AState played five teams in 2014 that made it to bowl games, four have played so far and their bowl record is 2-2.
-Louisiana Lafayette defeated Nevada 16-3.
-Utah State beat UTEP 21-6 bringing a close to a season where players at USU may have been dreading the role of starting QB thanks to a string of bad luck. Four different QB’s saw significant action for the Aggies.
- South Alabama took the lead over Bowling Green State with 1:20 left in the game and gave up that lead 16 seconds later by giving up a 78 yard TD pass. USA lost 33-28.
- Miami lost 24-21 to South Carolina despite out-gaining the Gamecocks by about 80 yards. Miami was -2 on turnovers.
- Tennessee will face Iowa in Jacksonville, Florida on Friday afternoon.
While it is a little early to turn our attention to the 2015 season, AState is slated to face five teams who played in bowls this year. In addition to UL Lafayatte, South Alabama and GoDaddy opponent Toledo the others:
-USC defeated Nebraska 45-42. The Trojans had ample talent all around but for now, one name to remember is Adoree’ Jackson. The freshman took a kickoff 98 yards for a TD and had a 71 TD reception. His other two receptions went for 2 yards and two other kickoff returns combined for 32 yards but an explosion every third touch is worth respecting.
-Missouri will face Minnesota at noon on New Year’s Day. Good news, defensive end Markus Golden (8.5 sacks, 68 tackles) is done with the bowl game. We won’t know until sometime after the Citrus Bowl whether defensive end Shane Ray will return or declare for the NFL draft. Ray (14 sacks, 61 tackles) was the AP and coaches SEC defensive player of the year. The guy who will be back for sure is QB Maty Mauk. The sophomore threw one pass for one yard when AState visited Mizzou in 2013. This year he has thrown for over 2500 yards and has 23 TD passes. Mauk is unpredictable, he has 11 picks and completes less than 53% of his passes.
While attendance has ranged from a full house at a few games (Military Bowl appeared have sold standing room) to dreary, viewership has been solid in the few ratings that have become public so far.
The Raycom Camellia Bowl drew 1.1 million viewers for USA vs Bowling Green despite NFL competition. The NFL with two games determined by 3 points that day (Eagles vs. Redskins and Chargers vs. 49ers) sucked a lot of the air out of the room. The Eagles and Redskins drew 7.2 million viewers on NFL Network up against the Potato Bowl (1.5 million viewers for Air Force vs. Western Michigan). The Chargers vs. 49ers game going up against the Camellia drew 13 million viewers.
The early start for the New Orleans Bowl wasn’t bad for the TV ratings. The Cajuns game against Nevada drew 2.2 million viewers, an increase over last year’s 2.1 million vs. Tulane but not as strong as the 2.6 million for the 2012 version against ECU.
The Monday afternoon Memphis-BYU match-up pulled in 1.3 million viewers.
For perspective, ESPN’s Grizzlies/Warriors telecast drew 1.9 million viewers, the third most watched NBA game on ESPN this year that didn’t involve the Lakers or Cavs. Last year the Major League Baseball season opener pitting the Yankees and Red Sox drew 1.1 million viewers.
Why does ESPN now own or manage 11 bowl games? Because bowl games produce the ratings of a regular season NBA game pitting two average teams or an average MLB game for much less in rights fees.
AJ Maestas, president of Navigate Research, told USA Today that even a TV audience of 400,000 is attractive to ESPN because it will be larger than the audience 100 other cable networks are drawing.
In the USA Today article the ESPN position was summed up like this:
"Fans are voting with their remotes and with their eyeballs," said Ilan Ben-Hanan, ESPN's vice president for programming and acquisitions. "I take issue with the notion of judging what's a good idea based on how many people are in the stands. There are a lot of sports out there that would kill to have tens of thousands of people in the stands."
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