The 2015 NCAA football season is well underway, which means millions of 18-to-22-year-olds are getting into drunken brawls over whose university has the better group of unpaid athletes. It also means millions of 23-to-40-year-olds are getting into similar drunken brawls over whose alma mater is most deserving of undying praise. It’s truly the best time of the year. To help prepare for the 2015 college football season, we’ve assembled a list of the top ten universities with the best home field advantages.
All win-loss data taken from Stassen.com
10. Boise State Broncos
Albertsons Stadium holds under 37,000 people, hosts the least exciting bowl game ever devised (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl) and is really only notable for having blue artificial turf. Personally, I think the turf is badass, but if the nickname of your field is “Smurf Turf,” then it probably doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of opponents. So why the hell is Albertsons Stadium on here?
Because Boise State’s lost two home games in the past 10 years. TWO! Most teams lose two home games each year. They’ve only lost twice in Boise during the past decade!
Granted, they play in a conference that also features Wyoming and Colorado State. But they’ve also faced Hawaii and San Diego State, both programs who have had really good seasons in that time span. If you win 97% of your home games, you’re doing something right.
9. Alabama Crimson Tide
Even the “Roll Tide” haters have to admit that Alabama is the best college football program of the 21st century. And you don’t become one of the powerhouses in your sport by sucking at home.
Since Nick Saban’s first full season as the Alabama head coach in 2008, the Crimson Tide have lost three times in Tuscaloosa. Those losses came to the 2010 Auburn Tigers that ended up winning the National Championship with Cam Newton, the 2011 LSU Tigers team that made it to the NCAA Championship game (but lost to Bama in a rematch) and the 2012 Texas A&M Aggies featuring Johnny Football. If you’re not a National Championship contender, you shouldn’t even bother entering Bryant-Denny Stadium
Only reason they’re not higher is Alabama fans are the most obnoxious in all of sports. They make Patriots fans looks humble and NASCAR fans look classy.
8. Clemson Tigers
Clemson is one of those football programs that’s always good but never great. But that’s mostly because of their inability to win big games on the road. Since 2004, the Tigers are 61-14 at home (.813 pct.), but only 26-26 on the road. So they’re a great team at home, but a mediocre one on the road. Clearly Memorial Stadium offers the team a tremendous advantage.
Clemson also has one of the best traditions in college sports with the “Running Down the Hill.” Before games, all the players get on a hill inside the stadium, then run down it as they go onto the field as the band plays the school’s fight song. It’s been referred to as “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.”
7. Michigan Wolverines
Michigan Stadium a.k.a. The Big House
The Big House may be the most prestigious stadium in college sports. It has largest capacity at 107,601. It set the record for the largest attendance at a NCAA game in 2013 when 115,109 people showed up to watch the Wolverines take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. It hosted the 2014 NHL Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs, which was the largest attendance for a hockey game ever. And it hosted a soccer match between Real Madrid and Manchester United, which was the largest attended soccer match in U.S. History.
Despite all these records, Michigan hasn’t been that great in the Big House lately. Since 2004, they’re only 56-22 at home, which is good but not elite like many of the schools on this list.
But even though they’re not great at home, they’re absolute garbage on the road. They’re 24-27 on the road in the past ten years, and 2-7 on neutral sites. The only reason we even talk about Michigan as relevant is because they’re home record takes them from a mediocre program to a sort of good one.
6. USC Trojans
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
It’s hosted two Summer Olympic Games (and will possibly host them again in 2024). It’s hosted Super Bowls and World Series. It is a National Historic Landmark. And it’s actually in Los Angeles, unlike the Rose Bowl, which is located in Pasadena, and there’s nothing else worth seeing in Pasadena.
USC hasn’t been the powerhouse in the post-Pete Carroll years that it once was (that’s what happens when your cheating head coach leaves your program, but that’s a story for a different time). But they’ve still been really good at home, winning 82% of their games over the past 10 games, which is ninth in the NCAA over that span (behind teams that all made this list).
Unfortunately, the number of Trojans fans will go down dramatically after the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders move to LA once the NFL season ends and Los Angelenos can root for a professional team.
5. Oklahoma Sooners
Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
I don’t know any Oklahoma State fans, but I’m sure they exist. And they probably love to talk trash about the Sooners. Then every time they go to face the Sooners, they get beaten like a younger brother who just told his older sibling that their parents love him more.
Oklahoma has the fourth-best home winning percentage since 2004, which happens to be 12% higher than their overall win percentage. And under Bob Stoops, who has coached the Sooners since 1999, they’ve won nearly 92% of their home games. That’s pretty impressive mark over 16 years.
Unfortunately, the University of Oklahoma is based in Norman, which sounds like the most boring place in the world. It’s also named after Abner Norman, who was a surveyor. Not a war hero, not an explorer, just a surveyor.
4. Oregon Ducks
Autzen Stadium only holds 54,000 people (59,000 with Standing Room), so it doesn’t have the giant crowds as other stadiums on this list. But that doesn’t mean the crowds aren’t intimidating. In a 2013 survey, the NCAA named Autzen the second loudest stadium in college football, despite being the smallest stadium in the top five.
It doesn’t hurt that Oregon fans had a lot to cheer for in recent history. Since 2009, when Chip Kelly started as head coach and then succeeded to Mark Helfrich before the 2014 season, the Ducks have lost only three times in Autzen, one of which was to Andrew Luck’s Stanford team.
And since Nike’s co-founder Phil Knight is flooding the university with millions of dollars every year, the Ducks are always decked out in the coolest looking uniforms. Opponents look like Mad Max after he crawled out of the dust storm compared to the fancy digs of the Oregon players. That’s probably some sort of advantage.
3. Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio Stadium a.k.a. The Horseshoe
If you don’t hate Ohio State, you should. Urban Meyer had to choose between three quarterbacks this season, and no matter whom he chose, that person would automatically make the preseason Heisman Watch List. You know how the 1960s Boston Celtics had Hall-of-Fame players on their bench? That’s basically the Buckeyes this season.
So it’s not surprising that The Horseshoe is one of the toughest stadiums to play in. Ohio State’s won nearly 90% of their home games since 2004, and only once since Urban Meyer took over as head coach in 2012. To be fair, they’ve never lost a road game under Meyer (their other two losses came on neutral sites), so they’ve actually been worse at home than on the road. But that’s a small sample size. They’re not going to lose at home this year, and they might not lose at all, so Big Ten teams should probably just forget about winning the conference this year and hope someone offers Meyer a pro job this offseason.
Only negative: that stupid name. Can we just change the name to “The Horseshoe?” Is anyone in Columbus begging that they keep the official name as “Ohio Stadium?” It is literally the least creative stadium name ever.
2. LSU Tigers
Tiger Stadium a.k.a. Death Valley
First of all, in the pantheon of stadium nicknames, “Death Valley” is number one. The Big House and The Horseshoe are just descriptors. Death Valley implies opponents enter the stadium and leave a withered, dehydrated mess who may or may not be alive. (Clemson’s Memorial Stadium is also nicknamed “Death Valley,” but Tiger Stadium went up nearly two decades earlier.)
LSU’s really good at home, with the sixth best home record over the past decade and their home winning percentage is 10% better than their overall record. And Les Miles’ has been the coach for LSU that entire time except for one season. That’s all good, but the reason they’re so high is because Death Valley gets really f**king loud. In that 2013 survey, the NCAA named Death Valley the number one loudest stadium in college football, which isn’t surprising when you can hold over 102,000 fans. Back in 2007, the noise level at Death Valley measured in at 130 decibels, which is greater than a human’s pain threshold for sound and about the same as a jet taking off.
Yeah, that’s really f**king loud.
1. Wisconsin Badgers
Camp Randall Stadium
Despite the notoriety associated with “The Big House” in Michigan and the aforementioned “Horseshoe” at Ohio State, the best home field advantage in the Big Ten (and the NCAA) belongs to the Wisconsin Badgers.
In the past ten years, Wisconsin has the best home winning percentage of any major conference team. No only that, Wisconsin’s home winning percentage is 17% better than their overall percentage. This means even when Wisconsin isn’t that great of a team, they’re still really, really good at home. Since home field advantage means the team that gets the biggest benefit from playing at home than anywhere else, then we have to give it to Wisconsin.
Also, if you’ve never been in Camp Randall when the entire stadium begins jumping around at the end of the third quarter, then you’ve never experienced a true college football experience.
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