Iron Bowl tickets are more expensive than any BCS Bowl Game this season except the National Championship game. Michigan vs. Ohio State tickets are 47% more expensive than Big Ten Football Championship tickets. Why? Because nothing beats College Football Rivalry Week. It defines a season, divides households, and gives the winning team’s fans bragging rights for the entire year. A win against your rival can erase a bad season, save a coach’s job (or in USC case, earn one), win you top recruits, and sell a greater number of season tickets for the following year. A rivalry win gives students, alumni, and fans entitlement, the right to play their fight song at work, wear their school’s letters, and wave their University flags in front of their homes with pride. Often times we work with our rivals, and even live with our rivals, so a loss can mean a substantial amount of stress, tormenting, and an hourly reminder that your school is insignificant to its rival. Rivalries are created within city/state borders, among private and public schools, and midst elite programs. Some are old and some are new, but each is significant.
One rule I’ve learned over the years, is anything can happen on rivalry week. Perfect seasons are shattered, the unexpected happens, the underdog is not existent. Rivalry week this year will solidify many division and conference champions, and for some squash or heighten their chances at a bowl game. With so much of the line in an already highly-anticipated annual event, demand to attend these rivalry games is extremely high. Many of the 50,000+ seats in each stadium have been sold, so your best chance to get in is purchasing a ticket on the secondary market. And, while you can watch the game with your co-workers or family at home or at a bar, there is nothing like saying “I was there” when your team gets the (un)expected win on rivalry week. Plus, doesn’t it just put the cherry on top and give you more ammunition when you return to work on Monday if you were at the stadium to experience the victory?
College Football’s biggest rivalries will largely be played next weekend. The time is now to get out those fight song key chains, pull out your letterman jacket, and grab a ticket to the most important regular season game of the year.
|Date||Top 10 College Football Rivalries||Venue||Get-in Price||Avg. Price|
|11/30/13||Auburn Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide||Jordan Hare Stadium||$410||$739.48|
|12/07/13||Baylor Bears vs. Texas Longhorns||Floyd Casey Stadium||$260||$366.70|
|11/30/13||Michigan Wolverines vs. Ohio State Buckeyes||Michigan Stadium||$129||$347.15|
|11/23/13||LSU Tigers vs. Texas A&M Aggies||Tiger Stadium-LSU||$166||$341.59|
|12/07/13||Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Oklahoma Sooners||Boone Pickens Stadium||$133||$336.40|
|11/30/13||South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Clemson Tigers||Williams Brice Stadium||$152||$246.37|
|11/30/13||USC Trojans vs. UCLA Bruins||Los Angeles Coliseum||$109||$234.99|
|11/29/13||Washington Huskies vs. Washington State Cougars||Husky Stadium||$97||$222.56|
|11/30/13||Florida Gators vs. Florida State Seminoles||Ben Hill Griffin Stadium||$84||$204.33|
|11/29/13||Oregon Ducks vs. Oregon State Beavers||Autzen Stadium||$97||$200.81|
#1: No. 6 Auburn Tigers vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide
It’s the trend of 2013: football team’s climbing from “worst to best” in one short season. It’s the story of the Auburn Tigers whose loyal fan base watched their team go 3-9 in 2012, and lose to their rivals 49-0 to finish the tumultuous season. Fast-forward one year and the Tigers are 10-1, 6-1 in Conference, and one game behind Alabama in the SEC West. A win next weekend at home against the Crimson Tide will send 2012’s worst teams in the Division (0-8), to the SEC Championship game.
Before the season started, the Iron Bowl averaged $320 at Jordan Hare Stadium. While it was the most expensive home game for the Tigers, Auburn vs. Alabama tickets were half the cost they are today. There is more riding on this game for both sides than there has been in nearly four decades. The Tigers have a legitimate shot at knocking off the reigning back-to-back National Champions, and Auburn fans will not miss the chance to see their team win the Foy-ODK Sportsmanship Trophy for the first time since 2010. In addition, the amount of inventory (supply) has depleted significantly over the past three months, only about 20% of the number of tickets listed in late-August remain on the market and available for purchase. Thus, the 131% price bump in tickets since the start of the season. At an average price of $739, the Iron Bowl is more expensive than every BCS Bowl game (6% more than the Rose Bowl) except the National Championship game (avg. $1,837) to date and $210 more than the SEC Championship game in which the opponents have yet to be determined.
#2: No. 4 Baylor Bears vs. Texas Longhorns
While the most popular rivalry in the Big 12 Conference is Oklahoma vs. Texas in the Red River Shootout, the Bears and Longhorns rivalry is hardly new, dating back to 1901. Currently, Baylor controls the conference at 9-0; they still have to play Oklahoma State and Texas who are right behind them in the standings in addition to old SWC rivals TCU. They’ll finish the regular season at home against the Longhorns which could (pending the next two weeks games), determine the Big 12 Champion as the Conference no longer has a Conference Championship. A win for the Bears in the regular season finale, would likely mean a BCS bowl game berth, a potential undefeated season, and that coveted conference title. And while their rise to the top has taken more than one season, it has occurred in six short years. The Bears were at the bottom of the league before coach Art Briles arrived in 2008; in his tenure he has coached Heisman Trophy winner RGIII, won more Big 12 Conference games in his five years as head coach than the program had in its previous 12, and defeated No. 1 K-State convincingly last year when the Bears were unranked. On the opposite side of the field, a win for the Texas Longhorns could mean more than a Conference title, it could save Mack Brown’s job as head coach.
The cost to see the latest private school to make waves compete with one of football’s most storied programs is an average $367, half the price tag of our top college football rivalry game. Still, you’re paying more than a ticket to the Fiesta Bowl (avg. $298) which is where the Big 12 Champion will likely compete come bowl time. Should Baylor pick up a win against No. 10 Oklahoma State this weekend or Alabama or Florida State lose a game, don’t be surprised if prices to this game grow even more expensive as Baylor will certainly be in contention for a National Championship berth.
#3: Michigan Wolverines vs. No. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes
Year-in and year-out, it doesn’t matter how the teams are performing, this is The Game. It’s been called the greatest North American sports rivalry and prior to the Conference having twelve teams, it often determined the Big Ten Conference champion and the resulting Rose Bowl participant. Lose a couple of rivalry games as a head coach of one of these two Universities and you’ll be shown the door, just ask John Cooper who won just two of thirteen games against Michigan. Both, relatively new head coaches, are sure to have this in the back of their minds. Speaking of coaches, the widely-known rivalry game now features two coaches who have been on the Buckeyes staff (Hoke 1995–2002). This will be the last year that Michigan and Ohio State will be in the same division; in 2014, the Wolverines and Buckeyes will both compete in the East, eliminating any possibility for a rematch in the Big Ten Championship game the following week.
There is more riding on the game for Ohio State than just a win over their most-hated rivals. The Buckeyes have won 22 in a row but did not play in a bowl game last year due to NCAA violations. A win in Ann Arbor (after a victory this weekend), would give Ohio State their 35th Big Ten title and a spot in the Rose Bowl at the very least. After a missed opportunity last season, Buckeyes fans are highly anticipating this game, even if it is in Wolverine territory. Michigan vs. Ohio State football tickets cost an average $347, $129 at the cheapest. The price for the rivalry game is down 11% since the beginning of the season when Michigan was ranked No. 17 in both the AP and Coaches Polls and Ohio State was preseason No.2. To give you perspective on just how in-demand tickets are, you’d pay $111 less to see the Big Ten Football Championship this year at Lucas Oil Stadium.
#4: No. 22 LSU Tigers vs. No. 12 Texas A&M Aggies
The LSU-Aggies rivalry dates back to 1899 but has been intermittent since. When A&M joined the SEC, specifically the West in 2012, the rivalry was renewed. Intensifying matters, both programs have been in the top 25 for the last two years. While Alabama and Auburn battle for a spot in the SEC Championship game, these two SEC West foes will try to better their BCS ranking and ultimately their chances at an at-large bid.
The Week 13 game is the priciest of the week, averaging $342 to watch the best SEC offensive showdown of the year. Expect the Tigers and Aggies to combine for near 1000 yards and around 60-70 points.
#5: No. 10 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. No. 20 Oklahoma Sooners
2013 marks the fourth consecutive year that the Bedlam Series in football has been played between two top 25 schools. The intrastate rivalry was one for the history books last year when the two teams met in OT. A win over Baylor this weekend, would put State in position to win the Conference and fight for a Fiesta Bowl berth; but not if the Sooners can help it. OU has won nine of the last ten football games in the Bedlam Series and are also competing for bowl positioning. While it may not be an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl, a chance at the highly-regarded Cotton Bowl or Alamo Bowl is on Sooners fans minds.
Bedlam Series tickets are averaging $336 on the week that most conferences are hosting their Championship games. A seat inside Boone Pickens Stadium on December 7 will cost you more than a ticket to the Fiesta Bowl or Alamo Bowl and just $84 less than a ticket to the Cotton Bowl.