College football games are notorious for their unique colourful atmosphere and although having a nice stadium lends itself nicely to the collegiate environment, the fans and the school’s game day traditions are what make college football the great sporting event of the weekend that it is, drawing fans, students (present and past) together in support of their alma mater.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the risk of having full stadiums was too great for colleges to undertake safely last season. Thus, in an abundance of caution, fan attendance at NCAAF games was either extremely limited or banned altogether. That obviously took something away from the pomp and ceremony that precedes college football games and fans of the sport absolutely love.
However, in 2021, the outlook is promising as the country appears to be gaining a handle on the pandemic for the time being. It’s possible that things could change obviously because the pandemic is nothing if not unpredictable. And yet, hope springs eternal at the collegiate level for a return to the old ways that were so abruptly lost in the most extraordinary circumstances due to the public health crisis. Colleges across the country are intent on resuming normal practice and a return to full capacity at stadiums with many having announced these intentions already.
A return to pre-pandemic era would bring back not only the charged and electric atmosphere but the college traditions as well that come part and parcel with the sport. Indeed, the excitement is palpable and the buzz is growing amongst fans. Determining what are the best football stadiums in the country in terms of atmosphere is no mean feat given the sheer number of colleges involved in NCAA Football. Never mind the fact that opinions will differ based on the criteria used to evaluate the merit of each and every site. So, for the purpose of simplicity and focus, in this space we’ll rate only the top 5 Big 12 Stadiums according to atmosphere.
5. Bill Snyder Family Stadium Kansas State Wildcats
The Bill Snyder Family Stadium isn’t the most daunting of stadiums in the Big 12, but it’s nevertheless a really cool stadium. The campus is charming while the fans themselves are loud and boisterous. As with any stadium, it can be a tough place to play for visitors. But that depends on which teams visit, of course. Given the college betting odds currently on offer, the Wildcats don’t strike an intimidating pose and that in of itself will make Bill Snyder a destination the top contenders will welcome on the schedule.
4. Milan Puskar Stadium West Virginia Mountaineers Football
Milan Puskar Stadium can get loud and crazy thanks to the exuberance of fans of the West Virginia Mountaineers, but it all depends on how the team is performing. The atmosphere can reach stratospheric levels when the team is winning and conversely dissipate when the team is losing. It’s often said that the fans aren’t as fiercely loyal to their football team win or lose as some of their neighbours such as Iowa State might be. If there were an advantage that the Mountaineers may have is the fact that their location is somewhat remote. Teams don’t like visiting Milan Puskar stadium because it isn’t the most easily accessible and requires an exhaustive trek.
3. Darryl K. Royal Stadium Texas Longhorns
Austin, Texas is one of the most desirable destinations in the country to visit and the Texas college program is the most sought-after by students and athletes. Indeed, it’s one of the best in the country, boasting excellence in several major sports. Equally, Darryl K. Royal stadium is an awesome venue befitting the city of Austin.
Love or hate the Texas Longhorns, the atmosphere can get electric when the stadium is at full capacity. According to most of the best sportsbooks, Texas is amongst the middleweights going into the 2021-22 NCAA Football season, but with a passionate football base and the Longhorn Network their reach is expansive in the United States.
2.. Jack Trice Stadium Iowa State
Iowa state fans are some of the most passionate in the country, loyal to the bone even if their precious Cyclones are losing dreadfully. Jack Trice Stadium as such brings one of the most toughest environments to the forefront of college football. And that’s likely to be the case this season as the Cyclones rank amongst some of the contenders across multiple sportsbooks.
For opponents, travelling to Iowa State is daunting particularly as the season hurtles towards the winter months where the weather plays a big factor. Therefore, over and above the support of their fans, opponents have to face the brutal elements too. Makes for a tough combination to overcome and often a forgettable experience.
1. Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium Oklahoma Sooners
The Oklahoma Sooners are amongst the top teams according to NCAAF rankings going into the 2021-22 college football season. Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is one of the 13 largest stadiums in the country, it’s sheer size and presence makes it a daunting venue for opposing teams to visit. Add to that the fans that at full capacity make up an overwhelming crowd and the noise is deafening, if not downright intimidating. It’s one of the least welcoming venues for opponents, where fans let you feel their wrath and the band never quits banging out an enthusiastic rendition of Boomer Sooner at every opportunity.