We’re right in the thick of college football bowl season, which means that sports lovers will be glued to their television sets for the foreseeable future. As a member of that group, I’m anxiously awaiting the start of the really good games tomorrow, and slogging my way through the obscure early bowls.
In the 2015-16 season, there are 40 bowl games, which is an outlandish number. We do not need 40 games, America. We need about eight, and we could get by with six. But we have 40, and since that’s the case, we have to take our joy where we can get it. I can guarantee this: That joy won’t come in the games themselves, unless you like seeing Central Utah Tech defeat Goyber State Community College 43-12 in the Dr. Scholl’s Foot Acne Sex Crimes Bowl. (Not a real game, as far as I know).
So where do we get our kicks?
The names, baby! Bowl games have weird, stupid, paradoxical names, and they’re fantastic. To celebrate the ridiculousness of the season, I’ve ranked all 40 bowl games by the hilarity of their full, unabridged names. My criteria were holistic, but I mostly gave credit for odd sponsorship—bowl combos, unnecessary length, and plain old incoherence. Check out the rankings below, and look out for next year, when my hope is that the Paste Magazine Net Neutrality Hydraulic Fracking Mitt Romney Bowl will crack the top five.
40. Hawai’i Bowl
Nobody sponsors the Hawai’i bowl! Sheraton Hotels used to be the sponsor, but now they can’t get any corporation to give enough money for naming rights. This is an outrage. Come on, corporations—they have a cool apostrophe!
39. St. Petersburg Bowl
This one is a real tragedy, because in 2013, it was called the “Beef O’Brady’s Bowl,” and in 2014, it was the “Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl.” Those are both top ten names, easily. Now? They can’t get a sponsor, probably because they’re in a city that has a really good newspaper and nothing else. Also, color me shocked that the crypto-currency sponsorship fell through. (Cue 10,000 outraged emails from angry white males with thousands invested in BitCoin.)
38. Birmingham Bowl
Former sponsors include Papa John’s and something called “BBVA Compass,” but now poor Birmingham can’t get a company to give them a break. I guess it makes sense—it’s not like Alabama is a big football state or anything.
37. Belk Bowl
Now we get into a whole new classification—bowls with sponsors, but not actual bowl name. This, to me, is highly annoying. Nobody gives a shit about the Belk Bowl, which is sponsored by a Charlotte-based department store chain, but we might laugh if it were called the “Belk Creepy Uncle Sweater Vest Bowl.” Why would you deprive us of that?
36. Foster Farms Bowl
Same deal here. I would prefer this poultry company call their flagship game the “Foster Farms ‘We Keep Chickens in Horrifying Captivity While We Fatten Them Up With Chemicals Until Their Hearts Explode’ Bowl.” That would be no. 1 on this list. Also, I have no idea if that represents actual Foster Farms company policy, which means that the preceding sentences were intended as a comedic parody, which means you can’t sue us, Foster Farms.
35. Miami Beach Bowl
The South Beach Bowl would sound cooler, even if my recollection of South Beach is a horrifying nightmare of roller-bladers and dude-bros who fell asleep on the Jersey Shore and were carried out by the tide and deposited on the southern tip of Florida before they woke up, to the point that they’re confused and a little bit angry.
34. GoDaddy Bowl
We all know GoDaddy is the Internet domain company, but I still say this is a really creepy name, and they should just go all out and become the GoDaddy Sexy Sexy Internet URL Boobies Bowl.
33. TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
This is only technically still called the Gator Bowl, and within a year TaxSlayer will probably co-opt the name entirely. This is an old and historic bowl, so it will be sad to lose the Gator name. On the other hand, I’m all for exterminating actual gators, which are terrifying relics of the dinosaur age and should be made into purses and fancy shoes.
32. Russell Athletic Tangerine Bowl
Again, “Tangerine” is holding on by a tenuous thread, and soon Russell Athletic will delete it entirely from the record. I have nothing else to say about this bowl, except that I’m pretty sure Russell Athletic is a seventh-rate sportswear company that only makes throwback Montreal Expos hats.
31. Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
Northrop Grumman is one of those giant private defense contractors that nets billions of dollars per year from the U.S. government for inventing new missiles that shoot out poisonous spiders and dead puppies before they blow up a playground in Syria, or something. I don’t know the exact details, but, hey—why is there a drone outside my window right now?! (PS, parody rule applies! No suing!)
30. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
28. Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Gildan is an activewear clothing company, and except for the uber-liberal city of Taos, people in New Mexico all wear clothes. A good pairing!
28. Hyundai Sun Bowl
I still say that “Hyundai” is just my mumbly redneck cousin Jeff mispronouncing “Honda.”
27. Valero Alamo Bowl
Valero, a gas station (okay, “energy company”) is based in San Antonio, as is the Alamo. In fact, it takes its name from the “Mission San Antonio de Valero,” aka The Alamo, where Davey Crockett made his last stand. The fact that there is such synergy between sponsor and bowl name means that Valero clearly has no place in the college football landscape. They should change their name to something like the “Valero Providence Rhode Island Perfume Parade Bowl” pronto, or GET THE HELL OUT.
26. Allstate Sugar Bowl
As boring as Allstate, the auto insurance company that has commercials where the president from 24 address me as Stan. Why can’t you just be a good neighbor like State Farm?
25. New Era Pinstripe Bowl
The last time there were this many ugly hats in Yankee Stadium… (note to self: Make joke about a time when people in Yankee Stadium wore ugly hats, or something).
24. Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual
One of just two games where the sponsor comes second, after the bowl name. There’s actually some pretty good synergy here, as Northwestern Mutual advertises its life insurance policies by visiting funerals and leaving a single rose on the casket with their contact information. (Again, I have no solid evidence that this is true.)
23. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
What does a freight shipping company get out of sponsoring a minor bowl game? I’m genuinely curious about this. Will someone who needs a shit ton of cars shipped from Cleveland to San Francisco be watching the New Orleans Bowl, and go, “whoa! Who are these guys?!”
22. AutoZone Liberty Bowl
The concept of liberty is edgy because it goes against a world history dominated by various forms of tyranny, and the concept of AutoZone is edgy because they took the concept of a space between words and said, “you know what? Fuck it! We don’t need no spaceeeee!!!!”
21. Capital One Orange Bowl
Tough to say anything here, because it’s like comparing corrupt credit card companies that sue their customers and…oranges.
20. Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Prepare yourself for the shock of a lifetime: When you look at a Chick-fil-A menu, guess what item does not appear? That’s right—a peach.
19. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
I love when bowl and sponsor names combine to reinforce my stereotypes about an entire people!
18. Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
I was pleased that when I looked up Zaxby’s, a fast-food chain, I found that it started in Statesboro, GA, and has its headquarters in Athens, GA. I was less pleased to find out that since 2008, Zaxby’s does, in fact, have franchises in Texas. HUGE loss of absurdity points. Still, it’s pretty ridiculous to group a Georgia chicken finger joint with the “Heart of Dallas.” But I suppose they couldn’t name it the “JFK Was Assassinated Here and We Also Have Some Ugly Malls…Heart of Dallas Bowl.”
17. Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
I choose to believe Royal Purple is not a company, but an actual color that somehow was able to sponsor a bowl game, perhaps by the intervention of a crazy old rich guy.
16. Camping World Independence Bowl
I like this one! Camping is independence, in a way. Unless you mean independence from dangerous marauding bears who will poop all over your tent before they eat your leg off, in which case it’s the opposite of independence.
15. Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
Nothing says tropical getaway like a fried chicken chain run entirely by rats!
14. Motel 6 Cactus Bowl
Motel 6 is kind of a depressing place, and a cactus is kind of a depressing plant. This year, the bowl game was held in Phoenix, AZ, which is kind of a depressing city, and was contested between West Virginia and Arizona State, which are two pretty depressing teams. Furthermore, it was held at 10:15 pm, a depressing time, and played in a baseball stadium, which is a depressing fact.
13. AutoNation Cure Bowl
“The AutoNation Cure” sounds like some kind of sinister corporate euphemism for a state-run death apparatus in a George Saunders story. It also sounds like a Robert Smith cover band made up of only mechanics. (Also note that like AutoZone, AutoNation is too edgy for a space between words. Car repair companies be extreme, yo!)
12. Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Hey everyone, dig our new home loans! You only have to pay $13/month for the first year! Insane! After that, you pay $100,000 per month and you can’t re-finance, but seriously, dig that opening rate! What are you waiting for? Move to Arizona—a state for retirees that is somehow less appealing than Florida—and destroy the world economy while you’re at it!
11. AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
No joke, I was able to find that AdvoCare is a marketing company (not an auto repair shop, despite the lack of a space!) that specializes in nutrition products, but I could not find one reference to “V100” outside of this bowl game. I truly think they just added some random letters and numbers to make this sound cool. And I’m all for that.
10. Goodyear Cotton Bowl
Tires: Not made of cotton.
9. Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
Buffalo Wild Wings: Offering literally no citrus products, unless you order a Blue Moon.
8. National Funding Holiday Bowl
This sounds like what that dirty socialist Bernie Sanders would name a bowl.
7. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
The contrast of a mortgage company and the Music City makes me laugh. On one hand, it’s a fun little piece of Americana! Grand Ole Opry! Country music! Nashville! On the other, total economic ruin and corruption.
6. Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
“Hey everyone, we’re an obscure media company about to sponsor a bowl. Any ideas for a sweet name?”
“What about an obscure flower that sounds like somebody’s mean grandmother?”
5. Ford Motor Company Quick Lane Bowl
For a second, I thought that this was a dual sponsorship between Ford and a bowling alley company called “Quick Lane.” I was delighted, because it would be a terrific idea for a bowling company to sponsor a bowl—it’s the perfect idea! Instead, it turns out that Quick Lane is some auto shop subsidiary of Ford, and the magic has vanished from the world. And hey, Ford: Don’t you mean QuickLane, you old fogeys? Spaces are for squares!
4. Marmot Boca Raton Bowl
Boca Raton, a haven for displaces senior citizens from Long Island, is far and away the weirdest and funniest location for a bowl game on this entire list. Its population doesn’t even top 100,000, and there’s literally no reason it should host anything bigger than a Little League tournament. Marmot is an outdoor clothing company, but it’s named after a rodent. Everything about the preceding paragraph is so strange. I’m confounded. I’m pretty sure this is a fictional event from a shitty fantasy book by George R.R. Martin’s mentally deranged brother.
3. Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl
Ain’t no party like an Air Force Reserve party, baybbbeeeee!
2. San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
So long! So wonderfully, delightfully long! So weird! Why is a county credit union sponsoring a bowl game?! This is the perfect bowl game name, and in any sane world, it would be no. 1. But this is not a sane world, because of the…
1. BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl
Is this actually happening?
Yes, it is. It’s happening. It happened. This is a real thing that really happened.
BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl, you win. You’re no. 1.
Please don’t kill us.