The college football fight song has existed for more than a century, so it's no wonder that a school's signature sound always rouses the crowd during a game. In honor of the sport's 150th anniversary, here are the best fight songs in the sport's history.
10. Bow Down to Washington
What is the easiest way to judge a school’s fight song? By its ability to rouse a team to victory! Written by Lester Wilson in 1915, the Huskies went 7–0 in their first season with “Bow Down to Washington” playing from the sidelines. The first time the song was played at a game, the Huskies dominated Cal in a 72–0 victory...now that’s a good fight song.
9. FSU Fight Song
If you’re looking for a fight song that screams, “school spirit!” look no further. Creatively named “FSU Fight Song” Florida State’s ballad originally appeared as a poem written by student Doug Alley; Professor Tommy Wright later based the composition off of the poem. An avid Seminoles football fan, Professor Wright gave up the rights to the song in exchange for a pair of season tickets.
8. Anchors Aweigh
The Naval Academy’s “Anchors Aweigh” is everything you would expect from a federal service academy’s fight song. Patriotic and spirited, the 1906 product is a classic in all the right ways. The expression “anchors aweigh” (often seen misspelled as “anchors away”) means a ship has officially begun its journey, fitting for pre-game football performances. Charles Zimmermann, who had been bandmaster of the Naval Academy Band for nearly 30 years at the time, composed the song.
7. Tiger Rag
“Tiger Rag” has many uses across sports, but its most popular may be as the fight song of Clemson, the defending national champs. Also known as “the song that shakes the Southland,” its catchy “hold that Tiger!” melody is guaranteed to get stuck in your head if you’re on a visit to Memorial Stadium.
6. Fight On
University of Southern California
A 1922 product of USC dental student Milo Sweet, “Fight On” is now played by the Spirit of Troy student band at sporting and recreational events throughout campus. Since its inception the phrase “Fight On!” has become the student battle cry and is often seen on merchandise and social media.
5. On Wisconsin
Here’s a big plot twist: “On Wisconsin” was originally “Minnesota, Minnesota,” with composer William T. Purdy planning to enter it in a competition to be the fight song of the state’s flagship—a big Badger rival. His roommate Carl Beck, a former Wisconsin student, was able to get Purdy to instead let the song be used for UW, with Beck writing new lyrics. The song has gone on to be a staple of Camp Randall ever since its first use in 1909.
4. Victory March
Widely regarded as one of—if not the—most recognizable college fight songs, “Victory March” was shoe-in for a spot on this list. Brothers Michael and John Shay, also alums, wrote the Notre Dame anthem. The song was first played on campus on Easter Sunday in 1909, perhaps a nod to the school’s Catholic faith.
3. Rocky Top
Although not the official fight song of the Volunteers, “Rocky Top” has become so ingrained within the culture of Tennessee football that it might as well be. First recorded by the Osborne Brothers in 1967, the University of Tennessee has a perpetual license to play the song as often as deemed necessary. The ability of “Rocky Top” to appeal to the masses is evident in its claim as the only college fight song to appear on the Country Top 100 Charts (Lynn Anderson’s version peaked at No. 17 in 1970).
2. Boomer Sooner
Although the rhythmic trumpet and clashing symbols alone could have landed the Sooner state’s anthem on this list, it is also important to note that “Boomer Sooner” just might be the most frequently played fight song in college football. Derived from Yale University's “Boola Boola”, “Boomer Sooner” is played after every touchdown. Considering Oklahoma scored the most touchdowns per game in 2018 (6.1), the song is sure to garner significant airtime.
1. The Victors
The all-time winningest program in college football, Michigan’s “The Victors” perfectly embodies the maize and blue. Written and composed by then-student Louis Elbel in 1898, a shortened variation of the nation’s best fight song is played every time the Wolverines score or make a major defensive play. “The Victors” is so bold and commanding that alumnus and past President Gerald R. Ford often requested the Naval band play the song in place of the customary “Hail to the Chief.” Upon his death, Ford requested it to accompany his funeral procession at the capitol.