BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Dec 16, 2013) - As we head into the final Bowl Season of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) era, everyone has a take on how the teams will match up. Cheapflights.com, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, has its own way of ranking the teams in the official BCS games -- by their fans' excitement! A deep dive into travel searches on Championship Saturday and Selection Sunday shows which fan bases were excited enough about their teams' January football plans to start looking for flights.
We compared flight searches on Cheapflights.com to see which schools' loyal fans created the biggest percentage spikes in activity from those making plans to support their teams at the bowl games. The comparison looked at the number of searches that took place for flights from the airports closest to the 10 schools in BCS games to host cities for the bowl games. We looked at relative increases in searches overnight Sunday, Dec. 6 - 7, versus the same 48-hour period the week prior.
The results tell a few interesting stories and add more fuel for debate about the biggest games in college football.
Rose Bowl Game, Pasadena, Calif., January 1, 2014
While it may not be at the top in the BCS rankings, Michigan State led the pack in fan excitement -- or at least bowl game travel searches. Flight searches from Lansing and the Detroit area to Los Angeles and Burbank were up 406%, showing that a Rose Bowl appearance means a happy New Year in the eyes of Spartan loyalists. Meanwhile, Bay Area flights to Los Angeles actually dropped 33% over the same period. Do the Stanford fans have something better to do or are they planning a road trip down the coast as part of their Rose Bowl experience?
Vizio BCS National Championship Game, Pasadena, Calif., January 6, 2014
The two teams with the most at stake, Auburn and Florida State, had the biggest combined surge in travel searches. The fans for both teams moved quickly to look for flights to take them to this match-up of the SEC and ACC champions. Perhaps predicting how competitive this game will be, it was a small margin between fan bases with Auburn, scoring a 395% spike in flight searches, edging out Florida State, which saw a 378% jump.
AllState Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, La., January 2, 2014
While the SEC may have edged out the ACC on the fan excitement front for the Championship Game, the Big 12 contender for this New Orleans match-up, Oklahoma, has a big edge over its SEC rival. The Oklahoma fan base took to the Internet looking for flights right away, registering a 306% jump in searches. The Alabama faithful, whether still mourning the end of their perfect season dreams, facing the disappointment of not playing for it all for the first time after back-to-back titles or simply planning to drive the four and half hours to the Superdome, are certainly not flocking to the area airports for the game. Searches from the nearby Birmingham and Montgomery airports to New Orleans were actually down 32%.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz., January 1, 2014
For this, the first BCS bowl appearance for the two teams, the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Baylor, both sets of fans are raring to go. However, UCF, which was just crowned champion of the newest conference, the American Athletic Conference (AAC), seemingly has a bit more fan love on its side. The rise in searches from flights from Orlando and Tampa airports to Phoenix and Scottsdale, Ariz., were up 175% versus 116% for the searches from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio during the same window.
Discover Orange Bowl, Miami Gardens, Fla., January 3, 2014
Neither Clemson nor Ohio State ended their regular season on a high note so it's not terribly surprising their fan bases were a little less gung ho to get their bowl travel plans going. Perhaps because Clemson had an extra week to recover from its South Carolina rivalry game loss, the Tiger fan base showed a bit more enthusiasm with a 67% jump in searches for flights to Miami when the bowl selections were announced. The Ohio State fans still stepped up despite losing their shot at the National Championship, delivering a 64% jump in searches.
1) Michigan State: +406%
2) Auburn: +395%
3) Florida State: +378%
4) Oklahoma: +306%
5) University of Central Florida (UCF): +175%
6) Baylor: +116%
7) Clemson: +67%
8) Ohio State: +64%
9) Alabama: -32%
10) Stanford: -33%
About Cheapflights.com, part of the Momondo Group
Momondo Group is an online travel media and technology company that is driven by the belief that an open world is a better world. The group now serves travel search and inspiration to over 13 million visitors a month -- plus 7 million travel newsletter subscribers -- via its Cheapflights (www.cheapflights.com) and momondo (www.momondo.com) brands.
Skygate began the sourcing of complex air-travel data in 1992, while Cheapflights pioneered the online comparison of flight deals for users in 1996 and momondo launched meta-search in the Nordic countries in 2006.
The Group has offices in London, Copenhagen, Boston and Toronto, with a consumer base across more than 20 core international markets but users all over the world.
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