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.
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.
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.