Since I last did my stadium rankings I have added Texas A&M, Notre Dame, and Kansas to my list of places I have visited and I have had an opportunity to re-attend events at a few other venues. This is the most recent ranking of the stadiums I have been to. Just as a refresher, I primarily value overall stadium quality and atmosphere but I do give consideration to the location of the venue, tailgating, and other things to do around town.
1. Michigan Stadium (Michigan)
I still can't think of a negative thing to say about Michigan. Great atmosphere, a historic (but still comfortable and accessible) stadium, a beautiful setting, and a great place to visit. Ann Arbor is my gold standard for college football experiences.
2. Ohio Stadium (Ohio State)
I still have to knock Ohio State for their lack of a college town feel but there isn't much else wrong with the stadium. Access could be worse and the fans make the atmosphere more intense and exciting than anywhere else I have traveled.
3. Notre Dame Stadium (Notre Dame)The campus is gorgeous and the stadium itself is a step back in time. Yes you will be squished next to everyone on the wooden bleachers and there are no television screens for replays but it is a fantastic atmosphere and a beautiful place to visit for a football game.
4. Kyle Field (Texas A&M)This is one of my all time favorite places to visit and I would gladly make a trip back. My main complaints are that A&M is basically located in the middle of a bunch of cotton fields and College Station isn't that great of a college town (it isn't terrible, but nothing like Ann Arbor or Madison). On the other hand, stadium atmosphere rivals Ohio State and the amount of tradition and pageantry could give Notre Dame a run. Truly a spectacular place to visit.
5. Beaver Stadium (Penn State)
It's a nice little college town nestled in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. The stadium atmosphere is great and the fans are the friendliest in sports. I am not a huge fan of the massive asphalt and grass lots that serve as a tailgating buffer zone between the stadium and campus and I do think this is not a particular accessible of aesthetically pleasing venue, but it is still a fun place to watch a game.
6. Memorial Stadium (Nebraska)
On a return trip to Lincoln I have come to appreciate the sea of red quite a bit more. The atmosphere was much better and, while it is still a pain in the ass to get to seats in the end zone, the new addition is absolutely gorgeous and provides some awesome views for being so high up. I have to say I was surprised about how much more I enjoyed this venue on the second visit when sitting in a sideline section rather than the end zones.
7. Camp Randall Stadium (Wisconsin)
Consistency of atmosphere is still a problem at Camp Randall as night games are way more intense than the lethargic day games and the student section is constantly tardy. Still, Madison is my favorite college town and it is a great place to visit for a long weekend as there is always plenty to due and see.
8. Kinnick Stadium (Iowa)
Iowa City really let me down for my visit to the Michigan game this year. The student section leaving en masse at halftime and the fans lethargy was incredibly disappointing. While the football team may be better than it was last season, the atmosphere has significantly depreciated since my last visit. I still love the venue and the fans are still better than most of the ones below them, but they could keep falling if things don't improve next year.
9. Doak S. Campbell Stadium (Florida State)
Florida State is basically Wisconsin but in a much worse college town. Tallahassee isn't terrible but it isn't even close to Iowa City or Lincoln, let alone Ann Arbor or Madison. The Noles fans make night games incredibly special and the stadium can get incredibly loud but it just isn't appreciably better than the venues above it.
10. Ben Hill Griffith Stadium (Florida)
Gainesville is a better college town than Tallahassee but I can only judge on the games I have been to and the Swamp was absolutely devoid of atmosphere when I went. I don't get why Gator fans, who actually have a decent amount of history and tradition to fall back on, can be so lethargic about their team when they are winning. I hope to go back in a few years for a night game so I can re-evaluate this.
11. Memorial Stadium (Illinois)
I still have a soft spot in my heart for Illinois. The stadium is a bit dumpy and the town is just meh but the atmosphere can be fun and it is still a nicer place to visit than Ames or Evanston. Maybe I am sentimental but I enjoy the atmosphere at Illinois even though it isn't as intense as some of the schools below it.
12. Jack Trice Stadium (Iowa State)
(still no reason to change this entry so I am keeping it the same again) I am just going to copy and paste my previous write up since I don't have anything else to say.
"First off, Ames sucks. There are a couple good places to go there but
the campus is unspectacular and your options are limited. This is
second only to Evanston in terms of bad bar availability. The
tailgating around Jack Trice is pretty good and, while Cyclones can be
particularly hostile to Hawkeyes, their fans tend to be nice enough that
you would never feel too threatened. The stadium itself is a piece of
crap, aesthetically my least favorite of all the ones I have been to.
Yet, this is more about atmosphere than anything else and I have to tip
my hat to Cyclone fans who generate a very loud, very energized stadium
atmosphere. There are a lot of crappy stadiums at the bottom of this
list but ISU passes them for having an extremely higher level of passion
both inside and outside the stadium on game day. I wouldn't recommend
it, but if you are looking to visit a lot of stadiums you can turn a
trip to Jack Trice into a very nice weekend if you try."
13. TCF Bank Stadium (Minnesota)
Nothing to add from my last entry on this stadium so I will just post it again.
"In my original preview I wrote, "Minnesota is the anti-Iowa State. Good
facility, nice city, but a crappy atmosphere around game day". I stand
by that. I tend to think this stadium is overrated in the media.
Having actually sat in that facility I can say that it was a pretty
miserable experience. The fans are fair weather and the only real
atmosphere is the annoyingly loud prodding of their PA guy who is easily
the most obnoxious of any stadium I have ever been to. Minneapolis is
alright (Dinkytown blows) but like I said, this is mostly about
atmosphere and Minnesota's is just bad."
14. Memorial Stadium (Indiana)
There really isn't much to say about IU. It is an aesthetically pleasing stadium in a decent college town but the fans are so apathetic about football that the atmosphere really suffers. Indiana isn't a bad place to visit but there really isn't any one thing about it that makes it special. Basically everyone is just biding time until football season.
15. Memorial Stadium (Kansas)Take everything I said about Indiana and put it in a slightly dumpier stadium. That is Kansas. It isn't a terrible place to watch a game but people just don't care about the football team in Lawrence. Great place to see a basketball team though.
16. Ross Ade Stadium (Purdue)
West Lafayette is fine as a college town but the stadium is notable worse than Indiana or Kansas. Terrible sight lines, a flat crowd, and some bad seats (bleachers? really?). Ross Ade is basically a Texas high school football stadium with less interested fans and a train whistle.
17. Dyche Stadium (Northwestern)
Still the worst stadium I have ever been to. Terrible sight lines, dumpy facilities, and fans who have been photographed reading books in the stands. I used to describe Northwestern as the third nicest high school football venue in the state of Illinois and even that might be generous.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
1) National Championship
2) National Championship
3) Bowl that lost a representative to the first NC pick
4) Bowl that lost a representative to the second NC pick
6) Sugar Bowl
Michigan and Texas Tech are both the last teams selected from their respective conferences so neither is really a surprise. Obviously if Texas Tech goes to the Holiday Bowl or Michigan goes to the Gator Bowl this game could include either Minnesota or Kansas State (or both), but as of now this looks like the most likely outcome.
There are several Mountain West teams available here but I think UNLV gets the nod because of the fact that they haven't been to a bowl game in a while and have fewer losses than the other teams available. Rice is still my prognostication from Conference USA but that conference is always a bit of a crap shoot to project in bowl games.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: North Texas v. Navy
Navy has a guaranteed spot here so the only question is who will they play. North Texas is the closest Conference USA team and the Mean Green have as good a record as anybody else available to this bowl game so they seem like the logical choice.
The Wildcats were here last year but their 7-5 record and proximity to the bowl site make them the de facto choice here over 6-6 Oregon State and Washington State squads. Utah State is here after Boise State elects to save money and stay home for their bowl game rather than travel all the way to New Mexico. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Washington State v. Florida Atlantic
There is no B1G team here and no alternate system that I know of so I think Washington State gets the nod here to face Marshall. Conference USA's bowl selection procedure is a bit wonky but FAU is bowl elidgible and I don't see the administration giving up the opportunity to play here.