M.M. ROBERTS STADIUM – SOUTHERN MISS

The foundation of college football culture is constructed on small campus towns that swell to ten times their size on gamedays. Locations like Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Norman, Oklahoma attract most of the spotlight. But, more impressive are the dots on the map that are typically less hyped, but emit the same passion and pageantry as universities that are consistent gridiron thoroughbreds. Hattiesburg, Mississippi qualifies as one of these special campuses. Located one hour from both the Louisiana and Alabama borders, the University of Southern Mississippi is an underrated hot spot in college football that deserves more of that spotlight.

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UAB – PROTECTIVE STADIUM

The shift from decaying Legion Field to the newly built Protective Stadium has reenergized a program that completely dropped football after 2014, only to have it reinstated two years later after a flurry of protests. The next four seasons saw a program notch two conference titles and build an impressive new stadium in the bustling Uptown district of Birmingham. Gamedays here are building new traditions while integrating everything that makes a college gameday special.

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Game 307: FAU @ UAB

Second time is a charm?
Certainly for UAB, this can be applied accurately.
Last week’s first game in the newly minted Protective Stadium resulted in a Blazer meltdown at the hands of Liberty. This week, the FAU Owls were much more accommodating house guests. UAB notched their first victory at their new home and posted their fourth victory on what looks to be a successful season ahead.

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FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL – RICCARDO SILVA STADIUM

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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MARSHALL – JOAN C. EDWARDS STADIUM

“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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WESTERN KENTUCKY: HOUCHENS INDUSTRIES – L. T. SMITH STADIUM

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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MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE – FLOYD STADIUM

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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