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BYU quiz bowl brainiacs compete on NBC’s Capital One College Bowl

Next episode airs Friday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. MT

Years of studying, hours of watching Jeopardy, and a general love of learning have landed three Brigham Young University students on a nationally televised stage this fall as they showcase their trivia chops on season two of NBC’s “Capital One College Bowl.”

Ben Potter, Frances “Frani” King and Craig Walker are all members of BYU’s unofficial quiz bowl team and were thrilled to receive an invitation to compete against other students from around the country.

BYU contestants compete on NBC's Capitol One College Bowl

“It’s such an amazing opportunity to play trivia with your friends in front of Peyton Manning on TV and show your school pride,” said King, a senior from Milford, PA, majoring in microbiology. “It’s awesome.”

The Capital One College Bowl, hosted by celebrity brothers Peyton and Cooper Manning, features 16 universities competing tournament-style for the coveted College Bowl trophy and accompanying scholarship funds.

All three students developed an interest in “quiz bowl” competitions in high school. King and Potter have been part of a group of students at BYU who regularly practice and compete in quiz bowl competitions since they were freshmen. Walker joined the group about a year ago.

“Our team is unique because we all knew each other and were already really close,” said Potter, a senior from Grand Junction, CO, studying biology. “Some of the other teams were meeting each other for the first time. We know each other’s strengths well. Our team dynamic is great.”

For its second season, NBC is promising "bigger rivalries, impressive celebrity alumni shoutouts and new rounds of competition.” BYU alum and renowned NFL quarterback Steve Young made an appearance during the first episode to cheer on his fellow cougars. Cosmo the Cougar was also on hand to boost team spirit.

In their first qualifying round of competition, which premiered Sept. 9, the BYU team went head-to-head against a team from the University of Washington. The Huskies ultimately won the round, but BYU still advanced to the quarterfinals by having the third-highest score of the four teams competing in the qualifying round.

All three students credit the rigor of their BYU coursework as an integral part of their preparation and success on the show.

“I came to BYU to be academically challenged and spiritually strengthened,” said Walker a junior from Billings, MT, majoring in international relations.

The sense of community from their peers is also meaningful as their episodes are starting to air. For Walker, that means watching College Bowl on a significant time delay while he’s attending BYU Jerusalem. His classmates joined him for an informal watch party as they streamed the season premiere from the Middle East.

“Everyone has been so supportive and excited to be able to watch and cheer us on,” he said. “There’s a lot of love coming from cougar nation.”

The BYU team will compete next in the quarterfinal round on Friday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. MT on NBC.

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