Over a casual meal at a Mexican restaurant outside of Atlanta, four current Syracuse University students who consider themselves trivia experts — Sanjeev Uppaluri ’24, Zoë McCreary ’23, Emma Lambiaso’ 24 and Adam Schulman ’25 – meet at a table in early June, about to embark on a mission that could change his life.
These four relative strangers – only McCreary and Lambiaso knew each other before the meeting – were tasked with the unenviable task of developing team chemistry, forging strong bonds, learning to trust and get to know each other personally so that the quartet is getting ready. for a competition that could change lives: the second season of NBC’s “Capital One College Bowl.”
At stake is a chance to win the majority of a million dollars in scholarships and demonstrate their knowledge of random facts in front of a national television audience.
Premiering Friday, Sept. 9, College Bowl is hosted by Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and his brother, Cooper, and pits teams of college and university students in a battle of the brains. Each student receives tuition assistance for their participation.
Uppaluri, McCreary, Lambiaso and Schulman (a backup) have sworn to secrecy about their team’s success on “College Bowl,” but you can follow the Syracuse University team as they air their first episode Friday, Sept. 16, starting at 8 p.m. ET.
“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There was a lot of pressure, but I always found that I did very well under pressure, especially because I participated in quiz bowl competitions for many years,” says Uppaluri, a political science student at the Maxwell School who founded the Syracuse University Quiz Bowl team in January 2022.
Featuring a variety of trivia topics, students must work as a team to test their knowledge in a five-round tournament. The top two schools advance to the final round, where they compete for the College Bowl trophy and, more importantly, those scholarship funds.
All competitors receive tuition assistance – Syracuse participants won at least $5,000 in scholarships – with winners taking home an even bigger prize: the majority of $1 million in scholarships studies.
“I’ve always been a trivial person with a lot of random acquaintances congregating in the back of my head. I had watched ‘College Bowl’ before going on the show, but it was a little weird hearing Peyton Manning say ‘Syracuse Zoë’ when he called me for an answer. Then I realized I was playing the game, not just watching it,” says McCreary, who studies photography and the history of art.
Knowing that Team Orange would need to work collaboratively if they were to succeed, that first team dinner was crucial in developing a team bond and cultivating the camaraderie needed for “College Bowl.”
The teammates took turns discussing where they came from, their majors on campus, and their interests – inside and outside the classroom – but they all agreed that the biggest unifying factor was their love for Syracuse University.
“We spent the first few days trying to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses while getting to know each other better. Being there, going through this together was a great bonding experience, and what brought us together was our school spirit. We are very proud of Syracuse and wanted to show off and make our university proud. I was really proud of our team,” says Lambiaso, Magazine, News and Digital Journalism Specialist at The Newhouse School.
Each member brings a different strength to the team. Uppaluri considers himself a trivia generalist with a specialty in geography. McCreary excels in knowledge of film and art history, while Lambiaso is well versed in music, pop culture, and “the random facts that get stuck in my head.”
To prepare for the competition, the Syracuse team spent hours watching the old “Jeopardy!” episodes, practicing buzzing and providing the right answer to a wide range of topics.
“It helped us understand the strengths and weaknesses of our team and showed us the areas we needed to explore further. But even with all of our training, once we got on set and started competing, we had absolutely no idea what was in store for us!” said McCreary.
Uppaluri credits his father, Srini, for getting him hooked on trivia when he brought home an almanac full of random facts when Sanjeev was in elementary school.
“I don’t want to limit myself to one category when I know that all categories really interest me. I have a great curiosity for knowledge. If someone says or mentions something that I don’t know, I have to look it up immediately. It really bothers me that I don’t know what it is. I wanted to learn about everything, but the more I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know much,” says Uppaluri.
While taping, the Syracuse crew was surprised by someone who knows a little about competitions and school spirit: Otto, the University’s beloved mascot.
Regardless of the amount of scholarships they won, each of the Syracuse contestants said they enjoyed the experience and came away with a few new friends and a greater appreciation for what it takes to compete on the stage. national.
In addition to Syracuse, this season’s College Bowl features teams from:
- Albany State University
- Brigham Young University
- Columbia University (defending champions)
- duke university
- University of Florida
- University of Georgia
- Morehouse College
- Notre Dame University
- Ohio State University
- University of Oklahoma
- Penn State University
- Spelman College
- University of California, Santa Barbara
- University of Texas at Austin
- University of Washington