IOWA CITY, Ia. – When the television cameras scan Kinnick Stadium Saturday, every seat should have a fanny on it.
The Hawkeyes have not played in front of a home sellout this season, and that needs to change – starting at 11 a.m., against Michigan State, on ESPN2.
“We always have a good crowd, whether it’s sold out or not,” running back Mark Weisman said. “I’m sure it’ll be a great atmosphere.”
As of Friday afternoon, roughly 1,600 tickets were still available.
There were 3,183 empty seats for the opener against Northern Illinois, 6,384 for Missouri State the following week and 3,699 for a matchup against Western Michigan.
Before last November’s Nebraska game – which drew 69,805 – the Hawkeyes boasted a string of 30 consecutive sellouts in their 70.585-seat cathedral.
One area in particular that has been noticeably sparse: The student section.
“I think we’ll see the student section fuller, or nearly full,” said Katherine Valde, the University of Iowa student government president, when asked about Saturday’s turnout.
Valde offered valid reasons for a high absentee rate: A blasé slate of non-conference opponents, sweltering temperatures and losing that first game to the Huskies.
“I think people thought we’d come out really strong,” she said, “and then it was sort of a downer.”
Valde punted on the notion that students might be too spoiled – after all, Iowa has just 12 top 10 finishes in the final Associated Press poll, but four of those seasons have come in their lifetime – or too sleepy.
“I think it probably just depends on who we’re playing,” she said. “If it’s another Big Ten school, then you’ll want to make sure you’re up and ready. But if it’s not, maybe it’s just not as much of a priority and you can watch it at home.”
They wouldn’t be alone.
A report by Alo.com showed attendance for college football is down 3 percent nationwide from a year ago and almost 6 percent since 2011.
And to be fair, Iowa hasn’t gotten much of an attendance boost from fans traveling with the visiting team.
Things could be chilly Saturday, with temperatures in the 50s and high winds, but that’s not an acceptable excuse. Not for this game. Not for this team, which has already matched last year’s victory total.
“I know when the ball is kicked off, I’ll be ready to play and Michigan State will, too,” linebacker James Morris said. “And anybody who wants to come and watch, can come watch.”
Andrew Logue covers Hawkeye football for the Register. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewMLogue) from Iowa City on Saturday.
WHO: Michigan State (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at Iowa (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten)
TIME/TV: 11 a.m. Saturday, Big Ten Network
LINE: Iowa by 1
LAST MEETING: The Hawkeyes won 19-16 in double overtime on Oct. 13, 2012, their last Big Ten win to date.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football