There are many College Football stadiums that will be hard to play at depending on how good the team is and the particular night they are playing. Some stadiums thrive on sheer size. Others have intimidating atmospheres and others simply defy logic. At the end of all that, it’s more than just numbers.
Knowing that everyone might have different ways of thinking what defines “tough,” we looked at several categories to select the toughest places to play in all of college football:
Last year: Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn)
Seventeen FBS schools finished unbeaten at home last season, but it’s fair to say Auburn was the best at home last year. The Tigers’ 7-0 home record was punctuated with a 49-10 victory against No. 24 Mississippi State with top-five victories against No. 2 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama in November.
Last four years: Memorial Stadium (Clemson)
We could have gone with Alabama here, which has an identical 27-1 home record as the Tigers during this stretch. But Clemson’s one loss was a one-point affair in a 43-42 shootout with Pitt in 2016. Alabama’s was a six-point loss to Ole Miss in a game in which the Tide played terribly. Regardless, Memorial Stadium is one of the most intimidating venues in college football — and when you come through Death Valley, it’s tough to get out alive.
Since 2010: Bryant-Denny Stadium (Alabama)
This should shock nobody. Nick Saban’s machine has produced a 52-4 record at home since 2010, including a nation-leading 92.8 win percentage. And those four losses? They came against Auburn (2010), LSU (2011), Texas A&M (2012) and Ole Miss (2015) — some of the mosts exciting games in recent college football history. And remember, two of those teams had Heisman Trophy winners at quarterback. The bad news? You really don’t want to play Alabama at a neutral site either.
Last 15 years: Ohio Stadium (Ohio State)
The Shoe is flat-out intimidating to begin with, and you have to bring your “A-Game” just to have a chance. That’s what made Baker Mayfield’s performance there last season so impressive. The Buckeyes are 97-10 at home since 2003, the best mark among Power 5 schools. That dominance translated well from Jim Tressel to Urban Meyer, who has lost just three home games in six seasons.
As underdogs: Beaver Stadium (Penn State)
The Nittany Lions are 20-1 at home the last three seasons, with the last loss coming to Michigan in 2015. Penn State is a perfect 18-0 as a home favorite the last three seasons, and that doesn’t include the upset against Ohio State in 2016. Pay attention to the line when the Buckeyes roll in for a “White Out” on Sept. 29.
As favorites: Kinnick Stadium (Iowa)
This has been true the last two seasons. Iowa is 2-2, but the two wins helped knock No. 2 Michigan and No. 6 Ohio State out of the College Football Playoff race the last two seasons, respectively. Penn State needed a last-second touchdown pass to escape, too. The new tradition of waving at children in the nearby university hospital makes it that much more endearing, too.
Group of 5: Albertsons Stadium (Boise State)
No matter what launch point you choose, the “Smurf Turf” is a tough out for opposing teams. It seats fewer than 40,000, but the Broncos are 90-6 there since 2003. Half of those losses have come in the last three seasons, however, so the challenge is to maintain that dominance over Group of 5 challengers like San Diego State, Appalachian State and Toledo, among others.
At night: Tiger Stadium (LSU)
This reputation has been ripped at a little, considering the Tigers have lost five night home games the last four seasons – but two of those losses were to Alabama, when the environment is Baton Rouge is second to none. The reputation won’t go away that easily — not when the ground still shakes on third down. That’s where Joe Burrow might get the start this season, and the home slate also features Georgia and Mississippi State.
Between 80-100K: Camp Randall Stadium (Wisconsin)
Camp Randall seats just over 80,000, but the raucous environment in Madison gets started long before “Jump Around” in the fourth quarter. Wisconsin is good at home, too. The Badgers are 24-3 at home the last four seasons. Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson are the only teams with better winning percentages.
Under 80K: Husky Stadium (Washington)
Washington is 13-1 at home the last two seasons, winning by an absurd 28.4 points a game on average. That brings back memories from the Don James heyday in the ’90s. Chris Petersen has brought that confidence back, and it’s a lot louder than it used to be for opposing teams. Expect that to continue with each year.
Conference game: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (Oklahoma)
Oklahoma has the best conference record in the FBS the last three seasons, and that includes just one Big 12 loss at home. Last year’s loss to Iowa State was a shocker, but the Sooners get the games when they need them at home. Oklahoma is 5-0 against ranked Big 12 teams at home in that stretch.
On West Coast: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (USC)
Three teams are undefeated at home the last two seasons. We mentioned Alabama and Penn State, but it might surprise you USC is on that list, too. That streak features a 3-0 record against ranked Pac-12 teams. Clay Helton will lead USC against Notre Dame and Washington State this season