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College Football Season

2011 Bowl Notes and Facts

Big Game Is Finally Here

by Dave Congrove
January 9, 2012

Thus far, the BCS games have provide excitement with a mix of close games, one blowout and one of the worst reversals of a call since the inception of instant replay reviews.

West Virginia rolled over Clemson 70-33 in the school's first-ever appearance in the Orange Bowl. The 70 points set a new record for bowl games, topping the 67 points scored by Baylor just six days prior.

Michigan downed Virginia Tech 23-20 in the Sugar Bowl's first-ever overtime game on Tuesday night (January 3). A controversial review in overtime saw Virginia Tech's Danny Coale's great diving touchdown catch inexplicably get reversed on replay with no sufficient evidence that the original call was incorrect. It was the 3rd overtime bowl game in two days and the 4th since New Year's Eve.

The traditional New Year's Day bowl games came a day late to steer clear of the NFL schedule, but the extra 24-hour wait proved to be worth it as all six games on Monday were worthy of viewing.

Conference Bowl Records
Conference W-L Games Pct.
CUSA 4-1 5 .800
MAC 4-1 5 .800
Big 12 6-2 8 .750
SEC 5-2 9 .714
Big East 3-2 5 .600
Independents 1-1 2 .500
Big 10 4-6 10 .400
Mountain West 2-3 5 .400
Sun Belt 1-2 3 .333
PAC-12 2-5 7 .286
ACC 2-6 8 .250
WAC 0-3 3 .000
Through games of 1/8

One of the newest kids on the block, the TicketCity Bowl, didn't produce the drama of the other five games, but it also didn't disappoint. Case Keenum threw for 532 yards and 3 TD's in his final collegiate game as Houston downed Penn State 30-14. The win gave the Cougars a school record 13-win (13-1) season, and the loss put an exclamation point on a nightmarish, scandalous season for Penn State.

South Carolina also set a new school record for victories, finishing 11-2 with a 30-13 win over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. 70 miles or so from that game in Orlando, Michigan State and Georgia played a triple-overtime thriller in the Outback Bowl in Tampa that produced the Big Ten's only win of the day (1-4) as the Spartans were on top of the 33-30 final.

Florida denied Ohio State its chance to avenge the 2006 BCS title game loss to the Gators. With Florida's 24-17 Gator Bowl win in Jacksonville on Monday, Ohio State finished a season with 7 losses for the first time in 114 years of football. Former Florida coach Urban Meyer now takes the reins of a Buckeye program that will be banned from the postseason next year and must endure three years of other probation penalties from the NCAA.

As if to purposely save the best for last, the Rose and Fiesta bowls were classics. Oregon defeated Wisconsin 45-38 to become Rose Bowl champs for the first time since the 1916 season, and Oklahoma State edged Stanford 41-38 in overtime for its first major bowl win since the 1945 season Sugar Bowl. The action at the end of both games was heart-pounding. Russell Wilson drove Wisconsin from his 15 to the Ducks' 25 in 16 seconds, but the final 2 seconds ran off as Wilson took the snap and spiked the ball to try and kill the clock. The Fiesta finish saw Stanford have a chip shot field goal get pulled wide left with seconds left in regulation, and a go-ahead field goal in overtime do the same after a bad snap that left the laces pointed at the kicker. Oklahoma State won three plays later on a 22-yard field goal.

An entertaining bowl season has included such highlights as Baylor's wild 67-56 win over Washington in the Alamo Bowl, Ohio's first bowl win, and Louisiana-Lafayette becoming victorious in its very first FBS bowl outing. We've also witnessed Utah rally from 14 down to beat Georgia Tech in overtime, while BYU also won late and Air Force fumbled away a chance to do the same on a 2-point conversion.

Baylor's win over Washington set high point marks for both a winner and loser while Boise State's 56-24 win over Arizona State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas produced the largest margin of victory. Florida State's 18-14 win over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl is the lowest point total of the bowl season for a winner. FIU's 20-10 loss to Marshall in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl ties the point total for a bowl loser with Cal in its 21-10 loss to Texas in the Holiday Bowl.

Northwestern's bowl losing streak stretched to 9 and Georgia Tech's extended to 7. Texas A&M and Michigan State ended 5-bowl losing skids.

Auburn beat Virginia 43-24 in the last college football game of 2011 - the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

After a game-less Thursday, Arkansas and Kansas State teed it up in the Cotton Bowl game on Friday with the Razorbacks prevailing 29-16. SEC teams have now won 8 of the last 9 Cotton Bowls.

The BCS title game arrives on Monday night from New Orleans with SEC West rivals LSU (13-0) and Alabama (11-1) competing for the Waterford Crystal football. By default, the SEC will win a sixth consecutive BCS title. Alabama head coach Nick Saban goes for his second national title with Alabama (2009 season) and his third overall (LSU, 2003 season). LSU's Les Miles tries to win his second national championship (LSU, 2007 season). Florida won the 2006 and 2008 season titles and Auburn won in 2010.

The schools met earlier this year in Tuscaloosa with LSU winning a 9-6 game in which the only scoring came from five field goals. Alabama missed field goals on each of its first three drives. LSU QB's Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee combined to throw for 91 yards while the Tide's A.J. McCarron was 16-of-28 for 199 yards and RB Trent Richardson ran for 89 yards on 23 carries.

Not to diminish the game, but the problem with this rematch is obvious. If 'Bama wins, they become national champions by going 1-1 vs. LSU. But if the Tigers go 1-1 against the Crimson Tide, they are not the champions. It would be the first time that has happened since the pre-BCS days of Florida-Florida State in the 1996 season.

The computer's preseason rankings correctly tabbed the winners of the Big East (West Virginia) and PAC-12 (Oregon). It also nailed the division-winners of the ACC Coastal (Virginia Tech), Big Ten Leaders (Wisconsin), C-USA East (Southern Miss) and PAC-12 North. And it correctly picked BYU as the top Independent, though it had the Cougars and Notre Dame each going 11-1.

The rankings pegged the exact final record of 11 teams before a single snap was taken. It missed by just one win or loss on 37 other teams, and two wins or losses on 30 more teams. That means it came within two wins or losses on 65 percent of the 120 FBS teams.

This year was the toughest-ever for preseason forecasting conference champions and division-winners. None of the major magazines or websites picked Clemson to win the ACC, Oklahoma State to take the Big 12, TCU to win the Mountain West, Arkansas State to win the Sun Belt, or Louisiana Tech to take the WAC. And only The Sporting News picked LSU to win the SEC while everyone else, including the Congrove Computer Rankings, picked Alabama. (source:

When bowl selection time came around only 72 teams were available to fill 70 bowl slots - same as last season. Western Kentucky (7-5) and Ball State (6-6) were the only schools left out this year after Western Michigan and Temple were omitted last year. UCLA was granted a waiver to get in with a 6-7 record due to its 7th loss occurring in the PAC-12 Championship game.

Miami, Fla. was eligible but took itself out of the running due the ongoing NCAA investigation into problems stemming from its association with convicted ponzi scheme felon Nevin Shapiro. And Southern California is serving out the final year of its NCAA-imposed bowl ban.

New Names
Meineke Car Care switches its sponsorship from Charlotte to Houston. As a result, the "Meineke Car Care Bowl" becomes the "Belk Bowl", and the "Texas Bowl" becomes the "Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas".

The "Humanitarian Bowl" in Boise becomes the "Famous Idaho Potato Bowl".

Bowl First-Timers
Louisiana-Lafayette is the only school making its very first bowl appearance. The Ragin' Cajuns have been a 1-A or FBS member since 1973. UL-L made this year's appearance count with a dramatic 50-yard field goal as time expired for a 32-30 win over an Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl.

The proliferation of bowl games over the last several years has made it easier for teams to achieve bowl eligibility and five of the last six seasons have seen one team break through. FIU did so last year (Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl), Buffalo in 2008 (International Bowl), FAU in 2007 (Motor City Bowl), Middle Tennessee in 2006 (New Orleans Bowl), and now the Golden Panthers in the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.

2 Who Have Never Been
These teams have never played in a major college bowl game:
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:
Utah State, 1997 (hasn't won a bowl game since 1993)
Arkansas State, 2005 (has never won a bowl game)
Virginia, 2007 (hasn't won a bowl game since 2005)

Note: Utah State still hasn't won a bowl game since 1993 after falling to Ohio 24-23 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Tyler Tettleton's 1-yard run with 13 seconds left in the game. Until that play, the Aggies had led for the duration of the contest.

Virginia still hasn't won a bowl game since 2007 after a 42-23 loss to Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

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

Bowl Appearance Streak
These teams have the longest continuing current streaks of bowl appearances:
Florida State, 30
Florida, 21
Virginia Tech, 19
Georgia, 15
Georgia Tech, 15

Bowl Winning Streak
These teams have the most consecutive bowl victories (last season of a bowl loss in parenthesis):
Mississippi State, 5 (1998) - Includes a 23-17 win over Wake Forest in this year's Music City Bowl.
Rutgers, 5 (2005) - Includes a 27-13 win over Iowa State in this year's Pinstripe Bowl.
Auburn, 5 (2005) - Includes a 42-23 win over Virginia in this year's Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Florida State, 4 (2007) - Includes an 18-14 win over Notre Dame in this year's Champs Sports Bowl.
Mississippi, 4 (2000)
USC, 4 (2005)

Bowl Losing Streak
These teams have the most consecutive bowl losses (last season of a bowl win in parenthesis):
Northwestern, 9 (1948) - Includes a 33-22 loss to Texas A&M in this year's Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.
Georgia Tech, 7 (2004) - Includes a 30-27 overtime loss to Utah in this year's Sun Bowl.
Ball State, 5 (Never)
UTEP, 5 (1967)
Western Michigan, 5 (Never) - Includes a 37-32 loss to Purdue in this year's Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl.
Kansas State, 4 - Includes a 29-16 loss to Arkansas in this year's Cotton Bowl
Minnesota, 4 (2004)

Note: Ohio, Texas A&M and Michigan State all snapped 5-bowl losing streaks this year.
Ohio edged Utah State 24-23 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
Texas A&M downed Northwestern 33-22 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.
Michigan State won 33-30 in triple-overtime over Georgia in this year's Outback Bowl.

Bowl Winless (at least 1 appearance)
Ball State, 0-5
Western Michigan, 0-5 - Includes a 37-32 loss to Purdue in this year's Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl.
Akron, 0-1
Arkansas State, 0-1
Buffalo, 0-1
Kent State, 0-1
UAB, 0-1

Note: Ohio was 0-5 before defeating Utah State 24-23 in this year's Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

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

USC, .667 (32-16)
Mississippi, .636 (21-12)
Oklahoma State, .636 (14-8) - Includes a 41-38 overtime win over Stanford in this year's Fiesta Bowl.
Penn State, .636 (27-15-2) - Includes a 30-14 loss to Houston in this year's TicketCity Bowl.
Florida State, .625 (24-14-2) - Includes an 18-14 win over Notre Dame in this year's Champs Sports Bowl.
Auburn, .622 (22-13-2) - Includes a 42-23 win over Virginia in this year's Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Oklahoma, .611 (27-17-1) - Includes a 31-14 win over Iowa in this year's Insight Bowl.
Alabama, .595 (33-22-3)
Boston College, .591 (13-9)
Georgia, .585 (26-18-3) - Includes a 33-30 triple-overtime loss to Michigan State in this year's Outback Bowl.

Most Bowl Wins
Alabama, 33
Southern Cal, 32 - Did not play this year
Oklahoma, 27 - Includes a 31-14 win over Iowa in this year's Insight Bowl.
Penn State, 27 - Lost this year
Georgia, 26 - Lost this year
Texas, 26 - Includes a 21-10 win over California in this year's Holiday Bowl.
Tennessee, 25 - Did not play this year
Florida State, 24 - Includes an 18-14 win over Notre Dame in this year's Champs Sports Bowl.
Nebraska, 24 - Lost this year
Auburn, 22 - Includes a 42-23 win over Virginia in this year's Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Georgia Tech, 22 - Lost this year
LSU, 22
Mississippi, 21 - Did not play this year
Michigan, 20 - Includes a 23-20 overtime win over Virginia Tech in this year's Sugar Bowl.
Ohio State, 20 - Lost this year

FBS vs. FCS:
All of the FBS-FCS games have been played and FBS teams finished the season 91-6 (.938) to raise their record to 638-55 (.921) vs. the FCS since 2003.

Here are the results of the FBS losses to FCS schools this season:
9/24: North Dakota St. 37, Minnesota 24
9/24: Sam Houston State 48, New Mexico 45 (OT)
9/24: Southern Utah41, UNLV 16
9/17: Indiana State 44, Western Kentucky 16
9/3: Richmond 23, Duke 21
9/3: Sacramento State 29, Oregon State 28

93 FBS teams played at least one FCS foe this year and four of those schools played two such games - Air Force, Eastern Michigan, N.C. State and Wyoming.

LSU - 14 straight wins overall and 17 straight home wins. The Tigers face Alabama in the BCS Championship game in New Orleans on January 9.

Arkansas State - 9-game win streak ended with 38-20 loss to Northern Illinois in the Bowl. The Red Wolves still own an 8-game conference win streak.

Northern Illinois - 9 straight wins overall, 8 straight conference wins and 15 straight home wins. The Huskies beat Arkansas State 38-20 in the Bowl.

TCU - 24 straight conference wins. The Horned Frogs beat Louisiana Tech 31-24 in the Poinsettia Bowl on December 21 in San Diego.

Virginia Tech - 13 straight wins in true road games (at opponents' venue). The Hokies face Michigan on January 3 in the Sugar Bowl.

Kansas - 10 straight losses overall. The have completed their season.

Tulane - 10 straight losses overall. The Green Wave have completed their season.

New Mexico - 21 straight road losses. The Lobos have completed their season.

Mississippi - 14 straight conference losses. The Rebels have completed their season.

The coaching carousel may turn out a record year for changes at the top. Many teams will be led in the bowl season by an interim head coach. North Carolina was, and Ohio State will be, led by a coach who spent the entire 2011 season with "interim" preceding their title and now find themselves as lame ducks. Arizona State and Southern Miss were simply led by lame duck head coaches. Here's the list of bowl game coaches at the schools where changes have been announced: ("i" denotes "interim")

Arizona State - Dennis Erickson
Arkansas State - (i) David Gunn, offensive coordinator
Houston - Tony Levine. Interim coach is newly-appointed head coach
Illinois - (i) Vic Koenning, defensive coordinator
North Carolina - (i) Everett Withers, interim head coach for the entire season
Ohio State - (i) Luke Fickell, interim head coach for the entire season
Penn State - (i) Tom Bradley, interim head coach since November 9
Pittsburgh - Keith Patterson, defensive coordinator
Southern Miss - Larry Fedora
Texas A&M - (i) Tim DeRuyter, defensive coordinator
Toledo - Matt Campbell, interim coach is newly-appointed head coach
UCLA - (i) Mike Johnson, offensive coordinator

For a complete and up-to-date list of coaching changes, go to Coaching Changes.


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