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10 College Football Movies

Set the scene – it’s your freshman year in college and you’re the new kid in the locker room. You’re the only freshman on the team. You’ve finally made it to the college level. But are you ready?

Without knowing what to expect, you need preparation for the next four years of your life. So what do you turn to? Movies.

Now, this may not be your college life but nonetheless, after watching these movies you’ll feel the same sense of accomplishment as any team member.

College Football Movies Based on True Stories

Last Chance U

A documentary featuring “Broadway” Joe Namath of the New York Jets. A chronicle of his life and career as one of the most iconic quarterbacks to ever play the game of football. This is the only college football movie on Netflix. | Stream on Netflix

Everybody's All-American
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jessica Lange, Dennis Quaid, Timothy Hutton (Actors)
  • Taylor Hackford (Director) - Thomas Rickman (Writer) - Taylor Hackford (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Everybody’s All American

Based on the novel by legendary writer Frank Deford, “Everybody’s All-American” was part of the rush of ’80s sports films. It follows the story of Gavin Grey at Louisiana University — but you remember Dennis Quaid’s portrayal as “The Grey Ghost.”

The cast is first class, with Jessica Lange, John Goodman, and Timothy Hutton. The timeless story of how an athlete handles the trappings of fame from college through the NFL rings true even today, albeit before the social media era.

Junction Boys
  • DVD
  • Tom Berenger, Fletcher Humphrys, Ryan Kwanten (Actors)
  • Mike Robe (Director)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

The Junction Boys

This ESPN film — based on the book “The Junction Boys” by Jim Dent — is football grit at its core. It details the real-life 1954 Texas A&M football camp under coach Bear Bryant, who is convincingly portrayed by Tom Berenger.

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The characters are fictionalized, and how much of the drama in fact is subject to debate. It’s nonetheless one of those movies you play at the start of training camp every year. It’s a story about survival and brotherhood, and it’s the best one of the ESPN franchise.

College Football Movies

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Horse Feathers [DVD]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Groucho Marx, Chico Marx, Harpo Marx (Actors)
  • Norman Z. McLeod (Director)
  • Spanish, French (Subtitles)
  • English (Publication Language)

Horse Feathers

This Marx Brothers comedy was ahead of its time, with social commentary and references about amateurism that still hold up today. Baravelli and Pinky go through a series of misadventures just to get to the big game between Darwin and Huxley colleges.

In what other football movie is the game-winning touchdown scored in a horse-drawn carriage? SN’s Mike DeCourcy, the most qualified film critic on our staff, voted “Horse Feathers” No. 1.

Necessary Roughness
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Scott Bakula (Actor)
  • Stan Dragoti (Director) - John Fasano (Writer) - Lis Kern (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

Necessary Roughness

The Texas State University Fightin’ Armadillos were hit hard by sanctions, and out of that backdrop comes another classic between “Major League” and “Blue Chips.”

Of course, 34-year-old quarterback Paul Blake (Scott Bakula) is there to save the season around a cast of misfits that includes Featherstone, Samurai, “The Slender” and Lucy Draper, played by Kathy Ireland.

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Rob Schneider is great as play-by-play man Chuck Neiderman, and it fits as the classic underdog story leading up to the showdown with the University of Texas Colts.

The Express
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Dennis Quaid, Rob Brown, Charles S. Dutton (Actors)
  • Gary Fleder (Director) - Charles Leavitt (Writer) - John Davis (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Express

Ernie Davis’ story — one of triumph and tragedy — is chronicled beautifully in this movie, which follows Syracuse’s running back as he becomes the first African-American player to win the Heisman Trophy.

Rob Brown plays Davis, and Quaid portrays Orange coach Ben Schwartzwalder.

The movie preceded “42,” but follows the same theme of detailing the discrimination Davis experienced throughout his football career. The movie also shows Davis’ battle with leukemia. It’s heart-wrenching, but his story remains an inspiration today.

We Are Marshall
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, Ian McShane (Actors)
  • McG (Director) - Jamie Linden (Writer) - Basil Iwanyk (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

We Are Marshall

The 1970 plane crash that killed 75 people, including 37 Marshall football players, is one of the worst tragedies in sports history. Matthew McConaughey stars as coach Jack Lengyel, who experiences the struggle of rebuilding that program in a football-first community.

This movie shows the visceral impact on the Huntington, W.Va., community and the coaches and players left behind, including Nate Ruffin (played by Anthony Mackie) and William “Red” Dawson, played by Matthew Fox. Ian McShane, David Strathairn, and Kate Mara are part of an all-star cast that bring those experiences to the big screen in incredible fashion.

Knute Rockne: All American
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Pat O'Brien, Gale Page, Ronald Reagan (Actors)
  • Lloyd Bacon (Director) - Robert Buckner (Writer) - Robert Fellows (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Knute Rockne All American

This is the first of two Notre Dame propaganda films on this list, but it’s impossible not to include the story of the legendary Notre Dame who gave us “The Four Horsemen.” Pat O’Brien plays the role of Rockne, but it’s future President Ronald Reagan who has the unforgettable scene as a dying George Gipp.

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You know the words by now: “Ask ’em to go in there with all they’ve got and win just one for The Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, but I’ll know about it. And I’ll be happy.”

The Program
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • James Caan, Halle Berry, Omar Epps (Actors)
  • David S. Ward (Director) - David S. Ward (Writer) - Samuel Goldwyn Jr. (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Program

This is the most jacked-up college football movie of all time. It follows the fictional ESU Timberwolves and all the trappings of a major football program.

Arrests, academic fraud, steroids, and the pressure on coach Sam Winters (James Caan), to keep it all together. You root for — and sometimes against — Joe Kane, Alvin Mack, Bud Kaminski, and Darnell Jefferson throughout the season.

Andrew Bryniarski’s portrayal of roided-up walk-on defensive end Steve Lattimer still lives on over a quarter-century later. All together now: “Starting defense! Place at the table!” The best part about this movie? It shows what it takes for some programs just to make a bowl — and how ugly the game can be on and off the field.

The Waterboy
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Adam Sandler, Kathy Bates, Fairuza Balk (Actors)
  • Frank Coraci (Director) - Adam Sandler (Writer) - Robert Simonds (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

The Waterboy

This is the sleeper of Adam Sandler’s comedies because it might be the best one. The story of Bobby Boucher, the University of Louisiana waterboy-turned-South Central Louisiana State University Mud Dogs All-American linebacker is amazing from start to finish.

Henry Winkler’s portrayal of Coach Klein is hysterical, and it takes football comedy to the next level. You’re hooked the second Boucher makes his first bone-crushing tackle.

The cameos range for Lawrence Taylor, Brent Musburger, and Dan Fouts — “last game of the year, Brent, you can’t hold anything back now” — are well-timed throughout the movie, and the storybook finish at the Bourbon Bowl is exactly as it should be.

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