San Jose State beat Georgia State 27-16 on Saturday in the AutoNation Cure Bowl in Orlando, Fla.
The best person to explain why this game was on TV would be George Costanza, Jerry Seinfeld’s fictional sidekick from the classic comedy series. George, in one episode, explained to an NBC executive why people would watch the sitcom that he and Jerry proposed. They said it was “about nothing.”
“Why am I watching it?” the executive asked.
“Because it’s on TV!” George answered.
Fan interest doesn’t drive bowl games. TV dollars in search of football game to air drive bowl games.
That’s why you shouldn’t mind seeing the proliferation of bowl games, even though it means this year that there weren’t enough 6-6 teams to fill the 41 bowls. San Jose State was only 5-7 and Georgia State on 6-6, but let’s not forget that in 2013, San Jose State was 6-6 and not invited to a bowl game.
Anyone who plays for San Jose State Coach Ron Caragher, who was Troy Aikman’s backup at UCLA, is being coached the right way and gaining a good experience out of college football. If a Caragher team earns bowl eligibility, there should be a spot for his club.
Besides, if the financial dollars didn’t add up for the Cure Bowl, it wouldn’t be on TV.
In the football post-season, we don’t hear grumbling that a team deserving to be in a bowl game was left out. But we hear that every year when the NCAA’s 64-team basketball tournament field is announced.
AutoNation was willing to pay to bring San Jose State across the country. In fact, it will probably come out later that San Jose State lost money on the trip, but the Spartans will take the loss in exchange for TV exposure that will help them in recruiting.
San Jose State, of the Mountain West, is not a team that travels well, even when the Spartans have a good season. That partially explains why the Spartans were left home two years ago with a 6-6 record. Georgia State, of the Sun Belt, was playing in its first bowl game since moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision, so we didn’t know how the Panthers would travel.
The history of those two fan bases explain why there were few wide TV shots that revealed a sparse crowd.
So what we had was a Saturday night game to fill the insatiable appetite of Americans for college football. The best part of the contest was both the punting and punt returning.
San Jose State’s Tyler Ervin was electric when he returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown through the second quarter. For fans who didn’t favor Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey in the Heisman Trophy voting, they might have changed their minds had they watched Ervin.
Want to see a nifty punt return TD?
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) December 20, 2015
McCaffrey, the runner-up in the Heisman voting, led the nation in all-purpose yards with 268.9 yards per game. Ervin, who finished with 227 all-purpose yards against Georgia State, was second in the nation with 200.8. They were the only two players with averages over 200. Ervin also rushed for a school record 1,601 yards this season.
On the other end of special teams, San Jose State punter Michael Carrizosa, a Ray Guy Award finalist, had two punts over 68 yards and three inside the 20.
The game was close up until the end.
San Jose State quarterback Kenny Potter ran for a 42-yard score with 9:15 to play for a 20-16 lead, and then a game-clinching score with 2:40 to play on a 1-yard pass to Josh Oliver.
For a lot of us, the Cure Bowl was more interesting to watch than some of the blowouts awaiting us. George Costanza might even have liked it.