Other than exceptions for home-state teams and a scouting expedition, bowl season begins after Dec. 30. Even then, being persnickety is recommended.
The personal approach is to watch Arkansas State University vs. Central Florida on Saturday, abstain until Arkansas vs. Virginia Tech and South Carolina vs. South Florida on Dec. 29, then identify a few games to supplement the College Football Playoff semifinals on Dec. 31.
The contests worth start-to-finish attention are at the tail-end of the 41-game schedule. Wait for them.
More than half the games during the first week start in the afternoon. Schools are closed. Spend time with the children and/or grandchildren. Shop a brick and mortar business. Volunteer. Wrap gifts. Visit with friends.
Understandably, those with a personal connection might want to tune in to games with minimal appeal to casual fans. Otherwise, wanna be watchers should be required to correctly provide nicknames of both teams in a game. If only one nickname is accurate, the fan can watch only half the contest.
Before matching Aztecs and Chippewas and Vandals and Rams and Monarchs and Blue Raiders with their teams, any game involving a team with six wins or less should be ignored unless the aforementioned criteria is met. Twenty-five percent of the 80 bowl teams did not have a winning record and those 20 teams lost 123 games. The result is a myriad of “who cares” games, but schools and coaches must accept a bowl bid or spot 2017 opponents 15 practices.
Dec. 26-30, four teams on Arkansas’ 2017 schedule are in bowls, but Razorback fans can pass on Mississippi State and TCU. Earlier this year, they should have seen enough of quarterbacks Nick Fitzgerald and Kenny Hill.
Texas A&M and South Carolina offer a glimpse of next year.
On Dec. 28, the Aggies and Kansas State match 8-4 records and UA fans may get a look at A&M quarterback Jake Hubenak, who should start spring practice as No. 1. Hubenak started two games in Nov. in place of injured Trevor Knight, but the senior returned for the season finale.
Beginning 3 1-2 hours prior to Arkansas-Va. Tech, 6-6 South Carolina in Birmingham is the exception to the ban on games with .500 teams. Next October, the Gamecocks will play the Razorbacks for the first time since 2013, when Steve Spurrier was the coach and Connor Shaw was the quarterback.
This year in Columbia, quarterback was a revolving door. A pro-style quarterback, Jake Bentley didn’t attempt a pass in the first six games, but put up decent numbers in the next five games before being injured in the season finale. He figures to start vs. 10-2 South Florida.
On Dec. 30, two of the five highest paid coaches in the game — Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher — compare perks and pay stubs in the Orange Bowl. Earlier that day, check in on Tennessee vs. Nebraska to see if the Volunteers disappoint for the fifth time this year.
Priming fans for Alabama-Washington and Clemson-Ohio State in the playoffs, star power is available the morning of Dec. 31. LSU offers running backs Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice while Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is at quarterback for Louisville. A sidebar of interest is how the Tigers play for Ed Orgeron after helping him get the promotion to head coach.
Three of the four games on Jan. 2 have sufficient storylines to satisfy those who gorged on college football on Dec. 31, went without Jan. 1, and are hankering for more.
Unbeaten Western Michigan is out to prove a team outside the Power Five conferences can hang with a good Big Ten team, Wisconsin. Next up, Penn State and USC match winning streaks of nine and eight. That night, the Auburn defense that was fifth in the country against scoring, goes against two of the five Heisman finalists and an Oklahoma offense that was third in scoring.
Harry King is sports columnist for GateHouse Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org