Both music and sports are unquestionably a huge part of American culture. So Athlon Sports has decided to combine two of our favorite things — rock and roll with college football.
What if our favorite football programs were rock and roll bands? Below you will find a musical match for every team in Athlon Sports' Preseason Top 25. This same exercise was applied to every Power 5 team as well, so if your favorite band or school isn't in the top 25, just keep digging.
1. Ohio State: The Black Keys
The pride of Akron, Ohio, the Black Keys are the biggest and best rock band going today. They are No. 1 in the nation, the reigning arena tour of the current landscape. They are loaded with elite talent and led by a guy who doesn’t care what you think. He’s going to do whatever he wants, do it well and then laugh at the smoldering rubble he leaves in his wake. One of their biggest rivals is Jack White (Penn State).
2. Alabama: Metallica
One of the most powerful bands of its time, which has been extremely successful and popular for a long period of time. They are big, loud, extremely talented but also obnoxious and whiny at times. Hall of Famers but really, really like to get their way.
3. Baylor: Justin Timberlake
The early work leaves a lot to be ashamed of — be it on television as a youngster or in a boy band. But over time, his extraordinary talent single-handedly began to dominate an entire industry with big highlights and cool style. Now, he’s one of the hottest things in the world and generally beloved by almost everyone (except maybe some of those former boy band members).
4. Auburn: Johnny Cash
When it’s good, it is revolutionary, earth-shattering, industry-changing brilliance — even if a little dark at times. When it’s bad, it’s arrested, divorced, thrown in jail or rehab and generally upset at the more powerful and successful industry power (Alabama/Columbia Records).
5. TCU: Taylor Swift
She dominated her genre to near unprecedented levels and decided to make a big switch to a new place. In short order, she has managed to shift her style by adding lots of production value/new facilities and still produces in a big way. A little crazy but does her own writing and that gives her respect among experts and fans.
6. USC: Led Zeppelin
Possibly under appreciated on the East Coast (especially during their height) but beloved on the West Coast. Generally, this team is led by a heartthrob superstar who dominated his industry while on the team but never reached the same levels of success in the next phase of his career (and the most gifted architect of the team was always someone else — Troy Polamalu, Mike Patterson, Reggie Bush). Slightly self-destructive, extremely elite and powerful and somewhat misunderstood during its time.
7. Michigan State: Bruce Springsteen
Is there a more blue-collar program in the country that has been more successful riding the work ethic train more than the Spartans? This has been a quality product in many different decades and appeals to the hard-working, middle class. And both have produced some serious Hall of Fame tracks.
8. Oregon: David Bowie
Flashy, experimental and big on wardrobe changes makes David Bowie a perfect fit in Eugene. Extremely well respected but a little weird and far-out most of the time and never won the national title of the music industry despite being somewhat ahead of his time. He’s been around a long time and loves to try new things and act a little crazy, earning critical acclaim in the process.
9. Florida State: Justin Bieber
No one has a more rabid and vocal following — especially on Twitter — than the Beebs and the Noles. The fans are crazy passionate and will do anything to support their guys. Both are astronomically successful but so easy to hate from the outside.
10. Georgia: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Even the name Heartbreakers fits (SEE: SEC Championship Games). This is a really solid, consistently good quality product over a long period of time that got a ton of talent from Florida.
11. Ole Miss: KISS
How they look and dress is extremely impressive and important. The loud and awesome party pretty much overshadows everything else — like the play on the field. Very important in history for a variety of reasons but never really one of the best musical talents of their time.
12. Notre Dame: Elton John
They are sophisticated, classy and educated — and will tell you about it as much as possible. The presentation is glitzy and glamorous and mostly elite in the 70s and 80s — with a slight one-hit resurgence in the modern era.
13. Arizona State: Daft Punk
No one can really name anyone who plays on the team but no one misses the party. The kings of the club scene, they dominate the charts once every eight years with electric and innovative play-calling and a high level of talent. There is no better place to hang out than when they are on the big stage.
14. Clemson: Kings of Leon
Both have been downright unstoppable at times but consistently get in their own way. You think they are really good but you’re never really sure. Both are led by outspoken and occasionally intense and controversial leaders.
15. LSU: Black Sabbath
A very successful program with an extremely rabid fanbase that goes over the top to celebrate their favorite people, including a leader who is a little strange. Which football program is most likely to bite the head off a bat, do a line of ants and be involved in the dark arts?
16. Arkansas: Allman Brothers Band
True southern, classic, kickass rock and roll with some historically elite songs. However, they were at their best a long time ago and both had a meteoric rise to power halted by a tragic motorcycle accident.
17. Oklahoma: The Rolling Stones
On the surface, The Stones are bitter rivals with The Beatles (Texas) — despite plenty of overlap between Keith Richards and John Lennon. The Stones are the gruff, more abrasive side of the rivalry that has been successful for a much longer period of time. The highs maybe weren’t as high as The Beatles' but there were a lot more of them. Texas is pop and Oklahoma is the blues.
18. Georgia Tech: Pink Floyd
Slow, methodical and precise. The structures are complex, layered and intentionally hard to follow. Yet, somehow it’s just beautiful to behold and consistently solid over a long period of time in a variety of locations.
19. Wisconsin: Foo Fighters
Extremely consistent since their early 1990s emergence. They are catchy, tough to beat, classic rock and roll that hasn't ever been bad for more than two decades. But this group has never really been capable of winning a national title despite plenty of conference championships.
20. Texas A&M: Lynyrd Skynyrd
Southern rock in its truest form with the most rabid followers who don’t take no for an answer. However, they are extremely self-destructive and never considered the best at what they do. Both were at their best when playing something related to Alabama despite being from a different conference originally.
21. Mississippi State: Blue Oyster Cult
A one-hit wonder that is loaded with cowbell. To be fair, that one-hit wonder (Dak Prescott) is as beloved, popular and influential as any song of its time. And it spawned this.
22. Tennessee: Pearl Jam
They were at their best in the 1990s when they were grungy and a little rough around the edges. The entire program will always be slightly overshadowed by one elite superstar. However, the band has been largely boring and absent since the turn of the century despite the large fanbase and respected history.
23. UCLA: Coldplay
One of the best light shows in the business belongs in the City of Lights. This is a big band with big budgets, tons of record sales and a high-profile name. However, the substance has been severely lacking for most of its existence and has never really been better than 8-4. And like UCLA basketball, Chris Martin’s spouse is more well-known.
24. Stanford: Neil Young
One of the most creative, intelligent and forward-thinking individuals in the history of music. He’s had a long and incredibly decorated career with major (yet possibly) underrated successes over a 50-year period of time. The Silicon Valley of music (he holds numerous U.S. patents) has impacted nearly every angle of the industry.
25. Boise State: Arcade Fire
This is a North of the border group that has risen quickly from obscurity to national prominence in just a decade. No one can really tell what genre they belong to, be it the WAC, Big East, Mountain West or even the Big 12. And the city of Boise is pretty much located in Canada.