There’s nothing more American than a good ole’ college football game. From tailgates, rivalry showdowns, and unwavering school spirit, to peculiar pre-game traditions and rituals, it’s clear that football fans are willing to go the extra yard for their beloved university team.
While some devoted fans might sport their lucky socks (or underwear) or perform their favorite player’s pre-game routine, we wanted to know which college football team boasts the most superstitious fans within the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. We rallied 3,000 football aficionados to learn about their pregame antics, to reveal the top 10 most superstitious fan bases and conferences.
Alabama Crimson Tide fans are the most superstitious within the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision
Ohio State Buckeyes fans ranked second, with the Penn State Nittany Lions fans in third
The Big Ten claims the title as the most superstitious NCAA College Football Conference
The most popular superstition performed by football fans is wearing a certain color on game day (49.00%)
Hut, hut, hike! These are the top 10 superstitious fan bases
The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision has 133 college football teams alone, where each team has its share of superstitious fans. So the question remains…who’s putting the ‘super’ in superstition?
Roll Tide! Alabama Crimson Tide fans are the most superstitious college football fan base, nationwide. While their fans hold a playbook of various superstitions, their most common is to wear a certain color on game day – whether that be their team colors or their personal lucky color. But fans aren’t the only superstitious because Nick Saban, Crimson Tide’s very own football coach, performs his very own pre-game ritual. You can catch him jumping to tap the ‘Win’ bar, before walking out to the field.
Can we get an O-H-I-O because the Ohio State Buckeyes fans earn the second-place trophy in the superstition ranking. Like Crimson Tide fans, the Buckeyes swear by wearing the right colors to summon a win for their beloved university team. One devoted fan takes it up a notch by flying their ‘Block O’ flag at 7:00 a.m. sharp on every game day. He said: “I’ve eased off a bit, allowing myself to put it up any time between 6:45 and 7:15 a.m. I also hum ‘Buckeye Battle Cry’ while doing this”. Now that’s how you kick off game day, in true superstition style!
The Penn State Nittany Lions roar with pride as they claim the bronze medal. These fans come from a long-line of traditions, such as camping out overnight near the stadium and fiercely guarding their iconic lion shrine from rival vandals. It’s definitely a testament to their allegiant commitment and love for Penn State’s football team. “We are…Penn State” indeed!
Singing ‘we are the boys from old Florida’ are the fourth most superstitious fans, the University of Florida Gators. Their famous Gator chomp isn’t the only superstition up their playbook, however. Aside from sporting team colors, you can catch Gator fans wearing lucky items. Marie Dence takes the cake by wearing the plastic rings (from grocery store cupcakes) on her finger for the past four years. “Every time (the Gators) make a touchdown, it’s because of the ring, and we take full credit for it,” says Dence. Can we get a ‘thank you, Dence’ for her superstitious ritual?
Completing the top five in our superstitious fan rankings are the Wisconsin Badgers. This comes as no surprise as the Green Bay Packers also hold a high ranking in our NFL superstition rankings – reaffirming the superstitious nature of Wisconsin football fans. From meticulously arranging game day attire (one fan makes sure their phone and chapstick sits in a specific pocket) to wearing three-day old underwear, Wisconsin takes no chances.
As for conferences, our survey shows that the Big Ten is the most superstitious conference. The SEC ranks second, followed by the ACC (third), Big 12 and Pac-12 (tied for fourth), and American (fifth), out of 11.
The most common superstitions football fans swear by
While some college football teams have fans who are very peculiar with their superstitions (rightfully so), we set out to uncover the most prevalent superstitions that our 3,000 football fanatics hold dear.
It’s all about dressing for success as 49.00% of our respondents attest to wearing a specific team or lucky color for the big game day. Some (17.50%) opt to sport their lucky piece of clothing – whether that be a trusty pair of socks or plastic rings from grocery store cupcakes.
Rumors say it’s crucial not to bet on your team, but only 6.70% follow this pre-game ritual. Following closely behind, 6.50% must watch the big game at a specific place (e.g. bar). To close off the top five, only 5.20% eat the same meal on game day.
All in all, it’s clearly evident that college football fans will practice some form of superstitions in one way or another. While it may look quirky to some, when a victory is on the line, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
In November 2023, we surveyed 3,000 U.S. football fans about their pre-game rituals. We asked them a series of questions to discover which college football fans and conferences are the most superstitious.
The average age of respondents was 40.2 years old. The representative sample comprised 69.8% male, 29.5% female, 0.4% non-binary, and 0.2% transgender.
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