When Does College Football Start?

When Does College Football Start?

By James Mielke

Published on August 18, 2021

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At some schools, the beginning of a new academic year means getting excited about a brand new football season. At many colleges across the country, football is inextricably tied to the college experience. Whether it's the communal tailgating or the combined roar of 100,000 fans, the fall football season is essential to the institutional culture of many colleges and universities.

In this post, we answer some essential questions about when college football season begins and how you can get your hands on game-day and season tickets.

When Does the 2021 College Football Season Begin?

For some schools — including the University of Connecticut, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and UCLA — the 2021 NCAA college football season begins on Saturday, August 28. The majority of teams, however, play their first game the following week. Big matchups to kick off the season include Ohio State at Minnesota on September 2 and North Carolina at Virginia Tech on September 3.

After teams complete the regular season toward the end of November, the best college football teams are selected to play a game during bowl season. This is capped off by the College Football Playoff (CFP). The 2021 CFP semifinals will be held at the Orange Bowl and the Cotton Bowl on Friday, December 31. The winners of those games face off in the CFP championship game on Monday, January 10, in Indianapolis.

How to Get Student Tickets for College Football Games

Once you've decided you want to attend a game to support your team, the next hurdle is securing tickets. Most schools reserve a substantial number of tickets, usually thousands, for current students and alumni.

That said, at many of the best football colleges, tickets sell out rapidly. Your school should announce ahead of time when tickets will become available for the upcoming season — interested students should mark that date on their calendars and get in line once tickets go on sale.

Some schools with high ticket demand also use a lottery system to award single-game tickets to students, with seniors usually having the best odds.

Season Tickets

Many schools offer season tickets to enrolled students. For example, Penn State begins its season ticket sales in mid-July and opens the ticket marketplace to students based on seniority. These offerings sell out quickly, so prepare yourself to get in the queue right away if you want to secure tickets.

Additionally, many schools provide a variety of full and partial season ticket packages. For example, Ohio State offers a full season ticket option that includes all home games, an option for four Big Ten Conference games, and a variety of other packages based on seating.

Game-Day Tickets

Due to the popularity of college football, getting tickets on game day can be tricky. As a general rule, if you want to go to a game, plan ahead and purchase your tickets in advance. With only so many tickets reserved for students, alumni, and donors, the chances that you'll get your hands on last-minute tickets depend largely on your team's popularity.

If student tickets are no longer available, you can also buy any tickets made available to the general public, but these often come with a steep price markup — getting your hands on student tickets is likely the cheapest way to attend a game.

That said, there is no admission price to tailgate. If you don't have a ticket but still want to support your team, you can join a throng of supporters outside the stadium in an hourslong celebration.


Feature Image: South_agency / E+ / Getty Images

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