moments away from appearing in more future BCS bowls.

24. Georgia

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    The hungry Bulldogs are primed and ready to get back to a BCS bowl, and their defense certainly is capable of becoming one of the best that Mark Richt has ever coached.

    Georgia’s fanbase is special like any SEC school, but they are better than the average because of their storied past. "Between the Hedges" will never get old, but the camaraderie of the fanbase is arguably what keeps the team so loose (despite those who wanted Richt ousted or still do).

23. South Carolina

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    Gamecocks fans have been arguably so loyal through the years, because the team has not achieved a whole lot of success. Steve Spurrier just wrapped up the best two-year span of SC program history.

    The crowd will go bonkers (see: Alabama 2010) at every home game, but even if they lose, it is as if nothing happened with how they react. It takes an ability to forgive and forget when your team plays in the SEC, because every once in a blue moon your team will get obliterated.

    Showing the love for your team in the most difficult of times is crucial, and the fans in Columbia have been fantastic along the way.

22. Iowa

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    Regardless of the sports websites out there, the Iowa Hawkeyes will rarely receive much hype or praise. However, all of that bogus stops right here!

    The fans of Iowa City can get insane, and it starts at about the same time most of us would go to bed back in our college days.

    Plus without any NFL team around (closest is Chicago Bears), the state of Iowa is clearly a college state and boy do they love their football.

    As early as four or five in the morning, Hawkeyes in town will tailgate as soon as they wake up—if it's a night game, the play is often put into frenzy mode!

21. Arkansas

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    The Pig Sooie chant is great to see even for the SEC diehards because of how creative, odd or unusual it is considered.

    Still, the Razorback fanbase is great, and although they despise Bobby Petrino for the way he ended his tenure in Fayetteville, they are confident enough in John L. Smith to lead them back to national power.  

    The consistently confident fans are hard to come by in a conference that is loaded with premier title contenders, but that is why Arkansas has been so successful the past few seasons.

20. Boise State

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    The Broncos may not travel as well as the premier powerhouses in the country due to size and capacity of a program, but Boise State sure as hell lives and dies for its Smurfs.

    Always loyal and eager to earn respect, we see Boise State’s fanbase act just like its head coach Chris Petersen. Being respectful, full of integrity and keeping life in moderation allows everybody to follow along.

    Perhaps moving to the Big East will officially open the gate for this team to fulfill its dreams of playing in a BCS title game, but it is not like the community hasn’t killed just to play in any type of BCS bowl either.

19. Virginia Tech

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    The Hokies love their football probably more than I love the team coming out of the locker room to Metallica’s "Enter Sandman," and that tells you something about their fans.

    Blacksburg and Lane Stadium can be deafening if you haven’t been there before, and the loyal fans will jump and shout to death for their team because that is how vital Hokies football is for those folks (thank you Frank Beamer!).

18. Oregon

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    Autzen Stadium is a place where it never rains, and the fans live in their own world once it is game day.

    All of the beautiful (or hideous) uniform combinations that the program uses spice things up, but it is not like the fans would not love their Chip Kelly squad without them.

    The home-run touchdown plays and all of the thrilling victories add to the level of excitement that their crowd brings every Saturday.

17. Wisconsin

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    The Badgers love their football, and it shows every game at Camp Randall. Their loyalty is shown with their raucous atmosphere, and once that third quarter ends, it is time to "Jump Around."

    The tailgating, postgame parties and everything in between make Badgers football more than just a game of football—it makes you wish you could live the dream of Madison every single day.

16. West Virginia

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    You want loyalty?

    The fans of the Mountaineers are everything and then some in terms of loyalty. The burning of the couc hes tradition is still living up as one of the more passionate traditions that college football has to offer.

    Moving to the Big 12 will only make them even more loyal, and this program has been through quite a bit being part of the Big East since 1991. Now that they have entered the spotlight, their fans will only take it up an extra notch (which is scary).

15. Oklahoma

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    The fanbase for the Boomer Sooners is beyond special due to all of the history and traditions that Oklahoma has had through the decades of success.

    Their 39-game home winning streak was snapped after Texas Tech defeated them this past year.

    Win or lose, the fanbase out of Norman ranks high on this list thanks to a boatload of loyalty (shows with the Oklahoma City Thunder).

14. Florida State

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    The Seminoles travel well like most prestigious programs do, but what makes their fanbase elite is their ability to get all decked out for every single game at Doak Campbell Stadium.

    Even for road games, and especially for bowl games, the 'Noles pack any stadium up in the country.

    The FSU Cowgirls are always on the prowl, or should I say the cameras are always waiting.

    The Tallahassee weather always makes night games sensational, but the loyal Seminoles fanbase is obligated and loves nothing more than watching its Garnet and Gold during the fall.

13. Texas

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    The Longhorns fanbase is ranked highly because most are aware of how vital the state of Texas is with its football.

    It starts in high school and never stops—once the fans in Austin get a hold of their beloved squad, you will never hear the end of it.

    It could be in the middle of the NCAA tournament and fans will already be excited for the start of the football season, regardless of if the team has high expectations or not.

    Mack Brown is a winning coach, and his fanbase brings its loyal craziness to every single game.

12. Florida

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    "We Are the Boys from Old Florida" is just one example of how what college football means to the Gators. The traditions, pageantry and the overall memories are never forgotten in Gainesville.

    Their fans travel extremely well, and it is clear as day that Florida is an obvious state known for its football.

    The Gators' loyal fans take the cake.

11. USC

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    The V is for victory with the Trojans fanbase, and there is no doubt that USC football is still relevant for its loyal fans—regardless if they are winning every game or not.

    Southern California is ninth in the FBS for winning percentages, but 11 titles, 38 conference titles, six Heisman winners and 78 consensus All-Americans is not too shabby for tradition and success.

    The avid fans love nothing more than watching one of the elite programs in all of college football play in gorgeous weather every fall Saturday.

10. Tennessee

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    The SEC is absolutely loaded with prestigious programs, and the Vols are among the best of the bunch.

    When they have over 102,000 deafening fans cheering on for their decked-out Vols on fall Saturdays, it just makes you feel as if college football was meant to be played in Neyland Stadium.

    The key is how much this once national powerhouse has struggled since winning the first-ever BCS national championship back in 1999.

    Although Tennessee has gone 92-57 since that victory over Florida State, its SEC record is just 43-45!

    Throw that nice stat out the door, because the fanbase still shows up ready for that game-day experience as if the Vols are the defending SEC champions every single season.

9. LSU

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    The Bayou Bengals on the field can and will beat up arguably any team they face, and their beloved fans also stack up well with any program out there.

    They tailgate and are as passionate as it gets, but their loyalty speaks volumes. When Nick Saban left for the Miami Dolphins and came to Alabama, it crushed their hearts like it would for any premier program.

    However, they found Les Miles, won a BCS title and are starting to dominate college football, which isn’t too shabby. Saturday nights in Death Valley are the best, and win or lose the electric fanbase will be filled with loyalty.

8. Notre Dame

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    Saturdays in South Bend are practically heaven, so it seems. The beautiful freshly cut grass is unlike any other feeling, but the electricity in the air is easy to feel during the fall.

    Fans of the Irish are known as the best, thanks to the pageantry that shows up no matter what their record is. I would never compare them to lovable losers like the Chicago Cubs, since Notre Dame does have the fourth-most wins ever (and 11 claimed titles since the Cubs' last ring).

    Plus, they actually expect to win because they still land legit recruits and have the prestige to compete with anybody. However, it is the true passion of the fans that makes their program arguably the best to follow.

    There may be some drama on the field with who to start at quarterback or who the perfect fit is as the head coach, but win or lose the fans will travel anywhere and everywhere to see their beloved Irish!

7. Texas A&M

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    Fresh off winning ESPN’s College GameDay contest to host their own commercial with the crew, the Aggies fans are as faithful and loyal as any out there.

    Heading out for yell practice on a Friday (the night before a home game) is ridiculous in terms of one’s love for their team. A&M will fit right in with the SEC in terms of passionate fans (12th Man) because they love nothing more than their sports.

    The Aggies may not necessarily compete for a BCS bid anytime soon, but their loyal, crazed fans should will their team to a few extra victories than most may expect in 2012.

6. Penn State

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    Happy Valley is just that, and although everything fell apart with Jerry Sandusky and then with Joe Paterno being let go before tragically passing away, the fans showed their love for their icon of a head coach.

    Paterno meant the world to everybody on campus (meant everything for college football), and as soon as they realized he was not coming back, all hell broke loose on campus.

    Obviously, the hard feelings exchanged were made on first reactions and everything that went down was unfortunate, but the entire community was, and will always remain, in the spirit of Joe Paterno.

    Paterno was Penn State football, and we can only hope that future coaches, players and fans love the game as much as he did.

    Penn State’s genuine and loyal fans will continue in the Bill O’Brien era, and the pageantry will never die.

5. Auburn

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    The Plains are a great place to catch elite football, with the SEC being everything a fan has ever wanted.

    The Auburn fanbase is not just a game-day experience; it is something that lasts a lifetime. It is a lifestyle that centers on eating, sleeping and drinking college football, 365 days a year.

    Priorities are set straight in the state of Alabama, and you are a diehard for either the Tigers of Auburn or the Alabama Crimson Tide.

4. Alabama

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    Alabama’s fans are as good as any out there, and winning two of the last three BCS titles surely helps.

    This listing is not because Alabama does not offer enough, as Crimson Tide football is more than a religion—it is simply a way of life in Tuscaloosa.

3. Nebraska

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    Lincoln is a great college town to begin with, but the fans of the Huskers will scream GBR (Go Big Red) until the entire stadium hears a loud echo.

    These passionate fans just dig their football without any professional football team in the state. It killed the diehards two and three seasons ago when they fell just short of a Big 12 championship.

    Soon enough the Huskers may be competing for an opportunity to play in Pasadena, as the program and its fans are simply too successful to continuously come up short.

2. Ohio State

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    Many will debate that Buckeyes fans are as loyal as any in the country, and they could certainly make a case for their own program as the most loyal.

    Either way, Ohio State is a prestigious and loyal program thanks to its passionate fanbase. Brutus and the whole gang show up to the Horseshoe for every home game expecting a victory, but even after a defeat they show up the next weekend.

    Home or away, the Buckeyes are arguably the best traveling program in the country. Going to a game with Ohio State fans should surely be on the bucket list, especially if it is a trip during the postseason.

    Every game on the Ohio State schedule is like a Super Bowl for the opponent, but the fans are the ones who really treat it as such. Every weekend the fans make new memories only to relive them after every season. Most suspect that Urban Meyer will certainly help things move forward with his winning ways.

1. Michigan

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    The all-time winningest program in the history of college football happens to also have arguably the most loyal fan base in the country.

    The Maize and Blue fans are as legit as it gets, and while many look to the SEC for the kings of college football, the most loyal fanbase belongs to the Wolverines.

    The Big House is electric, and there was not a more hostile and entertaining group of fans than the ones who witnessed Michigan's stunning win against Notre Dame in the first-ever night game last season.

    Michigan means a lot to college football, and even when the team struggled in 2009 (finishing last in the Big Ten and winning just one game in-conference), there were no less than 106,000 fans at each and every home game.

    It doesn’t matter what their record is; Michigan fans are the most loyal out there and will pull for their team through thick and thin. 

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