NCAAF  > General NCAAF  > STUDY: Big Ten teams most popular
September 21, 2011, 01:04 PM
Nate Silver, a statistician known for his work on baseball and politics, took on a new challenge in The New York Times this week: figuring out which college football teams are the most popular in the country.

In this article, Silver extrapolates data from Google searches, TV markets and census information to come up with an estimate for the number of fans by team.

Interestingly enough, Silver's study concludes that the three most popular teams in America all play in the Big Ten. Ohio State is No. 1 with more than 3.1 million fans, followed by Michigan with more than 2.9 million and Penn State at more than 2.6 million. Notre Dame is fourth and Texas is fifth. (Surprisingly, Texas A&M ranks sixth, ahead of every SEC team, which may help explain that conference's interest in the Aggies).

Silver also lists the popularity of teams by conference. Here is his breakdown of the Big Ten (numbers on the left represent national ranking):

1. Ohio State: 3,167,263
2. Michigan: 2,921,066
3. Penn State: 2,642,275
12. Wisconsin: 1,441,955
15. Iowa: 1,273,954
18. Nebraska: 1,230,558
20. Michigan State: 1,145,819
27. Illinois: 965,087
28. Minnesota: 963,581
44. Indiana: 636,954
46. Purdue: 624,944
54. Northwestern: 514,540

"The Big Ten can afford to be picky," Silver writes. "Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State are the three most popular college football teams in the country, according to our study. Seven Big Ten teams, including new addition Nebraska, rank in the top 20 nationally. And all but one Big Ten school is in the top 50, the lone exception being Northwestern, which has the Chicago market and strong academics going for it.

"The only plausible additions that would allow the Big Ten to improve upon its average of about 1.5 million fans per team are Notre Dame (2.3 million fans) and Texas (also 2.3 million). But good luck adding those schools."

(Courtesy Brian Bennet, ESPN B10 Blog)
September 21, 2011  01:28 PM ET

Nice find Wisconsin death. That would put Mizzou 8th (not too far from 5th) just behind Neb, MSU and Iowa. Hmmm

September 21, 2011  02:37 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Nice find Wisconsin death. That would put Mizzou 8th (not too far from 5th) just behind Neb, MSU and Iowa. Hmmm

Thanx, not a big SPORTS stats guy (why bother, no one will ever poll vault 100ft, or hit 200 homers in a season..etc), but this puts the SEC gauntlet in it's place for now. lol

Comment #4 has been removed
September 21, 2011  03:46 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

I'm sure the SEC homers are content with their five straight national titles

For sure This Again but all good things must come to an end including the SEC run. I am excited about what the future willl bring.

September 21, 2011  03:47 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

I'm sure the SEC homers are content with their five straight national titles

LOL, I'm sure they are. This got me thinking about the history of the system. Here's the link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College_football_national_championships_in_NC AA_Division_I_FBS

September 21, 2011  04:59 PM ET
QUOTE(#5):

For sure This Again but all good things must come to an end including the SEC run. I am excited about what the future willl bring.

we will take the enviable position that we currently are in. a good "problem" to have.

Comment #8 has been removed
September 21, 2011  05:14 PM ET
QUOTE(#8):

I thought that tOSU's tarnished reputation would've put them back in the pack. There's still love in the Buckeye state, at least.

Ditto, but we'll see in a few years. I doubt there will be much change. Midwesterners are pretty loyal folks.

September 21, 2011  08:02 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

we will take the enviable position that we currently are in. a good "problem" to have.

Well as long as you guys keep playing either OU or tOSU and ducking the MWC teams your streak may just continue...


*Ducks out of thread*

September 22, 2011  01:10 AM ET
QUOTE(#10):

Well as long as you guys keep playing either OU or yOU and ducking the MWC teams your streak may just continue...*Ducks out of thread*

Strength of schedule...yikes! We can only wish they (voters) get it right.

September 22, 2011  12:17 PM ET

I think it is time to break this whole thing up and go after a Canadian college you know like in BC area.

September 22, 2011  04:36 PM ET
QUOTE(#10):

Well as long as you guys keep playing either OU or tOSU and ducking the MWC teams your streak may just continue...*Ducks out of thread*

you almost had me there...

September 22, 2011  05:03 PM ET

Interesting article. My favourite bit: the disclaimer on the map that says "this map is highly inaccurate".

September 24, 2011  01:36 AM ET
QUOTE(#12):

I think it is time to break this whole thing up and go after a Canadian college you know like in BC area.

Vancouver, BC is very cool town.

September 24, 2011  01:36 AM ET
QUOTE(#14):

Interesting article. My favourite bit: the disclaimer on the map that says "this map is highly inaccurate".

LOL.

 
September 24, 2011  05:22 AM ET
QUOTE(#4):

I'm sure the SEC homers are content with their five straight national titles

According to whom?

Comment

Remember to keep your posts clean. Profanity will get filtered, and offensive comments will be removed.


Truth & Rumors

MOST POPULAR

  1. 1
    Kerr 'absolutely expects' Knicks offer
    Views
    1690
    Comments
    1433
  2. 2
    No return timetable for Lightning MVP
    Views
    840
    Comments
    218
  3. 3
    Yankees, Mets, Red Sox among Hanrahan hopefuls
    Views
    2906
    Comments
    168
  4. 4
    Niners table talks with Kaepernick
    Views
    1143
    Comments
    64
  5. 5
    ... So, L.A. will line up for Love and Durant
    Views
    5509
    Comments
    48

SI.com

SI Photos