A True Home-Field Advantage At Autzen Stadium
In the world of college football where the traditional powerhouse programs — USC, Michigan and Alabama, to name a few — pack 90,000+ fans into monstrous stadiums each Saturday during the fall, there remains one venue with a sub-60,000 capacity that punishes any visiting team that dares to venture inside.
"It was like some sort of crazy torture in the movies," says Adrian Peterson, former Oklahoma Sooner and current Minnesota Viking. "How do people do that so long without taking a breath? I think my ears are still ringing."
Intimidating enough? No?
"Per square yard, the loudest stadium in the history of the planet," says Keith Jackson, veteran broadcaster for ABC.
Built in 1967, Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. — home of the Oregon Ducks — has gone through a series of renovations in construction and a steady increase in crowd noise. The Ducks regularly exceed per-game seating capacity (official capacity is 54,000, but attendance is close to 60,000 on most Saturdays).
While Autzen Stadium is often recognized for its unique skyline and Pacific Northwest location, just minutes from the winding flow of the Willamette River, this beacon of fandom is known nationwide — by coaches, players, fans and broadcasters — for its fans.
Many current NFL players look back and have no doubt that playing inside the confines of Autzen Stadium was quite the experience.
"The biggest thing I remember about that game is the crowd. The crowd noise is crazy up there. Honestly, any other away game I don't really even hear the crowd," says Jahvid Best, former Cal Golden Bear and current Detroit Lion. "Oregon was the only place where it really got on my nerves."
Todd Heap, Arizona State alum and current Pro-Bowl tight end for the Baltimore Ravens said, "The fans were so close down to you. It just seemed like the stadium echoed so you couldn't hear. And it just kept getting louder and louder as the game went on."
Sure, the numbers just don't stack up for Oregon. Total capacity at Autzen falls somewhere in the middle of the pack of all FBS stadium capacities. But it's pretty clear that that doesn't matter to all of those passionate Ducks fans in attendance each week.
"We don't have that many fans — we only have like 60,000, compared to some schools, but it's just as loud as the SEC with teams that have 100,000 fans," says Ed Dickson, a former Duck and current Baltimore Raven.
A common theme for visiting teams is to use loudspeakers at practice the week leading up to the game believing that it will truly simulate crowd noise and prepare them for the onslaught of loud, unforgiving Duck fans. But it's no use.
"When I first got to Washington and they rolled out the loudspeaker, I didn't understand what that was all about until I walked into [Autzen Stadium] and, even then, I thought that speaker didn't do anything for us," says Dashon Goldson, a former Husky and current San Francisco 49er.
"My ears were buzzing. You could feel the vibration in the stadium, that stadium is just rocking. It's unbelievable."
Autzen Stadium's patrons will have a chance to further this reputation as the fourth-ranked Ducks host the ninth-ranked Stanford Cardinal on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. PT on ABC.
Check out our Game of the Week feature for more information on the game.