What makes a great college football stadium? The best-of-the-best have the perfect mix of location, history, scenery, traditions, technology and, of course, fans who provide ultimate home-field advantage. In honor of college football's 150th anniversary, here are the top 10 stadiums in the sport's history.
10. Beaver Stadium, Penn State
There’s only one stadium on this list that can pack in more fans than Beaver Stadium, and there are few more intimidating sights for opponents than when the Nittany Lions hold their annual “white out.” Penn State’s student section is often regarded as one of the best in the country, and you’re sure to hear plenty of “We Are Penn State” chants on any trip to State College.
9. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida
The home of the Gators earned the moniker “The Swamp” back in 1992, when then-coach Steve Spurrier likened the stadium experience for opponents to the “hot, sticky” and “dangerous” nature of a real one. “The Swamp is a place where only Gators get out alive,” Spurrier famously said, and that attitude has shaped the atmosphere in Gainesville.
8. Neyland Stadium, Tennessee
Currently boasting the fourth-largest capacity in college football, Neyland Stadium once packed 109,061 people in for a 2004 win over Florida. Even as they’ve struggled in recent years, the Vols have an all-time .773 winning percentage at their home, which is decorated by orange-and-white checkered end zones. You’ll see plenty of both colors in the crowd as they belt out their beloved “Rocky Top.”
7. Husky Stadium, Washington
Fans don’t just fill up the stadium here. On game days, Lake Washington, which sits just outside the field, is packed with boats filled with fans. This scene is quite unique to Husky Stadium and gives it a feature that makes the game-day atmosphere unmatched elsewhere. Inside the stadium, 70% of the seats lie between the endzones. It’s overall a very fun and cool place to watch a game.
6. Memorial Stadium, Clemson
This stadium is best known as “Death Valley.” Built on top of old cemetery grounds, Memorial Stadium is one of the most intimidating places to play a game. Howard’s Rock sits atop a hill in the east end zone, a symbol in one of the country's best college traditions. As fans crowd the stadium decked in orange, there’s never a dull moment. It is known to be one of the loudest in all of FBS, reaching 132.8 decibels.
5. Ohio Stadium, Ohio State
Another mind-boggling stadium due to its sheer size, Ohio Stadium is one of the best places to watch a football game. As fans crowd the bridge over the surrounding river and rush into their seats, there really is no better atmosphere on a Saturday. There’s a plethora of luxury suites, but also a packed student section. While it used to be a horse shoe-type structure (hence the nickname “The Shoe”), in recent years the university added more seats to the south endzone to make it the third-largest college stadium in the sport. Given the success of Ohio State football in recent years, the energy—and atmosphere—is never lacking.
4. Tiger Stadium, LSU
The best part about Tiger Stadium is not the raucous crowds that it attracts every game, but the mammoth structure itself. The university has continued to add more and more seating, including a 4,000-seat club level and two levels of suites in 2014. The stadium has three different JumboTrons, all relative in size. Also titled “Death Valley,” Tiger Stadium is one of the craziest and most exciting places to watch a game, and it’s hard to beat the atmosphere when Alabama comes to town.
3. Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame
Located right in the thick of the South Bend campus, Notre Dame Stadium is a classic location in college football. Known for its view of the school’s famous “Touchdown Jesus” mural rising above the north end zone, the stadium has been atop the travel list for many a visiting fan over the years, and the university has impressively sold out 268 consecutive home games.
2. Michigan Stadium, Michigan
This one is pretty self-explanatory. “The Big House” is the largest and most crowded stadium in all of college football. In 2013, when Michigan hosted Notre Dame, the stadium held a single game record number 115,109 fans. Enough said.
1. Rose Bowl, UCLA
The history and beauty surrounding the Rose Bowl is the reason why this stadium tops the list. Located in Pasadena, Calif., the stadium sits in a perfect location with amazing sights, landscape and scenes all around. The one-tier grandstand surrounds the entire field and there is simply not a bad seat in the house. The first Rose Bowl game was played here in 1923 and the stadium continues to host the highly-anticipated bowl here every year. There is no more aesthetically pleasing place to watch a game, and it certainly sits atop the list of stadiums a college football fan must visit in their lifetime.