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With the start of the college football season rapidly approaching, and football fanatics from coast to coast planning tailgates to celebrate its long-awaited return, we take a look at this year’s top 10 rivalry games based on average ticket price. The list features schools from the ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC; it includes both old school and new school rivals, like Oklahoma vs Texas (first meeting October 10, 1900), Michigan vs Ohio State (first meeting October 17, 1897) , LSU vs Texas A&M (new rivals as A&M joins the SEC in 2012) and USC vs Oregon (emerging rivals as Oregon continues to be an elite Pac-12 team). These rivalries, both old and new, symbolize what Americans love about college football and why we are compelled to support our teams until the clock runs out.
Top 10 College Football Tickets – Rivalry Games
Top 10 2012 College Football Rivalries Preview
- The Oklahoma Sooners travel to Dallas to play Big 12 rival, Texas Longhorns, at the Cotton Bowl. The winner of the Red River Rivalry will take early control of the Big 12 and be in a good position to earn the conference’s automatic BCS bid. The rivalry started in 1900, and Texas leads the series with 52 wins. In the latest AP Top 25 and USA Today polls, the Sooners rank 4th and Longhorns 15th. Despite being ranked higher, Oklahoma knows that doesn’t translate to wins. Last year, OU started the season as the No. 1 team in the country, before finishing outside of the Top 10. The average ticket price to the 2012 Red River Rivalry is $535.
- The Auburn Tigers will play the Alabama Crimson Tide in an all-SEC show down in Tuscaloosa. No. 2 Alabama will be tough to beat on the road at Bryant Denny Stadium, especially without a dynamic QB like Auburn’s last Heisman winner, Cam Newton. That said, the Tigers return every starter on the defensive line and have added experience at linebacker and in the secondary. If defense wins championships, then Auburn could roll the Tide. The average ticket price to the Iron Bowl is $451.
- The Michigan Wolverines will play the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus, and the ticket price averages $451 per ticket. Even though it’s not the most expensive ticket in this list, many in the Midwest believe there’s no better game in college football than Maize and Blue vs Scarlet and Gray. The rivalry is as traditional as it gets and dates back to 1897, when Michigan defeated Ohio State 34-0. The Wolverines lead the series with 58 wins, but the Buckeyes have won eight of the last 10. Michigan starts the season ranked above Ohio State (No. 8, No. 18 in the AP Top 25), but opens on the road against Alabama at Cowboys Stadium. While Michigan starts strong, Ohio State finishes stronger. And with the addition of Urban Meyer on the Buckeyes sideline, OSU fans in Columbus are already thinking BCS Championship in the near future.
- In yet another all-SEC meeting, the LSU Tigers take on the Texas A&M Aggies in Texas. A&M joins the SEC this season, and some experts believe LSU will become a bigger rival than Texas for the Aggies. Although LSU starts the season in the Top 3 of both polls, Hesiman-finalist Tryann Mathieu will be missed. Experts haven’t yet written off the Tigers after Mathieu’s dismissal from the team, due to Nick Saban’s best-in-class recruiting and ability to motivate young players to excel in big games and pressure situations. On the other sideline, unranked A&M will be adjusting to the power and speed of the SEC (after leaving the Big 12), and even home field advantage might not be enough to topple LSU. In addition to the new conference, the Aggies have added a new coach and new quarterback. Tickets to the game will average $367 to gain access to Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.
- The Michigan Wolverines have a second game in the top 10 college rivalry list with, a show down against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In 2011, the Huskers left the Big 12 to join the Big Ten, and battle with Michigan in the Big Ten Legends division. The winner of the division earns a spot in the Big Ten Championship game and a shot at a BCS Bowl. Like Ohio State, Nebraska starts the season ranked below the Wolverines (No. 17, No. 8 in the AP Top 25). Nebraska’s average defense could be offset by the emergence of talented true freshmen at the QB, RB and WR positions. Home field at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln will be an advantage too, with a sea of Husker Red swallowing the Maize and Blue. The game poses serious Big Ten implications and you can be a part of the action for $352.
- The Notre Dame Fighting Irish and USC Trojans began their rivalry in 1926. Not only is the game a monster in LA and South Bend, but also a tradition that the whole country enjoys, shown both in high attendance numbers and television viewers. In fact, Notre Dame vs USC games total five of the top ten most-watched college football games on television. USC starts the season at No. 1 in the AP Top 25, and won’t want the Irish to trip them up in late November at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Bowl eligible, USC and star QB Matt Barkley have eyes on winning the Pac-12 and BCS Championship. Notre Dame has struggled recently but hopes QB Everett Golson, TE Tyler Eifert and RB Cierre Wood will return the Irish to its winning ways. The Fighting Irish hold the winning record against the Trojans, leading the rivalry with a 43-33-5 record. Be a part of this barnburner in LA for $202.
- The Oregon Ducks and the USC Trojans represent an emerging Pac-12 rivalry. USC was out of bowl contention last year and the Trojans look to reclaim the top spot in the Pac-12. Even though the Ducks lost top RB LaMichael James, both the college football coaches and writers have the Ducks starting the season at No. 5, only a few spots below top-ranked USC. SC has the benefit of home field advantage, and in November the Trojans are nearly unbeatable at home and on the road. Expect a high-flying, high-scoring showdown when Oregon meets USC. USC tickets average $178 to see this emerging rivalry game.
- The Florida State Seminoles and the Miami Hurricanes are going to battle for ACC crown in Miami. The Seminoles start the season at No. 7 in both polls, and there’s been talk of FSU making it to the BCS Championship. All hype? Maybe not. Consensus is that Miami’s the only team in the ACC with a shot at dethroning Florida State, and with the Canes rebuilding, it’s unlikely to happen in 2012. The average ticket price to see this ACC classic in South Florida is $139.
- The Virginia Tech Hokies and the Pittsburgh Panthers look to flex their muscles in the East. Virginia Tech has been a model for consistency and proved to be a force in the ACC. The No. 16 Hokies need to dominate weaker opponents to move up in the BCS standings but will be much more focused on games against Clemson and FSU, which could open the door for the Panthers to sneak a victory. Ray Graham and the Pittsburgh Panthers are motivated to make a push in 2012 and Heinz Field is a good place to do so. At $102, witness what the hype is about between the Hokies and Panthers.
- The TCU Horned Frogs and the Baylor Bears are two teams that are fighting to stay in the mix. No more Andy Dalton or Robert Griffin III, but both these teams still have something to prove. This season, Casey Pachall and Nick Florence will be filling the big shoes of Dalton and RG3. Baylor starts the season unranked and will need to beat in-state rival, No. 20 TCU, in order to be in the conversation of top teams in the Big 12. Baylor will have its home crowd behind it at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco, and being at home just might be enough to win a highly-contested, mid-season Big 12 conference game. At $78, this is a great value for two teams that are looking to continue a rich football tradition.