Isn’t it about time that we throw in the towel on the college football bowl season? For crying out loud, 80 teams get to kick off in the “post-season.” The best of them, which by the way, formerly was the required ticket to a New Year’s Day bowl, will face in the sometimes strange, but so far wonderful, four-team playoff for the national championship. This season, though, the growing list of the left aside has engendered enough tavern arguments to raise the specter of an eight-team playoff. After all, Penn State (out) beat Ohio State (in). The Jan. 2 Rose Bowl isn’t exactly punishment, but it’s out of the national championship.
Before the prospect of a knockdown college football playoff shakes you out of a holiday meal stupor, consider this: Alabama might actually be competitive in the National Football League this year. It’s the Crimson Tide and all the remaining dwarfs in college football, although that clause might very well have been the jinx necessary to raise Clemson to a national title.
Beginning Saturday (12/17), the sports broadcasting world will belong to ESPN. Eighty – count ’em, eight zero – teams will knock heads over the next three weeks. ESPN will show us 34 of the 40 scheduled bowl games.
The demand for teams is so great that about 20 of them will enter the arena with dazzling 6-6 records; that’s six games won and six games lost. A handful will go bowling with their noses just below the water level, and it’s a weird blend of geography and academic achievement that allows sub-.500 teams to compete. Christmas Eve, for example, the Hawaii Bowl will see 8-4 Middle Tennessee against 6-7 Hawaii. The day after Christmas in St. Petersburg, Florida, 5-7 Mississippi State will play 6-6 Miami (Ohio).
Besides the New Year’s Eve bowls Peach and Fiesta, which will sort out who gets to play for the national championship [Alabama will beat Washington, but Clemson-Ohio State might turn out to be a contest], and the Jan. 9 championship game, there’s not a bunch of excitement on the bowl horizon.
Much like eating a 72-ounce steak – of course it’s done one bite at a time – digesting this bowl season will begin with the light fare of the New Mexico Bowl 2 p.m. (ET) Saturday on, what else, ESPN. Maybe Texas-San Antonio (6-6) against New Mexico (8-4), or the Las Vegas Bowl with San Diego State (10-3) against Houston (9-3) at 3:30 p.m. (ET), will sharpen your game scouting eyes. Certainly, by the time you surf the Camelia, Cure, and New Orleans bowls, you’ll be ready for the holiday blitz.
Maybe “bowl” is a misnomer. Sponsors might want to expand their horizons and think more in terms of more-than-you-can-eat buffets over this 80-team, 40-game post-season.