Top 10 College Football Mascots

Hundreds of college football mascots will take to the sidelines this fall, and there is more to them than you might think! Read on to discover the top ten college football mascots & why they're so popular.

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Over decades in the sport, they’ve provided comedy, drama, and tragedy. We’re not talking about college football players, we’re talking about their mascots! From students in furry costumes to real living animals, college football mascots are some of the most recognizable in the world.  

Mascots are ingrained in the culture, traditions, and history of the schools they represent. Set with the task of engaging fans and providing sideline entertainment, mascots have become central to US college football culture. 

With hundreds of mascots taking the field this fall, we couldn’t help but make our own honor roll. Here are the top ten college football mascots to look out for this year: 

10. Big Red

Back in 1979, Western Kentucky University student Ralph Carey volunteered to create an iconic mascot for the school. While his initial sketches featured a bear, Carey ultimately decided against modeling the mascot on any living entity. Instead, he presented a furry blob to the committee.

By some miracle, they agreed on the design and Big Red was born. Big Red’s talents vary based on the student in the costume, but generally, the creature performs a few dance moves and then entertains from the sidelines through silent comedy. 

9. Keggy the Keg

When you think of Dartmouth, you probably think of the Ivy League school which has produced 13 Pulitzer Prize winners, 170 members of the US Congress and a Vice President.

You probably don’t think of Keggy the Keg, Dartmouth’s unofficial mascot. While the school’s management is justifiably reluctant to accept Keggy as an ambassador, the Dartmouth students have embraced the mascot with open arms. It’s good enough for us. 

8. Brutus the Buckeye

As far as mascots go, Brutus, an anthropomorphic buckeye nut, is one of the most unique. Brutus made his first appearance in 1965 when students of the Ohio State University convinced the athletic council that they needed a mascot.

While live mascots were in fashion, the council decided to honor the official state tree of Ohio when choosing the buckeye. Both male and female students have performed in the mascot costume and Brutus has become popular on the sidelines for his athletic displays which often include gymnastics. Pretty impressive considering the size of Brutus’ head!

7. The Duck

When counting down the top ten mascots, Donald Duck has to make an appearance. And yes, it’s actually Donald! In the 1940’s Walt Disney himself gave his blessing for the University of Oregon mascot to resemble his beloved character and the relationship was formalized by Disney lawyers in the 70’s.

The agreement was broken off in 2010 to allow The Duck to appear at more college events but there have been no major changes to the mascot’s design. Nowadays The Duck dances and does push-ups to entertain Oregon fans. 

6. Ralphie the Buffalo

Sitting in sixth spot is Ralphie, a live buffalo who represents the University of Colorado. Though often thought of as male, Ralphie VI, and the five buffalo who acted as mascots before her are female. Ralphie I was donated to the university in 1966, though buffalo had occasionally been in attendance for some thirty years prior.

She quickly became one of the most recognizable mascots in college sports because of her famous runs across the park which lead out the Colorado football players. It takes five handlers to control Ralphie’s runs which only happen if she is in fine spirits before the game.

5. Uga the Bulldog

The live bulldog Uga is a member of the University of Georgia football team. Ten white bulldogs have been called Uga, so named because of the common abbreviation of the university, UGA.

The first Uga was brought to a Georgia game in 1956 by his owner Frank W. Seiler, where he was spotted and asked to become the official mascot of the school. All mascots since have been pets of the Seiler family and descendants of the original pup.

Uga X travels with the Georgia team to their away games, wears a football jersey, and receives a varsity letter at the end of every season. He’s also a very good boy. 

4. The Tree

Why is the Stanford University unofficial mascot a tree? Well, firstly the University doesn’t have an official mascot, so students had to take things into their own hands. The Tree is part of the Stanford student marching band and represents El Palo Alto, the redwood which appears on the Stanford seal.

The mascot made its first appearance in 1975 and received so much attention that it soon became a permanent fixture at sporting events on campus. It doesn’t do much but stand around and shake its leaves, but the shoddy costume makes it oh-so-entertaining. 

3. Bevo the Bull

Bevo, a live Texas Longhorn, secured his place in the top five when he unceremoniously tried to flatten a rival mascot. When Bevo and Uga the bulldog were set to take some pictures together ahead of the University of Georgia vs University of Texas Sugar Bowl match in 2019, Bevo had other ideas.

The second the bull caught a glimpse of Uga, he broke free of his handlers and charged through reporters and photographers towards the bulldog. Thankfully Uga was pulled to safety and no one was seriously hurt. To date, 15 bulls have played Bevo since he was chosen as the UofT mascot in 1916. 

2. Cosmo the Cougar

Did Cosmo the Cougar really earn a place in our top three just by laying down some sick dance moves? Yes. Yes, he did. The Brigham Young University mascot frequently wows the crowd with his gymnastic ability and daredevil stunts. Fresh of winning the 2020 Mascot National Championship (yes, it’s a thing!), Cosmo has amassed some 1.5m followers on TikTok. 

1. Mike The Tiger

It’s hard to give the top spot to anyone who’s not a live Bengal tiger named Mike. Named after the LSU athletic trainer Chellis “Mikefbrds his purchase.

To date, seven tigers have taken on the mantle of Mike. As of 2017, Mike VII no longer visits the stadium on game days and instead spends his time in his 15,000 square foot enclosure complete with a waterfall. If you’re so inclined, you can check out LSU’s live steam to try and catch a glimpse of the tiger.

What about the players? Read up on 10 college footballers you should watch this season, or learn more about online football betting in our guide to sports betting.

Joseph Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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