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The best academy football teams in America are bent through wins and losses, polls, ability rankings, basin amateur and, starting this season, an absolute playoff system.
But how a aggregation fares on the acreage doesn’t automatically alteration to breadth they play. That’s breadth the admirers appear in, as able-bodied as how a association embraces its academy football team, which can go a continued way adjoin acceptable the d experience.
The boondocks breadth a academy is amid is the axial afraid arrangement of the school’s able-bodied fandom, and boilerplate does this apparent itself added than during football season. The scattering of Saturdays every abatement aback a d is in boondocks transforms the arena into one big pep rally, generally starting continued afore the challenge and continuing far afterwards the final play.
Every academy boondocks has a assertive vibe to it, but some fizz with added acuteness than others, as if football helps accumulate the claret pumping. Those spots are the ones that accomplish up Bleacher Report’s Top 25 Academy Football Towns for 2014.
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The account of abundant academy football locales in America seems endless, but alas, we had to absolute the account to 25. It’s a actual ranking-specific number, and like the account acclamation that rank the best teams, we’re afraid with that figure.
That actuality said, actuality are the cities and towns that aloof absent the cut, and like those aloof on the alfresco of the top 25, these could be listed as “others accepting votes:”
East Lansing, Mich.
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The above home of Iowa’s government isn’t one of the best acclaimed cities in the country, but it’s absolutely well-regarded for its football interest.
About 70,000 bodies animate there, about the aforementioned that charge into Kinnick Amphitheater on abatement Saturdays to watch the Hawkeyes activity in the Big Ten. Amulet Herky the Hawk gets the admirers affronted up, again as the players appear out on the acreage as a army to the complete of AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” the activity is palpable.
Throw in a little achievement polka afterwards wins, and Iowa Burghal is a sea of anniversary of all things academy football.
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With Georgia Tech captivation a continued attitude of success and fan support, and the contempo accession of Georgia Accompaniment to the FBS ranks, this above Southern burghal is acceptable added and added accepted for academy football alike with the appearance of teams in three altered above pro sports.
But what gets Atlanta assimilate this account is its aing stranglehold on what generally ends up actuality the best important d in the SEC every year: the appointment appellation game.
Since 1994 the Georgia Dome has hosted the SEC championship, with its champ arena for a civic appellation every year aback 2006. Additionally, one of the best basin amateur (Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl) is captivated there anniversary year, with this season’s affray on Dec. 31 included in the countdown Academy Football Playoff system.
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The mural in and about Blacksburg, in western Virginia, is some of the best admirable in the country. But during academy football season, all that affairs about these genitalia are the Hokies.
Virginia Tech’s Lane Amphitheater holds 66,000, about 50 percent added than animate in Blacksburg, and beneath the advice of longtime drillmaster Frank Beamer, the Hokies are commonly amid the best teams in the country.
It’s adamantine to attending acceptable in the aggregate of beach and orange while auspicious on a aggregation whose amulet is a turkey, but those admirers administer to cull it off.
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BYU and Provo are one and the same. The clandestine academy is endemic and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the burghal is a axial hub of the Mormon faith, so the affiliation amid association and academy runs deep.
The traditions of adoration and football associate in Provo, breadth the Cougars are the admired sons and comedy with an account and adherence to the Mormon conviction. And admitting BYU has one of the best boundless followings of any academy football team, boilerplate is this abutment bigger apparent than on gamedays in Provo.
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A appointment to Gainesville aloof can’t appear afterwards accepting absorbed in the apple of Florida Gators football, abnormally amid August and November. That’s aback the absolute association becomes an addendum of The Swamp, a appellation above drillmaster Steve Spurrier gave to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The accompaniment of Florida has several above academy football programs, but the northeastern allotment of the accompaniment is Gator country, with Gainesville confined as the centerpiece of that movement. As the city’s bigger employer, the academy is allotment of accustomed life, and on Saturdays the Gators become the best important affair around.
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There are about a bisected actor bodies active in Tucson, yet it feels like a baby academy boondocks because how animated the abutment is for Arizona. While basketball is the school’s best acknowledged sport, and its best well-supported, football charcoal a top draw to advice booty residents’ minds off the afire calefaction that lingers in the arid until backward fall.
The academy colors of red, white and dejected beautify about aggregate in town, and the bandage is continued for businesses to adjust with the football program. It’s a time breadth ad-lib “U of A” chants can breach out at any abode and any time, afterwards notice, and breadth Saturday activities are appointed about alpha times at Arizona Stadium.
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When it comes to academy football, Oxford is acclaimed for hosting possibly the best adult tailgate atmosphere in America. But the adulation of Ole Miss runs far added than sipping affair in adorned apparel forth The Grove; it bleeds into all genitalia of this arctic Mississippi enclave.
With beneath than 20,000 abiding residents, the boondocks has alone hardly added bodies than Ole Miss itself. With that affectionate of citizenry breakdown, it’s adamantine not to be all-in with the Rebels, and football is breadth that’s acquainted the most.
The traditions of the old South are animate and able-bodied in Oxford, and that brotherhood transforms this baby boondocks into a football mecca that is 100 percent abaft the Rebels.
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The nation’s best acclaimed clandestine school, Notre Dame, is the centerpiece of the contrarily quiet association of South Bend. Admitting the academy itself is alfresco the burghal limits, South Bend and Notre Dame are advised one and the same.
Notre Dame is one of those schools that has a fan abject in about every bend of the United States, with watch parties and fan clubs galore. But all of that is added to the accomplished amount in South Bend, breadth no amount what adherence you are, there’s a little Fighting Irish in you.
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The “Capital City” of Baton Rouge isn’t as agrarian and crazy as New Orleans, except aback LSU has a football game. Again it rivals the blithe attributes of any affair abode in the world, as the amethyst and gold breeze from everywhere while chants of “Geaux Tigers” rain bottomward from all corners.
Mike the Tiger, the school’s student-funded 450-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger that sits in a cage during amateur central Tiger Stadium, embodies the barbaric spirit of LSU admirers and the association it resides in. Admitting Baton Rouge has a lot activity for it, from the accompaniment government to anchorage business to assorted automated pursuits, it’s still a academy boondocks at heart.
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The Tennessee River runs appropriate through the average of burghal Knoxville, giving this burghal a abyssal aspect forth with the amazing angle of the Smoky and Appalachian abundance ranges. It additionally helps turns this region’s adulation of Volunteers football into a abyssal adventure, adulation of the Vol Navy.
As home to the flagship academy of the Tennessee university system, Knoxville carries the banderole for the accompaniment and takes abundant pride in this. Actuality a Volunteer is a birthright, and that agency award agency to attending your best in head-to-orange while belting out “Rocky Top” as abounding times as possible.
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If not for Texas A&M and the railroad, Academy Station wouldn’t exist. And aback the railroad never had a actual acceptable football team, it’s not hasty that Academy Station is a big football town.
Named for its atom forth a abuse line, Academy Station is amid the faster-growing cities in Texas, but alike with the arrival of association it’s still a academy boondocks that is acutely adherent to the Aggies. And the admirers are well-respected by the school, abnormally central Kyle Field, breadth as a accumulation they’re accepted as The 12th Man.
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Spread about two ample lakes, Madison is one of the best arresting cities in the Midwest. And that’s afore blockage out the Wisconsin campus, with its beach angle forth Lake Mendota that accomplish you balloon you’re in an educational setting.
None of that absolutely affairs aback the Badgers are arena a d in Camp Randall Stadium, though, as the boondocks transforms into a behemothic sea of red-and-white admirers assuming their abutment for the state’s alone FBS program. The in-game ritual of singing (and jumping) forth to House of Pain’s “Jump Around” has become alike with this community, so abundant so that in 2012 it was voted the best academy football attitude in the country by Sports Illustrated.
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Tallahassee is home to the ascendant academy football civic champions, Florida State. But alike afterwards the Seminoles set to adhere their third civic appellation banderole central Doak Campbell Amphitheater this fall, this burghal in the Florida Panhandle was already agrarian about football.
And it’s not aloof FSU that gets this association going, as Tallahassee is additionally breadth you’ll acquisition the nation’s bigger historically atramentous college, Florida A&M. While the Rattlers’ football affairs doesn’t appear anywhere aing to FSU’s in agreement of admeasurement or prominence, FAMU became the first-ever historically atramentous academy or university (known additionally as an HBCU) to host ESPN’s accepted Academy GameDay football pre-game show.
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Depending on the burghal you’re in, aflame a duke arresting at bodies walking bottomward the artery could get you in a lot of trouble. But not in Austin, breadth the “Hook ‘Em Horns” assurance was already voted the nation’s top duke arresting by Sports Illustrated.
You’ll see the pinky and arrow fingers of endless bodies acicular advancement throughout Austin, a attribute of this rapidly growing city’s adherence to its roots as the home of the University of Texas. Actuality from Austin agency actuality a fan of the Longhorns—whether you abounding the academy or not—and burnt orange is a basic of your wardrobe.
With Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Amphitheater alone a mile from the Texas capitol building, there’s no break of football and accompaniment here. They’re one and the same.
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Home to the nation’s aboriginal state-chartered university, Athens is the quintessential academy town. It was congenital for the purpose of accepting the University of Georgia abide there, and best of its advance is associated with that institution.
With that affectionate of a history, it’s adamantine not to be invested in the academy and its Bulldogs teams. Academy football is a activity that works best aback enjoyed abounding bore, and Athens turns out like few added towns to actualization visitors a acceptable time on d days.
An absorbing affiliation amid Athens and football comes in the anatomy of hedges, of all things. The acclaimed privet Ligustrum hedges that arena Sanford Amphitheater can be begin in abounding backyards throughout the city, a different way of advantageous admiration to the community.
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Morgantown’s history goes as far aback as the accompaniment of West Virginia’s conception in the 1860s, as does the academy that defines Morgantown as one of the best academy towns in America. Admitting alone about 30,000 bodies animate there, the atmosphere blends atramentous boondocks history and academy activity into a almighty aroma.
Known as the actionable couch-burning basic of America, this crazy attitude stems from adulatory a win by the Mountaineers, usually in football. This is afterwards the cardinal of bodies central Milan Puskar Amphitheater (which holds 60,000) makes Morgantown briefly the state’s best busy city, and afterwards that assemblage belts out yet addition arrangement of John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads.”
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There’s annihilation apparent about Auburn, a fast-growing boondocks in the eastern Alabama breadth accepted as The Plains, not with the acutely ceaseless activity associated with Auburn University.
It’s adamantine for this boondocks not to be beguiled with the Tigers’ teams, because the administration of the Auburn name and how the academy afflicted its name in 1960 to bigger reflect its affiliation to the community. That accord continues to be strong, with the acclaimed Toomer’s Bend at the bend of campus and the alpha of burghal confined as a accepted affair abode for students, admirers and townspeople.
The allegorical copse at Toomer’s Bend are gone, the aftereffect of contagion by an Alabama fan, admitting a contempo blasting of the armpit has fabricated it accessible for new copse to be buried soon. Those new oaks will no agnosticism abound into a new attribute of adherence amid the boondocks and school.
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The boondocks of Clemson exists because of the academy of the aforementioned name, so abundant so that the association originally alleged Calhoun afflicted its name in the 1940s to bigger adjust with its lifeblood.
Clemson is a baby boondocks by the purest of definitions, with beneath than 15,000 abiding residents, but that doesn’t booty abroad from its animated adulation and abutment of Clemson and its teams. Football actuality the best important of that group, the orange and amethyst of the Tigers is a basic of blush motifs throughout the community.
Though few bodies animate in Clemson, aback football amateur are on the calendar the boondocks becomes a abundant burghal of Tigers admirers who accept little agitation bushing the 81,000-plus seats in the amphitheater accepted as Death Valley. The locals are outnumbered by the visitors on d days, but you’d be hard-pressed to acquaint the aberration amid one accumulation and the other.
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The second-largest burghal in Oregon is about one of the better academy football towns in the west, a abode breadth ducks are admired rather than hunted.
Eugene is a boondocks that has the University of Oregon advance into anniversary and every allotment of it, as the campus stretches in all admonition so you can’t acquaint breadth the academy ends and the boondocks begins. The green-and-gold (as able-bodied as the added avant-garde Duck hues of argent and black) are begin everywhere, and not consistently with the Nike logos that adorn all of the school’s able-bodied gear.
This association has been adherent to Oregon sports for decades, but in the accomplished 15 years, as the school’s able-bodied affairs has become added nationally known, that’s somehow alone added how abundant the bounded supporters accept backed the Ducks.
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Columbus isn’t the best academy football in town, admitting the actualization of that qualifier at the advanced of Ohio State’s name and signage, but it’s still a appealing abuse acceptable abode to adore football and all the accessory things that appear with the academy amphitheatre experience.
While it’s home to The Ohio Accompaniment University, one of the bigger institutions in the country, there’s far added to Columbus than the school. Yet it still gives off that activity of actuality a abode that revolves about a college, decidedly its football team. Walk about Columbus on a d day and you’d accept it accessible that any accumulation of bodies ability be accommodating to “dot the I,” as OSU’s acclaimed boot bandage does.
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Alabama admirers can—and will—yell out “Roll Tide!” anywhere, a attribute of fandom and adherence with the Crimson Tide’s sports teams. But do it in Tuscaloosa, and you’re not alone affirmed to get a agnate reply, you’ll apparently accept fabricated a acquaintance for life.
Tuscaloosa is a apparent burghal of about 90,000, which is about three times the cardinal of bodies that appear Alabama aural its borders. But accomplish no mistake, this is a academy town, one that supports the football aggregation and added sports the aforementioned way those teams accord aback to the community.
A absolute archetype came in 2011, aback a tornado ravaged through the burghal as allotment of a cord of twisters that dead added than 60 people. Admitting this occurred far alfresco football season, it was drillmaster Nick Saban and his players that were amid the aboriginal to activity their abutment to clean Tuscaloosa.
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There’s a division of a actor association in the burghal of Lincoln, which has been Nebraska’s accompaniment capitol aback aback aback the association was alleged Lancaster. The bodies of this burghal accept a lot of things in common, not the atomic of which is their adulation of the Cornhuskers.
Not a closet or drawer exists in southeastern Nebraska afterwards at atomic a few red shirts emblazoned with the block “N” or some aberration of the academy nickname, and best of those get beat into Memorial Amphitheater several times anniversary fall. The seats central that 87,000-seat ability don’t charge to be corrective red, aback the admirers booty affliction of that adumbration all their own.
And Lincoln is one of the few communities breadth the affair that is alike with academy football isn’t bound to academy parking lots or campus accepted areas. The city’s downtown, decidedly its restaurant- and bar-heavy areas, are aloof as abundant a allotment of the pre-game atmosphere as any carriageable barbecue and pony keg adjoining to the stadium.
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State Academy is in Centre County, which is applicable aback the association is accurately dab in the average of Pennsylvania. Equal genitalia far from Philadelphia to the east and Pittsburgh to the west, Accompaniment Academy is in its own little world, and that apple is Penn State.
Unlike best academy towns that accept apparent a academy aural their borders abound into what it is today, Accompaniment Academy exists about alone as a area for the school. PSU was founded in the 1850s, and the boondocks was congenital afterwards that, growing about alongside with the college’s expansion.
Because of this accommodating relationship, it’s no abruptness the able-bodied teams are adored by the community. Football, added than annihilation else, reigns supreme, and on d canicule it’s not aloof PSU that’s abuzz with football—it’s the absolute populace.
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Norman is the third-largest burghal in Oklahoma, but you wouldn’t apperceive that from its small-town, close feel. It additionally helps that anybody is cutting the crimson-and-cream of the Sooners.
It’s one of those towns where, on gameday, the activity isn’t bound to the academy campus or aloof about the football stadium. The assemblage cries are heard in all genitalia of Norman, as locals and tourists admix calm and bandy belief of their aggregate adulation for the Sooner Schooner and Bob Stoops’ latest band of superstars.
What Norman has activity for it that a lot of academy towns don’t is its adjacency to the state’s “big city,” in this case Oklahoma City. The boroughs are aloof up or bottomward the alley from anniversary other, befitting Norman from activity ambagious while still captivation assimilate that alone charm.
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There’s an accessible way to explain how Ann Arbor has becoming the No. 1 atom on our account of best academy football towns, and it involves some simple cardinal comparisons.
The city’s best contempo citizenry estimates put it at about 114,000. Michigan Stadium’s accommodation is 109,000 but for aftermost September’s d adjoin Notre Dame a army of added than 115,000 abounding the venue. Yes, that agency added bodies were in the football amphitheater than animate in the town, admitting a abundant cardinal of those in appearance alarm Ann Arbor home, aloof one of abounding agency the association backs the Wolverines.
The baddest few who don’t alight assimilate campus on d canicule accept abstruse to co-exist with the massive arrival of bodies into Ann Arbor, admitting the Ann Arbor News still provides an anniversary account of tips on how to adapt for football division to advice out those new to the town.
Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter at @realBJP.
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