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The Arizona Bowl will finally be nationally televised in 2017

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The game was a hit in Tucson last year — and now the rest of the country can watch it

NCAA Football: Arizona Bowl-South Alabama vs Air Force Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Bowl will finally be nationally televised in its third year of existence.

Tucson’s bowl game will take place on Friday, Dec. 29 at 3:30 p.m. MST, and it will be televised on CBS Sports Network, it was announced Wednesday (previously it was scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 30).

In 2015, the Arizona Bowl’s inaugural year, it was televised on the American Sports Network (a regional sports network) and in 2016 it was shown on ASN and Campus Insiders (an online streaming service).

Thus, the Arizona Bowl became the first bowl game since 1994 to not be nationally televised.

The Arizona Bowl, played at Arizona Stadium, features bowl-eligible teams from the Mountain West and Sun Belt conferences.

However, in 2015 the bowl game featured two Mountain West teams because there were an insufficient number of bowl-eligible teams, which led MWC commissioner Craig Thompson to call the game a “travesty.”

That wasn’t an issue in 2016, though.

Air Force beat South Alabama 45-21 in front of 33,868 fans, a 50 percent increase from the previous year.

It turns out there are worse places to be in late December than sunny Southern Arizona.

“The Arizona Bowl provided the best argument yet for keeping all 41 bowls,” wrote Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star. “...For three hours Friday afternoon and into the evening, the Air Force-South Alabama game was the best day of the sports year in Tucson.

“It reminded me of those agreeable winter afternoons at the old Tucson Open, when you’d soak in the idyllic weather, gaze at the heavenly mountain shadows and couldn’t think of another place you’d rather be.”

Now the entire country can tune in, and eventually the Arizona Bowl hopes to host better competition.

“When the Arizona Bowl’s affiliation with the Sun Belt Conference expires in 2018,” Hansen wrote, “it is likely to pursue bigger game, possibly a Pac-12 affiliate, and by then get an opportunity to join ESPN’s exhaustive bowl-game programming guide.”


Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire