College Football’s Cathedrals: Ranking The 100K Seat Stadiums
College football features some of the largest stadiums in the world. However, only eight lay claim to being able to seat over 100,000 people: Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU, Texas, and Alabama. Having seen games at all but one (which I’ll lend an assist!), I decided to rank all 100K seat college football stadiums.
I also ranked the 100K seat stadiums back in 2021, but having been to a few more than last time, I believe it’s time for an update.
Keep in mind, I’m looking at all of these subjectively. So just because Texas hosted Tulsa while I was there doesn’t mean I expect it to sound like Beaver Stadium in a Whiteout. I tried to gauge these based on potential that day.
That said, what do you think? Do you agree or disagree with any of these rankings? Let me know below or on social media.
Ranking The 100K Seat College Football Stadiums
8. Bryant-Denny Stadium, Alabama
Some venues preserve their history in renovations. Bryant-Denny chose not to. The additions, which include LED fixtures and upgraded seats, chose to bring the stadium into the 21st century, which might be a huge plus for many. This entire list is subjective, after all.
However, I can’t help but feel like the interior of Bryant-Denny Stadium is corporate. More NFL than college. It lost the historical weight that Neyland and Ohio Stadiums still carry. And, to me, that kinda sucks.
There’s no doubt, though, that this place overall is a marvel. The Walk of Champions down to the north facade is one of the most photogenic spots and one of my personal favorite places in all of college football.
Shoutout to College Football Tour, who helped me place this stadium. It’s the one on the list I haven’t seen a game day with my own eyes.
7. DKR Texas Memorial Stadium, Texas
To be absolutely crystal clear, every stadium on this list is flat-out amazing. They all rank extremely highly among the entirety of FBS venues. But there has to be a last placer here.
The new renovations to DKR Texas Memorial Stadium might help a bit, but there’s a few features that really knock this one down the ranking for me. First, it’s impossible to navigate. I’ve been inside over 100 college football stadiums and only twice gotten lost, Texas being one of them. The sheer size of DKR is extremely impressive and the view of the Austin Skyline is truly incredible.
I kid you not, I was able to watch a thunderstorm over San Marcos (32 miles south) from my seat. Breathtaking really applies here.
But, the open south end zone lets all the noise escape. And maybe the new renovation fixed that and I’m sure against Alabama this place is loud, but it’s not designed to trap noise. And I’m not the only one who thinks that it underwhelms in the dBs category.
6. Beaver Stadium, Penn State
During a Whiteout, almost no place in the country does sports better, period. When the entire 100K seat bowl is painted in white, it’s one of the best stadiums in the world. So, why does it end up near the “bottom” of this list?
Built in 1960, Beaver Stadium doesn’t quite hold the same historical significance as the other entrants on this list. The original press box (above, right) keeps you in 1960 and gives Beaver Stadium a almost-high school aesthetic, which I appreciate personally. However, this stadium needs a facelift (one they’re getting soon).
The game day carries Beaver Stadium, and that’s OK. That’s what college football is all about. But if we’re just talking structures, there’s better options on the list.
5. Neyland Stadium, Tennessee
No stadium I’ve been to quite exudes the same level of historical significance than Neyland Stadium. Perhaps I’m alone in that, but this is one of the true halls of college football. Neyland is a cavernous structure that feels much, much bigger than it actually is (which is saying a lot). While the concourses and outside structure feel like they haven’t been touched since 1921, that adds to the experience.
Everything here is iconic– from the checkerboard end zones to the setting on the Tennessee River. Nothing gets the blood pumping like hearing the stadium sing Rocky Top on a fall Saturday afternoon.
There’s a reason so many songs center themselves around Tennessee and Rocky Top. Football lives here.
4. Michigan Stadium, Michigan
Even as an Ohio State fan, I must give credit where credit is due. The largest non-racing stadium in the country is also one of the best. Simply put, Michigan Stadium is gorgeous.
The blue suites and press boxes surrounding both sides of the seating bowl make the stadium feel much taller than it actually is. The tunnel being at the 50-yard line is often imitated, but never matched. The brick surrounding the field ties the venue into the University of Michigan’s top-tier campus. And the fact that it’s built out, not up, makes sure there’s zero bad seats in the Big House.
Instead of trying to construct a multi-leveled enclosed concourse, Michigan built their bowl right into the ground and fenced in existing land to serve as the concourse. The result is the most easily-navigable concourse among these superstructures and really drives home the awe you feel stepping into the bowl.
Everything here works.
3. Kyle Field, Texas A&M
No stadium in the country, perhaps the world, has the same scale of Kyle Field. Sitting up in the top decks might give some vertigo with steep rows. Thanks to its vertical build that puts you right on top of the action, overhangs, and strategic placement of the student section, few places match the noise that Kyle Field can.
Kyle Field’s student section (above, left) is the largest in the country, seating over 34,000 students. Just below them sit the iconic Corps Of Cadets, arranged in the shape of Texas.
But the beauty of Texas A&M’s crown jewel spills out of the seating bowl. The all-brick exterior gives the stadium a clean look, perfectly fit for Texas A&M’s campus. $450M went into beautifying the stadium and expanding it to new horizons in 2015. The money pays off and this is truly one of the best venues to see a football game.
2. Ohio Stadium, Ohio State
OK, fine. I’m biased. I’d have to renounce my Ohio State fandom if I put the Shoe behind the Big House. But, hear me out.
Ohio Stadium is registered on the National Historic Register of historically-significant places. Only Yale shares the list and no FBS team boasts that honor. Like Neyland, Ohio Stadium preserves its historic roots despite dozens of major facelifts to the venue throughout its history. My favorite feature of the place, though, is that it’s easily-navigable – definitely not something shared by most stadiums on this list.
Thanks to towering south end zone stands, which makes up one of the most visually-intimidating student sections in the country, noise is funneled in. When a big time opponent visits Columbus, this place gets to be thunderous.
Checking out the Rotunda is a must, too. Like Auzten Stadium (Oregon), Ohio Stadium is a living art museum.
1. LSU Tiger Stadium, LSU
I’ve talked in the past about how I believe LSU offers college football’s most complete game day. From the nearly-unparalleled tailgating to the deafening noise on a Saturday night, LSU Tiger Stadium isn’t just the best stadium among these eight – it’s the best in the country.
Despite its enormous size and towering decks, there’s not a bad seat in the house. You’re just as engaged in section 630 as you are in 201. The colors work beautifully here, too.
Tiger Stadium pulls together a slew of unique features, including the iconic Tiger Eye at midfield and Mike The Tiger enclosure just outside. Every unique touch works, which can’t be said for all stadiums. It’s just an intimidating place for opposing teams that it earns the nickname DEATH VALLEY. LSU Tiger Stadium is the quintessential place to experience college football.
How do you rank the 100K seat stadiums in college football? Let me know down below!