There’s something about college football’s unrivaled pageantry that makes the sport stand out above all others.
Approaching your favorite team’s stadium on gameday is akin to picking out armor prior to a gladiator’s final fight to the death inside the coliseum, your best vs. their best and the challenger more adept at gaining an edge often prevails.
Playing at home as one of the nation’s elite benefits you against all adversaries, a chance at using the raw emotion of the crowd to your advantage in the early rounds and pivotal late-game situations.
And sometimes, you can feel the energy.
“Can you feel this? Is our room moving? I don’t know if it’s the best ever, but it’s the scariest, yeah,” Kirk Herbstreit said on a hot mic during the first quarter of South Carolina’s 2012 win over Georgia.
Those remarks came during the Gamecocks’ 18-game winning streak at Williams-Brice Stadium when they took out the Bulldogs in a matchup of Top 10 teams in prime-time, the kind of environment that brings out college football’s best.
Ranking college football’s 10 toughest places to play ahead of the 2019 season is a lesson on national relevance and where we’re expecting certain teams to be in the national title picture. When we near the midseason point and the outcomes of games hold even greater impacts, that’s when these cathedrals really come alive in all of their infinite glory and home-field advantage affects the psyche of the opposition.
Just missed the cut: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (Oklahoma), Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Florida), Notre Dame Stadium (Notre Dame), Jordan-Hare Stadium (Auburn); Husky Stadium (Washington).