10 of the Best College Marching Bands

The football players hit the locker rooms during halftime while the band takes the field – it’s their time to shine. For many American football fans, marching band halftime shows are a highlight of Game Day. 

It’s the flashy uniforms, the articulate steps, and the amazing choreography that get everyone going. In stadiums across the country, bands perform crisp drills and blast incredible music. Marching bands are the pride and pinnacle of school spirit, usually seen at college football games.

We wanted to highlight some of the best marching bands in America. To select our favorites, we considered animated formations, choreography, famous performances, and crowd enthusiasm. Whether you are a casual viewer or a hardcore marching band fan, here are 10 spectacular college marching bands.

The 10 Best College Marching Bands

Texas A&M Aggie Band

Marching bands are no exception to the rule that everything is bigger in Texas. Texas Aggie Band is the largest military marching band in the world with over 400 members. This marching band practices up to 40 hours per week and is known for its big sound and precise, traditional drill. Every game day, they show their dedication to their full-time job.

University of Southern California Trojan Marching Band

In addition to Forrest Gump, the Little Rascals, and Hello Dolly, the Spirit of Troy has appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows. This band is impressive even off-screen. A total of 34 performances at the Rose Bowl make this band the most successful college band in history!

Ohio State University Marching Band

There is no doubt that even those without extensive marching band knowledge are familiar with the famous “Dotting of the I”. Exactly what the Ohio State marching band’s pregame show is known for. Since the 1930s, someone has stood as the dot of the I in the Ohio script. It is one of the largest all-brass and percussion ensembles in the world. 

Drill is one of the band’s most famous features. They’re the real deal if you’ve seen viral videos of them doing the Michael Jackson moonwalk or Link’s trusty steed Epona (from the Legend of Zelda games) gallop towards the end zone.

University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland Band

Founded over 110 years ago as a cornet-only ensemble, this band has evolved into a full-fledged marching band. Since 1965, they have performed at presidential inaugurations every year (except 2013). This band is well-known for its circle drill and kaleidoscope-like formations. Every audience who sees them is wowed by these elements.

University of Texas Longhorn Band

Another massive band is coming down to Texas! It is a tradition that the Longhorn band is steeped in. In addition to playing classic tunes, they march in a traditional style. Among the favorites are “Rawhide”, “Ghost Riders in the Sky”, “William Tell Overture”, and “Deep in the Heart of Texas”. For a good reason, the band is also known as the “Showband of the Southwest.”

Purdue University “All-American” Marching Band

A year before Purdue’s football team was formed, the marching band was formed! It has been going strong since then for the Purdue All-American marching band. Among its impressive alumni are tubist Orville Redenbacher and baritone Neil Armstrong, who played the tuba and baritone, respectively.

Ohio University Marching 110

The “110” in its nickname refers to the original 110 members of the band, which now consists of 245 members. In today’s world, the 110 represents the “110% effort” that goes into memorizing music, drilling, and performing. Over 40 NFL halftime shows, two Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parades, and a number of international performances have been performed by the Marching 110.

Penn State Blue Band

In 1899, the Blue Band had only six members in its drum and bugle corps when it was founded. With 320 members, the Blue Band includes instrumentalists, silks, majorettes, a featured twirler, and of course, a drum major. 

Their performances have been featured in fashion shows and magazines, as well as in many bowl games and international competitions. It’s like being famous!

University of Michigan Marching Band

There are some accomplishments that the University of Michigan Marching Band should be proud of. They were the first Big Ten marching band to perform at the 1948 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the first Big Ten band to perform at the 1973 NFL Super Bowl, and the first marching band to play both the Rose Bowl and Yankee Stadium in 1950.  

In 1982, they were the first marching band to win the Sudler Trophy – the Heisman of marching band competitions. The achievements they have achieved are well deserved, and everyone can see why.

Honorary Mention: University of Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band

With bright yellow uniforms, it’s hard to miss this fun-loving group. Music from both the past and the present is showcased by HMB. As CNN says, the band is among the top ten best college marching bands in the country. 

“We gain a significant advantage playing at home with friends, fans, and the band cheering us on!” said Kirk Ferentz, head coach of the Hawkeye Football team. “We gain a significant advantage playing at home in familiar surroundings with friends, fans, and the band cheering us on!”

What Makes a Great Marching Band?

In a great marching band performance, choreography, instruments, and crowd enthusiasm come together. College sports are not complete without marching bands, whether it’s a pregame or halftime show. Together with the cheerleaders, mascot, and fans, the ensemble creates a game day culture. 

The performances are filled with school spirit, a fast cadence, detailed script writing, and more. If you join in on the fun, your college experience will be enhanced. It doesn’t matter if you’re at a home or away football game, you can enjoy a great show.

Would you like to march with one of these bands or cheer them on? Use our college match tool to find the right college for you! Any college in the country will show you your admission odds and potential financial aid packages!

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