The famed pageant goes head-to-head with football Saturday – see why you should pick gowns over gridiron

By Mark Gray
January 14, 2012 08:00 PM
AdMedia; FilmMagic; Everett Collection

It will be football pads vs. evening gowns. Tim Tebow and Tom Brady vs. Miss Colorado and Miss Massachusetts.

As it did last year, the famed Miss America pageant will be going head to head with the mighty NFL on network television in prime time.

Here are five reasons (aside from 53 stunning women in bathing suits!) to tune into the 2012 Miss America Pageant at 9 p.m. on ABC.

1. Fan Voting
Although Tebow was recently named America’s most popular athlete in an ESPN poll, that determination means little on the football field.

For a month, however, fans have been able to vote online for their favorite Miss America contestant. The winner, Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson, will compete as a finalist.

2. Sentimental Favorites
Every year there is one story that captures the public’s attention, and this year that honor could go to Miss South Carolina Bree Boyce.

The ravishing 22-year-old champions for healthy eating and fighting obesity – something she knows a thing or two about, having once tipped the scales at 234 lbs.

Now 114 pounds slimmer, the beauty queen tells PEOPLE, “A lot of girls watch Miss America and say, ‘One day I want to be Miss America.’ That was one of my dreams. I never thought it would come true.”

3. Anything Goes In Live TV
Last year, a girl almost didn’t make the stage in time for her talent. This year, there is a surprise that not even the hosts know about.

“It’s not on my script, so we have no idea,” co-host Chris Harrison of The Bachelor tells PEOPLE. Executive producer Tony Eaton says, “You’ll see it unfold as we’ll see it unfold.”

4. It’s Not Your Mother’s Pageant
The typical parade of women that opens the show has been replaced this year with more of a “flash mob” entrance, with the women being filmed in different parts of Las Vegas.

“I think self-admittedly it was stuck in the past,” Harrison says. “It’s more of a reality show. I mean that in a good way. We’re trying to lift the curtain as much as we can and really push the envelope as much as we can.”

5. The Game Could Be a Blowout
According to Las Vegas oddsmakers, the Patriots are nearly a two-touchdown favorite to win the game, easily the biggest mismatch of the weekend’s football schedule, per the point spread.

“I think Miss America could beat the Broncos,” Harrison jokes. “They’re not very good.”