For a second straight year, Ohio State University students and alumni didn't buy all of the football tickets available to them.

For a second straight year, Ohio State University students and alumni didn't buy all of the football tickets available to them.

About 5,234 fewer alumni who are eligible for single-game tickets and 2,276 fewer students applied for the upcoming season, which starts in 23 days with Ohio State hosting the Miami University RedHawks.By contrast, more OSU faculty and staff members sought tickets than the number available to them; 250 were shut out, which also has happened the past several years.

"I don't get surprised by anything anymore," Alumni Association spokesman Jay Hansen said of the ticket sales.

Most years, about 44,000 alumni apply for tickets, he said. But this year, 33,436 did.

"The upside is everyone who wanted tickets will receive them," except for the 548 people whose credit cards were denied, Hansen said. In some past years, as many as 4,000 alumni had been denied tickets, he said.

Some people had predicted that Ohio State would sell fewer tickets because NCAA sanctions have made the Buckeyes ineligible for the Big Ten title or a bowl game this season. Others thought fans would eagerly snap up tickets because of new coach Urban Meyer, who led two University of Florida teams to national championships.

Hansen thinks the economy is mostly to blame. "I know, even in my own situation, that I have a lot less disposable income than in the past," he said.

Ohio State also isn't playing a marquee team, such as USC, in the nonconference portion of its schedule - the tickets alumni are more likely to get, he said. And there are more total tickets available this year because the Buckeyes are playing eight home games instead of the more-typical seven.Altogether, students, faculty and staff members and OSU alumni eligible for the single-game lottery will receive an estimated 47,857 tickets per game. An additional 42,000 tickets will go to season-ticket holders, including Buckeye Club and President's Club members. The remaining stadium seats will be reserved for other groups, such as the opposing team's fans and band.Ohio Stadium holds about 102,329 people. Alumni did receive nearly twice as many tickets for Big Ten games this year, which is a change they advocated for when Ohio State devised a new distribution system because the move from quarters to semesters will bring students to campus earlier, making it more likely they would buy early-season tickets.

In 2010, the last time there were eight home games, for instance, alumni received 2,500 tickets to the Michigan game. This year, they got 4,748.

This year, students had two options - buying a full-season package of eight home games for $256 or four Big Ten tickets for $128, said Brett Scarbrough, OSU's assistant athletic director for ticketing and premium seating.

They purchased 1,021 fewer full-season packages and 1,255 fewer Big Ten packages than they could, he said. "Being that this is the first year under the semester system with the new ticket options, (it's) not easy to speculate why they didn't purchase their entire allotment this year."

Robert Zartman, 19, of Hudson in northeastern Ohio, bought football tickets his freshman year, but not the past two years. "I guess I'd rather play than watch."

But freshman Tyler Donahue, 18, of Martins Ferry in eastern Ohio, is counting down the days to the kickoff game. "There's no better way to get the Buckeye experience than to go to a football game," he said. "I plan to buy tickets for all four years of my college career."

Despite the dips, demand by faculty and staff members was so high that for a fifth straight year the university resorted to a point system that factors in title and/or salary and the number of years employees have worked at Ohio State to divvy up the tickets, Scarbrough said.

The surplus student tickets would have been offered to the Alumni Association if it had a waiting list, but because it didn't, they went on sale to the general public this week, Scarbrough said.

The games against Michigan and Nebraska, the latter of which is homecoming, are sold out. But tickets remain for the games against Miami University, Central Florida, California, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Purdue and Illinois.

They can be purchased for $70 apiece either in person at the Ohio State Athletics Ticket Office in the Schottenstein Center; online at ohiostatebuckeyes.com; or through Ticketmaster outlets - online, in person or by calling 1-800-745-3000.

epyle@dispatch.com