10 Toughest College Football Stadiums to Play In

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2016

10 Toughest College Football Stadiums to Play In

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    Every college football road game is difficult, but entering one of the loudest college football stadiums home to a marquee program only makes winning a tougher task.

    Raucous crowds can be deafening for players, especially if a venue was built to trap the noise. But energy in the stands doesn't necessarily equate to on-field success.

    Factors used to create the list include a given program's success at home since 2011 and the game-day environment itself. We took into account stadium capacity, but it wasn't a determining element.

Honorable Mentions

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    We don't hate your stadium, but only 10 made the cut. These are some of the best of the rest.

    Auburn: The Tigers have put together a couple of outstanding seasons recently, but a 26-10 record at Jordan-Hare Stadium since 2011 is only the 44th-best winning percentage nationally.

    Florida State: Without question, the Seminoles are among college football's best at dispatching visitors, posting a 32-3 home record. Doak Campbell Stadium isn't known as a loud venue, though—other than during the war chants.

    South Carolina: Last year's Clemson team can attest to the difficulty of entering Williams-Brice Stadium. Still, while South Carolina's 26-8 mark is respectable, a sub-.800 mark isn't dominant compared to other schools listed.

    Tennessee: The 2016 squad might help the Vols re-establish an imposing environment at Neyland Stadium. However, Tennessee is 22-14 in the last five seasons.

    Texas A&M: Prior to renovations, Kyle Field's press box would literally move when the 100,000-plus in attendance swayed during the Aggie War Hymn. But the team is 22-12 at home since 2011.

    Virginia Tech: Personally observing the Hokies storming the field with Metallica's "Enter Sandman" blaring on the loudspeakers is bucket-list material. Watching Virginia Tech muster a 19-12 mark is not.

10. Beaver Stadium

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    The team has slipped from a second-tier contender to an above-average program, but Beaver Stadium remains a top-notch venue.

    With a listed capacity of 106,572, Penn State can create a terrific environment on Saturdays—especially when the school organizes its annual White Out.

    Over the last five years, the Nittany Lions were 24-11 at home. Although the .686 winning percentage is the lowest of all 10 included teams, Beaver Stadium is considered a historic place to visit.

9. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

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    The noise does not leave. Opponents must overcome 90,000 screaming fans when at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, which was perfectly constructed to trap the decibels.

    Following the Gators' win over East Carolina in 2015, Adam Decker of the East Carolinian wrote the Pirates committed a few penalties directly correlated to crowd noise, which rattled the team.

    Additionally, the sidelines are particularly narrow, so the stands are practically on top of the teams. And those people are dealing with hot and humid weather, shouting to simply communicate with someone in the next seat. It's a tough place for everyone.

    Florida is 24-9 at home and a meager 15-16 away from the loud comfort of the Swamp since 2011.

8. Michigan Stadium

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    Despite overall struggles late in the Brady Hoke era, Michigan has regularly protected the Big House.

    Although Michigan Stadium doesn't trap sound like Ben Hill Griffin or other venues, the crowd gets plenty loud and usually watches the home team earn a victory.

    The Wolverines went 28-7 in Ann Arbor during the last five seasons—including a pair of undefeated campaigns. Michigan's most recent win over both Michigan State and Ohio State is at home.

    Even with no attachment to the program, it's difficult to not have goosebumps when 100,000-plus people begin yelling as the Maize and Blue race onto the field and touch the "Go Blue" banner.

7. Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

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    Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is on a streak of more than 100 consecutive sellouts in what's now an 82,112-seat venue. And the Sooners have treated their fans to a lot of winning football.

    Since 2011, head coach Bob Stoops' teams are 24-6. Last season, Oklahoma was 6-0 at home and advanced to the College Football Playoff.

    Sooner Schooner entrances stir up a raucous crowd that often yells "Boomer Sooner," but the "We Too Deep" chant is what gets the players going.

    "That feeling right there is unexplainable," former player Charles Tapper said, per Joe Buettner of the Oklahoma Daily. "I can't even explain to have your helmet (high) and screaming 'we too deep' in front of 85,000 and your brothers right there screaming with you."

6. Camp Randall Stadium

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    Best known for the tradition of playing "Jump Around" immediately before the fourth quarter, Camp Randall Stadium is both noisy and a true home-field advantage.

    "The stadium definitely shakes," Wisconsin engineering professor Mike Oliva said, per Pete Thamel, then of the New York Times. "People in the upper deck tend to feel like the motion is anywhere from two inches to 10 inches."

    Plus, the Badgers are a burden in Madison, owning a 30-5 mark since 2011. Those five losses were never by more than one possession.

    No matter the opponent, Wisconsin is always close. Your team might snatch a victory, but it won't be a blowout.

5. Memorial Stadium

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    Home to "the most exciting 25 seconds in college football," Memorial Stadium explodes when Clemson players exit buses and race down The Hill after touching Howard's Rock.

    "If you're going to give me 110 percent, you can rub that rock. If you're not, keep your filthy hands off it," former head coach Frank Howard once said, according to the school.

    And the recent editions of the Tigers have done exactly that.

    Clemson's 33 home victories and .943 winning percentage are tops in the country since 2011. The program rides a streak of 16 straight triumphs into the 2016 campaign.

4. Ohio Stadium

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    According to the school, Ohio State has ranked no worse than fourth nationally in attendance since 1949. The mass of people always has an effect on visiting teams.

    "We expect it to be a hostile environment," former Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood said in 2013, per Keith Sargeant of NJ.com. "We expect it to be an environment where we can't communicate verbally. So we'll do all the things during the week with the crowd noise that we normally would do.''

    And the product is never a problem. The Buckeyes are 32-4 at home during the last five years and 28-2 under Urban Meyer.

    Ohio Stadium's acoustics aren't as conducive to keeping noise, but the fans are plenty loud.

3. Autzen Stadium

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    In 2009, Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News called Oregon's Autzen Stadium a "non-stop, eardrum-rattling, jet-engine level, false-start causing noise."

    Opponents probably won't disagree today.

    During the last five seasons, the Ducks have racked up 30 wins—which is tied with Wisconsin for the nation's fourth-most home victoriescompared to just five losses.

    Although the stadium only holds about 60,000 on game day, its design traps the noise because of the Autzen Bounce.

2. Bryant-Denny Stadium

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    "Did you feel Bryant-Denny Stadium sway during the Alabama-LSU game?" AL.com's Michael Casagrande asked in 2013.

    Perhaps only the visiting Tigers have that experience, but the Crimson Tide have certainly made their opponents feel the agony of defeat—again and again and again.

    Alabama is 32-3 since 2011—the third-best home winning percentage nationally (.914). Overall, the program hasn't lost two games in Tuscaloosa during one season since head coach Nick Saban's first year.

    That's a dynasty.

1. Tiger Stadium

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    Back in 1988, LSU hosted Auburn—and a human-made earthquake.

    "I remember it like yesterday," Willie Williams said, according to Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com. "It would be hard to forget that one. I've never felt anything like that. The field was vibrating, the entire field. It's amazing that human beings can get that loud that the ground is moving."

    The Tigers are 50-15 overall in the last five seasons, but they're 31-4 in Death Valley.

    Between a capacity above 100,000, a deafening crowd and outstanding on-field success, Tiger Stadium is college football's toughest venue.


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