In college football, student sections are the lifeblood of the in-stadium experience. On fall Saturdays, those cheering for their classmates on the field are normally the loudest and craziest fans in the whole building. Teams can benefit greatly from a strong student section, as they can use these raucous fans to transform the entire arena into a cacophony of chaos. Miscommunications, pre-snap penalties, and other costly errors may all play a role in changing the outcome of a game.
Based on a variety of significant factors, including section size, national prestige, notable rituals, and commitment, here are 10 of the wildest student sections you’ll find right now. These sections arrive early, remain noisy throughout the game, and even begin to make noise after the clock has reached zero.
Let’s start with the student section that was named the best in the country by the National Collegiate Student Section Association after a nationwide vote. At Arizona Stadium in the fall, the “ZonaZoo” has a reputation for being loud and powerful. Celebrations in the student section have also been known to get out of hand. The Zoo stormed the field with less than a minute remaining in a game against Oregon in 2009, which the Ducks went on to win in overtime. The ZonaZoo is a well-known student section for Arizona, both on and off the football field, and they’ve been lauded as one of the best in the country by several publications over the years. In the Arizona desert, these Wildcats sure know how to turn on the heat.
When Florida is on the roll, “The Swamp” is one of college football’s loudest and most threatening venues. According to Adam Silverstein of OnlyGators.com, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium has one of the highest marked student sections in the world, with student tickets accounting for almost one-fourth of the 88,548 seats. Florida should be on these lists because it has one of the largest student sections in the world, particularly since McElwain led the Gators back to the SEC Championship Game in 2015. Any competitor walking into “The Swamp” would find it difficult to avoid the huge wave of students doing the famous “chomp” and yelling “Go Gators!”
LSU’s Tiger Stadium’s student section places the “death” in “Death Valley.” This 25-section block of rowdy students makes LSU’s home one of the most daunting places in college football as the lights come on for a typical night game in Baton Rouge. With some profane additions to the Tigers’ iconic chants, LSU’s rowdy student section has been known to get out of control. They are unaffected by the storm. LSU’s student section is a huge wall of deafening noise and boundless enthusiasm that has helped Les Miles post an incredible night home game winning percentage. It’s difficult to find a better experience anywhere in the world.
Let’s take a look at some quick math. According to U.S. News and World Report, Ohio State’s Columbus campus has the fourth-highest number of undergraduates (44,741) in the nation. Ohio Stadium is college football’s third-largest venue. Since Urban Meyer’s arrival, the Buckeyes have gone 50-4, giving OSU students something to cheer for. When you add it all up, it’s obvious that Ohio State should have one of the largest and most talented student sections in college football. The Block “O” student section, famed for its capes and card tricks, has been around since 1938, but tradition backs it up. Block “O” is now situated on two opposite ends of the field, ensuring that visiting teams will not be able to escape the student section’s energy. They contribute to the development of an intimidating environment in one of America’s largest stadiums.
There’s no questioning Penn State’s student body’s devotion to the football squad. The Nittany Lions have one of the largest student sections in the world, and tickets are quickly sold out each year. On game days, the senior “S Zone” stands out in a sea of student craziness for its colour synchronization. For a game against Purdue in 2004, the student section organized an impromptu “White Out.” It’s been one of Penn State’s most well-known fan traditions, with the entire stadium now covered in eye-popping paint. When the lights come on in Beaver Stadium, the noise rises dramatically, due to a massive student section that can overwhelm both your vision and hearing.
The resurgence of Tennessee football under head coach Butch Jones has given the massive Neyland Stadium a fresh start on Saturdays. The enthusiasm has spread to Tennessee’s large student section, which overflowed the ticketing system for the Volunteers’ game against Oklahoma in 2015. Tennessee earned a record-breaking 13,283 ticket orders for the game against Oklahoma, which turned out to be one of the best games of the entire college football season, according to Tanner Hancock of the Daily Beacon. Tennessee’s craziest supporters in Neyland have been with their squad in the rebuilding process. Thanks to the dedication and volume provided by Tennessee’s student section, the atmosphere in the 102,455-seat Neyland Stadium has been boosted even higher in recent years.
It’s the home-field advantage, dubbed “The 12th Man” by college football fans everywhere. All game weekend, Texas A&M carries it in terms of student section scale and chaos, and it begins on Friday night. The noise and movement of the student section during games have been known to cause the now-expanded Kyle Field to sway. And if the force of the 12th Man can shake gigantic buildings, consider what it’s like for opponents on the ground. Texas A&M’s student section is the best kind of wild for a college football team, with a force that can reach 40,000 seats and a history of practising how loud they’ll be the next day. These Aggies are proud of their heritage and have the clout to back that up.
The student section at Texas Tech isn’t the largest. It isn’t the most well-known. If you want to see the craziness, go to Lubbock, Texas, and Jones AT&T Stadium. Even though Texas Tech had a 4-8 record on the field is 2014, the Red Raiders somehow drew more than 11,000 fans to each home game. That’s the sort of commitment a program that isn’t necessarily a college football powerhouse needs to see from its supporters. The Tech students carry it in a multitude of respects when it comes to sheer crazy. They are well-known for tossing tortillas into the playing field. They’ve also been seen to dress strangely on occasion, ranging from absolute black body paint for Michael Crabtree’s famous victory over Texas in 2008 to Futurama characters for a game near Halloween in 2013.
Despite the fact that the Virginia Tech Hokies haven’t been championship contenders in a long time, Lane Stadium remains one of the most difficult venues in college football. A large portion of this is due to the student section, which is an important part of an impressive tradition. Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” resounds through Lane Stadium after the deafening “Let’s Go” and “Hokies” cheers and just before the band leaves the field. The student section leads the bouncing around that echoes in the arena. The Virginia Tech student section has a reputation for remaining faithful during all of the Hokies’ home games, regardless of the score on the board or the team’s record.
Wisconsin’s student section has it all: size, rowdiness, and amazing traditions. The mood in Camp Randall Stadium is fantastic no matter what the weather is like or how the game is going on the ground. The classic House of Pain song “Jump Around,” which is played during the third and fourth quarters of a Wisconsin home game, is the Badgers’ most cherished tradition. The title of the song is well remembered by those in attendance, resulting in a raucous celebration in the stadium’s upper decks. The energy released by “Jump Around” lasts long into the fourth quarter, giving the Badgers a big boost. Following the game, the “Fifth Quarter” adds to the commotion. In the 1970s, Wisconsin’s student section started singing and dancing in the stands, while most stadiums have marching bands playing when fans leave during the game. It’s now a huge tradition among Badgers of all ages. Wisconsin’s stadium may not be as large as some of its BigTen rivals’, but thanks to its rowdy student section, it can have a genuinely unique home-field experience.