Projecting college football’s 11 most intimidating 2023 environments
Defending your home field means everything in college football, especially for contenders for the annual national championship. Taking a look at the 2023 college football roster, there are a few intimidating conditions that are expected to stand out.
Sold-out venues supported by insanely loud crowds are beneficial, especially when home teams are on the defensive and trying to thwart the opposition. The SEC and the Big Ten dominated last year’s college football playoff conversation, and a hostile environment was defined in a couple of late-season games that went in favor of the home side, namely Georgia’s victory over Tennessee and Michigan’s victory over Illinois.
This is a ranking based on many top national programs’ 2023 schedules and who they play at home. The stronger the opponents, the more likely that said team’s environment will be loud. Many of these teams are in the top 25 of 247Sports’ too-early spring rankings.
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Here’s a look at 11 locations that are expected to be the scariest next season.
11. Kyle Field for Alabama-Texas A&M
As disappointing as the 2022 season has been for the Aggies, Texas A&M’s regular season finals win over SEC champion West LSU showed just how special Kyle Field can be when playing on the field coincides with the support of the fans. One of the loudest venues in college football, the top of Kyle Field will fall for the second time in three years if the Aggies upset Alabama again at College Station. Two years ago, Texas A&M’s thrilling victory over Crimson Tide was a spectacle at field level.
10. Memorial stadium of the former Soviet Union Clemson.
Clemson’s record home win streak ended in the regular season finale, but Memorial Stadium has remained one of the toughest venues to play in college football since Dabo Sweeney took over the program. The trips to South Carolina have been a home of horror for the Seminoles, who have had one victory over Clemson since 2003, and that was in 2013 with Jameis Winston as quarterback. Fans could see this matchup twice this season if the Tigers and Seminoles make it through the ACC roster like most projects.
9. Camp Randall, Ohio, Wisconsin.
Freshman coach Luke Fickell coaches nationally important games every week in Wisconsin, and there’s no bigger game this season than this one for the Badgers. Camp Randall’s “Jump Around” is one of college football’s finest traditions, and a TV broadcast is sure to show it at the center of one of the year’s Big Ten games in Madison. The game in Michigan will obviously be the toughest game in Ohio State in 2023, but this competition can be intimidating for Ryan Day’s team.
8. Williams-Bryce Stadium for Clemson-South Carolina
South Carolina’s home arena doesn’t get the attention it deserves nationally, but when the Gamecocks are good, this place rules on Saturday nights. Last season, fifth-place Tennessee was the victim when South Carolina lost 63 points to the Volunteers in late November and then swept past Clemson to record the Tigers’ best home win streak in the country. South Carolina also beat Texas A&M at Columbia last season, the first win in school history against the Aggies.
7. Bryant Denny, Texas-Alabama
Fans are lucky to get this soon-to-be SEC matchup, a year ahead of American football fans. A preview of what we expect to see in the new league for 2024 and beyond, with two national title contenders battling it out in Week 2 to underline a strong start to the season. Alabama could reclaim some of its swagger if it can beat the Longhorns and former Crimson Tide player Steve Sarkeesian. Bryant Denny makes noise when the fans are interested and this game will have all the trappings of a heavyweight fight.
6. Swamp for Tennessee-Florida
Tennessee hasn’t beaten Florida in Gainesville since the 2003 season, so that means a lot to the volunteers. MMany expect Florida to struggle in their second year under Billy Napier, but things will quickly change for the Gators if they win against Tennessee. The swamp is a hostile environment for any team, especially when Tennessee is the away team. It’s a season-defining game for the Gators, and it’s just as important.
5. Jordan-Hare for Alabama-Auburn
Few places are louder on the decibel scale than Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn when the Tigers are the national power. Part of the reason Auburn hired former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freese to run the program is because of his personal success against Alabama Nick Saban, and in 2023 he will take on the greatest coach of all time once again. When you play, the Plains will be very noisy and noisy when the Crimson Tide comes to town.
4. Beaver Stadium in Michigan-Pennsylvania.
The whiteouts at Beaver Stadium are one of the most iconic pre-game images in all sports, and you know Happy Valley will be bursting at the seams in this game. Penn State’s only losses last fall were in Ohio and Michigan, so this is one of only two games that all Nittany Lions fans have circled for 2023. Expect it to be extremely difficult to get a ticket to the Big Ten this fall. Penn State has won two of their last three meetings with Michigan at State College, including the Instant Classic in 2019.
3. Death Valley for Florida-LSU
One of the most underrated yet fiercest rivalries in college football, Florida-LSU, will be electrified at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers’ overtime win over Alabama in Baton Rouge last season was on the seismograph after Brian Kelly’s bold claim of a game-deciding two-point conversion. And given that the Tigers are due to compete again in the national championship, this game will be brilliant in terms of the overall impression of the fans. Well, maybe not for visiting alligators.
2. Big house in Ohio, Michigan.
Good luck getting a ticket to this game in 2023, given the hype surrounding two programs that have made it out of the playoffs. Everyone associated with Michigan circles this game every year. That could be the difference between another unbeaten regular season and potentially missing the playoffs for the first time in three years. Michigan’s squad may be the best under Jim Harbaugh, and that’s saying something. With the return of J.J. McCarthy as the starting quarterback and two running backs each to rush for 1,000 yards, getting into the Ohio State game healthy is a top priority for the Wolverines.
1. Neyland Stadium for Georgia-Tennessee.
You couldn’t hear yourself speaking at Neyland Stadium twice last season during Tennessee’s wins over Alabama and Kentucky, two sell-outs that created one of the busiest atmospheres in Knoxville. It will happen again in 2023 when the two-time reigning national champion Georgia plays Tennessee. Tennessee will attempt to end this program’s dominance of college football in the SEC Finals. In this game, Georgia should have the longest winning streak in the country at Neyland Stadium.