With just over a week of sales data for the 2011 – 12 bowl season, TicketLiquidator.com takes a look at the top-ten highest selling bowl games. As college football doesn’t have a playoff system (yet), the 35 bowl games act as a close approximation of the post-season experience, complete with much higher ticket prices. As might be expected, the five so-called “BCS Bowls” represent a large portion of ticket sales, but several of the non-BCS Bowls are also garnering their fair share of fans looking for tickets.
“As the final game of the season, normally against a seldom-seen, out-of-conference team in a unique location, bowl games are a special opportunity for college football fans to watch their team compete in one last game,” says Andres Hidalgo, TicketLiquidator.com media relations.
The following is a breakdown of the top-ten highest-average ticket prices on TicketLiquidator through the first week of sales.
#10 Outback Bowl Average ticket price $118
• Michigan State Spartans vs. Georgia Bulldogs
• January 2, 2012 at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
The Outback Bowl between the Michigan State Spartans and the Georgia Bulldogs comes in as the tenth-highest average ticket price. The game will see a matchup of 10-3 teams and conference title runner-ups. Michigan State will have to figure out a way to contain Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who as a sophomore has emerged as one of the most dangerous QBs in college football. MSU will also have to deal with what promises to be a largely pro-Georgia crowd, as the location of the Outback Bowl heavily favors the Bulldogs.
#9 Holiday Bowl: $120
• Texas Longhorns vs. California Golden Bears
• December 28, 2011 at Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
Even during an off-year for the football powerhouse, the Texas Longhorns were the most sought-after college football ticket on TicketLiquidator during the regular season. Given the passion of Longhorns fans, its no surprise that the Holiday Bowl is among the highest-priced bowl games. The 7-5 Longhorns will take on another 7-5 team in the Golden Bears.
#8 Alamo Bowl: $133
• Baylor Bears vs. Washington Huskies
• December 29, 2011 at the Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
The Alamo Bowl was already one of the hottest bowl games, and that was before Baylor’s Robert Griffin III was named the 2011 Heisman Trophy Winner. Expect the news to push ticket-prices for the Alamo Bowl even higher. 7-5 Washington will certainly have its hands full facing #12 Baylor in Texas, but going by demand for Alamo Bowl tickets fans are expecting a great game.
#7 Capital One Bowl: $138
• Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks
• January 2, 2012 at the Citrus Bowl, Orlando Florida
Steve Spurrier takes a tough South Carolina team to the Citrus Bowl to take on 9-3 Nebraska, enjoying its first year in the Big Ten. Nebraska and star running back Rex Burkhead are definitely going to be a challenge for South Carolina, as they have struggled against the rush this season.
#6 Cotton Bowl: $167
• Kansas State vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
• January 6, 2012 at Cowboys Stadium, Arlington Texas
The highest average ticket price out of the non-BCS Bowls, the Cotton Bowl enjoys a strong reputation that places it as close to a “BCS Bowl” as it can be without officially being one. Both teams have been among the toughest in college football, with Arkansas currently #6 and Kansas State #8. Arkansas’ only losses came to the teams in the BCS Championship, LSU and Alabama, while KSU lost in back-to-back weekends to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, two teams vying for a BCS Game invite until late in the season.
#5 Fiesta Bowl: $205
• Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. Stanford Cardinals
• January 5, 2012 University of Phoenix Stadium Glendale, Arizona
You can’t blame Oklahoma State fans for being a bit disappointed, as the team was all but printing tickets to the Championship Game before a heart-breaking overtime loss to Iowa State. Cowboy fans can take solace in the fact they are in the closest BCS game geographically, and will be on the national stage taking on the Stanford Cardinals and Andrew Luck, the quarterback largely projected to be the #1 pick in the NFL Draft.
#4 Sugar Bowl: $261
• Michigan Wolverines vs. Virginia Tech Hokies
• January 3, 2012 Louisiana Superdome New Orleans, Louisiana
There has been a lot of controversy over the fact that two-loss Michigan was invited to the Sugar Bowl, however it hasn’t stopped Michigan fans from making the trek down to the Big Easy. Michigan has one of the strongest followings in all of college football so the fact fans are willing to pony up more than $250 a ticket to watch the Wolverines in the Sugar Bowl is not all that surprising. Virginia Tech only has two losses this season, both to Orange Bowl-bound Clemson.
#3 Orange Bowl: $281
• Clemson Tigers vs. West Virginia Mountaineers
• January 4, 2012 Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida
Matching up the ACC’s Clemson Tigers vs. the West Virginia Mountaineers, the Orange Bowl comes in at the third-highest ticket price of all the bowl games. The last time Clemson appeared in the Orange Bowl was way back in 1982, when the team went undefeated and was named National Champions. They’ll be taking on a 9-3 West Virginia team that was crowned Big East Champion by virtue of a higher BCS ranking than Cincinnati and Louisville.
#2 Rose Bowl: $350
• Oregon Ducks vs. Wisconsin Badgers
• January 2, 2012 Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California
After losing to Auburn in last year’s Championship Game, the Ducks opened the season with a loss to LSU in the Cowboy Classic. Their high-speed offense has turned a lot of heads and certainly turned a once-sleepy constituency into ticket-hungry fans. Wisconsin has been one of the most in-demand tickets this season, and the trip from Madison, Wisconsin to Pasadena hasn’t slowed down Badger fans.
#1 BCS National Championship: $1,864
• LSU Tigers vs. Alabama Crimson Tide
• January 9, 2012 at the Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
As you might expect the BCS National Championship Game commands the highest price by far. Ticket prices for the BCS game can reach as high as the Super Bowl, as college fans are just as eager to watch their team become a national champion. The fact that the BCS Championship is a rematch of a regular season game doesn’t seem to have dampened demand, as the average ticket price for the BCS Championship on TicketLiquidator is $1,864.
For those interested, the average price for last year’s BCS Championship between Auburn and Oregon was $1,094. Certainly the teams involved, and the proximity of the game to the fan bases has played a part in the significantly higher price of tickets. It’s also important to note that these year’s average price is based on only the first week of sales, and average ticket price for the 2012 BCS game could drop before it’s all said and done.