On Monday, athletics director Mark Hollis said MSU had sold about 5,000 of its 11,500 allotted tickets to the Outback Bowl.
The desire to spend money for a trip to Florida after falling just short of the Rose Bowl isn't exactly high, especially since many fans shelled out money for the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis. But MSU does have a history of traveling well to recent bowl games, bringing an estimated 30,000 fans to the Capital One Bowl in 2009 and 2011.
While there is worry a poor showing from MSU fans will hurt the image in the eyes of bowls, MSU isn't the only school struggling to sell tickets this year.
From ESPN.com, here are the current tickets sold for other bowl-bound Big Ten teams:
Wisconsin: Rose Bowl ticket allotment sold out.
Michigan: About 15,000 of the allotted 17,500 Sugar Bowl tickets are sold.
Nebraska: About 8,500 of 12,500 allotted Capital One Bowl tickets sold.
Ohio State: A little more than 6,500 of 12,750 allotted Gator Bowl tickets.
Iowa: About 6,200 of 11,000 Insight Bowl tickets sold.
Northwestern: Unreported, 12,000 available for Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.
Penn State: Unreported. Hoping to sell 4,000 of 6,500 TicketCity Bowl tickets.
Purdue: About 3,800 of 5,000 Little Caesar's Bowl tickets sold.
Illinois: Unreported, 8,000 allotted for Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
It's always tougher for Big Ten teams to travel to the other side of the country, compared to most of the opponents (other than Purdue. Pizza! Pizza!). Some of these Big Ten teams are playing in the home state of their opponent, meaning it will be a virtual road game anyway.
Yes, Ohio State went 6-6, but those ticket sales for a high-profile game against Florida are surprising for a fan base that has a reputation of traveling well and hasn't been to Florida in a while. Penn State does have the Jerry Sandusky scandal looming overhead, but they also have one of the strongest fan bases in the country.
Overall, it's clear MSU isn't the only school struggling to sell its allotted tickets. On the other hand, the secondary market explodes with cheap tickets, as most of these bowl games don't sell out, so many fans don't want to pay the sometimes-ridiculous fees from the schools.
Hollis and MSU plan to market the Outback Bowl to the tens of thousands of MSU alumni in the southeast United States. I don't know how well MSU fans will show up. I hope they do, as this senior class — the winningest in school history — certainly deserves support in the final game. But on the other hand, it's not easy for MSU fans to get excited for a lower bowl after P4RB was the slogan all season. Factor in yearly NCAA Men's Basketball Tournaments (including Tampa last year) and there is a lot of traveling going on for MSU teams and fans.
As for the game itself, it's a New Year's Day game against Georgia. That's a big deal. MSU has made three New Year's Day bowl games in the last four years after making one in the previous 18. When MSU was struggling, it was often referred to as a sleeping giant because of its die-hard fan base that was waiting for a winner. Now that the winner is here, fans seem apathetic to what, in most years, would be considered a big game.