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Bowl Notes and Facts

by Dave Congrove
December 14, 2009

For just the sixth time in 17 years, the Congrove Computer Rankings' preseason forecast missed on picking at least one of the national championship game participants. The CCR had forecasted Florida and Oklahoma to appear in a repeat of last season's title game, but Sooners' QB Sam Bradford went down with an injury in the opening game. After returning to play all of Game 5 against Baylor, he was reinjured early in the Texas game the following week and missed the rest of the season. As a result, Oklahoma faltered to a 7-5 season. Meanwhile, Florida was undefeated until it lost in the SEC Championship game to a similarly unbeaten Alabama.

This year's BCS title game participants were both projected by my rankings to finish among the top six with Texas picked 4th and Alabama 6th.

The computer has picked at least one of the national title game contestants 11 times in its 17-year history (1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007). The team it picked to win the title has played in the title game seven times (1993, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005), and won the title three times (1993, 1998, 1999).

For 2009, it projected the exact regular season record of 23 teams, up 1 from a year ago. It came within one victory on 34 others, 8 more than a year.

The computer correctly picked the winner in 76.1% of all games played in 2009, up from 75.7% a year ago. It beat the spread in 52.4% of the games, up from 52.0% last season.

During the season, the computer went 11-1 or better on the weekly picks of 27 teams, including unbeaten marks with Alabama, Arkansas and Florida.

Against the spread, the computer was 7-3 or better with 15 teams, 4 more than last year.

The computer had an .824 winning percentage straight up on Sun Belt teams, .819 on SEC West teams, .811 on WAC teams, and .806 on MWC teams.

The computer hit 60.5% against the spread on Big East games after hitting 58.9 percent on Big East games a year ago. It was .580 or better with ACC Atlantic and CUSA West teams, and .500 or better with 85 of the 120 teams.

The computer's preseason rankings correctly tabbed the winners of the Big Ten (Ohio State was forecasted co-champ), MAC, Sun Belt and WAC conferences. It also nailed the winners of both SEC divisions, MAC West and CUSA East. Four more conferences or divisions were won by teams that the computer picked to finish second.

LET THE GAMES BEGIN
This week, the bowls begin. However, we'll have to wait until January 7 for this year's BCS title game participants - Alabama and Texas - to settle who is No. 1. By then, it will have been 33 days since either team played their last game.

Politicians in Washington, D.C. still keep trying to insert themselves in the BCS vs. playoff argument, despite the multitude of larger issues they should be dealing with. They claim they can walk and chew gum at the same time, but most Americans agree they are are constantly tripping over their own feet.

From my perspective - and I know I speak for the majority on this subject - TCU and Boise State both received BCS bowl invitations and still managed to get screwed. They should have been placed in separate games against schools from one of the "Big 6" conferences, and not pitted against each other for the third time in seven years. We could have had two extremely interesting BCS bowl games instead of one that nobody can get excited about.

UCLA's matchup with Temple becomes the third game of the bowl season to have a computer-projected margin of less than a point. There are 12 other games with forecasted margins of 4 points or less.

The largest predicted victory margin belongs to Nevada, a 19.03-point favorite over SMU. That game will feature the return to Hawaii of former Warriors' head coach June Jones. Jones loved Hawaii, but grew weary of the school's lack of commitment to improving its football facilities. He left for SMU after taking the 2007 Hawaii team to unprecedented heights that included an undefeated regular season (12-0) and a loss to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. It took Jones just two years to lift the Mustangs to their first bowl game since 1984.

The slimmest predicted victory margins belongs to Ohio State and Oregon State, both of which are favored by 0.43. Ironically, the Buckeyes are favored over Oregon in the Rose Bowl by that margin, while Oregon State is favored over BYU by that same margin in the Las Vegas Bowl. Temple is a 0.80-point favorite over UCLA in the EagleBank Bowl.

BOWL FACTS
Can We Go Somewhere Else For Vacation Next Year? Please????
BYU is playing in the Las Vegas Bowl for the fifth straight season.

Minnesota's last three bowl appearances have been in the Insight Bowl. Three of their previous four bowl trips were to the Music City Bowl.

Air Force has played in three straight Armed Forces Bowls. The Falcons are meeting Houston in that game for the second straight season.

Mississippi's last seven bowl destinations have been Independence, Independence, Music City, Independence, Cotton, Cotton, Cotton.

North Carolina's last three bowl appearances have been in Charlotte.

Southern Miss has played in the New Orleans Bowl four times in its last six bowl games.

TCU and Boise State face each other for the second straight year, although they have upgraded from the Poinsettia Bowl to the Fiesta Bowl.

Not Complaining:
Wisconsin has played six straight bowl games in the state of Florida with two visits to Tampa (Outback) and four to Orlando (Champs Sports and Capital One).

Bowl First-Timers:
None of this year's bowl teams fit into this category. The explosion of bowl games has allowed three teams to become first-time participants over the past three years. Last year, it was Buffalo in the International Bowl. In 2007, it was FAU in the Motor City Bowl. In 2006, it was Middle Tennessee in the New Orleans Bowl.

4 Who Have Never Been:
These teams have never played in a major college bowl game:
FIU
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:
Temple, 1979
SMU, 1984
Idaho, 1998

Waiting To Return
These teams have the longest continuing current streaks of bowl absence:
New Mexico State, 1960
Kent State, 1972
Eastern Michigan, 1987
Baylor, 1994
Duke, 1995
Army, 1996
Utah State, 1997
San Diego State, 1998

Bowl Appearance Streak
These teams have the longest continuing current streaks of bowl appearances:
Florida State, 28
Florida, 19
Virginia Tech, 17
Georgia, 13
Georgia Tech, 13

Bowl Winning Streak
These teams have the most consecutive bowl victories (last season of a bowl loss in parenthesis):
Utah, 8 (1996)
Oregon State, 5 (2002)
Texas, 5 (2003)
California, 4 (2004)
LSU, 4 (2004)
TCU, 4 (2003)
West Virginia, 4 (2004)
Note: Boston College had its' 8-bowl winning streak snapped with a 16-14 loss to Vanderbilt in last year's Music City Bowl.

Bowl Losing Streak
These teams have the most consecutive bowl losses (last season of a bowl win in parenthesis):
Northwestern, 6 (1948)
Ball State, 5 (Never)
Georgia Tech, 4 (2004)
Western Michigan, 4 (Never)
UTEP, 4 (1967)
Note: Notre Dame snapped its 9-bowl losing streak with a 49-21 win at Hawaii in last year's Hawaii Bowl. It was the first Irish bowl victory since 1993. Houston ended an 8-bowl losing streak with a 34-28 win over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. It was the first bowl victory for the Cougars since 1980. And finally, Rice snapped a 4-bowl losing streak with its first bowl win since 1953 when it defeated Western Michigan 38-14 in the Texas Bowl.

Bowl Winless (at least 1 appearance)
Ball State, 0-5
Western Michigan, 0-4
Ohio, 0-3
Central Florida, 0-2
Akron, 0-1
Arkansas State, 0-1
Buffalo, 0-1
Kent State, 0-1
Middle Tennessee, 0-1
UAB, 0-1

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

USC, .660 (31-16)
Penn State, .659 (26-13-2)
Boston College, .650 (13-7)
Mississippi, .625 (20-12)
Georgia, .602 (25-16-3)
Florida State, .595 (21-14-2)
Georgia Tech, .595 (22-15)
Auburn, .588 (19-13-2)
Oklahoma, .583 (24-17-1)
Alabama, .580 (31-22-3)

Most Bowl Wins
Alabama, 31
Southern Cal, 31
Penn State, 26
Georgia, 25
Tennessee, 25
Texas, 25
Oklahoma, 24
Nebraska, 23
Georgia Tech, 22
Florida State, 21
LSU, 21

UNBEATEN TEAMS:
5 teams have unblemished records heading into the bowl season - Alabama (13-0), Boise State (13-0), Cincinnati (12-0), Texas (13-0) and TCU (12-0). The computer forecasted 6 teams would be undefeated prior to any conference championship games and there were exactly 6 that did so - Florida fell from the list when it lost to Alabama in the SEC title game.

WINLESS TEAMS:
Eastern Michigan and Western Kentucky each finished the year at 0-12. The computer's preseason forecast projected Miami (Ohio) as the only winless team, but the RedHawks went 1-11. Eastern Michigan was projected to 2-10 and Western Kentucky was forecasted to go 1-11.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS teams went 89-5 vs. FCS teams this year (.947), and are now 464-42 (.917) since 2003.

Here are the results of every FBS loss to the FCS this season:
9/19: Central Arkansas 28, Western Kentucky 7
9/12:
New Hampshire 23, Ball State 16. New Hampshire also has wins at Army in 2008 (28-10), Marshall in 2007 (48-35), and Northwestern in 2006 (34-17)
9/5: Richmond 24, Duke 16; William & Mary 26, Virginia 14
9/3: Villanova 27, Temple 24

This year, 87 FBS teams played a total of 94 games against FCS foes. Duke, Kansas State, Mississippi, North Carolina, N.C. State, Rutgers and USF each played two FCS teams.

STREAKS:
Texas has 17 straight victories. The Longhorns play Alabama for the BCS title on Jan. 7 in Pasadena.

TCU has 14 straight victories. The Horned Frogs play Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4.

Alabama has 13 straight wins overall and 24 straight regular season wins. The Tide plays Texas for the BCS title on Jan. 7 in Pasadena.

Boise State has streaks of 13 straight wins overall, 25 consecutive regular season wins, 26 consecutive home wins, 56 consecutive regular season home wins, and 42 straight conference home victories. BSU has never lost at home to a fellow WAC member (36-0). 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 4-1 in their last five matches against BCS conference schools. The Broncos play TCU in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4.

Cincinnati has 12 straight wins overall and 18 straight regular season wins. The Bearcats play Florida in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.

Oklahoma has 29 straight home victories. The Sooners play Stanford in the Sun Bowl on December 31.

Utah has 17 straight home wins. Regular season complete. The Utes play California in the Poinsettia Bowl on December 23.

Western Kentucky has lost 20 straight overall and 25 straight to FBS teams. Season complete.

Eastern Michigan has lost 12 straight overall. Season complete.

Washington State has lost 9 straight. Season complete.

Colorado State has lost 9 straight. Season complete.

NEW COACHES:
22 teams had a new college football coach in the FBS ranks this season. Only Eastern Michigan went winless. 17 teams saw a first-year improvement under their new regime.

TEAM W-L COACH THIS WEEK
Army 5-7 Rich Ellerson Season complete
Auburn 7-5 Gene Chizik 1/1 - Northwestern (Outback Bowl)
Ball State 2-10 Stan Parrish Season complete
Boston College 8-4 Frank Spaziani 12/26 - USC (Emerald Bowl)
Bowling Green 7-5 Dave Clawson 12/30 - Idaho (Humanitarian Bowl)
*-Clemson 8-5 Dabo Swinney 12/27 - Kentucky (Music City Bowl)
Eastern Michigan 0-12 Ron English Season complete
Iowa State 6-6 Paul Rhoads 12/31 - Minnesota (Insight Bowl)
Kansas State 6-6 Bill Snyder Season complete
Miami (O.) 1-11 Michael Haywood Season complete
Mississippi State 5-7 Dan Mullen Season complete
New Mexico 1-11 Mike Locksley Season complete
New Mexico State 3-10 DeWayne Walker Season complete
Oregon 10-2 Chip Kelly 1/1 - Ohio State (Rose Bowl)
Purdue 5-7 Danny Hope Season complete
San Diego State 4-8 Brady Hoke Season complete
Syracuse 4-8 Doug Marrone Season complete
Tennessee 7-5 Lane Kiffin 12/31 - Virginia Tech (Chick-fil-A Bowl)
Toledo 5-7 Tim Beckman Season complete
Utah State 4-8 Gary Andersen Season complete
Washington 5-7 Steve Sarkisian Season complete
Wyoming 6-6 Dave Christensen 12/19 - Fresno State (New Mexico Bowl)
*-Dabo Swinney took over halfway through last season when Tommy Bowden stepped down after a 3-3 start. Swinney was 4-3 over the last 7 games of the season.


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