Bowl Recap

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Bowl season is over (outside of the National Title game which wouldn’t effect the numbers either way) and it was not a good one by any means. While some games were close and exciting too many of the “big bowl games” were blowouts and too many were just unnecessary. Is it safe to say that there are too many bowl games? Yep.

I am not an economics professor but it’s easy to see how the 2015-2016 bowl season fell short. When compared with the 2014-2015 bowl season, there was a drop off in competitive games or games that were decided by eight points or less (one possession). In 2014-2015, 19 of the 38 bowl games (50%) were one possession games while the 2015-2016 bowl season saw only 16 of the 41 bowl games (39%) decided by one possession.

ROSE BOWL 2016Even more disappointing were the “big bowl games”. The New Year’s Six (NYS) games average score was 41.6-17.5. These are the “big” games? These were not even close. In fact one team (Michigan State) was shut out and another (Iowa) was down 35-0 at halftime thanks to Christian McCaffery who set yet another record this year.

There are a lot of theories about why these games were so lopsided but nothing conclusive.

On another front, as pointed out in an earlier post, there were three 5-7 teams that were allowed into bowl games. All three won ironically enough but the more unsettling event was the fact that conference foes had to face off against one another.

AZ BOWL WEBSITEColorado State played Mountain West rival Nevada in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. A game that was broadcast on the American Sports Network. If it wasn’t for CampusInsiders.com live stream of the game, most die hard fans would have been unable to watch the game at all.

Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson called the matchup a “travesty”. He went on in a statement released by the Mountain West conference:

It is a travesty the Mountain West has been forced into this situation. Clearly, the system is broken. There is an excess of bowl games due in part to a disparate allocation of openings vs. conference bowl histories. The result is teams with sub-.500 records participating in bowl games. There is consensus change is needed and this year’s outcome must not be repeated.

 

It wasn’t all terrible. January 2nd featured four games and three of those were decided by one possession and one, the Valero Alamo Bowl, feature a 31 point comeback by TCU who went on to beat Oregon in three overtimes.

Appalachian State defeated Ohio on a last second field goal after scoring 24 points in the fourth quarter and Akron won their first ever bowl game with a 23-21 victory over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

So it wasn’t all bad but it should have been much, much better. One can only imaging that if there were less bowl games then we would see more competitive games. Yes some “deserving” 6-6 or 7-5 teams would be left out but if that’s the trade off for more entertaining bowl games then that seems like a fair trade.

Bowl Game Bonanza

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


It’s the Holiday Season which means it’s college football bowl season. Or as ESPN likes to brand it ‘Bowl Week’….that of course lasts two weeks. There are some 41 bowl games including the National Championship game and some feature teams with sub 500 records. How did we get here and which ones are worth watching?

CBS Sports Dennis Dodd wrote an article sometime ago about why we have so many. The reasons are varied but essentially come down to these factors: It’s live programming for ESPN who broadcasts all but one of the bowl games and money. Teams and conferences get payouts from each bowl game who in turn get money from ESPN, sponsorships, plus tickets and concession sales.

Lord knows what BattleFrog paid to be the title sponsor of the Fiesta Bowl (a game that kicks off at 11am local time New Years Day) but it had to be a pretty penny. It also shows that bowl games are truly in it for the money. They would sell two title sponsorships to their games if they could.

Besides BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl, other oddities include:

  • Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl (It’s not just a bowl game, it’s a celebration!)
  • Cure Bowl (We don’t think The Cure is playing the halftime show.)
  • Miami Beach Bowl (This is at Marlins Park which is not near the beach.)
  • Marmot Boca Raton Bowl (Marmot specializes in winter clothes.)
  • Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (What?)
  • Russell Athletic Bowl (Features two teams sponsored by Nike.)
  • Motel 6 Cactus Bowl (…..Yeah.)

It’s big business and if the model didn’t work then there wouldn’t be so many bowl games.

From a schools perspective there are other reasons to go to a bowl game. Specifically the extra practice time. If you have a young team, installing a new offense, etc you can always use the extra practice time that a bowl game allows you.

Yes bowl games are supposed to be a reward for the players but let’s not kid ourselves, is going to play in a bowl game in Detroit or outside in the Bronx in December a reward? Now playing a game in the Bahamas or Honolulu, ok that seems like a good gig. But Shreveport, LA or Montgomery, AL, probably not so much.

Either way, the games are upon us and here is a list of ones that should be worth watching:

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl – 12/19 | 12:30pm | ABC: BYU vs Utah is a rivalry that went away when BYU went independent. While Utah isn’t thrilled about this matchup (or being back in a bowl they were in last year) this renewed rivalry should be worth watching.Holy War Byu vs Utah

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl – 12/19 | 2:30pm | ESPN: Ohio vs Appalachian State may not seem sexy but Ohio has eight wins and App State has 10. Just sayin.

Miami Beach Bowl – 12/21 | 11:30am | ESPN: Western Kentucky vs South Florida is a heck of a match up. Western Kentucky can score points at will while USF has found it’s swagger once again under head coach Willie Taggart.

Tyler Matakevich
Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Matakevich

Marmot Boca Raton Bowl – 12/22 | 4pm | ESPN: Toledo vs Temple is a game, despite Toledo’s coach bolting for a new gig at Iowa State, that is pretty underrated. Toledo had a chance to win the MAC and Temple burst onto the college football scene this year with the help of Chuck Bednarik Award winner Tyler Matakevich (that means he is Defensive Player of the Year).

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl – 12/23 | 1:30pm | ESPN: It’s funny to say that Boise State vs Northern Illinois is game between two teams who had a down year. Both have been to major bowl games the last few years and the talent is there to do it again.

Hyundai Sun Bowl – 12/26 | 11am | CBS:  Washington State came out of nowhere this year to be a force in the Pac-12. Miami….well they have talent and a new head coach coming in so most of the returning players are essentially giving a live tryout to their new head coach Mark Richt.

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman – 12/28 | 11:30am | ESPN: Last chance to see Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds go do his thing. Pittsburgh is a tough, hard-nosed team so this could be an old grind’em up football game. Oh, Navy is playing at home.

Russell Athletic Bowl – 12/29 | 2:30pm | ESPN: Two high powered offenses that should put points on the board. Granted North Carolina is a lot healthier than Baylor at the quarterback position but this should be fun none the less.

AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl – 12/29 | 6pm | ESPN: A contrast in styles. LSU has arguably the best running back in the country in Leonard Fournette and Texas Tech likes to spread you out and expose the open space.

Chick -fil -A Peach Bowl – 12/31 | 9am | ESPN: One of the New Years Six bowl games featuring Houston against Florida State. Houston has had an awesome season under first year head coach Tom Herman but FSU has Dalvin Cook who is arguably the best running back in the country.

Capital One Orange Bowl – 12/31 | 1pm | ESPN: The first of two College Football Playoff Semifinal games. This is a rematch of last years Russell Athletic Bowl and while Clemson got the better of Oklahoma in that game, OU is one of the hottest teams in the country.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl – 12/31 | 5pm | ESPN: Michigan State vs Alabama is about as old school as it gets. This one is all about running the ball and defense.

Outback Bowl – 1/1 | 9am | ESPN2: Northwestern and Tennessee have had outstanding years. This game is always close and a lot of fun to watch.

BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl – 1/1 | 10am | ESPN: Does it get much better than Notre Dame vs Ohio State?

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual – 1/1 | 2pm | ESPN: Iowa vs Stanford is like Michigan State vs Alabama, run oriented offenses defenses that can win a game for you. You get to also check out the most exciting player in the country in Stanford’s Christian McCaffery.

Valero Alamo Bowl – 1/2 | 3:45pm | ESPN: Oregon vs TCU and that means wide open offenses and two quarterbacks looking to end their collegiate careers with a bang. Oregon’s Vernon Adams and TCU’s Trevone Boykin.

What To Watch Thurs. 11/26 – Sun. 11/29

All times are Pacific.


Thursday November 26th

Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions – 9:30am FOX: Well, we’d like a better matchup but hey, it’s what we got.

Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys – 1:30pm CBS: The Cowboys have Tony Romo and Dez Bryant back so this could actually be a good game.

Texas Tech at Texas – 4:30pm FS1: Texas has to win out to be bowl eligible and that’s a big deal for a young team. Texas Tech is good but beatable.

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers – 5:30pm NBC: Awaken from the food coma in time to see if they Packers can win back-to-back games or if the Bears will finally put it together.

 

Friday November 27th

NY Rangers at Boston Bruins – 10am NBC: Ice, skates, rivals. Not a bad way to start Black Friday.

Keenan ReynoldsNavy at Houston – 9am ABC: Winner gets to represent the West in the American Atheletic Conference championship. Also get a chance to see the NCAA all time leader in touchdowns in Navy’s Keenan Reynolds.

Marshall at Western Kentucky – 9am FS1: Last year the final score was 67-66. Just sayin.

Washington State at Washington -12:30pm FOX: The Apple Cup is the most underrated rivalry in college football. Always a solid game.

Armstrong JRIowa at Nebraska – 12:30pm ABC: Nebraska is a lot better than there 5-6 record indicates. Iowa is undefeated and looking for a spot in the College Football Playoff. This rivalry will get a lot more heated after this game.

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks – 2pm NBCSN: Both teams are better than their record indicates and still a whole bunch of talent on the ice.

Baylor at TCU – 4:30pm ESPN: It doesn’t really matter what quarterback plays for Baylor but it does for TCU. Points a plenty in this one.

Miami Heat at NY Knicks – 4:30pm NBA.TV: The Kicks aren’t bad this season but the Heat may be a little bit better.

 

Saturday November 28th

Ohio State at Michigan – 9am ABC: Our first taste of Meyer vs Harbaugh. Add in Ohio State having to put a tough loss behind them and this should be one heck of a ball game.

Louisville at Kentucky – 9am SECN: Kentucky is one win away from bowl eligibility and their cross state rivals would love nothing more than to keep that from happening.

UCLA at USC – 12:30pm ABC/ESPN2: Battle of LA and for the Pac-12 South.

Penn State at Michigan State -12:30pm ESPN: Michigan State controls it’s own destiny when it comes to winning the Big 10 Eastern division.

Wisconsin at Minnesota – 12:30pm BTN: Dude, it’s the battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe! It also gives us a chance to show this video from 2003.

Ole Miss at Mississippi State – 4:15pm ESPN2: The Egg Bowl and if Alabama loses, a chance for Ole Miss to grab the SEC West crown.

Notre Dame at Stanford -4:30pm FOX: Huge game for the Irish against a very, very good Stanford team.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State – 5pm ABC: Bedlam is here. Winner probably has a legit shot at the College Football Playoff.

 

Sunday November 29th

NY Giants at Washington Redskins – 10am FOX: The winner controls first place in the NFC East.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Seattle Seahawks – 1:25pm CBS: Steelers have been able to keep it together and succeed despite a rash of injuries. The Seahawks looked like the Seahawks for once this season last week. Good luck hearing the play call Pittsburgh.

FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers – 2pm ESPN: 2nd leg and Dallas got an all important road goal in leg one. They did lose 3-1 however which should put the Timbers in the drivers seat.

103rd Grey Cup – 3pm ESPN2: Live from Winnipeg with Fall Out Boy as the halftime entertainment. Oh its the Edmonton Eskimos vs Ottawa RedBlacks.

NY Red Bulls vs Columbus Crew – 4:30pm FS1: The Crew won first the first leg 2-0. NYRB has it’s work cut out for them if they want to advance to MLS Cup.

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: The best offense in football goes against the best defense. More or less. Broncos start Brock Osweiler for a second straight week.

B1G Body Blow

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It was bad weekend for the Big Ten Conference (B1G). The conference went 8-5 but they lost convincingly in 3 of the biggest games they played and two others came down to the final drive of the game against opponents that should have been beat by a far bigger margin. All in all, things could have go worse for the conference but not by much.

B1G

The 3 high profile games the conference was a part of were Michigan St at Oregon, Michigan at Notre Dame and Virginia Tech at Ohio State. Credit to the conference for scheduling these games in the first place as opposed to the SEC who had 3 teams on their schedule on Saturday from the Southland Conference.

The issue here isn’t that the B1G lost the high profile games but that they ended up losing going away. Michigan State was up on Oregon 27-18 but then Oregon ran off 28 unanswered points. Ohio State was exposed badly by Va Tech and Michigan didn’t score a point against Notre Dame in a 31-0 debacle.

Meanwhile other teams in the B1G like Nebraska and Iowa needed game winning drives with time running out to stay unbeaten. Wisconsin was only up 9-3 at the half against Western Illinois before pulling away in the second half and Purdue was manhandled by Central Michigan.

It hurt the conference because, although it is early, the odds of a B1G team making it to the 4 team playoff at the end of the year now seems highly unlikely. That could hurt recruiting, perception and financial standing in college football.

The B1G has a lot of work to do if it wants to compete with the ACC, PAC 12 and SEC. It may start with beating the teams they are suppose to beat like Northern Illinois and Central Michigan. Until they do, they will be on the outside looking in of the college football playoff.

College Football Is Losing Its Fans

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

With the 2014 College Football season knocking at the door one sad fact is creeping around the chicken coop, students are not going to the games. Yes, even at Alabama.

Sweep Right

ESPN’s Darren Rovell wrote an excellent piece earlier this year about the decline of the student body at football games. We are not talking about the non power conferences either. He points to places like Michigan, Alabama, Arizona, Georgia and Oklahoma that have seen a drop off in student attendance.

The concern isn’t just that students are not showing up but that the students are the next generation season ticket holder. It means future declining revenue and sparsely populated stadiums which is a double whammy of bad news for some schools.

The University of Iowa was going to give away free tuition to randomly selected students who purchased season tickets. Some legal hurdles put an end to that idea but it shows the lengths that schools are willing to go to to put butts in the seats.

It makes sense that college football programs have checked out to places like Kansas City to visit Blue Hell (a.k.a. Sporting KC) and other MLS clubs. MLS clubs like Sporting KC, Portland and Seattle sell-out just about every match and a great fan experience to boot. Granted everyone but Seattle is filling a facility around 20,000 people which is far less than places like Alabama, Michigan, and Oklahoma but they are still doing something right to continually bring it sell-out crowds.

College Football has a lot of hurdles facing it from lawsuits to concussions. Support from the students they represent didn’t seem like it would be an issue but somehow those are always the ones that sneak up on you.