And then there were two.
New Year's Eve was a memorable one for college football fans, as No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson stormed to respective victories in the Peach and Fiesta Bowls. The two schools will meet in the 2017 National Championship Game in Tampa next Monday, and with a rematch from one season ago now official, tickets are posting record price points on the resale market.
On TicketIQ, a search engine that pulls tickets and data from over 90 percent of the secondary market, the average resale price for 2017 National Championship Game tickets is now $3,396. That marks a 63 percent jump in average price from Tuesday morning's average of $2,080, making it the most expensive college football title game since at least 2011.
For fans looking just to get past the gates at Raymond James Stadium, the cheapest available tickets currently start from $1,084 each in the 300 sections on Alabama's side of the field. The priciest tickets are going for a cool $19,039 in Section 111 on Clemson's side.
Credit that big resale ticket demand to a hosting venue located within reasonable traveling distance to both schools' main campuses. The average travel distance between Tuscaloosa and Tampa and Clemson and Tampa is just 580 miles, making it the shortest-traveled title game since 2012's matchup between Alabama and LSU in New Orleans (188- mile average travel distance). Over the last eight seasons, 2012 and 2017 are the only two title games with an average travel distance under 1,000 miles.
According to Priceline.com, the cheapest hotel near Raymond James Stadium for Sunday and Monday night is a three-star hotel priced from $129 each night. Non-stop round-trip flights from Birmingham and Greenville-Spartanburg to Tampa are over $500 each, so driving may be the best option for fans making the trip.
That distance is much more favorable than last year's game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. With the Crimson Tide and Tigers meeting in the second annual title game in 2016, the two schools posted an average travel distance of nearly 2,000 miles, the second longest-traveled game behind the 2014 BCS National Championship Game between Auburn and Florida State, who traveled an average of nearly 2,200 miles to battle at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
While 2011's game between Auburn and Oregon posted similar resale prices, those figures were the result of a busted market largely driven by speculative selling. Brokers oversold for the University of Phoenix Stadium game and were unable to obtain the required number of tickets being sold as spec, leaving many fans scrambling for tickets after already booking flight and hotel accommodations.
Speculative selling has yet to rupture this year's resale market, and it likely won't with more than 2,500 tickets still available in the days leading up to kickoff. Those price points go to show how much interest is invested in Alabama-Clemson II, however. As the Tide look to roll to a second consecutive championship, the Tigers look for revenge from a season ago, setting up the first-ever No. 1 vs. No. 2 title rematch in college football history.