12th Man Report: 12th man advantage
In honor of our college guide coming out this week and in honor of the blog’s name, today’s blog will continue to focus on college football — the venue aspect. Every team in the NCAA has a unique stadium that they call home. The good ones can have such an effect on a game that they’re considered the 12th man on the field.
Each of the four teams previewed in yesterday’s column all boast known arenas in the FBS scene — some more than others. While you may not have been to all of them, or any of them, these stadiums are unique because their atmospheres make games that much more difficult for opposing teams. Whether it’s the raucous crowd, the boisterous, tightly packed stands, or just the offensive student section cheers, opposing teams aren’t meant to have a good time when they’re playing on the road.
When looking at some of the FBS teams in Michigan, the first stadium that comes to mind is Michigan Stadium — the Big House. As you can guess by the name, this mammoth stadium is home to the Wolverines and is the largest of such venues in college football. Michigan has had over 100,000 attendees at every home game spanning back to 1975. The Wolverines use sheer numbers to overwhelm opponents — evidenced by the fact that they haven’t lost a game at the Big House since 2010.
West of Ann Arbor down I-96 sits another intimidating Big Ten Arena — Spartan Stadium, home to Michigan State. With a capacity of about 75,000, it comes in as the Big Ten’s sixth largest stadium. However, one sure thing for opposing teams at Spartan Stadium is that you’ll be met by jarring chants of “go green, go white.” Similar to Michigan, the Spartans 12th man advantage has been more noticeable as of late — before a home loss to Notre Dame last year, MSU had won 15-consecutive games in East Lansing.
Finally, Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo and Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant are two MAC stadiums, just less well known. Waldo, home to Western Michigan, has a capacity of 30,200 fans and Kelly/Shorts has a similar capacity of 32.885 people. Though neither have a rollicking reputation like U-M or MSU, they can be formidable…I suppose. These two schools, and the MAC in general, suffer from a lack of following — lets just say there aren’t too many Walmart Broncos or Walmart Chips out there.
All four teams open up the season this weekend, including a Michigan State-Western Michigan matchup in East Lansing on Friday night, so get ready for some football.