Two weeks ago, I wrote a column ranking the best players Ohio State has faced in the 29 years I’ve covered OSU football for The Lima News.
This week, I pick the top 10 road stadiums out of the 39 where I’ve seen Ohio State play.
Here are my top 10:
1. Rose Bowl
Location. Location. Location. The San Gabriel mountains overlook the Rose Bowl. The first time I went to the Rose Bowl it was a cloudy, rainy day and my reaction was that it was overrated. The next two times, it was sunny and when the sun set on the mountains behind one of the end zones, I totally got it. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s Jan. 1 and you’re somewhere warm.
2. Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium
Some visiting fans complain that Wisconsin fans are rude but that has not been my experience. Camp Randall Stadium has always been at the top of my list or near the top.
I can’t explain the atmosphere of a football game at Camp Randall other than to say it’s unique.
Madison, Wis. (population 258,000) is too big to be called a great college town so let’s say it is a great college city. And that probably adds to my appreciation of Camp Randall.
3. Notre Dame Stadium
It’s Notre Dame. Knute Rockne coached there (but only for one season). Nine Notre Dame national champion teams played there and so did seven Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winners. After expansions in 1997 and 2017 the stadium doesn’t have cozy feel of when I saw my first game there in 1977, but it’s still one of the best game day experiences in my book.
4. Michigan Stadium
The Big House is appropriately named. Or, maybe more correctly, it is appropriately nicknamed. Its size, all in one massive bowl, is probably its greatest asset in producing an impressive game day atmosphere.
5. Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium
No Big Ten stadium puts fans closer to the field than Kinnick Stadium. It evokes the feel of a classic midwestern football stadium. But its opening date of 1929 makes it only the eighth oldest stadium in the Big Ten. Kinnick and Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa, are both sometimes underappreciated when people make lists of favorite Big Ten places.
6. Los Angeles Coliseum
History is probably the biggest thing the Coliseum has going for it. It has been the main stadium for two summer Olympic Games (1932, 1984) and is scheduled to repeat that role in 2028. It has been USC’s home stadium for football games since 1923. It has been home to two Super Bowls. Jackie Robinson played there when he was a student at UCLA. The Los Angeles Dodgers played there from 1958-1962 after moving to L.A. from Brooklyn.
7. Penn State’s Beaver Stadium
Architecturally, Beaver Stadium is kind of a mess. It has been enlarged several times over the years and it appears not a lot of attention was paid to making the additions blend seamlessly into the ones that came before them.
But it is the toughest, most intimidating atmosphere in the Big Ten. When it’s a big game and Penn State’s crowd is into it no stadium is better at turning the momentum against a visiting team.
8. Washington’s Husky Stadium
Like the Rose Bowl, Husky Stadium benefits greatly from its location. The one end of the stadium is open and scenic Lake Washington is nearby. On a clear day the Cascade Mountains and Mount Rainier can be seen in the distance beyond the lake.
9. Lucas Oil Stadium
If ginormous were really a word, it would apply to Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Big Ten football championship game is played every year. It also would apply to AT&T Stadium in Dallas, whose dome tops out at 50 feet higher than Lucas Oil Stadium and is even more ginormous. But I prefer the midwestern and non-Dallas Cowboys version.
10. Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium
Minnesota’s 11-year-old on-campus stadium makes the top 10 because it is evidence a modern-day stadium can compete with the classics. And you have to salute Minnesotans for leaving a domed stadium to play outdoors.
Minnesota had played in the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis since 1981 until TCF Bank Stadium opened in 2009. Almost anything would have been an improvement over the Metrodome but the university went past that low bar and got it right with this 50,000-seat horseshoe shaped stadium.
Honorable mention: Texas’ Darrell K Royal Stadium, Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Arizona State’s Sun Devil Stadium, Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium, AT&T Stadium, Illinois Memorial Stadium, Michigan State’s Spartan Stadium, Missouri’s Faurot Field.
Jim Naveau is sports editor of The Lima News, an Aim Media Midwest publication.