Why Are There So Many Bowls in College Football?

min read
The Colorado State band performs in front of a large United States flag and the bowl logo banner before the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl NCAA college football game against Idaho in Boise, Idaho, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016.
(AP Photo/Otto Kitsinger)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Dec 19, 2023, 3:54 PM
  • There are 43 bowl games this year, counting the CFP and the Celebration Bowl.
  • Corporate advertising is a huge influence on the modern bowl schedule.

Every December, Santa brings dozens of presents for college football fans all over the United States. 

They’re college football bowl games, and they’re going to be on your television whether you asked for them or not. 

Personally, I’m never one to look down at more opportunities for betting on hot college football lines. But every year, there are new college football fans who are wondering … why on earth do we have this many bowl games?

Why Are There So Many Bowls in College Football?

In a word: Money. Dollar Bills, y’all. 

While many of the most prominent bowl games (the Rose Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, etc) have rich histories that date back through the decades, a majority are exhibition games that exist to generate advertising and awareness for corporate sponsors. 

Most college football fans or FBS alumni are sitting around during the holidays with nothing to watch, so we’re all happy to buy into the consumerism.

As for the teams, bowl season affords most teams an extra opportunity to practice and play in a live game, so coaches are happy to take an extra paycheck and/or work toward developing next year’s players. 

How Many College Bowl Games Are There?

This season, there are 39 bowl games, and that’s without counting any of the College Football Playoff games or the Celebration Bowl between the MEAC winner and SWAC winner.

If you count those games, there are 43 total bowl games in 2023. 

What Happens If Too Many Teams Are Bowl Eligible?

If there are too many bowl-eligible teams, it’s possible that some teams may not be invited to participate in a bowl game. Typically, these will be G5 schools with six wins and small fan bases. 

However, with so many bowl games in existence, FBS college football usually has the opposite problem: too few eligible teams.

Can 5-7 Teams Play in a Bowl Game?

Yes, but only if there are not enough eligible teams to fill all the bowl slots. Once every eligible team has been slotted, bowls can start to consider teams that were not already eligible.

In 2023, that includes schools like JMU and Jacksonville State, which were ineligible due to transitional reasons. That also includes Minnesota, which finished the regular season with a 5-7 record. 

Five-win teams are chosen for bowl games according to APR (Academic Progress Rate) scores. Ineligible teams with the highest APRs are chosen first. 

Full 2023-24 College Football Bowl Schedule

DateBowl GameFavorite UnderdogLocation
Dec. 16Myrtle BeachGeorgia SouthernOhioConway, SC
Dec. 16CelebrationFlorida A&MHowardAtlanta
Dec. 16New OrleansJacksonville StateLouisianaNew Orleans
Dec. 16Cure App StateMiami (OH)Orlando
Dec. 16New MexicoNew Mexico StateFresno StateAlbuquerque
Dec. 16LAUCLABoise StateInglewood
Dec. 16IndependenceTexas TechCalShreveport, LA
Dec. 18Famous ToasteryOld DominionW. KentuckyNassau, Bahamas
Dec. 19FriscoUTSAMarshallFrisco, TX
Dec. 21Boca RatonSyracuseSouth FloridaBoca Raton, FL
Dec. 22GasparillaUCFGeorgia TechTampa
Dec. 23BirminghamTroyDukeBirmingham, AL
Dec. 23CamelliaArkansas StateN. IllinoisMontgomery, AL
Dec. 23Armed ForcesJames MadisonAir ForceForth Worth, TX
Dec. 23Famous Idaho PotatoUtah StateGeorgia StateBoise
Dec. 2368 VenturesSouth AlabamaE. MichiganMobile, AL
Dec. 23Las VegasUtahNorthwesternLas Vegas
Dec. 23Hawai'iSan Jose StateC. CarolinaHonolulu, HI
Dec. 26Quick LaneMinnesotaBowling GreenDetroit
Dec. 26First ResponderTexas StateRiceDallas
Dec. 26Guaranteed RateKansasUNLVPhoenix
Dec. 27MilitaryVirginia TechTulaneAnnapolis, MD
Dec. 27Duke's MayoWest VirginiaNorth CarolinaCharlotte
Dec. 27HolidayLouisvilleUSCSan Diego
Dec. 27TexasTexas A&MOklahoma StateHouston
Dec. 28FenwaySMUBoston CollegeBoston
Dec. 28PinstripeMiami (FL)RutgersThe Bronx
Dec. 28Pop-TartsKansas StateNC StateOrlando
Dec. 28AlamoArizonaOklahomaSan Antonio
Dec. 29GatorClemsonKentuckyJacksonville
Dec. 29Tony the TigerNotre DameOregon StateEl Paso, TX
Dec. 29LibertyIowa StateMemphisMemphis
Dec. 29CottonMissouri Ohio StateDallas
Dec. 30PeachPenn StateOle MissAtlanta
Dec. 30Music CityAuburnMarylandNashville
Dec. 30OrangeGeorgiaFlorida StateMiami Gardens, FL
Dec. 30ArizonaWyomingToledoTucson, AZ
Jan. 1ReliaQuestLSUWisconsinTampa
Jan. 1CitrusOregonLibertyOrlando
Jan. 1FiestaTennesseeIowaGlendale, AZ
Jan. 1Rose (CFP)MichiganAlabamaPasadena, CA
Jan. 1Sugar (CFP)TexasWashingtonNew Orleans
Jan. 8CFP ChampionshipRose WinnerSugar WinnerHouston

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.