By Brian Boone
One of the spoils of having a successful season in college football—or finishing with a record of a mediocre 6-6 all the way up to undefeated—is a spot in a bowl game. Contested through early January, there are a couple dozen of these mostly exhibition contests. Can you determine which amusingly named bowl games are real, and which ones are our equivalent of a QB fake? (Answers follow.)
#1. Which bowl game named after a regionally popular dish is based in reality?
A) Cincinnati-style chili—made with a Mediterranean-inspired profile of spices and served over spaghetti and topped with cheese—is a big deal in Cincinnati at its dozens of Skyline Chili parlors and other locations. In 2023, organizers tried to get the Cincinnati Chili Bowl going, but the NCAA wouldn’t approve it. The bowl market is so saturated that teams playing would’ve had sub-.500 records, and it wouldn’t have made for a very good game.
#2. Which bowl game was named after a famous comic book setting?
B) The Flash operate in Keystone City, while Superman protects Metropolis, after he was raised in Smallville. Batman lives and works in Gotham City, an obvious stand-in for New York that also uses one of its most common nicknames. The Gotham Bowl was contested in 1961 and 1962.
#3. Which produce-heavy bowl never existed?
D) The Salad Bowl (1948 to 1955) evolved into the contemporary Fiesta Bowl. The Cherry Bowl was an ill-fated, short-lived first try at a Michigan-based bowl, lasting from 1984 to 1985. The Orange Bowl is one of the most illustrious bowls and has been played in Miami since 1935.
#4. Which bowl game has never been played in the attractive confines of Hawaii?
C) Sponsored in its early years by Sheraton’s Hawaii-based hotels and resorts, the Hawaii Bowl has taken place since 2002, replacing the Aloha Bowl, played from 1982 to 2000. The Pineapple Bowl was fought in Honolulu sporadically in the 1940s and early 1950s. The Hawaiian island of Kauai is yet to host a college bowl game.
#5. Which state has never hosted a bowl game?
A) While home to three major college football programs—Colorado State, the University of Colorado Boulder, and the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado isn’t a place for bowl games. New Jersey hosted the Boardwalk Bowl in Atlantic City from 1961 to 1973. Mississippi was home to Magnolia Gridiron All-Star Classic from 2005 to 2006. The Seattle Bowl was played in Washington state in 2001 and 2002.
#6. What’s the only bowl game named after a single human being?
C) Youth football advocate and college coach Pop Warner isn’t a bowl namesake, neither is real-life coach Bear Bryant nor Fox, the main character on the ‘90s college football sitcom Coach. In 1976, the Knute Rockne Bowl, named for the legendary Notre Dame player and coach, was contested in Akron, Ohio, the next year in Davis, California, and then never again.