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Everything you need to know about college football bowl season

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December 3rd, 2019

Do you feel like you need to enroll in a college course just to understand college football's postseason? You're not alone. December and January can be tricky months to navigate for NCAAF fans. Fortunately we're here to help with a comprehensive FAQ designed to answer every query you may have. Just remember, there are no dumb questions, just dumb linebackers.

How many college bowl games are there?

There will be 40 licensed NCAA Division I FBS college football bowl games played in stadiums around the U.S. this season. That's a five-game increase from 2010, and a staggering 21-game increase from 1990, when there were just 19 bowl games. At the rate they're expanding, you might have a college bowl game named after you by 2050.

What was the first college football bowl game?

The first bowl game was played in 1902, when Michigan and Stanford faced off in the inaugural Tournament East-West game at Tournament Park in Pasadena, California. The event that eventually became the Rose Bowl Game attracted only 8,500 fans that year, most of whom left early, as the undefeated Wolverines mauled Stanford, 49-0. The lopsided game was such a disappointment that organizers waited until 1916 to give college bowl games a second shot.

Why are college football games called bowls?

We're glad you asked. College bowls get their name from the iconic Rose Bowl, which has hosted the Rose Bowl Game annually since 1922. The stadium was modeled after the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut and has a capacity of 106,869.

What is the schedule for this year’s college football bowl games?

Looking to avoid your relatives over the holidays? There's a bowl game for that!
DateGameLocationTime
December 21
Celebration Bowl
Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, GA)
12PM on ABC
December 21
New Mexico Bowl
Dreamstyle Stadium (Albuquerque, NM)
2PM on ESPN
December 21
Cure Bowl
Exploria Stadium (Orlando, FL)
3:30PM on CBSSN
December 21
Boca Raton Bowl
FAU Stadium (Boca Raton, FL)
3:30PM on ABC
December 21
Camelliia Bowl
Cramton Bowl (Montgomery, AL)
5:30PM on ESPN
December 21
Las Vegas Bowl
Sam Boyd Stadium (Las Vegas, NV)
7:30PM on ESPN
December 21
New Orleans Bowl
Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans, LA)
9PM on ESPN
December 23
Gasparilla Bowl
Raymond James Stadium (Tampa, FL)
2:30PM on ESPN
December 24
Hawai'i Bowl
Aloha Stadium (Honolulu, HI)
8PM on ESPN
December 26
Independence Bowl
Independence Stadium (Shreveport, LA)
4PM on ESPN

How does a team become bowl eligible?

Years ago only the best teams in the nation were invited to participate in bowl games, but that gradually began changing at the turn of the century with the creation of a dizzying array of new postseason games. All of sudden, teams with losing records found themselves playing football over the holidays, much to the chagrin of grumpy old football traditionalists.

According to the NCAA, an eligible team is officially defined as "one that has won a number of games against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponents that is equal to or greater than the number of its overall losses. Ties or forfeited games do not count in determining won-lost record."

Get six wins, and you'll most likely make it to a bowl game. In the event that not enough teams are eligible under the rule above, the minimum record for a team to become bowl eligible is 5-7. With plenty of five-win teams to choose from, first priority goes to the 5-7 team with the best Academic Progress Rate (APR), a calculation based on athletes saying in school and remaining academically eligible to complete in intercollegiate sports. The best APR for a five-win school this season goes to Duke.

What are the most important college football bowl games?

The most important college football bowl games are the Rose Bowl Game, the Cotton Bowl, the Peach Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl and the Orange Bowl. Referred to as the New Year's Six, all six games are part of the College Football Playoff semifinal rotation. With a three-year rotation, this season's national semifinals will be the Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl. Last season the semifinal games were the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl, and the year before they were the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.

How much does it cost to sponsor a college football bowl?

That depends on the game. According to Forbes, naming rights for lower-tier games like the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl cost approximately $500,000, while upper-tier games like the Capital One Orange Bowl cost in excess of $1 million. That moolah entitles corporations to television exposure, which is particularly helpful for smaller, regional brands that are looking to gain traction nationally.

Which team has the most college football bowl wins?

When it comes to bowl victories, Alabama is head and shoulders above the competition. The Crimson Tide has won 41 bowl games, including six straight from 1975 to 1981. Alabama's most recent bowl victory came in last season's Orange Bowl, when Nick Saban & Co. upended Oklahoma, 45-34.
TeamWinsGames PlayedWinning Percentage
Alabama
41
70
.616
USC
34
52
.654
Georgia
31
55
.591
Oklahoma
29
52
.567
Penn State
29
49
.612
Texas
29
55
.545
Florida State
28
46
.630
Tennessee
28
52
.538
LSU
26
50
.530
Nebraska
26
53
.491

Who has the longest bowl streak in college football?

That honor belongs to Virginia Tech. The Hokies have appeared in a college bowl game every year since 1993. Their record during that span is 12-12.




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