Bowl moved to earlier start, leads into Peach

SHREVEPORT, La. -- This year's Independence Bowl will have the earliest kickoff since 1996.

The game, which matches teams from the Southeastern Conference
and the Big 12, will be played at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 30 and
broadcast by ESPN.

"Generally speaking, it's probably a little bit better (for
ratings) to have a night game but a lot of that depends on the
matchup and who you're leading into," said Independence Bowl
executive director Glen Krupica. "We're leading into the Peach
Bowl which is usually a highly rated game."

Bowl officials have little say in determining the date and time
slot, Krupica said.

Iowa State beat Miami (Ohio), 17-13, in the 2004 Independence
Bowl. The 2004 game, with a 5:30 p.m. kickoff, grabbed a 2.79
rating on ESPN, down from its 3.7 rating for the 2003 game.

The Independence Bowl also falls at the start of a long weekend
of football. Not only will there be the standard bowl games on Dec.
31 and Jan. 1, but it's also the last weekend of the NFL's regular

"That complicates matters a lot and limits the prime-time
availabilities," Krupica said.

The Dec. 30 date does allow for teams and fans to begin arriving
after Christmas. The 2004 Independence Bowl was on Dec. 28 and bowl
officials believe many fans didn't want to travel so close to

"It works out pretty good," Krupica said. "If there's a
Friday when people aren't working during the year, it's probably
that one. There's also a chance that people can head back that day
or stick around and enjoy the market."