What Will the 2014-15 College Football Bowl Schedule Look Like?

Read my bowl picks for 2014-15: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Bowl Schedule is now FINAL

2014-15 College Football Bowl Schedule
All times Eastern

Saturday, December 20, 2014
New Orelans Bowl, ESPN, 11 a.m.
New Mexico Bowl, ESPN, 2:20 p.m.
Las Vegas Bowl, ABC, 3:30 p.m.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, ESPN, 5:45 p.m.
Camellia Bowl, ESPN, 9:15 p.m.

Monday, December 22, 2014
Miami Beach Bowl, ESPN, 2 p.m.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Boca Raton Bowl, ESPN, 6 p.m.
Poinsettia Bowl, ESPN, 9:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Bahamas Bowl, ESPN, Noon
Hawaii Bowl, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Friday, December 26, 2014
Heart of Dallas Bowl, ESPN, 1 p.m.
Detroit Lions Bowl, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.
St. Petersburg Bowl, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Saturday, December 27, 2014
Military Bowl, ESPN, 1 p.m.
Sun Bowl, CBS, 2 p.m.
Independence Bowl, ESPN2, 4 p.m.
Pinstripe Bowl, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.
Holiday Bowl, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Monday, December 29, 2014
Liberty Bowl, ESPN, 2 p.m.
Russell Athletic Bowl, ESPN, 5:30 p.m.
Texas Bowl, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Music City Bowl, ESPN, 3 p.m.
Belk Bowl, ESPN, 6:45 p.m.
San Francisco Bowl, ESPN, 10 p.m.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Chick-fil-a Bowl, ESPN, time TBD
Fiesta Bowl, ESPN, 5 p.m.
Orange Bowl, ESPN, 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, January 1, 2015
Capital One Bowl, ABC, 12:30 p.m.
Outback Bowl, ESPN2, 1 p.m.
Cotton Bowl, ESPN, 1 p.m.
Rose Bowl, ESPN, 5 p.m.
Sugar Bowl, ESPN, 8:30 p.m.

Friday, January 2, 2015
Armed Forces Bowl, ESPN, Noon
TaxSlayer Bowl, ESPN, 3:20 p.m.
Alamo Bowl, ESPN, 6:45 p.m.
Cactus Bowl, ESPN, 10:15 p.m.

Saturday, January 3, 2015
Birmingham Bowl, ESPN or ESPN2, 1 p.m.

Sunday, January 4, 2015
GoDaddy Bowl, ESPN, 9 p.m.

Monday, January 12, 2015
FBS Playoff Championship, ESPN, 8:30 p.m.

Original Article:

But, Sean, you’re saying – the 2013 season isn’t even over yet!

I know, I know. Let’s be honest, though, I’m not the only one with my eyes on the 2014 college football season. Sure, this year has been fun and there will be a lot of interesting games left, but we’re in a lame duck season.

2014 chick-fil-a bowl
Next year, the four-team college football playoff arrives. Will it work? I’d say it’d be better than the BCS since nothing could possibly be worse than the BCS but the powers at be in college football are good at screwing up just about everything. I mean, Texas doesn’t play Texas A&M anymore, so everything and anything can be ruined by idiots.

While most of the discussion about the future of college football – and rightly so – has focused on the impending playoff, there is an entire postseason structure that is about to change dramatically.

The bowls will remain but the tie-ins will look radically different in 2014.Here’s a great primer on the conference agreements. There are also new bowls as the non-Group of Five conferences – the American, Mountain West, Sun Belt, MAC and Conference USA – start looking out for themselves.

In short, just about everything changes.

So what will the schedule look like? Here is the 2013-14 bowl schedule. What you see there is basically how the games have been organized for the past few years.

The biggest change, and easily the best part of the new playoff, is the elimination of post-New Year’s Day BCS games. The Thursday, Jan. 3 Sugar Bowl in front of 20,000 empty seats is a thing of the past.

The playoff rotation, found at the bottom here, shows that there will be 3 BCS bowls on New Year’s Eve and 3 more on New Year’s Day. 4 will be the equivalent of today’s BCS bowls, 2 others with be true playoff games (the Rose and Sugar bowls in year one) and there will be a separate title game a week later. For next year, that game takes place on Monday, Jan. 12, 2015.

So what will the bowl schedule look like? Let's dive into the questions that will shape the schedule.

The Key Questions

What other games are played on New Year’s Day?
From the moment the playoff was announced, there was the expectation that there would be other games played in the early afternoon slot, prior to the Rose Bowl. This is a vast departure from the BCS, which has played games unopposed for the past 15 years. In fact, a quirk in scheduling this year as the Cotton Bowl on Fox going up against the Orange Bowl on ESPN.

Yes, the last BCS bowl game will be the first to have another college game going up against it.

Clearly, this is going to mark a change for the future. While ESPN is not going to dare put anything against the Rose Bowl or the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day, the first game at 1pm will certainly not be afforded that luxury.

So what happens in that timeslot? For the past few years, ESPN has aired the Capital One Bowl from Orlando and the Outback Bowl from Tampa at 1pm on ESPN or ABC. The Gator Bowl has been on ESPN2 since leaving CBS in 2009 and the Heart of Dallas Bowl from Cotton Bowl stadium has occupied ESPNU.

Of those three, the Gator Bowl has been vocal about its displeasure with the TV positioning as it has been routinely outdrawn by millions by the other 2 bowl games. Of course, they are the ones that left CBS and decided to take the sixth-best teams from the Big Ten and the SEC but whatever – the Gator Bowl’s fate is undetermined. They could stay in that slot and move to another TV channel (see next item) or give up the ghost of New Year’s Day, where it moved to in 1995, almost 20 years ago.

The other three, however, will likely stay. The Heart of Dallas Bowl exists to give the Cotton Bowl stadium its traditional New Year’s morning slot. I think this will stay on ESPNU, though may be bumped up to 11am ET.

The Capital One Bowl will certainly stay at 1pm New Year’s Day and will likely permanently move to ABC, since ESPN will be tied up with the new playoff. This game stays in this slot through at least 2018.

The Outback Bowl has been played on New Year’s Day for 25 years – would it move? If it stays on New Year’s Day, its options are ESPN2 or, like the Gator Bowl, a move to CBS or Fox – NBC has the NHL Winter Classic. I could see ESPN moving it back to its 11am start time, which it occupied for about 20 years until being moved back in 2010. But it would have to be on ESPN2 – would they want that?

2015 fiesta bowl
What other networks get involved?
You have to wonder if ESPN really wants a true, 16-team college football playoff. This year, only 2 bowls will not air on an ESPN network – the Sun Bowl on CBS and the Cotton Bowl on Fox. From mid-December through early January, ESPN is by far the most watched cable network thanks to football on at almost all hours of the day while most of the nation is enjoying the holidays.

Funny that bowls were initially created to encourage people to travel during the quiet holiday season – they now appear to exist to encourage people to sit on their couches during the quiet holiday season. And by the numbers, most of us oblige.

But ESPN’s racket is quickly gaining company, in the form of NBCSN, Fox Sports 1 and, to a lesser extent, the CBS Sports Network. While ESPN has the playoff locked up as well as straight up buying bowls – such as the Heart of Dallas and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – there are still a few games without contracted TV homes in 2014.

We mentioned the Gator Bowl and Outback Bowl above, and those are just two examples. There are also new bowl games, such as the Miami Beach Bowl, operated by the American Ahtletic Conference, that do not have TV attached yet.

What will happen? My guess is that Fox Sports 1, at the very least, makes a move for a couple bowl games. Will CBS for their cable network or for a New Year’s Day game? Will NBCSN, which is largely void of college football, jump in? Would the NFL Network jump back into the bowl game?

What other games are played on New Year’s Eve?
I would be shocked if the CBS and the Sun Bowl didn’t continue their 40+ year relationship, which has led the game to be played on New Year’s Eve (or the Friday before) basically uninterrupted since 1989. Even if this means the game goes up against playoff games, I don’t think this will change – it’s cheap, original programming for CBS and, with the right matchup, draws a few million viewers. More people will watch the Sun Bowl, even opposite a playoff game, than a month-old repeat of The Talk.

The question then becomes – do other games go against new BCS bowls? ESPN already made it clear they will schedule bowls against the early New Year’s Day game. Will they do the same on New Year’s Eve? Say, put the Liberty Bowl against the Chick-fil-a Bowl? If other networks get involved, would they likewise counter-program with bowls? Or will Fox Sports 1 keep going with its all-Big East basketball lineup?

What happens to the post-New Year’s Day bowls?
Bowl games should be played through New Year’s Day. That’s just my opinion. It’s more fun, the crowds are better, there is a sense of it making sense (wordplay!) and the ratings are usually better. But ESPN had made pseudo-traditions of playing games around the first weekend of the NFL playoffs. That means the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham played the first Saturday in January around noon and the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile kicking off at about 9 p.m. Sunday night.

These games were pushing it, but they served as decent appetizer to the BCS title game. That opportunity will stick exist but the bowl buildup with have New Year’s Day as the end-date, not the BCS title game.

There will be a title game, yes, but it will certainly feel more like a college-style Super Bowl as opposed to what it is right now. The late games always seems like afterthoughts anyway – swept away by the NFL playoffs.

Does this matter to ESPN? There is nothing they can air at 9pm on Sunday, January 5, that will come anywhere close to the GoDaddy Bowl. Maybe that speaks more to the popularity of college football than anything else.

Will the holiday Saturday become a real college football Saturday?
The Saturday between Christmas and New Year’s Day has always been the best day for TV ratings for ESPN’s bowl coverage. Whether in 2006, 2008 or 2012, the games have always done extremely well. Does ESPN expand its coverage on this day? Is this where the other networks jump in?

Where do the new bowls fit?
The Camellia Bowl. The Bahamas Bowl. The Boca Raton Bowl. The Miami Beach Bowl. These are four new bowl games showing up in 2014. When do they air? Do they join the increasing clutter of pre-Christmas bowl games, joining other recent newcomers like the New Mexico Bowl and Poinsettia Bowl? Do they fall into the mix between the two major holidays? Or do they standout by taking place after New Year’s Day? And who airs them?

The 2014-15 bowl season is going to radically change the bowl landscape. My hope – fingers crossed – is that it returns the season to its more traditional roots of overdosing us on football on multiple channels while eliminating the empty crowds of post-New Year’s Day games.

As with most things in college football, I have my fingers crossed but I will not be holding my breath.

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  1. Good writeup. I hope they don't do any bowl games after Jan.1. Really hate that.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I think the Chick-fil-a Bowl is going to be called the Peach Bowl again. Or the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl. Something about sponsorships or something I read.

  3. Shit next New YEars will be awesome.

  4. The slots following New Years Day filled by BCS games and the Cotton Bowl will need new occupants, I could see games like the Alamo, Russell Athletic and Buffalo Wild Wings move into those slots with conference #2's and 3's.

    1. Interesting. I think ESPN would want to keep those games pre-New Year's Day but there are soooo many bowls, I could see a couple trickling to that time frame.

  5. I would love it if all these bowls got off a cable channel. What about all the millions of fans who still get their TV over the air (like me) who DO have to get off our couch and travel to local bar to watch these games?

    1. Unfortunately, that ship has long sailed away. ESPN paid big $$$$ to make sure that happened.

    2. I think this is very sad. Shame on ESPN & major networks, Rose Bowl Committee to let a long time family tradition sitting all together to watch the game for all viewers, not just cable.

  6. My fantasy college football road trip is "Saturday Only" so I'm hoping for a 10JAN2015 bowl game. Remember ... it's only fantasy if you don't do it.


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