Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts and defensive lineman Da'Ron Payne raise the winners trophy during the College Football Playoff Semifinal.

Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Hurts (right) and defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne raise the Sugar Bowl trophy in 2018. (Photo by Scott Donaldson/Icon Sportswire)

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 21Celebration BowlMercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, GA)12PM on ABC
December 21New Mexico BowlDreamstyle Stadium
(Albuquerque, NM)
2PM on ESPN
December 21Cure BowlExploria Stadium (Orlando, FL)3:30PM on CBSSN
December 21Boca Raton BowlFAU Stadium (Boca Raton, FL)3:30PM on ABC
December 21Camelliia BowlCramton Bowl (Montgomery, AL)5:30PM on ESPN
December 21Las Vegas BowlSam Boyd Stadium (Las Vegas, NV)7:30PM on ESPN
December 21New Orleans BowlMercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans, LA)9PM on ESPN
December 23Gasparilla BowlRaymond James Stadium (Tampa, FL)2:30PM on ESPN
December 24Hawai'i BowlAloha Stadium (Honolulu, HI)8PM on ESPN
December 26Independence BowlIndependence Stadium (Shreveport, LA)4PM on ESPN
December 26Quick Lane BowlFord Field (Detroit, MI)8PM on ESPN
December 27Military BowlNavy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Annapolis, MD)12PM on ESPN
December 27Pinstripe BowlYankee Stadium (New York, NY)3:20PM on ESPN
December 27Texas BowlNRG Stadium (Houston, TX)6:45PM on ESPN
December 27Holiday BowlSDCCU Stadium (San Diego, CA)8PM on FS1
December 27Cheez-It BowlChase Field (Phoenix, AZ)10:15PM on ESPN
December 28Camping World BowlCamping World Stadium (Orlando, FL)12PM on ABC
December 28Cotton Bowl ClassicAT&T Stadium (Dallas, TX)12PM on ESPN
December 28Fiesta Bowl State Farm Stadium
(Glendale, AZ)
4PM on ESPN
December 28Peach BowlMercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, GA)4PM on ESPN
December 30First Responder BowlGerald J. Ford Stadium (Dallas, TX)12:30PM on ESPN
December 30Music City BowlNissan Stadium (Nashville, TN)4PM on ESPN
December 30Redbox BowlLevi's Stadium (Santa Clara, CA)4PM on FOX
December 30Orange BowlHard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL)4PM on FOX
December 31Belk BowlBank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)12PM on ESPN
December 31Sun BowlSun Bowl (El Paso, TX)2PM on CBS
December 31Liberty BowlLiberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (Memphis, TN)3:45PM on ESPN
December 31Arizona BowlArizona Stadium (Tucson, AZ)4:30PM on CBSSN
December 31Alamo BowlAlamodome (San Antonio, TX) 7:30PM on ESPN
January 1Citrus BowlCamping World Stadium (Orlando, FL)1PM on ABC
January 1Outback BowlRaymond James Stadium (Tampa, FL)1PM on ESPN
January 1Rose Bowl GameRose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)5PM on ESPN
January 1Sugar BowlMercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans, LA)8:45PM on ESPN
January 2Birmingham BowlLegion Field (Birmingham, AL)3PM on ESPN
January 2Gator BowlTIAA Bank Stadium (Jacksonville, FL)7PM on ESPN
January 3Famous Idaho Potato BowlAlbertsons Stadium (Boise, ID)3:30PM on ESPN
January 4Armed Forces BowlAmon G. Carter Stadium (Fort Worth, TX)11:30AM on ESPN
January 6LendingTree BowlLadd-Peebles Stadium (Mobile, AL)7:30PM on ESPN
January 13CFP National Championship GameMercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans, LA)8PM 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
Alabama4170.616
USC3452.654
Georgia3155.591
Oklahoma2952.567
Penn State2949.612
Texas2955.545
Florida State2846.630
Tennessee 2852.538
LSU2650.530
Nebraska2653.491

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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