- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Bowl season is almost upon us, and there's one number that is almost if not equally important as the final score in these postseason games: ticket sales.
How many tickets a school sells to a bowl game can impact its future selections, as teams that draw well are always more attractive to bowl hosts. It can also tell you just how motivated a fan base is about going to a particular game.
With that in mind, we thought we'd take a look at how bowl ticket sales are going across the Big Ten, according to media reports and information from the schools:
Wisconsin: The Badgers sold out their Rose Bowl Game allotment, as you would expect.
Michigan: The Wolverines gobbled up 14,000 tickets to the Allstate Sugar Bowl on the first days of sales and were nearing 15,000 out of the initial 17,500-ticket allotment. Virginia Tech sales have reportedly been sluggish, making us wonder why in the heck the Hokies were picked for this game.
Nebraska: As of early this week, the Huskers had sold about 8,500 of their 12,500-ticket allotment to the Capital One Bowl. The Sea of Red almost always sells out, even if it's not entirely enthused about this 9-3 team.
Michigan State: Sales have been a bit slow so far for the Spartans' game against Georgia in the Outback Bowl. The school has only sold about 6,000 of its 11,500 seats so far. Could there be a hangover from Indianapolis, where a lot of Michigan State fans traveled for the Big Ten title game? That's something to watch, as the title game could affect bowl attendance in the future.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes reportedly have sold a little more than 6,500 of their 12,750 tickets to the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl. That's a low figure for such a dedicated fan base, but Ohio State is 6-6 and its fans have grown used to BCS games.
Iowa: Iowa has reportedly sold about 6,200 tickets out of 11,000 to the Insight Bowl. Ticket officials say the pace is slightly above this time last year, in which the Hawkeyes also went to the Insight Bowl.
Northwestern: School officials declined to give a number on tickets sold so far for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas but said the sales pace is about twice that of last year's trip to the TicketCity Bowl. Northwestern will need a strong turnout to counter what is basically a home game for Texas A&M.
Penn State: Understandably, sales have been slow so far for the Nittany Lions, who received 6,500 tickets to the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas against Houston. Not only are Penn State fans upset about falling down the Big Ten bowl pecking order after nearly winning a division title, but Dallas is not exactly driving distance for students or many fans. Throw in the looming controversy of the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal, and you have a recipe for sluggish sales. Penn State's ticket manager said he is hoping that the school can sell 4,000 tickets. He said many of the Nittany Lions alumni in the Dallas area appear to be buying their tickets directly through the bowl game and not the school, however.
Purdue: As of Monday afternoon, the Boilermakers had claimed 3,800 of the school's 5,000-seat allotment to the Little Caesars Bowl, with all 900 club-level seats sold out.
Illinois: The Illini likely have the toughest sales hurdle, trying to convince fans to fly out to San Francisco to follow a team that lost its last six games and fired its coach. A school spokesman said Illinois is counting on its California-based alumni clubs to buy a large portion of the team's 8,000-ticket allotment, but that those clubs had not finalized their orders yet.