What gives the home team in college football such an advantage?
Perhaps it's the wavering emotional state of young men barely creeping into their twenties. One of the most fundamental needs of a human is that of safety and survival. When you're not in familiar confines, focus can dwindle from the task at hand.
But a squad of home-sick football players doesn't equate to poor road performances -- there's more to it than that. The noise akin to that of a jet engine from a distance of 100 feet can be found in the Bayou, but a fuzzy mind and bleeding ears don't always guarantee victory to the home team. The last, and most crucial aspect. of course, is a good team.
If you want to be tough and intimidating at home, be a steamroller in neutral venues and in road contests as well. The best in the business are good no matter where they play, but that makes them all the more dangerous when they're in their own back yard. These are things the Miami Hurricanes from 1985 to 1994 discovered with a record 58 consecutive home wins, but few have threatened similar figures since.
With these factors in mind, what teams are the worst on-field hosts to visiting teams?
Here are my picks for the top six teams with the biggest home-field advantage in college football:
6. Oklahoma Sooners
If I would have made this list a week ago there is a good chance the Sooners would have found themselves at the top of the list. Over the last ten seasons no team from a BCS conference has been more dominant at home than OU going 63-2 from 2002 to 2011 -- including a 17-1 record over the past three seasons. But the disappointing showing against the Kansas State Wildcats tarnishes the polish and leaves the wound a little too fresh.
5. Wisconsin Badgers
Madison is known as a must-visit destination for college football tailgating where the atmosphere is unlike any other. The craziness doesn't stop in the parking lot though as the Badgers carried a 59-10 record at home over the last ten years (7th best in the nation). Despite a disappointing beginning to this year, Wisconsin is still 20-1 over the last three seasons in their own backyard -- no one in the nation is better over that time.
4. LSU Tigers
The home of the Bayou Bengals is near the top of my bucket list of places I want to watch a college football game in my lifetime. Not only is Death Valley the place where eardrums go to perish, it's also backed up with devastating results in favor of the home team. Try a stellar 62-8 record for LSU over the last ten years (5th best) and a 19-1 mark from '09 to '11. Oh yeah, and the team is pretty good too.
3. Oregon Ducks
Autzen Stadium and the Ducks offer a one-of-a-kind experience from the amazing architecture of the campus to the eclectic uniform-of-the-day offered for Oregon fans. The green and white (and sometimes metallic silver) may be thought of as newcomers to the national powerhouse landscape but the truth of the matter is that not many have owned home turf as well as Oregon. From 2002 to 2011 the Ducks held the 15th best record at home, going 52-13. More telling, however, is the 19-1 tally from '09 to '11 --and don't expect a slip-up anytime soon.
2. Boise State Broncos
They're not your grandpa's Boise State team, nor are they the same squad of the Kellen Moore era. While the boys of the Smurf Turf may not present the high-profile talent we're used to of the past five years they still boast one heck of an unwelcoming statement for any team who dares visit Boise, Idaho. With the best home record in FBS the past ten years at 63-2, no one has been tougher at home than the Broncos -- including an 18-1 mark from '09 to '11.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Lately the Crimson Tide have conjured up the spirits of 'Bama football past when the program won 57 straight home games between 1963 and 1982. The Hurricanes of Miami (FL) may have trumped their run since but the Tide are certainly the more currently relevant program as they shoot for their third national championship in four years. Over the last ten seasons the boys from Tuscaloosa have built up a stingy 55-17 record at home. Even more impressive (and telling of their recent run) is the 19-2 resume' of the past three years. No one wins more at home (or anywhere) than Alabama, and they're the best team in the nation -- an unbeatable combination.