By late Saturday night, Atlanta was awash in Stanford Cardinal fans.
Word had spread that Baylor was in the process of handily beating BCS No. 1 Kansas State and that Stanford was in a close game with No. 2 Oregon, all potentially good news for the Georgia Bulldogs’ hopes of reaching college football’s national-championship game in Miami.
The closing minutes of Stanford-Oregon became must-see TV for Bulldog Nation.
By the time Stanford kicked a field goal in overtime to win 17-14, the metro-Atlanta audience for ABC’s telecast had grown gradually to 338,000 households from about 80,000 at the start, according to Nielsen ratings figures.
The game posted an overall rating of 8.9 here, meaning 8.9 percent of Atlanta’s TV homes — about 200,000 homes — tuned in on average. That was the sixth highest rating for the game among the nation’s 56 largest markets.
But for the final hour, the game garnered a 12.5 rating in Atlanta, including a peak of 14.7 in the last 15 minutes — extremely high numbers for a Pac-12 game here.
Each full rating point equals about 23,000 homes in the Atlanta market.
“After watching the Georgia-Georgia Southern game (Saturday afternoon), Bulldog Nation turned their attention toward the prime-time games,” WSB-TV sports director Zach Klein said Monday. “It was clear when the Oregon game was on the line that word spread quickly Georgia could have a clear path to the national championship. Viewers tuned in, knowing that with an Oregon loss, (the Bulldogs) control their BCS title plans. Two more wins, and it’s time to book your flight to Miami. … It went viral, so to speak.”
Georgia-Georgia Southern, which like Stanford-Oregon was on WSB, averaged a 12.2 rating. That game and Stanford-Oregon were the two highest-rated programs on Atlanta television Saturday.
The Kansas State-Baylor game on ESPN posted a 3.3 rating in Atlanta, failing to get a late spike because of the 52-24 score and the simultaneous Stanford-Oregon game.
– Tim Tucker, AJC