There’s 1 college football team more popular than the Crimson Tide. Here’s who it is

The Alabama Crimson Tide are quite popular, it turns out – and not just in Alabama.

The University of Alabama’s football team, which has seen unprecedented success on the field over the last decade-plus, is the second most popular college football team in America, according to data from marketing research firm SBRnet.

According to the data, Alabama had just over 4.1 million fans in 2021, out of roughly 103 million people who either watched or attended a college football game in 2021.

Only Ohio State University, with nearly 6.3 million fans, was more popular.

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“Alabama football is a brand that is instantly recognizable by sports fans across the US,” said Darin White, the executive director of Samford’s Center for Sports Analytics. “It has held its prestigious place in the world of college football for many decades and is known for putting a high quality, entertaining team on the field year after year. Fans tend to flock to these sorts of teams across the world of sports.”

Alabama finished the 2021 college football season ranked No. 2, after losing 33-18 in the CFP National Championship game against Georgia. The team won its sixth national title since 2009 to cap off the 2020 season.

While Alabama was the second most popular team in the nation, it was the single most popular among younger fans. Alabama had more than 700,000 Gen Z fans in 2021, or around 6% of all Gen Z fans. Texas was second with 572,000 Gen Z fans.

Alabama was fifth among millennial fans, third for Gen X fans and fourth among baby boomers.

Auburn finished as the No. 14 most popular team in the nation, and the fifth most popular among SEC teams – or sixth, if you include Texas, which will enter the SEC in the coming years.

Georgia (No. 9), LSU (No. 12) and Florida (No. 13) were all more popular than Auburn.

Regional fandom

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Alabama was most popular in the southern region of the US Some 2.4 million of its 4.1 million fans were in that region.

But the Crimson Tide have fans all over the nation, including nearly 1 million in the midwest, 424,000 in the northeast and around 380,000 in the West.

Perhaps surprisingly, Alabama wasn’t the most popular team in the South, though.

[Can’t see the map? Click here.]

Texas was the most popular team within the Southern US, according to the data. The Longhorns had nearly 2.6 million fans in that region, but weren’t as popular as Alabama outside the South.

And Alabama wasn’t even No. 2 in the South – that rank went to Georgia, the reigning national champions, who have seen a spike in popularity in recent years, according to Samford’s Center for Sports Analytics.

Alabama came in at No. 3 in the Southern region, but its nationwide popularity pushed it past both the Longhorns and Bulldogs in the national rankings.

AL.com in partnership with the Center for Sports Analytics at Samford University conducted an analysis of college football fans. All analysis is based on a nationwide survey of 6,426 sports fans in the US conducted in January, 2022 by marketing research firm SBRnet.

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