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Ticket supply exceeds demand in Big Ten title tussle

Updated: January 3, 2013 11:04AM

INDIANAPOLIS — What are we to make of all the empty seats at the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday?

A ‘‘crowd’’ of 41,260 was on hand at Lucas Oil Stadium, which has an official capacity of 67,604, for Wisconsin’s rout of Nebraska.

In the two upper levels, one end zone was sparsely populated. The other looked like a hurricane evacuation zone.

By comparison, last year’s game, a barnburner in which Wisconsin outlasted Michigan State 42-39, was a rousing success. It drew an announced 64,152.

That’s two games for all the Big Ten marbles where you could walk up and buy a ticket. Or more likely, download tickets on On Saturday, Wisconsin-Nebraska tickets were going for $21. In a measure of Southeastern Conference supremacy, the cheapest StubHub ticket for Georgia-Alabama was $320.

No doubt, the home office in Park Ridge would like to see more of a clamor for Big Ten champ-game tickets.

One alternative would be to go the Pac-12 route and give the more accomplished team the home-field advantage. If this game had been played in Lincoln, where the Cornhuskers have played to 325 sellouts since 1962, No. 326 at 81,000-seat Memorial Stadium would have been automatic.

Stanford might have drawn 31,622 for its 27-24 victory over UCLA on Friday in the Pac-12 title game at 50,000-capacity Stanford Stadium. But Big Ten juggernauts don’t need to resort to that.

When a marquee event such as its conference-title game isn’t a sellout, a lot of questions are going to be asked about whether the Big Ten is pushing the envelope.

Two things to remember. One, this game is about television. The league-title game generates a reported $24 million in television revenue, which is where the action is.

And two, this was not the most compelling matchup. With a 7-5 record coming in, the Badgers basically are only here ­because Ohio State and Penn State are ineligible. And Nebraska is still getting its Big Ten feet wet.

Imagine the hoopla when Ohio State and Michigan clash in a Big Ten title rematch. The way their fan bases travel — and with Indy an easy trip for them — the ticket issue is likely to become a non-issue.

And the way the Buckeyes and Wolverines are rebuilding, the over/under for Ohio State appearances in the next 10 Big Ten title games is seven.

Pencil in Michigan as the opponent in three of those games. At least. Then try to find a ticket.

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