(STATS) – One week after the FCS playoffs kicked off to small crowds, attendance in the second round on Saturday is expected to rank among the best rounds of the decade.
An advantageous mix of host schools could lead to the eight games rivaling the only round in the 2010s over 100,000 – the 2011 second round, which drew 105,593 fans.
First-round games over Thanksgiving weekend are usually a tough sell, and higher ticket prices, inclement weather and short planning periods also factor into attendance, but the host schools play key roles as well. The combined attendance in last Saturday’s first round was 28,787, down 43.5 percent from last year’s opening round, but the hosts included only school in the top 45 of 2019 regular-season attendance.
In the second round, four of the top five schools in FCS attendance average and another two in the top 15 are among the eight host schools, which are Montana (No. 2 attendance average: 23,544), James Madison (No. 3: 22,144), Montana State (No. 4: 18,547), North Dakota State (No. 5: 18,177), South Dakota State (No. 14: 11,952), Sacramento State (No. 15: 11,919), Central Arkansas (No. 34: 8,505) and Weber State (No. 43: 7,944).
To match the 2011 second round, the eight schools would have to draw over 86 percent of their combined regular-season average.