We’re at the point of the season when people start talking about bowls. And no, it has nothing to do with food or bowling. (Wouldn’t that be more exciting?)
Bowls in football refer to bowl games, which are postseason matchups between pretty evenly matched teams that usually wouldn’t face each other. Different bowls have different sponsors, and some are better than others.
Some might say that most importantly (though completely irrelevant for Cal), a couple of the bowl games determine the College Football Playoff and thus the national champion. Or that conferences get money when their teams reach bowl games.
I say, however, that the most important part is that players get goody bags. A PlayStation 5 for playing in the Fiesta Bowl? A $490 Mastercard gift card from the Alamo Bowl? What I want to see this year is football players channeling their inner Olivia Jade and posting “What I got in my Cheez-It Bowl goody bag” videos on YouTube.
If you think this whole thing sounds super complicated and weirdly different from almost every other college sport ever, you’re right.
Bowl games started with the Rose Bowl, before the Rose Bowl Stadium was even built. The first game, in 1902 between Michigan and Stanford, ended with Stanford losing so badly it allegedly quit with eight minutes left on the clock. Now, Cal football sucks, but at least the Bears don’t have that on their legacy. (I have more to say about the school across the bay, but I’ll save that for Nov. 19.)
But get this: The 1902 matchup went so terribly that the Tournament of Roses, which held the first bowl game, took a break from football and reportedly had events such as chariot races and ostrich races instead.
If anyone important enough is reading this, can we please bring that back? Pretty please, with a cherry on top? I can’t be the only one who thinks Cal would fare a lot better in bowl games if they included a chariot race.
Now apparently, bowl games are called bowl games because the stadiums in which they’re played are shaped like bowls, which is pretty dumb.
If it were up to me, yeah, you could and probably should play football during these things, but if we’re not going to bring back chariot races, the teams should at the very least also compete in bowling. And not just normal bowling. I want to see Jaydn Ott play lawn bowling and Wii Sports bowling too.
In case you don’t care about how I think bowl games should be run (to which I say, rude), here’s how they actually work. To be eligible for a bowl, a team needs to win at least six games and a minimum winning percentage of 0.500. Of the six, at most one win can be against a Football Championship Subdivision team, which generally aren’t as good as Football Bowl Subdivision teams. If there’s still space, some teams with five wins might make a bowl, based on their Academic Progress Rate.
What this all means is that Cal needs three more wins to be bowl eligible. The odds of that happening? So, so, so low. Lower than Flo Rida’s shawty. The Bears have five more games on their docket. Of the five teams they’ll face, four have already reached bowl eligibility. The only one that hasn’t is Stanford, which also needs three more wins.
It’s pretty much set in stone that we’re not going to see Cal in a bowl game this year. So yes, each game counts, and true fans will stick by the team as it faces the No. 8 team in the nation. Smart fans, though, will keep an eye on the score while getting ready for a Halloween party.