As much as college football fans love the players on the field, the stadium experience is what keeps people coming back. Whether it is the smell of freshly grilled hot dogs or being a part of the tens of thousands of fans screaming their heads off, there is something special about being in a stadium and rooting for your favorite college team.
Stadiums have rich histories that speak to fans, reminding them of great teams and players who have reached incredible heights. The best venues honor those histories while giving fans new experiences to make lifelong memories.
Here are 25 of the best college football stadiums in the country.
Bryant-Denny Stadium may not have the big-game history Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama, has, but it is still one of the rowdiest stadiums in the nation. Whether it’s Crimson Tide fans screaming “Sweet Home Alabama” or taunting the opposition with “Rammer Jammer,” Alabama’s newly renovated stadium is as loud as it gets in the SEC. The amenities are top-notch, and the sight lines are great. With the Crimson Tide winning national championships at an incredible clip, it's nothing but the best for the best.
There’s nothing like fall in upstate New York, and football fans get the full experience at Army’s Michie Stadium. While Army is not as mighty as it once was, it is still one of the best college football experiences in the nation. Fans tailgate on the Hudson River and walk to the stadium that is tucked into a thicket of multicolor trees and a serene reservoir. Michie seats only 30,000, but attending a game there is an intimate experience every college football fan should take part in.
Not to be outdone by Alabama or other SEC rivals, Auburn spent a whopping $13.9 million on the largest video board in all of college football. The Crimson Tide may have them in size, but the Tigers continually invest in ways to improve their stadium experience rather than adding more volume. The walls of the stadium go straight up, so the 80,000 fans who attend the game sound like 120,000. Those high walls also make the traditional pregame flight to War Eagle even more majestic.
While Memorial Stadium shares the “Death Valley” nickname with LSU’s Tiger Stadium, the home of the Clemson Tigers is the real deal. Legendary coach Frank Howard added a piece of the actual Death Valley National Park at one of the end zones in the stadium. The feature is the centerpiece of Clemson football’s most iconic tradition of sprinting down the hill and rubbing the rock before games. Clemson’s recent run of success, including its national championship last season, has put the spotlight on Memorial Stadium, but Death Valley has always been as loud and proud as it is today.
Colorado’s recent resurgence has reintroduced the country to the beautiful Folsom Field. Boulder is located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, and the famed mountain range is featured as a backdrop to the stadium. Folsom Field seats just over 53,000 fans, and if you want to enjoy one of the most beautiful venues in all of college football, head to where the Buffaloes roam.
When visiting teams go to Gainesville, Florida, they usually are treated to hot, sticky weather and thousands of gator-chomping fans. Welcome to the Swamp. The orange trim of the stadium gives the venue a more Florida feel, and the three tiers on either end zone make it nearly impossible to hear anything when opponents reach the red zone. Don’t expect an easy win when you step onto the humid confines of the newly minted Steve Spurrier Field.
Florida schools are known for their fans' hand gestures, and Florida State may have the most intimidating of them all. When 80,000 fans gather together and chop down in unison, it is one of the coolest things to see in the country. Doak Campbell has undergone renovations, hoping to make the game experience more comfortable. Don’t miss out on Osceola slamming his spear to start the game. It is one of the most spine-tingling experiences college football has to offer.
You think other stadiums are scary? When teams hit the road to play the Georgia Bulldogs, they play on a literal cemetery. All of Georgia’s beloved short-snouted mascots are buried in the confines of Sanford Stadium, providing the SEC with a morbid venue that’s equal parts loud and spooky. Still, the home of the Bulldogs is one of the more charming stadiums, with tediously tended hedges around the lower bowl. Not only is Georgia going to beat you, but it’s also going to do it in style.
You can’t have a list of best college football stadiums and exclude the oldest one in the country. One of the more underrated venues because of its size, Bobby Dodd is placed perfectly into the neighborhood. Not only are you seated in a piece of history, but you also have the Atlanta skyline popping out behind the two-tiered walls for an understated, pleasing view.
The Hawkeyes have one of the most passionate fan bases in the country, and nothing allows them to show it more than their intimate stadium. Kinnick holds over 70,000 screaming Iowa fans, and opponents feel that volume on top of them, with thinner sidelines to make visitors even more uncomfortable. The stadium is also towered over by a children’s hospital where sick kids can watch the game from the top floors. Kinnick’s proximity to the hospital started one of the sweetest traditions, with the entire crowd turning toward the children at the end of the first quarter and waving.
Welcome to Death Valley. There are few venues louder than Tiger Stadium. When the fans are at their rowdiest, opposing teams are treated to deafening noise created by over 100,000 faithful. Many opponents count Tiger Stadium as the toughest place they have played. Legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant said Tiger Stadium was the loudest and the worst place for a visiting team. That kind of respect from a conference rival is what makes this venue one of the best in the country.
There is no more appropriate name for Michigan Stadium than the Big House. The largest stadium in all of college football seats over 109,000, but you wouldn’t be able to tell looking in from South Main St. The stadium is dug into the ground, where the only things visible from street level are the upper bowl and the press box. Standing on field level, you feel like a sea of blue and maize is screaming for your demise and on the brink of engulfing you. There aren’t a lot of things more intimidating than that.
Starkville, Mississippi, has a fever, and the only cure is more cowbell. The second-oldest college football stadium got a much-needed expansion in 2014, adding 6,000 more seats and at least 6,000 more cowbells to its mix of unique crowd noise. Davis Wade is the only stadium in the country that allows artificial noisemakers in the venue, making it one of the most distinctive game-day experiences in the country.
You can’t have a 360-game sellout streak without a special stadium. Since 1962, Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium has been filled through the incredible highs and terrible lows. While the stadium itself has no outstanding features, the fans make it great. On any given Saturday, Memorial Stadium is filled with a sea of red that is something to behold.
The House that Rockne Built is one of the oldest stadiums in the NCAA, and most of the historic idiosyncrasies are still intact. From the striped end zones to Touchdown Jesus overseeing the action, Notre Dame Stadium is where tradition lives for the Fighting Irish. The stadium expanded in 1997 from nearly 60,000 seats to over 80,000. The locker room was even revamped but didn’t lose its most iconic item: the “Play Like a Champion” sign players slap before stepping onto the field.
The Horseshoe is not much of a horseshoe anymore, but Ohio Stadium is still one of the best places in the country to watch a football game. The home of the Ohio State Buckeyes accommodates over 100,000 fans after the addition of seats in what used to be an open end zone. Built in 1922, Ohio Stadium is one of the oldest in the nation. It is also one of the loudest with acoustics that keep sound in the bowl, making it difficult for opponents to execute. There are a lot of reasons Ohio State has won eight national champions — Ohio Stadium filled with devoted fans is one of them.
Nestled in the quiet trees of the Pacific Northwest is one of the loudest stadiums in the country. Autzen holds only around 54,000 thousand fans, but the unique potato chip design bounces sound off the walls of the stadium and back down to the field. This small venue packs a big punch in the talented Pac-12 Conference.
It may not be the prettiest venue in college football, but there is no denying it is one of the most intimidating. Beaver Stadium was built like a 10-year-old forcing a steel school project together the night before, but it is one of the scariest places to play football. The stadium rises on all sides like a metal trap closing in on top of the opposition. The fans are relentless, and White Out Night is one of the most surreal experiences of any venue in the country. When teams step into the second-largest stadium in the nation, they better be prepared.
It’s hard to imagine a time when Neyland Stadium held 3,200 fans, but every stadium starts somewhere. The Volunteers’ home opened in 1921 with a capacity more fit for high school football in Texas. Now, after a few renovations, Neyland houses over 100,000 screaming fans every Saturday. The stadium comes complete with the Vol Navy, a group of boats out on the Tennessee River next to Neyland filled with tailgaters on the water before and during the game. The orange-and-white checkered pattern on the end zones is one of the most recognizable features of the stadium, but that pales in comparison to the sea of orange-clad fans singing “Rocky Top” at the top of their lungs.
While Michigan’s open bowl construction makes it surprisingly tame, Kyle Field's vertical construction makes it one of the loudest stadiums in the country. The university spent nearly half a billion dollars renovating the stadium in 2014 to increase the capacity to over 100,000 screaming fans, and the difference is astounding. The upper decks on all sides make opponents feel trapped in a cage of deafening sound. With the number of Aggie fans who pack the stadium every week, it’s hard to imagine a more daunting venue at which to play.
No matter where you go in the country, you would be hard-pressed to find a stadium more iconic in college football lore. The UCLA Bruins call the Rose Bowl home, but it is better known as the site of bowl classics from the Rose Bowl to the National Championship Game. Vince Young made his famous drive to win the national title against the mighty USC Trojans there. This also is where Sam Darnold led the Trojans to a miraculous Rose Bowl win two years ago. The Bruins might call this venue home, but it is the national stage that puts the Rose Bowl high on this list.
USC fans get a bad rap for their low attendance rate for such a storied program. Still, when the lights are on in Los Angeles Memorial Stadium, it is one of the best venues to watch a football game. Whether it’s the armored warhorse Traveler galloping through the stadium or the lighting of the torch after the third quarter, the Trojans have plenty of tradition fans can look forward to. Plus, you never know who will show up to a USC game. It is Los Angeles after all.
Most stadiums in the country are just blobs of concrete and steel. Virginia Tech, on the other hand, has a piece of itself in the stadium. Yes, most of the stadium is concrete and steel, but Hokie stone taken from a quarry near the Blacksburg campus was used in the construction of Lane Stadium. One of the more interesting parts of Lane is the wall of seats situated on the south end zone that has been a nightmare for opposing kickers. It may not hold the most fans in college football, but it certainly has its quirks that make it special.
Built on the shores of Lake Washington, Husky Stadium provides one of the prettiest backdrops in all of college football. The Cascade Mountains coupled with the sun-kissed lake provide a serene setting before the chaos of Washington football, but the dichotomy somehow works in creating a great stadium experience. The vertical upper deck creates an imposing wall of fans who look like they will crash on top of the opposition while also creating a wall of sound that can be heard from miles away. Try running an offense through that disruption.
You would think mixing a century-old stadium and tens of thousands of jumping fans would be a recipe for disaster. But at Wisconsin, it makes for one hell of a tradition. When the horns of House of Pain’s party anthem, “Jump Around,” blare on the speakers after the third quarter, Camp Randall shakes with every hop of Badgers fans across the stadium. While the stadium seats over 80,000 fans, it has an intimate environment where people can celebrate and commiserate with others around them.