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The 10 Best Marching Bands in College Football

Clayton puts on his critic’s cap and ranks marching bands, with only a slight bit of bias.

Cincinnati v Virginia Tech Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

Much of my love of college football stems from the pomp and circumstance of an autumn Saturday.

Here at Down the Drive, we’re counting down the 10 best bands in college football as we find ourselves less than three months shy of the kickoff of the 2019 season.

10. Michigan: An autumn afternoon in Ann Arbor is not complete without a performance by this thumping, powerful outfit.

9. Grambling: The Bayou Classic is a must-watch in the Trutor household every November, particularly the halftime show. Grambling puts on one of the most dynamic halftime shows in the country, every single season.

8. Southern Cal: No one tops the Spirit of Troy when it comes to their sense of pageantry. There is something cinematic about the way Southern Cal puts on its halftime shows.

7. Michigan State: Sparty shares all of USC’s pageantry and sense of antiquity. Michigan State gets the nod in this poll because they do all of this in the cold.

6. Tennessee: The Pride of the Southland band does this thing called the Circle Drill, which is probably the most impressive thing that I’ve even seen a large group of people clad in orange and carrying instruments accomplish on a Saturday afternoon in Knoxville.

5. Purdue: Had the distinct pleasure of seeing these guys in person a couple of years back. I have never heard such a thunderous marching band. They’ve got this one big drum in the middle that sounds like artillery every time they hit it.

4. Morris Brown: Set aside two hours and watch Morris Brown’s band in this battle of the bands against Norfolk State. Morris Brown’s band, the pride of the great city of Atlanta, creates a nonstop, pulsating party wherever they play.

3. Notre Dame: Even if you don’t like the Fighting Irish, I don’t know how you don’t feel cold chills when you hear that triumphant anthem of theirs, played to its theatrical fullest by the university’s awesome band.

2. Southern: It cannot be disputed. Southern is the better half of the Bayou Classic. I cannot think of a more visually and sonically pleasurable experience that spending halftime with the Human Jukebox. The Southern University Marching Band is the standard by which I judge all other entertainments.

1. Cincinnati: Do not sleep on our hometown band. The Bearcats Marching Band puts on a consistently majestic show, one that holds up with any of the nation’s better known outfits. Cincinnati’s band plays its diverse repertoire with a casual brilliance that is found in few performance groups of any kind. I just adore this performance from the Bearcats’ band camp in 2018.