Despite the fact that the College football season is just three weeks old, the market voted the ticket for Texas A&M vs. Alabama on Saturday essentially as the National Championship semifinal—and what a semifinal it was! The average price for BCS Championship tickets over the last three years is $2,272. If you take out Auburn vs. Oregon in 2010-11, the two-year average price is $1,794. The final average price that we recorded was $791, or just less than 50% less than the two-year BCS Championship average. As a point of comparison, Alabama football tickets for Texas A&M's visit to Tuscaloosa last year averaged $299. Prices for Manziel's return next year will be a lot higher than that, regardless of the standings.
Given that he’s making money for the thousands of people and companies associated with the game, it’s fitting that Johnny Manziel has adopted money rubbing as his signature move. Despite the controversy, Texas A&M could not have written their conference realignment any better if they had hired a Hollywood script doctor. Two years after switching conferences, they just played in the what was one of the most expensive regular season college football games ever. Of course, they would have preferred a win, but as we all know, Manziel is only a sophomore, and given his small size, the NFL will not be knocking early, if they knock at all. Given his speed, though, he’s a much better candidate to make the move from QB to slot receiver or scat-back, and he'd likely draw crowds. Even if he does get to the NFL, he'll not likely ever play in a game as expensive as last weekend’s.
To put the game in context, I've compiled a list of the five most expensive College Football games since over the last several years.
It’s not hard to see why Alabama vs. Texas A&M is number one on the list. As one of the most storied college football programs in the land, Alabama draws their fans wherever they go, especially for big games with title implications. Add Johnny Manziel and the second Top 10 matchup in College Station in the last ten years, and this is the definition of a heavyweight box-office matchup. In last season’s matchup, Manziel and the Aggies stormed into Bryant Denny Stadium, took a 20-0 first quarter lead and never yielded. The game started out similarly this year, and Aggies fans were feeling like the average ticket price of $769.61 was a deal, until Alabama stormed back for 38 unanswered. Win or lose, this was an instant classic, and worth the hype.
There may have been several college football matchups dubbed the “Game of the Century” over the past few decades, but none were as expensive as No. 1 ranked LSU Tigers vs. the No. 2 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. Fans spent exorbitantly on Alabama football tickets, as the average price reached $705.84, over $125 higher than any other college football game that took place before their November 5th, 2011 game. LSU triumphed 9-6 with neither team scoring a touchdown in a battle of field possession and defensive brilliance, but the Tigers would later lose to the Crimson Tide in the national championship game that season, 21-0.
The third most expensive college football game of all time was the Cowboys Classic at AT&T (formerly Cowboys) Stadium in 2011 which pitted the No. 3 ranked LSU Tigers against the No. 4 ranked Oregon Ducks. Both teams were hyped as national title contenders and it certainly showed in the secondary market as the average ticket price climbed to $573.63. To put that in perspective, the next highest average ticket price for an Oregon game that season was $144, over $400 cheaper. LSU ended up defeating the Ducks, 40-27 in front of a crowd of more than 87,000.
With an average ticket price of $536.38, last year’s edition of Alabama vs. LSU is the fourth most expensive game since we started tracking the market. While Alabama entered the game undefeated, LSU had one blemish on their record, losing to Florida in the Swamp a month before. Therefore, LSU football tickets for this game never reached the heights of the 2011 “Game of the Century” when both heavyweights faced each other with undefeated records. Alabama squeaked out a victory late, driving down the field after a LSU missed field goal and scoring a touchdown with just 51 seconds left to win 21-17.
It’s not getting as much fanfare as the No. 1 most expensive game on our list, but this year’s matchup between Notre Dame and Oklahoma is currently the fifth most expensive game in college football history. The average ticket price for Notre Dame football tickets on September 28th versus the Sooners is currently $485. Last year’s game in Norman had an average ticket price of $375, and was a possibly the defining win in Notre Dame’s run to the BCS. Despite their storied programs, the two schools have only met nine times on the gridiron. Notre Dame is 8-1 in the all-time series, and if they can pull out a win against the 14th-ranked Sooners, it would keep alive the long-shot hopes for a trip to Pasadena.
If you want to see the top ten list, you can also visit the TiqIQ Blog.