Conference championship games have lost their luster in the College Football Playoff era. There’s an argument that they punish the best teams more than they reward them for a regular season of excellence. Judging by ticket prices on the secondary market for these games, fans have noticed and reacted with indifference. And while that’s bad news for most conferences, it allows the mighty MAC its moment.
Tickets for tonight’s Ohio-Western Michigan matchup at Ford Field in Detroit start at $39 on StubHub. This is significantly more expensive than Clemson-Virginia Tech in the ACC ($12), Wisconsin-Penn State in the Big Ten ($10), and Washington-Colorado in the Pac 12 ($18). In-the-building price for Alabama-Florida in the SEC is still hovering at $108.
Ford Field is just a two-hour drive from Kalamazoo and Broncos fans are understandably fired up to see their team go for 13-0. Thus far, over 46,000 tickets have been sold for the game, which would nearly double the attendance record for the MAC title set in 2006. No team in the ACC, Big Ten or Pac-12 games is playing within a 5-hour drive of campus.
Shelling out over $50 after fees to bask in the glory of conference superiority is a small price to pay for MACtion devotees. Lighter wallets is the cost of getting to sit at the big boys’ table for a weekend.
Pithiness aside, Western Michigan-Ohio carries major significance for college football. WMU is currently ranked 17th in the CFB Playoff rankings, the highest among Group of Five teams. Navy is close behind at 19th with Temple and Army still on the schedule. A MAC championship and undefeated season would seem to thwart any late push by the Midshipmen to get the coveted Cotton Bowl bid, but predicting anything this season has been a fool’s errand.