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College football is the greatest sport in the world, and part of what earns it that designation is the fans. Playing in front of huge crowds contributes to the game’s incredible atmosphere—out of which come some of the most hilarious moments: fan memes.
These fans are simply reacting to what happened on the field, and luckily, TV cameras catch the most viral moments at just the right time.
Let’s run through some of the best, funniest fan memes from the last 10 years.
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Our two favorite Michigan fans’ pair of surrender cobras—a universal signal of sports-related distress when onlookers place both arms over their head in desperation—happened in 2015.
The end of this rivalry game was wild, as Michigan State recovered a fumbled Wolverines punt snap on a play that was supposed to give UM the victory. Instead, Sparty returned it for a touchdown, shocking the home crowd and giving MSU a 27-23 win.
This reaction is on-point.
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Screencap via ESPN
This poor man’s face just exudes pain. In 2016, Florida State was facing Ole Miss in Orlando, Florida, on Labor Day. It was a rough start for FSU, as the Seminoles were down 22 points near the end of the second quarter. This FSU fan’s face accurately summed up how the night seemed like it would go.
The good news for this guy, and FSU, is that the ‘Noles rallied, opening the third quarter with 23 unanswered points to take a 36-28 lead heading into the fourth quarter. FSU added three field goals to win 45-34. But this fan’s face will live in college football infamy.
Although Florida State was able to make it to the Orange Bowl in 2016, things went downhill from here. The ‘Noles went 21-26 from 2017 to 2020, highlighted by three coaching changes from Jimbo Fisher, to Willie Taggart, to current head coach Mike Norvell.
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LSU-Alabama is one of the biggest rivalries every year, and one particular Tigers fan went viral during the 2013 matchup. LSU’s Travin Dural had just scored on a six-yard pass from Zach Mettenberger (you forgot about the Mettenberger era, didn’t you?) to bring the Tigers within four points. CBS’ cameras panned to an LSU student, Caleb Bates, who started acting like a dinosaur.
Unsurprisingly, the internet went wild for Bates and his prehistoric reaction. And although LSU lost to the Crimson Tide 38-17, the legend of Bates’ T-Rex lives on.
Amazingly, the dinosaur move was unplanned.
“When I used to be in the ‘Painted Posse,’ usually everybody just claps and screams to the camera,” Bates told B/R in a 2013 interview. “But nobody really notices that. I usually do something goofy, like a dead stare or dance when the camera comes by. This time, I was like, ‘I’m just going to pull a T-Rex.’ It was a last-second kind of thing.”
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Screencap via CBS
Let’s stick with the LSU-Bama rivalry, shall we? Fast-forward five years to the 2018 game. This one was lopsided early on, as LSU’s offense couldn’t get anything going. With 5:14 left in the third quarter, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa scored on a 44-yard run to help the Tide take a 22-0 lead.
The CBS cameras panned to a fan, Kaileigh Thomas, who simply could not deal.
“I was not in the mood,” Thomas told Saturday Down South‘s Connor O’Gara. “The camera comes out of nowhere and just does not move. Any other time, I would’ve been all about it. But I was just not having it. I was like, ‘I do not want this camera to be in my face. I am so mad at this game.'”
Unfortunately for Thomas, LSU lost 29-0 at home. According to O’Gara, she was a freshman during this game and grew up rooting for the Tigers.
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Via SB Nation
This one goes back to 2012, with No. 3 Florida State traveling to NC State to take on the Wolfpack. The ‘Noles were undefeated and ranked No. 3. Although Florida State went to the locker room up 16-0, NC State scored 17 unanswered second-half points to pull off the upset.
The result had big ramifications, as the loss to an unranked team knocked FSU out of the BCS national title conversation. FSU finished 12-2 and defeated Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl, but the loss to NC State was costly.
Our shirtless man, Jake Robinson, had one of the best fan reactions out there. Not only was he waving his shirt around, but he was shaking a nearby post to complete the celebration.
“As long as GIFs are around, I’ll have my fame to some degree,” Robinson told ESPN’s David Hale in 2019. “It’s fun to see people’s reactions—’Oh, you’re that guy!'”
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According to Texas Tech, the team’s fans started using the “Guns Up” hand signal in 1961. Sad Guns Up Man emerged during a 2011 game between Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
We have all been this dude at some point while rooting on our team.
At the time of the photo, the Cowboys were up 63-6 over the Red Raiders with 3:53 remaining in the third quarter. This game was a blowout from the start—OK State scored 49 points in the first half alone. This sad fan moment came after quarterback Brandon Weeden tossed OK State’s ninth TD of the night. So you can understand this man’s pain.
Heading into this game, Tech was 5-4 and still had a shot at a bowl berth. But it finished 5-7 to miss the postseason.
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Screencap via SEC Network
There have been so many great Volunteer fan memes throughout the years that we could make an entire post about them. The good news is Banner Society’s Spencer Hall did a brilliant breakdown of Tennessee fan reactions to fill that gap.
But let’s focus on the polo-over-the-head fan. This comes from Week 1 of the 2016 season, when the Vols were No. 9 following a 9-4 campaign. It sounds like the SEC-based Vols should have handled unranked Appalachian State with ease in their home opener, right? Right?
Nope! This one was close throughout, and a 13-13 tie put this one into overtime. The above fan got some camera exposure at that point, channeling his fellow fans’ tension.
The Vols pulled out a 20-13 victory, stopping App State on downs in OT, but it gave Vol fans some real stress in Week 1.
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Everything about this image is perfect. The score, the shirtless fan engrossed in his book instead of the horrible game going on, and his seemingly carefree demeanor.
This one comes from Florida State’s 2018 season, when Trevor Lawrence and the No. 2 Clemson Tigers arrived to town undefeated. The Seminoles, meanwhile, were 4-3, and the Tigers handed them their worst home loss in program history, 59-10. When this image was captured, Clemson had just scored its eighth touchdown of the day.
The Athletic’s Tashan Reed got in touch with the fan, Florida State professor Bruce Thyer:
“Thyer went to the game with his 18-year-old daughter, who’s a sophomore at Florida State, and four of her girlfriends. They originally were seated on the shadier, cooler west side of the stadium, but the women left at halftime after the Seminoles fell behind 28-0. Thyer decided to move to the other side.
‘I was cold sitting over there,’ Thyer said. “I took my shirt off to get some sun. There aren’t going to be many days like this anymore this fall. I came over here to sit in the sun. We were so far behind I started reading my little book.'”
The book he was reading? Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn. Hey, at the very least, Thyer got some sun and enjoyed his book.
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The sidelines at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium are guarded by thick hedges that sit in between the first row of the stands and the field.
When the Tigers have had a big home win that’s prompted fans to rush the field, these hedges can cause some havoc as celebrants get stuck while wading through.
Notably, this happened after the 2019 Iron Bowl, as seen in the video above, when the Tigers knocked off the No. 5 Crimson Tide 48-45. Alabama missed what would have been a game-tying 30-yard field goal with two minutes left, and the Tigers ran out the clock for the victory.
The hedges went to work after the 2017 Iron Bowl, too, as the Tigers knocked off the No. 1 Crimson Tide 26-14.
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We won’t show you the NSFW version of this one, but this gem of a fan moment came during the Indiana-Ohio State game in 2017. Shortly after the Buckeyes took a 27-21 third-quarter lead, ESPN’s cameras panned to some IU fans.
At first, we saw a Hoosier fan doing the surrender cobra. Seems innocent enough. But as the camera stayed on her, a video-bombing middle finger came into the frame from another person seconds before ESPN panned away.
The Buckeyes scored three more touchdowns after this moment to win 49-21. This game might’ve been mostly forgotten by Indiana fans, for obvious reasons, but this GIF won’t fall out of the sport’s consciousness anytime soon.