The 2012 NCAA football season kicks off tonight with a series of 15 games, highlighted by South Carolina at Vanderbilt and Washington State and BYU. With that in mind Live Toast is taking a look at the 2012 college football season, focusing on the top ten games of the year. We didn't decide what the biggest games are because of tradition, or what school is on TV more or anything that subjective. Instead we're relying on fans to tell us with their hard-earned dollars. Our ranking of the top ten biggest games of the NCAA football season reflect the price fans are willing to spend to watch the game live. Here are the ten games of the 2012 College Football season ranked by the average price for a game day ticket on Ticket Liquidator .
Texas A&M Fans are not afraid of the big guns in the SEC and are willing to fork over a whopping $278 to see the Aggies take on the Tigers, who we last saw loosing to Alabama in the 2012 BCS Championship Game. A&M will likely be heavy underdogs going into this game, but they didn't join the SEC to run and hide. Expect the Aggies to pull out all the stops as they try to prove they can hang with the SEC's best.
- #9 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Michigan Wolverines (Cowboys Classic)
- Average ticket price: $286
- Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Arlington
- Saturday, September 1
Taking place at Dallas Cowboys Stadium, the Cowboys Classic marks the unofficial kickoff for the NCAA football season. This year the defending champion Alabama Crimson Tide travel to Dallas to take on the all-time college football wins leader the Michigan Wolverines. Passions run deep on both sides, so it shouldn't surprise anyone fans are willing to travel across the country to see their team play in the first game of the season.
The Michigan Wolverines are heavy underdogs in the game, but they had a solid 2011 (10-2 and a Sugar Bowl victory) after a several painful seasons. Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke, who succeeded Rich Rodriguez after he compiled the worst record for a Michigan head coach, is hoping to start the season by stunning the defending champions. 'Bama, who have been as high as 14 point favorite in this game, are expected to cruise to a victory. 'Bama is #2 in pre-season polls, while Michigan is at a respectable #8. A victory for Michigan would be a stunner, but hey, crazier things have happened.
"The Game" has lost some of its luster the past decade as both programs have had their share of downs, but Ohio State is a year removed from their debacle and Michigan seems to be on the way back to its glory days, so its no surprise fans are already looking forward to the last regular season game of the year. Both teams could win their division, but there's a good chance this game will decide who actually does.
Two of the most high-sped offenses in the Big Ten face-off in Lincoln, and this game could also be a preview of the 2012 Big Ten Championship Game. This will be the first ranked opponent for both teams, so expect tensions to be running high at Memorial Stadium. Wisconsin sits at #12 in the AP's preseason poll, while Nebraska sits at #17.
With the nickname like "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party," more than a few cocktails will be imbibed by Florida and Georgia fans in the parking lots surrounding Jacksonville's EverBank Field. Florida was 7-6 last year and beat Ohio State 24–17 in the Gator Bowl while Georgia was 10-4 and lost to Michigan State 30-33 in the Outback Bowl. Florida ran the table in this rivalry from 2008 - 2010 (including an OT, 34-31 win in 2010), but Georgia was able to edge out Florida in a 24-20 win last season. Florida is ranked #23 by the AP in preseason, while Georgia is ranked #6.
The newly-resurrected "Emerald Isle Classic" sees Notre Dame and Navy travel to Dublin to continue the longest uninterrupted intersectional series in college football. After Navy winning the 2009 and 2010 matchups, Brian Kelly and the Irish were able to get the win in 2011. This game has been played every year since 1914, and with fan bases steeped in tradition, it's no surprise this game is one of our top sellers.
While both programs suffered long-term downturns in the previous decade, new coaches at both schools seemed to have turned the page, and fans are buying in. With an average price of $387, the Notre Dame vs Michigan game is still clearly a big deal for fans. Michigan made some big strides last year and senior QB Denard "Shoelace" Robinson has been among the most electric players in college ball, while Notre Dame's sophomore QB Everett Golson beat out Andrew Helix for the starting spot. But, judging from Head Coach Brian Kelly rotating QB style last year, there are no guarantees Golson will be there for the fourth game of the season to face Robinson.
- #3 The Red River Shootout - Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners
- Average ticket price: $389
- Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas
- Saturday, October 13
With the average ticket price less than $10 less than the Iron Bowl, the Red River Shootout shows that the passion, if not the talent, in the Big 12 is just as strong as in the SEC. The Sooners enter the season at #4, while Texas is at #15. The Sooners ended last season 10-3 and beat to Iowa in the Insight Bowl, while Texas beat California in the Holiday Bowl to finish 8-5. Either team could end up winning the conference, and this game will go a long way toward deciding who does.
- #2 The Iron Bowl - Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Auburn Tigers
- Average ticket price: $397
- Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa
- Saturday, November 24
Perhaps the most heated rivalry in college football is the Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama. When Cam Newton and the Tigers won the BCS Championship in 2010 an incensed 'Bama fan was so upset he poisoned 130-year-old trees at Auburn's Toomer's Corner. Never mind this was Auburn's first title since 1957, compared to 'Bama's 8 since that year, the fan just couldn't handle Auburn winning. That's not to say all 'Bama fans are as crazy as this one, its just a tribute to the insane passion on both sides. With Auburn winning the Iron Bowl and the NCAA Championship in 2010, and 'Bama doing the same in 2011, the 2012 Iron Bowl is not only the rubber match for the past three years, but if history is any indication the game could decide the next national champ.
These teams faced off in two of the biggest games of last season, and LSU and 'Bama look to pick up right where they left off. This game will likely decide who wins the SEC West and could very well decide who makes it back to the title game. You can bet Les Miles and LSU want to win the rubber match, but 'Bama will be champs all year. With fans forking over an incredible $496 to see the rematch, the passion on both sides will be crazy.
So there you have it folks, the top ten biggest games of the year. College football is back and fans have been waiting all summer to see how their team matches up.
What do you think, what game are you most interested in seeing this year?