I don’t have a problem with the number of bowl games. As long as there are no teams with losing records filling the slate, I figure the more college football games the better. It’s like postseason basketball. Nobody is forcing you to watch low-level bowl games or the CBI. But if it’s Dec. 22, a college football game between two low-major programs is better than just anything else on television.
The Bowl Championship Series winds down this year, which means we eliminate one bowl next year. However, new bowls are planned for the Bahamas, Boca Raton and Montgomery, Ala.. Others are discussed for Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Miami and possibly Little Rock, Ark. That could mean as many as 40 bowls next year. While that sounds a bit much, it’s mighty important to that fourth-place Sun Belt squad playing the sixth-best team from Conference USA.
As for this year, there are 35 bowl games and all have some sort of tie-in. Trades among bowls are possible and happen often at the lower-tier games. I see that happening at least once this season.
The Big Ten has a future tie-in with the Pinstripe Bowl and a marketing agreement with Yankee Stadium. Outside of West Virginia, there’s little incentive for the Big 12 to continue its arrangement if it doesn’t need to do so. That’s why I see a swap between the Pinstripe Bowl and the Heart of Dallas Bowl for eligible Big Ten and Big 12 teams. Dallas is the heart of Big 12 territory; New York is the destination location for the Big Ten. Although the Pinstripe payout is $1.8 million and Heart of Dallas payout is $1.1 million, spending time in New York City is much more costly. The recruiting benefits of Dallas for a Big 12 school is immeasurable. The exposure for a Big Ten school in New York has similar value.
BCS — Alabama vs. Oregon
It’s difficult to project any team but Alabama for one spot. Although Oregon has a new coach, I’m unsure about Ohio State’s defense, Clemson’s consistency or any team in the Big 12 overtaking the Ducks.
ROSE — Ohio State vs. USC
The Buckeyes boast the Big Ten’s best talent. Even with quarterback uncertainty, I think USC bounces back. The Trojans play host to Stanford and misses Oregon in the regular season.
ORANGE — Clemson vs. Michigan
Tough choice between Clemson and Florida State, but I go with the Tigers’ playmakers over the Seminoles’ inexperience at QB. Michigan lands here because the Orange picks up the first at-large selection.
SUGAR — LSU vs. Texas
I tabbed LSU over South Carolina because I see Alabama slamming the Gamecocks in the SEC title game. Sugar takes Texas over Florida State in part because of the “Champions Bowl” arrangement starting with 2014 season.
FIESTA — Oklahoma State vs. Louisville
The Big 12′s upper echelon is wide open with Oklahoma State, Texas, Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor and Kansas State all in contention. The Cowboys have the makings of a great offense and enough of a defense to win the league title. If Louisville was in the ACC this year, it might have a chance to play for the BCS title.
CAPITAL ONE — Michigan State vs. South Carolina
I see the Spartans claiming a share of the Legends title but losing the Big Ten championship to Ohio State. Michigan jumps them in the bowl lineup. Also, I see South Carolina claiming the SEC East but LSU might lose just one game this year.
OUTBACK — Wisconsin vs. Georgia
In most years Nebraska would figure here. But the Cornhuskers have spent the last two years in Florida, and the Badgers played out west three straight years. A change of scenery helps both.
BUFFALO WILD WINGS — Nebraska vs. Oklahoma
Yeah, I think Nebraska fans would take a slight step downward in bowl pairings for this game. Same with Oklahoma.
GATOR — Northwestern vs. Texas A&M
If there’s only one game separating Northwestern from Iowa, the Hawkeyes jump over the Wildcats. The Aggies have underachieved historically, and with the drama this summer, I’d be surprised if they reach expectations.
TEXAS — Iowa vs. Texas Tech
Of the three remaining Big Ten teams, Iowa is a no-brainer. Minnesota competed in the bowl last year, and Indiana’s base is more concerned with basketball in late December.
PINSTRIPE — Indiana vs. Rutgers
I see Indiana trading out with Iowa State, which attended the bowl two years ago. Indiana wants to look east, and this is a chance to build Rutgers’ connection with the Big Ten.
LITTLE CAESAR’S — Minnesota vs. Ohio
Maybe this bowl carries a little more prestige next year against an ACC opponent.
COTTON — Baylor vs. Ole Miss
Maybe the Bears won’t stop anyone, but they are oozing with offensive talent. Ole Miss could be on its way toward challenging the SEC’s elite.
ALAMO — TCU vs. Stanford
One of the best non-BCS match-ups. Stanford’s power game against TCU’s notoriously tough defense and high-octane offense.
HOLIDAY — Kansas State vs. Oregon State
Even with massive losses, I can’t see a Bill Snyder team completely falling apart. Oregon State might be the Pac-12′s sleeper squad.
HEART OF DALLAS — Iowa State vs. Rice
This is the Big Ten flip. It’s a New Year’s Day bowl in a prime recruiting area for the Cyclones. Rice hasn’t played a bowl game in that stadium since the old Southwest Conference days of 1958.
CHICK-FIL-A — Florida vs. North Carolina
Florida State earned this spot, but a late-season rematch doesn’t give it much flavor. Maybe it would a year from now when the Chick-fil-A becomes one of six primary bowl games.
MUSIC CITY — Tennessee vs. Miami
The Volunteers would bring a few people to the Nashville game, while Miami always draws eyeballs on television.
LIBERTY– Tulsa vs. Arkansas
I’m sure the good people of Memphis would have no problem renaming its national treasure “Bielema Street” for this one.
COMPASS– Auburn vs. Houston
Gus Malzahn is good for at least six wins for the Tigers.
ADVOCARE V100 — Missouri vs. Georgia Tech
Mizzou is due for a bounce-back season, but SEC-area and Texas bowls like local products so it lands here.
RUSSELL — Florida State vs. Central Florida
Local, local, local.
SUN — Virginia Tech vs. Arizona State
Would be an under-the-radar great game.
LAS VEGAS — Fresno State vs. Arizona
Even if Boise State wins the MWC, would it want a fourth straight trip to this bowl?
KRAFT — BYU vs. UCLA
BYU has automatic entry in this bowl. It’s a nice trip for UCLA up the coast.
BELK — N.C. State vs. Cincinnati
The Bearcats would love to return to this bowl as a member of the ACC someday.
POINSETTIA — Notre Dame vs. Boise State
Notre Dame has no bowl tie if it doesn’t qualify for the BCS. Here it replaces Army, which I don’t see qualifying.
NEW MEXICO — San Diego State vs. Washington
MILITARY — Maryland vs. Marshall
BEEF O’BRADY — SMU vs. East Carolina
ARMED FORCES — Navy vs. Utah State
POTATO — Air Force vs. Northern Illinois
HAWAII — San Jose State vs. Louisiana Tech
NEW ORLEANS — Western Kentucky vs. Tulane
GODADDY — Louisiana-Monroe vs. Bowling Green