The Complicated Glory of College Bowl Season

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The bowls highlight the best and worst of the NCAA system

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Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation, Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic), Patrick Hruby (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic),and Emma Carmichael (writer, Deadspin) discuss the ups and downs of the NCAA football postseason schedule.


"IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL WEEEEK OF THE YEAR!!" That's right people, it's bowl season! Every major American sport, college or pro, has a postseason with only teams who can win a championship—except college football. Instead, we get a Christmas-to-New Year's smorgasbord of meaningless games that somehow remain interesting.

Every year there are a few intriguing matchups among the non-Bowl Championship Series games, and this year the most salivating clash is between 6-6 Florida and 6-6 Ohio State in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2. (Sidenote: How teams that don't even win more games than they lose can play in a bowl game is beyond me. For a power conference school, a .500 overall record is actually BELOW AVERAGE, yet the Buckeyes and Gators get to go bowling? Ridiculous.) The Buckeyes recently hired former Florida coach Urban Meyer, whose retirement/putting his family first lasted a whole 12 months. Meyer is tasked with rebuilding a Buckeyes' program that just got hit with a one-year postseason ban. And both teams are desperately looking to end disappointing seasons on a high note.

As for individuals to watch, you can't go wrong with Baylor quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. RG3 and the Bears will face Washington in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio on Dec. 29, a virtual home game for Baylor. The Huskies, meanwhile, allow 33.3 points per game (99th in the country), and gave up 65 points to Stanford and Heisman runner-up Andrew Luck in October. Look for Griffin to run wild in this one.

Patrick? What lower bowl matchups are you excited about?

–Jake

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Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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