It is no secret that the Stevens clan are bona fide, card carrying, followers of all things college football. Going back as far as I can remember, Saturdays in the fall have been reserved for one thing and one thing only. (If you’ve followed my writing at all these last few years, you also know we are complete and unabashed Oklahoma Sooners fans, though for the purposes of this exercise, I shall try to keep all homer tendencies to a minimum…key word here being try 😉
As such, I’ve been fortunate to attend quite a few games in person over the years in venues literally spanning the country (and even including the islands), and in honor of a long overdue return to this space, the triumphant return of that most strange and magical time of year, and my impending visit to my favorite stadium of all time (read on 🙂 in just a couple of days, it seemed a good time to bring back an old standby…namely, a countdown, in this case the ten best college football stadiums I have seen in person.
(Not to be confused w/ the ten best games, or the ten stadiums I reaaaaaally wanna go to, both of which will be coming later in the fall)
Per usual, in descending order, we begin with…
10.) Reeser Stadium – Oregon State – Corvallis, OR
Much like the city that Oregon State calls home, this place just exudes small town charm. Not oversized, every seat is a good one, people are exceedingly nice.
Now if only they could put together a squad to challenge in the PAC-12 North…
9.) Bobcat Stadium – Montana State – Bozeman, MT
If ever you’re going to go, try to get to the (pictured) Gold Rush game. First home game of each year, the Bobcat faithful don their fairer color and pack the house. Nestled right along the Bridger Mountains, it is an amazing experience.
8.) Washington-Grizzly Stadium – Montana – Missoula, MT
I have attended no less than a dozen games here, and regretted not one of them…up to and including the 2009 contest above that was played in a blizzard. Rabid fan base, tons of game day atmosphere, phenomenal tailgating.
Done and done.
7.) Aloha Stadium – University of Hawaii – Honolulu, HI
To be clear…the stadium itself is a dump. Heck, the USNWT cancelled their scheduled game there b/c the surface was unplayable. But over an eight-year run from 2010-2017, I spent every single Christmas Eve here for the Hawaii Bowl, in addition to three Pro Bowls, a couple of random UH games, and countless trips the weekly swap meet.
For all that, this place definitely earns this ranking.
6.) Albertsons Stadium – Boise State – Boise, ID
The famed Smurf Turf, which is every bit as vibrant, and every bit as fun, as you might imagine.
5.) Neyland Stadium – Tennessee – Knoxville, TN
My sole trip to Neyland was more than fifteen years ago (!?!?!), when my brother was going to school in Tennessee. Somehow, he got his hands on some prime seats for a game against Arkansas, which ended up going into 6OT and being a complete classic.
4.) The Big House – Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI
Once upon a time, my allegiance wasn’t solely pledged to the Crimson and Cream. Growing up in southern Ohio, I was an avid UM fan, making more than a few 4-hour treks up to Ann Arbor.
To this day, I still know every word to Hail to the Victors. 🙂
3.) Cotton Bowl – Dallas, TX
Starting to enter some rarified air here, and might begin to notice a trend in participants…
Two years ago, the Stevens family crossed an item off the bucket list and made our way to Texas for the Red River Shootout/Rivalry/Whatever They’re Calling it These Days. Hosted at the Texas State Fair each year, it is a celebration of football and gluttony…which just so happen to be two of my favorite things!
2.) Memorial Stadium – Oklahoma – Norman, OK
The Palace on the Plains. Not a bad seat in the house. Not a place where Boomer Sooner can’t be heard blaring from the band. Nowhere for unwanted away fans to seek refuge.
Another recent pilgrimage that was 1000% worth the hype.
1.) Rose Bowl – Pasadena, CA
For as big a homer as I might be, I would be remiss if I didn’t put the Granddaddy of Them All at the top of this list. Much like Fenway, Wrigley, and precious few others left today, there is a history and tradition here that is simply undeniable.
And the fact that I was there to witness arguably the greatest (or at least most entertaining) college football game of all time doesn’t hurt…
…nor does the fact that I’m just three days from returning to watch my beloved Sooners do battle w/ the Bruins