Bands come in all different sizes, uniforms and styles, and they all have their own signatures that give the school and football fans a sense of pride. It is hard to imagine college football games without marching bands and halftime shows, so here are the best from last season. Vote for your favorite at the bottom.

Nickname Founded Size
The Best Damn Band in the Land 1878 225

Fun facts:

• TBDBITL, as it is often called, is one of the only all-brass and percussion college bands in the country.
• The band’s “Script Ohio” routine is one of the most recognized in college marching band. Its “dot the i” tradition, in which a veteran sousaphone player stands as the dot of the i in Ohio and bows to the crowd, actually started as an error in 1937.

Halftime show: Nov. 6, home vs. Nebraska
Ohio State may not have had the first band to pay tribute to the history of video games (see California in 2007), but this one has been the biggest hit to do so. TBDBITL features videos game music including Space Invaders, Tetris, Pokemon, Super Mario Bros., Zelda, Halo and a surprise at the end just when you think the game is finished. With well-executed and entertaining drill formations (like a running horse) to go along with the music and sound effects from the games themselves, this show was a great combination of originality and nostalgia. They even managed to take a shot at rival Michigan taking down their flag and replacing it with their own, Mario-style. This show is about as good as gets.

Nickname Founded Size
No official nickname 1898 350+

Fun facts:

• While its rival above made the routine famous, the Michigan band was the first to make a formation of “Ohio” in script on the field in 1932.
• The band may be best-known for its tradition of filing on to the field out of one tunnel in two lines, marching at a clip of more than 220 beats per minute, and forming a gigantic block M on the field.

Halftime show: Nov. 10, home vs. Northwestern
Ohio State taking a little shot at the Maize and Blue? That was nothing compared to this show. The Michigan band includes rivals Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame in its fun in this Willy Wonka-themed show. This clever use of the classic movie and the show’s inclusion of video make this the most memorable of many deserving options this band provides. In a conference packed with top-tier bands, Michigan is consistently one of the best. They sound good, they look good, and having “The Victors” as a fight song doesn’t hurt, either.

Nickname Founded Size
The Pride of the Mountains 1938 400+

Fun facts:

• The band is relatively new to the band scene: it has more than quadrupled in size since it totaled 88 members in 1991. It has received much recognition in recent years, including being a special guest at the Bands of America national championships and winning the Sudler Trophy in 2009.
• The Pride performed at the 2011 Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, Calif., and has been selected to perform at the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City.

Halftime show: Oct. 27, home vs. Appalachian State
The size of this band has grown exponentially in recent years, and this halftime performance shows why.  The Pride of the Mountains is not afraid to step outside the box and away from tradition, making for a unique band experience. Every band has its own way of getting on the field, but few march on to a hip-hop/electronic beat like the Pride in this show. Many bands got their modern fix last year by performing “Gangnam Style,” but this band took it to the next level. In a very well-performed show, it not only played the mega-hit from Psy, but mixed in Katy Perry, Skrillex, Van Morrison, Adele and much more in with classical pieces like Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The arrangement alone shows off the musical talent at the school, and along with the band’s choreography and the lights-up drums, the Pride of the Mountains can provide entertainment for people of any background or age.

Nickname Founded Size
Sonic Boom of the South 1940 180

Fun facts:

• The Sonic Boom was named best marching band at this year’s Historically Black College Colleges and Universities Media Summit. It has performed at halftime for several NFL teams and has been featured on HLN and in ESPN The Magazine.
• Included in the band’s performances are the famed Jackson Five drum majors, the War and Thunder drumline, and the Prancing J–Settes, the dance team.

Sept. 22, home vs. Southern
The famous Sonic Boom of the South gets the home crowd shaking and dancing here with their high-energy show. This type of halftime show is a staple in the SWAC, but it doesn’t stop with just halftime: these bands have made the fifth quarter, a back-and-forth battle of the bands after the game, a southern band tradition. The rivalries between the bands are just as big as they are between the football teams. As the Jackson State band goes through their high-stepping routine playing up-tempo, fun top-40 hits, it is easy to see the passion these schools have for their bands. Meanwhile, in the same halftime show...

Nickname Founded Size
The Human Jukebox 1947 215

Fun facts:

• The Human Jukebox has performed at five Super Bowls and at halftime for the New Orleans Saints several times, including the first regular season game in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina in 2006 and the 2010 NFC Championship game.
• The band was featured on ABC’s Nightline in 2004, two Spike Lee productions and at Radio City Music Hall for six weeks.

Sept. 22, at Jackson State
When it comes to these top SWAC bands, why pick just one? Both are famous for their unique southern band style, and when Southern and Jackson State get together, it is a can’t-miss band event. Much like the Jackson State show, the Human Jukebox goes through their fast–paced hits in style. Although these bands are not as big as the others on this list, they are capable of putting out a lot of sound, all while doing some complicated choreography and dance moves.

Nickname Founded Size
Fightin' Texas Aggie Band 1894 300+

Fun facts:

• The Aggie Band is the largest military band in the country and has performed at multiple presidential inauguration parades.
• All band members must be a part of Texas A&M’s student military organization, the Corps of Cadets. While there is no direct military requirement to join, around 50 percent of corps members do receive a commission in the armed forces after graduation.

Jan. 4, Cotton Bowl vs. Oklahoma
The Aggie Band entertains in a different way than the SWAC bands do. While they may not dance or swing, it is this band’s precision and discipline that makes it one of the best bands in the country. No one keeps lines straighter or keeps the drill formations tighter than the Aggie Band. Their use of classic maneuvers and pass-throughs make for visual spectacles that continue to amaze crowds. Between the band’s military uniforms and marching style and the classic march music, watching the Texas A&M band seems like a trip through a time machine.



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