It’s over!!! Bob will finally stop writing about football attendance for another nine months!
It was Rutgers’ last game of the 2017 season. It was a nice day with a good opponent.
Yes, it was also senior day. And RU reported a crowd of 35,021. Even I don’t believe that number.
Looking around and then on TV, there is no way that a crowd of that size was there. And that’s unfortunate. Not that you would have seen a great game; you wouldn’t have. But there were seniors - players, managers/trainers, band members, cheer and dance team - who had finished up four or five years in scarlet. And it wasn’t always easy to do that.
Let’s see what the off season brings. Oh, we aren’t done writing about attendance. I’ll be back.
Around the country
There were games of some significance over the weekend, starting on Thursday night when Ole Miss and Mississippi State met in the Egg Bowl. A quick look at those games.
Ole Miss at Mississippi St: The No. 24 Bulldogs hosted the Rebels and stumbled in front of 59,345. Of greater interest, though, is the fact that it ended up being Dan Mullen’s last game as head coach of the dogs as he was hired as Florida’s new coach. For the record, Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field holds 61,337, so pretty much a full house.
USF at UCF: The War on I-4 was for a spot in the American championship game. The announced attendance was 47,129 in a stadium that holds 44,206. And on TV, it was a very vocal, energized, and packed house.
Miami at Pitt: Pitt was playing out the string and Miami was looking to go undefeated. And 35,978 people came to watch at Heinz Field where 68,400 can fit. And they missed the upset, with Pitt dropping the ‘Canes to 10-1. Pitt has had its issues filling Heinz and they, similar to a bunch of schools that have been a part of conference realignment, no longer have a long time rival to play in the ACC.
Virginia Tech at Virginia: When Virginia Tech left the Big East for the ACC, it was Virginia politicians who pushed for it, saying the two big schools should be in the same conference. And the rivalry continues. My oldest daughter attended Tech (by the way, it is not VA Tech as ESPNers want to say!) and I remember seeing a tee shirt in the bookstore with directions to UVa: “North til you smell it, east til you step in it.” Now thast’s a rivalry! And with that rivalry, the game drew a respectable, but far from capacity, 48,609 people to 61,500 seat David A. Harrison III Field at Scott Stadium. Tech won the Commonwealth Clash, 10-0 on Friday night.
UCLA at USC: Okay, this was last week, but these two are arch rivals. And the 82,407. at the LA Coliseum was 10,000 under capacity, but still a really good crowd. And why wouldn’t the PAC 12 put that game as the finale to the season?
Alabama at Auburn: The Iron Bowl. Michigan-Ohio State is The Game but in Alabama, this is blood warfare. Personally, I loved the fact that the Tigers won, 26-14. And the crowd? 87,451 partisans in Jordan-Hare Stadium, which seats....87,451.
Around the Big Ten
The Game was played at the Big House. Nebraska bid farewell to Mike Riley after three bad seasons. And don’t alert the fire marshal in Ann Arbor or Lincoln. The two locales exceeded capacity....by a bunch!
Maryland had its largest crowd of the season, much of it dressed in blue and white. In fact, the last two home games in College Park saw the Terps draw their biggest crowds: losing to Michigan and Penn State. Blue was a dominant color both Saturdays, both on and off the field.
Purdue and Indiana battled for the Old Oaken Bucket in front of Purdue’s second largest crowd, watching the Boilers become bowl eligible. And Paul Bunyan’s Axe was at stake as Wisconsin traveled to Minnesota.
The conference drew over 6.2 million fans. How that stacks up nationally won’t be known for a while; the NCAA won’t issue statistics til all games are completed. And the Big Ten average attendance was 65,639; on any given Saturday, the combined 14 stadium average is 72,683.
On a weekly basis, it was an up and down season, finishing on an uptick, the Michigan-OSU and Nebraska-Iowa games being a big part of that.
The first few weeks of the season were non-conference games for the most part, so with most teams playing, the numbers were high. That can be seen even more in the total attendance numbers below.
Predominantly conference games began in week 5, so at the most, you’d have seven conference home games with total attendance lower.
We will be back, as Arnold indicated above, and take occasional looks at men’s basketball attendance as well as the bowl games. I do love my tables.