About 100 people attended the first ever college football game. It was played at Rutgers University, and there was no spectacular stadium with events, no halftime shows, and no wild student section.
Nowadays, college football is considered by many to be an essential part of the college experience.
There’s a palpable energy in stadiums, as students shuffle in on Saturday mornings and afternoons to paint faces and watch their home team take on the opposition. It brings together students, athletes, alumni, faculty, and staff of the university. Let’s take a look at the stadiums of the top 10 most popular college football teams, and the ways that those stadiums have been created to push the home teams to victory with a unique experience. These teams love their stadiums, and we love them too; they are popular for valid reasons.
Here are the top 10 most popular college football teams and stadiums that they call home:
- The Rose Bowl
- Tiger Stadium
- Autzen Stadium
- Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (“The Swamp”)
- LA Memorial Coliseum
- Michigan Stadium
- Bryant-Denny Stadium
- Albertsons Stadium
- Folsom Field
- Neyland Stadium
10. Neyland Stadium
In 2006, the University of Tennessee completed a huge, $26 million renovation that increased the capacity to 102,038. It’s the fourth largest stadium in the whole country, and the largest football stadium in all of the South. And you know that they’re more proud of being the largest in the South than they are of being the fourth largest in the whole country.
In the 2007 season, they unveiled the largest LED display in all of college football, right in the bowl of the stadium. Over the last 10 years they’ve replanted the grass and undertaken a huge paint job. Tennessee cares about their popular program. A lot.
9. Folsom Field
You really have to see Folsom Field in Boulder, CO, right around sunset, to get the full experience. The Buffs may not be one of the top 10 most popular college football teams, but their stadium is a completely different story.
Affectionately, the stadium is called the “Hilltop.” The Buffs have been playing there for almost 100 years. While the capacity is only 50,183, this stadium built on a hill is full of amazing press boxes and rooftop terraces. You’ll get a view of the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide, as well as a great view of the whole football game. It was even renovated in 2014 to provide more mountain views for the fans.
What it lacks in full capacity and the pure stadium experience, it compensates in the views of the stadium. Most college football stadiums funnel their intensity onto the field, and into the stands. This stadium allows for a more peaceful, reflective experience of the game. The enormous Rockies pull you out of the game for just long enough to enjoy the beauty of nature, before the sounds of pads hitting pads pull you back into the excitement of the game.
8. Albertsons Stadium
The one with the blue field. Boise State’s Albertsons Stadium, much like Folsom Field with its Rocky Mountain views, simply has to be seen. On the field, as a player, Boise State’s blue jerseys blend into an all-blue field that is designed to intimidate and disorient players who have spent their entire lives running the pigskin with a green background. Up in the stands, you see flashes of orange and white, as it looks like Boise State has way more than 10 or 11 players out on the field at the same time.
It’s a small Idaho community that absolutely loves their football team. They always show up, always support, and, generally, win.
7. Bryant-Denny Stadium
Nick Saban is 77-7 with Alabama. And that seems like a low number, considering how good Alabama has been in recent years. It’s the true dynasty of college football, and their teams will always be in contention for national titles. Bryant-Denny stadium has a capacity of 101,821 people, and they’ve packed it out 45 times in the history of the largest iteration of the stadium. Truly, the whole state shows up for Alabama football games. The top of the stadium is just as loud as the bottom.
6. Michigan Stadium
It’s simply called “The Big House.” And, ever since Jim Harbaugh showed up with his sideline facial expressions, passion, and ref-shouting personality—it’s become a little bit bigger. With an official capacity of 107,601, it’s the biggest stadium in all of the United States. Not only the biggest college football stadium, but the biggest stadium, period. That makes it an obvious pick for the top 10 college football stadiums.
5. LA Memorial Coliseum
The USC Trojans have some of the most intimidating, memorable colors that you can wear to a game. They have the most famous fight chant in all of football, and a mascot Trojan rides a horse with a glimmering sword into the stadium with fire shooting up. It borders on too gimmicky to be intimidating, except for the fact that USC has a massive history of winning football games.
4. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
The Florida Gators are known for their bright colors, and the legends surrounding the creation of Gatorade. Their stadium is simply known as “The Swamp.” Ben Hill Griffin Stadium holds 88,000 people, putting it right in between the mid-level stadiums that hold 50,000, and the huge stadiums that push 100,000.
Why is it so high on the list? The 88,000 makes it feel much bigger than the 50,000 stadium, but your brain still comprehends it as huge. In fact, it can feel even fuller and more exciting than a 100,000 stadium. It’s a beast of a stadium, and is one of the last places you want to play. When the Gators are rolling, their fans get those huge gator chomp claps going on.
3. Autzen Stadium
Nike legend Phil Knight loves Oregon. They’ve long had some of the best uniforms in all of college football, drawing many a young person to attend the school to play sports for them, simply because of those savvy colors. Autzen Stadium is an extension of the timeless athletic cool that Oregon has seemed to emulate over the last couple of decades. Oregon has risen over the years, to one of the top 10 most popular college football teams, and that’s largely because of their culture.
2. Tiger Stadium
Solidified in its trickery and shifty legends by LSU’s “Mad Hatter” coach Les Miles, Tiger Stadium has seen a number of unexpected victories and intense upsets over the years. Show up to Tiger stadium, and you can well expect to see trick plays, going for it on fourth down, and fake punts. Lots of fake punts.
It’s known as “Death Valley” and can pack 102,321 people into its huge bleachers and massive sound systems. It gets loud, it gets rowdy, and the Tigers usually win.
1. The Rose Bowl
Rose Bowl Stadium is iconic. Home to the great UCLA football teams who are always competitive, it’s a stadium that is entrenched in the community, from the parade to the bowl game. Over 100 years ago, the Pasadena Valley Hunt Club was formed to help men and women spend more leisure time outdoors. They founded the rose parade, and the bowl game came later.
Fast forward to 1973, and 106,869 people attended the Rose Bowl game between USC and The Ohio State University. The huge capacity and incredible legends surrounding the stadium have made it a force in college football. They once held a bowl game on January 2, because January 1 was a Sunday, and tradition stated that if they never played on Sunday, God would never let it rain on a bowl game.
Why is the Rose Bowl #1 on the list? Well, it’s home to the legendary UCLA football team, but it’s the only stadium on the list that is more popular than it’s football team. It’s on top of this list for being in a category of its own.