Top-ranked LSU hasn't yet played No. 2 Alabama—that'll happen on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium (page 100)—but in one very significant way, we can already declare a winner: the home state's economy. According to Ahmad Ijaz, the director of economic forecasting at the University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research, the game will generate a financial impact of up to $25 million for the Yellowhammer State, with as much as $18 million going directly to the Tuscaloosa metro area. (That's an increase of roughly $3 million in both categories compared with a typical Tide home game.) Just take a look around T-town: All 38 hotels listed within its borders have been booked for weeks. A humble Super 8 on McFarland Boulevard, five miles away from Bryant-Denny, is charging $350 per night; last weekend you could get the same room for $65.
But lodging is peanuts compared with the tickets themselves. Michael Janes, the CEO of ticket search engine FanSnap, says that LSU-Alabama, at an average price of $770, is the most expensive college football game of the past two seasons, outdistancing last year's Army--Notre Dame game at Yankee Stadium ($583). On StubHub there are two tickets in the lower-level end zone, on sale for $5,000. Each.
In fact, the game is so huge that nearly a month ago CBS reached out to ESPN to lay the groundwork for a rare, high-stakes transaction of their own. CBS, which had already used its lone, contractually designated prime-time SEC time slot on the Oct. 1 Alabama-Florida game, needed ESPN's permission to move the game from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT. (In return the Worldwide Leader strengthened its position in the selection order when next year's SEC games are drafted by the networks.) The payoff for CBS? Even higher rates for commercials during the game. The payoff for Alabama? Even more fans in Tuscaloosa who'll need somewhere to sleep.
To watch an interview with Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, go to SI.com/justaskin or scan this tag with your smartphone.
THE BEST REGULAR-SEASON GAMES BETWEEN NOS. 1 AND 2
1 Nov. 25, 1971
NO. 1 NEBRASKA 35
NO. 2 OKLAHOMA 31
The Cornhuskers' Johnny (the Jet) Rodgers (left) "just tore 'em loose from their shoes" on his zig-zagging 72-yard punt return that remains the lasting image from a game that lived up to the Game of the Century hype.
2 Dec. 6, 1969
NO. 1 TEXAS 15
NO. 2 ARKANSAS 14
President Richard Nixon proclaimed the Longhorns national champs after James Street's do-or-die, 44-yard pass to tight end Randy Peschel on fourth-and-three set up Texas's winning TD.
3 Nov. 13, 1993
NO. 2 NOTRE DAME 31
NO. 1 FLORIDA STATE 24
With the Seminoles at the Irish 14-yard line, Notre Dame batted down Charlie Ward's last-ditch pass to finish the upset. Alas, the Irish lost the following week to Boston College.
4 Nov. 19, 1966
NO. 1 NOTRE DAME 10
NO. 2 MICHIGAN STATE 10
Irish coach Ara Parseghian's decision to run out the game's final minute and settle for the tie prompted SI's Dan Jenkins to write, "Old Notre Dame will tie over all."
5 Nov. 18, 2006
NO. 1 OHIO STATE 42
NO. 2 MICHIGAN 39
One day after the death of former Wolverines coach and ex-Buckeyes assistant Bo Schembechler, the teams waged an epic battle, with Ohio State's Troy Smith passing for four TDs.
JOHN KORDUNER/ICON SMI
ROLLING IN IT The cost of a ticket for the game is the highest of any in the last two seasons, listed for as much as $5,000 apiece.