The recession apparently hasn't struck deep in the heart of Texas. Nor has it reached sweet home Alabama.
Tickets for the Bowl Championship Series national title game between Alabama and Texas tonight at the Rose Bowl have sold for an average of $943 on StubHub, a 37.9% increase over the $684 average paid last year for the BCS title game between Florida and Oklahoma.
It is the highest-grossing bowl game this season on StubHub and ranks fifth on its all-time list of highest-grossing events. More than 1,000 tickets are left for purchase from the ticket company, ranging in price from $315 to $4,500. The face value of each ticket is $275.
Prices actually dipped considerably Wednesday, when fans paid an average of a little more than $600.
"It's hard to predict whether prices will come down even further," StubHub spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer said, "but we will certainly see fluctuation in the marketplace depending on how supply and demand meet as we get closer to game time."
Of those who have purchased tickets for the game on StubHub, 34% are from Texas, 19% are from Alabama and 9% are from California.
Texas Coach Mack Brown said a lot of the perceptions going into tonight's matchup are reminiscent of the BCS title game in 2006, when USC was favored to beat the Longhorns.
"SC was an unbelievable team, and I can remember Texas was soft," said Brown, whose team is a four-point underdog against Alabama. "I can remember we don't have a chance, and we played great that night."
Texas rallied for a 41-38 victory behind an epic performance by Longhorns quarterback Vince Young. But Brown acknowledged that even he got caught up in Trojans lore prior to the game.
"I remember standing out on the field before the game and looking down at SC and seeing the horse and the band and all the good stuff about SC that all of us grew up with, and I saw Pete [Carroll] and talked to him for a while, and I was standing there, and Greg Davis, the [Texas] offensive coordinator, came up, and I thought, my gosh, they've got a great-looking football team. Look at those guys.
"[Davis] just patted me on the shoulder, and he said, 'Well, turn around. Yours look pretty good too.' I thought that was pretty good. I'm not sure that we ever give ourselves enough credit."
Rose Bowl primer
Wanting to get an expert's take on playing in Pasadena, Brown said he called former USC counterpart John Robinson before Brown's first trip to the Rose Bowl with Texas in 2005, when the Longhorns played Michigan.
"What he said was very unique," Brown said. "He said, 'It's very, very hard to get to the Rose Bowl as a player or coach; very few people get to do it. What you need to do is be really proud, and when you stand out on the field before the game, make sure you go out there by yourself, stand in a corner, look up in those beautiful mountains, see the sun setting and say, "This is pretty cool," and then go back and do what you always do. But take a moment to appreciate it.' "
Brown savored an entire evening that year as Texas defeated Michigan, 38-37.
Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, who was limited in practice Tuesday by a stomach illness, was feeling better Wednesday and could play tonight if he receives medical clearance, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban said.