StubHub’s 2019 College Football Preview: Michigan Regains Top Spot, SEC Leads Conference List for First Time
The countdown to college football season is on. With only two weeks before the first kickoff of 2019, StubHub has the latest insights surrounding the hottest teams, most-anticipated matchups and this year’s exciting trends in Division I football, based on StubHub’s sales trends to date. Additionally this season, StubHub has teamed up with eBay data analysts to determine which teams, conferences and states drive the most demand for fan gear sales.
New for the 2019 season are StubHub’s partnerships with the University of Minnesota, Wake Forest University and Washington State University. As a trusted partner of more than 70 NCAA schools, StubHub is a trusted and credible source for tickets to college football games. More in-depth highlights can be found in StubHub’s comprehensive preview below.
Let’s take a look at the way the teams stack up:
Michigan Is Back on Top
- The Wolverines regain the #1 spot after falling to #2 in 2018.
- Michigan was StubHub’s top team for four straight years (2014-2017) and has never fallen below the #2 spot.
- Demand for Michigan games is up 46% on Stubhub since 2018, based on ticket sales.
- This marks the third straight season that Michigan is the most in-demand team in the Big Ten.
- The team’s most in-demand game of the season is the matchup against Penn State.
- eBay’s merchandise sales for the team have doubled in growth since spring of last year.
Georgia Spike Brings Team to #2
- Georgia ticket sales on StubHub have more than doubled since 2018.
- Within the SEC, Georgia surpassed Alabama as the #1 in-demand team.
- In 2018, the Bulldogs debuted at #5, their first-ever appearance on the list.
- Georgia’s top-selling game is their matchup against Notre Dame, which is also the #2 most in-demand game in all of college football this year.
- In the past year, Georgia gear has sold at an average rate of eight fan items on eBay per hour.
Texas Makes Biggest Jump: Lands at #3
- Demand for Texas games is up 160% since 2018, based on ticket sales.
- The Longhorns were #9 on the list in 2018 and were not even on the list in 2017.
- Texas is playing in two of the Top 10 games of the year (LSU vs. Texas and the Red River Showdown).
- The team’s most in-demand game of the season is their matchup against LSU, which is also the #1 game in all of college football.
New Teams Join the Top 10: Texas A&M and Clemson return
- Clemson is back in the Top 10 after not qualifying for the list in 2018.
- Since 2018, Clemson ticket sales on StubHub have jumped 86% and eBay sales for Clemson memorabilia and jerseys increased by 20% since last spring.
- Texas A&M reaches the Top 10 for the first time since 2016, when they were ranked #8. Demand is up 24% in ticket sales since 2018.
“This year’s college football demand is largely being driven by fans still fired up from last year’s surprises and comebacks,” said Jill Krimmel, general manager of sports for StubHub. “At StubHub, we’re seeing remarkable demand for Texas and Georgia and, clearly, support for Clemson is strong after winning the National Championship last year, bringing them back into the Top 10 in-demand teams.”
MOST POPULAR TEAM MERCH
eBay analyzed top teams’ merchandise sales over the past year to determine who is driving the most excitement on the online marketplace.
- Ohio State University ranks as #1 in-demand team: an average of 10 Ohio State items are sold on eBay per hour.
- Alabama follows closely behind at #2: the team sees only 2% less sales than Ohio
- Georgia rounds out the third spot: George fans snap up gear at an average of eight items sold on eBay per hour
“Each year, fans turn to eBay for memorabilia, jerseys and other apparel to show their support for storied football schools and conferences,” said Sam Bright, Vice President of Merchandising at eBay. “In advance of the 2019 season, we’re taking a look at where loyalties lie among our shoppers and the insights are telling; we know the big, southern schools like the University of Alabama and University of Georgia will have powerful fanbases yet again, with sales of their merch making up nearly 80 percent of the top-selling teams on our site.”
CONFERENCE DEMAND RANKINGS
For the first time ever, the Southeastern Conference is StubHub’s top selling conference, based on ticket sales.
SEC at #1 for First Time Ever
- The SEC tops the list of conferences as the most in-demand for the first time ever. The SEC previously held the #2 position for the last five years (since 2014).
- The SEC lead is solid, outselling the Big Ten, which comes in at #2, by 34%.
- StubHub’s top four selling games of 2019 all include an SEC team
- Georgia surpasses Alabama as the #1 SEC team with 85% more sales.
TEAM MERCH RANKINGS BY CONFERENCE
eBay identified the top selling teams from NCAAF conferences based on sales data.
Some conference winners were also topping eBay’s overall list, like the Michigan State Spartans whose sales increased 55% in March 2019, the month they won the Big 10 Conference. On the other hand, other teams, like the UCLA Bruins and UAB Blazers, didn’t win on the field, but their fans still drove them to first place, driving leading sales on the online marketplace..
BREAKING DOWN THE GAMES
Non-conference games are driving big demand in 2019, including several neutral site and Week 1 clashes between schools that have not faced each other in quite awhile.
Most In-Demand Games of the Season
- LSU vs. Texas, facing each other for the first time since 2003, takes a strong #1 lead, outselling the #2 game, Notre Dame vs. Georgia, by 68%.
- LSU is playing in the #1 game of the season for the second year in a row.
- Notre Dame, Texas, LSU and Michigan each have two games in the Top 10.
- The most affordable Top 10 game of the year is Nebraska vs. Colorado, with an average ticket price of $280.
Top Week 1 Matchups
- Camping World Kickoff, featuring Florida vs. Miami, is the most in-demand Week 1 game by 67%; Florida and Miami haven’t played each other since 2013.
- The 2019 Camping World Kickoff is outselling the 2018 Camping World Kickoff (which featured Alabama and Louisville) by 81%.
- SEC schools are playing in four of the top five games of opening weekend.
Top 5 Rivalry Games
The chase for superiority over bitter rivals continues to fuel fandom in 2019, as the Top 5 most in-demand rivalry games this season are the same from 2018, with a shift in positions.
- The Oklahoma vs. Texas Red River Showdown moves into the #1 position after coming in at #3 last year.
- This year’s game outpaces the 2018 matchup by 122%
- For the second year in a row, Michigan vs. Ohio State is the #2 most in-demand rivalry game.
- The USC vs. Notre Dame game had the highest jump in sales from 2018, up 217% from last year’s game.
“StubHub is continuing to see storied rivalry games drive intense demand from one year to the next, which is a testament to the loyalty of college football fans,” said Krimmel. “Many of these matchups have taken place more than 100 times, including the Red River Showdown, which is StubHub’s #1 rivalry game going into the start of this season. The fight for bragging rights is such an integral part of college football tradition that fans continue to buy year after year.”
Neutral Site Games
The phenomenon of neutral site games in college football has continued to gain popularity over the last few years. This year, neutral site games account for three of the Top 10 overall most in-demand games, drawing fans from both competing schools and the host state. Here’s a breakdown of just where fans are coming from, based on sales.
- Florida vs. Miami - Camping World Stadium in Orlando
- Florida 80%, Georgia 3%
- Auburn vs. Oregon - AT&T Stadium in Dallas
- Alabama 22%, Oregon 13%
- Oklahoma vs. Texas - Cotton Bowl in Dallas
- Texas 49%, Oklahoma 10%
- Duke vs. Alabama - Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta
- Alabama 32%, North Carolina 6%
- Boise St. vs. Florida St. - TIIA Bank Stadium in Jacksonville
- 75% Florida, 5% Idaho
“With neutral site games hosting a significant number of top tier schools this year, StubHub is seeing these unique events drum up a particular amount of excitement,” said Krimmel. “Some non-conference matchups are drawing fans from the host cities as well as fans traveling great distances from the competing teams, particularly anxious to attend some thrilling games.”
WHERE ARE FANS COMING FROM?
College football fans come from all around the country, but StubHub sales data shows that five states drive a majority of the demand. Here’s how they rank:.
eBay sales data shows many of the same states drive demand on the online marketplace but with a minor tweak: Ohio beats out Pennsylvania on eBay as #5. An average of 15 NCAAF related items are sold per hour on eBay in Florida, putting them as the top seller.
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