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Rutgers & Big Ten Attendance: as ever, a tale of two ends of the spectrum

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If teams were judged by attendance and ticket sales, no one would say a word about Rutgers

Ohio State v Maryland Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

And to think that I was upset about Rutgers' attendance. Maryland, oh Maryland. Do you even know there's a game?

Playing for bowl eligibility. A conference game. The new coach and staff. Senior Day.

And just a tad over 30,000 announced.

Yeah, I know. We’ve gone through all the excuses for Piscataway, and now we do it for College Park: it’s Thanksgiving weekend, students are home, they’re coming off a four-game losing streak, it's only Rutgers, it isn't basketball. I say to you, my little Terp friends, what I say to the folks here in Piscataway: come on! That is just embarrassing. Watching the game, I saw as the cameras panned past all those empty seats. Bad, bad, bad.

Around the Big Ten

Let’s hope the fire marshals in Columbus were looking the other way as the Horseshoe shoe-horned in some 5,000 more people than the building holds for the cage match between the Buckeyes and the Wolverines.

Amazingly, for the first time all season, every home team won. In week seven, every home team lost (including Rutgers to Illinois).

Considering the game - and the attitude of the home team and its fans - I was surprised that Penn State did not draw more. Over 97,000 is nothing to sneeze at, but there was a lot riding on the game and to draw just around 90% capacity is a bit of a puzzlement. It was the third time this season that PSU drew less than 100,000 to Beaver Stadium (out of seven games).

Big Ten Numbers

The conference finished the season with 6.4 million in attendance/tickets sold, an average of 65,558 per game.

Rutgers, for all its issues, finished a reasonably respectable ninth in both total attendance and average attendance.

All totals and averages are my calculations based on reported data from box scores of games this season. They are not official conference or NCAA numbers.

A look at some games and schools of interest

He was a former Rutgers assistant. And someone everyone thought about as a Flood replacement. Now, he’s coach of an undefeated team and maybe has a crack at the New Year’s Six.

He’s Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck and he’s led his Broncos to some pretty lofty heights. Does that translate to fans in the stands? The MAC school plays in Waldo Stadium, capacity 30,200. For it’s finale against Toledo it drew 24,191. And that wasn’t the largest crowd of the season. I know....it’s the MAC.

Well, how about the big time of the PAC 12? And two teams that have played Rutgers the last few years. Washington - Washington State. The Apple Cup. Teams looking for a spot in the PAC 12 championship, one with a shot at the CFP Final Four. The game at the Cougars’ Martin Stadium (capacity 35,117) drew 33,773. That is less than four of Northwestern’s crowds this season. WSU’s season average is just 31,325, again less than Northwestern’s season average.

At one point during the season, Memphis (8-4) was making a major push to be invited into the Big XII. Houston (9-3) had surprised a lot of schools, and it’s coach, Tom Herman, was on everybody’s short list of coaches to be hired by a major power, which, as we now know, is Texas. But this is still the AAC. Playing at the 61,000 seat Liberty Bowl, the game drew just 36,527 as Memphis best Houston 48-44.

This Week in the FBS

Rivalry Week is gone and we’re on to the conference championships. Except in the Big XII where, you know, it’s just ten teams and....it’s the Big XII.

The SEC is the first of the P5 to play at 4:00. Florida is the ceremonial sacrifice to the Tide. The ACC and the Big Ten - competing against each other at 8:00 pm - have some good pairings. Clemson and Virginia Tech should be a very good game (and it is not Va Tech - my daughter went there and they don’t call it that. It’s all an ESPN plot!) And Penn State and Wisconsin is an easy choice: We are all cheese heads!

And other teams....

Speaking of teams that aren’t playing for a conference championship....