1. OHIO STATE
This is an article from the Aug. 22, 2011 issue
To the untrained eye high above the field, it might appear at first that the members of the Ohio State University Marching Band are imitating a snake. In fact, they are executing a highly choreographed, 75-year-old tradition that brings chills to the fans—and the fans to a roar—at every Buckeyes home game.
Beginning from a Block O formation, band members loop and strut in unison while playing the four-minute military march Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse. By song's end, they've spelled out "O h i o," climaxing when a senior sousaphone player performs the honor of dotting the i.
Jordan-Hare Stadium gets loud for big hits and TDs but rarely louder than when Nova the golden eagle soars overhead and lands near the 50-yard line as almost 90,000 fans scream, "W-a-a-a-r Eagle!"
3. TEXAS A&M
A&M students take their role as the 12th Man very seriously—so much so that the night before home games, roughly 20,000 students gather at Kyle Field for a de facto pep rally.
For pageantry and patriotism nothing compares with watching the uniformed students who make up the Corps of Cadets and Brigade of Midshipmen march into the stadium in processional before the season-ending showdown.
Nearly every team has its own unique way of running onto the field, but only Tigers players rub a 2½-pound rock for good luck as they charge down the hill behind the east end zone. It's known as the Most Exciting 25 Seconds in College Football.
From Georgia's beloved bulldog Uga to Texas's mammoth steer Bevo to Colorado's stampeding buffalo Ralphie, college football's sidelines welcome all breeds.
7. FLORIDA STATE
Talk about a dramatic entrance. Before the opening kickoff at Doak Campbell Stadium a man playing the role of the legendary Seminoles chief rides his horse, Renegade, to midfield, where he plants a flaming spear.
When the third quarter ends at Camp Randall Stadium, the party's just beginning. While the P.A. system blares House of Pain's early 1990s hip-hop hit, the student section follows its instructions: Jump up, jump up and get down.
9. NOTRE DAME
When the game ends, win or lose, Fighting Irish players head to the corner of the north end zone, link arms and join the student section (which always stays till the bitter end) in singing the words to Notre Dame, Our Mother.
10. GEORGIA TECH
The Ramblin' Wreck
The Yellow Jackets have a unique ride in the game: a restored 1930 Model A Ford Sport Coupe—a real classic.
SI FANS' CHOICE
Florida State, Chief Osceola 26.7%
Texas A&M, Midnight Yell 11.7%
Notre Dame, Play Like a Champion Today 11.5%