Like college bowl games? You'll love next year

Eddie Lacy No. 42 of the Alabama Crimson Tide runs against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game at Sun Life Stadium on Jan. 7, 2013 in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Joel Auerbach | Getty Images

It's the holiday season, so that naturally means following the traditions of lighting the tree, shopping at the malls and reading "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" next to a warm fire. Right?


What the holidays really mean is parking yourself in front of a big-screen TV and watching college football bowl games—all 35 of them. And if you like them, you're in luck. Soon you'll have even more to choose from.

"College football games are like a religion to people," said Mark Conrad, professor of sports law at Fordham University. "That's reflected in the number of bowl games. You'd think there are too many but that hasn't been the case."

You've got quite a menu to pick from. There's the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

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Second most popular sport

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There's little question college football is popular—and more so than in the past. It's now tied with baseball as the second most popular sport in America (pro football is first). That's after being ranked ninth in 1992. (Pro football was No. 1 then, too.)

The bowl games themselves have also grown over the 111 years they've been around. The Rose Bowl, started in 1902, was still the only postseason game played in 1930.

By 1940, there were four bowl games. By 1970, there were 11. In 2000, there were 25 bowl games and by 2010, they reached the current 35.

The bowl games are big money, of course. According to figures from the Football Bowl Association (FBA), the net revenue for the schools that took part in the 2011-2012 college football bowl season, after expenses, was $179,896,463. Most of that came from TV deals.

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In fact, more than $2 billion has been paid out to participating schools over the last 10 years, reports the FBA. The payout over the next 10 years is expected to be more than $2.6 billion.

There's also a big payoff for the cities that host the games. They receive a combined economic impact of $1 billion a year in spending, according to FBA figures.

More bowl games next year

If you think 35 college bowl games is not enough, wait until next year. You'll have 39 games to watch then.

That's because there will be a four-team playoff to decide the true college football champion, after the years of controversy that have swirled around the current Bowl Championship Series (BCS).

It's to be called the College Football Playoff, and this is the final postseason without it. But until next year, you'll have to settle for this year's lineup. We've listed all 35 here by date and teams so check your local listings and get your remote handy.

So "FIGHT ON ... " (name your favorite college)!

Let the games begin!

New Orleans (Dec. 21): Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) vs. Tulane (7-5)

New Mexico (Dec. 21): Colorado State (7-6) vs. Washington State(6-6)

Famous Idaho Potato (Dec. 21): Buffalo (8-4) vs. San Diego State (7-5)

Las Vegas (Dec. 21) Fresno State (11-1) vs USC (9-4)

Beef 'O' Brady's (Dec. 23) East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-5)

Hawaii (Dec. 24) Boise State (8-4) vs Oregon State (6-6)

Little Caesars (Dec. 26) Bowing Green (10-3) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)

Poinsettia (Dec. 26): Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Utah State (8-5)

Fight Hunger (Dec. 27) BYU (8-4) vs. Washington (8-4)

Military (Dec. 27)
Marshall (9-4) vs Maryland (7-5)

Texas (Dec 27) Minnesota (8-4) vs Syracuse (6-6)

Buffalo Wild Wings (Dec 28) Michigan (7-5) vs Kansas State (7-5)

Pinstripe (Dec. 28)
Notre Dame (8-4) vs Rugers (6-6)

Russell Athletic (Dec. 28) Louisville (11-1) vs Miami (9-3)

Belk (Dec 28) Cincinnati (9-3) vs North Carolina (6-6)

Holiday (Dec. 30) Arizona State (10-3) vs Texas Tech (7-5)

Armed Forces (Dec. 30) Middle Tennessee (8-4) vs Navy (7-4)

Music City (Dec. 30) Mississippi (7-5) vs Georgia Tech (7-5)

Alamo (Dec. 30) Oregon (10-2) vs Texas (8-4)

Liberty (Dec. 31) Rice (10-3) vs Mississippi State (6-6)

AdvoCare V100 (Dec. 31) Arizona (7-5) vs Boston College (7-5)

Sun (Dec. 31) UCLA (9-3) vs Virginia Tech (8-4)

Chick-fil-A (Dec. 31
) Duke (10-3) vs Texas A&M (8-4)

Gator (Jan. 1) Georgia (8-4) vs Nebraska (8-4)

Heart of Dallas (Jan. 1) North Texas (8-4) vs UNLV (7-5)

Rose (Jan. 1) Michigan State (12-1) vs Stanford (11-2)

Capital One (Jan. 1) South Carolina (10-2) vs Wisconsin (9-3)

Fiesta (Jan. 1) Baylor (11-1) vs UCF (11-1)

Outback (Jan. 1) LSU (9-3) vs Iowa (8-4)

Sugar (Jan. 2) Alabama (11-1) vs Oklahoma (10-2)

Cotton (Jan. 3) Missouri (11-2) vs Oklahoma State (10-2)

Orange (Jan. 3) Ohio State (12-1) vs Clemson (10-2)

BBVA Compass (Jan. 4) Vanderbilt (8-4) vs Houston (8-4)

GoDaddy (Jan. 5) Ball State (10-2) vs Arkansas State (7-5)

And the game to decide it all:

BCS National Championship Game (Jan. 6) Florida State (13-0) vs Auburn (12-1)

—By CNBC's Mark Koba. Follow him on Twitter @MarkKobaCNBC

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