Yesterday we looked at the last weekend in the regular season in the B1G. Today we wrap things up on football attendance.
6.3 million people. It's like the state of Tennessee showed up to watch football - which, by the way, they do a lot.
That is the number of people who came out (or bought tickets) to watch Big Ten football this year. It is a new single-season record for total attendance during the 2014 football season with 6,359,218 fans attending home games. In addition, nine Big Ten schools produced increases in average attendance, including a boost of more than eight percent for Maryland and Rutgers in their first seasons as members of the conference.
The Big Ten surpassed the six-million mark in total attendance for just the third time in conference history and the third time in the last four seasons, breaking the single-season record of 6,061,514 set last season. While average attendance decreased following the addition of two 50,000-seat stadiums, Maryland and Rutgers combined to fill their stadiums to 95 percent capacity in conference matchups. The two teams combined for five sellouts in conference games this season, compared to only two sellouts in conference competition the previous four seasons.
In the early part of the season, there were as many as 10 schools playing at home in any one week. The conference racked up huge numbers on those dates. That third week had a low total but a high average for five games; Ohio State, ttfp, and Iowa were all home. The charts below show both total and average attendance, with the number of games played.
The Scarlet Knights ranked second in the Big Ten with an 8.8 percent increase in average attendance for all games with three sellouts. Rutgers' conference home games were filled to 99 percent capacity at High Point Solutions Stadium. The Scarlet Knights drew crowds of more than 50,000 people three times during conference play this season, after seeing that mark achieved on only three occasions in conference home games the previous four seasons. Rutgers also played in front of an average crowd of more than 76,000 in Big Ten away games, compared to road conference attendance of less than 40,000 the previous year.
Maryland saw the biggest increase in average attendance among Big Ten schools, with a 13.8 percent jump from the 2013 season for all games, including two sellouts. In Big Ten home games, Maryland filled Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium to 91 percent capacity this season. Two of the Terrapins' four Big Ten home games drew crowds of 50,000 or more patrons, after eclipsing 50,000 people in a conference home game just once over the previous four years. In addition, Maryland's average attendance in Big Ten road games was more than 82,000, after facing an average attendance of just over 50,000 in conference action the season before.
Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin each saw average attendance increase by as much as 5.2 percent from the 2013 Big Ten football season.
The Big Ten is one of two conferences with more than two teams ranked among the top 22 in the nation in average attendance, with seven schools comprising that group. Ohio State leads the nation in average attendance at 106,296, followed by No. 3 Michigan (104,909), No. 5 Penn State (101,623), No. 10 Nebraska (91,249), No. 18 Wisconsin (79,520), No. 20 Michigan State (74,681) and No. 22 Iowa (67,512).
Earlier this season, Big Ten school attendance records fell in four consecutive weekends as Nebraska, Ohio State (twice) and Rutgers saw record crowds. In all, four Big Ten schools broke or matched single-game attendance records this season: Iowa, Nebraska, Ohio State and Rutgers.