Big bowls demand big bucks

Bowl season is well underway, with games having started on Dec. 16 and running into January. There’s something for everyone during that time, but the big games are what will draw the most attention and command the highest price for a ticket.

Between Dec. 29 and Jan. 8 are the New Year’s Six games and the College Football Playoffs, seven total contests pitting the best of the best against each other to end the 2017 season. The Cotton, Fiesta, Orange and Peach bowls serve as the appetizers before the main course on Jan. 1, the Rose and Sugar bowls that serve as playoff semifinals.

Then, a week later, college football’s national champion will be crowned in Atlanta.

Using pricing figures provided by TicketCity, here’s a look at what you’ll need to spend to get in to the New Year’s Six and College Football Playoff games:

(Note: Rankings used are those associated with the College Football Playoff standings)


Ticket info for college football’s top bowls

Cotton Bowl: Ohio State vs. Southern California

Where: AT&T Stadium; Arlington, Texas

When: Friday, Dec. 29; 8:30 p.m. ET

Median ticket price: $591

How much to get in the door: $54

Ohio State and USC won their respective conference championship games but were shut out of the College Football Playoff because each had 2 regular-season losses. They’ll get to take out their frustrations on each other while providing us with 1 of 2 de facto Rose Bowl matchups pitting teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12.

It’s been 8 years since the Buckeyes (11-2) and Trojans (11-2) have met, the last time an 18-15 USC win at Ohio State in 2009. They last met in a bowl game in the 1985 Rose Bowl, also won by the Trojans who hold a 13-9-1 edge in the series.

Each team has made 1 prior appearance in the Cotton Bowl, with USC beating Texas Tech 55-14 in 1995 and OSU downing Texas A&M 28-12 in 1987.


Fiesta Bowl: Penn State vs. Washington

Where: University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, Ariz.

When: Saturday, Dec. 30; 4 p.m. ET

Median ticket price: $563

How much to get in the door: $50

The final spot in the 2016 playoffs went to Washington over Penn State, and it’s fair to say the Nittany Lions might have put up a better fight against Alabama than the Huskies did in losing 24-7 to Alabama. We’ll never know if that is true, but at least we get to see these squads clash in a battle of 10-win squads.

Penn State (10-2) is playing a Pac-12 opponent in a bowl for the second year in a row, falling to USC in a thrilling Rose Bowl last January. The Lions have won both previous meetings with Washington, the last coming in the 1983 Aloha Bowl in Hawaii.

Washington is making its first appearance in the Fiesta Bowl, while PSU is 6-0 in this game with the last trip in 1997 resulting in a 38-15 win over Texas.


Orange Bowl: Miami (Florida) vs. Wisconsin

Where: Hard Rock Stadium; Miami Gardens, Fla.

When: Saturday, Dec. 30; 8 p.m. ET

Median ticket price: $620

How much to get in the door: $87

Had the ball bounced a different way, Miami and Wisconsin could have been meeting in either the Rose or Sugar Bowl as part of the playoffs. Instead, each lost its conference title game and that knocked them out of the playoff hunt and into this consolation battle.

Miami (10-2) was crushed by Clemson the ACC title game, its second consecutive loss, but now gets to play in its home stadium against a Wisconsin team that was edged by Ohio State in the Big Ten final. The Badgers (12-1) are playing in a New Year’s Six game for the second year in a row, beating Western Michigan last season in the Cotton Bowl.

This is the first meeting between the teams since Wisconsin claimed a 20-14 win over Miami in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl, though the all-time series is tied 2-2. The Badgers have never before played in the Orange Bowl while Miami is appearing for the 10th time, holding a 6-3 record with a 16-14 win over Florida State in 2004.


Peach Bowl: Auburn vs. Central Florida

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium; Atlanta, Ga.

When: Monday, Jan. 1; 12:30 p.m. ET

Median ticket price: $606

How much to get in the door: $91

Playing multiple games in Atlanta was a major goal for Auburn this season, but not like this. The Tigers (10-3) were hoping the second trip to Mercedes-Benz Stadium would be in the national championship game after winning the SEC title on the same field, instead their loss to Georgia on Dec. 2 meant they would be playing there a week early.

UCF (12-0) has no such reservations about celebrating the new year in Atlanta, since it means the Knights are playing in a major bowl game after completing a perfect regular season. This comes 2 years after UCF was 0-12, right before Scott Frost was hired to execute a swift turnaround.

Frost has since been hired by Nebraska but will still coach the Knights in their first Peach Bowl, hoping to beat Auburn for the first time in 4 tries. This is Auburn’s sixth Peach Bowl, the most recent visit in 2011 when it beat Virginia 43-24 in what was then known as the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.


Rose Bowl: Georgia vs. Oklahoma

Where: Rose Bowl; Pasadena, Calif.

When: Monday, Jan. 1; 5 p.m. ET

Median ticket price: $1,195

How much to get in the door: $156

Known as “The Granddaddy of Them All,” the Rose Bowl is arguably the most iconic bowl game in college football. That it’s playing host to the first of two playoff semifinal games only adds to what will already be a tremendous atmosphere on New Year’s Day in Pasadena.

The last time the Rose Bowl was a playoff game, in 2015, Oregon and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota took out defending national champ Florida State. If history repeats itself that means Oklahoma (12-1) will come out on top since it’s led by senior quarterback Baker Mayfield, who won the Heisman this season.

Georgia (12-1) will have something to say about that, much like it did in throttling Auburn in the SEC championship to avenge its only loss.

Oklahoma hasn’t played in the Rose Bowl since 2003, beating Washington State 34-14, while Georgia’s lone Rose Bowl appearance was in 1943 when it beat UCLA 9-0.


Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Clemson

Where: Superdome; New Orleans, La.

When: Monday, Jan. 1; 8:45 p.m. ET

Median ticket price: $1,113

How much to get in the door: $145

Meeting for the third consecutive postseason, Alabama and Clemson won’t have a national championship on the line this time. Instead the Crimson Tide (11-1) and Tigers (12-1) will be fighting for the right to play for a title, with Clemson trying to win a second in a row after downing Alabama last year in the championship game.

It will be no surprise if this game is as exciting as the previous two, both decided by a score in the final moments. And it’s hardly shocking that tickets are going for so much to see this New Year’s clash in the Big Easy.

Alabama, which is 13-4 all-time against Clemson, is 8-7 in the Sugar Bowl but has lost its last 3 appearances. That includes back-to-back losses to Ohio State and Oklahoma in 2015 and 2014. Clemson’s only previous Sugar Bowl was in 1959, when it lost 7-0 to LSU.


College Football Playoff National Championship

Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium; Atlanta, Ga.

When: Monday, Jan. 8; 8 p.m. ET

Median ticket price: $4,444

How much to get in the door: $1,909

Get a pair of tickets to the national championship or make a sizable down payment on a nice new car or truck? That depends on your perspective and your college football fandom, but make no mistake that getting into the title game in Atlanta will be expensive but probably well worth it.

Since FBS went to the playoff system the price of a ticket to the championship has always been pricey, but this year is setting records. In 2015 the average price was $623, per TicketCity, and last year when Alabama and Clemson met in Tampa the average price was $1,000.

So why the big bump in price? Part of it is because the game is being played in a swanky new stadium but there’s also the possibility of a “hometown” team playing in the championship if Georgia can beat Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. If the Bulldogs do make the final expect the average price to go up even more, so if you’re planning to go it’s best to get those tickets ASAP.