A spreadsheet filled with poo emoji
Think you're ready to make a great spreadsheet like this? Let's talk about the setup before we get ahead of ourselves, mk?

RYP Presents: In Deep Sheet, Part 1: The Setup

You’re about to embark on a journey. A thankless, arduous, Oregon Trail-type saga in some quest for a hand-made College Bowl pick’em pool spreadsheet.

Nicky G
Nicky G

AKA The Ultimate Guide To Making Your Own Crappy NCAA Bowl Pick’em Spreadsheet If You Must

First, a word from our sponsors... (us)

Dear Generic College Football Fan,

When else do you get a little jolt of joy watching Slippery Rock play Case Western? When else do you see the words “Clackamas County Credit Union Low APR Boat Loan Bowl” all in one sentence, words one after another like that?

Never! And that’s what makes college football bowl season so magical.

And then, of course, there’s the absolute best part: the college bowl pick’em.

You sit down and select games you’d otherwise never care about, hoping to best your friends, family, or coworkers. All of a sudden, every bowl game is a must-watch.

Given that you're reading this post, this year, you may be totally new to the concept of an NCAA bowl pick'em. Or, you may have relied on the same intrepid soul year after year to make the spreadsheet and now want to veer off and make your own.

In any case, we have to warn you: making a NCAA bowl spreadsheet is not easy or fun.

We’re not going to sugarcoat it: We exist as a company because of this fact.

You could totally make your own spreadsheet and save a few bucks. Just like you could totally cut your own grass with scissors or teach your 3-year-old how to shovel the driveway.

So, while this guide is largely a good-faith gesture meant to help those who'd rather not use our services still enjoy all the best parts of college bowl pools, there’s also some passive aggressiveness.

We can’t help it.

We think you should use our College Football Bowl Pool. It costs less than a light beer per person (and is easier to run than drinking some light beers), and in the end you’ll save literally dozens of hours, hundreds of sighs, and thousands of mini-headaches.

But anyway, it’s your life. Do whatever you want. We just had to warn you first.


RYP Management

RYP Presents: In Deep Sheet.  AKA The Ultimate Guide To Making Your Own Crappy NCAA Bowl Pick’em Spreadsheet If You Must, Part I: The Setup.

You’re about to embark on a journey.

Will it be difficult? Yes.

Will it break your spirit? Maybe.


But in the end, will you get glory out of all that extra work?

No. You won't.

You’re going to get a spreadsheet out of it.  That’s it.

As you’re about to discover, that first bit can be quite a bit of work. So, before you promise your friends, your boss, or your Great Aunt Myrtle about some fantastical college bowl pool you’re going to make, keep in mind: You’ll need to set aside around 30+ hours to create, promote, and manage a pool worth playing.

Even though again, we can’t stress this enough: you could totally avoid any and all pain whatsoever and just let us do it… like we’ve done for 15 years, for literally millions of people.


Let’s do this, I guess.

Step 1: The boundless thrills of manual data entry


Step 1A: Get to know who's bowling

We told you making your own college bowl spreadsheet wasn’t going to be glamorous — and this first bit is the least glamorous of all.

You’re going to need to know who is playing whom somehow.

We recommend you start by going to this Wikipedia page on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021 just after the bowl participants are announced.

We suspect Wikipedia’s editors will be on their game here and will update this page near-immediately. If not, we’ll hop in and do it ourselves. Can you trust us to do a good job of that? Eh. We’ll see how we’re feeling that day.

KEEP IN MIND: You only have just under two weeks between when Bowl Games are announced and December 17th when the first two bowl games, the Bahamas Bowl and the Cure Bowl (which is sadly, not hosted by Robert Smith), get the whole pool off the ground and running.

Tick tock.

Step 1B: Pick a spreadsheet, any spreadsheet

Any publicly available, easily accessible, easily editable, reliable spreadsheet should do.

Though we do stress “publicly available.” This is an important distinction here. We apparently live in a society that appreciates transparency (or that distrusts secrecy, whichever way you want to slice it). Even if you don’t mean to seem secretive, you will make lifelong enemies if picks aren’t publicly accessible and widely available.

NOTE: If you’d like a real rusty version of a college bowl spreadsheet readily available, we'll be releasing one of those in later parts.

You see, when people play pools like these, they’ll want to see their submissions (to ensure you’ve got the right picks entered), they’ll want to see what other people picked (not just morbid curiosity, but in a competitive spirit), and they want to know how they’re doing as the bowl season progresses in comparison to how other folks are doing in the pool.

These are all foregone conclusions. The people want to see the data. So choose wisely.

Step 1C: Choosing between Google Sheets and Google Sheets

There are a few limitations...

  1. In later steps, you’ll have to consider whether or not you’ll print out this spreadsheet — for your less how you say “technologically advanced” members — so try not to build something that will look very small or unreadable on paper.
  2. If you go the pro-tech route (highly encouraged): Remember that Google Sheets requires all users to have either a Gmail or Google account to access/use. Some non-Google users still roam the vast planes of the Internet, they prefer AOL… they use Bing… and they will bother you with support questions for all of eternity.

Step 1D: Now type. Type, I say!

Mush, sled-dog! Mush! Get those fingers blastin'!

There are now a grand total of 43 bowls. That means 86 teams will be playing. You’ll need to type in not only the school name and mascot of all those bowl-attending teams, but also the name of the bowl, the date it will be played, and the time it will be played (and if you’re feeling extra plucky, the TV networks that the game will be playing on, the location of the game or other sundry tidbits).

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could copy and paste that Wikipedia table into an Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet and be done with it?

Oh man, what a dream that would be!

Sadly, not the case. We’ve tried. It always comes up looking exceptionally wonky, ugly, and unusable.

Make sure to clearly label your columns starting with the date in column A, the bowl name and information in column B, C, and D, respectively, and in column E and F each team that’ll be playing.

Step 1E: Make it look nice and shiny

People are fairly superficial creatures — present company included.

If your document doesn’t look polished, your pool members might not trust you to do everything else right. So, if you want people to play in your bowl pick’em, you’re going to want to make sure it looks somewhat professional. Give your column headers colors, apply a few borders between the columns, and for legibility we recommend striping every other line with a very subtle pleasing color like light-mauve or light-taupe.

After you’re finished with this, leave your spreadsheet overnight to settle.

We’ll be building out the functions in later parts.

Oh and yeah here’s another subtle reminder you could stop reading this and go to RunYourPool.com's bowl pool maker right now and just be done with the hassle already.

We've got Confidence pools, straight-up Pick'em pools, and even single-game Squares pools, available for this Bowl Season.

Continue to Part 2: The Rules >>


Nicky G

Dad of 3. WVian by birth. ATX for now.