August 10, 2022

Power Five’s 10 toughest stadiums to play in for 2019

Fans cheer as the Michigan team takes the field at Michigan Stadium for an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

Welcome to the house of pain.

All visitors are welcome, but enter with caution. Believe it or not there are such venues where even the officials are afraid to throw their flags because of the backlash and uproar from the fans.

After all, the crowd usually sets the tone for the game from kickoff and any given play can make everyone ignite into madness. When everything is on the line late in the fourth quarter and the opposing team’s quarterback is under center on third and long, the 12th man is at the forefront.

The home team’s defense feed off the energy of the crowd and it gives the offense confidence to go make a big play. There’s nothing like a hundred thousand fans yelling at the top of their lungs, rattling the offensive line and signal caller into making mistakes. The crowd can smell blood in the water whenever fumbles with the snaps and false starts happen. Huddling up is not an option and silent snap counts are vital for the opposing team’s offense.

10 Power 5 programs have been successful at protecting the house and all in different ways. There’s nothing like home sweet home and all the tradition it brings to the sport. Hardcore fans start the day off tailgating and by kickoff time are all the way turned up with cheers and boos until the end of the fourth quarter.

Without further ado, lets get the drum rolling with the countdown………

10. Wisconsin, Camp Randall Stadium: Expect to eat a few bratwursts and witness hard-nosed, blue collar football on Autumn Saturdays in Madison. The city is a crazy College Football town, the Badgers are on another level at home and the team always put on a great show for their fans. Fraternity houses are located on the west side of the stadium and helps elevate the game day atmosphere. The Jump Around at the start of the fourth quarter gets the adrenaline flowing throughout the crowd of 80,000-plus people, and puts everyone into a frenzy. Opposing defenses get mauled by Wisconsin’s mammoth offensive linemen, opening gaping holes for its’ bruising tailbacks to plow through and the fans love it. There’s always madness in the student section. The Badgers are an impressive 30-4 at home the past five seasons, including 12-1 in non-conference play. Athletic Director Barry Alvarez plans on continuing the winning culture at Camp Randall. Wisconsin is dominant at home and it doesn’t matter if Bret Bielema, Gary Anderson or Paul Chryst is coaching the team. Wisconsin hasn’t lost more than two games at home in one season since 2003. Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue and Iowa visit Camp Randall this fall. Until another Big 10 West team can consistently find the kryptonite to the Badgers’ home success, expect Chryst’s team to stay atop the division.

9. Georgia, Sanford Stadium: Saturdays Between the Hedges is what good ol’ SEC football is all about. Over 90,000 people in their red and black going crazy, making Sanford Stadium one of the loudest venues in the league. Georgia fans are wild and the players are at their best in front of their home crowd. Kirby Smart has the Bulldogs undefeated at home the past two seasons. The team is currently riding a 13-game home win streak. Georgia is also 28-5 at home the last five years, including 10-2 against SEC East opponents. Whenever Georgia fans unleash the Blackout on opposing teams it’s very intimidating and a must-see. Georgia is not afraid to schedule big home games in non-conference play as of recent, having played Clemson in 2014 and will host Notre Dame this fall. The Fighting Irish will be making their first-ever trip to Sanford Stadium the third Saturday of September. It’ll be Notre Dame’s first road game against an SEC opponent since 2004, making it one of the most anticipated games of the upcoming season. The schedule is manageable with Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina and Texas A&M on the home slate this fall. Smart’s Bulldogs have a great opportunity of going undefeated Between the Hedges three years in a row.

8. Washington: Husky Stadium: Besides the Coliseum and the Rose Bowl, Husky Stadium is the largest College Football venue on the west coast. Fans can bring food into the stadium and certain individuals can even purchase beer and wine. There used to be a track around the field, but renovations had it removed and moved the seats closer to the field. Although Husky Stadium seats only 70,000, the noise level gets pretty loud. The student section is located in the endzone and they all make life hard for opposing quarterbacks in goal-line situations. Chris Petersen’s Huskies are very tough to beat at home, going undefeated the past two seasons and riding a 14-game win streak. It rains a lot in Seattle and instead of the weather effecting the Washington players, they use mother nature to their advantage. The Huskies play the best defense in the Pac-12, especially at home. The last time Washington lost to a Pac-12 North Division foe at home was to Oregon in October of 2015. On third downs the Go Huskies Chant can be heard throughout the stadium and the Air Raid Siren is music to the fans ears every time the Huskies score. Washington has some big Pac-12 games at home this fall and hosts California, USC, Oregon, Washington State and Utah.

7. Michigan: Michigan Stadium: The Big House is the second largest stadium in the world, with over 107,000 fans in their maize and blue. After all, the Wolverines have the winningest football program in the FBS and always play lights out at home. Jim Harbaugh been patrolling the sidelines for four seasons and Michigan is 24-4 at home during that span. A Michigan home game isn’t complete without the famous Victors fight song. The Wolverines’ defense has been a tenacious bunch at home and the team went undefeated in 2016 and 2018. Although it’s not known for having the highest noise levels, the Big House has provided the sport with countless memories and is a place where legends of the sport made their names. The energy from the crowd when Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson scored on their signature returns was electric. Harbaugh is a Michigan Man and fully aware of the ground making moments in Michigan Stadium. The Big House was the first stadium to use electronic scoreboards as official time. The Big House also reached a record high of 115,103 in attendance when Michigan played Notre Dame in 2013. The Fighting Irish will visit the Big House again this fall in late October and that crowd could potentially break the latest attendance record. Michigan also hosts Iowa and rivals Michigan State and Ohio State this upcoming season. All of those clashes at the Big House will have a crazy atmosphere.

6. LSU: Tiger Stadium: If there’s a stadium out there that can make visitors tremble in their shoes, Death Valley has to be the one. Arguably one of the loudest and rowdiest crowds in all of College Football. Night games in Tiger Stadium are flat-out scary for opposing teams and by that time LSU fans are usually intoxicated and increase their noise levels to where it’s impossible to hear anything. Death Valley is massive, with over 102,000 screaming fans and is the most intimidating SEC venue to play in. When LSU players jump up and hit that crossbar in the Tiger Den before heading out to the field, the adrenaline be pumping throughout Death Valley. The team actually has a live Tiger mascot named Mike and he makes sporadic appearances at home games. Tailgating is a big deal at Tiger Stadium with some of the best crawfish, jambalaya and other cajun food you’ll ever taste and adds to the special mystique of the game-day atmosphere. There have been times when Death Valley was literally shaking. When LSU played Auburn in Tiger Stadium in 1988, the noise and energy levels were so high it registered on a seismograph and will forever be known as the Earthquake Game. LSU is 21-5 at home the past four seasons and host Arkansas, Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M this fall. Ed Orgeron will have the Bayou Bengals ready for those SEC clashes and hopes to capitalize on a solid 2018 season.

5. Penn State, Beaver Stadium: The third largest stadium in the world packs over 106,000 fans screaming at the top of their lungs “We Are Penn State!” The team’s mascot Nittany Lion keeps the raucous crowd in the game all four quarters and the place is often deafening. The infamous White Out in Happy Valley is hands down one of the best visuals you’ll ever place your eyes on. Penn State fans are rowdy and Beaver Stadium is the loudest venue in the Big 10. Beer and wine can be purchased at Beaver Stadium. The university has a huge student body and they love their football. The program earned its’ title “Linebacker U” and there’s always some hard-hitting going on in Beaver Stadium. It literally feels like the stadium is shaking when noise levels are at its’ peak. The opposing team’s quarterback has to be mentally strong to be successful playing in Beaver Stadium. If the crowd senses weakness they will turn up the pressure. James Franklin is one of the best game-day motivators and the Nittany Lions have gone 25-3 at home the past four seasons, including two of those undefeated. This fall the home schedule is very favorable for Penn State and consists of Idaho, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Michigan, Indiana and Rutgers. The game against Michigan will likely be a White Out and don’t be surprised if the Nittany Lions make it three undefeated seasons at home in the past four years.

4. Oklahoma, Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium: The Sooners are flat-out unstoppable at home, going 23-2 the past four seasons and riding a 10-game home win streak. Recent renovations have moved the seating capacity up to 86,000 strong drenched in their crimson and cream. Oklahoma fans are die hards about their football program and show it every home game. When Boomer and Sooner pull the Schooner across the north endzone after every Oklahoma score, it’s College Football tradition at its’ finest. Autumn Saturdays in Norman is the place to be for the perfect game day atmosphere. Last season, the Sooners outscored their opponents 360-190 and averaged 51 points per game at home. You have to applaud Oklahoma on its’ non-conference scheduling at home the past 10 years, having played Florida State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Ohio State and UCLA. This fall Oklahoma opens up the season against a dangerous Group of Five Team in the Houston Cougars. Houston upset Oklahoma in the 2016 opener. That game was played on a neutral field, however this clash will be at Owen Field and the Sooners will be looking for some payback. Oklahoma also plays Iowa State, Texas Tech, TCU and West Virginia at home this upcoming season. With Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts at quarterback and a favorable home schedule, the Sooners have a chance to increase their scoring margin from 2018 and that’s scary.

3. Ohio State, Ohio Stadium: Home games are a big deal at The Ohio State University. The Horseshoe is one of the legendary College Football venues and the fourth largest stadium in the world. Over 104,000 fans in their scarlet and grey, standing on top of you and screaming at the top of their lungs. It’s all madness and a horror show for opposing teams. Even Vince Young said the Horseshoe was the most intimidating stadium he’s ever played in. One of the best gameday traditions in Collegiate sports is Dotting the I every home game. The Buckeyes also have the best damn band in the land. A blue blood program with an iconic stadium and big-time athletes make the Buckeyes infamous at home. During Urban Meyer’s seven-year tenure Ohio State went a jaw-dropping 47-3 at home and four of those years the team finished unblemished. The Buckeyes are currently on a 13-game home win streak. Ohio State don’t load up on cream puffs in non-conference play and hosted USC, Miami, Colorado, California, Virginia Tech and Oklahoma over the past 10 seasons. Last year the Buckeyes outscored their opponents 355-150 at home and averaged 50.7 points per game. This fall Ohio State hosts a Cincinnati team in the non-conference that won 11 games last year with one of their own in Luke Fickell. Ohio State hasn’t lost at home to a Big 10 opponent since late November of 2015 and play Michigan State, Wisconsin and Penn State inside the Horseshoe this upcoming season. With Georgia transfer Justin Fields at the helms of the offense, the unit could potentially break last season’s scoring records.

2. Clemson, Clemson Memorial Stadium: Home of the original Death Valley. Over 81,000 animated fans in their orange, purple and white. Although Clemson stopped releasing balloons when the team runs down the hill and onto the field before every home game, their entrance still ignites the entire stadium. The players pay homage by touching Howard’s Rock, which is still one of the best College Football gameday traditions. Dabo Swinney’s Tigers are home-cooking, going 34-2 in Death Valley the past five seasons. Talk about protecting the house, Clemson has gone undefeated at home four of the past five years. Last season the Tigers outscored their opponents 322-101 at home and averaged 46 points per game. Clemson is also riding high on a 15-home game win streak. The Tigers haven’t lost at home since November of 2016. Clemson is officially the 800-pound gorilla of the ACC and Death Valley has become a slaughterhouse for visiting teams. Texas A&M visits Death Valley this fall, which will most likely be under the lights and one of the most anticipated games of the non-conference. Tiger fans hope to continue making life difficult for Jimbo Fisher. Clemson’s home slate for 2019 will be a cakewalk with Georgia Tech, Charlotte, Florida State, Boston College, Wake Forest and Wofford visiting Death Valley. Trevor Lawrence and crew are licking their chops and will most likely put up video game numbers at home this fall.

1. Alabama, Bryant-Denny Stadium: The Crimson Tide have the No. 1 College Football program and play in a stadium that seats nearly 102,000 fans, making it the fourth largest in the almighty SEC. It gets deafening in Bryant-Denny and the gameday atmosphere is astonishing. Alabama fans are some of the most passionate around and they are nuts about Crimson Tide football. Big Al keeps the crowd hype and the Million Dollar Band still sneak in some Rammer Jammer Cheer to keep the party going. Nick Saban’s boys are nearly indestructible at home, going 41-1 the past six seasons. Talk about dominance, Alabama hasn’t lost at home since September of 2015 and finished undefeated at Bryant-Denny five of the past six years. The Crimson Tide currently owns the longest home winning streak in the FBS, which sits at 26 games. Alabama outscored their opponents 323-92 at home last season and most of those games were over by halftime. 2019’s home slate is laughable with New Mexico State, Southern Miss, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Western Carolina visiting Bryant-Denny. It’ll be the upset of the season if Alabama loses one of those games. With Tua Tagovailoa returning Alabama will massacre every team that steps foot in Bryant-Denny this fall. Roll Damn Tide!

Honorable Mention

Auburn, Jordan Hare Stadium: Watching the war eagle soar over Jordan Hare is one the great traditions in College Football. The Tigers are always tough in the Jungle, going 18-4 at home the past three seasons. Beware of the Plains.

Nebraska, Memorial Stadium: Over 90,000 fans create the Sea of Red for an ongoing NCAA record 368 consecutive sellouts. Scott Frost will have the Huskers home-cooking in his second year, so expect to see a lot of red balloons.

Florida, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: Dan Mullen will help bring back that intimidating aura to the Swamp and make it one of the most feared stadiums in the sport. If you’re not Gator friendly than you’re Gator bait. Chomp!

Notre Dame, Notre Dame Stadium: Although the Fighting Irish aren’t in any Power 5 conference, Brian Kelly’s boys are 12-1 at home the past two seasons. Notre Dame has a favorable home slate this fall with Virginia, Virginia Tech, USC and Boston College coming to town.

Oregon, Autzen Stadium: The Autzen Zoo only packs 54,000, but it’s the loudest stadium in the Pac-12. The Ducks are good for at least 45 points at home, which means a lot of push-ups from Oregon’s mascot Ducky. Quack, quack!

Texas A&M, Kyle Field: Recent renovations has made this stadium the largest in the SEC and that’s saying a lot. No doubt Jimbo Fisher will use the 12th man to his team’s advantage. Kyle Field is always rocking on gamedays in College Station.