Florida International University’s football program was born in 2002. Despite its youth, Riccardo Silva Stadium fills with pageantry on gameday. This bowl of bleachers cemented into campus contains all the ingredients necessary for a classic college atmosphere, and the Panther football team is making their roar heard along the college football landscape.
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Football in Boca Raton was born in 2001, but they already have a legend. Coach Howard Schnellenberger built this program from scratch, lifted it to FBS status, achieved two bowl appearances, and rightfully has a statue resting outside FAU Stadium. “Winning In Paradise” is the montra and the new expectation at Florida Atlantic.
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“We are Marshall.” This is more than just a school motto. It extends beyond a mere battle cry. “We Are Marshall” is the spirit and unity of this university. These three words forged a strong bond during the aftermath of the plane crash that took the lives of the 1970 Marshall football team. From this tragic event, the Thundering Herd have rebuilt a program that could have easily vanished, and moreover, it rebuilt the hearts and minds of the Marshall faithful. It’s a story that has inspired the entire athletic world. Walking around campus, evidence of this fateful moment appears in the form of tributes honoring those Sons of Marshall that were lost. It’s a devastating, but significant component of Marshall’s history, and these tributes urge fans to never forget.
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Visiting Western Kentucky raises several questions: What exactly is a Hilltopper? What is the significance of the wild red towels waving around campus? What on Earth is that big floppy red mascot? A visit to Bowling Green on a frenzied gameday will help to answer these questions, and more. Upon arrival to campus you may notice a that it rests on a large hill that rises above it’s surroundings. With Western being atop this 232 foot hill, Hilltoppers became a natural choice. Finding a mascot to depict a Hilltopper posed a greater challenge. In 1979, WKU grad Ralph Carey, created Big Red as a symbol of spirit for the university. Bearing a striking resemblance to many Sesame Street characters and Grimace from McDonalds, Big Red is a big furry loveable blob that has gained national attention and fame. Getting a photo with this mascot is a true honor.
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Compared to the surroundings of their hated rival, Houston, the campus of Rice is like a little slice of “Oz,” and Owl fans know it. It’s a twelve minute drive from UH to Rice and the scenery changes from boarded up houses to old southern style oak tree lined streets.
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Just forty five minutes south of Nashville lies Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This is not the type of town that will be found in bold print on a map, but the passion for their Blue Raiders is well highlighted. Middle Tennessee State’s campus pops up in the middle of this sleepy town with the stadium being the focal point, as many southern schools are. Being in the Sun Belt, one might expect to find a dinky stadium that seats only a few willing fans. However, this double decker stadium is impressive and holds a congregation of very involved fans.
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