Welcome to a new era of college football, and a new era in the Big Ten. Nowadays when we go through the conference for recruiting rankings or power rankings there are 18 programs to address, not 14.
Eventually, that number will grow again and it will take days to make it to the end. But 18 is still manageable, especially when there is a material change in the ranking.
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That’s the case here with the best stadium gameday environments in the conference. USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington all bring strong football teams to the mix, but where are their home venues ranked amongst the rest of the Big Ten?
A necessary note: I considered ranking Northwestern’s Ryan Field No. 1 on this list solely due to the grass length and high school atmosphere. But I thought better. So here is every Big Ten home venue ranked by gameday atmosphere:
18Ryan Field (Northwestern)
Sep 10, 2022; Evanston, Illinois, USA; A general wide view during the fourth quarter in a game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Northwestern Wildcats at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a high school football stadium.
17L.A Memorial Coliseum (USC)
Apr 15, 2023; Los Angeles, CA, USA; A general view of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before the USC Trojans Spring Game . Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a tough place to play when USC is really rolling. But even given the team’s star power in the past and pedigree, the place is rarely full and struggles to get loud.
This changes if Lincoln Riley brings the program back to Pete Carroll-era energy.
16Rose Bowl Stadium (UCLA)
Jan 1, 2020; Pasadena, California, USA; General view during the B-2 flyover during the national anthem before the 106th Rose Bowl game between the Oregon Ducks and the Wisconsin Badgers at Rose Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
It’s the best venue in college football, by far. The problem is: nobody goes to UCLA games.
15SHI Stadium (Rutgers)
Oct 2, 2021; Piscataway, New Jersey, USA; A general view of the field at SHI Stadium before the game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Rutgers doesn’t have much history in this building, or success for that matter. The toughest part here is having to travel to New Jersey.
14Memorial Stadium (Indiana)
Oct 20, 2018; Bloomington, IN, USA; A view of the north end zone before the game between the Indiana Hoosiers and Penn State Nittany Lions at Memorial Stadium . Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a tough ranking when the most notable night game moments there are Ohio State blowing the doors off an Indiana team. The fans want the team to be competitive, but it just isn’t.
13Huntington Bank Stadium (Minnesota)
Oct 29, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Pregame between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Minnesota Golden Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports
My most vivid memory from this stadium, aside from Jack Coan absolutely shredding the Gophers in 2019, is Vikings K Blair Walsh missing the 25-yard field goal to lose a playoff game. It’s a weird venue without much identity.
12SECU Stadium (Maryland)
Nov 19, 2022; College Park, MD, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes punter Michael O’Shaughnessy (96) warms up before their game against Maryland Terrapins at SECU Stadium.
File this under the ‘Indiana’ category of “I don’t know, not much good history there. But it looks like a lot of fun when the team is competitive.” Was a legit venue last year for the near-upset against Ohio State.
11Memorial Stadium (Illinois)
Dec 5, 2020; Champaign, Illinois, USA; A general view during the first half in a game between the Illinois Fighting Illini and the Iowa Hawkeyes at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
The place has some juice when Illinois is good, given there isn’t much else happening in Champaign. Bielema has a chance to make it a really scary place to play.
10Ross-Ade Stadium (Purdue)
Sep 26, 2015; West Lafayette, IN, USA; A general view before the game between the Purdue Boilermakers and the Bowling Green Falcons at Ross Ade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
I think this is an underrated venue, especially when the Spoilermakers are living up to the name.
9Michigan Stadium (Michigan)
Sep 4, 2021; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; General view Michigan Wolverines during the second half of the game between the Western Michigan Broncos and the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Absolutely the single most overrated stadium in the country. It’s just big, that’s it. Plus half the crowd is sitting in a different zip code. This isn’t the modern marvel Michigan fans make it out to be.
8Husky Stadium (Washington)
Sep 24, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; General view of Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium as the Husky Marching Band performs before a game between the Stanford Cardinal and Washington Huskies. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Conference realignment stinks. But one positive: watching Big Ten teams travel to Seattle to visit this gem. It’s a legit atmosphere for every big game.
7Memorial Stadium (Nebraska)
Nov 19, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Wisconsin Badgers quarterback Graham Mertz (5) looks to pass against the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dylan Widger-USA TODAY Sports
Given the ongoing sellout streak with is completely fraudulent, I will challenge myself to say positive things about this venue.
It’s massive and it’s loud (when Nebraska is relevant, which hasn’t been the case for a decade). It will be a tough place to play when Matt Rhule gets things going.
6Spartan Stadium (Michigan State)
Oct 24, 2020; East Lansing, Michigan, USA; A view inside Spartan Stadium before the game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
The Mark D’Antonio-era Spartan Stadium was a nightmare to visit. It’s a great home venue when things are going well…especially for its in-state rivalry game.
5Camp Randall Stadium (Wisconsin)
Sep 10, 2016; Madison, WI, USA; A general view of Camp Randall Stadium with 77,331 fans watching the game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Akron Zips. With a capacity of 80,321, the facility is designed so that all seats point toward the center of the field. Wisconsin defeated Akron 54-10. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a shame Wisconsin’s night games have been meaningless blowouts against out-of-conference opponents (likely to change this year when Ohio State visits). The building gets rocking when *insert star running back* plows forward for seven yards and a first down.
4Autzen Stadium (Oregon)
Oct 18, 2014; Eugene, OR, USA; General view of Autzen Stadium between the Oregon Ducks and the Washington Huskies. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports
It’s a small stadium for Big Ten standards, but it’s an absolute nightmare to visit. This and Washington should be bucket list trips for Big Ten fans in the coming years.
3Kinnick Stadium (Iowa)
Nov 12, 2022; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; A general view of Kinnick Stadium before the game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Wisconsin Badgers. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Probably my favorite venue in college football. No matter how inept Iowa’s offense is, Kinnick is always rocking. Add the stakes of a big-time game and a full day to tailgate in Iowa City, and it’s one of the best atmospheres in the country.
2Ohio Stadium (Ohio State)
Sep 3, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; General view before the game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports
Ohio Stadium is both massive and loud, and it also helps the Buckeyes are among the nation’s best every season. An absolute nightmare location to be a visiting team.
1Beaver Stadium (Penn State)
Sep 18, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; A general view of Beaver Stadium prior to the game between the Auburn Tigers and the Penn State Nittany Lions. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
My case is made by the video below. Thanks for your time.
thinking about penn state fans being so loud they forced michigan to call a timeout on the first play of the game god i love this sport
— Sam Richmond (@samrichmondBR) August 31, 2022