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Posted on Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 12:43 p.m.

Michigan football team breaks its own NCAA record for average attendance per game

By Kyle Meinke


The Michigan football program averaged 112,179 fans per home game this season.

Jeff Sainlar |

A simple formula: Schedule eight home games for the nation's largest stadium, and pack in more fans than the listed capacity.

The Michigan football program did just that to lead the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools with a total attendance of 897,431 this season. It's the program's 14th consecutive attendance title.

The Wolverines drew 112,179 people per game, which broke their own NCAA record of 111,825 from last season. They were at 102.07-percent capacity for their eight home games.

Michigan's usually-strong attendance marks were bolstered by an eight-game home schedule — the most in the country — that included marquee matchups such as Notre Dame (at night), Big Ten-newcomer Nebraska and rival Ohio State. There also were intriguing matchups such as Western Michigan, which was the program's first game under new coach Brady Hoke.

The Wolverines went 8-0 in their home games this season, a school record. They were 10-2 overall and will play Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 3 (8:30 p.m., ESPN).

Their run of attendance titles could be in jeopardy next year, when their six-game home slate's only marquee matchup is Michigan State. The Nebraska, Ohio State and Notre Dame games will be on the road, and the season opener against Alabama will be played in Dallas.

The home nonconference slate features Air Force and UMass, and the Big Ten schedule draws Illinois, Northwestern and Iowa, as well as the Spartans, to the Big House.

Michigan became the first school to average 100,000 per game in 1976, and has captured the national attendance title 36 times since 1974.

Ohio State drew the second-highest attendance at 736,618 in seven home games. Alabama was third at 712,747 in seven games.

Penn State was fourth, Nebraska 12th and Wisconsin 15th, giving the Big Ten five schools in the top 15. That trails only the SEC, which had six.

Eastern Michigan came in last among the 120 FBS teams at 25,599 fans in six home games, an average of 4,267. Kent State was the next closest at 69,520, a per-game average of 11,587.

The NCAA's attendance rankings can be found here.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 4:35 a.m.

Shamefully, season ticket holders will be cheated out of two games next year because of away games with Alabama and Notre Dame. Playing Alabama in Texas is more like a home game for them. Hopefully, the Michigan athletic department will depart after the game with at least as much money as they would have received for a home game. Also, I hope that playing in Texas helps our recruiting in that state and the region. The size of Michigan crowds at its home games along with TV revenue is attractive to other schools who benefit from a sizable pay-off even if Michigan pounds them. Michigan should always host eight home games each year.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 1:25 a.m.

Hopefully, we'll have a big representation of Blue fans. Texas has a large Wolverine following. Unfortunately, it's alot closer to Alabama than it is to Michigan.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 5:44 a.m.

Michigan should not host 8 games each year... Part of being a good team is winning on the road.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 2:22 a.m.

Michigan lost the attendance record to Tennessee in 1997

Terry Star21

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 3:55 a.m.

Won it back for good in 1998, and the vols football team also went down, down and way down.


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

I wonder if Urban Meyer will enjoy playing here. I think he really likes the game day atmosphere we have here at Michigan.

Terry Star21

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 3:53 a.m.

Meyer will be so happy to get out of there in 2013 - long ride home.

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 2:19 a.m.

Who's we?


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 10:17 p.m.

They don't call it "The Big House" for nothing. The schedule had only a few weak teams; EMU and MN. Aside from that, the WMU opener was exciting and their QB; Alex Carder did light up their offense for the first half, before the Maize and Blue put the hammer down. Homecoming was against Purdue and HC is always a big draw. I went to 5 of the 8 games, including OSU. Each game saw more excitment in the stands. Crowd noise was great and hit a peak for the ohio game. Those Maize pom-poms were awesome for both the night game and ohio. Only 6 home games in 2012 but the excitment level with be even higher. It's great to be a Michigan fan!

Terry Star21

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 10:02 p.m.

I can honestly say, without a bit of arrogance that Michigan truly has the best fan base in America (and even with our troops overseas). You put any team in the nation through what we went through from 2008-10 and they lose thousands and thousands of supporters. We keep coming and filling the stadium every week, every game. We supported our team thick and thin, we wanted to win and when we didn't we immediately made plans for the next game. We persevered and we succeeded - it's great to be a Michigan Faithful ! MgoBlueForTiM.........If you build it, the Michigan Faithful will come !


Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.

my sentiments exactly TS. Go Blue !


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 9:30 p.m.

Fourteen years ago would be 1997. Did UM really lose the attendance record the year they won the National Championship?

Blu n Tpa

Thu, Dec 15, 2011 : 2:18 a.m.

UTenn expanded their stadium a year head of Michigan so they took the attendance record that year, 1997. Plus they had the runner up Heisman player that year so it was a fairly good year for them. Better for us. If we would have had the seats, we would have had the butts to fill them.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.

U of M has "captured the national attendance title 36 times since 1974." Um, wouldnt't that be every year except for at most two? When did U-M not win the attendance title? Was the then coach Rich Rod? Would be no surprise...


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

Reading the next comment, I see I replied too soon.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 1:17 a.m.

I recall that Tennesee beat us when they expanded their stadium to over 100,000. U of M added some more rows and took the title back. I'm guessing it was 15 years ago.

Daniel Soebbing

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

No. Right at the top the article stated that U of M has held the attendance title for 14 straight years. Rich Rod was there for years 11, 12 and 13 of that run.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

It also includes tickets sold, but not used... You can add vendors, bands, press.... That's not thousands.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

I think it's funny that Eastern Michigan came in last. They give tickets away to their games and still people don't go. Lol.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 11:46 p.m.

I enjoy going to Easterns games. They don't charge you 2 arms and a leg.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

Next year is a count year, so they'll pull their usually tricks to get it over 10,000 per game so the NCAA doesn't demote them to the FCS. The NCAA defines attendance as anyone who comes through the gates, whether they have a seat or not. Peanut vendors, yes; unused ticket, no.

Leah Gunn

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.

As I recall from past attendance figures, they also include the teams and the coaches. Why not? Go Blue!

Jojo B

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

So the obvious dumb question... how do you break 100% attendance? Are tickets double-sold so people are sitting on each other's laps? LOL. Or does the count include the group boxes, press boxes, etc.?


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 1:14 a.m.

LOL at Billy Bob. I remember those days well. When everyones stood up I would try to sit down before everyone else just to get MY seat back. The guy on the end always ended up in the aisle.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

I believe that when birds fly within the vertical perimeter of the stadium, they get counted, too ;-)

Billy Bob Schwartz

Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 7:38 p.m.

...And yes, they sit on each others' laps. The trick is to jump up to cheer, and then time it so that you sit down before your neighbors. Then they get to stand or to kind of sit on their neighbors' hips.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 7 p.m.

Yes - the count includes the press, the bands, the ushers, the police, and vendors etc ... the more media for big games, the more likely to break records (expanded press box etc)