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College Football’s Top 10 Best FBS Live Mascots

Real-life animal mascots - not those in costumes - are a huge parts of college sports. They act as conduits between fans and teams and stand as physical representations of a schools’ collective spirit. Which are college football’s top 10 FBS live mascots? We examine.

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Note: Based on tradition, history, bond with fans and all-around awesomeness

Note #2: Unofficial mascots such as War Eagle are included on this list as we are using “mascot” in the literal definition of the term: “A person or thing that is supposed to bring good luck or that is used to symbolize a particular event or organization”

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10. Judge Joy & Sue Lady (Baylor)

The two bears’ home, officially named the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat, is in the middle of campus. Forget about those pretty coeds walking about campus - this is a real excuse to go to class. How did this come about? The 107th Engineer Battalion from Fort McArthur donated a bear to Baylor in 1917. And you never get rid of the tradition of an awesome bear, especially one that administration agrees to put in the area where most students could potentially come in contact with it. Bonus points for having not just one live bear, but two.

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9. Renegade (Florida State)

It doesn’t get much better than when Chief Osceola rides in on Renegade the horse and hurls a flaming spear into the ground at midfield at Doak Campbell Stadium prior to each Florida State home game. The idea was first thought of by Bill Durham, an FSU sophomore in 1962. It was first used by Bobby Bowden’s Seminoles against Oklahoma State in 1978. While most best live mascot lists include USC’s Traveler and not Renegade, we beg to differ.

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8. Boomer & Sooner (Oklahoma)

Mascots are for the kids; we know that. And boy do kids love ponies. Oklahoma has two of them, Boomer and Sooner, who pull the “Sooner Schooner” onto the field. The schooner is an old-time covered wagon, which screams Oklahoma just as much as OU football ever has. The two white ponies pull the wagon onto the field before football games to the delight of the partisan home crowd. It’s such a welcomed tradition that some fans were angered when OU introduced two costumed mascot ponies, also named Boomer and Sooner, in 2005. Since when are live ponies not enough?

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7. Tusk (Arkansas)

If you are looking for intimidation in your mascot, Tusk certainly brings that to the table. You’ve heard of gross-out comedies? Well, Tusk just grosses everyone out in real life. The Russian boar lives on a rural Arkansas farm and travels to every home game. Weighing in at about 500 pounds, Tusk is big, sloppy and screams Razorback football. After Tusk II died in January 2010, his brother, Tusk III, took over as the school’s official mascot. The boars are one of only a few live lineage mascots in the country. And you thought one fat pig was enough ...

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6. Mike (LSU)

Who wouldn’t want to have a pet tiger? Since it’s not feasible to keep one as a house pet, LSU fans, alumni and students have rallied around their collective pet, Mike VI, the most recent version of whom was donated from an Indiana sanctuary in 2007. Mike weights over 450 pounds and gets about 100,000 visitors a year, according to the school’s website. But his most important duty is being present amidst the rowdy throngs at LSU home football games in Death Valley. Hmm, a tiger and a bunch of drunks; we hope no one wakes up with Mike in his or her bathroom and an angry Mike Tyson.

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5. Smokey (Tennessee)

The famous orange-and-white checkerboard in the end zone is synonymous with Tennessee football. But when the same checkerboard doubles as Smokey’s vest, it takes a backseat to the omnipresent Bluetick hound. In fact, the pup has been the Volunteers’ mascot since 1953, when a student poll dubbed him the winner. The current dog is Smokey IX and has been around since 2004.  The previous dog, Smokey VIII, was the winningest version - compiling a 91-22 record, two SEC titles and the 1998 national championship. But more than winning football, nothing says down-home Tennessee like making fun of Lane Kif ... er, a country hound dog.

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4. Bevo (Texas)

This is how long Bevo has been a part of Texas football: He made his debut against the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. That’s Texas A&M for those of you who weren’t around on Thanksgiving 1916. A burnt orange steer, Bevo doesn’t really do much at games. Most accounts admit that he was bred to be a passive animal. Of course, no one wants a wild longhorn steer running around a public venue. Nonetheless, he is one of the most-recognizable mascots in sports and might be the most beloved. He attends all home football games and make appearances at pep rallies. If that sounds like a tough schedule for Bevo, it’s not. He just sits near the end zone at home games and grazes. And one Bevo or another has been doing that for almost a century.

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3. Ralphie (Colorado)

Ralphie’s dead sprint onto the field is truly one of the most amazing sites in sports. A bunch of dudes in cowboy hats attempt to guide the buffalo onto the field. But in reality, the excitement of its entrance - at the start of the game and second half - is because of the lingering danger in the air. Things can go wrong quickly when a charging buff is let loose. Live buffaloes made appearances at Colorado games many times since 1934, when CU officially was branded the Buffs. But Ralphie originally was donated in 1966. Admit it: It’s worth the money to see opposing players stop in their tracks as he barrels toward their sideline.

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2. War Eagle (Auburn)

War Eagle has many meanings within Auburn football. It’s the school’s fight song, rallying cry and even inspired a website. But most famously - at least, in Auburn lore - it’s the name of an airborne mascot, which does its own version of a pregame flyover. As legend has it, the original War Eagle was present at Auburn’s first football game - against Georgia in 1892. The eagle broke away from its master and flew around the stadium exciting fans, much as it has done over a century later. It’s likely that this is just an old fable, but the bird remains a big part of the school’s tradition.

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1. Uga (Georgia)

As much as we love these other live mascots, this really was a landslide. The cleverly named Uga dates back to 1956 and is so beloved in the state of Georgia that each mascot’s passing is honored with everything but a 21-gun salute before it is laid to rest at Sanford Stadium. Uga is shown constantly at football games in his funny little sweater, is legendary for trying to bite an Auburn player in the crotch in 1996 and is a huge celebrity in Athens. Oh, and he’s also a big hit with the ladies.

 
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