College Football 25 toughest places to play: Who's ranked too high, who should be in instead? (2024)

Ryan PrittDaytona Beach News-Journal

The blowback from EA Sports' announcement of the top 25 toughest places to play in college football for the forthcoming video game, College Football 25, is sure to be loud.

Louder than a few of the stadiums that made the list, that's for sure.

As part of a week's worth of reveals, which will also include the game's top offenses and defenses on Thursday and overall team power rankings on Friday, Tuesday's reveal yielded yet another intriguing piece of information about the title, set to release on July 19. It will be the first game in the series since NCAA Football '14.

Texas A&M's Kyle Field tops EA Sports' list with Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium falling in right behind. And yet, those are just two of the missteps in the list of 25.

First the formalities. Here's the official rankings as released on Tuesday followed by our biggest nitpicks:

COLLEGE FOOTBALL 25: EA Sports dropped a gameplay video. When does the game come out?

Toughest places to play in college football (EA Sports' list)

  1. Texas A&M: Kyle Field
  2. Alabama: Bryant-Denny Stadium
  3. LSU: Tiger Stadium
  4. Ohio State: Ohio Stadium
  5. Georgia: Sanford Stadium
  6. Penn State: Beaver Stadium
  7. Wisconsin: Camp Randall Stadium
  8. Oklahoma: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
  9. Florida State: Doak Campbell Stadium
  10. Florida: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
  11. Oregon: Autzen Stadium
  12. Clemson: Memorial Stadium
  13. Tennessee: Neyland Stadium
  14. Auburn: Jordan-Hare Stadium
  15. South Carolina: Williams-Brice Stadium
  16. Michigan: Michigan Stadium
  17. Virginia Tech: Lane Stadium
  18. Utah: Rice-Eccles Stadium
  19. Texas: Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium
  20. Iowa: Kinnick Stadium
  21. Notre Dame: Notre Dame Stadium
  22. Michigan State: Spartan Stadium
  23. Arkansas: Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium
  24. Boise State: Albertsons Stadium
  25. Mississippi State: Davis Wade Stadium

LSU, Tiger Stadium should be No. 1

This is no knock on A&M or Alabama, but when many folks think college football environment, it starts with Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge at night.

First, there's the unique aesthetics: Tiger Stadium is the only major venue to mark off yard lines in fives instead of 10s. Also, it boasts arguably the best midfield logo in all of football, a purple and gold Tiger's eye, staring right back at the TV camera during overhead shots.

Oh yeah, and as for the noise? The stadium often registers on a seismograph, including the matchup against Auburn in 1988 known as, "the Earthquake Game".

Michigan should be No. 2, Penn State No. 3, Texas A&M No. 4

Hey, sometimes numbers matter. And the fact of this matter is that Michigan and Penn State are the two biggest college football stadiums in America in terms of capacity.

And given, A&M is not far behind. But no team has been better at home than Michigan has over the last three years in going 22-0. Penn State is 17-4 in that stretch and A&M is 16-5, for what it's worth.

Michigan Stadium at No. 16 is an absolute atrocity. And while Beaver Stadium at No. 6 is a small slight in comparison, these two Big Ten venues are as good as it gets.

Tennessee, Neyland Stadium up to No. 6

Speaking of numbers, Tennessee's Neyland Stadium is fifth on that capacity list and the Volunteers' win at home over Alabama two seasons ago was a reminder of what Knoxville is capable of when supporting a good team.

No. 13 is far too low here.

As for the Florida State at No. 9, Florida at No. 10 thing?

Didn't Florida State beat Florida in Gainesville last year? Without its starting quarterback?

Yeah, we're fine with with these Sunshine State rivals in this order, for now.

Oklahoma Memorial Stadium out, Clemson, Oregon into the top 10

Oklahoma's loudest crowd every year is likely at a neutral site: The Cotton Bowl, for the annual Red River Rivalry.

Sure, Clemson hasn't quite been up to national-championship snuff over the past couple of seasons, but Death Valley and the whole Howard's Rock tradition still ranks among college football's loudest and best. And Autzen, though lacking a bit in comparison by sheer numbers, features an amphitheater-like shape to funnel noise straight to the field.

The Ducks are 19-1 at home since 2021.

Biggest snub: Nebraska, Memorial Stadium

OK, we get that Nebraska hasn't exactly been a world beater in recent years but Memorial Stadium is the 14th biggest in college football.

No, size isn't everything. But the Cornhuskers have sold out a whopping 396 home games in a row. Three-nine-six! That is the longest streak in any collegiate sport.

This is a borderline top-10 venue. To not have it in the top 25 is lunacy.

A Group of Five swap: Boise State out, Appalachian State in

At one time, Boise and the smurf turf were a no-doubter for this list.

But maybe not so much now. Attendance at these two stadiums were fairly close in 2023 with Boise averaging 35,867 and Appalachian State at 34,734. But maybe it was College GameDay's visit last season, or the fact that the Mountaineers are 16-3 in Boone, North Carolina over the last three years but it feels like they belong.

Get 'em outta here: Michigan State, Arkansas, Mississippi State

Again, if this game had been made three years ago, we might be willing to sign off on the Spartans.

Arkansas lost at home to Liberty in 2022 in the game SEC apologists like to pretend and convince you never happened. And yeah, they use cowbells in Starkville, we get it.

We'd also argue that Davis Wade Stadium isn't even the toughest venue in the Magnolia State and certainly, Spartan Stadium takes a back seat in America's mitten.

Bring 'em in: BYU, Oklahoma State

Seriously, if you haven't, just do a quick internet search for LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah.

We rest our case. Also, Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma is one of a few underrated Big 12 Conference gems along with Kansas State and Iowa State. The Cowboys are 19-2 in the last three seasons and the fans banging the walls with paddles adds a unique element as well.

The corrected top 25 toughest places to play in college football

We've stated our cases for quite a few of these and there is no exact science, obviously.

But for argument's sake, here's how we believe EA Sports' rankings should've shaken out:

  1. LSU: Tiger Stadium
  2. Michigan: Michigan Stadium
  3. Penn State: Beaver Stadium
  4. Texas A&M: Kyle Field
  5. Ohio State: Ohio Stadium
  6. Tennessee: Neyland Stadium
  7. Alabama: Bryant-Denny Stadium
  8. Georgia: Sanford Stadium
  9. Clemson: Memorial Stadium
  10. Oregon: Autzen Stadium
  11. Wisconsin: Camp Randall Stadium
  12. Florida State: Doak Campbell Stadium
  13. Florida: Ben Griffin Stadium
  14. Nebraska: Memorial Stadium
  15. Auburn: Jordan-Hare Stadium
  16. Virginia Tech: Lane Stadium
  17. Oklahoma: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
  18. Utah: Rice-Eccles Stadium
  19. Iowa: Kinnick Stadium
  20. Texas: Texas Memorial Stadium
  21. BYU: LaVell Edwards Stadium
  22. Notre Dame: Notre Dame Stadium
  23. Ole Miss: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
  24. Oklahoma State: Boone Pickens Stadium
  25. Appalachian State: Kidd Brewer Stadium
College Football 25 toughest places to play: Who's ranked too high, who should be in instead? (2024)
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