Rutgers not only opened on the road, it did it three time zones away. That won’t happen the next two years as RU opens at home against Washington in 2017 and Texas State in 2018.
But that’s not for another 360 days. What happened last Saturday?
First, a quick look at how the Huskies drew with a Big Ten team on the schedule. Last year, Washington’s average home attendance was 61,919. Their home opener on 9/12/15 vs Sacramento State drew 55,010. Compare that to Saturday’s 58,640. Not too bad, and apparently - according to some comment I saw - students were not yet on campus. Not a bad draw.
For the record, U-Dub’s conference opener in 2015 vs. Cal drew 61,066, and they had a season high - very expectedly - against Washington State: 70,438.
Around the Big Ten
Let’s start off with that other team with a new head coach. Lots of promotion and hype.
“We’re here!” Yeah, but the fans weren’t. The Twerps drew 35,474 to 54,000 seat Byrd Stadium. 65.7% capacity. Against a team that is located 7.4 miles away.
The bar is set rather low for us.
Of all the matchups, the most interesting in terms of location was in Green Bay, where LSU visited Wisconsin....the school as well as the state. Playing on the not so frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, the Badger win was witnessed by 77,823. Of further interest, UW is not counting it as home attendance since it was on a neutral site.
Besides Maryland, if I had to choose a disappointing attendance figure it would be at Illinois. It was Lovie Smith’s debut and the stadium was only three-quarters full, with 48,644 in attendance. Of course, that was almost 12,000 more than 2015’s opener against Kent State. Mixed blessing.
The big dogs were ridiculously successful in bringing fans into their buildings, with both Michigan and Ohio State drawing over 100%.
The cult was a little off, drawing a tad under 90% capacity to Happy Valley, while Purdue maintained its own special level of success with just over a half full Ross-Ade Stadium.
Overall, the Big Ten drew 813,944 fans, an average of 67,829. That number includes the Wisconsin game at “neutral-site” Green Bay.
This week, 11 Big Ten schools are home, including RU. Last year’s home opener against Norfolk State drew 47,453 (~90% capacity) to High Point Solutions Stadium. Think we can do better as we kick off the #AshEra?
Uhhh, students? You ready? You in?