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Open Thread: New Year bowls (Cotton, Outback, Rose, Sugar)

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The final 2016-17 season bowl games air today.

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Stanford vs Iowa Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of these games today may be more important to you than others.

Goodyear Cotton Bowl

What: The Cotton Bowl has been played annually since 1937. Goodyear has sponsored the bowl since 2014. Previously Mobil, and then Southwestern Bell/AT&T, had their brands attached to the game.
Who: The 2016 Goodyear Cotton Bowl features the Western Michigan Broncos and the Wisconsin Badgers. The Broncos, under animated boat-rowing coach P.J. Fleck, were the only other FBS team to finish the season undefeated, besides No. 1 Alabama. That Cinderella season earned Western Michigan a trip to the Cotton Bowl, which is one of the New Year’s Six bowls under the College Football Playoff system. Wisconsin had a strong ten-win season, and is still in the top-ten. The Badgers lost close regular season contests to Ohio State and Michigan, and won their division, before ultimately being topped by Penn State in the Big 10 Championship Game.
Where: AT&T Stadium, located in Arlington, Texas. Jerry’s World, as the venue is often called, is the home of the Dallas Cowboys. With a $1.5 billion price tag, it is one of the most expensive sports venues ever built. The facility opened in 2009 as Cowboys Stadium before naming rights were sold to AT&T in 2013. Prior to 2009, the game was played in its namesake stadium, the Cotton Bowl Stadium, in Dallas.
When: 1:00 p.m., January 2, on ESPN, or streaming via WatchESPN.
Why and how: The Cotton Bowl is one of the bowls that will rotate hosting duties for the College Football Playoff semifinals, and will also have its participants selected by the CFP Committee in years that it does not host one.
What do the players get? “Would not disclose.”
How much is that worth? The possibilities are endless.
Should I watch? No. DVR it maybe. Why not watch it live? Well, the Gators are playing at the same time!

Outback Bowl

What: The Outback Bowl has existed since 1986. (It should go without saying, but we will obviously have a separate game thread for this one.) The game was originally known as the Hall of Fame Bowl, from 1986 to 1994 until our blooming onion overlords attached their name to it in 1995.
Who: The 2016 Outback Bowl features the Florida Gators and the Iowa Hawkeyes. I won’t belabor this match-up, particularly since I think we all know a thing or two about the guys in orange and blue. Iowa is also 8-4 on the season. The winner of this game gets to have an all-time winning bowl record. Florida’s record in bowls is currently 21-21, while the Hawkeyes’ record is 14-14-1.
Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the USF Bulls. The stadium is also the site of this year’s national championship game. There is a 103-foot replica pirate ship in the stadium.
When: 1:00 p.m., January 2, on ABC, or streaming via WatchESPN.
Why and how: Since Outback assumed sponsorship of this bowl, it has also pitted SEC and Big 10 teams against each other.
What do the players get? A $150 Best Buy gift card, an Outback Steakhouse gift card, a Fossil watch, a Jostens ring, and a bowl hat.
How much is that worth? It does depend how much that Outback gift card is for. Jostens makes class rings and graduation related items.
Should I watch? Yes, person reading this on a Florida Gators sports blog that you frequent. Yes, you should watch the last real football game that Florida will play until September.

Rose Bowl Game

What: The Rose Bowl is commonly known as “The Grandaddy of Them All,” and is college football’s oldest bowl game. The game was originally played in 1902 and has been played every year since 1916.
Who: The 2016 Rose Bowl features the USC Trojans and Penn State Nittany Lions. The Trojans had a rough start to the season, going 1-3 before winning eight straight to finish the season at 9-3. Penn State won the Big 10, and gave Ohio State their only regular season loss, but also dropped games to Michigan and Pitt, which kept them out of the College Football Playoff.
Where: The Rose Bowl is located in Pasadena, California, and was built in 1922 among the San Gabriel Mountains. The Rose Bowl is officially recognized as a United States National Historic Landmark and is one of the most famous stadiums in sports. In addition to hosting the Rose Bowl, the stadium also serves as the home of the UCLA Bruins football team.
When: 5:00 p.m.., January 2, on ESPN, or streaming via WatchESPN.
Why and how: The Rose Bowl is part of the New Year’s Six bowls for the College Football Playoff, and will host playoff semifinal games on a rotating basis. In the years which it does not do this, it reverts to its traditional Big 10 versus Pac 12 opponent format. Lest you think that the Rose Bowl somehow has escaped the clutches of corporate sponsorship, by virtue of it being allowed to keep it’s prestigious name mostly intact, it has actually been corporately branded since 1999. It’s present sponsor, starting last year and continuing under contract until 2020, is Northwestern Mutual Insurance. Still informally known as just “The Rose Bowl,” there has actually been a “presented by..” tag added for several years.
What do the players get? Gift suite, a Fossil watch, an Ogio backpack, and a New Era 9Fifty snapback adjustable hat.
How much is that worth? Totally depends on what is in that gift suite. The rest of the gifts would run you about $235 or so.
Should I watch? I’d say go for it. Penn State has been fun to watch of late, as has USC. It could be a fun game.

Allstate Sugar Bowl

What: The Sugar Bowl has been in operation since 1935 and has had a longstanding relationship with the SEC.
Who: The 2016 Sugar Bowl features the Auburn Tigers and the Oklahoma Sooners. Auburn finished the season 8-4, while Oklahoma won the Big 12 at 10-2.
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The home of the New Orleans Saints has hosted the Sugar Bowl since 1975, prior to that the game was played in Tulane Stadium. The 2006 game was actually played in the Georgia Dome, due to damage from Hurricane Katrina.
When: 8:30 p.m.., January 2, on ESPN, or streaming via WatchESPN. This will be the last bowl game played, just next Monday’s national championship game will remain after this one.
Why and how: The Sugar Bowl is part of the aforementioned New Year’s Day Six bowls under the CFP system. The bowl has tie-ins to take the first available teams from the Big 12 and SEC that are not playing in playoff semifinals.
What do the players get? Gift suite, a Fossil watch with custom tin, and a New Era cap.
How much is that worth? Again, that’s largely dependent on the gift suite. The rest runs about $175 or $200, or so.
Should I watch? Yes. Oklahoma can be very entertaining and this could be a good game. Auburn’s defense has been good this season, so that may play into how entertaining the Sooner’s offense gets to be tonight, but as I mentioned before, this is the last game before the national championship so get your college football fix while you can.