StubHub Ticket Data: Michigan has highest demand, LSU vs. Texas is top game and SEC is No. 1 conference

Congratulations, Michigan. You're back on top. 

Before toe meets ball, the Wolverines are once again No. 1 – at least in ticket demand. 

That's one of the takeaways from StubHub's release Tuesday of its most in-demand teams, games and conferences for 2019.

That sort of designation will have to suffice until Jim Harbaugh leads Michigan to a No. 1 ranking on the field. 

StubHub, the nation's largest ticket marketer, is in its 19th year. Since 2014, Michigan has never finished lower than No. 2 among the nation's ticket-buying public. 

Time for the product on the field to catch up? 

For now, StubHub says the demand this season is up a staggering 46 percent for Michigan games. Having one of the toughest schedules in the country helps. The Wolverines play ArmyWisconsin, Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State

It also helps for Michigan to have half a million living alumni clamoring for those tickets. 

Other noteworthy items in the always-popular secondary ticket market: 

  • The Week 2 LSU vs. Texas matchup is the most popular of the season for StubHub buyers. 
  • The infrequent rivalry that is Florida vs. Miami is the most popular neutral site game this season. The Aug. 24 game in Orlando, Florida, helps kick off the season in Week Zero. The teams haven't played since 2013. 
  • The SEC is the most popular conference for the first time in StubHub's tracking that goes back to 2014. Its games are outselling the No. 2 Big Ten by 34 percent. That's even with Alabama dropping from No. 2 to No. 4 in ticket demand. The top four games of 2019 (see below) all include SEC teams. Two of the top five games in Week 1 involve SEC teams – Alabama vs. Duke and Georgia vs. Vanderbilt. Yes, you read that right. Duke and Vanderbilt are part of that ticket demand. At least a bit. 
  • Ticket demand for Georgia has more than doubled since 2018. To the point that the Bulldogs – No. 2 overall – surpassed Alabama as the No. 1 SEC team.  Until 2018, Georgia had never made the top 10. They debuted in the top 10 in 2018 at No. 5. 
  • Clemson wasn't in the top 10 in StubHub's tracking until 2018. The Tigers debut in 2019 at No. 7 after winning their second national championship in three years. 
  • Three of the top 10 games in the most demand are played at neutral sites (see below). 
  • LSU, Notre Dame, Texas and Michigan each play in two of the top 10 most in-demand games. 

The average ticket price in college football across the board tends to be higher than the NFL. The college average this year is $160 per ticket. That's the highest in at least four years. 

"There's always newness in college football," said Jill Krimmel, general manager of sports at StubHub. "There's always this new crop of players. New coaching changes happening. New rivalries.

"I think personally it's the loyalty. I've never seen this in sports. You just don't see these diehard fans." 

Digging down on the 10 most popular games

1. LSU at Texas, Sept. 7: A Week 2 barometer on what might be the two biggest challengers in their respective conferences. Texas at least wants to think it's back. LSU wants to think it never left coming off a Fiesta Bowl berth. The teams have met only 17 times and only once (16 years ago) since 1963. 

"The No. 1 in-demand game for the entire season," Krimmel said. 

Proof: The get-in price (lowest average price per ticket) is $358.

2. Notre Dame at Georgia, Sept. 21: The return game from two years ago when Georgia used a one-point win at Notre Dame as a springboard to a playoff berth. 

3. Florida vs. Miami in Orlando, Aug. 24: No. 1 neutral site game. This has a state championship feel about it with both Florida and Miami each playing Florida State this season as well. 

4. Auburn vs. Oregon in Arlington, Texas, Aug. 31: Pressure for both sides. An Oregon loss allows us to start dismissing the Pac-12 for the rest of the season. Heaven help him if the persecuted Gus Malzahn loses the opener.

5. Michigan at Penn State, Oct. 19. This is the most popular Michigan game of the season with the get-in price averaging $209 per ticket in 106,572-seat Beaver Stadium. 

6. Notre Dame at Michigan, Oct. 26: Michigan went on a 10-game winning streak after losing last season's season opener at Notre Dame. The Wolverines have the most all-time wins. The Irish are tied for sixth. 

7. Oklahoma vs. Texas in Dallas, Oct. 12: The most in-demand annual neutral-site rivalry game of the season. 

8. Texas A&M at Clemson, Sept. 7: Two teams came within a touchdown of Clemson last season. A&M was one of them.  

9. Nebraska at Colorado, Sept. 7: Nebraska fans would go to Vladivostok to watch their Huskers. They'll fill up Folsom Field and reminisce about some bitter Big 12 meetings. The most affordable top 10 game with an average ticket price of $280

10. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 9: This one may decide the SEC West. This time LSU would like to score.

Thoughts on the top 10 most in-demand teams for 2019

1. Michigan: Biggest stadium, biggest attendance. Who cares if average attendance was down 847 per game?

2. Georgia: If you need to be told, Dawg fans are loud and travel well. Notre Dame highlights a schedule that includes Auburn and Texas A&M. 

3. Texas: Up almost 5,000 per home game as the Horns  think they've turned the corner.

4. Alabama: Fan engagement is an issue even at the top of the food chain. 

5. Penn State: Michigan on Oct. 19 is definitely the highlight of the home schedule. Ohio State and Michigan State are on the road.

6. Texas A&M: There's always pressure to fill the largest stadium in the state of Texas. So far, so good for Jimbo. Ags were up more than 1,000 per game last season.

7. Clemson: In a down ACC, thank goodness Texas A&M comes to town. 

8. Ohio State: One of the biggest attendance drop offs of 2018. Down 5,500 per game. And that was with Michigan at home. 

9. Notre Dame: Brian Kelly is now one of the most secure coaches in the country. Entering his 10th season in South Bend, Indiana, Kelly has led the Irish to a BCS and College Football Playoff berth in his nine seasons. 

10. LSU: A poor man could walk through a Tigers tailgate and get enough to eat and drink for a week. 

Texas fans had plenty of reason to celebrate after beating Oklahoma last season. USATSI

Top five (annually played) rivalry games

1. Oklahoma vs. Texas, in Dallas, Oct. 12: How big is this game? The demand is up 122 percent from last year per StubHub with both teams contending for the Big 12 and playoff berths. 

2. Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 30: If not this year for Harbaugh to beat Ohio State, then when? Side note: 10 Ohio State items are sold per hour on eBay (which owns StubHub).

3. USC at Notre Dame, Oct. 12: In a smaller stadium (Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum vs. Notre Dame Stadium), sales are up 217 percent from last year.

4. Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 30: Nick Saban is 3-3 in six visits to Auburn as Bama's coach. 

5. Georgia vs. Florida, in Jacksonville, Florida, Nov. 2: They could dress 22 lemurs in Dawgs and Gators gear and TIAA Bank Field would sell out.  

Bucking a trend

These figures certainly don't reflect a disturbing progression. Attendance last season was the lowest in 22 years

Administrators are pulling their hair out trying to figure out how to retain fans. There isn't much concern for the top 10 most in-demand teams for 2019. Those 10 were up a net 140 fans per game in 2018.

"What we're seeing at StubHub is demand up almost 10 percent over last year," Krimmel said. "We're not necessarily seeing that [decline] being reflected in our market."

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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