Ranking bowl season's top tickets
Welcome back to Going Bowling, where we still dream of a world in which we could attend all 35 bowl games in one season. But to pull that off, we'd need some serious transportation help. Psst ... are you listening Bell Helicopter (Armed Forces Bowl), Northrop Grumman (Military Bowl) and R+L Carriers (New Orleans Bowl)?
Non-BCS Matchup Meter: Front Office Edition
Now that we've had several days to marinate in this year's bowl matchups, it's time to take a look at the biggest winners and losers when it comes to bowl business. I'm not even going to bother with the five BCS games, which are all big-time, primetime, sure-to-sellout affairs. (Easy now, let's not pick on UConn here. It's not the Huskies' fault that they came out on top of a conference battle that looked like this.)
Instead of the usual first to 35th rankings (read my man Mark Schlabach's excellent ESPN.com rankings here), my groupings are from a purely business standpoint. To reach my conclusions, I'm blending two factors. The first is the appeal of the matchup from a national perspective, which in theory should lead to some nice TV audience numbers. The second part of my equation is that most sacred of postseason cash cows -- ticket sales.
Put those two together and it should put some serious smiles on the faces of the suits in the front office.
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Utah, Dec. 22
It's an early Christmas present from and for our friends in Sin City. Utah nixed a three-game series with the Broncos when it jumped to the Pac-10/12. Boise is mad about that. And though there has been a bit of a Boise backlash this year, the haters still tune in to watch. Initial fears that bummed Broncos fans wouldn't travel have proven unfounded. Both schools are snapping up their ticket allotments, though local hotels are already irritated that most fans, particularly the Utes, are coming in for one night or just for game day.
Hyundai Sun Bowl: Miami vs. Notre Dame, Dec.31
The second oldest bowl is in the first year of a new ACC alliance and ended up with two of college football's biggest names. Yes, both programs are a far cry from the Catholics versus Convicts glory days, but that didn't stop the game from selling out in record time, beating the previous mark by 15 days.
Capital One Bowl: Michigan State vs. Alabama, Jan.1
The Big Ten versus SEC has become college football's ultimate showdown, and Orlando, Fla., has been the sight of its greatest non-national title showdowns. Saban Bowl; Mark Ingram and Julio Jones saying farewell; Mark Dantonio's cast iron cajones and post-heart attack comeback ... what else could you want? Alabama will sell all of its tickets, as usual. As of Wednesday, Michigan State had sold nearly 90 percent of its 12,500-ticket allotment.
To read Ryan's analysis on the rest of the bowl rankings, plus a crash course in bowl politics, you must be an ESPN Insider.