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Losers vs. Also-rans Will Test Even Hardened Bowl Fans
December 19, 2015  | By Gerald Jordan  | 2 comments
 


College football bowls represent binge watching on a grand scale. Any TV amateur can grab a bag of popcorn and plop in a chair for a few hours to catch up on the latest buzz-fed series on Netflix, Amazon or elsewhere. The real pros are about to be tested.

Beginning Saturday and continuing through Jan. 11 – with a few breaks allowed for real life – 42 football bowl games will be played in contests that range from old guard and traditional to some head-scratching matchups in obscure bowls that include teams who finished the 12-game collegiate season with losing records.

Hard to believe, but true.

So many ESPN-engineered games have been added to the bowl schedule that invitations had to be extended to teams who won only five games and lost seven. What the heck? At best they’re appetizers for the four-team playoff that will crown a national champion. At worst they’re a horrible waste of time and a challenge for broadcasters to avoid camera shots that embarrass bowl sponsors and avoid references to half-empty stadiums.

Maybe the best of the opening-day games will reconnect old rivals from the Mountain West Conference when Brigham Young (9-3) and Utah (9-3) lock horns in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (3:30 p.m., ET, on ABC). For much of the season, Utah rode high in the rankings, beginning with a season-opening shellacking of Michigan.

The Gildan New Mexico Bowl (2 p.m., ET, on ESPN) might be entertaining, with Arizona (6-6) going against New Mexico. The Autonation Cure Bowl, pitting a 5-7 San Jose State team (left) against a 6-6 Georgia State team, might test the most fervent fan’s love of college football. It’s scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m., ET, on CBSSN. It’s hard to fathom much interest in teams whose records plunged to such mediocrity that their faithful followers likely bailed on them by the waning weeks of the season.

Two other games deserve a fish-eyed glare:

The Quick Lane Bowl (top photo) in Detroit will pit Central Michigan (7-5) against Minnesota (5-7) and would you believe that Minnesota is favored. They kick off at 4 p.m., ET on ESPN2.

The Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, CA., (below) features a brawny UCLA (8-4) and a Big 10, battle tested Nebraska (5-7). UCLA is only favored by 7.

What’s driving all this? M-O-N-E-Y.

Athletic conferences comprising what’s called the Big 5 – SEC, Big 10, Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC – each will get around $50 million, regardless of whether their teams qualify for the playoffs, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute. More than $35 million more will be divided in payouts to next-tier conferences, so-called Big 6 bowls that do not play host to a semifinal game and independent schools – including $3.75 million to Notre Dame.

Of course, it’s always about the money, but for college football fans who won’t share a nickel of the multi-million-dollar payouts, it’s just fun. Find the most comfortable seat in the house. Lay in a supply of food suitable for an indoor tailgate party. And invite lots of company to share the experience.

 
 
 
 
 
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2 Comments
 
 
Scott C
ESPN has ruined college football. Hope they lose money big time.
Dec 30, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
Bob Lamm
The bowl games are a joke. Teams with records of 5-7 in bowl games? And people actually go? And people actually watch on TV? Can these games be renamed the Mediocre Bowl, the Pathetic Bowl, the Shameless Bowl, etc. etc.? Football in the U.S. is a pathology and "college" football--where so many football players at bigtime schools aren't really college students--is especially awful.
Dec 19, 2015   |  Reply
 
 
 
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