College football breeds some of the most passionate fanbases in the world. From the SEC’s enormous stadiums to the Big Ten’s historic traditions, these storied programs feature game-day experiences unlike any other.
We ranked these environments based on how they cater to season-ticket holders, students, and fans from across the country with pregame tailgates, sold-out crowds, traditions and monumental noise levels that don’t compare to the others in college football.
Any college football fans should visit one of the following universities and witness a football game in the fall. After fans leave with their ears ringing, a continuous tab at the stadium restaurant and a new game-day jersey, it’ll be a weekend to remember.
Notre Dame is the epitome of a prestige football program, known for its rich history and incredible tradition. The Fighting Irish may not have the most boisterous fanbase in the world, but South Bend is a must-stop destination if you’re a sports fan.
One of the biggest attractions at Notre Dame is its famous “Touchdown Jesus” mural that can be seen from the telecast during any game. Other sights include the Golden Dome, Sacred Heart and their “Play Like A Champion Today” sign leading outside of the locker room.
The team also walks into the stadium surrounded by fans and close family, after mass and a trip to the athletic facility. The family bond starts with their commitment on the football field and is carried on by one of the best mascots in sports, the leprechaun.
Whenever the football team wins, one of the most popular fight songs, “Notre Dame Victory March,” is played. It’s worth watching a Notre Dame football game in South Bend or even just witnessing a Saturday at ND.
Ole Miss is known for its tailgating parties prior to kickoff. It doesn’t matter what time the game is scheduled for, Rebels fans will be rocking early in the morning every Saturday.
The “Hotty Toddy” sparks up the weekend and gets every Rebel fan fired up. The famous cheer connects all fans, alumni and players, creating a great relationship within the fanbase.
Anybody stopping by Oxford will start their weekend in The Grove for a memorable tailgate experience. The tents and barbecues are surrounded by oak trees and thousands of students. Mississippi is one of many states down South that counts down the days until Saturday kickoff, and the state effectively shuts down when the Rebels are playing a significant opponent.
The Ole Miss tailgate features the “Walk of Champions” route after the players and coaching staff pass The Grove. After a great pregame experience, Ole Miss has classic musical hype routine like Led Zeppelin blaring in speakers. The Rebels also display a prominent message stating “It’s time to lock the Vaught.”
Ole Miss might not be the most well-known college football environment, but Oxford will always live in any Rebels fan’s heart.
Penn State’s white-out game may be one of the most jaw-dropping scenes in American sports. Even if you aren’t a Nittany Lions fan, you’ll want to be at University Park once in your lifetime when it’s time to wear white.
Every fan is head-to-toe in white, from their socks to their shoes, and they enter Beaver Stadium with the “We Are Penn State” chant.
This season, the Nittany Lions will play the Minnesota Golden Gophers for their white-out game. This game is often an energy source for the team and the fanbase, so it typically comes against a winnable opponent.
Aside from the white-out game, students camp outside of the stadium in Nittanyville every week. The fanbase begins to arrive at Beaver Stadium days before the game and kicks off the party well in advance.
With Penn State routinely producing some of the nation’s top running backs and linebackers, Beaver Stadium is known as one of the loudest stadiums in college football.
The Gators own one of the most hostile environments in college football. There’s nothing less welcoming than teams entering “The Swamp.”
Opposing teams have to play against a squad that’s used to the Florida heat and used to putting on a show against top talent. Florida is an SEC school, so the Gators have to stay prepared to face the best teams in the nation.
The Gators have a number of events and customs that make them one of the most competitive atmospheres in the SEC.
Aside from the iconic “This is…The Swamp” writing inside the stadium, thousands of fans are constantly doing the gator chomp to hype up the team or celebrate a significant play. The Gators also host the Gator Growl during their homecoming parade with live music, artists and fireworks outside the stadium.
It was necessary to include a program from the state of Florida here, and UF narrowly beat the Florida State Seminoles from Tallahassee. The Gator Walk, Gator Growl and chomp puts Florida among the top of college football’s best atmospheres.
The Big Ten includes a number of programs that live for Saturday kickoff, including the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Ohio Stadium is a huge venue with 104,944 seats. The Buckeyes’ constant success and College Football Playoff expectations fill up the stands each and every week.
The Buckeyes have had only two losing seasons in the last 50 years, and current head coach Ryan Day is 35-4 record at Ohio State. The sea of fans wearing scarlet and grey and holding up the “O” should be an intimidating sight for any opposing team.
After every Ohio State win, the Victory Bell is rung in the southeast tower of the stadium, which can be heard from as far as five miles away.
We can’t go without mentioning “The Best Damn Band in the Land.” Ohio State’s world-renowned puts on a halftime show unlike any other. They’ll likely have some incredible displays during the 2022 season for Ohio Stadium’s 100th anniversary.
Tennessee may not be a juggernaut in the nation’s top conference, but it sure does act like it. The Volunteers host an incredible game-day experience, and their boosters, fans and state representative are constantly trying to build them into an SEC powerhouse.
There’s a distinct ambiance in Knoxville that separates the Volunteers from other teams in the SEC. There’s something special about the unique checkerboard end zones and the fans’ separation of colors in the stadium to create a checkerboard in the stands.
There’s nothing more Tennessee then singing “Rocky Top” with 100,000 random people.
When the players enter the field, they run straight through the “T,” with the UT flag flying through the air. The Volunteers’ mascot, Smokey, is a bluetick coonhound that’s beloved across the fanbase.
The Volunteers have built a very connected program with their players and fanbase. Once Tennessee starts competing for a significant bowl game, it’ll get rowdy in Knoxville.
Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium is a celebration from tailgates before kickoff to midgame hype songs to the “Fifth Quarter.” After every game, the marching band takes the field to perform popular songs connected to the Badgers, including “On, Wisconsin!” and “Varsity.”
The band is a huge part of Wisconsin’s tradition, holding pregame performances at Badger Bash that brings all fans together for food, backyard games and barbecues. It’s a statewide routine to crowd the bottom stands after the game to view their postgame show.
The band’s constant entertainment doesn’t compare to the stadium shaking and fans going berserk following the third quarter. All 80,321 fans are basically obligated to stand up after the third quarter when “Jump Around” plays through the sound system.
The fans spend the break between the third and fourth quarter getting rowdy and bumping the Badgers’ famous hype song. It’s a stadium filled with tradition that makes a trip to Wisconsin worthwhile during Badgers season.
Texas A&M has the biggest stadium in the SEC with a 102,733 seating capacity. All 100,000-plus fans in attendance at Kyle Field make up the “12th Man” and are known to stand for the entire game.
There are multiple events outside of Kyle Field prior to kickoff, including a party the night before a game called “Midnight Yell.” The state of Texas is known for football, barbecue and a gritty attitude that routinely shows up on game days. A&M’s renovation to add more seats to the stadium made the already massive campus look like one of the biggest grounds in the country.
Texas A&M also has one of the largest ROTC programs in the nation, which is a huge part of its game-day tradition. They welcome “yell leaders” every game to pump the crowd up.
Kyle Field is constantly ringing with the Aggie War Hymn while fans across the stadium are decked out in maroon.
Ann Arbor boasts one of the most iconic football environments in the nation. Michigan Stadium, which has a nation-leading 107,601 seats, is often referred to as “The Big House.”
The Wolverines compete in the Big Ten, so most of their games come against hard-nosed, defensive-minded teams.
One of the best sporting events in the U.S. is “The Game.” When Ohio State and Michigan meet, both states effectively shut down.
When the Wolverines enter The Big House, they’re met with their fight song, “Hail to the Victors,” which gets everyone out of their seat chanting.
Michigan has a great atmosphere throughout the city every game day. Season ticket holders, alumni and the other athletic teams come together to cheer on the Wolverines.
Multiple outlets have ranked LSU as the No. 1 college atmosphere year after year. The Tigers have the whole package in terms of game-day experience.
Tiger Stadium was coined “Death Valley” after the Tigers won their first national championship in the 1959 Sugar Bowl.
Just like every venue, LSU has a spectacle of pregame festivities. That hype starts when the players, coaching staff and The Golden Band from Tigerland march down “Victory Hill.” Their pregame cheer is on the road outside the stadium, and thousands of fans are there to greet the band and prepare for kickoff.
It may seem like the Tigers have many of the same traditions as other schools in the country, but everything gets taken up a notch in Baton Rouge. Tiger Stadium is built like a castle and is packed with more than 100,000 fans.
From the Louisiana cajun cuisine to mascot Mike the Tiger and catchphrases like “Geaux Tigers,” LSU is at the top of college football environments.
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