College fight songs make the atmosphere of college sports exciting. A good victory march or chant of “fight on” creates palpable electricity in the air at college basketball arenas.
Serious question: how do we stay hyped for a college football game in a big, cavernous arena, even one packed to the brim with over 100,000 college football fans?
With all due respect to college sports mascots — especially the real animals that could kill us — the best college fight songs go a long way. Ah, but which college fight songs are the best of the bunch?
If nothing else, this is a chance to read a college football-related list that doesn’t feature Alabama.
Yes, with apologies to Crimson Tide fans, your fight song doesn’t make the cut. Apologies also to FSU, Iowa, Nebraska, Penn State, UCLA and the University of Texas, too. All worthy candidates, though.
What are the greatest college fight songs in the universe? Let’s get to the top 10 and find out.
The 10 Best College Fight Songs
10. Clemson University’s “Tiger Rag”
We’ve certainly been hearing the “Tiger Rag” a lot in recent years.
Ever since Dabo Swinney took over as the Tigers’ head coach, Clemson has been one of the best teams in college football.
After guys like Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence threw tons of touchdowns en route to winning multiple college football titles, we’ve heard “Hold that Tiger!” many times over.
9. Ohio State University’s “Buckeye Battle Cry”
Ohio State’s marching band is one of the more famous groups in the country. You can hear that band playing “Buckeye Battle Cry” a few times most Saturdays at The Horseshoe in Columbus.
When this catchy tune — perfect for a marching band with some flair — is played when the Michigan Wolverines are visiting the Ohio State Buckeyes, it’s just that much sweeter for fans.
No, we did not drop the Buckeyes’ fight song down the rankings because the whole “the Ohio State Universit” actually annoys us quite a bit.
8. Georgia Tech’s “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech”
The Yellow Jackets’ “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech” definitely has maybe the most unique name of any of these tunes.
While Georgia Tech’s college football team has seen better days, Geoff Collins is doing his best to get them turned around. Besides, down in Atlanta, or on road trips around the ACC, you can also hear “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech” ringing out in college basketball arenas as well.
By the way, this song was sung by Richard Nixon and Nikita Kruschev at a summit back in 1959.
7. University of Wisconsin’s “On Wisconsin”
There is a lot of history in many of these fight songs, and that includes this one coming to us from Madison, Wisconsin. The Badgers have been serenaded with “On Wisconsin” since all the way back in 1909.
That’s well over a century of Wisconsin Badgers football teams taking the field to this fight song. Whether it was Ron Dayne or Russell Wilson, Badgers touchdowns have been met with the rousing notes of “On Wisconsin” for many years.
6. Navy’s “Anchors Aweigh”
The first four fight songs on this list are great and staples of college football. Now we get to the songs that are stuck in the head of every college sports fan for all time. They are that catchy and that iconic.
The Navy Midshipmen were one of the giants of early college football, and from the earliest days, “Anchors Aweigh” has been a huge part of that.
Even when the Army-Navy matchup doesn’t thrill us, we still want to tune in to at least hear “Anchors Aweigh” once or twice. This is also the only college fight song we know of that shares a name with a musical comedy starring Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly.
Unless we missed the “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech” movie…
5. Notre Dame’s “Victory March”
If you aren’t a fan of the team from South Bend, Indiana, you may roll your eyes at some of the trappings of the University of Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish definitely like to tout their history — from “Touchdown Jesus” to their indelible fight song.
If you watch college sports at all, you have heard the Notre Dame Victory March. The song is simply called “Victory March!” That’s bold, but it’s also a great fight song for Notre Dame, even during the eras when they haven’t marched to many victories.
4. USC’s “Fight On”
“Fight On” is more than just a college football fight song for the University of Southern California. It’s basically the rallying cry of USC fans. It’s the motto for the Trojans.
“Fight On!” is surely in the email signature of many an alumnus of USC currently.
When we think of “Fight On,” we think of the guy dressed as a Trojan at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the USC Song Girls grooving along to the Southern Cal band. When we hear “Fight On,” we say “Play on!”
3. University of Oklahoma’s “Boomer Sooner”
Admit it. The second you see the words “Boomer Sooner” the Oklahoma fight song starts playing in your head. The Oklahoma Sooners have been at the forefront of college football for decades, and we have not minded it because that means getting to hear “Boomer Sooner” a whole bunch.
It’s one of those songs that feels like college football. There is a rollicking, old-timey quality to the University of Oklahoma’s fight song. Maybe that’s because it’s basically the same song as Yale’s “Boola Boola,” but let’s not get into plagiarism right now.
2. University of Tennessee’s “Rocky Top”
If you tune into the Tennessee Volunteers, you are going to hear “Rocky Top” a few times. It’s ubiquitous at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Interestingly, this is not some century-old song, unlike a lot of offerings on this list.
“Rocky Top” was written by the husband-and-wife team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant in 1967. They were just trying to make a country hit, and indeed in 1970, Lynn Anderson recorded a version that rose to No. 17 on the U.S. country charts.
These days, “Rocky Top” is tied to the Tennessee Volunteers, though now we are used to hearing a version played by a college band, which means not hearing the lyrics. However, Volunteers fans seem to know some of the lyrics, or at least when to “Whoo!” during the chorus.
1. University of Michigan’s “The Victors”
There was no other choice for us but “The Victors,” or as you may think of it “Hail to the Victors.”
The Michigan Wolverines have the best college football fight song. It’s one of the fight songs with lyrics that we know pretty well, and the lyrics are perfect for a fight song as well.
Who doesn’t want a little braggadocio from their school’s fight song? The University of Michigan’s “The Victors” has a great cadence to it and is perfect for the brass section of any marching band.
The Wolverines may have been struggling recently to beat their rival Buckeyes on the football field, but at least they can take solace in Ann Arbor, Michigan, knowing that their alma mater the best fight song in all of college football.
Hail to the Victors, indeed!