Summer's close, and that means fall - and, more importantly, college football - will be here before you know it.
As a college football fan, you're probably going to make a road trip or two to take in a game.
What states should be on your bucket list as a college football die-hard?
We're ranking the top 12.
The top college football states are states you can visit and talk about the sport with just about anyone you meet. You can walk into a random bar, which is probably littered with school memorabilia, on a random day and discuss the upcoming season with the person next to you. You can feel college football walking around, as crazy as that sounds.
So, using some objective statistics like attendance numbers, spring game turnout, and some subjective areas of debate like how much does (X state) love college football?, we're ranking the top 12 college football states.
Presenting College Spun's 12 Best College Football States.
Home to two "Power 5" college football programs - Georgia and Georgia Tech - the Peach State is one of America's best when it comes to the collegiate gridiron.
Passion for the sport is not lacking here. Georgia consistently ranks among the top states in the country at producing elite recruits. They care about football - a lot. It shows in the attendance numbers, too. The Bulldogs ranked No. 8 in the country in average attendance in 2015 and had a 0 percent drop in attendance despite an injury to their best player, Todd Gurley. The Yellow Jackets, meanwhile, came close to selling out every game (48,519 per game) despite being a program in an area (Atlanta) with a lot to do.
This is a state that could be on the rise, with Georgia looking to be the top program in the SEC East and Georgia Tech a consistently successful team in the ACC. The rivalry between the Bulldogs and the Yellow Jackets is getting more heated, too.
There's only one big-time program here, but The Bayou is not lacking an appreciation for college football in any way.
Fall Saturdays don't get much better than the ones that take place in Baton Rouge, La., which is home to what probably is the most intimidating college football stadium in the country. Night games are college football at its best, and no one does night games better than LSU. Watching LSU take on an SEC foe after the sun goes down at Tiger Stadium has to be on every college football fan's bucket list.
New Orleans might be the best big college football city, too. The Sugar Bowl is consistently one of the most enjoyable bowl game experiences and Bourbon Street is potentially the best area in the country to pregame for a big contest.
If you want to watch some good college football and have a lot of fun doing it, go to Louisiana.
No. 10, Oklahoma
Not many states can boast a better 1-2 combo than Oklahoma, which is home to one of college football's greatest powers, the Sooners, and a very solid program in Oklahoma State.
Football is king in Oklahoma, which doesn't have an NFL team. So, the Sooners or the Cowboys are passion No. 1 for a majority of the state's residents. It shows. Oklahoma ranked No. 2 in the Big 12 in attendance in 2014 while Oklahoma State got a better turnout than programs like Miami, Kansas State and Louisville. Both programs ranked in the top 20 in spring game attendance for 2015 (OU at No. 10 and OSU at No. 20).
Few states have better tradition, too. Oklahoma is one of the winningest programs in the history of the sport while Oklahoma State produced possibly the greatest individual season in college football history (Barry Sanders' 1988 Heisman campaign).
Like Georgia, this is a state with a rivalry that's heating up.
No. 9, Tennessee
Everything that makes college football great can be found in the Volunteer State.
It has an awesome college football town (Knoxville) and a big-time program (Tennessee) with a massive stadium (Neyland Stadium). It also has another SEC program that has recently shown signs of promise (Vanderbilt) and a couple lower-tier programs that have been successful in the past (Memphis and Middle Tennessee State).
The Volunteers are clearly the top team in the state and the passion for Butch Jones' rising program shows. Tennessee had more than 63,000 people watch its spring game this year. Other top programs couldn't average that number for regular season games in 2014.
The checkerboard end zones and Rocky Top are pretty great, too.
8. South Carolina
The state of South Carolina is home to two major college football programs in the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers, and these programs mean everything to the state's residents. South Carolina does not have any major professional sports, unlike its neighbor to the north, to take time away from college football, so the Gamecocks and Tigers reign supreme. Clemson's Death Valley is often considered one of the loudest atmospheres in all of college football.
Underneath the passion for each one of these programs boils a heated college football rivalry that dates back to the 1880s, only adding to the history these programs hold in this state. Separated by just 132 miles, and representing different conferences, this ranks near the top of in-state rivalries. Passion for college football is not hard to find once you've crossed state lines into South Carolina, but you better choose wisely between these two premier programs.
There aren't any professional sports teams in the state of Mississippi, there's only college football. With two representatives—Ole Miss and Mississippi State—in college football's top conference, the SEC, it's not hard to understand why people in the state of Mississippi are so passionate about their football. The Ole Miss Rebels claim three national championships - 1959, 1960, 1962 - and have won six SEC championships, and the Mississippi State Bulldogs are in the process of building their own legacy.
The passion is everywhere you look. Rebels fans gather at The Grove, a spot near the center of campus, on game days for what might be the biggest tailgating spectacle in all of college football. Bulldogs fans, by the thousands, bring cowbells into the stadium to create an unforgettable atmosphere. And these things combine for one crazy rivalry - The Egg Bowl - that dates back to 1901. They love their college football and want people to know. If you're in the state of Mississippi and talking football, you're either talking about the Rebels or the Bulldogs.
Football in the state of Nebraska is all about the Huskers and nothing else. Period. And why shouldn't it be? Nebraska has established itself as one of college football's premier programs during its 125 year history, winning five national titles - 1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997 - and 46 conference titles. The Cornhuskers have also had three Heisman Trophy winners in Johnny Rodgers ('72), Mike Rozier ('83) and Eric Crouch ('01) come through the program. And, on top of all that, Nebraska does not have any professional sports teams to get in the way.
There are a number of traditions and rivalries for Huskers fans to enjoy, but one of the coolest things about Nebraska is the NCAA-record consecutive sellout streak (340) at Memorial Stadium, dating back to November 3, 1962, former head coach Bob Devaney's first season in Lincoln. Residents of Nebraska sure love their football.
The state of Michigan is obsessed with college football and for good reason: winning tradition. The Michigan Wolverines and the Michigan State Spartans combine for 17 claimed national titles and 52 conference titles, with the Wolverines carrying most of the weight. Michigan has the most all-time wins of any college football program, and the second highest winning percentage behind only Notre Dame. The Wolverines sport one of college football's most iconic helmets and play in one of the country's grandest stadiums - the Big House. They also annually take part in what some believe to be one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports, when they take on Ohio State to close out each season. They bleed college football tradition.
While maybe not a rich as Michigan's, Michigan State's history has plenty for fans to be proud of, too. The Spartans took part in "The Game of the Century" in 1966 against Notre Dame, in which the teams tied 10-10 and both went on to record national championships. Spartan Stadium has ranked in the Top 25 in attendance for 59 consecutive seasons, from 1953 to 2014, and will continue to extend that streak. The Spartans have always been representative of their name - tough, and fans take pride in that sentiment. There's a lot of college football history in the state of Michigan, and it's evident as soon as you cross state lines.
How many states can claim that three of their programs have won national championships in the 21st century? That's right - just one. Florida boasts three premier college football schools - Florida, Florida State and Miami (FL) - and while all three might not always be up at the same time, at least one is always in contention for the national title. Fans in the Sunshine State are obsessed, too. You typically don't find too many people who root for more than one of the state's programs. And we're not even factoring in UCF or USF, both of which have decent followings these days.