Ranking the best game day experiences in Texas college football

Photo courtesy of 12th Man Athletics

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The months between the conclusion of spring games and the start of media days allow college football fans to yearn for their favorite parts of the fall. For me, that is easy. Attending games across the state while taking in the many traditions that make this sport great, and each institution unique, is my favorite part of my gig. 

I’m lucky enough to have attended a game at every FBS stadium in Texas. Well, except for newcomer Sam Houston but that will be resolved when the Bearkats host UTEP. With the help of data points from D1ticker.com, here is my definitive list (sarcasm) of best game day experiences in the Lone Star State. 

Numbers via D1ticker.com 


5-year avg.: 101,011 
5-year-over-year percent change: -3.76

From Yell Practices to the Corps of Cadets march to the Aggie Band’s halftime performance, taking in a big game on a Saturday at Kyle Field is a bucket list item for every college football fan, regardless of your affiliations. The 12th Man comes to life on Saturdays in the fall and College Station becomes one of the best places to watch a sporting event in America. For my money, it is the best place to watch a college football game in the Lone Star State. 


5-year avg.: 95,323 
5-year-over-year percent change: +5.16

Texas fans earn a reputation bordering on Los Angeles and Miami in terms of arrival and departure times into a stadium, but big games bring the best out of DKR. Anybody in attendance for the 2022 game against Alabama knows that Texas fans can turn up when interested. The introduction of Bevo Boulevard has helped the pregame festivities and overall vibe on campus heading into games. Moving to the SEC will only create more premier matchups that will morph the national perception of a Texas crowd. 


5-year avg.: 55,034 
5-year-over-year percent change: +3.34% 

Put Texas A&M and Texas into their own categories because of the sheer size of their stadiums and Texas Tech tops the “best of the rest” in terms of game day experiences. West Texas converges onto Jones AT&T Stadium, which is currently being remolded and upgraded. The Masked Rider ride horse, Fearless Champion, down the sideline after every score. Tortillas are thrown in the air. And before every football game, a statue of Will Rogers and his horse, Soapsuds, are wrapped in red crepe paper. A night game in Lubbock against a rival team like Texas or Baylor or TCU is hard to beat. 


5-year avg.:  44,250
5-year-over-year percent change: +2.74%

The move from Floyd Casey to McLane Stadium unlocked the potential of game day experiences at Baylor. The stadium, originally called Baylor Stadium, sits at the north bank of the Brazos River and is one of the only college football stadiums in the country where fans can arrive via boat. Fans can “sailgate” in the Baylor Basin prior to the game. The location of McLane also allows students to walk from campus to the game. Freshmen at Baylor form the “Baylor Line” in which they dash across the field to welcome in the team before every single home game. 


5-year avg.: 42,905 
5-year-over-year percent change: +8.52%

Start your day in Frog Alley, which is TCU’s sponsored tailgate that includes games, giveaways, and fare for all ages. The campus is also a beautiful place to walk. Near the stadium, look at statues of the Horned Frog and luminaries such as Gary Patterson, and then take in the TCU sports museum and hall of fame. Amon G. Carter Stadium is a great place to watch a game. Don’t forget about the Bleacher Creature run and the Frog Horn. Oh, and the Hypnofrog on the video board. Riff Ram. 


5-year avg.: 18,122 
5-year-over-year percent change: +5.59%

The Sun Bowl is a unique experience in Texas football. Out in the Mountain Time Zone lies a stadium nestled in the mountains that opens for a view of Juarez. The tailgate scene features some of the best food in the world and a lively time that might beat the experience inside the stadium. 


5-year avg.: 23,423 
5-year-over-year percent change: +15.56%

Head over to Lot C, the best lot for the uninitiated, for some killer food and drinks prior to the game. Rowdy Town opens hours before the game with games and food. The football team takes place in the Spirit Walk from the bus to the stadium a few hours before kickoff. The best part about watching UTSA might be the temperature in the Alamodome. And while 25,000 fans might not seem like much, the shape, and acoustics of the Alamodome make it plenty for a homefield advantage. 


5-year avg.:  30,393 
5-year-over-year percent change: -16.45%

A move to the Big 12 should only heighten the experience around TDECU stadium. The Cougar Walk begins 135 minutes prior to kickoff as fans can watch the team and the Spirit of Houston walk from Cullen Boulevard by Entrance 14 past the cougar statue and into the locker room. The UHAA Party on the Plaza and the Shasta Square Student Tailgate are fun events. 


5-year avg.:  21,969 
5-year-over-year percent change: +13.67%

Get to the Hilltop and enjoy food vendors and trucks along Binkley Avenue prior to taking in a game at Gerald Ford (no, not that one) Stadium. The Mustang Club meets at Armstrong Fieldhouse. TVs, beer, and BBQ is available at the flagpole. 


5-year avg.: 20,724 
5-year-over-year percent change: -8.2

When the students show up in bunches, Apogee Stadium is one of the best venues in G5 football, especially in the Lone Star State. The Mean Green March includes the Green Brigade Marching Band and the football team. The set-up is great for tailgating. 


5-year avg.: 16,702 
5-year-over-year percent change: +5.03%

Ask Texas State alums and they’ll make a joke that the real party takes place outside of the stadium. The tailgate scene, and scenery in general, is always great in San Marcos. Rub the Bobcat Victory Ball for good luck and hope to Light the Victory Star after a win. 


5-year avg.: 20,355 
5-year-over-year percent change: -6.61%

The best days are behind Rice Stadium. Known for John F. Kennedy’s “We choose to go to the Moon” speech in 1962 and Super Bowl VIII, the stadium has hosted the Owls since 1950. 


Stats aren’t available at D1ticker.com.

Sam Houston is a newcomer to FBS football and Bowers Stadium must be improved over the next decade to accommodate 15K+ fans. It was a fun place to watch FCS playoff games over the last few years so there's reason for optimism that Huntsville can generate grassroots buzz.

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