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Texas-Arkansas Still a Major TV Draw

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The good news is Texas can still draw a TV audience. The bad news is Texas can still draw a TV audience even when they stink.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Call it the Nostalgia Factor. Call it SEC Bias. Call it Brand Name Bias.

No matter, Texas vs Arkansas will still draw eyes to video screens. Preliminary numbers show that 5.8 million viewers tuned in to watch Arkansas' dismantling of Texas Monday night -making it the highest-rated original program on cable that night.

Final viewing numbers could float slightly up or down, but it is clear that brand names still matter when it comes to drawing audiences to the TV for college football.

*Edit/Update

ESPN is now reporting that Thursday's college football semifinals are the now the most watched programs in cable history.

Oregon's pounding of Florida State drew 28.2 million viewers, breaking the record held by 2011 BCS championship game between Auburn and Oregon. The record last just about 4 hours as 28.3 million tuned in to watch Ohio State edge Alabama.

The most-watched college football game during the BCS Era is the classic 2006 Rose Bowl between Texas and USC. The Rose Bowl contest four years later between Alabama and Texas is the only other BCS championship game to break the 30 million mark in total viewers.

There will be lots of talk about the Ohio State-Oregon game setting a new mark a week from Monday.

Monday the Liberty Bowl, matching Texas A&M vs. West Virginia pulled 3.3 million viewers.

Apparently, lots of folks enjoy watching train wrecks. Over 4.8 million viewers tuned in to watch Clemson's curb stomping of OU right before Arkansas systematically took apart Texas.

Some other preliminary numbers of note:

The Peach Bowl, the first of the"New Year's Six" - the bowls that are the new Championship Play Off rotation - had its lowest audience in 10 years. Preliminary numbers put it just above the Texas Bowl at around 5.9 million viewers.

There were several mitigating factors helping to drag down the audience. The TCU-Mississippi match up suffered from its 11:30 AM start time, earlier than any BCS contest of the past. The Peach Bowl has also been telecast in prime time the previous 10 years.

Boise State's upset of Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl drew 7.4 million viewers, its lowest audience in almost three decades. Of course most of the previous games were on broadcast networks, and this game did very well for an afternoon timeslot on cable.

The Orange Bowl finished out the trifecta of lower ratings for New Year's Eve bowls on ESPN as 8.9 million tuned in to see Georgia Tech race past Mississippi State. That is the 2nd lowest audience for the Orange Bowl in 20 years.

The Three New Year's Day games more than made up for the lackluster New Year's Eve performances. Michigan State's stunning comeback against Baylor drew approximately 8.6 million viewers in the early timeslot and then the two semi-final games were huge hits.

The Rose Bowl's Oregon blowout win over Florida State shows preliminary numbers of just over 25 million viewers. Meanwhile Ohio State's victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl was slightly less at approximately 24.8 million.

Again these numbers are subject to slight fluctuation, depending on the final Nielsen report.