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Bowl Season is Full Steam Ahead, but how do Bowls Pick Teams?

Jarrod Prugar

Speculation, chaos and uncertainty are leading the way as college football gears up for Bowl Season which will be here before you know it.

Multiple teams are linked to multiple bowl games and situations, but teams are only able to go to one bowl game. Take Penn State for example, the Nittany Lions have been linked to the Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl and they won’t be playing this weekend.

Their fate is out of their control and in the hands of several different parties from the teams playing this weekend to the bowls and conferences themselves.

Bowl Season is much more than just becoming bowl eligible, it’s a tradition unlike any other in American sports or even those worldwide.

“The bowl season is, I think, is one of the greatest, certainly one of the longest running traditions in American sports,” Nick Carparelli, Executive Director of Bowl Season said. “The Rose Bowl started in 1902. Television ratings are off the charts.

You take the matchup between two teams, and put it on television in the regular season, but then you take that same matchup and you put it during bowl season and call it a bowl game, it gets two to three times the viewers. It’s a pretty amazing phenomenon.”

The stakes are way higher during Bowl Season and getting there is an accomplishment in and of itself, but once a team gets to six wins and bowl eligibility, it’s almost entirely out of their control what comes next. It’s the College Football Playoff that ultimately dictates many of the upper tier bowl games.

The playoff is always interesting comes down to the wire,” Carparelli said. “It’s always interesting to see which teams from which conference get into the playoffs as well as the other New Year’s Six games, because that affects a conference’s entire bowl lineup.”

To put that in simpler terms …

“If a team were to get two teams in the playoff, or multiple teams in the New Year’s Six, whichever bowl picks next in that order, all the teams bump up. And some teams may go to a different type of destination that they had planned for. And they may have a very happy fanbase as a result.”

This would be where the Nittany Lions come into play. With Michigan’s win over Ohio State, the entire playoff was shaken up. Now, the Wolverines are in the playoffs with a win against Purdue and the Buckeyes are on the outside looking in pending what happens in the other conference championship games.

For Penn State, they went from a potential Citrus Bowl bid to now being in consideration for the Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl and the Rose Bowl.

The Rose Bowl is important based on the fact Ohio State will actually be ranked ahead of them, but due to the Buckeyes playing in the game last year, there’s discussions to put the Nittany Lions in the game in their place.

When the Buckeyes played in the Rose Bowl last season, they failed to sell out of their ticket allotment. That might not seem like a big deal and isn’t a major factor in the previously mentioned discussions, but it does carry some weight especially in some of the other bowls.

“If you have a strong fan base, it always helps,” Carparelli said. “Geography comes into play, too. As good of a fan base as you have, common sense would tell you that the easier it is to get to the bowl destination the more likely fans are to go there.”

Penn State travels well and the Nittany Lions are very much a popular brand which makes a 10-2 team that much more appealing.

Bowl fate will be decided Sunday but rest assured Penn State will be in a premier bowl game once again.

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