Roughing the Passer

College Football Team Nicknames

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College Football Team Nicknames – Where do they come from?

Click each team below to find out why these college football teams have the nicknames they do.

Author’s note: If you want to know what the point of this is, keep reading. If you just want to know why your team is called what it is… scroll down. Click the team.

I’ve been a Wisconsin Badgers fan my entire life.  Went to school there.  Been to more games at Camp Randall than I can count.  Red and White crap with “W” on it all over the house.  Love me some Badgers.

But, as we were working on an article on college football mascots, I learned something that actually blew my mind a bit.  My Badgers’ nickname is not a reference to the animal.  

The actual story… no spoilers, just scroll down and click Wisconsin… is actually far cooler than a badger.  Hell, I’ve never even seen an actual badger outside of a zoo.

It made me think of a number of other teams I suddenly realized were mysteries.  Why is ‘Bama the Crimson Tide?  The mascot is an elephant, so… yeah.  Why is ‘Bama the Crimson Tide?  

I realized I had no idea what Hoosier, a Sooner, or a Chanticleer is.  Why is Army the Black Knights?  Is a bearcat an actual thing?  How about a Jayhawk?  Why are the Cajuns Ragin?  Why is Notre Dame the Irish?

Below, we’ve tried to answer as many of those questions as we could.  Scroll down, click a team.  Some of the stories are boring… fair warning, no team called the Tigers chose for any reason other than Tigers are cool.  But some are pretty wild.  

If you know more info, leave it in the comments and we’ll add it.

250 Some teams here, so we split this beast in two… if your team is after M, click here for the second half of the alphabet. Otherwise just scroll down.

Abilene Christian Wildcats FCS Football

Abilene Christian Wildcats

Air Force Falcons

Akron Zips

Alabama Crimson Tide

alabama a&m

Alabama A&M Bulldogs

Alabama State

Alabama State Hornets

Albany Great Danes FCS Football

Albany Great Danes

Alcorn State

Alcorn State Braves

Appalachian State Mountaineers

Arizona State Sun Devils

Arkansas Razorbacks


Arkansas–Pine Bluff Golden Lions

Arkansas State Red Wolves

Army Black Knights

Auburn Tigers

austin peay

Austin Peay Governors

Ball State Cardinals

Baylor Bears

Bethune Cookman Wildcats (FCS)

Bethune–Cookman Wildcats

Boise State Broncos

Boston College Eagles

Bowling Green Falcons

Brown Bears

Brown Bears

Bryant Bulldogs

Bucknell Bison

Bucknell Bison

Buffalo Bulls

Butler Bulldogs

Butler Bulldogs

BYU Cougars

Cal Golden Bears

Cal Poly Mustangs FCS Football

Cal Poly Mustangs

Campbell Fighting Camels

Central Arkansas Bears FCS Football

Central Arkansas Bears

Central Connecticut Blue Devils

Central Michigan Chippewas

Charleston Southern Buccaneers FCS Football

Charleston Southern Buccaneers

Charlotte 49ers

chatanooga mocs

Chattanooga Mocs

Cincinnati Bearcats

the citadel bulldogs

The Citadel Bulldogs

Clemson Tigers

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Colgate Raiders

Colgate Raiders

Colorado Buffaloes

Colorado State Rams

Columbia lions

Columbia Lions

Cornell Big Red

Cornell Big Red

Dartmouth Big Green

Dartmouth Big Green

Davidson Wildcats

Davidson Wildcats

Dayton Flyers

Dayton Flyers

Delawarw Fighting Blue Hens fcs football

Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens

Delaware Hornets

Delaware State Hornets

Drake Bulldogs

Drake Bulldogs

Duke Blue Devils

Duquesne Dukes

East Carolina Pirates


East Tennessee State Buccaneers

Eastern Illinois Panthers

Eastern Illinois Panthers

Eastern Kentucky Colonels FCS Football

Eastern Kentucky Colonels

Eastern Michigan Eagles

Eastern Washington Eagles FCS Football

Eastern Washington Eagles

Elon Phoenix FCS Football

Elon Phoenix

FAU Owls

FIU Panthers

Florida Gators

florida a&m

Florida A&M Rattlers

Florida State Seminoles

Fordham Rams

Fordham Rams

Fresno State Bulldogs


Furman Paladins

Gardner Webb Bulldogs FCS Football

Gardner–Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs

Georgetown Hoyas

Georgetown Hoyas

Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia State Panthers

Georgia Southern Eagles

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets


Grambling State Tigers

Hampton Pirates FCS Foorball

Hampton Pirates

Harvard Crimson

Harvard Crimson

Hawaii Warriors

Holy Cross Crusaders

Holy Cross Crusaders

Houston Cougars

Houston Baptist

Houston Baptist Huskies

Howard Bison

Howard Bison

Idaho Vandals FCS Football

Idaho Vandals

Idaho State Bengals FCS Football

Idaho State Bengals

Illinois Fighting Illini

Illinois State Redbirds

Illinois State Redbirds

Incarnate Word

Incarnate Word Cardinals

Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana State Sycamores

Indiana State Sycamores

Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa State Cyclones

Jackson State Tigers (FCS)

Jackson State Tigers

Jacksonville State Gamecocks FCS Football

Jacksonville State Gamecocks

James Madison Dukes FCS Football

James Madison Dukes

Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas State Wildcats

Kennesaw State Owls FCS Football

Kennesaw State Owls

Kent State Golden Flashes

Kentucky Wildcats

Lafayette Leopards

Lafayette Leopards

Lamar Cardinals FCS Football

Lamar Cardinals

Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Liberty Flames

LIU Sharks

Louisiana Ragin Cajuns

louisiana tech

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

Louisville Cardinals

LSU Tigers

Maine Black Bears FCS Football

Maine Black Bears

Marist Red Foxes

Marist Red Foxes

Marshall Thundering Herd

Maryland Terrapins

McNeese State

McNeese State Cowboys

Memphis Tigers


Mercer Bears

Merrimack Warriors

Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

Miami Hurricanes

Miami Red Hawks