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Bowl Challenges!

Every year my brother and father and I have a “bowl challenge” where we predict the outcome of every college bowl game. My submissions are at the bottom. Make your own predictions in the commments.

Some people complain about there being too many bowl games. I humbly disagree:

While fans of the top half-dozen teams or so may not care about the Buffalo Bulls making a trip to the Motor City Bowl, fans of Buffalo are ecstatic at having made their first bowl in the history of the program. University of Texas fans lose nothing but University at Buffalo fans get something. Net gain! Notre Dame, who always wants to go to a big bowl or the national championship, got a 9-game, 15-year slump off its back with a victory in the Hawaii Bowl. Vanderbilt went to their first bowl in 26 years and won their first one in over fifty. These are teams that wouldn’t have gone to a bowl a decade ago (except maybe Buffalo), but the looser format gave them a chance they otherwise wouldn’t have had to vindicate their struggling programs.

And play on national television. A lot of these teams, even pretty good ones, can go the entire season without playing a single game on national television almost regardless of how good they are. This gives them that opportunity. It raises their profile just a little and helps them recruit so that maybe they can field better and better teams.

The part about national TV is no longer true, but most of it holds up. It’s still there introduction to national audiences. Plus, the bowls seem to have really made an effort this year to make up the fields. In years past, the fields would often read “Boise State” instead of “Idaho Potato Bowl” (which is played in BSU’s stadium). Which is tacky. Anyway, I also go on to say that while I don’t think there are too many games, they should probably just shift some of the lower seed bowls should be recast “Invitationals” and played at the stadium of one of the two teams. Letting Western Kentucky and Georgia State play is fine, but there’s no reason for the game to be in Orlando.

My real pet peeve with bowl season, though, are the names of the bowls. It used to be that every bowl had a name and a theme of some sort. Then advertisers started getting involved and they took on corporate names. Which I don’t like, but totally understand. It’s the goal of almost every bowl to have a sponsor willing to pay enough money to take the whole name of the bowl (like the Spiffy Lube Bowl instead of the Spiffy Lube Nectarine Bowl), but some of them aren’t even willing to come up with placeholder names, just naming it after wherever the bowl happens to be. There used to be the Bluebonnet Bowl, but now there’s the Texas Bowl.

So let’s give the bowls good and proper names. Fruits, flowers, and products are best. Sugar, Cotton, Orange, etc are often good, but so are things like Fiesta and Holiday. You also have places that aren’t cities and states, like Alamo Bowl or Music City Bowl which aren’t great but are still better than San Antonio Bowl or Nashville Bowl. Also, since this is a post on a website rather than an actual submission, funny names (like calling the Las Vegas Bowl the Craps Bowl or the New Orleans Bowl the Big Easy Bowl) are also cool.

So here are the bowls that need real and proper names:

  1. New Orleans Bowl: Crawfish Bowl?
  2. Cure Bowl (Orlando, FL): Some sort of fruit is available, surely.
  3. Las Vegas Bowl: Roulette Bowl? Buffet Bowl? Bottomless Bowl?
  4. New Mexico Bowl: Tumbleweed Bowl?
  5. Boca Raton Bowl: Beach Bowl is not good but better than Boca Raton Bowl.
  6. Frisco Bowl (Frisco, TX):
  7. St Petersburg (FL) Bowl:
  8. Bahamas Bowl: This one is a unique enough location I am actually okay with it.
  9. Dollar General Bowl (Mobile, AL): Yellowhammer Bowl? Probably too Civil War.
  10. Hawaii Bowl: There used to be Hula Bowl and an Aloha Bowl. On the TV show coach there was a Pineapple Bowl. Those are all good names.
  11. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Pecan Bowl?
  12. Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit, MI):
  13. Fosters Farms Bowl (San Francisco, CA):
  14. Camping World Bowl (Orlando, FL): Used to be the Tangerine Bowl, which is a pretty good name.
  15. Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA): This is actually an okay name for a bowl, but San Diego used to have a Poisettia Bowl, which is way better.
  16. Texas Bowl: I assume that there is some reason they aren’t just going with Bluebonnet Bowl, because that was a pretty great name.
  17. Belk Bowl (Charlotte, NC): Was originally the “Queen City Bowl” which is an okay name.
  18. Music City Bowl:
  19. Arizona Bowl (Tucson, AZ): There used to be a Copper Bowl in Tucson, which moved to Phoenix and became the well-named Cactus Bowl. So that name is available.
  20. TaxSlayer Bowl: Used to be the Gator Bowl, which is… okay. But Florida grows tons of fruit so surely there’s something here.
  21. Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL): Used to be the Hall of Fame Bowl, which is something but not spectacular.

Here are my bowl predictions (number in parenthesis is weight, if there’s a three I am putting three times as much weight as if there’s a one):

  1. New Orleans Bowl: Troy over North Texas (3)
  2. Cure Bowl: Western Kentucky of Georgia State (2)
  3. Las Vegas Bowl: Oregon over Boise State (1)
  4. New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State over Marshall (3)
  5. Camellia Bowl: Arkansas State over Middle Tennessee (3)
  6. Boca Raton Bowl: Florida Atlantic over Akron (3)
  7. Frisco Bowl: SMU over Louisiana Tech (2)
  8. St Petersburg Bowl: Temple over Florida International (1)
  9. Bahamas Bowl: UAB over Ohio (1)
  10. Potato Bowl: Wyoming over Central Michigan (2)
  11. Armed Forces Bowl: San Diego State over Army (3)
  12. Dollar General Bowl: Toledo over Appalachian State (2)
  13. Hawaii Bowl: Fresno State over Houston (1)
  14. Heart of Dallas Bowl: West Virginia over Utah (2)
  15. Quick Lane Bowl: Northern Illinois over Duke (2)
  16. Cactus Bowl: UCLA over Kansas State (2)
  17. Independence Bowl: Southern Miss over Florida State (1)
  18. Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa over Boston College (2)
  19. Fosters Farms Bowl: Arizona over Purdue (2)
  20. Texas Bowl: Missouri over Texas (2)
  21. Military Bowl: Virginia over Navy (1)
  22. Camping World Bowl: Virginia Tech over Oklahoma State (2)
  23. Holiday Bowl: TCU over Stanford (2)
  24. Alamo Bowl: Michigan State over Washington State (2)
  25. Belk Bowl: Texas A&M over Wake Forest (2)
  26. Sun Bowl: NC State over Arizona State (3)
  27. Music City Bowl: Northwestern over Kentucky (2)
  28. Arizona Bowl: Utah State over New Mexico State (2)
  29. Cotton Bowl: Southern Cal over Ohoi State (2)
  30. TaxSlayer Bowl: Mississippi State over Louisville (2)
  31. Liberty Bowl: Memphis over Iowa State (2)
  32. Fiesta Bowl: Penn State over Washington (2)
  33. Orange Bowl: Wisconsin over Miami (2)
  34. Outback Bowl: South Carolina over Michigan (1)
  35. Peach Bowl: Central Florida over Auburn (1)
  36. Citrus Bowl: Notre Dame over LSU (2)
  37. Rose Bowl: Georgia over Oklahoma
  38. Sugar Bowl: Clemson over Alabama
  39. Championship: Georgia over Clemson

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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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29 thoughts on “Bowl Challenges!

  1. The number of bowls exacerbates a problem I’ve complained about for a long time: two weeks of extra practice for the teams that get into a bowl. With only a handful of bowls, where a win was prestigious, teams focused on winning the bowl. In a smaller bowl where winning or losing makes little difference, teams focus on ten days of coach interaction and physical practice with next season’s players. The long-time head coach at my football-crazed undergraduate school used to be blatant about it: “The important thing about making the XYZ Bowl is that we get a ten-day head start on next season.” Given the NCAA limits on out-of-season practices — and even player contact with coaches — ten days is a big deal.

    Quit punishing the teams that only win five games instead of six by denying them winter practice. Let everyone who wants it have two weeks of practice in December.


    • I wonder how true that is though. Some percentage of those players — and likely a good number of starters and other key players — will be gone after the year. How are they worked with during practice? I also wonder how much carry over there is. Perhaps it is most helpful in terms of getting extra reps to backups and players likely to see an increased role the following year, to get a better sense of what they may be able to contribute and to enter the next pre-season with a clearer vision and plan.

      You know where I’d want to most look for evidence of this? Betting trends. If certain teams are not using their Bowl prep to not actually prep for the games, you can be certain betting insiders know that and are likely exploiting the info. Those guys know fricking everything.


      • Thumbing through Google, there have been lots of published quotes from coaches this month talking about “working with younger players” and “an extra spring practice”. Some have gone so far as to say the extra practices are the program’s big reward for making a bowl. Even coaches for a couple of the teams playing in prestige bowls have said they will set aside time in their pre-bowl practices specifically to work with younger players, including players who aren’t eligible for the bowl game.

        I assume that the bettors and casinos all read the papers.


  2. There are some pretty dreadful names for spring events in The current state list, I’ll give you that.

    I’m not sure if “dollar general bowl” seems more or less civil war than “yellowhammer bowl” to me. “Dollar general” sounds like a snide term for a particularly self important sergeant – like a “ten dollar foreman” at a factory.


  3. Some of your names are incorrect, or at least incomplete. Eg, there is no St. Petersburg Bowl this year; it’s the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl. The Gasparilla part may be a contender for “Most Obscure Reference in a Bowl Name”.

    Let’s be honest. Many of these bowls wouldn’t happen if there wasn’t a sponsor putting up millions of dollars to have their name on it. The game played in the Rose Bowl this year is officially “The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual”, and you can bet that the announcers will use the complete name regularly. The prominence of the sponsor’s name indicates how badly the organizers needed the money.


    • I don’t object to the sponsors. I don’t like it when the sponsor is the only name for the bowl, even though I understand why they do that. My main complaint is when they don’t have a complete sponsor and use the city or state instead of something more creative.

      I don’t think it’s a local tourism thing. I am certain the Texas Bowl isn’t sponsored by the state government, and I suspect that’s true of the New Mexico Bowl as well. I know the tourism boards and such are behind some of these, but I think it’s mostly a matter of bland laziness.

      I will also add that while they make money off sponsorships, I do think the bowls would exist without them taking over the complete name of the bowl. One indication that this is true are the number of bowls that don’t have complete name sponsors. ESPN will make sure the bowls happen. If the NCAA would let them, they’d put out 75 bowl games, probably. They’ve allegedly been trying to throw money at the G5 conferences to get them to form a playoff so that they can have more more more games.

      Anyway, when the Chick-Fil-A Bowl got promoted to top-tier, they made them revert back to the Peach Bowl name (with CFA in front). Smaller bowls should take their cue: Bowls look better when they have names. I don’t know how much that helps the little bowl games in terms of prestige, but it would definitely help some of the lower-top-tier bowls, I think.


  4. Mr. Shaw, That would be THE GUMBEAUXWl.
    Will, If it is legal, I will bet you two quarts of home made jambalaya against what you think is great yankee food.


  5. Will Truman, I left part of my note to you out. I wanted to bet you that LSU would win. I got really, really sick last January and my mind is still running on a few missing neurons.


    • Ground can’t cause a fumble/effect possesion except when a receiver doesn’t “complete the catch”. What defines completing the catch? It can’t be “surviving the ground” since that’s what’s at issue. Instead, it is – as everyone except the league office knows – possession + two feet down + football move.

      Also, some of the recent replay rulings have been so atrocious the NFL needs to revise the whole regime.


    • I think I prefer the current rules to the can of worms that gets opened if it’s possible for a receiver to establish possession without touching the ground. Start with, “Can a receiver who is in possession of the ball be defenseless?” And if so, how much forward progress without touching the ground, possibly including a score, are you willing to grant them before the defender can hit them?


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