We’ve reached the second half of the 2017 college football season, meaning from here on out every game has the potential to impact division or conference standings, the playoff picture or the fate of coaches on the hot seat. That’s a perfect way to describe the top slate of games on top for this weekend.
The first College Football Playoff rankings will be out in less than two weeks, meaning there’s not much time left to make early impressions before the selection committee starts having their say. No team can lock up a title of any sort this early, but they can make great strides toward that goal.
And embattled coaches shouldn’t be judged just by the results of one game, good or bad, but unfortunately that ends up being the case. And at this point in the season a bad performance in either direction could have a major influence on that coach’s job security.
Using pricing figures provided by TicketCity, here’s a look at what you’ll need to spend to get an up-close view of some of Week 8’s best games:
College football’s best Week 8 ticket options
No. 10 Oklahoma State at Texas
Where: DKR Memorial Stadium; Austin, Texas
When: Saturday, Oct. 21; noon ET
Median ticket price: $123
How much to get in the door: $51
The last thing Texas fans want to have to do is look for signs of progress, particularly if it doesn’t occur during wins. They didn’t stand for it during the Charlie Strong era, thus contributing to its early end, and they no doubt aren’t too pleased about moral victories at this point in coach Tom Herman’s first season.
But so it goes for a program that, like it or not, is trying to rebuild itself. Texas is 3-3 overall and 2-1 in the Big 12, and its two most impressive performances have come in defeat. It took USC to overtime on the road and last week pushed rival Oklahoma to the limit in their annual rivalry clash at the Cotton Bowl.
Five of Texas’ six games this season have been decided by 10 or fewer points, so the seventh figures to be close as well. Being able to knock off a top-10 team, one that still has a shot at the playoffs, would go a long way toward getting the Longhorns back to elite status.
Tennessee at No. 1 Alabama
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium; Tuscaloosa, Ala.
When: Saturday, Oct. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET
Median ticket price: $221
How much to get in the door: $61
Come for an up-close view of the country’s most dominant team to this point, stay to see just how badly it can get for Tennessee and not-long-for-his-job coach Butch Jones.
The Volunteers come in as a 34-point underdog, the largest spread ever against the Crimson Tide, per SB Nation. The line shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s seen how Tennessee has looked of late, losing three of four and getting outscored 56-9 in the previous two games (both at home). Each setback has only increased the chances that Jones will get fired, if not after the season then during it.
Meanwhile, Alabama is just obliterating folks. At 7-0 it has outscored foes 299-71 with only the Week 6 win at Texas A&M decided by less than 10 points. The Tide have won 10 in a row over the Vols, only twice by single digits.
North Carolina at No. 14 Virginia Tech
Where: Lane Stadium; Blacksburg, Va.
When: Saturday, Oct. 21; 3:30 p.m. ET
Median ticket price: $118
How much to get in the door: $52
North Carolina has been one of the most disappointing power-conference teams in the country this season, sitting at 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the ACC. Only two seasons ago the Tar Heels represented the Coastal Division in the conference title game.
That spot went to Virginia Tech last season and it could again in 2017, but only if the Hokies win out. They’ve already lost an ACC game, to Clemson, and with fellow Coastal team Miami currently unbeaten that doesn’t leave any room for error.
UNC coach Larry Fedora is on the hot seat with how his team has played this fall, and it’s looking very much like the Tar heels won’t be going to a bowl for the first time since 2007. Winning in Blacksburg won’t likely change that but it could increase Fedora’s chances of staying employed beyond this season.
Oregon at UCLA
Where: Rose Bowl; Pasadena, Calif.
When: Saturday, Oct. 21; 4 p.m. ET
Median ticket price: $102
How much to get in the door: $30
Speaking of coaches in desperate need of a win, UCLA’s Jim Mora is high on that list. The Bruins might have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft in quarterback Josh Rosen but that hasn’t been enough to do better than a 3-3 record, mostly because Rosen doesn’t play defense.
Some might say neither does UCLA, as it is allowing 40.5 points per game and more than 300 rushing yards per game.
Oregon’s defense, which looked much improved earlier this season, has regressed in recent weeks with the Ducks allowing 143 points in the past four games (three of which were losses). Their offense can continue to move the ball on the ground, though, and senior running back Royce Freeman is only 140 yards away from becoming the school’s all-time rushing leader.
No. 19 Michigan at No. 2 Penn State
Where: Beaver Stadium; University Park, Pa.
When: Saturday, Oct. 21; 7:30 p.m. ET
Median ticket price: $340
How much to get in the door: $206
No team has been better in Big Ten play since the start of the 2016 season than Penn State, which has won 12 of 13 games against league opponents in that span including against Wisconsin in last year’s conference championship. The only loss: last September at Michigan, a 49-10 drubbing.
Don’t think Nittany Lions fans have forgotten about that loss. It’s no doubt influenced the extreme demand for tickets to the Wolverines’ return to Happy Valley, where Michigan won in 2015 and is an impressive 6-4 overall.
Penn State is in prime position to make the playoffs this season after being shut out a year ago but it still needs to win this game and the following week’s trip to Ohio State to ensure that happens.
National Fan Base Game of the Week
USC at Notre Dame (Saturday, Oct. 21; 7:30 p.m. ET)
When Notre Dame plays on the road, or at a neutral site, it’s usually the main reason that tickets are so expensive and hard to come by. The Fighting Irish have a tremendous following all across the country and when the team visits somewhere the fans come out in droves.
At home it’s more a matter of being able to experience at game at one of the more iconic venues in college football, Notre Dame Stadium. The quality (or name recognition) of the opponent usually doesn’t matter, with few exceptions.
USC is among those exceptions. The Trojans also have a nationally following and their bi-annual trip to South Bend is always one of the most highly anticipated on the schedule, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the media price for a seat at this game is $315. The cheapest ticket available on TicketCity is $157.