I’ve had the fortune of visiting many of our land’s greatest college football stadiums. I love their uniqueness, their history, and their culture. The NFL? Those stadiums are all the same. They’re corporate office parks. Banal. Cold. Nondescript.
I am going to share with you my Top 10 college football stadiums that I have been to, PLUS the five on my bucket list that I intend to visit posthaste.
10. Nebraska | Memorial Stadium
Nebraska football is the only thing in Nebraska. No, seriously. There is Warren Buffett, a whole lotta corn, and Husker football. There is no NFL or NBA to sully the watershed. These painfully nice, folksy folks are obsessed with their football and nowhere is that more evident than when you step inside Memorial Stadium. It is majestic, clean, and historic. The place absolutely booms too with some of the kindest people you’ll ever cross.
9. Ohio State | Ohio Stadium
Sure, there’s a lot of boring, stagnant football in the Big Ten, but by God, they have some massive, imposing stadiums. Ohio Stadium was built in 1922 and now seats nearly 105,000 Buckeye loons. When I visited Ohio Stadium, I was struck by the commitment to preserving the iconic, historic atmosphere through all the improvements and expansions over the years. Just don’t mess with the drunk Buckeye bros in jerseys and Timberland boots. Not worth the time or criminal record.
8. Army | Michie Stadium
This place is truly special. First of all, you’re on the campus that has churned out some of history’s greatest leaders. The U.S. Military Academy sits on the beautiful Hudson River, and Michie Stadium has a stunning view of the natural beauty as well as the medieval-inspired campus architecture. Watch some classic, option military football in the intimate setting of 38,000 spectators. America stuff, gang.
7. Clemson | Memorial Stadium
Now, I am a proud Texas A&M Aggie. I know all about insane, raucous crowds. Put Clemson’s fans up there with the loudest I’ve encountered in the country. Clemson is a quaint, sleepy college town in the hills of western South Carolina. On game weekends, the place turns into a huge party with some of the friendliest folks you’ll ever cross. Watching the team rub Howard’s Rock before they run down the hill onto the field is a damn impressive sight to behold in Death Valley (East).
6. Michigan | Michigan Stadium
“The Big House.” It has earned this moniker in spades. Michigan Stadium now seats nearly 110,000 people. Staggering. Now, the Wolverine fans often are deservedly deemed “quiet”, but this game experience is steeped in history. I was at the first night game and was blown away by the atmosphere.
5. Washington | Husky Stadium
You won’t find a stadium in the country with more striking natural beauty within eyeshot than Husky Stadium in Seattle. The stadium is specifically designed in a U-shape so that fans can view Lake Washington and the Cascade Mountains. Hell, you can tailgate right outside the stadium on your boat if you wish. That’s living.
4. Texas A&M | Kyle Field
Kyle Field is in the midst of a massive, complete renovation that will surely keep its status with the college football elite. Kyle Field is a behemoth. It was not constructed to blend in with anything. It towers over the entire campus and the flatlands of the Brazos Valley. The architectural style could best be described as war-esque. Much like Clemson, fans are nicer than hell and loud as anyone once it’s game time. Get yourself to College Station.
3. LSU | Tiger Stadium
Go to a game here at night. Disclaimer: you’re going to see some stuff. I saw a grown man puking into a trashcan while holding a toddlers’ hand in each of his. Poetic, really. Tiger Stadium is mean, smells of dank bourbon, and is one of the most special places I have ever watched college football.
2. Notre Dame | Notre Dame Stadium
Plenty of bias here. I have a degree from Notre Dame and come from a long line of Fightin’ Irish folk. This stadium boasts nearly no advertising and does not have a Jumbotron. Almost everyone sits on wood plank benches that are seemingly older than the World Wars. If you’re a sucker for nostalgia – like me – then put this puppy up on your bucket list. Go during the color change of the leaves in mid-October. The NFL has nothing close to this experience.
1. Rose Bowl
Sure, UCLA plays here, but you want to get here when something huge is on the line. Nestled up in the mountains outside of smoggy, clogged Los Angeles is the historic gem that is the Rose Bowl. You are surrounded by mountains. Unless God hates you, it’ll probably be 72 degrees and sunny. You tailgate on a golf course. The stadium itself is dripping in history and is 92 years old. This is a sensory fiesta that I cannot recommend enough.
Image Source: Instagram