College Football: Top 50 Stadiums to See Before You Die

David Luther@@davidrlutherFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2011

College Football: Top 50 Stadiums to See Before You Die

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    College football has become one of the nation's top sports, and like baseball or hockey, there are some stadiums that are as important to the game as any location can possibly be.

    There's just something magical about walking into a stadium that once saw the shadows of some of the giants in the game: Knute Rockne, Bear Bryant, Bo Schembechler.

    The sense of history is undeniable, and unlike the professional sports, universities are not the most eager to demolish a piece of history to make a few extra dollars on tickets or concessions. It's about the game.

    There are some shrines of college football to which every diehard fan should make a pilgrimage before he or she dies. Here are the top 50 temples of college football to add to your bucket list.

Pittsburg State

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    We're going to start our list with a trip to Pittsburg, Kan.

    Carnie Smith Stadium is the home to the Pittsburg State Gorillas and one of the nicest stadiums you'll find in Division II. While there are certainly larger stadiums in the nation (even in Division II), the 8,343 seats are some of the newest and nicest around.

    The stadium has a distinct “big stadium” feel to it, thanks to the upper level—a rarity in Division II.


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    Arizona Stadium, located on campus in Tucson, Ariz., was built in 1928 with a capacity of 7,000. Add 50,000 seats, and you have the stadium as it is today.

    Wildcats fans create a wonderful atmosphere each Saturday, and when seating was added to the end zones, it really began to give Arizona a true home-field advantage.

Texas Tech

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    Jones AT&T Stadium is where the Red Raiders of Texas Tech call home. “The Jones” has 60,000 seats, although attendance frequently outpaces capacity.

    The stadium is also known for its atmosphere, and a big win over a rival will frequently see Tech fans celebrating on the field with players as time expires.

Arizona State

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    Perhaps the most recognizable aspect of Sun Devil Stadium is the Arizona State student section.

    There are very few student sections anywhere in the country that are more enthusiastic or more boisterous than the ASU student section.

    Built in 1958, the stadium hosted the Fiesta Bowl until 2006. The capacity of the stadium has been steadily increased over the years to its current 73,000.

Grand Valley State

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    Our second Division II stop takes us to Allendale, Mich., just outside of Grand Rapids.

    The Lakers are 126-11 since the start of the 2001 season. There's no FBS or FCS team that approaches this mark, so there has to be something different about GVSU.

    Well, other than the fact the program was built to its current level by Brian Kelly and his protégé Chuck Martin, Grand Valley State plays in arguably the best venue in D-2. Lubbers Stadium has a seating capacity of 8,550, yet the record crowd is 16,467, and GVSU usually averages more than 11,000 fans per home game. The partisan home crowds clearly have an influence on the game.

    The stadium is currently undergoing renovations to enclose the south end of the stadium with seats, and the capacity will increase to well over 10,000 when the current round of expansion is complete in 2012.

Boston College

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    For an old, storied program, Boston College has a pretty small venue. Alumni Stadium holds just 44,000 fans, but that usually guarantees a packed, noisy stadium to cheer on Boston College.

    It's also helpful that the stadium is located on campus, just a few miles from downtown Boston—a city that is home to some of the nation's most loyal fanbases.


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    Our first FCS stop brings us to Missoula, Mont. The Grizzlies have been one of the better FCS programs over the past half-decade, with 2005 being the last season “The Griz” didn't win 11 or more games.

    With a capacity of 25,203, Washington-Grizzly Stadium has a very intimate feel, with seats right next to the playing surface. This also creates one of the loudest atmospheres anywhere in the FCS.

    Montana also enjoys one of the top home-field advantages in the FCS, having lost just two home games since the start of the 2007 season.


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    Since it was built in 1924, Ross-Ade Stadium has been host to the Purdue Boilermakers.

    The Boilers haven't been a team worthy of much cheer for the past few years, but that doesn't seem to have dampened the atmosphere at Ross-Ade. The fans are some of the most loyal you will find anywhere in the nation, the band is second to none and night games bring out the best in everyone in West Lafayette.


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    Utah plays its home games at beautiful Rice-Eccles Stadium. Built in 1998, Rice-Eccles also played host to the 2002 Winter Olympics. It is one of the newest football stadiums in the nation and has a breathtaking backdrop—the Wasatch Mountains.

    If you're looking for a beautiful vista, a stop in Salt Lake City to take in a Utes game is a must. It also helps that the Utes are building themselves one heck of a program.

Mississippi State

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    Davis Wade Stadium is home to the Mississippi State football team and one of the oldest existing stadiums in the United States.

    Built in 1914, the stadium currently has a capacity of 55,082.

    One word of caution: If you don't like the ringing of cowbells, a Mississippi State game is bound to give you a headache. Although the SEC has rules banning the use of “artificial noisemakers,” Mississippi State reached a compromise with the conference allowing fans to bring cowbells provided they only use them during timeouts, between quarters, halftime, pregame, postgame and after a Mississippi State score.

    Of course, that's not exactly how it happens...

West Virginia

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    Milan Puskar Stadium is home to Mountaineer Field. Built in 1980, West Virginia has expanded the stadium to hold 60,000 screaming Mountaineers fans.

    And scream they do.

    Crowds frequently surpass the capacity of the stadium, and the current record—70,222—was set way back in 1993 to watch WVU take on the Miami Hurricanes.

    If you ever want to see a noisy, rowdy crowd, take in a game in Morgantown when the Mountaineers host Pittsburgh.

Air Force

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    Our first military academy stop is in Colorado Springs, home to the United States Air Force Academy.

    Falcon Stadium (46,692) is located at the base of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains, and like Utah, the vista provides for a spectacular view. Like the other military academies, the pomp and pageantry at the Air Force Academy is unlike anything you'll see elsewhere around the nation.

    It's also helpful that the U.S. Air Force runs the show, as there's almost always some sort of Air Force flyover—always cool, no matter what stadium it is.


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    Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (34,000) is the home venue of the Navy Midshipmen football team.

    While considerably smaller than Air Force, the stadium is another current venue to have hosted an Olympic event (the stadium hosted soccer games during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles).

    Interestingly, Navy-Marine Corps Memorial has never hosted an Army-Navy game. That annual rivalry match is now held at a neutral site each year. It was last held in Annapolis during World War II—before the current stadium was built.


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    The Army Black Knights call Michie Stadium home. With 38,000 seats, it is slightly larger than Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, but still quite a bit smaller than Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs.

    Unlike Navy-Marine Corps Memorial, Michie (pronounced “Mike-ee”) has hosted an Army-Navy game—the 1943 game. After that year, the annual clash moved to a neutral location each season.

    The stadium sits particularly high relative to its surroundings (335 feet above sea level), which provides an amazing view of the Hudson River and the West Point campus.

Oklahoma State

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    Boone Pickens Stadium at Oklahoma State is the oldest stadium in the Big 12. Although the stadium as we would typically define it was completed in 1920, the Oklahoma State football team has played at the same venue since 1913.

    After oil man T. Boone Pickens emptied out his piggy bank and gave Oklahoma State a $165 million gift, the stadium got one heck of a face-lift.

    Now, 60,218 screaming Cowboys fans create one of the loudest environments in college football, and the football team is creating quite a reason to cheer.


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    Built in 1914, the Yale Bowl is home to one of the storied old programs in college football.

    It not only ranks as one of the oldest college football stadiums in the nation (regardless of division), it also ranks as one of the largest FCS stadiums, with a capacity of 61,446. At its largest, the stadium boasted 70,896 seats, but that number shrunk due to renovations to the stadium.

    When the Yale Bulldogs host Harvard, the stadium is packed and gets very, very loud. While this classic grudge match no longer holds the nation's attention as it did a century ago, it is still a rivalry game that should be high on a football fan's bucket list.

Ole Miss

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    When you think about Ole Miss football, you probably think more about the tailgating at The Grove than Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580).

    The stadium opened in 1915, which puts it right up there with the oldest stadiums in the nation. When the most recent renovations were completed back in 2002, the stadium was finally enclosed, and the massive video board installed in 2008 is a whopping 4,032 square feet and cost $6 million.

    That alone is worth seeing.


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    At 49,262 seats, the Carrier Dome isn't even close to the largest domed stadium. But it is the largest college dome, and an incredibly intimate feel combined with the typically noisy Syracuse crowd gives the Orangemen a distinct home-field advantage.

    There's nowhere for the sound to go, and during big games, it's impossible to hear yourself think. Opposing quarterbacks call audibles at their own peril.


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    If you travel to Seattle, you'll find one of the most unique stadiums the NCAA has to offer.

    First, you have to partake in what has to be the most unique tailgating in the nation, done as much by boat as it is by car. On football Saturdays, Huskies fans sail on up to the shoreline of Lake Washington, right next to Husky Stadium. The UW Crew Team then provides shuttles for fans from their boats to the stadium for the game.

    While other stadiums claim to be “the loudest” in the nation, Washington actually has the proof. During the 1992 game against Nebraska, the sound level was recorded by ESPN to be over 130 decibels. The average person begins to feel pain at 120 decibels.

    The extreme noise at Husky Stadium is likely due to the fact that more than 70 percent of the seats are between the two end zones, and the stadium noise is “reflected” in and down, thanks to cantilevered metal roofs overhanging the sides of the stadium.


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    When it comes to unique chants from fanbases, there aren't too many chants quite like “Woo, Pig Sooie!”

    There's something deliciously redneck about the chant, and it certainly gives Razorbacks games a unique atmosphere.

    Now at 72,000 seats (expandable to 80,000), the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium (formerly Razorback Stadium) opened in 1938 with just 13,500 seats. Over the history of the stadium, it has been home to some spectacular football teams, as well as what was at the time the largest video display at any sports stadium in the world.

    For someone who is a fan of good old southern football, a trip to Fayetteville is a must.


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    Heading back out west, we find another great stadium situated at the base of a beautiful mountain range.

    LaVell Edwards Stadium (63,470) was expanded with metal seating, which makes a perfect noisemaker for all 63,000-plus BYU fans—giving this Provo venue one of the loudest feels in the country.

    It's also worth noting that dinosaur fossils used to be housed under the bleachers at the stadium. In 2005, the fossils were removed and prepared for display. You can visit these football fossils at the BYU Earth Science Museum.


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    Folsom Field was built in 1924 at a cost of just $65,000—cheap even for those days.

    The field sits at 5,360 feet—more than a mile—above sea level and is lower than only two stadiums in the nation (Wyoming and Air Force). A capacity crowd of 53,613 will eagerly greet some of the Pac-12's best programs in 2011, and the noise created can be impressive for such a small stadium.

    Combine the noise with thin air, and some Pac-12 teams (most of which are pretty close to sea level) will find a very hostile environment.

    The stadium is also another venue providing breathtaking views of mountains—probably the best mountain vista on our list. Any trip to Boulder, Colo. wouldn't be complete without taking in a Buffaloes football game.

Georgia Tech

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    Bobby Dodd Stadium opened in 1913, making it the oldest FBS stadium still in use today. It has seen more games and more wins than any other FBS venue and is perfectly located in the midst of Atlanta.

    Other than the football game, there are so many things to do around Bobby Dodd Stadium that a single trip to Georgia Tech probably wouldn't suffice.

    The stadium has a capacity of 55,000, and night games can be particularly exciting, with the football crowd typically spilling out into the Atlanta nightlife (or vice versa).

Boise State

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    Bronco Stadium makes its unique appearance on our list.

    There are a few things that keep Boise State from having one of the last stadiums mentioned.

    First, the stadium includes a track between the stands and the field. While certainly not the only field to have such a feature, it does separate the fans from the action and can diminish the experience.

    Secondly, the stadium has only 33,500 seats (as of 2011). There are much larger stadiums much lower on our list.

    The reason for Boise State even appearing on the list is obviously for its unusual (but no longer unique) non-green surface, and the fact that the small crowd can make such an impressive impact on the game.

    Boise State hasn't lost a home game since a loss to then-No. 18 Boston College in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl (which arguably wasn't technically a “home game”). Boise State hasn't lost a home conference game since the 1998 season.

    You just can't find another stadium that is in the middle of a 62-game consecutive win streak by the home team.

South Carolina

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    Williams-Brice Stadium is home to the Gamecocks of South Carolina.

    “The Cockpit” is frequently recognized by SEC fans as having one of, if not the best game day experience in the conference. With a capacity of 80,250, the stadium is home to many grand traditions, including the playing of “Dawn” (from 2001: A Space Odyssey) as the players run onto the field, the rooster crow and the game-concluding singing of the school's alma mater, "We hail thee Carolina."

Cotton Bowl

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    The Cotton Bowl is one of those stadiums that has become a landmark onto itself in the college football world.

    The stadium has hosted so much history, it's hard to know where to start. The Dallas Cowboys once called the Cotton Bowl home. So did SMU. The annual Texas-Oklahoma game still calls the stadium home.

    Sadly, the actual Cotton Bowl game (now the Cotton Bowl Classic) has moved to the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, but the Cotton Bowl itself still proudly stands as a monument to the game. At 92,100 seats, the stadium is one of the largest anywhere to not have a home team.

    The Cotton Bowl also hosted matches of the 1994 World Cup.

Rose Bowl

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    Another temple to the history of the game is the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

    Unlike the Cotton Bowl, the Rose Bowl still hosts its namesake bowl game each season, and the Rose Bowl also serves as the home venue for the UCLA Bruins.

    The stadium has seen the “Grandaddy of Them All” every year since 1923 played on its surface (the 1942 game was moved to the East Coast due to fears of a Japanese invasion and the US Navy's inability to provide protection due to the massive losses at Pearl Harbor), and the 94,392 seat capacity for the bowl game makes it one of the largest-attended bowl games each season.

    The Stadium has also hosted the Super Bowl on five occasions, the World Cup final in 1994, the Women's World Cup in 1999, and hosted events at both the 1932 and 1984 Olympics.

    Interestingly enough, the stadium itself is a money loser—which is why you don't see modern improvements made to the facilities. The only way the city-owned stadium stays afloat is through revenue generated from the adjacent golf course—operated by the Rose Bowl Operating Company.


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    Camp Randall Stadium opened in 1917, but the Wisconsin football team has played on the same site since 1895 and is the oldest stadium in the Big Ten.

    Its 80,321 capacity is not exceptionally large (especially in the land of giant stadiums, the Big Ten), but it is completely enclosed and can be one of the loudest stadiums in the conference—and the nation.


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    Kinnick Stadium opened in 1929, and since that time, it has provided Iowa with a home that opponents absolutely hate.

    With its 70,585 seats, Kinnick Stadium has many unusual features, including a pink visitor's locker room. Former Iowa coach Hayden Fry had the visitor's locker room painted pink because he believed it was a “passive” color and a “sissy” color. Michigan's Bo Schebechler hated it so much that prior to his players entering the locker room, he had team assistants go into the locker room and cover the walls with brown paper.

    When the locker room was renovated, Iowa not only painted the new locker room pink, it installed pink lockers and even pink toilets and urinals. This caused some to protest Iowa's move as “demeaning to women and homosexuals.”

    Needless to say, this protest was rejected by the university and Iowa fans alike, and the visitor's locker room remains pink.

    Kinnick also lacks stadium lights. Any night games or games that stretch into darkness require the university to rent portable light trucks to illuminate the field.


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    The original horseshoe, Harvard Stadium is one of the great original venues of college football, and should be visited by every die-hard college football lover at least once.

    The stadium currently seats 30,323 fans, down from 57,166 during its heyday until the 1950's.

    The stadium first opened in 1903, Harvard Stadium is the oldest concrete structure in the United States, yet surprisingly isn't the oldest football stadium recognized by the NCAA (that distinction rests with Penn, which opened its stadium in 1895).

    Amazingly, Harvard didn't have lights at the stadium until 2006, and the Crimson played in their first night game at Harvard Stadium in 2007.

    As one of the birthplaces of college football, home to 12 national championships and a team that has won more than 800 games, including more than 425 at Harvard Stadium, this venue is one that shouldn't be missed.


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    The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum isn't just for college football fans. The “Grand Old Lady” has seen so much history, it's staggering. Other than USC, its current tenant, the LA Coliseum has hosted two Olympics, Super Bowl I (then called the AFL-NFL World Championship) and Super Bowl VII. It has served as home to no fewer than 12 college or professional teams, and has been home to USC since it opened in 1923. If all of that wasn't enough, it is the only stadium in the world to host the Olympics twice.

    A trip to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum isn't just a visit to college football history, it's a visit to American history.

    What keeps the Coliseum low on the list is the fact that its age is beginning to show. The Coliseum isn't in the best part of LA, and consequently isn't high on the list for renovations. Add to the fact that the stadium is jointly owned by the cash-strapped governments of the State of California, County of Los Angeles and City of Los Angeles, and it makes it very unlikely we'll see any big improvements anytime soon.

Virginia Tech

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    Lane Stadium is next on our list, and the Hokies call this 66,233-seat stadium home.

    Built in 1965, the stadium has become one of the “scariest places to play,” according to

    In 2005, ranked Lane Stadium as the No. 1 most difficult place to play in the nation.

    If those two tidbits don't earn a stadium a place on this list, not much else will.


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    The Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is quite a mouthful. The stadium holds 82,112 fans and one of the best football programs in the nation.

    The stadium first opened in 1925, and has since seen more than its fair share of college football history.

    It is one of the more difficult venues for opposing teams, as the partisan crowd seems to surround you at every turn.

    The fact that the stadium only ranks as the third largest in the Big 12 keeps this venue from finding itself higher on our list. A larger-than-life program like Oklahoma should expect to have a larger-than-life stadium.

Michigan State

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    When the stadium originally opened in 1923, it was called College Field. Not a rousing name, but then again, neither was the Michigan Agricultural College's football team.

    A few decades later, MAC had become the Michigan State College of Agriculture (MSC) and had adopted the Spartans moniker.

    Now Michigan State University and a member of the Big Ten, the university has invested in the athletic program and Spartan Stadium in particular. The stadium is known for its rowdy student section and its confining field perimeter.

    The 75,005 seats in Spartan Stadium seem to be almost on top of the field. In fact, along the sidelines, the front row of stands is uncomfortably close behind the benches, and fans in the front row can peer down directly at the players squeezed on the sidelines. In the end zones, padding had to be placed at strategic places on the wall to prevent punishing collisions with the concrete.

    MSU fans also have several game day traditions that play upon the popular movie 300, including the call from Spartan king Leonidas, “Spartans! What is your profession?” to which the MSU crowd responds in the same manner as the Spartan warriors in the movie. The “Go Green! Go White!” chant is also a MSU favorite.

    Finally, as weather frequently plays a role in games in Michigan, as the pregame forecast is read, the announcer (along with the crowd) concludes it with, “It's a beautiful day for football!” regardless of rain, snow, sleet, wind or a combination of all four.

Florida State

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    Doak Campbell Stadium is home to Florida State's football Seminoles.

    The stadium opening in 1950 with just 15,000 seats, but that has since ballooned to 82,300. In Tallahassee, football rules autumn Saturdays, and there's no better place to be than Doak Campbell Stadium.

    Of all the cool things that happen at any given university on any given Saturday, including all of the great things that go on at Florida State, one of the coolest has to bee Chief Osceola riding a horse to midfield, and plunging a flaming spear into the ground.


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    The Georgia Bulldogs call Sanford Stadium home, and it is one of the most iconic stadiums in the nation.

    The games are played “between the hedges,” as the stadium has two privet shrub hedges the run the length of the field behind the sidelines and end zones. Even though the stadium was opened in 1929, one wouldn't know that to look at it. UGA has done a very careful job of fitting new expansions into the original look and feel of the stadium, so that it appears as if was all built at the same time.


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    Since 1924, the University of Texas Longhorns have played their home games at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium.

    The stadium is also the first on our list to surpass the 100,000 seat mark, as it has an official seating capacity of 100,119. DKR-Texas Memorial is also the largest stadium in the state of Texas seat-wise. The new Cowboys Stadium has a higher overall capacity, but only 80,000 actual seats (standing room plazas make up space for the other 31,000 spectators).

    While playing at DKR-Texas Memorial, the Longhorns have won in excess of 77 percent of their games, making it one of the most favorable home fields in the nation.

    Future expansion plans have included the enclosing of the south end zone and the addition of a second deck on that end, as well. The expected final seating capacity of the stadium would be nearly 120,000, making it easily the largest stadium in the nation.


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    Clemson's Memorial Stadium (80,301) was known as “Death Valley” before any other stadium of the same nickname, and its name is well earned.

    First, the stadium is actually in a valley. Second, the Clemson cemetery overlooked the stadium before the upper decks were built. Third, mean visiting teams have met their figurative death within the confines of Memorial Stadium.

    Howard's Rock is also a prominent feature of the stadium, and it's one college football tradition that should not be missed.


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    Auburn University plays its home games at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama. With a current seating capacity of 87,451, Auburn is home to the fifth-largest SEC stadium.

    While the recent expansion at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa has knocked Jordan-Hare to second place in the state of Alabama, the Tiger faithful haven't lost any of their fabled intensity.

    Jordan-Hare is also home to one of the coolest live mascot events in the nation. There's not a whole lot that can compare to War Eagle's flight.


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    Bryant-Denny has technically been the home stadium for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team since it opened in 1929, but prior to the 1990's, most of the big Alabama game were actually played at the then-larger Legion Field in Birmingham. In fact, Alabama has played just 265 games at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

    With a new seating capacity of 101,821, Bryant-Denny is now the venue of choice for the Tide, and the stadium has become one of the most difficult venues in the nation for opposing teams.

    One unique (and pretty funny) feature of Bryant-Denny is the visitor's locker room. Alabama alumnus James Fail decided to make a donation to the university, and he wanted to have the visitor's locker room named after him. The room is now officially “The Fail Room.”


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    “The Sea of Red” is a new addition to the long list of great Big Ten stadiums on this list, but at 81,067 seats, it's not anywhere near the largest stadium in the conference. What it does have is undying fan loyalty.

    Nebraska has seen 311 consecutive sell out games at Memorial Stadium, something that no one else in the NCAA can claim. The record is ongoing, and with Nebraska's fan loyalty and a new conference full of potential rivalries, it's probably a safe bet the streak will continue for quite some time.


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    For a stadium that only holds 54,000, you wouldn't expect it to rank high on many lists. If you're talking about Autzen Stadium, you'd be dead wrong.

    The first thing you might notice about Autzen is that the field is not laid out in the traditional north-south direction, but rather slightly off an east-west line. Once the game gets underway, you'll immediately notice the second thing about Autzen. It's loud. Really loud.

    The crowd noise has been recorded at 127 decibels (just a hair behind Washington), and after a 2003 upset of then-No. 3 Michigan, a columnist of the Michigan Daily wrote, “Autzen's 59,000 strong make the Big House collectively sound like a pathetic whimper.” Considering the size of the crowd is slightly more than half as large as a crowd at Michigan, that's really saying something.

Texas A&M

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    Kyle Field at Texas A&M is known as “The Home of the 12th Man.”

    Anyone who has ever attended a game at A&M will tell you why. Kyle Field has sides that seem to rise up forever, three decks tall. The fanbase is as loyal and as vocal as any, with some even showing up the night before for “Yell Practice.” CBS Sportsline listed Kyle Field as the nation's best college football atmosphere.

    Texas A&M has a fanbase that follows Aggie football like a religion. The nation's top military officer commissioning institution (outside of the service academies) runs many of their crowd interactions with military precision, and the fans in the stands never bother to test out those 83,002 seats—they stand for the entire game.


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    The Tennessee Volunteers cram 102,455 of their faithful fans into Neyland Stadium on Saturdays to provide one of the great college game day atmospheres.

    It is the largest stadium in the SEC, and third-largest stadium in the nation.

    There are so many reasons why a football game at Tennessee should be high on your to-do list, but suffice it to say that the football game is just the icing on the cake to what Sports Illustrated called “the best college football weekend experience.”

Penn State

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    Penn State is our next stop, and Beaver Stadium is the second-largest stadium in the nation, coming in just behind Michigan Stadium.

    With a capacity of 107,282, the Nittany Lions have a huge following, usually all clad in white providing one of the most unique looks in all of sport.

    There are several great traditions in addition to the white out at Beaver Stadium. First, the “S-Zone” which can be clearly seen every Saturday is a section of seniors given white and blue shirts in formation to form a large block “S” in an otherwise white field of fans.

    “We are Penn State” chants can often be heard after big plays, shouted over a recording of “Kernkraft 400” being played incessantly over the stadium's loud speakers. Annoying to everyone in the world—except Penn State fans.

    And one of the greatest traditions—Paternoville—cannot be missed. What started as a few die-hard students camping out in front of Beaver Stadium for a week leading up to the game against Ohio State in 2005. That act of loyalty and camaraderie is now duplicated each week by thousands.

Ohio State

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    Ohio Stadium is known as “The Horseshoe,” or simply “The Shoe” in Columbus, and it's capacity of 102,329 ranks it as the fourth-largest stadium in the nation.

    Whether you love it or hate it, Ohio State is home to some of the greatest tradition in college football. The pure tonnage of college football history that has played out at Ohio Stadium is only matched by a few programs scattered around the nation, and the tradition that evident in the cult-like following is something one must witness to truly believe (understanding is probably still beyond the grasp of non-Ohioans).

    If nothing else, it would be a shame to miss one of the greatest marching band traditions in the country: Script Ohio, performed since 1936. Just don't mention that is was first performed by the University of Michigan band in 1932.


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    The other “Death Valley” on our list is at Louisiana State. Originally “Deaf Valley,” the name morphed into its current form as LSU's on-field prowess began to match the crowd's ear-splitting cheers.

    Legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant famously said that LSU was the worst place for a visiting team. “It's like being inside a drum,” Bryant said. It is frequently ranked as one of the top SEC environments, and a night game in Baton Rogue, in front of 92,542 screaming LSU fans, is second to none.

    The most famous “event” or legend in the history of LSU probably occurred in 1988. As the final seconds of the clock ticked off, LSU quarterback Tommy Hodson threw a game-winning touchdown to Eddie Fuller to beat Auburn 7-6. The Louisiana Geological Survey office on campus registered an earthquake at that moment, supposedly caused by the euphoric fans at Tiger Stadium.


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    The top SEC venue to make sure you visit before you die is “The Swamp.”

    Originally opened in 1930, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium hosts the Florida Gators football team, and 88,548 of their closest friends for every home football game. The crowd stacked right on top of the field provides one of the most intimidating atmospheres in the nation, and the home-field advantage provided by “The Swamp” is second to none.

    Although Florida has many great traditions, almost too many to mention, the main thing about this stadium is the general atmosphere and feeling of excitement generated by the Florida fanbase. Visiting Gainesville on a football Saturday should not only be on everyone's list, it should be very high on that list.

Notre Dame

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    For as long as anyone alive can remember, Notre Dame has been the cradle of football history.

    There's something almost magical about Notre Dame. It's truly hard to explain. Notre Dame isn't just one of the greatest football programs in history, it's stadium just oozes tradition. With a capacity of 80,795, Notre Dame tickets are notoriously difficult to obtain, and the stadium has seen 218 consecutive sellout crowds—a streak that is still active.

    With all of the tradition, pomp and pagentry that goes on every Saturday in South Bend, Notre Dame Stadium is clearly a don't miss. In fact, it should be one of your first stops.


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    We come to our 50th and last stadium on our list of stadiums to see before you die, and it's a big one. In fact, it's the biggest one.

    Michigan Stadium, “The Big House.”

    With an official capacity of 109,901 (the extra seat being for former UM athletic director Fritz Crisler), Michigan Stadium is not only the largest stadium in the United States, it's the third largest in the world. Opened in 1927, this stadium is quite simply a piece of college football history. Unlike other giant stadiums, Michigan Stadium is one gigantic bowl. There is no upper deck. There is no overhang. The stadium just is.

    With the addition of the new press box and luxury boxes, the stadium has gained some much needed definition, and the sound of 113,000-or-more fans now comes crashing back into the stadium, rather than leaking out the sides (as previously mentioned). The crowd is louder, the stadium bigger and with Michigan seemingly back on its way back up the Big Ten ladder, “The House that Yost Built” is something that every football fan must see in their lives, just once.


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