The Cotton Bowl felt like a turning point for anyone casually following along, with 16 punts. Missouri graciously gave fans a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, adding another score for a 14-3 win over Ohio State.
And that’s it. Mizzou outlasted a team with its third-string quarterback and without its Heisman finalist.
The Buckeyes, who had traveled on Friday to see what backup quarterback Devin Brown could do, lost him in the first quarter due to an ankle sprain, and the next man up was freshman Lincoln Kienholz. Before kickoff, Marvin Harrison Jr. announced that he would sit out, presumably to preserve his draft stock, though he has not officially declared this.
Whether due to apathy because they didn’t make the College Football Playoffs or the zombie team put together for a sixth New Year’s game, Buckeye believers bought less than two-thirds of their allotted 12,000 seats. Jerry’s World in Arlington, the venue for the Cotton Bowl, holds 80,000 spectators and standing room for up to 105,000.
While the departure of Kyle McCord to Syracuse through the transfer portal and another disappointing loss to Michigan undoubtedly contributed to the lack of enthusiasm, will this become the norm for non-playoff programs in the future? Surely the CFP contests by the dozen schools that make it will be heavily watched and attended.
The revenue, viewership, merchandise sales, etc., for these nine games will be mundane, but will it be enough to offset the decline for the other 74 universities participating in various spice-sponsored contests? The sole purpose of bowl season is money. This is why mid-tier and lower bowl games compete against each other for the most popular teams. Tulane and SMU each won 11 games during the regular season and were rewarded with trips to the Military and Wasabi Fenway bowls.
Yes, both lost to bad ACC schools, but that’s beside the point. There are only a limited number of fan bases crazy enough to travel to meaningless exhibitions in demonstrably terrible destinations, and even then, the better hope is that departures and delays don’t further deter travel and attendance. Perhaps success-hungry Tiger fans saved the sponsors‘ bacon. This is not a reliable business model for superfluous bowls. Their only hope is that the accompanying post-game celebration is revolting or morbid enough to motivate fans to pay attention to the on-field action.
Anyone who follows the sport could have read the tea leaves about Harrison; first-round receivers don’t risk injury and don’t return for their senior season. Was the ambiguous nature of his participation intended to lure Buckeye fans to Dallas? I can’t say (but yes).
I have avoided getting full
in bowl season because the majority of players won’t make it to the next level and should enjoy the experience. Adding another rant to the echo chamber accumulates, but my goodness, 12 punts in a half is triggering. There were a total of seven three-and-out drives. It was like watching two-year-olds playing Patty Cake.
The Tigers and Buckeyes combined for a total offensive of 533 yards. Mizzou surpassed the 500-yard mark five times this year alone; OSU did it twice. However, the Cotton Bowl was always unwatchable. People in Columbia preferred to ignore it, but people in Columbus knew it and were wise enough to save their money.