Ranking of the top ten Big Ten football traditions

One of the things that many outlasts college football from other sports and even the NFL is the pageantry and traditions that have stood the test of time. There’s nothing quite like an autumn Saturday with the band playing, the familiar colors and all the traditions that make you feel like you don’t want to be anywhere else.

But not all traditions are created equal. Some evoke goosebumps and chills because they are so special and have always been there, others send the crowds mad, while others are newer and still finding their way into the collective psyche of the college football world.

Call us biased, but the Big Ten may have more traditions than any other conference, and if not, what you see on Saturdays in the fall is at least comparable to other leagues. Some have found their way Lists of the best traditions throughout college football.

We decided to jump into the game and give the old college a try to rank the top ten Big Ten football traditions. But before we do that, remember that this is just an opinion piece and we usually hear that your school has the best tradition and is grossly underrated, while an opposing school’s traditions are overrated. It’s the way of the world.

Undaunted, we go further with our list of the top ten Big Ten football traditions as we rank from No. 10 to the best of the best. Take it to the bank.

10 Paul Bunyan’s Ax – Wisconsin and Minnesota

Wisconsin center Tyler Biadasz, holding Paul Bunyan’s axe, will likely play his last game for the Badgers at the Rose Bowl. Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports Network

Why it makes the list

Why not start with a tradition that could gouge someone’s eyes out? To be fair, it’s not a real sharp-edged axe, but it still looks dangerous. Wisconsin and Minnesota have been playing for Paul Bunyan’s ax since 1948, the year after the original “trophy,” the “sliver of bacon” — which feels like the upper Midwest you can get — went missing.

9 Large Bass Drum – Purdue

A Purdue student bangs his big bass drum, Indianapolis, Saturday, May 28, 2022, during the 500 Festival Parade. Photo credit: USA TODAY Sports Network

Why it makes the list

The “Largest Drum in the World” began operating in 1921 and can be seen at home soccer games and other special events in and around the area. Standing about 10 feet tall in his carriage, it is a symbol of the Purdue band and football team. Interestingly, it turned out to be more difficult than you think because you had to find skins large enough to stretch across the drum. All of this effort to create an iconic symbol is worth making the list.

8 Gold Pants – Ohio State

Why it makes the list

The Ohio State vs. Michigan game could be considered the finest tradition in all of college football if we really wanted to, but there are things surrounding the game that are unique. Each time the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines, each player earns a Golden Pants Charm. Former Ohio State head coach Francis Schmidt started the tradition when OSU gained a foothold against Michigan in 1934 by saying, “They pull their pants down one leg at a time, just like the rest of us do.” In the last few For decades, many gold pants hung around the necks of former Ohio State soccer players.

7 The Boilermaker Special – Purdue

Aris Hoath drives the Boilermaker Special, Purdue University’s official mascot, March 28 in downtown Louisville. He says it’s road legal with a top speed of 75 mph. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Why it makes the list

There are mascots and then there are mascots. We can’t forget “Purdue Pete” parading around with a hammer in hand, but Purdue University’s official mascot is a literal machine called “Boilermaker Special.” It was first introduced in 1940 and there is a “Boilermaker Xtra Special” that comes onto the field for football matches. As mechanical things do, it tends not to last long, so Purdue is in its eighth incarnation in some form as a nod to its engineering heritage. Believe it or not, the larger motor can actually go up to 75 mph. Remember – stay out of the fast lane.

6 The Tunnel Way – Nebraska

Why it makes the list

Nebraska’s “Tunnel Walk” has only been around since 1994, but even if you’re not a Cornhuskers fan, experiencing it will give you goosebumps. The team prepares to enter the stadium by walking down the “red carpet” or turf surrounded by fans and then charging onto the field to a frenzied crowd of over 90,000 fans. It’s all shown on the jumbotron while “Sirius” plays around the stadium.

5 White Out – Penn State

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – OCTOBER 19: General view of the white crowd before the game between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Michigan Wolverines at Beaver Stadium on October 19, 2019 in University Park, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Why it makes the list

You don’t have to be there in person to understand just how intimidating and awe-inspiring a White Out game is in Happy Valley. The environment has been cited by many as the best in all of college football. Imagine a frenzied crowd dressed all in white as the music pumps, fans jump and the stadium moves. There is no more intimidating environment to go to, period. The tradition has only existed since 2004, but the 2005 version of the game, when Penn State upset No. 6 Ohio State, cemented the White Out as an annual event worthy of any college football setting .

4 Go Blue banner – Michigan

Michigan players leap to touch the banner as they enter the field for the Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium on Saturday, November 30, 2019. Source: USA TODAY Sports Network

Why it makes the list

It’s simple, but it’s still iconic. 1962 was a bad year for Michigan with just one win in six games. A literal bed sheet was made by the hockey coach’s wife with a block M on it to show the team’s support. The team went out to win the next game and it became a tradition. Now Michigan players take the field before each home game and run to jump the “Go Blue” banner with seniors in front and freshmen in back. When you see it, you know you’re watching college football, most likely on a golden, gray Midwestern Saturday.

3 jumping around – Wisconsin

Why it makes the list

I have to admit, I haven’t set out to cover an Ohio State game in Wisconsin yet, but it’s on my wish list. And it’s not because of the football team, it’s because of this tradition. It’s visually impressive. “Jump Around” takes place at the beginning of every 4th quarter and was first played in 1998 from a favorite song playlist. It went off, tried again to see if the result was the same, and has stayed that way ever since.

2 The Hawkeye Wave – Iowa

11/20/2021; Iowa City, Iowa, USA; Fans attend the wave after the first quarter of the game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Illinois Fighting Illini at Kinnick Stadium. Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Why it makes the list

The Hawkeye Wave hasn’t been around very long, and like most traditions, it started organically. It began in 2017 when the University of Iowa’s new Stead Family Children’s Hospital was completed overlooking Kinnick Stadium.

A fan on social media suggested that the fans in attendance waved back to the top floor of the hospital as a sign of hope, and off we went. Every home game day, the “wave” occurs when the clock strikes at the end of the first quarter. We may not have this tradition #1 because it’s so new, but it’s definitely #1 because it’s the most sentimental.

1 Screenplay Ohio – State of Ohio

Ohio State is still eyeing a full stadium in the fall Oct 11, 2008; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes marching band performs “Script Ohio” before kickoff against the Purdue Boilermakers at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Why it makes the list

Could there be others? Even opposing fans who come to Ohio State home games stay in their seats to watch the “Best Damn Band in the Land” march through and spell out the word Ohio to Le Regiment. At the end, a sousaphone player steps up to the front of the formation to “dot the I”. It gives you goosebumps every time and is actually a very complex coordination that requires a lot of rehearsals. It takes place before every game the band is present at and has been in existence since October 10, 1936. Many consider it the finest tradition in all of college football. Shockingly, we agree.

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