It’s not 40 days and 40 nights, but this bowl season does feature 40 games. More slots means more vacancies to fill. Three of them will be occupied by teams with losing records (5-7).
Watchability is certainly a product of the quality of the teams, but it’s also a product of the brand-name drawing power of the schools. Moreover, watchability flows from a literal consideration: How easily can you actually watch the game?
We’ll try to weigh those three factors — team (matchup) quality; box-office appeal; access in terms of the broadcast outlet and the time slot — in this season’s bowl watchability power rankings.
Away we go:
ALL TIMES EASTERN
40 – ARIZONA BOWL: COLORADO STATE VS. NEVADA – December 29th, 7:30 PM, Campus Insiders
This game is available online, but not on a television channel. No other bowl can claim that distinction. Ergo, this is the least watchable bowl game on a purely technological level, let alone the desirability of seeing a Mountain West conference matchup masquerading as a bowl game.
39 – CURE BOWL: GEORGIA STATE VS. SAN JOSE STATE – December 19th, 7 PM, CBS SPORTS NETWORK
This is the one bowl game on CBS Sports Network. It also involves a 5-7 team (San Jose State) which must fly across the country to Orlando. The name “Cure” is a curious one for this bowl. What is this game supposed to cure?
38 – POTATO BOWL: UTAH STATE VS. AKRON – December 22nd, 3:30 PM, ESPN
This game is played on a Tuesday afternoon before Christmas in Boise, complete with a non-division-winning Mid-American Conference team playing an opponent whose starting quarterback got injured during the season (USU’s Chuckie Keeton, who has been perpetually injured during his snake-bitten collegiate career). Better put some ketchup on this potato.
37 – ST. PETERSBURG BOWL: CONNECTICUT VS. MARSHALL – December 26th, 11 AM, ESPN
The morning after Christmas, you’d probably want to sleep in, right? This game will be tough to get up for, especially in the Pacific and Mountain time zones. Marshall was great a season ago. Roster transitions hurt the Thundering Herd this season.
36 – QUICK LANE BOWL: CENTRAL MICHIGAN VS. MINNESOTA – December 28th, 5 PM, ESPN2
This game will start while another bowl game will be in the fourth quarter (Pittsburgh-Navy in the Military Bowl). Minnesota is one of three 5-7 teams. Central Michigan did not come particularly close to winning its division in the MAC. The five games you’ve seen up to now are clearly the five worst on the list, in some order. The quality of the next several matchups is noticeably better.
35 – BELK BOWL: MISSISSIPPI STATE VS. NORTH CAROLINA STATE – December 30th, 3:30 PM, ESPN
Mississippi State did well this season. North Carolina State didn’t do quite as well. If college football fans want to take New Year’s Eve off to watch the playoff semifinals, this game — in the middle of the afternoon on Dec. 30 — is exactly the kind of game that will be hard to watch. A lot of college football fans will try to get work done during the day on Dec. 30. A matchup in this slot must sizzle. This one doesn’t.
34 – BAHAMAS BOWL: MIDDLE TENNESSEE VS. WESTERN MICHIGAN – December 24th, NOON, ESPN
‘Twas the late morning before Christmas, and all through the house, you probably had to tend to errands, last-minute shopping, baking, and all the rest. Middle Tennessee-Western Michigan isn’t appointment viewing on such a busy day for a lot of Americans.
33 – GODADDY BOWL: BOWLING GREEN VS. GEORGIA SOUTHERN – December 23rd, 8 PM, ESPN
Bowling Green is a really good team. Georgia Southern put up a good fight in its attempt to defend its 2014 Sun Belt championship. Yet, this is a game between the MAC and the Sun Belt in a very modest stadium in Mobile, Alabama, just before Christmas in the middle of the holiday rush. The GoDaddy Bowl used to be played on NFL wild card Sunday night (the opening night for Downton Abbey in multiple years). This TV placement is little better.
32 – NEW ORLEANS BOWL: LOUISIANA TECH VS. ARKANSAS STATE – December 19th, 9 PM, ESPN
Arkansas State deserves a lot of respect as the new Sun Belt champion. Louisiana Tech has established a measure of consistency as a program. That said, how many in the East will stay up until 12:45 a.m. to see this game through to the very end?
31 – CAMELLIA BOWL: OHIO VS. APPALACHIAN STATE – December 19th, 5:30 PM, ESPN
It’s a celebration for Appalachian State. The Mountaineers will make their first-ever bowl appearance in this game. Ohio knocked off Northern Illinois nearly two weeks ago, proving that it still has a measure of staying power in the MAC. This game means a lot to the teams and communities involved. Beyond that, the second half of the Las Vegas Bowl will unfold when the first half of this game runs its course in Montgomery, Alabama. That’s a tough position to occupy for the Camellia Bowl, which is in its second year.