Home Culture Sports

The 30 Least Important College Bowl Games

All the crap of college football’s bowl season, from the AutoZone Bowl to the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas. Because you know you’ll be watching anyway

University of Georgia Mascot

Uga is excited for the Belk Bowl, but he might be the only one.

Mike Zarrilli/Getty

College football’s bowl season is upon us again, and there is no better exemplar of American corporate excess than the orgy of Belking ridiculousness that awaits over the next few weeks.

The vast majority of these games are rewards for flawed and/or disappointing seasons. So as a public service to Rolling Stone‘s readers, I have lopped off the top-tier contests – those being played on December 31 and January 1 – and ranked every other inconsequential bowl using largely frivolous criteria: Sponsor confusion, mascot ferociousness and the player (or coach) in each game who may prevent you from falling asleep on the sofa. Because, hey, you know you’re going to watch.

Here are the 30 least important bowl games of the season.

1. National University Holiday Bowl, December 27
Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3) vs. USC Trojans (8-4)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: National University is an online “national university,” which means a college is sponsoring a bowl game, which is one step short of cannibalism. 9
Mascot Threat Level:
If I were Herbie Husker, I would drive Lil’ Red to the Oklahoma state line and tell that sideways-hatted little punk never to come back. 5
Player of Note:
USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who is so good he may wind up on the Raiders. 8
Total: 22

2. AutoZone Liberty Bowl, December 29
Texas A&M Aggies (7-5) vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: AutoZone is a place where one goes to totally trip out while shopping for mufflers. The Liberty Bowl used to be in Philadelphia, and it moved to Memphis almost 50 years ago and no one ever bothered to change the name. 5
Mascot Threat Level:
This dude murders bears. 9
Player of Note:
WVU receiver Kevin White, who laughs too damned much. 7
Total: 21

3. Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, December 24
Central Michigan Chippewas (7-5) vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (7-5)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Popeyes makes pretty rad chicken, and the Bahamas has a pretty chill Sandals. However, there are no Popeyes in the Bahamas, although there is one in the Cayman Islands, in case you are seeking a side of cholesterol with your tax shelter. 7
Mascot Threat Level:
The mascot of the Bahamas Bowl is actually governmental incompetence. 7
Player of Note:
Brandon Doughty, the Western Kentucky quarterback, was the nation’s leading passer and is proficient in PowerPoint. 7
Total: 21

4. AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, December 29
Arkansas Razorbacks (6-6) vs. Texas Longhorns (6-6)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Seriously, AdvoCare V100 isn’t a motor oil? Well, what the hell is it, then? And will it support my prostate? 10
Mascot Threat Level:
Why don’t you ask him what’s going on?” Because he’s a boar? All right, then. 3
Coach of Note:
Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, who is outspoken and chesty. 8
Total: 21

5. Duck Commander Independence Bowl, December 27
Miami Hurricanes (6-6) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (6-6)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: The Duck Commander is best-selling duck call founded by an openly gay former member of ZZ Top (or something). “Independence” is how one winds up with a bowl game in Shreveport, Louisiana. 4
Mascot Threat Level:
Over the centuries, such noble attributes have been associated with the gamecock as alertness, diligence, energy, exultation, wakefulness, defiance and vigilance.” Also, fraternity brothers. 6
Coach of Note:
Steve Spurrier of South Carolina, who, after a wholly disappointing season, may go shirtless on the sideline. 10
Total: 20

6. San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, December 23
Navy Midshipmen (6-5) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (7-5)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: The SDCCU is the largest locally owned financial institution in the greater San Diego vicinity, bar none. (Accept no substitute bowl-sponsoring credit unions.) A poinsettia is a flower that is missing another “t”. 4
Mascot Threat Level:
“There were other mascots in those years, including a gorilla – the very first mascot – two cats, a bulldog and a carrier pigeon. However, the goat has served without interruption since 1904.” 6
Player of Note:
Keenan Reynolds, the Navy quarterback, who once skipped spring break to study option football. 9
Total: 19

7. Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, December 20
South Alabama Jaguars (6-6) vs. Bowling Green Falcons (7-6)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Raycom is a company that has been broadcasting low-budget saxophone-influenced sporting events for most, if not all, of our lives. A Camellia is the state flower of Alabama, and is susceptible to fungal diseases and bud drop. 6
Mascot Threat Level:
“The acquisition of the jaguar triggered a reaction of jubilation through the growing USA campus.” 7
Player of Note:
Brandon Bridge, the sizeable USA quarterback (and potential NFL prospect), who enjoys both the Toronto Raptors and mashed potatoes. 6
Total: 19

8. Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, December 26
NC State Wolfpack (7-5) vs. Central Florida Knights (9-3)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Bitcoins are created as a reward for processing work in which users offer their computing power to verify and record…” Oh, hell, I still don’t know. 10
Mascot Threat Level:
The fact that Central Florida students passed up the opportunity to be known as the Citronauts is almost enough of a travesty to disqualify them from college football altogether. 2
Player of Note:
Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who put up 41 points on Florida State earlier this season and tends to over-evaluate the skills of Nate Robinson. 7
Total: 19

9. Belk Bowl, December 30
Georgia Bulldogs (9-3) vs. Louisville Cardinals (9-3)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Belk is a retail department store named after the loveable cat from the “Too Many Cooks” video. 8
Mascot Threat Level:
Sit, Uga, Sit. Good dog. 4
Player of Note:
Georgia running back Nick Chubb, who took over for the suspended-then-injured Todd Gurley and ran for over 1,000 yards, and apparently has the same facial expressions as Herschel Walker. 6
Total: 18

10. Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, December 20
Utah Utes (8-4) vs. Colorado State Rams (10-2)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Royal Purple features a complete line of synthetic lubricants (not that kind); it is also a rich hue between crimson and violet that represents ambiguity, which feels appropriate to this list. 5
Mascot Threat Level:
A generation’s worth of “What’s a Ute” jokes vs. an animal with horns meant for blowing. 5
Player of Note:
Colorado State quarterback Garrett Grayson, a legitimate NFL prospect, though you may refer to him as “G-Man.” 8
Total: 18

11. TicketCity Cactus Bowl, January 2
Washington Huskies (8-5) vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-6)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: TicketCity is a ticket resale company that, as I write this, is offering tickets to the TicketCity Bowl for the cost of seven dollars. 2
Mascot Threat Level:
“A group of students saw Frank Eaton leading Stillwater’s Sheep Parade. He was approached to see if he would be interested in being the model for the new mascot, and he agreed.” 8
Player of Note:
Shaq Thompson, the Washington linebacker and sometime running back who might be the most athletic Shaq since the original. 8
Total: 18

12. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, December 20
Nevada Wolf Pack (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (8-4)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: R+L Carriers is, in fact, a trucking company, founded by a man named Larry Roberts, who started with a single vehicle for hauling furniture and went on to purchase a quarter-horse farm replete with night-lit waterfalls. American dream third-tier bowl sponsor stuff. 3
Mascot Threat Level:
Cajuns that rage are the ragingest of Cajuns. 8
Player of Note:
Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo (FA-JAR-DO!), who keeps up the tradition of prolific Wolf Pack quarterbacks with easily mangled surnames. 5
Total: 16

13. Gildan New Mexico Bowl, December 20
Utah State Aggies (9-4) vs. UTEP Miners (7-5)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Gildan is a Canadian company that once allegedly engaged in corporate espionage in attempt to gain an edge in the fierce battle for dominance of the men’s underwear market, which sounds like the most stultifying Liam Neeson movie of all time. 3
Mascot Threat Level:
“Sometime after [Paydirt] Pete made his appearance, he decided to kick the smoking habit…” 3
Player of Note:
Zach and Nick Vigil, brothers who play linebacker at Utah State and make up 50 percent of a boy band. 3
Total: 16

14. Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman, December 27
Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Drones, baby, drones. 5
Mascot Threat Level:
Contrary to popular belief, a Hokie is not a castrated turkey. However, Bearcats are delinquents. 5
Player of Note:
Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel, who committed to 37 different universities before winding up Cincinnati. 6
Total: 16

15. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, January 2
Houston Cougars (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh Panthers (6-6)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Lockheed Martin is one of the world’s largest defense contractors, and shouldn’t there be an Armed Force in the Armed Forces Bowl? I blame Dick Cheney. 2
Mascot Threat Level:
I don’t always drink human blood. But when I do, I prefer the blood of a human who’s been drinking Dos Equis.7
Player of Note:
James Conner, the punishing Pitt running back who is also an opera singer. (I just made that up, but he does seem pretty cool.) 7
Total: 16

16. Valero Alamo Bowl, January 2
Kansas State Wildcats (9-3) vs. UCLA Bruins (9-3)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Valero is an oil company, so it needs this bowl to succeed in order to be profitable. 2
Mascot Threat Level:
Some Cub!!5
Coach of Note:
Kansas State’s Bill Snyder, who has already retired once, has a stadium named after him and will still be coaching when your yet-to-be-conceived child is a senior at Kansas State. 9
Total: 16

17. Boca Raton Bowl, December 23
Marshall Thundering Herd (12-1) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (11-2)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: WHAT’S THAT? I DIDN’T HEAR YOU. SPEAK UP. I’LL HAVE THE SALMON, DEAR. 2
Mascot Threat Level:
Hail Boogercats! 5
Player of Note:
Rakeem Cato, the Marshall quarterback, whose team came within one point of going undefeated and playing somewhere with fewer early-bird specials. 8
Total: 15

18. Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, December 26
Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-5)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Heart of Dallas exists to inspire Dallas Millennials to become the next generation of influencers and philanthropists by leveraging sports and entertainment events.” (I’ve read this six times and I’m still not sure what it means.) Zaxby’s is either a southern restaurant chain or a jazz-fusion outfit. 8
Mascot Threat Level:
I find this anecdote highly questionable. 2
Player of Note:
Freshman Mike Dudek, the Illini’s top receiver, pushes Gatorade carts around for fun. 5
Total: 15

19. Hyundai Sun Bowl, December 27
Arizona State Sun Devils (9-3) vs. Duke Blue Devils (9-3)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: The sun is a ball of gas. A Hyundai is an automobile that sometimes emits noxious gas. 2
Mascot Threat Level: “
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Orange Julius beverage stands used the image of a devil with a pitchfork around an orange. The company later dropped the logo after threats of a lawsuit from the alumni association.” Satanism abounds. 8
Player of Note:
Duke wide receiver Jamison Crowder, who has a name worthy of a Duke wide receiver. 5
Total: 15

20. GoDaddy Bowl, January 4
Toledo Rockets (8-4) vs. Arkansas State Red Wolves (7-5)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: GoDaddy is an Internet domain registrar and web hosting company that will never get Danica Patrick naked. 3
Mascot Threat Level:
I have sat in a lot of press boxes. I have never seen a group of writers prevail on a pharmacy student to come up with a nickname. Under the circumstances, I think he did all right. 7
Player of Note:
Toledo running back Kareem Hunt, who’s just trying to make it in this cold world where Toledo running backs wind up in Mobile, Alabama for New Year’s. 5
Total: 15

21. Birmingham Bowl, January 3
East Carolina Pirates (8-4) vs. Florida Gators (6-5)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: They don’t call it “The Pittsburgh of the South” for nothing. 1
Mascot Threat Level:
At one point, Florida utilized a robotic, motorized alligator for a mascot, an idea Michael Bay has optioned twice. 6
Player of Note:
East Carolina wide receiver Justin Hardy set the NCAA record for career receptions, and he is freaky with four K’s. 8
Total: 15

22. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, December 20
Western Michigan Broncos (8-4) vs. Air Force Falcons (9-3)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: It’s a tuber. 1
Mascot Threat Level:
Fly free, little bird. 4
Player of Note:
Jarvion Franklin, the Broncos freshman running back and one of the nation’s leading rushers, who I’m assuming has learned how to spell “Walter” by now. 7
Total: 12

23. Foster Farms Bowl, December 30
Maryland Terrapins (7-5) vs. Stanford Cardinal (7-5)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Foster Farms is a West Coast-based poultry company that is intimately familiar with Salmonella. 7
Mascot Threat Level:
It’s a turtle and a tree. It sounds like an Aesop’s Fable. 1
Player of Note:
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, who, you know, plays the same position Andrew Luck once did. 4
Total: 12

24. New Era Pinstripe Bowl, December 27
Boston College Eagles (7-5) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (6-6)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: New Era is the exclusive headwear provider for Turkish Airlines Euroleague Basketball. A pinstripe was once worn by Derek Jeter, a well-known publishing magnate. 2
Mascot Threat Level:
The national attention that followed brought gifts of two live mascots, from Texas and New Mexico, but neither bird found Chestnut Hill to its liking – one escaped and the other injured its beak trying.” This doesn’t happen with Harvard eagles. 4
Player of Note:
Mike Hull, the Penn State linebacker who is totally wrong about Family Guy vs. The Simpsons. 5
Total: 11

25. Russell Athletic Bowl, December 29
Oklahoma Sooners (8-4) vs. Clemson Tigers (9-3)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: The Russell Athletic Bowl was once the Blockbuster Bowl, which still owes several million dollars in late fees. 2
Mascot Threat Level:
Oops. 2
Player of Note:
Samaje Perine, who ran for an FBS record 427 yards earlier this season, and may be a robot. 7
Total: 11

26. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, December 30
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-5) vs. LSU Tigers (8-4)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Franklin American is a mortgage company, which means they will sell you cheap tickets to this game, and then jack up the price in the third quarter. 2
Mascot Threat Level:
How is this “Tiger whisperer” not internationally famous? 5
Player of Note:
Leonard Fournette, the LSU freshman running back who struck the Heisman pose after his first college touchdown. 4
Total: 11

27. TaxSlayer Bowl, January 2
Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (6-6)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: TaxSlayer provides both online accounting software and, for an extra charge, a battalion of CPAs who are particularly aggressive about the home-office deduction. 6
Mascot Threat Level:
Just a coonhound in a tuxedo. Nothing to see here. 3
Player of Note:
The best player in this game is probably Iowa’s left tackle, Brandon Scherff, which should tell you something. 2
Total: 11

28. Quick Lane Bowl, December 26
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-5) vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (6-6)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Quick Lane is a tire and auto center owned by the Ford Motor Company, whose technicians apparently hang around elementary school parking lots. 5
Mascot Threat Level:
You can call it the Chanticleer, you can call it a fighting cock, you can call it any damn thing you want, but everybody knows it’s a chicken.” 2
Player of Note:
Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova, who throws copious amounts of interceptions, and whose song “Fantasy” climbed to No. 3 on the mainstream rock chart in 1981. 3
Total: 10

29. Hawai’i Bowl, December 24
Fresno State Bulldogs (6-7) vs. Rice Owls (7-5)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: Chopped pork shoulder meat, with ham meat added, salt, water, modified potato starch as a binder, sugar and sodium nitrite as a preservative. 1
Mascot Threat Level:
The Rice Owl was once ejected from a basketball game, proving once again that owls are inherently depressed. 2
Player of Note:
Fresno State wide receiver Josh Harper, son of a former NFL linebacker, has had an excellent career. He also appeared satisfied with the Sons of Anarchy finale. 6
Total: 9

30. Miami Beach Bowl, December 22
BYU Cougars (8-4) vs. Memphis Tigers (9-3)
Sponsor Inscrutability Factor: It’s a strip of land frequented by mystery novelists, models, European users of recreational drugs and NBA free agents. 1
Mascot Threat Level:
Too many cats. 4
Player of Note:
Taysom Hill, the BYU quarterback who was a potential Heisman candidate before he broke his leg in early October. He won’t play in this game, either, which is why BYU is in this game instead of a better one named after a fruit. 1
Total: 6

Michael Weinreb is the author of Season of Saturdays: A History of College Football in 14 Games. You can find him on Twitter @michaelweinreb

In This Article: Football, sports

Show Comments

Newswire

Powered by
Close comments

Add a comment