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.

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What to Watch Fri. 11/13 – Sun. 11/15

All times are Pacific

Friday November 13th

San Jose Sharks at Detroit Red Wings  – 4:30pm NHL Gamecenter: These two had some legendary playoff series back in the day.

USA vs St. Vincent & The Grenadines – 4pm ESPN2: Let the road to the 2018 World Cup in Russia begin.

USC at Colorado – 6pm ESPN2: Colorado is better than their record shows. USC has some NFL level talent. At night in Boulder is a tall order for the Trojans.

 

Saturday November 14th

Georgia at Auburn  – 9am CBS: Fact is, if Mark Richt and Georgia win then he may have saved his job.

Texas at West Virginia – 9am ESPNU: This is a swing game for both when it comes to Bowl eligibility.

Miami at UNC – 12:30pm ESPNU: Last time Miami was in the state of North Carolina they won by lateraling the ball like eight times. UNC is on a roll though.

Alabama at Mississippi State – CBS: Dak Prescott and the Bulldogs have one last chance to beat the Tide and prove that they are a force to be reckoned with in the SEC West.

Memphis at Houston – 4pm ESPN2: The over on this game should be like 150 points.

Oklahoma at Baylor – 5pm ABC: Game of the day and OU has always had problems defending Baylor. Question is, can OU keep place offensively?

FourtnetteArkansas at LSU – 5:15pm ESPN: Like old school, run oriented offenses and hard hitting defenses? Well this is your game. One is coming off a tremendous win in OT while the other got beaten down pretty good.

 

UFC 193 – 7pm PPV: Ronda Rousey takes her winning ways to another continent (Australia) to square off against Holly Holm. Hidden gem on this card is Mark Hunt vs Bigfoot Silva in a rematch of their legendary 2013 fight.

Washington State at UCLA – 7:30pm ESPN: Washington State lost their first game of the year to Portland State who plays in the FCS. People were calling for head coach Mike Leach’s job. Boy how things have changed.

 

 

Sunday November 15th

Toronto Argonauts at Hamilton Tiger-Cats – 10am ESPN3: It’s playoff time in the CFL and this is a great way to start it off. Both have had to overcome injuries at key positions and it’s the equivalent of a ‘backyard brawl.’

Minnesota Vikings at Oakland Raiders – 1pm FOX: A year ago we wouldn’t dream of making this a ‘must watch’ game but man, what a difference a year makes.

BC Lions at Calgary Stampeders – 1:30pm ESPN3: The defending Grey Cup Champion Calgary Stampeders begin the final run of head coach John Hufnagel’s career. They are heavy favorites but don’t count out the Lions.

Toronto Maple Leafs at NY Rangers – 4pm NHLN: Always a fun game to watch.

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks  – 5:30pm NBC: Two top teams in the NFC West square off the end your weekend.