Located in north central North Carolina, Wake Forest brings spirit and tradition to the landscape of college football. While not a conventional powerhouse program, its history and passionate fan base make Demon Deacon nation stand out.
Let’s face it. Duke is known for basketball. Cameron Indoor Stadium gets all the national attention for being a bucket list arena for college sports fans. However, don’t overlook the history and charm that built Wallace Wade Stadium, a landmark on campus for which Blue Devil fans show great pride.
The University of Toledo is a proud beacon in this classic Midwestern blue-collar town. Game day showcases that pride. Blue and gold blanket the entire campus from the team walk in pregame to the final canon blast on the field. Once assembled inside The Glass Bowl, it becomes evident that the fervent fans fuel the Rockets.
Often regarded as the Big Ten’s wildest and most thrilling venue, Camp Randall Stadium never disappoints. Once a Civil War training site, this massive structure is crammed in a beautiful residential area among dorms, frat houses, campus buildings and bars. The Camp is the perfect college venue with views of the state capital and Madison’s surrounding lakes (Mendota and Menona).
Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois is known as the “Wrigley Field” of college football. It doesn’t quite have the history of the Cubs, but boasts a very classic and old school stadium atmosphere. For a while now, NU has been calling themselves Chicago’s Big Ten Team. Attempts to market this slogan are popping up around the city, and the evidence is beginning to show with more rumps in the seats in Evanston. Perhaps because Chicagoans are slowly realizing that Northwestern is true Big Ten football. It’s the real deal, especially lately.
DeKalb, Illinois is not that far from the city life of Chicago, but it may as well be in central Nebraska. From interstate 88, you can see Huskie Stadium, that is if the corn has already been harvested. Due to television contracts with ESPN, many Middle-American conference games fall on weekday nights, but that does not dull the enthusiasm. Many folks drive in from work and it may take a while to get adjusted to the college football mindset, but once the Huskies take the field to a barrage of fireworks, that ol’ Saturday feeling comes back.
Unique brands of tailgating are a college football tradition on all campuses. But, nothing compares to Ole Miss. The Grove is a ten acre space shaded by oaks, elms, and magnolias providing an elegant backdrop for thousands of Ole Miss tailgaters. Sporting News calls it “The Holy Grail of tailgating sites.” People stake their claim the night before and set up elaborate tailgates on gameday.
The scene in Kalamazoo is one of those that gives the smaller venues in college football a great reputation. The fans that fill Waldo Stadium are lively, devoted, and help to make Western Michigan football relevant.
This is a classic example of a place where sports dominate the entertainment category. On gameday, you might hear announcers joke that “you can leave the keys in your tractor” because everyone in Iowa is at the game. Pre-game tailgating is fantastic and the buzz on the streets in Iowa City is all about the team. Many fans point out visiting colors and start their battle cries and chants. Walking up to Kinnick Stadium, you see a beautiful brick façade that lines the outside. Rows of corn greet visitors to the main entrance along with a statue of Hawkeye hero and 1939 Heisman trophy winner, Nile Kinnick.
Some folks may react unfavorably about the move to InfoCision Stadium from the classic Rubber Bowl that hosted Zips games since 1940. However, the venerable old stadium required much repair, and the dream of a brand new facility on campus drew closer to reality. In 2009, Akron opened InfoCision Stadium and parked it right amongst the hotspots in campus. The excitement for this new arena certainly had justification. It towers high off the main strips in campus. Akron University has fallen into the rat race for the newer and better when it comes to stadiums. However, InfoCision Stadium, other than its name, has clung to many traditional aspects of what a college football atmosphere is all about.