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Bowl Notes and Facts

35 Games In 24 Days

by Dave Congrove
December 13, 2010

The bowl season kicks off on Saturday, December 18 with three games. When it's all said and done, 35 games will have taken place over a 24-day period and the 13th BCS champion will have been decided.

AMAZING TURNAROUND:
Miami (Ohio) was 1-11 a year ago in Mike Haywood's first season as head coach and was projected by the Congrove Computer Rankings to improve to 3-9 this year. Instead, the MAC title win earned the RedHawks a 9-4 record and a chance at a 10-win season when they face Middle Tennessee in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

NOT-SO-AMAZING TURNAROUNDS:
Cincinnati went from 12-1 in 2009 to 4-8 this season. The Bearcats were 12-0 last season when Brian Kelly left to take the head coaching job with Notre Dame. Jeff Quinn served as interim coach in the Sugar Bowl loss. Butch Jones was just 4-8 this year as the head coach with Cincinnati, representing an 8-win drop for the school in one season. The Bearcats went from conference champs to a 7th-place finish in the 8-team Big East.

Central Michigan was 11-2 in 2009 under Butch Jones when he left to take the Cincinnati job. CMU went on to defeat Troy 44-41 in the GMAC Bowl with Steve Stripling serving as interim head coach. Under first-year head coach Dan Enos, the Chippewas went 3-9 this year. The 8-win drop gave Central Michigan a 5th-place finish in the 6-team MAC West after it had won three conference championships in the previous four years.

Texas went from 13-1 in 2009 to 5-7 this year for an 8-win decrease. The Longhorns were 13-0 in 2009 before losing to Alabama in the BCS Championship game. Since then, with Mack Brown still as head coach, the Longhorns are just 5-8.

COMPUTER SUCCESS:
The computer's preseason rankings correctly tabbed the winners of five conferences - the Big Ten (Ohio State, co-champ), Big East (UConn, co-champ), Mountain West (TCU), PAC-10 (Oregon) and WAC (Boise State, co-champ). It correctly picked Navy as the top Independent.

The computer nailed three other division winners - Nebraska (Big 12 North); UCF and SMU (CUSA East and West).

My computer rankings pegged the exact final record of 21 teams before a single snap was taken. It missed by just one win or loss on 35 other teams, and two wins or losses on 23 more teams. That means it came within two wins or losses on 65.8 percent of the 120 FBS teams.

More impressively, it was perfect on its in-season game-by-game picks with New Mexico State, Oregon, Stanford, TCU and Tennessee. And somehow, it has an extraordinary ability to forecast the record of North Texas as 2010 marked the 4th consecutive season, and 10th in the last 16, that the Mean Green finished the season with the exact record predicted by the computer.

BOWLS CUT IT CLOSE:
With a 35-game bowl schedule this year, 70 teams needed to reach at least 6 wins to avoid the possibility of having multiple teams with losing record in bowl games. 75 teams achieved 6 wins, but three of those schools were ineligible for various reasons - USC at 8-5 is on postseason probation; Idaho was 6-7 and needed to be 7-6 since it played a 13th game; Arizona State was 6-6 and needed to be 7-5 since it had two wins against FCS schools and only 1 can be counted toward qualification

That left a cushion of just two teams - Western Michigan (6-6) and Temple (8-4). Due to bowl affiliation agreements with the various conferences, there were simply not enough slots available to fall to more than 4 MAC teams. As a result, the bids went to MAC East and conference champ Miami (9-4), MAC East runner-up Ohio (8-4), MAC West champ Northern Illinois (10-3) and MAC West runner-up Toledo (8-4).

SOLID BOWL MATCHUPS:
Most of the bowls did a commendable job setting up their matchups. For example:

The Holiday Bowl's pairing of Nebraska and Washington is the only rematch of a regular season game.

Several of the "lesser" bowls were able to invite local teams to impact ticket sales. Some of the best examples are San Diego State in San Diego's Poinsettia Bowl, Maryland in Washington, D.C.'s Military Bowl, Baylor in Houston's Texas Bowl, and SMU in the Armed Forces Bowl (normally played on TCU's campus but moved to SMU's home field in Dallas due to contsruction on Amon G. Carter Stadium). Additionally, Hawaii is always a solid choice for the Hawaii Bowl when the Warriors are eligible due to the extra burdensome expense for other teams to fly in from the mainland, or for Hawaii to fly to the mainland.

One of the most intriguing matchups pits South Carolina against Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Gamecocks are, of course, coached by former Florida head coach Steve Spurrier. Too bad the 'Noles can't invite Bobby Bowden to coach this one for FSU.

BOWL FACTS:
New Games and New Names
The Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx is a totally new addition to the bowl lineup. Bowl games in baseball stadiums don't have a very strong track record of attracting ticket sales, but this one may be different. It certainly can't hurt to be playing the game in New York and Yankee Stadium is a draw of its own, even if it isn't the original Yankee Stadium.

The Dallas Football Classic in the Cotton Bowl is also a new game, but before the first snap was ever taken, the game changed its name to the TicketCity Bowl. It fills the void that was left when the Cotton Bowl game moved to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington last year.

Several other games return with different names - Washington, D.C.'s EagleBank Bowl is now the Military Bowl; San Francisco's Emerald Bowl is now the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl; Birmingham's PapaJohns.com Bowl is now the BBVA Compass Bowl; Mobile's GMAC Bowl is now the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

One bowl bit the dust - the International Bowl in Toronto is out of the lineup after a 4-year run.

Bowl First-Timers
FIU is the only school making its very first bowl appearance. The Golden Panthers have only been playing football since 2002 and rose to the FBS ranks in 2005.

The proliferation of bowl games has, no doubt, made it easier for more teams to achieve bowl eligibility status and recent seasons have seen several teams attain their first bowl bid. Buffalo did so in 2008 (International Bowl), FAU in 2007 (Motor City Bowl), and Middle Tennessee in 2006 (New Orleans Bowl).

3 Who Have Never Been
These teams have never played in a major college bowl game:
Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Monroe
Western Kentucky

First Time In A Long Time
Of the teams that made it this year, these had the longest wait to get back to a bowl game:
Baylor, 1994 (hasn't won a bowl game since 1992)
Army, 1996 (hasn't won a bowl game since 1985)
San Diego State, 1998 (hasn't won a bowl game since 1969)

Waiting To Return
These teams have the longest continuing current streaks of bowl absence:
New Mexico State, 1960
Kent State, 1972
Eastern Michigan, 1987
Duke, 1995
Utah State, 1997

Bowl Appearance Streak
These teams have the longest continuing current streaks of bowl appearances:
Florida State, 29
Florida, 20
Virginia Tech, 18
Georgia, 14
Georgia Tech, 14

Bowl Winning Streak
These teams have the most consecutive bowl victories (last season of a bowl loss in parenthesis):
Utah, 9 (1996)
Georgia, 4 (2005)
Mississippi, 4 (2000)
Rutgers, 4 (2005)
USC, 4 (2005)

Note: Last season saw several bowl winning streaks end.

Oregon State had its 5-bowl winning streak snapped in a 44-20 loss to BYU in the MACCO Bowl Las Vegas.
Texas had its 5-bowl winning streak snapped in a 37-21 loss to Alabama in the BCS Championship game.
Cal had its 4-bowl winning streak snapped in a 37-27 loss to Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl.
LSU had its 4-bowl winning streak snapped in a 19-17 loss to Penn State in the Capital One Bowl.
West Virginia had its 4-bowl winning streak snapped in a 33-21 loss to Florida State in the Gator Bowl.
TCU had its 4-bowl winning streak snapped in a 17-10 loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.

The top three teams on that list didn't make it back to a bowl game this year. Their absence ends bowl appearance streaks of 4 years for the Beavers, 7 years for the Golden Bears, and 12 years for the Longhorns.

Bowl Losing Streak
These teams have the most consecutive bowl losses (last season of a bowl win in parenthesis):
Northwestern, 7 (1948)
Ball State, 5 (Never)
Georgia Tech, 5 (2004)
Michigan State, 4 (2001)
Nevada, 4 (2005)
Minnesota, 4 (2004)
Ohio, 4 (Never)
Texas A&M, 4 (2001)
Western Michigan, 4 (Never)
UTEP, 4 (1967)

Bowl Winless (at least 1 appearance)
Ball State, 0-5
Ohio, 0-4
Western Michigan, 0-4
Central Florida, 0-3
Akron, 0-1
Arkansas State, 0-1
Buffalo, 0-1
Kent State, 0-1
UAB, 0-1

Best Bowl Winning Percentage
(Minimum 20 appearances. Source: College Football Data Warehouse)

Penn State, .667 (27-13-2)
USC, .667 (32-16)
Mississippi, .636 (21-12)
Boston College, .619 (13-8)
Georgia, .611 (26-16-3)
Florida State, .605 (22-14-2)
Auburn, .600 (20-13-2)
Oklahoma State, .600 (12-8)
Oklahoma, .593 (25-17-1)
Alabama, .588 (32-22-3)

Most Bowl Wins
Southern Cal, 32
Alabama, 32
Penn State, 27
Georgia, 26
Oklahoma, 25
Tennessee, 25
Texas, 25
Nebraska, 24
Florida State, 22
Georgia Tech, 22
LSU, 21
Mississippi, 21
Auburn, 20

STILL UNBEATEN:
Auburn (SEC), Oregon (PAC-10) and TCU (Mountain West) each head into the bowl season with unblemished records.

STILL WINLESS:
No team finished the season winless. However, four teams finished with just 1 victory - Akron, Memphis, New Mexico and San Jose State. Of those schools, SJSU is the only one that notched its lone win over a Football Championship Subdivision school and the only one that played last week. The Spartans lost 26-23 in overtime at Idaho.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams went 83-7 (.922) vs. FCS schools this season and are 547-49 (.918) in such games since 2003.

Here are the results of every FBS loss to the FCS this season:
9/4: Jacksonville State 49, Mississippi 48 (2 OT's)
9/4: North Dakota State 6, Kansas 3
9/11: Gardner-Webb 38, Akron 37
9/11: Liberty 27, Ball State 23
9/11: South Dakota 41, Minnesota 38
9/11: James Madison 21, Virginia Tech 16
10/2: Cal-Davis 14, San Jose State 13

This year, 85 FBS teams played a total of 90 games against FCS foes. Five schools played two such games - Arizona State, Ball State, San Jose State, Syracuse and Virginia.

STREAKS:
Boise State has streaks of 32 home wins, 62 regular season home wins, and 46 straight conference home victories. BSU has never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (40-0). The Broncos' last home loss to a conference foe occurred in 1998 when they were a member of the Big West and fell to Idaho in the final regular season game. The Broncos are 6-1 in their last seven matches against BCS conference schools. (Next: vs. Utah in MAACO Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22).

Auburn has 14 straight wins overall. (Next: vs. Oregon in BCS Championship game on Jan. 10).

TCU has 12 straight wins overall, 25 straight regular season wins, 20 straight home wins and 17 straight conference wins. (Next: vs. Wisconsin in Rose Bowl on Jan. 1).

Oregon has 12 straight wins overall. (Next: vs. Auburn in BCS Championship game on Jan. 10).

Virginia Tech has 11 straight wins overall. (Next. vs. Stanford in Orange Bowl on Jan. 3).

Oklahoma has 36 straight home victories. (Next: vs. UConn in Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.

San Jose State has 10 straight losses overall. (Next: Season complete).

Memphis has 9 straight losses overall. (Next: Season complete).

New Mexico has 16 straight road losses. (Next: Season complete).

COACHING CHANGES:
Dan Hawkins (Colorado), Tim Brewster (Minnesota) and Todd Dodge (North Texas) were each fired with games remaining. Here is how each of those teams performed under the direction of interim head coaches.

Hawkins' interim replacement at Colorado, Brian Cabral, went 2-1

Brewster's interim replacement at Minnesota, Jeff Horton, went 2-3

Dodge's interim replacement at North Texas, Mike Canales, went 2-3.