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Everything you need to know if you have (or want) student tickets for Michigan Football

A student’s guide to gameday in Ann Arbor. This means you, person who lives on North Campus.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan
Nov 28, 2015; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; A general view of Michigan Stadium during the game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

To all 2019 Michigan student season ticketholders:

Michigan Stadium is, in my completely objective opinion, the best place in the entire universe to watch a football game. However, if you’ve never had student tickets before, you might not have any idea what you’re getting yourself into.

I am a rising senior at the University of Michigan, and I have only missed two home games in my three years here. I like to think that I’m incomparably wise and that I know everything there is to know about game days in Ann Arbor.

The article you’re about to read contains information that Warde Manuel et. al. probably does not want you to know. I am dishing ALL the secrets about what you can really get away with when you have student tickets at the Big House. I am saying stuff I probably shouldn’t say. If you never hear from me again, you’ll know why.

If you’re ready to hear ALL the juicy secrets about what you REALLY need to know as a student season ticketholder, read on,

(Editor’s note: Anthony here. I am still sort of unsure if this info should be made available, so I am on standby with the REDACTED at the ready. This does not necessarily reflect the views of management, nor do we necessarily condone such tomfoolery).

Getting to The Big House

Prior to watching a game from the Big House, you must complete the oft-overlooked, yet ineffably important, task of arriving at the Big House. Depending on how intoxicated you are and how easily you get lost, arriving at the Big House can actually be one of the most challenging aspects of game day. If you’re a freshman or an engineer, you might find additional barriers in your path.

IF YOU LIVE ON NORTH CAMPUS: My freshman year, I lived in Bursley Hall, which is the University of Michigan’s biggest dorm. It’s located on North Campus, about four miles from the stadium.

Many North Campus dwellers, especially freshmen, take the Bursley-Baits Bus to get to Central Campus on for classes. That works great on weekdays, but the bus runs much less frequently on weekends. Here is the problem:

  • The Bursley-Baits Bus doesn’t run very often on weekends, but
  • Football games are on Saturdays, therefore
  • Hundreds of freshmen are stranded on North Campus each game day trying to catch a Bursley-Baits Bus.

Moral of the story: Bursley-Baits Busses are a hot commodity on game days, and as soon as one arrives, it gets packed. If you live on North Campus, then I highly suggest you get up early and get to Central Campus as soon as possible. Eat your breakfast at South Quad. Once you’re on Central Campus, you can always dilly dally around, but if you stay on North Campus, you don’t know when your next opportunity will be to get to Central Campus.

You could probably Uber from North Campus to Central Campus if you wanted to as well.

IF YOU LIVE ON CENTRAL CAMPUS: Just walk to the stadium. I don’t care how hot or cold it is or how drunk you are. It’s not worth it to wait for a Commuter South or to try to Uber. Game day traffic is ridiculous and the busses are slow. Just walk. I promise you it won’t take more than twenty minutes and you’ll probably stop at 500 tailgates on the way.

Pro Tips:

  • Add ALL your friends on Find Friends. (And obviously don’t make friends with people who have Androids.)
  • Try not to get separated from your friends because service is spotty in Ann Arbor on game day, and service is nonexistent in the Big House.
  • Be smart.

Priority points

Okay, so this is actually kind of important and confusing. If you have student tickets, your seats are determined based on your attendance in the season prior.

For each game you attend (read: each game your ticket is scanned into the stadium), you can earn up to six points. If you attend the game at all, you earn an automatic three points. If your ticket is scanned more than thirty minutes before kickoff, you earn three additional points. The more points you have at the end of the season, the better your seats will be next year.

Personal anecdote: Last season my friend Joe left every tailgate super early and went to the stadium so he would get all the points. He showed up more than thirty minutes early for every single game. This year he has a fantastic seat but he will be all by himself because he was the only one in our friend group lame enough to show up to the Big House thirty minutes early. Way to go Joe.

What if someone else uses my ticket? That’s completely allowed. It doesn’t matter who scans your ticket, as long as your ticket is scanned. So if you give your ticket away, make sure you give it away to someone who’s willing to get to the Big House thirty minutes early so you can get the points.

Fun fact: Several times, my roommates would decide DURING THE WALK TO THE STADIUM that they didn’t actually want to go to the game. In these instances, they would all just give me their tickets. When I got to the Big House, I would ask the ticket people if they could please scan all five of my tickets. They would usually do it, because then it counts towards the Big House attendance record. And there is literally nothing the Big House loves more than high attendance.

Selling student tickets

The easiest way to sell student football tickets is to physically hand the ticket to the buyer. With basketball, you transfer it on the ticket office website, but with football, all you have to do is give someone the physical ticket.

You are required to present a valid MCard to use a student ticket (more on that later), but anyone with a valid MCard can bring any student ticket. It doesn’t matter if I use my ticket or my roommate’s ticket or the random student ticket I found on the ground at a tailgate. (That being said, whoever bought the ticket gets the points.)

There is a private Facebook group for people who want to buy and sell Michigan sports tickets. You might need to have a valid UMich email to join the group. If you are able to join it, I really recommend it. Right before every game, several students will realize they either have too much homework or are too drunk to attend the game, and they’ll try to find someone to take their ticket for free, so that they can at least get the points for scanning it in.

Using a student ticket if you’re not a student

Technically, only students with a valid MCard are allowed to use student tickets. Technically, when you enter the Big House and scan in your student ticket, you also have to show your MCard. Technically, you can’t get into the stadium with a student ticket if you don’t have the valid MCard. Technically, they also ask to see your ticket and MCard before you enter the physical student section.

Validating your student ticket:

There is also a technical way to get around this dilemma. Say you want to bring your parents into the student section. You can get your student ticket validated. If a ticket is validated, then you no longer need an MCard to use it. Depending on the game, it can be really expensive to validate a student ticket. Basically, validating a student ticket just means paying a fee so that non-students can be allowed to use it.

If you DO want to validate your ticket, do it ahead of time (like a week before) at the Ticket Office. You can also validate your ticket at the Big House before the game, but there’s sometimes a really long line to do that. Like, you might miss the entire game. So validate it ahead of time if at all possible.

Completely hypothetical ways to use an unvalidated student ticket without a valid MCard:

(Anthony here. No REDACTED, but will simply allow a Michigan student to hypothesize how they could maybe pull this off).

If you want to use a student ticket, and you’re not a Michigan student, but you could pass as a Michigan student (or even a Michigan grad student), there is ALLEGEDLY maybe a way around validating your ticket. Okay, so here’s the hypothetical:

  • Sometimes, when you enter the Big House with a student ticket, they don’t even ask to see your MCard. Like, they just forget or they don’t care. In the case that this occurs, obviously you don’t need your MCard.
  • Sometimes, when you enter the Big House, they DO ask to see your MCard, but they barely even glance at it. I have known non-students to enter the Big House using
  • Other people’s MCards who kind of look like them
  • Other people’s MCards who look literally nothing like them
  • Fake MCards that they for some reason had made like a fake ID
  • Other people’s MCards with a photo of themselves not-so-subtly taped on

Needless to say, it is indeed possible to use a student ticket without a valid MCard. Just be advised that you are assuming a risk. They are beginning to really crack down on people using the wrong MCard. I truly don’t know why they care. But I have known people who haven’t been able to get into the Big House, using their OWN VALID MCARD, because the ticket person thought it was someone else’s. I believe the police can also get involved. If you use someone else’s MCard or a fake MCard, do so at your own risk!!!

Remember that all of that advice is for entering the stadium itself using a student ticket. If you already entered the Big House using a non-student ticket, and you want to sit (stand) in the Student Section, then that should be fairly easy. See the advice outlined in the section “sitting in the wrong seats.”

Sitting in the wrong seats

Freshman year, my seats were about five million feet in the air but I managed to end up in the front row by the end of every game. How? Skill, finesse, and my natural charm and charisma. Keep reading for my hot tips.

Things to know

  1. NOBODY IN THE STUDENT SECTION ACTUALLY SITS IN THEIR ASSIGNED SEATS ON THEIR TICKET. Like, it’s not a thing. Don’t be “that guy” who goes “uhhhh...hey my ticket says that’s my seat…” Nothing says ROOKIE more than that. Nobody (NOBODY!!) looks at the actual seat and row number.
  2. At the beginning of the game, the wonderful lovely hardworking security people are often really strict when enforcing that you sit in the correct SECTION (like 24, 25, 26 etc). They are also really strict in ensuring sure that you don’t enter the lower bowl if your tickets are for the upper bowl. They will not enforce the specific row or seat.
  3. After halftime-ish, it’s usually kind of a free-for-all and you can sit wherever you want (especially in blowout games), but in the first quarter at least, the security guys aren’t going to give you too much leeway.

That being said, there are a few proven ways to finesse the system and sit wherever you want. Here is the easiest method:

(Anthony here. I looked this over and slap a big fat REDACTED on it. It’s good stuff though. Hannah’s got all the scoops. Ok back to the content).

BOOM. Easy.

If you don’t have friends in the lower bowl who are willing to let you use their tickets, then you might have to rely more on your charm and charisma and skill. Here are a few of my ALLEGED past experiences to help guide you.

Don’t do this:

  • One time I really wanted to sit in Section 26 (where my friends were). I tried about 5 million times, hoping I could just sneak in and they wouldn’t ask to see my ticket. After the 5 millionth try, the security gentleman was like “ma’am...I recognize you… go back to your actual section.”

Do do this:

  • (Anthony here again. More good info from Hannah, but don’t want to rain on her and the students’ parade by giving away all the secrets. Some rules are better off unwritten).
  • Wait until a Michigan touchdown to run into a different section or to the lower bowl. Then when the security guys are celebrating, sprint to your desired seat before they notice.

All that being said, Michigan games are GREAT no matter where you’re sitting. I’ve met plenty of cool people when I got separated from my friends, and I’ve watched some awesome games sitting way up high. It really doesn’t matter where you sit and by halftime all the drunk students have stumbled home anyway and chances are you’ll be right up front.

What to wear

Per a source: “Don’t wear your f***king Airpods ‘cause you’ll f***king lose them.” Duly noted.

Dress cute, dress fun, dress Maize and Blue, flex for the gram, but don’t underestimate the power of weather. The noon games early in the season will be HOT and you will burn. Later in the season, it will be COLD. Don’t let your desire for a cute Instagram picture keep you from wearing a coat and a hat and a scarf. After the Penn State game last year, it took like three hours to be able to feel my feet again.

If you’re drunk before the game, PLEASE don’t let the alcohol trick you that it’s “not that cold out”. It’s cold. Please, please, please wear gloves.

Other notes:

Eat a hearty breakfast. Drink plenty of water. Utilize the hydration station. Take lots of Instagram pictures. Follow me on Instagram and like all of my game day pictures. Cheer really loudly. Wow, I can’t wait for game day. Let’s Go Blue.