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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
Kevin Sweeney

College Football’s Most Sought-After Seats for Week 1 Games

Demand Rankings is Sports Illustrated’s weekly look at the games and sports events that are driving the most demand for tickets across sports, including college football, NFL, NBA, golf, tennis and more. Here’s this week’s list of the most sought-after seats in college football.

Week 1 of the college football season is finally here. While we got a taste of college football last weekend, a full slate of more than 80 games to look forward to across the country awaits this week, with games from Thursday to Monday of the long Labor Day weekend. Here are the most intriguing match-ups and the most in-demand seats for college football’s opening weekend.

1. Notre Dame at Ohio State, Sept. 3, 7:30 p.m. ET

Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio

Demand Meter: 😍

“The Shoe” is the site of arguably the most high-stakes showdown of Week 1, a battle of two top-5 teams in the AP Poll. New Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman, who is less than 15 years removed from starring at Ohio State at linebacker. Now, he’ll lead the underdog Fighting Irish into Columbus as the visitor against an Ohio State team with weapons everywhere on offense. We all know QB C.J. Stroud can sling it, and wideout Jaxon Smith-Njigba’s record-setting Rose Bowl performance put the nation on notice for 2022. And fans are flocking to see these two perennial powers in action: Per SI Tickets, the lowest get-in price for the game is $350, the highest in Week 1.

2. Oregon vs. Georgia, Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m. ET

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga.

Demand Meter: 😍

While this game is technically being played on a neutral field, expect a heavily partisan crowd in favor of the defending national champion Bulldogs in their home state. But UGA’s first game since that title-winning performance in January against Alabama will come against a coach who played a huge role in that championship: Dan Lanning, the former Georgia defensive coordinator who takes over for Mario Cristobal in Eugene. Lanning’s Ducks will likely have a familiar face to SEC fans at quarterback: Bo Nix, who spent three tumultuous seasons at Auburn. Can Nix and Lanning pull a shocker in their first game for their new program? Tickets have been listed as high as $2,503 for the chance to see the Bulldogs begin their title defense, per SI Tickets

3. Cincinnati at Arkansas, Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m. ET

Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville

Demand Meter: 😀

Fresh off a trip to the College Football Playoff, Cincinnati opens the season with a difficult road test against a top-20 Arkansas team. The Hogs are always tough to beat in Fayetteville, as referenced by last season’s 6–1 home mark that included a field storm-worthy win over Texas in Week 2. Plus, they bring back outstanding quarterback K.J. Jefferson, who accounted for 27 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions in 2021. Cincinnati will have plenty of new faces, but the Bearcats are a remarkable 44–7 in their last four seasons.

4. Utah at Florida, Sept. 3, 7 p.m. ET

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla. 

Demand Meter: 😀

The Billy Napier era in Gainesville begins with a huge test hosting No. 7 Utah. The Utes are coming off a program-defining season that featured a Pac-12 championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl, where they traded blows with Ohio State in a 48–45 thriller won by the Buckeyes. With QB Cam Rising and top RB Tavion Thomas back, Utah’s offense should be explosive and pose plenty of challenges for a Gator defense that really struggled in 2021. But the detail-oriented Napier has injected new energy into the UF program and could have the Utes on upset alert early. Plus, ‘The Swamp’ should be rocking to celebrate the start of the new season. This game has the fourth-highest get-in price of Week 1, per SI Tickets.

5. West Virginia at Pittsburgh, Sept. 1, 7 p.m. ET

Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Demand Meter: 😀

There’s no better way to kick off Week 1 than a rivalry game! The “Backyard Brawl” hasn’t been played in more than a decade after being a victim of conference realignment, but the two schools separated by just over 70 miles returns Thursday night in what should be quite the showdown. Both teams are reliant on quarterbacks brought in from the transfer portal: Pitt turns to USC import Kedon Slovis to replace star signal-caller Kenny Pickett, while West Virginia looks to former Georgia QB J.T. Daniels for an upgrade at the position after struggling in 2021. Expect a fun atmosphere in Pittsburgh.

6. Penn State at Purdue, Sept. 1, 8 p.m. ET

Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Ind.

Demand Meter: 🙂

Conference play in the Big Ten starts early! We’ve already had one Big Ten game this season with the Week Zero clash between Northwestern and Nebraska in Dublin, but there’s arguably even more intrigue in this Thursday might matchup in West Lafayette. The Boilermakers get quite the home opener after the program’s first nine-win season since 2003, hosting Penn State. The Nittany Lions have won the last nine meetings between these two schools, all by double figures. Can Purdue turn the tide and make an early statement as Big Ten West contenders?

7. Florida State vs. LSU, Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m. ET

Caesars Superdome, New Orleans

Demand Meter: 🙂

This is LSU’s first return to the Superdome since completing an undefeated season with Joe Burrow at quarterback in 2019-20. The program is in a much different place now than it was the last time the Tigers were in this stadium, with a new coach in Brian Kelly looking to get LSU back to the top of college football after a pair of disappointing seasons. The longtime Notre Dame head coach may not seem like an ideal fit on the bayou, but he’s one of the sport’s most successful coaches. Can he get his tenure off on the right foot against another big-name program in Florida State? The LSU faithful seem ready to take over Bourbon Street, as the lowest get-in price per SI Tickets is currently $198.

8. Houston at UTSA, Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m. ET

Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas

Demand Meter: 🙂

There’s no bigger Group of 5 game in Week 1 than this all-Texas battle in San Antonio. Coach Jeff Traylor has brought the UTSA program into the national conversation quickly since taking over in 2020 and was rewarded with a massive contract extension this offseason. Meanwhile, Houston should be in the AAC title conversation after going 12–2 in 2021 and returning plenty of production, including QB Clayton Tune. The Alamodome should have strong fan presences from both schools for this matchup that could have New Year’s Six bowl game implications down the line.

9. Clemson at Georgia Tech, Sept. 5, 8 p.m. ET

Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga.

Demand Meter: 🙂

This game is being played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Atlanta rather than Georgia Tech’s usual on-campus home, and it’s a great first chance to see Clemson after a down year in 2021. That included an ugly 14–8 win over Georgia Tech last September in Death Valley, a microcosm of the Tigers’ offensive woes under QB D.J. Uiagalelei. We’ll see if the Yellow Jackets can challenge the Tigers yet again, or if Clemson will look like a different team after finishing last season on a six-game winning streak.

10. TCU at Colorado, Sept. 2, 10 p.m. ET

Folsom Field Stadium, Boulder, Colo.

Demand Meter: 🙂

Folsom Field is one of the cooler venues to take in a college football game on any given week, and this battle between Power 5 teams headlines the Friday night slate in Week 1. Colorado struggled in its second season under Karl Dorrell and gets quite the early test from a TCU team that should be dynamic on offense with Sonny Dykes taking over for Gary Patterson. Dykes led SMU to a 7–0 start last season before the Mustangs faded down the stretch.

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