College Football

2015-16 Bowl Season Was Doomed Before It Began

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 01:  Laremy Tunsil #78 of the Mississippi Rebels scores runs in a touchdown during the second quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Brian PedersenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2016

Pump enough air into a balloon, and it's going to burst. And try too hard to promote a "new tradition" of college football, and it's apt to blow up in your face.

The decision to have the semifinals of the College Football Playoff on New Year's Eve seemed weird when it was first announced, and it was even more uncomfortable when both games ended up producing drama-free results. The one-sided Orange and Cotton Bowls put added pressure on the New Year's Day games—none of which had a bearing on the national championship—to right the ship.

And those were just as lopsided.

The average margin of victory in the New Year's Six bowl games was 24.2 points, nearly double what it was for the 28 bowls played between Dec. 19 and Dec. 30 (13.5). Fifteen of those contests were decided by 10 points or fewer, while the closest game of the Dec. 31-Jan. 1 slate was Houston's 38-24 victory over Florida State in the Peach Bowl.

This might have been the worst bowl season college football has ever had. And it had nothing to do with thin crowds at some games or 5-7 teams participating in others. It's all on the New Year's Six, the contests that were given so much attention before they were played that it felt like nothing else mattered.

And not surprisingly, they didn't come close to meeting the hype that was hurled at us almost nonstop since early September.

Think back to any point this season when you were watching one of the hundreds of games, and try to recall one without either a commercial, graphic, discussion or all of the above about the New Year's Six games.

It didn't matter which teams were playing. A break in the action meant it was time to discuss the playoff and the big bowl games on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

New Year's Six Bowl Results
BowlMatchupFinal score
PeachFlorida State vs. HoustonHouston 38, Florida State 24
OrangeClemson vs. OklahomaClemson 37, Oklahoma 17
CottonAlabama vs. Michigan StateAlabama 38, Michigan State 0
FiestaOhio State vs. Notre DameOhio State 44, Notre Dame 28
RoseIowa vs. StanfordStanford 45, Iowa 16
SugarOle Miss vs. Oklahoma StateOle Miss 48, Oklahoma State 20
Bleacher Report

We don't know about you, but when we're watching a midweek "#MACtion" game in November or an October tilt involving bottom-rung teams in the Sun Belt, it's for the game itself. And it's not in hopes that there will be yet another rehashing of the playoff rankings or a debate about which teams pass the eye test.

Based on how the 2015 season unfolded—with a week-after-week litany of exciting actionwe held out hope that the odd order of the big bowls wouldn't matter. The conference championship games were strong, and they led us into early bowls that featured snow in the Sun (Bowl), back-and-forth affairs and at least one great game almost every day.

Then came the main attractions, which got the billing of Academy Award-worthy films but ended up bombing like a marathon of Gigli, Green Lantern and the Lone Ranger remake.

Saturday's quartet of bowls could be fun, but after the last two days, we don't have much faith. At this rate, the Alabama-Clemson national championship game Jan. 11 could end up being the greatest game in college history—and the 2015 bowl season will still feel like a dud.

We wanted this to work—we hoped it would. We love college football and don't want it to suffer. But it has, at least during this bowl season, and all signs point to this continuing for the foreseeable future.

The Rose and Sugar Bowls won't move off Jan. 1—those graying institutions refuse to let anyone on their lawns. That will put us in this situation five more times in the next seven years—every time the Rose and Sugar aren't semifinal hosts. The semifinals could have been played Jan. 2 this season, since that's a Saturday, but the powers that be shut down that suggestion.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 31:  Clemson Tigers players celebrate defeating the Oklahoma Sooners with a score of 37 to 17 to win the 2015 Capital One Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Leck
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

It's going to be even weirder next year when the Fiesta and Peach Bowls host the playoff semifinals Dec. 31 (the Orange Bowl will also be played that day), and then the other three big games aren't until two days later (Jan. 2) because New Year's Day is on a Sunday.

Sure, the powers that be will move games to avoid conflict with the NFL but not for the good of college football. We see how it is.

They wanted to create a new tradition on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. If the goal was disappointment, it was a rousing success.

 

Follow Brian J. Pedersen on Twitter @realBJP.

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