NMU football plays its home games in the Superior Dome and last Thursday, the “Yooper Dome” was filled with almost 8,700 fans, providing the college football atmosphere so many colleges receive any given Saturday. Here’s North Wind staff writer Adam Dompierre’s picks on the top college football stadiums in the country.
5) Notre Dame Stadium: South Bend, Ind.
From hall of fame coach Knute Rockne and the Four Horsemen to current head coach Charlie Weis and his heralded recruiting classes, few programs can match the tradition of the Fighting Irish. Between the legendary coaches who have stalked its sidelines and Touchdown Jesus watching over the field, “The House that Rockne Built” has earned its place among college football’s elite venues. The Irish have fallen on some hard times, but rumors of Touchdown Jesus getting replaced with Run For No Gain, Sack, Incomplete on Third and Long and Punt Jesus all appear to be unfounded -for now.
Memorable Game: In 1988, No. 1 Miami came to South Bend with 36-straight regular season wins, but No. 4 Notre Dame won in a thrilling 31-30 shootout.
4) The Rose Bowl:
The Rose Bowl is home to the UCLA Bruins, but it’s more famous for hosting the annual Rose Bowl Game. Known as the “The Granddaddy of Them All,” the bowl game traditionally featured the Pac-10 champion against the Big Ten champion, but the new Bowl Championship Series (BCS) has opened the door for teams from other conferences like the Big 12’s Texas to play here. Having hosted five Superbowls and the 1984 Summer Olympics, The Rose Bowl might be college football’s most prestigious setting. It would be even higher if it wasn’t home to the Tito Jackson of college football programs.
Memorable Game: The 2006 BCS edition of the Rose Bowl saw Vince Young lead undefeated Texas past top-ranked USC for an unforgettable 41-38 victory.
3) Tiger Stadium:
Baton Rouge, La.
Big Ten stadiums traditionally draw bigger crowds, but for pure fan passion, no conference matches the Southeastern Conference. Set in the heart of Louisiana, LSU’s Tiger Stadium is easily one of the loudest venues in the country. With national championships in 2003 and 2007, the Tigers’ recent resurgence as one of the nation’s top powers has made “Death Valley” all the more intimidating to visiting teams. Not to mention there’s no better place to watch LSU head coach Les Miles call one of his “just crazy enough to work” double reverse fullback passes on a crucial third and short.
Memorable Game: In 1988’s game against Auburn, LSU scored the winning touchdown on a desperate fourth-down pass. The roar of the crowd registered on a campus seismograph, in what has gone down in college football lore as “The Earthquake Game.”
2) Ben Hill Griffin Stadium: Gainesville, Fla.
Better known as “The Swamp,” the home of the Florida Gators is arguably college football’s best atmosphere. The Gators don’t quite have the storied tradition of some of the other teams on this list, but The Swamp has been one of the toughest places to play since the glory days of former head coach Steve Spurrier. Today, current head coach Urban Meyer continues Florida’s dominance at home; some folks say you can still hear the ghost of Spurrier whispering for him to run up the score on overmatched opponents.
Memorable Game: Florida drew its biggest crowd ever in 2005 when 90,716 fans watched new coach Urban Meyer lead the No. 7 Gators past the No. 4 Tennessee Volunteers, 16-7.
1) Michigan Stadium:
Ann Arbor, Mich.
On the corner of Ann Arbor’s Stadium Blvd. and Main St. sits “The Big House.” Not satisfied with the all-time record for attendance at a football game (112,118 watched 2003’s victory over Ohio State), Michigan is moving forward with a $226 million renovation plan that will increase capacity to over 108,000. Michigan Stadium has also hosted iconic Heisman-defining moments by Desmond Howard (1991), Charles Woodson (1997) and, we can safely assume, Sam McGuffie (2011).
Memorable Game: 1969’s game between Michigan and Ohio State was the first shot in the Ten Year War between Michigan coach Bo Schembechler and OSU’s Woody Hayes. Hayes’s Buckeyes won the 1968 matchup 50-14 and came into ’69’s game as heavy favorites, but Schembechler put Michigan football back on the map with a 24-12 upset.
Note: Ohio State’s Ohio Stadium was ranked number one coming into this list but, true to form, it choked on the big stage and fell to the number six ranking.