For this purpose, I will only use places I have actually been too. Last count was 82 college stadiums.
5) The Rose Bowl. But ONLY for USC-UCLA or the Rose Bowl game itself. Every other UCLA home game would be a waste unless you are a fan of either team. The fact that the stadium only truly matters for 1-2 games a year pushes this down the list. But it is the granddaddy. Driving down into the stadium from the hills that ring it with the big rose scoreboard looming is an exciting site. The color and pageantry are second to none for the two events listed above. UCLA v Anyone Else is a letdown.
4) Notre Dame. Actually there are a couple things about Notre Dame that are disappointing. The upper deck the Irish installed cut off a good chunk of being able to see “Touchdown Jesus” (a major mistake IMO). Plus as a city South Bend is, well, um… boring? That the word? Yep. And now that the College Football Hall of Fame has left South Bend for here in Atlanta, one less reason to get jacked up about a trip there. Still this is fabulous, the history is something to witness in person.
3) Tennessee. Now before you UGA, Bama, LSU, etc fans get all worked up… There are great atmosphere’s in great stadiums across the south, no argument. There is something a little extra at Neyland Stadium. The Vol Navy, the checkerboard end zones, the stadium that seems to close in on you the way it’s built. It’s older, it’s not state of the art, but it’s loud. Unbelievable loud. and 100k plus reigning down on you. Most intimidating environment I have ever seen (and yes that includes you LSU).
2) Michigan. Funny how ‘The Big House’ doesn’t seem nearly as big as say, Tennessee or even Georgia. Way the bowl is, you are almost shocked when you hear the attendance… really? seems less than that. Still it has the ‘lore’ feeling to it. This ‘College Football Fall’ feeling that is unmatched. There are tons of great stadiums with great fans, but Michigan has this sense of the game that no other can match. It’s like stepping back to 1970 and standing in 2015 at the same time. A special place.
1) *Army. There is nothing like it. The ‘Thin Gray Line March’. The setting (which is stunning in the fall along the Hudson River). The sense of patriotism and pride. I was awed by the experience of an early October game. Even if the home team isn’t very good at football, there are surely great at defending the nation. An absolute must-go for any fan of the game regardless of whom they are playing. Lafayette? Cornell? Doesn’t matter. You are there for the phenomenal experience.
*side note – I have not been to Annapolis for a Navy game (high priority on my list) and the two times I was in Colorado Springs for the Air Force the weather was awful – once the wind blew 60 mph and the other was in a near blinding snowstorm.