Top 5 in-demand College football games not featuring an SEC team

While some college football fans may argue otherwise, it is almost universally accepted that the Southeastern Conference has been home to the best college football teams over the past few years.  Last year was the first time since 2005 that the BCS National Championship did not result in an SEC team taking home the trophy.  Alabama, Auburn, Florida, and LSU have all been crowned since 2005 and other top programs such as Georgia and South Carolina have been annually competing after New Year’s Day.

But that is not to say that the other conferences (or independents) have been quietly laying down when faced with SEC competition.  Just last year, the Florida State Seminoles took home the championship behind the on-field brilliance of Jameis Winston.  And the Oklahoma Sooners took down the mighty Crimson Tide 45-31 in the Sugar Bowl in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates.

Another area where the non-SEC teams are currently putting on an impressive show is demand for tickets.  Currently, three of the five most expensive games on the secondary market do not have an SEC team participating. The remainder of the top ten most expensive games on the secondary market are all SEC matchups, but its clear fans do not discriminate when it comes to seeing their teams play.  Here is a breakdown on the top five most in demand games in college football this season not featuring an SEC team:

1.)    Michigan Wolverines @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish

With an average ticket price of $584, Michigan vs. Notre Dame is currently the most expensive game on the secondary market.  The cheapest ticket available right now is a whopping $312, significantly higher than 95% of all college football games featuring a power conference team this year.  With the annual meeting between these two programs temporarily on hold after this year, fans are going to have to pay a premium to see this meeting.

2.)    Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners

Image: AP

Image: AP

The Red River Showdown has the third highest average ticket price on the secondary market this year at $466, roughly $82 lower than LSU vs. Alabama.  Oklahoma is coming off of a spectacular Sugar Bowl victory last year and head coach Bob Stoops will want to get back to the national championship game for the first time since 2004.  Meanwhile, the Longhorns have new head coach Charlie Strong at the helm, hoping he can return the team to the glory they experienced a decade ago.

3.)    Michigan Wolverines @ Ohio State Buckeyes

Michigan makes the list yet again as a road team with their annual rivalry with Ohio State.  Currently, the average ticket price is $425 with the cheapest ticket available at $162.  The Buckeyes were a Big 10 Championship game victory away from an undefeated season last year and will look to take the next step in making it to the championship game.  That will require defeating Michigan in the final game of the season.

4.)    UCLA Bruins vs. USC Trojans

The west coast boasts a pretty good rivalry in the Bruins and Trojans and ticket prices on the secondary market certainly prove that.  Currently, the average ticket price is $336 with a get-in price of only $99.  Neither team has been able to make much national championship noise over the past few years, but the Bruins enter the season with raised expectations behind the arm of quarterback Brett Hundley.  If Hundley can keep the Bruins perfect entering this game, expect prices to be even higher once November 22nd rolls around.

5.)    Michigan State Spartans @ Oregon Ducks

Oregon recently announced that they will have scratch-and-sniff season tickets this year.  Fortunately for season ticket holders, they will receive tickets for the Michigan State game on September 6th and will not have to pay incredibly high prices on the secondary market.  Right now, the average ticket price is $301 with a get-in price of $137.

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The 2014 US Open Tennis Fan’s Guide

Four weeks from today the greatest tennis stars in the world will descend upon Queens, New York and participate in the final Grand Slam event of 2014. Stan Wawrinka opened up the year with an upset victory at the Australian Open, defeating Rafael Nadal for his first ever Grand Slam title.  Nadal would quickly get back on his feet however, as he beat Novak Djokovic in the French Open final.  And not to be outdone, Djokovic came back and defeated Roger Federer to win last month’s Wimbledon finals.

So does that mean Federer will follow suit and take home the U.S. Open?  Perhaps, though he will have stiff competition.  Since the 2005 French Open, there have only been four majors (out of a possible 38) that have not been won by Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic.  Two of those majors happened to be the U.S. Open with Juan Martin del Potro defeating Federer to win the 2009 title and Andy Murray taking down Novak Djokovic in 2012 (other than Wawrinka, the only other major not won by that trio was last year’s Wimbledon won by Murray.)

Rafael Nadal will look to defend his 2013 title. (USA TODAY)

Nadal brought home last year’s U.S. Open championship and a win this year would give him three career U.S. Open titles.  Djokovic won back in 2011, sandwiched between a 2011 Wimbledon and 2012 Australian Open victories.  But of that group, Federer stands alone with an impressive five US Open titles, all in a row from 2004-2008.  Nonetheless, he hasn’t been able to get to the finals match ever since del Potro took him down in 2009.

Fans looking to attend this year’s U.S. Open will find tickets to be expensive (as they are every year) but that certainly doesn’t mean there aren’t great deals available.  In terms of the best value, Thursday, September 4th is probably your best bet.  That is the day of the Men’s quarterfinals with tickets available for as low as $39 during the afternoon session and $88 for the evening session.  Comparatively, US Open ticket for the first round of afternoon sessions never drop below $50.  So you’ll potentially be able to see Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray all in one day (perhaps even facing each other) for a great low price.

And don’t forget about the ladies. Though no trio of women have been as dominant in tennis over the past decade, Serena Williams has had no difficulty taking home the championship in each of the past two U.S. Opens.  The semifinals for women’s singles has tickets available for as low as $47 and an average ticket price of $281.  The women’s finals have tickets starting at $96 and an average price of $454, so the semifinals are almost half the price. With the opportunity to see Serena compete against other heavyweights such as Maria Sharapova, Li Na, and Caroline Wozniacki, the semifinals are you best value for the ladies.

So if you’re looking for the best deals at this year’s U.S. Open tennis tournament, our recommendation is the men’s quarterfinals and women’s semifinals.

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Cowboys Ticket Prices On Par With 2013

Brandon Carr wins the game for Dallas in Week 1 last season. (STAR-TELEGRAM)

The Cowboys season is only six weeks away and we’ve compared ticket prices between what we’re seeing this year and what Cowboys fans were paying in 2013. The team itself is mostly intact from last season, but the schedule has a lot of top tier teams coming to AT&T Stadium this time around. Dallas is known for being one of the pricier tickets in the country regardless of how good the Cowboys are, and Dallas has one of the biggest fan bases in the world even with only winning a single playoff game in the last 15 years.

Currently from all the tickets purchased for the 2014 thus far, the average ticket price has been $212. The average ticket price in 2013 was $216, so not much of a difference there. The way they got to those numbers is more interesting.

The opening home game of the season in 2013 was a Sunday night game against the Giants, which had an average ticket price of $169. That ended up being quite the game, with the Cowboys leading most of the game thanks to three INTs — the last of which was a Brandon Carr interception return for a TD to win the game late in the 4th. This year fans are paying an average of $259 (a 53% increase) to see the Cowboys face the 49ers in the season opener, and that one also promises to be a memorable game — Cowboys/Niners games usually are.

The big difference seen between the two season thus far is that there were more extreme highs and lows in 2013. This could change as the season goes on this year, but the cheapest average ticket price this season is Week 9 vs. the Cardinals at $175. Last year, the Week 3 game against the Rams came in at an average of $96. On the flip side, the most expensive game of 2013 (vs. Broncos) fetched an average price of $316, which this year’s most expensive game is the aforementioned game against San Francisco. The first three home games of the season this year will be the most expensive, with the Saints and Texans also making the trip to Arlington early on.

The ticket prices will rise and fall depending on what we see from the Cowboys and their opponents in 2014, the same way we saw prices skyrocket for the Week 17 game against the Eagles that crowned the NFC East champion. Prices doubled overnight, and fans got a good (albeit Romo-less) game. Buying early for those late season games might be a good practice if you have faith the Cowboys will be in the hunt, which they usually are.

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Top 3 Chicago Bears Games to Attend this Season

Cutler has the tools to lead the league’s best passing offense. (Chicago Tribune)

NFL season is finally upon us as almost all teams have opened their training camps.  That includes the Chicago Bears who missed out on the playoffs last season for the sixth time in seven years. Second year head coach Marc Trestman impressed last season with his ability to develop the second-best scoring offense in all of football, despite quarterback Jay Cutler’s midseason injury that forced him to miss multiple games.  Nonetheless, the defense was not a bright spot for the 2013 Chicago Bears as they ranked 30th in the league, a drop from being the fifth-ranked defense in 2012.

Injuries were certainly a key element to the Bears downfall last season as cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Kelvin Hayden, alongside defensive tackles Henry Melton and Nick Collins, all missed time.  A healthy 2014 Bears team could lead to a significantly improved record, why many fans are eagerly anticipating the upcoming season.

For fans looking to see the Bears play at Soldier Field this year, there are a number of intriguing games to choose from.  They open up against the Buffalo Bills and also host the Miami Dolphins, the first time either team has made a visit to Chicago in eight years.  Tony Romo also makes an appearance as the Bears will be hosting the Cowboys on December 4th, a Thursday night showdown in the final month of the regular season.

Nonetheless, none of those games cracked our list of the top three Chicago Bears games to attend this season.  In reverse order, here they are…

3. Sunday November 23rd against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Why does an ordinary Sunday game against the non-descript Tampa Bay Buccaneers make the top three? Because the cost of tickets is lower than any other game this year.  Bears tickets begin for only $118 for this game and lower level seating starts at only $237.  The cheapest ticket for our next game on the list is $244, so you’re saving quite a bit by seeing the Bucs.  And with Tampa in rebuilding mode, there’s a good opportunity you’ll be able to see a Bears victory.

2.) Sunday September 28th against the Green Bay Packers:

There’s simply no way you can have a top games list and not include Bears vs. Packers.  Last year’s matchup was one for the ages, even though Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay broke the hearts of Chicago fans everywhere with his touchdown late in the game on fourth down.  The downside, of course, is that you’ll be paying top dollar to see these two teams play, with an average price on the secondary market of $586.

1.) Monday, December 15th against the New Orleans Saints:

The Bears always get their fair share of primetime games and the 2014 regular season schedule is no different.  Drew Brees will come to town in the middle of December for what should be a potential playoff preview played on Monday Night Football.  And the best part? Tickets currently begin for as low as $119, just a buck more than the Tampa Bay game. Sure, it can get cold at Soldier Field on a December evening, but at just $119, it’s too good of a deal to turn down.

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Things to Know About the Home of the Dallas Cowboys — AT&T Stadium

As July gives way to August, we are reminded that NFL football is fast approaching.  And for fans of America’s team, training camp begins today.  The Dallas Cowboys will begin their quest for a Super Bowl championship this afternoon in Oxnard, California.  The Cowboys have been competitive over the past few years, but have come up short in the final game, all against divisional opponents.  Last year, Dallas fell short against the Philadelphia Eagles at home, just a year removed from losing to Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins on the road.  And three years ago, it was Eli Manning and the New York Giants defeating Dallas at MetLife Stadium, eventually advancing on to win the Super Bowl over the New England Patriots.

This season, Cowboys fans are hoping for better performance late in the year and, hopefully, a playoff berth. In order to do that, Dallas will have to navigate a difficult schedule that includes a home opener against the San Francisco 49ers, a Week 4 matchup with Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, as well as road games against defending champion Seattle and Chicago.

They will need to have a solid home record if they plan on advancing into the NFL playoffs, and that means Cowboys fans will need to come out in force for their eight games on the schedule this year. If you’re planning on catching a game this year, here are ten facts about AT&T Stadium, as well as the upcoming Cowboys season, that you should know.

Dez Bryant is the man in Dallas (Getty Images)

1.)    AT&T Stadium opened on May 27, 2009 with a ribbon cutting ceremony that featured Cowboys alumni such as Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin.

2.)    Though it was at the time, the four-screen, high-definition LED display that is prominently featured stretching across midfield at AT&T Stadium is no longer the world’s largest HD LED screen.  EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has since taken that claim.

3.)    Speaking of that huge LED screen, the opening season at Cowboys Stadium had major concerns that punters could potentially kick the ball off the screen.  It even occurred during the preseason of 2009.  Yet, no football has ever touched the LED screen during a regular season game.

4.)    AT&T holds the naming rights to three other stadiums in the U.S.A: the AT&T Center in San Antonio, AT&T Park in San Francisco, and Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, home of the Texas Tech Red Raiders football team.

5.)    The highest get-in price for Cowboys tickets to any game this year is the home opener against the 49ers.  Currently, the cheapest ticket available at TicketCity is $152.  However, this will not be the most expensive game at AT&T Stadium over the next six months because…

6.)    AT&T Stadium is hosting the 2015 College Football Championship Game.  Tickets start at $621 currently for the game’s first ever championship game that will pit the winners of the semi-finals of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

7.)    The defending champion Florida State Seminoles will also appear at AT&T Stadium this year on August 30th in the 2014 Cowboys Classic.  Tickets are currently available for as low as $86 and the average ticket price for the game is $258.

8.)    In terms of other high profile events to take place in Arlington, Super Bowl XLV back on February 6, 2011 was hosted at AT&T with the Green Bay Packers defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25.

9.)    Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has a career 40-25 record at AT&T Stadium.  On the road? Just 35-30.

10.) Want to see the Cowboys this year but don’t want to spend a ton of money?  Disregarding preseason games, the cheapest ticket you can currently find for a Cowboys home game is on November 2nd when they host the Arizona Cardinals.  Cowboys tickets are available for as low as $35.

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