Big Ten finishes second in attendance

Size does matter when it comes to the NCAA's attendance figures, and the Big Ten's mammoth venues once again helped the league rank among the national leaders.

The Big Ten ranked second nationally among FBS conferences in average attendance (71,769), according to the official numbers released Monday. Although the league set a single-season attendance record (5,526,237), increased its average by 1,644 fans in a year where overall college football attendance slightly declined, it wasn't enough to catch the SEC (76,288 average).

Michigan led the nation in both total attendance (871,464) and average home attendance (108,933), followed by Penn State (856,066 total; 107,008 average). Ohio State ranked third in average attendance (105,261) and fourth in total attendance (736,830) despite playing one fewer home game than the top three teams (Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee).

Ohio State led the nation in total attendance for all of its games -- home, away and neutral site -- with a mark of 1,225,379. Penn State ranked second with a total of 1,196,655. Michigan ranked sixth, while Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Minnesota all ranked in the top 30.

Indiana had the third-largest one-year percentage increase in average attendance, increasing by 10,051 to 41,833. New athletics director Fred Glass deserves a ton of credit for the surge, especially since the team stumbled to 4-8. Indiana was the only Big Ten team to rank among the top 30 of Division I in one-year percentage increase.

Northwestern's attendance struggles are well documented, but the totals for the last two years are pretty discouraging, especially since the team won 17 games. Washington State (22,509) is the only FBS program to average fewer fans than Northwestern (24,190). Jim Phillips is one of the best athletics directors around, but his toughest challenge remains boosting the home gate.

Here are the national attendance rankings for each Big Ten squad:

Michigan: 1st (108,933 average)

Penn State: 2nd (107,008)

Ohio State: 3rd (105,261)

Wisconsin: 15th (80,109)

Michigan State: 18th (74,741)

Iowa: 21st (70,214)

Illinois: 29th (59,545)

Minnesota: 42nd (50,805)

Purdue: 44th (50,457)

Indiana: 56th (41,833)

Northwestern: 83rd (24,190)