With No. 1 Alabama poised to make its fifth straight College Football Playoff appearance, the field is set. Championship weekend brought only one surprise — both Georgia and Ohio State, which had catapulted up the rankings after a Big Ten championship game win against Michigan, were both left out in favor of Oklahoma, which beat Texas in the Big 12 championship game.
Those results set up the CFP semifinals to look like this: No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl and No. 2 Clemson will play No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. Notre Dame is the only team in the group that has never played in a CFP before.
The semifinals are set for December 29, and the CFP final will be played on January 7, 2019 at Levi’s Stadium in the San Francisco Bay area, marking the first CFP final in California.
With the teams set, prices for all three games have dropped, but remain among the most expensive in CFP history, according to secondary ticket marketplace TicketIQ.com. The $645 average asking price for the Cotton Bowl semifinal is the highest in CFP history, and the $462 Orange Bowl average asking price is the second highest. The national championship has a current average asking price of $1,971, making it the fourth most expensive in championship history and third most expensive in the CFP era. The priciest game since 2011, when TicketIQ.com began tracking data, was last year’s Georgia-Alabama game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which was a de facto home game for the Bulldogs.
The least expensive national championship cost fans an average of $479 on the secondary market when Auburn played Florida State at the Rose Bowl in 2014.
Below is a primer on the national semifinals and finals:
- No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
- When: December 29, 2018
- Average asking price: $462
- Get-in price: $214
One of three of the second oldest bowl games, the Orange Bowl (and Sugar and Sun bowls) dates to 1935. Only the Rose Bowl, which was first played in 1902, is older. The Orange Bowl is hosting its second CFP final, and Oklahoma will play in an Orange Bowl semifinal for the second time. In 2015, the Sooners lost to Clemson. The average asking price for that game was $199, the cheapest for a CFP semifinal in history, according to TicketIQ.com. This year’s edition is considerably more expensive, and at $462, is the second most expensive CFP semifinal in history. Alabama and Oklahoma have little to draw on in terms of history, as these teams have played only five times, and never in the CFP. Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 3-1-1, and the teams last played in the 2014 Sugar Bowl (non-CFP), with the Sooners the winners. Alabama is making its fifth straight CFP semifinal appearance and Oklahoma its third in the last five years.
- No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
- When: December 29, 2018
- Average asking price: $645
- Get-in price: $225
Dating to 1937, the Cotton Bowl is hosting its second CFP semifinal, and this one is trending toward being the priciest not just at the Cotton Bowl, but in CFP semifinal history. The $645 average asking price is the highest in the CFP era, according to TicketIQ.com. This year’s Orange Bowl, which is trending at $462, and the 2017-18 Rose Bowl at $422, are the next two most expensive. The game is no longer played at the Cotton Bowl Stadium, as it moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, in 2010. The last time the Cotton Bowl hosted a CFP semifinal was December 31, 2015, when Alabama beat Michigan State. Fans paid an average of $234 on the secondary market for that game. In terms of past competition, Clemson and Notre Dame have little. While the Tigers are making their fourth consecutive CFP appearance, the Fighting Irish are making their first — and the first for any independent. Clemson holds a 2-1 all-time series record and the teams have never met in the postseason before.
- When: January 7, 2019
- Average asking price: $1,971
- Get-in price: $775
As Northern California prepares for its first College Football Playoff championship, the average asking price for this game is already on the move. Since the teams were set, the price has dipped, but that could change depending on the outcome of the semifinals. It’s unlikely that this game will get as pricey as last year’s edition in Atlanta, if only due to geography. For either Alabama or Clemson, a visit to California is a cross-country affair, and fans from either Oklahoma or Notre Dame would also likely fly. Nonetheless, it is a national championship, and likely another chance to see Alabama, the No. 1 team all season, win for the third time in the CFP era and the fifth time since 2011. The game ranks No. 3 in terms of price for CFP title games behind the $4,040 fans paid in Atlanta last year, and the $2,898 when Clemson upset Alabama in Tampa in 2017. For the decade, it is the fourth most expensive title game — the 2011 BCS championship between Auburn and Oregon at the Rose Bowl settled at $2,992.