Ranking Our Favorite College Football Trends and Traditions

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If you’ve ever gotten the chance to attend a college football game in your life, then you know that the atmosphere surrounding said event is one that’s full of unique and specific traditions that each school hoists to the highest level of pride.  When it comes to NCAA football, it doesn’t matter what the college football odds lists say, each school be it small or big have their own very specific set of rituals, traditions, and trends that help the home team connect with their fans and make every game a thrilling experience in its own.

It doesn’t matter where you go, for every college football team, their traditions and trends are the best in the land and the room for debate is not big. But here we bring you a list of our favorite trends and traditions which are now back in full helm with fans being allowed back into stadiums for the 2021 NCAA football season.

Two Iowa State football players smile. Photo: Emma Dau

Howard’s Rock, University Of Clemson

If there’s a tradition that’s called “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football” of course we were going to have it be the first on our list. Death Valley Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina, home of the Clemson Tigers football team, hosts one of the most electrifying and thrilling traditions in all of college football with the touching of Howard’s Rock and the running down the hill into the field by the Tigers in every home game. 

This tradition begins by having the Clemson team all suited up and ready for action ride on buses from the west side to the east side of the stadium, where they reach the stadium’s entrance that leads up to the ever so famous “Howard’s rock”. The rock which was first given to the team’s former coach Frank Howard by a friend who brought it from Death Valley, California all the way back in 1966 has become sort of a source of magical powers for the Clemson team with all Tigers players rubbing the rock for good luck before running down the stadium’s hill to the sound of Clemson’s marching band playing the traditional “Tiger Rag” fight song and fans spelling out each letter of Clemson as loud as they possibly can.

There’s a reason why they call this tradition “the most exciting 25 seconds in college football” and now that fans are back in the stands, the tradition stands as strong as ever.

Clemson fans excitedly pack the football stands. Photo: Erin Doering

The Kinnick Wave, University of Iowa

While there are some college football trends and traditions that are more about showing a fighting spirit and putting visiting teams on notice, the famous “Kinnick Wave” in Kinnick Stadium, home of the Iowa Hawkeyes, is a trend that just comes to show that there are certain acts that can sometimes be way bigger than the sport of football itself. While this tradition is fairly new, only having started in 2017, it’s already caught the attention of football fans across the land and it has won a spot in the hearts who have witnessed it at least once in their lifetime.


The ”Kinnick Wave” consists of all fans and players in the stadium to turn around at the end of the first quarter of each game and start waving at the children watching the game from the windows of the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital which is slated right next to the Hawkeyes stadium. Children usually have signs and posters put up on the windows of the hospital to show support for Iowa and in return for their support, the Hawkeyes players and their fans all return that same love by waving at them. There are thrilling trends and traditions in college football, most feel like a perfect call to arms, but the “Kinnick Wave” trumps all of those with its showing of love and humanity.

Army vs. Navy, March On Tradition

College football is all about rivalries, with some rivalry games having the power to almost bring the whole country to a standstill for the duration of each game. One of those revered rivalries is the Army vs. Navy football rivalry. Now, with a matchup that holds so much history in itself of course their tradition of “The March On” had to make our list. Given that in each Army vs. Navy game both teams have their whole student bodies join them for the game, each school takes their time to showcase their academy’s best traits. Before each game, each company from both academies is announced as they take the field until the entirety of it is filled with uniformed cadets and midshipmen.

Arms and an American flag wrapped around a US veteran. Photo: Sir Manuel

But the pageantries and honors don’t stop there, after the game is finished, both academies honor their fallen comrades by singing their alma mater songs. Whichever team won usually starts facing the losing side’s stands first. While we’ve talked about exciting moments and heartfelt traditions, this Army vs. Navy trend is perfect for those who like to pay honor and homage to the US’s military services and all they do to protect the country and its people.

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