From the NG. (I really don't know if they count student tickets here.)
The attendance figure you saw in the official Northwestern-Illinois recaps — 35,895, based on the number of tickets distributed — was more than three times the size of the actual turnstile count: 11,800.
Hosting Northwestern in November has historically been a tough sell, records show — in Smith’s second season at Illinois, just 11,083 fans passed through the turnstiles on Nov. 25, when the 23rd-ranked Wildcats handed the Illini their 10th loss of the fall, 42-7.
Of 27 home games in Smith’s four seasons, only one other drew an actual crowd of fewer than 15,000: 14,071 for a 63-0 drubbing by Iowa in 2018’s Memorial Stadium finale.
— Average attendance for seven home games this season: 23,794. That’s an improvement from a year ago (22,074) but down from 2016 (30,875) and 2017 (24,596).
— The decade’s biggest win — 2019’s 24-23 homecoming shocker against No. 6 Wisconsin — was witnessed in person by the third-largest home crowd of 2019: 26,255. That was less than the turnstile counts for the two home games that preceded it — losses to Nebraska (33,062) and Michigan (26,670).
— Only once in 27 home dates has the turnstile count topped 35,000. That happened in Smith’s second game — in prime time, against North Carolina. A crowd of 47,877 passed through the turnstiles that night, which ended with a 48-23 Illini loss.
— Kicking off the season against a team from a lesser league has helped the win-loss record, but not the gate. Since a turnstile count of 32,630 in Smith’s 2016 orange and blue debut against Murray State, home openers have drawn 28,006 (2017 vs. Ball State), 21,215 (2018 vs. Kent State) and 20,881 (2019 vs. Akron).