College Football Predictions: The 25 Hardest Places to Play in 2013

Michael Carroll@mjcarroll531Featured ColumnistAugust 8, 2013

College Football Predictions: The 25 Hardest Places to Play in 2013

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    Which college football stadiums will be the hardest for visiting teams to win in in 2013?

    To make my predictions, I created a weighted formula.

    First, I looked at the schedules of every FBS team over the past four years (2009-12). Teams must have played FBS football in each of the seasons to qualify. Then, I wrote down the records of their home games at their regular venues.

    I didn’t include games at other sites, even if one team was home. For example, Syracuse “hosted” USC at MetLife Stadium in 2012, but since the Orange’s regular home venue is the Carrier Dome, I didn’t include this game.

    Here’s the formula:

    ((2009 winning percentage + .025) + (2010 winning percentage + .050) + (2011 winning percentage + .075) + (2012 winning percentage + .100)) / 4 = 2013 predicted winning percentage

    Why weighted winning percentages? I wanted recent history to count more.

    For tiebreakers, I ranked the teams according to Athlon Sports’ 2013 preseason rankings. 

    With that, let’s see which 25 teams will best defend their home turf in 2013.

25. Carter-Finley Stadium (NC State)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 84.97%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 7-1

    NC State’s 2013 season feels different than the recent past, but the Wolfpack still should dominate their home schedule.

    A new head coach comes to town, Dave Doeren, but he’s had lots of success at home with Northern Illinois recently. We’ll talk about that later.

    Also, the quarterback situation hasn’t been settled. Russell Wilson and Mike Glennon provided the Wolfpack with stability at the position, so finding their replacement could be a struggle.

    If NC State loses a home contest in 2013, it will likely be to Clemson. The Tigers are the favorites in the ACC.

24. Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (Arkansas)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 85.18%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 5-2

    Arkansas is similar to NC State in that it brings in a new head coach (Bret Bielema) who previously helped lead his program (Wisconsin) to a spot on this list. The Razorbacks could be one of the worst teams in the SEC in 2013, but don’t be surprised if Bielema gets more out of the roster.

    The two losses at home likely will be Texas A&M and South Carolina. Both programs are among the top 10 in the country.

    Arkansas’ 3-3 record at Razorback Stadium in 2012 wasn’t enough to pull it out of the top 25, which shows how good it played at home under Bobby Petrino.

23. Peden Stadium (Ohio)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 85.42%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 6-1

    Ohio is a program on the rise in college football, and its stellar home record over the past four seasons played no small part in that.

    The Bobcats were ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1968 in 2012, and they’ve gone to four straight bowls under Frank Solich.

    Kent State seems like the team most likely to hand Ohio a home loss. The Golden Flashes were top 25 material last season.

    The Bobcats gained national attention by beating Penn State at Beaver Stadium in the Nittany Lions’ first game under Bill O’Brien, but the more astute college football fan knows they’ve been knocking on the door for some time now.

22. Amon G. Carter Stadium (TCU)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 85.42%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 5-1

    If not for a 7-6 mark in 2012 for TCU, Amon G. Carter Stadium would’ve been higher on this list.

    The Horned Frogs got a wake-up call in their inaugural Big 12 campaign, but expect the program to be much improved in 2013.

    Texas could be the team that will prevent TCU from going undefeated at home. The Longhorns appear primed for a big run with 19 starters returning.

21. Bright House Networks Stadium (UCF)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 86.01%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 5-1

    UCF has flown under the radar in Conference USA, but with the move up to the American Athletic Conference in 2013, the Knights should get more exposure.

    South Carolina comes into Bright House Networks Stadium in 2013, so pencil in a loss there. Outside of the Gamecocks game, UCF shouldn’t be huge underdogs in any other home contest this season.

    It will be interesting to see how well the Knights play in their new conference, but any team that comes into their home venue should feel a bit intimidated.

20. LaVell Edwards Stadium (BYU)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 86.01%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 4-2

    BYU’s home stadium is named for LaVell Edwards, the coach that turned the Cougars into one of the best non-BCS programs ever. They’ve respected Edwards’ legacy by winning a lot of games in the building.

    Some good teams visit the stadium in 2013, and Texas and Boise State are two of them that could give the Cougars the most fits. I’ve pegged those two games as losses for BYU at home.

19. Nippert Stadium (Cincinnati)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 86.01%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 5-1

    Some outstanding coaches have led Cincinnati to such a great home record over the past four seasons: Brian Kelly and Butch Jones. Tommy Tuberville should add to that successful run.

    Louisville visits Nippert Stadium in 2013, and the Cardinals are most likely to win there.

    Both Louisville and Cincinnati are the class of the new American Athletic Conference, so their 2013 battle for the Keg of Nails should be a good one.

18. Michigan Stadium (Michigan)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 86.16%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 6-1

    Michigan has the most victories in FBS history, and many of those have come at the Big House.

    The Ohio State Buckeyes have been a thorn in the Wolverines’ side lately, and their 2013 matchup at Michigan could result in a home loss for the Maize and Blue.

    Brady Hoke has done a nice job of returning Michigan among the best teams in the country following the failed Rich Rodriguez experiment, so expect the Wolverines to continue their winning ways in Ann Arbor.

17. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Florida)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 88.39%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 6-0

    Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, otherwise known as The Swamp, has treated Florida very well lately. The Gators take care of business there with regularity, and expect nothing different in 2013.

    Florida’s hardest test at home this season should be Florida State, but I think the Gators will win this game.

    When you play in a town called Gainesville, there’s little room for losing, anyway.

16. Boone Pickens Stadium (Oklahoma State)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 89.29%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 5-1

    T. Boone Pickens is a very wealthy man, and Oklahoma State has been paying him back with a terrific record at the stadium that bears his name.

    I think the Cowboys will lose either to TCU or Oklahoma at home in 2013, but not to both. Take your pick, but in an always deep Big 12, it’s unlikely they’ll walk away from Stillwater without a loss.

15. Sanford Stadium (Georgia)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 89.58%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 5-1

    Georgia is riding a lot of hype heading into 2013. It’s well-earned, as the Bulldogs are seeking their third straight SEC East championship. Any team that ends up in the SEC Championship has to have a stellar home record, and Georgia is no exception.

    South Carolina and LSU are the two best teams coming between the hedges this season. I like the Tigers to be the team that wins at Sanford Stadium in 2013. Yes, Georgia went undefeated at home in 2012, but the defense has taken a step back this season, which I predict will contribute to a home loss.

14. Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium (Kansas State)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 90.18%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 6-2

    When your current head coach is the man for whom your home football stadium is named after, you know you’re in good hands. Bill Snyder and Kansas State are perfect for each other, and nobody in the Little Apple expected him to turn around such a futile program so gracefully.

    The Wildcats have lost a huge portion of their 2012 Big 12 championship squad, so a rebuilding year (to some extent) is in order. With that said, I think K-State will drop two home games in 2013.

    TCU and Oklahoma in consecutive weeks could be the culprits.

    Snyder can turn most anyone into a believer, and I hope he proves me wrong, but everybody has a right to an opinion.

13. Lane Stadium (Virginia Tech)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 90.18%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 6-0

    Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech haven’t been good in huge bowl games, but they’re regular season warriors and almost unbeatable at home.

    Even with a 7-6 season in 2012, the Hokies easily made it in the top 15 of this list.

    When teams come into Lane Stadium, they forget all those questions about how much longer will Beamer last and things of that nature. At the end of the game, they’re more than likely getting back on the bus with another L in the record books.

    I predict all six opponents heading to Blacksburg in 2013 will suffer the same fate.

12. Memorial Stadium (Nebraska)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 91.96%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 8-0

    Nebraska runs and hits its opponents out of Memorial Stadium with amazing regularity. Bo Pelini is known as a defensive mastermind, and the Cornhuskers have defended their turf more than adequately during his tenure as head coach.

    If Nebraska wants to win the Big Ten Legends Division in 2013, it’ll have to keep winning at home and steal some on the road.

11. Memorial Stadium (Clemson)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 91.96%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 6-1

    Clemson is seeking its second ACC title in three years, and its stellar home record under Dabo Swinney should give the Tigers faithful something to hang their hats on.

    They open the 2013 season at Memorial Stadium against Georgia. Though I think the Bulldogs will edge out the Tigers, the guys in orange will be happy to get their toughest home test out of the way.

    The way Clemson enters “Death Valley” is one of the coolest in college football, and it gives the program momentum (literally) to defeat the opposition almost every time.

10. Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (Oklahoma)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 93.75%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 6-0

    During the period I studied (2009-12), Oklahoma became one of the more overrated college football teams, but it still managed to win at home a lot. In 2013, the Sooners will have to do that and more to put that building reputation to rest.

    It’s uncertain who will start at quarterback for Bob Stoops, but count on Oklahoma winning 10 games and at least five in Norman with whoever starts.

    Nobody wins the seventh-most games in FBS history without getting the job done at home, and that’s what the Sooners can claim.

9. Camp Randall Stadium (Wisconsin)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 95.54%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 7-0

    Wisconsin enters 2013 with a new head coach (Gary Andersen) and an unsettled quarterback situation, but expect the Badgers to continue bringing it at Camp Randall.

    Four straight trips to the Rose Bowl could be had for the Badgers, but whatever teams come into Madison won’t stop their path to another Big Ten title.

    At home games, that huge W on Wisconsin’s helmet almost always stands for Win.

8. Williams-Brice Stadium (South Carolina)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 95.54%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 6-1

    Steve Spurrier has helped turn Williams-Brice Stadium into one of college football’s most intimidating venues. When South Carolina plays at home, you could call them the “Game, Set and Match-Cocks.”

    This season, both Florida and Clemson come to Columbia. I think one of these squads will win, and I’m giving the Gators the edge.

    Any team wanting to snatch a victory in South Carolina in 2013 will have to play the game of their lives to do it, because the Gamecocks don’t hand out wins at Williams-Brice Stadium very often.

7. Ohio Stadium (Ohio State)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 95.54%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 7-0

    If you’re not an Ohio State supporter, then walking into Ohio Stadium all but guarantees a negative experience that you won’t want to repeat.

    Buckeyes players, meanwhile, are all but guaranteed to walk out of the Horseshoe with a few more helmet stickers.

    Whatever it is, maybe the legendary tradition known as Script Ohio, makes Ohio Stadium one of the best home-field advantages in college football.

    Urban Meyer has his team geared up to make another perfect run through Columbus, if not the entire schedule, like it did in 2012.

6. Bryant-Denny Stadium (Alabama)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 95.54%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 7-0

    The only team that realistically could challenge Alabama at home in 2013 is LSU, and the Crimson Tide have played quite well against the Tigers recently. So enough about that.

    It’s expected that the program with three of the last four BCS national championships would have a high ranking on this list, but it’s a little surprising to see Alabama in sixth place. Go ahead and blame 2010, everyone.

    Regardless, the Tide will keep rolling through Tuscaloosa in 2013 and quite possibly earn that otherworldly fourth BCS title in five years.

5. Bronco Stadium (Boise State)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 97.92%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 6-0

    T-Pain once said, “All I do is win.” Well, Boise State can say the same thing after a game at Bronco Stadium.

    This venue always has been famous for its blue AstroTurf, a.k.a. “Smurf Turf,” but Chris Petersen got the Broncos winning on it virtually without fail.

    The performance of Boise State on the blue turf is becoming as historic as Idaho potatoes.

4. Stanford Stadium (Stanford)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 99.11%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 6-1

    Stanford has a tough home schedule in 2013, and I think the Cardinal are bound to slip up at least once.

    Every opponent could come into Stanford Stadium and win, and it wouldn’t be a major upset, but then again, the Cardinal have a top 5 ranking in the Coaches’ Poll for a reason. Also, they have played magnificent at home under Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw.

    The matchup with Oregon is the most intriguing. The Ducks’ up-tempo style against the Stanford’s grind-it-out version of football will make for a great game. For more on Oregon…

3. Autzen Stadium (Oregon)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 99.11%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 7-0

    Look no further.

    Chip Kelly was in charge during the period I studied (2009-12), but many are expecting Mark Helfrich to maintain the former’s success with the program.

    Oregon is seeking a third Pac-12 title in five seasons, as well as a fifth straight trip to the BCS bowl series.

    Good luck keeping up with the Ducks, especially at Autzen Stadium. Any team visiting “The Autzen Zoo” will have discovered they’ve messed with the wrong species after the Ducks put up basketball-type points on the scoreboard. In fact, Oregon's perpetual blowouts at home are boring some fans.

    While on the subject of the Auzten Stadium scoreboard, whoever operates it should get paid for working overtime.

2. Tiger Stadium (LSU)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 99.55%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 7-0

    LSU has played second fiddle to Alabama in the SEC during this time period (2009-12), but the Tigers have had the better home record.

    The second stadium on this list known as “Death Valley” (Clemson’s Memorial Stadium) is even more deadly to opponents.

    Just like the purple and yellow that the program dons complement each other, Tiger Stadium and LSU are meant for each other, too.

    After all, Les Miles feels comfortable enough here to snack on its grass.

    Florida and Texas A&M visit Baton Rouge in 2013, but to bet against the home team would be an admitted ignorance of history.

1. Huskie Stadium (Northern Illinois)

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    Predicted 2013 Home Win %: ≈ 102.08%

    Predicted 2013 Home Record: 5-0

    NORTHERN ILLINOIS?!?! I know, right??

    Well, it turns out the Huskies are the most successful home team in FBS over the past four seasons. They’re seeking a third straight MAC championship in 2013, and you can’t be a conference title holder without outstanding play in your own stadium.

    Head coach Dave Doeren left for NC State, so Rod Carey will have to maintain the winning ways at Huskie Stadium. Darkhorse Heisman contender Jordan Lynch will help a lot with the transition.

    Notice the predicted winning percentage is higher than 100. That’s because I used a weighted equation. Clearly Northern Illinois can’t win more than 100 percent of its home games, but it shows how dominant the program has been at home recently.

    If the Huskies win another MAC title and get there with an undefeated home record, now you can’t say you didn’t see it coming.