To accommodate all 84 eligible teams, the NCAA will stage an additional bowl game this year, according to Brett McMurphy of the Action Network. The NCAA hasn’t set a time or date yet, though it’s expected to be played in Texas with coverage on ESPN.
Without an extra bowl game, at least two bowl-eligible teams would have been snubbed. Ball State, Hawaii, Miami of Ohio, North Texas, Old Dominion and Wyoming, all of whom won the minimum six games required for bowl eligibility, can now rest easy with all six assured of playing a bowl game. Hawaii, who gained bowl eligibility by beating Wyoming last weekend, will reportedly host Memphis in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.
With the exception of the four-team college football playoff and any New Year’s games, bowl season has largely become a farce, a shameless cash grab sending mediocre teams to random cities and stadiums in the service of presenting sponsors like Cheez-It, Duke’s Mayo, Roofclaim.com, Tropical Smoothie Cafe and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. Even Barstool Sports and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel have their names attached to bowl games this year.
Bowls used to carry a level of prestige, but with well over half the teams in FBS qualifying including 6-6 Ball State and 7-5 East Carolina, that’s no longer the case with invites to obscure games like the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl or the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl now akin to participation trophies. Whatever name and venue the NCAA decides for its untitled 42nd bowl game, at least it will give us something to watch—and bet on—during the holidays.