As a new football season unfolds in front of us, the Syracuse Orange have planted their flag in the territory of “this season may not be as bad as last year,” which is good for our souls and even better for me. For I am the writer of the Bowl Watch column, formerly known as the “Quest for Ridiculous Corporate Tie-In” that can turn depressing very quickly.
On that note, most prognosticators who attempt to sort out the madness of college football bowl season for the sake of clicks do not feel that the Orange have a realistic shot at bowl eligibility, even after a win versus Ohio. That’s fine and expected; I firmly believe that this Saturday’s game will determine the general attitudes of the program’s narrative, including to outsiders.
So this week, I wanted to take a minute to welcome those who are new to these parts and offer readers a “choose your own adventure” type of quest introduction, by laying out what bowl eligibility entails, and what your rewards are for that achievement. Much like every video game in the market these days, the harder the path, the greater the reward! But you can’t rage quit this session, unless you’re Randy Edsall.
What is Bowl Eligibility?
Simply put, a college football team needs to win six games against “quality” opposition to be eligible for a bowl game. As the Orange are a member of the ACC, their schedule is almost always going to include 12 chances to get six wins, and so a .500 record will get the job done. Now if Syracuse decides to give John a stroke and schedule 4 games versus Albany-Stony Brook-Colgate-Villanova in a single season, then we revisit this point.
Why does this matter if bowl wins and losses don’t matter?
You may have heard that the new “general thought” among those that cover college football is that non-college football playoff bowl games don’t matter in terms of wins and losses. With professional prospects opting not to play in most of these games, the games themselves turn into shadows of that team playing in a warm weather local for die-hard fans and corporate sponsors. That said, a program who makes a bowl gets extended weeks of practice when everyone else enters offseason mode, which for a program like Syracuse, can become incredibly important to prepare for the next season.
Which bowls are the ACC affiliated with?
Bowls are not just sponsored by the snack isle at Wegmans; All bowls have preexisting relationships with conferences to ensure “exotic” television matchups for ESPN. In past years, the ACC had an established hierarchy of bowls, which resulted in a specific bowl having first pick at the pool of qualified ACC teams. The goal was to have better teams play in “better” bowls, but here’s the thing remember: the bowl committees are made up college football exec types (athletic directors, former admins, etc) who chat with each school to make sure that if selected, tickets will be sold. This was how Syracuse ended up in the Camping World Bowl after the Orange AD guaranteed to move the entire allotment of tickets.
The ACC has now simply affiliated itself with 12 bowls, to ensure that if 12 of their programs are eligible, they will have a place to send their fans on a winter holiday. Those bowls are (in order of date)
- Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl | Dec. 23, 2021 | ACC vs. SEC or AAC
- Military Bowl Presented by Peraton | Dec. 27, 2021 | ACC vs. AAC
- TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl | Dec. 28, 2021 | ACC vs. SEC or AAC
- SERVPRO First Responder Bowl | Dec. 28, 2021 | ACC vs. SEC or AAC
- San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl | Dec. 28, 2021 | ACC vs. Pac-12
- Fenway Bowl | Dec. 29, 20211 | ACC vs. AAC
- New Era Pinstripe Bowl | Dec. 29, 2021 | ACC vs. Big Ten
- Cheez-It Bowl | Dec. 29, 2021 | ACC vs. Big 12
- Duke’s Mayo Bowl | Dec. 30, 2021 | ACC vs. SEC
- Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl | Dec. 30, 2021 | At-large vs. At-large
- TaxSlayer Gator Bowl | Dec. 31, 2021 | ACC vs. SEC
- Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl | Dec. 31, 20211 | ACC vs. Pac-12
Which bowls are realistically in range?
The obvious is the New Era Pinstripe Bowl as Syracuse not only has history with the game, but it’s almost always a guaranteed Orange sell out. Unless the opportunity to get a bigger national program arises, they’re always a safe bet. The Gasparilla and Military Bowls are just as likely, if for no other reason than they tend to snag the weakest 6-6 team in the field. I’m all for big dreams, but let’s be realistic. Depending on Boston College’s final record, the Fenway Bowl could be in play as well.
As we begin our quest for something, which quest is the most appealing to you? I’ll work on a not-that-funny photoshop later down the line, but for now, dream of Dino Babers eating mayo by the handful yourselves.