In the world of college football, defending your home turf is paramount, particularly for perennial championship contenders. As we look ahead to the 2023 season, there are several intimidating venues expected to make a mark.
Boisterous crowds and sold-out stadiums provide a significant advantage, particularly for home teams on defense aiming to disrupt their opponents. Last season, the SEC and Big Ten dominated the College Football Playoff conversation, with late-season games like Georgia’s win over Tennessee and Michigan’s victory over Illinois being defined by hostile environments.
This ranking considers the 2023 schedule for many of the top programs in the country and the opponents they’ll face at home. The more formidable the opponents, the louder and more intimidating the environment is likely to be. Many of these teams are featured in 247Sports’ way-too-early spring top 25 rankings.
- Memorial Stadium for FSU-Clemson
Although Clemson’s impressive home winning streak was snapped in the regular-season finale, Memorial Stadium remains one of the most challenging places to play in college football under Coach Dabo Swinney. Florida State has found it particularly difficult to win at Clemson since 2003, with their only victory coming in 2013 with Jameis Winston as the quarterback. If both teams dominate the ACC as predicted, fans may get to see this matchup twice this season.
- Camp Randall for Ohio State-Wisconsin
First-year coach Luke Fickell leads Wisconsin into a season filled with nationally significant games, and the biggest of these will be the matchup against Ohio State. The famous “Jump Around” tradition at Camp Randall is a college football highlight, and this game is set to be one of the Big Ten’s standout events in Madison. Although Ohio State’s toughest game in 2023 is expected to be against Michigan, this contest against Wisconsin could also be a significant challenge.
- Williams-Brice Stadium for Clemson-South Carolina
South Carolina’s home venue is often overlooked on the national stage, but when the Gamecocks are playing well, the atmosphere is electric. Last season, they defeated fifth-ranked Tennessee and ended Clemson’s nation-leading home win streak. South Carolina also secured their first-ever win against Texas A&M in Columbia.
- Bryant-Denny Stadium for Texas-Alabama
College football fans are in for a treat as Texas and Alabama, two national title contenders, face off in Week 2. This matchup serves as an early preview of the soon-to-be-SEC showdowns in 2024 and beyond. Alabama will look to regain its swagger by defeating the Longhorns and their former play-caller, Steve Sarkisian. When the fans are engaged, Bryant-Denny Stadium is a deafening venue, and this game promises to be a heavyweight battle.
- The Swamp for Tennessee-Florida
Tennessee has not beaten Florida in Gainesville since 2003, making this matchup all the more meaningful. Many expect Florida to struggle in Year 2 under Billy Napier, but a win against Tennessee could turn their fortunes around. The Swamp is always a hostile environment, especially when Tennessee comes to town. This game is crucial for both teams’ seasons.
- Jordan-Hare Stadium for Alabama-Auburn
Few places are louder than Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium when the Tigers are in top form. Auburn hired former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze in part due to his success against Nick Saban’s Alabama. Freeze will have another opportunity to challenge the legendary coach in 2023. If the Tigers are still in the hunt, The Plains will be rocking when the Crimson Tide arrive.
- Beaver Stadium for Michigan-Penn State
The iconic Whiteout at Beaver Stadium is a sight to behold, and Happy Valley will be buzzing for this game. Penn State’s only losses last season were against Ohio State and Michigan, making this matchup one of the most anticipated games for Nittany Lions fans in 2023. This contest will likely be one of the hottest tickets in the Big Ten this fall. In recent years, Penn State has won two of their last three meetings with Michigan in State College, including a memorable game in 2019.
- Death Valley for Florida-LSU
Florida-LSU is an underrated but fiercely competitive rivalry in college football, and this matchup at Tiger Stadium promises to be electric. Last season, LSU’s thrilling overtime win against Alabama in Baton Rouge registered on the seismograph after Coach Brian Kelly’s bold call on the game-deciding two-point conversion. With LSU expected to be in the national championship conversation once again, the fan experience during this game will be exhilarating—except, perhaps, for visiting Gators fans.
- The Big House for Ohio State-Michigan
Given the hype surrounding both programs following playoff appearances, securing a ticket to this game in 2023 might be a challenge. Michigan fans eagerly await this matchup each year, as it could mean the difference between an undefeated regular season and missing the playoff for the first time in three years. With an impressive roster under Jim Harbaugh, Michigan is poised for success, particularly with the return of starting quarterback J.J. McCarthy and two running backs projected to surpass 1,000 yards each. Reaching the Ohio State game healthy is a top priority for the Wolverines.
- Neyland Stadium for Georgia-Tennessee
Last season, Neyland Stadium was a deafening venue during Tennessee’s victories over Alabama and Kentucky. That raucous atmosphere is expected to return in 2023 when two-time defending national champion Georgia faces off against Tennessee. The Volunteers will attempt to end Georgia’s reign atop college football in the SEC finale. Georgia is likely to carry the nation’s longest winning streak into Neyland Stadium for this highly anticipated showdown.