Last week, ESPN released the schedule for 38 of the 40 bowls this year. There were many surprises like the amount of games played after New Year’s Day, but one of the interesting developments surrounds the opening Saturday.
The Las Vegas Bowl maintains its usual spot on that opening Saturday but instead will be in prime-time. In its place, the Boca Raton Bowl will be televised at 3:30 on December 21 on ABC.
The 3:30 ABC slot on the opening Saturday of bowl season is generally a great spot for exposure. Since the Las Vegas Bowl moved to that spot in 2013, it has been the most watched bowl of that day in every year except 2014, peaking at a 2.4 rating in 2016.
No Longer Body Bags
The MAC significantly benefits from this move.
The American is already guaranteed two conference-controlled games on ABC, not counting the title game. On the other hand, the MAC’s exposure on the networks mostly comes as cannon fodder to Big Ten teams. Since 2005, here are the all of the MAC’s appearances on ABC, with all information coming from Mattsarzsports.com.
- 2005- Miami (OH) 14 @ Ohio State 34
- 2005- Northern Illinois 17 @ Michigan 33
- 2006- Northern Illinois 12 @ Ohio State 34
- 2009- Western Michigan 7 @ Michigan 31
- 2010- Eastern Michigan 20 @ Ohio State 73
- 2011- Western Michigan 10 @ Michigan 34
- 2014- Akron 3 @ Penn State 21
- 2014- Kent State 0 @ Ohio State 66
- 2015- Northern Illinois 13 @ Ohio State 20
- 2015- Western Michigan 12 @ Ohio State 34
- 2017- Akron 0 @ Penn State 52
Not much good exposure for the conference here. The Boca Raton Bowl provides the MAC with a chance for the conference to have a competitive game showcased on the networks.
Because of this, it would not be surprising if the MAC sends its conference champion to the Boca Raton Bowl, something they did in 2014, and 2018.
A Rare Opportunity for C-USA
Additionally, there’s a high probability that Conference USA benefits from this new television arrangement since the American has only sent a team to the Boca Raton Bowl in 2015 and 2016.
The conference has had even less exposure than the MAC since 2005, with these being the only appearances on ABC or FOX.
- 2011- Southern Miss 49 @ Houston 28 (Conference USA Title Game), ABC
- 2012- Southern Miss 20 @ Nebraska 49, ABC
- 2017- UTEP 7 @ Oklahoma 56, FOX
- 2018- FAU 14 @ Oklahoma 63, FOX
If the American does not send a team to the Boca Raton Bowl, Conference USA would benefit immensely considering their linear TV deal ranks with the Sun Belt’s as one of the most minuscule in the FBS, with ten games on CBSSN, ten on the NFL Network, and eight on Stadium.
The decision for ABC to have an opening Saturday triple-header is already a wise one. Not only does it put more games on network TV, it also provides college football fans nationwide with a look at teams they would almost never watch. As a result, the opportunity for exposure is a golden one for the MAC and Conference USA.