The History and Evolution of College Football Bowl Games

College Football Bowl Games

College football bowl games have become a staple of the holiday season, with fans eagerly tuning in to watch their favorite teams compete for a coveted bowl trophy. But how did these bowl games come to be, and how have they evolved over the years? In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the history and evolution of college football bowl games.

The Early Years of College Football Bowl Games

The first college football bowl game was the Rose Bowl, which was played on January 1, 1902, between the University of Michigan and Stanford University. The game was created as a way to showcase the best teams from the East and West, and it quickly became a popular event.

In the early years, bowl games were seen as a way to generate revenue for the host city and to promote tourism. The games were often played in warm-weather locations, such as California and Florida, to attract fans from colder regions.

The Rise of the Bowl System

In the 1930s, the bowl system began to take shape, with the creation of the Orange, Sugar, and Sun Bowls. These games were seen as a way to determine a national champion, as they often featured highly ranked teams from different conferences.

The bowl system continued to grow in popularity, with new games being added throughout the years. In the 1970s, the Fiesta, Gator, and Cotton Bowls were added, and in the 1980s, the Holiday, Peach, and Citrus Bowls joined the lineup.

The BCS Era

In 1998, the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) was created to determine a national champion in college football. The BCS used a combination of polls and computer rankings to determine the top two teams in the country, who would then play in the BCS National Championship game.

The BCS era saw the addition of several new bowl games, including the Outback, Capital One, and Insight Bowls. These games were seen as a way to give more teams the opportunity to play in a bowl game and generate revenue for their conferences.

The Modern Era of College Football Bowl Games

In 2014, the BCS was replaced by the College Football Playoff (CFP), which expanded the national championship to a four-team playoff. The CFP also created six “New Year’s Six” bowl games, which are considered the most prestigious bowl games outside of the national championship.

The Impact of Opting Out

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of college football players opting out of bowl games to prepare for the NFL draft. This has sparked debate among fans and analysts about the importance of bowl games and the impact of players opting out.

Some argue that bowl games are still important for players to showcase their skills and potentially improve their draft stock. Others argue that the risk of injury is too great and that players should focus on their professional careers.

The Future of College Football Bowl Games

As college football continues to evolve, so too will the bowl game landscape. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of several bowl games, highlighting the need for flexibility and adaptability in the bowl game system.

In the future, we may see changes to the bowl game schedule, with games being played earlier in the season to avoid conflicts with the CFP. We may also see the addition of new bowl games in different regions of the country, as well as changes to the selection process for teams.

Printable Bowl Game Schedule

If you’re a die-hard college football fan, you’ll want to keep track of all the bowl games happening this season. To make it easier, we’ve created a printable bowl game schedule that you can download and print out. Simply click the link below to access the schedule and keep track of all the bowl games happening this year.


College football bowl games have a rich history and have evolved significantly over the years. From the early days of the Rose Bowl to the modern era of the CFP, these games have become a beloved tradition for fans and players alike. As we look to the future, we can expect to see even more changes and innovations in the world of college football bowl games.