Whether you love or hate StubHub, the steady rise of our new ticketing overlord is handy for the simple fact that, armed with sufficient data, we can somewhat quantify the matchup value for each game on the Buckeye schedule.
Just looking at home games this season, it's no surprise that USC is far and away the most expensive seat of the year1. In fact, with three months of hype ahead of us, the least-affordable ticket is going for just over $2,800 -- or double the price of the best seats to the 2005 tilt with Texas. What recession?
The average price of all USC tickets is an astounding $662, which is already 50% more than the average cost for a ticket at the Coliseum last September and about the same premium on the typical seat when an undefeated Michigan came to town in 2006.
Looking at the rest of the home schedule, there are a few compelling matchups, but with Penn State and Michigan both being road games, it's clear that Saturdays in the Shoe this fall will consist of the big bang and then varying degrees of meh. The following chart represents the cheapest, average and most expensive seat for home games not involving Song Girls.
Wisconsin is Wisconsin, which basically means there's a great chance of a scare regardless of how hard Bielema is trying to destroying that program. The Illini should feature a dangerous Juice to Benn combo and Iowa rotating onto the schedule for the first time since Gonzo got his zig-zag-on has some novelty, especially since the Hawkeyes coincidentally rose to the upper crust of the conference with the Buckeyes off the schedule again last season.
The other three home games are even less appealing. Navy is the opener, so fans will turn out (and pay to do so), New Mexico State comes to town for Halloween and the Gophers are this year's homecoming entree, but really, the three, along with the three mentioned above aren't so much the draw as it is a chance to come out and see what Terrelle the Great will do.
Though here I am yawning at more than half of the games on the schedule, it really is a testament to the fandom of Buckeye Nation that you still can't get into Ohio Stadium for a game this fall for less than $100. The average seat for the games mentioned above range from $210 for Navy to $279 for the Wisconsin game and those numbers will most certainly swell as kickoff approaches.
While Columbus has weathered the economic downturn better than other Ohio (and Midwestern) towns, people are still cutting back. And when you're substituting Jif for the Kroger brand peanut butter, it really is saying something that there are thousands of fans willing to pay $250 for a chance to see the Mighty Gophers come to town or nearly $700 for a prime seat to see the Aggies.
Ticket prices and aside, here's how I rank the home games:
- USC - Obvs.
- Illinois - If you conveniently forget his debacle in Champaign last season, Juice has played the Buckeyes tough. And with Benn freshly anointed as the Big Ten's best, the game will be a good early season test for the Buckeye secondary. You know, in case the Trojans don't test them out well enough in week two.
- Iowa - Maybe it's because we've only played the Hawkeyes five times this decade. Maybe it's because we're dying to taunt the boys at BHGP. Whatever it is, we like this one early.
- Wisconsin - Clay will be a load to handle, especially with all of the young blood at linebacker.
- Navy - The Midshipmen won't be doing the Buckeyes any prep favors for USC considering they'll throw the ball less than a dozen times on the afternoon. At least we think.
- New Mexico State - Don't know a lot about NMSU, but being Halloween and all, we'll finally get a chance to see Buck I Guy dress up in a silly hat and cape.
- Minnesota - The Gophers should be better this season (doesn't it seem as if we're always saying that) and their new field will be a shot to the program, but the game is in Columbus this year. And Pryor likes to truck their linebackers.
1 Incidentally, StubHub's 10 top grossing college football games all feature Ohio State or USC.