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Friday, August 27, 2010

Toughest Places to Play: Big Ten

No conference in the country has bigger stadiums than the Big Ten and, if we exclude Northwestern's diminutive and sparsely population Ryan Field, the Big Ten tops all conferences in average attendance. (Otherwise, the SEC averages about 5,000 more in attendance per game.)

But even in the Big Ten, where average attendance ranges from over 100,000 to less than 30,000, more fans in the stands doesn't seem to help teams win. In conference games since 1994, home teams in the Big Ten have won 56.8% of conference games and have been about one touchdown better per game. Ohio St. has won 81% of their home games in this stretch, but this has little to do with a home field advantage - the Buckeyes also won 75% of road games. The Buckeyes were 6.25 points better at home than on the road, meaning the Buckeyes enjoyed less of a home field advantage than the conference average. Michigan, college football's attendance leader, got less of a boost at home - only 5.42 points per game.

The toughest place to play in the Big Ten has been Indiana's Memorial Stadium, capacity 52,000. The Hoosiers have been 9 points better and 2.5 times more likely to win at home. On the other hand, Illinois has seen no advantage to playing in their own Memorial Stadium (62,000 capacity). Illinois team's since 1994 have been 2.27 points better at home than on the road, but they actually have won more road games than home games in that period.

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