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A Familiar Matchup: College Football’s Premier Rivalry

2 minute read | January 2019

The two teams that landed the opportunity to compete for the Division I national title in the 2019 College Football Playoff championship game didn’t exactly shock the world by getting where they are today. The debate among sports pundits centers more around whether the familiar Alabama-Clemson matchup is good for college football. Game commentary aside, the rivalry has proven hugely powerful in terms of fan engagement at both the local and national level.

The Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers have competed in the College Football Playoff four times since the format’s inception in 2014, and three of those games were for the national championship.

According to Nielsen Scarborough Research, Alabama has nearly double the number of fans in its local market than Clemson in its local market. Clemson, however, has experienced a 16% increase in its local fan base (people who watched, listened or attended a Clemson football game in the Greenville-Spartanburg-Asheville-Anderson market) since 2015, due in part to the Tigers’ success on the national stage.

Both Alabama and Clemson have noteworthy intrastate competitors (Auburn and South Carolina, respectively) that vie for the loyalty of college football fans in their home markets. Alabama’s No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide has attracted fans across the U.S., with a national fan base of 2.6 million.

While 322 miles separate University of Alabama and Clemson University, local fans of their respective football teams have very similar “driving habits” on the information superhighway. Alabama fans spend 8 hours and 35 minutes on average per week on the internet, compared to Clemson fans at 8 hours and 20 minutes per week. Of that internet time, Alabama fans spend 1 hour and 35 minutes per day on social media, compared to Clemson fans’ 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Overall, Alabama fans are more likely to follow sports on social media, and Clemson fans are more likely to show team spirit by purchasing logo apparel over the internet.

The 2019 College Football Playoff championship game featuring No. 1 ranked Alabama and No. 2 ranked Clemson is Monday, Jan. 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

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