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Buckeyes Go Nuts On Oregon

2014 Bowl Season Recap

by Dave Congrove
January 13, 2015

Conference Bowl Records
Conference W-L Games Pct.
CUSA 4-1 5 .800
PAC-12 6-2 8 .750
Independents 2-1 3 .667
SEC 7-5 12 .583
Big 10 5-5 10 .500
MWC 3-4 7 .429
American 2-3 5 .400
MAC 2-3 5 .400
ACC 4-7 11 .364
Sun Belt 1-2 3 .333
Big 12 2-5 7 .286
Final (CFP C'ship game not counted in bowl standings)

Ezekiel Elliott ran for 246 yards and 4 touchdowns as Ohio State downed Oregon 42-20 in the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship game. The Buckeyes managed to overcome 4, mostly self-inflicted, turnovers. The Ohio State defense surrendered 465 yards, but held Oregon to 2 field goals and a turnover-on-downs on three of their opponent's red zone opportunities. Cardale Jones, who took over as the starting quarterback for the Big Ten Championship game after J.T. Barrett was lost for the season, improved his record to 3-0 with the victory that earned his school its 6th national title. Urban Meyer became just the second coach to win national titles with two different schools, joining Nick Saban. The Buckeyes will be riding a 13-game winning streak when they visit Virginia Tech to open the 2015 season with the opportunity to avenge their only loss of the 2014 campaign.

The 2014 bowl season conference title went to CUSA with a 4-1 record (.800). The PAC-12 fared the best of all the "Power 5" conferences with a 6-2 (.750) mark, while the Big 12 brought up the rear at 2-5 (.286).

While the SEC did well overall, it failed to send a team to the national championship game for the first time since the 2005 season. Under the BCS system, SEC teams won every title game from 2006-2012, and played in every title game from 2006-2013. The state of Alabama (either the Crimson Tide or Auburn) won 4 in-a-row from 2009-2012, and SEC western division teams won 5 titles in a 6-year span from 2007-2012.

This year, however, the SEC western division was a disappointment. All 7 teams in the division earned a bowl invite, but only the bottom two finishers in the standings won their game. Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State all went down to defeat. On the other hand, the SEC eastern division was 5-0 with Missouri, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee all coming out on top.

The five New Year's Day bowls provided plenty of drama but, most importantly, revealed the final matchup for the first College Football Playoff Championship Game.

More on that later as I recap the bowl games in chronological order, from most-recent to opening day.

The last of the 2014 conventional bowl games took place on Sunday (January 4) with Toledo toppling Arkansas State 63-44 in the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. This was the 4th straight appearance for the Red Wolves in Mobile, but the first time they were led by their official head coach as they won the 2012 and 2013 editions of this game under an interim head coach. The Rockets improved their bowl record to 9-5.

The lone bowl game on January 3 saw Florida improve its season record to 7-5 with a 28-20 win over East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl. ECU piled up 536 yards of offense, including 427 through the air, and ran 101 offensive plays, but couldn't find the end zone with a GPS and a tour guide. The Pirates lost a fumble near the goal line late in the first half and threw an interception in the end zone with 1:20 remaining in the game. East Carolina also had to settle for a pair of 24-yard field goals in the second half after drives stalled at the Gator 7. Florida scored on a 29-yard interception return and an 86-yard pass play, but also had one drive that was all Adam Lane who carried 4 times for 68 yards and scored from 2 yards out to put his team ahead 14-7 at the start of the 2nd quarter. Interim head coach D.J. Durkin got the win and now steps aside for incoming head coach Jim McElwain who has already hired Geoff Collins away from Mississippi State to be his defensive coordinator.

The opening game of a four-game slate on January 2 couldn't have produced a more unlikely finish as Houston staged a historical comeback for a 35-34 win over Pittsburgh in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Cougars scored 29 points in less than 10 minutes in the 4th quarter to overcome a 31-6 deficit. 22 of those points came between the 3:41 and 0:59 marks of the final period, aided by a pair of onside kick recoveries. Deontay Greenberry scored on a 25-yard pass from Greg Ward Jr. with 59 seconds left to pull within 1 and, after interim head coach David Gibbs elected to go for 2 and the win, the same combo teamed up for the successful conversion. It was the largest deficit (25 points) ever to be overcome in the 4th-quarter of a bowl game. Pittsburgh was also led by an interim head coach, Joe Rudolph.

Tennessee had little trouble, and no drama, in getting the SEC East a win in the TaxSlayer Bowl (formerly the Gator Bowl). The Vols jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the opening 17:58 and routed Iowa 45-28. Tennessee improved to 4-2 in Jacksonville bowl games while winning its 26th bowl game. Iowa dropped to 14-13-1 in bowls and has lost 3 straight bowl games for the first time in school history.

UCLA fended off a late Kansas State rally for a 40-35 win in the third event of the day, the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. The Bruins built a 31-6 halftime lead, only to see the Wildcats cut the margin to 5 at 34-28 with 4:54 to go in the game. Paul Perkins thwarted the rally when he took off on a 67-yard run for a 40-28 advantage after a failed 2-point conversion attempt. Kansas State still battled back and made it 40-35 with 1:21 left on Tyler Lockett's 29-yard reception from Jake Waters, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Bruins.

Oklahoma State staked out a 24-0 halftime lead in the Cactus Bowl (formerly the Copper, Insight, and Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl), then hung on for a 30-22 win over favored Washington. The victory gave the Big 12 a much-needed win in its final trip to the plate for the 2014 bowl season, and handed the PAC-12 a rare 2014 bowl defeat, as the Big 12 finished 2-5 while the PAC-12 went 6-2. The win improved the Cowboys' 2014 season record to 7-6 to avoid their first losing season since 2005, which was Mike Gundy's first as head coach. Gundy's bowl record improved to 6-3 and the Cowboys are now 16-9 all-time. The loss dropped Washington to 8-6 for the season in Chris Petersen's first year as head coach after moving over from Boise State. Petersen has led his team to a bowl game in each of his 9 seasons as a FBS head coach and had won 4 straight. As a team, Washington fell to 16-17-1 in bowl games.

The best of the two semifinal games on New Year's Day was saved for last as No. 4 seed Ohio State rallied from a 21-6 second quarter deficit to sink No. 1 Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes took a 27-21 lead with less than 2 minutes gone from the 3rd and opened a 42-28 advantage on Ezekiel Elliott's 85-yard run with 3:24 left in the game, but the Tide answered just 1:25 later when Blake Sims hit Amari Cooper for a 6-yard score. Alabama's beautifully executed onside kick got the high bounce needed over the front line of Buckeyes, and a second, higher bounce gave 'Bama a chance for a recovery, but Ohio State's Evan Spencer timed his jump perfectly to snag it out of mid-air. With Alabama down to 2 available timeouts, Ohio State could've milked the majority of the clock, but Urban Meyer elected to go for the jugular and Cardale Jones' bomb down the left sideline fell incomplete to save precious seconds for the Tide. 'Bama used their timeouts after a 2nd-down run for a yard and a 3rd-down loss of 11 by Jones. Following a 43-yard punt, the Tide had the ball at their own 18 with 1:33 still to play. Sims moved 'Bama to the OSU 42 in 6 plays before launching a Hail Mary that was intercepted in the endzone by Tyvis Powell to clinch the win.

The other semifinal game was a 59-20 walkover by No. 2 seed Oregon against No. 3 seed Florida State in the Rose Bowl. It was close at halftime as the 'Noles scored late to pull within 18-13, but the first of five second half turnovers began a rapid unraveling of this contest. Freshman running back sensation Dalvin Cook fumbled at the Oregon 31 and the Ducks were up 25-13 just 5 plays later. The 'Noles pulled back to within 25-20 on their next possession, but Oregon again needed just 5 plays to make it 32-20. After that, FSU disintegrated. Cook fumbled after a 15-yard reception at his own 43 and Marcus Mariota needed only 2 plays to go up 39-20. The next series saw Jameis Winston get harassed into fumbling and Tony Washington picked up the loose ball and scooted 58 yards to give Oregon a 45-20 lead. Winston was intercepted by Erick Dargan on the next series and, again, the Ducks needed just 2 plays to score for a 52-20 gap. And on the next possession, Winston threw complete to Jesus Wilson for 14 yards, but Rodney Hardrick forced the fumble and Tyson Coleman's recovery led to a 57-yard, 4-play drive and the final score of the game.

Earlier on the first day of 2015, Missouri outscored Minnesota 14-0 in the fourth quarter of the Citrus Bowl for a 33-17 win. It was the 7th straight bowl loss for the Golden Gophers as they continue to seek their first bowl win since 2004.

Michigan State rallied from 20 points down in the fourth to shock Baylor 42-41 in the Cotton Bowl Classic, despite 550 yards passing from the Bears' Bryce Petty. The Spartans blocked Baylor's 43-yard field goal attempt with 1:05 left, leading to Keith Mumphery's winning 10-yard reception from Connor Cook with 17 seconds to play.

The first game of the new year saw Wisconsin snap a 4-bowl losing streak with a 34-31 comeback win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl in Tampa. Rafael Gaglianone's 29-yard field goal with 7 seconds left tied it in regulation. The Badgers' won it on his 25-yard field goal in overtime when Daniel Carson's 45-yarder for Auburn hit the right post. Melvin Gordon had 251 yards rushing and 3 TD's for Wisconsin and he came up just 42 yards short of breaking Barry Sanders' 1988 season rushing record of 2,628 yards.

New Year's Eve delivered the first half of the "New Year's 6" bowls, coined as such because all are matchups determined by the College Football Playoff committee.

The day opened with the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta where TCU blasted Ole Miss 42-3. A few weeks after being teased by the committee as a possible candidate for the first final 4, TCU dropped to 6th in the final rankings. The Horned Frogs wasted no time exacting their frustration on the Rebels. They scored in the first minute of the game and led 14-0 after the first quarter, 28-0 at halftime, and 42-0 after three periods. The loss snapped a 6-game bowl winning streak for Ole Miss.

Next up was the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, featuring Arizona and Boise State. The Broncos jumped to a 21-0 lead on Jay Ajayi's 16-yard run on a play that was a redux of the "Statue Of Liberty" play they used on the 2-point conversion to defeat Oklahoma in OT in the 2006 season Fiesta Bowl. Arizona battled its way back into the game, but came up short when quarterback Anu Solomon allowed himself to be tackled in-bounds with 3 seconds left on a 3rd-and-goal play. With no timeouts left, the clock ran out and BSU remained undefeated in Fiesta Bowls (3-0).

The Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens closed out the day, and saw Georgia Tech pull away in the second half for a 49-34 triumph over Mississippi State. The first half closed with a Hail Mary touchdown for the Bullodgs to pull to within 21-20 at the break, just 29 seconds after GT gone up 21-13. But the Yellow Jackets extended their advantage to 28-20 on the second play of the 2nd half on Synjyn Days' 69-yard run that conjured up images of Marshawn Lynch. On that carry, Davis broke left after the handoff, slipped 2 tacklers and ran threw a third near the sideline, tightroped the boundary for several yards, then sped to paydirt. Davis also had a 3-yard touchdown run to open the scoring in the 1st quarter, and a 4-yard trip to the endzone in the 4th that made it 49-27. Quarterback Justin Thomas threw for 125 yards and ran for 121 as the victors improved their all-time bowl record to 24-19 with just their second bowl win in the last 10 tries.

Another trio of games took place on December 30.

Stanford blew out Maryland 45-21 in the nightcap at the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, California. The Cardinal passed for 208 yards and rushed for 206 while stifling the Terps in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Stanford built a 42-7 lead early in the fourth and Maryland finally managed a couple of late scores to make the final tally look slightly more respectable.

Georgia rolled 37-14 over Louisville in the Belk Bowl as Nick Chubb ran for 266 yards and 2 TD's. The Bulldog defense had 3 interceptions as they finished 10-3 for their third season of 10+ wins in the last four years.

The Music City Bowl began the day's activities and was also the best game of the day as Notre Dame edged LSU 31-28 on Kyle Brindza's 32-yard field goal as time expired.

The Big 12 went 0-for-3 in bowl games on Monday (December 29) and, other than West Virginia, failed to compete.

It didn't start off too bad as Texas A&M outscored West Virginia 45-37 in the Liberty Bowl to capture its fourth straight bowl win. It was a better offensive performance than most expected for WVU quarterback Skyler Howard who was thrust into action when Clint Trickett was forced to retire from football for multiple concussions just 3 days before the game. Howard threw 3 TD passes for the Mountaineers with no INT's, but Aggie quarterback Kyle Allen tossed four and running back Tra Carson rushed for 133 yards.

The second and third games saw the Big 12 get outright manhandled.

The second went to Clemson in a shocking 40-6 rout of Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. It was never a contest as the Tigers jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the opening 11:35. It was 27-0 by halftime and 40-0 before the Sooners got on the board against second-teamers with 6:57 left in the game. Clemson had 5 takeaways to zero for the Sooners, and Tiger QB Cole Stoudt threw for 319 yards and 3 touchdowns in a nearly flawless performance.

In the Monday nightcap, Arkansas held Texas to 59 total yards in a dominating 31-7 Texas Bowl victory. Razorback quarterback Brandon Allen tossed two touchdown passes amid his fourth straight game without throwing an interception. The loss dropped Texas to 6-7 for the season, giving the Longhorns their second losing campaign in the last 5 years. Conversely, Bret Bielema's second season at Arkansas produced a dramatic turnaround. The Razorbacks ended a 17-game conference losing streak with a 17-0 whitewash of LSU on November 17 and went on to allow an average of just 7 points over their last 4 games.

Virginia Tech was outgained, but won the turnover battle and the Military Bowl with a 33-17 defeat of Cincinnati on December 27. It was the first of five postseason games to take place on the last Saturday in December. Frank Beamer oversaw operations from the coaches' booth in the press box as he recovered from throat surgery while son, Shane, led the troops on the ground. The victory clinched Virginia Tech's 22nd consecutive winning season (7-6) in its 22nd straight year with a bowl appearance.

The second game to kick off on December 27 was the Sun Bowl, won 36-31 by Arizona State to keep Duke winless in these postseason games since a 7-6 Cotton Bowl win over Arkansas after the 1960 season. The Blue Devils fought back from deficits of 20-3 midway through the second quarter, and 30-17 entering the fourth, to take a 31-30 lead with 5:03 to play. But the Sun Devils returned the ensuing kickoff to the Duke 4-yard line and regained the lead on Taylor Kelly's pass to Demario Richard on the very next play. The Blue Devils then drove to the ASU 14-yard line before Anthony Boone's 3rd-down pass was intercepted in the back corner of the endzone with 45 seconds left to seal the victory.

The Independence Bowl went to South Carolina by a 24-21 count over Miami (FL). The Gamecocks held off a late charge from the Hurricanes after establishing a 17-6 halftime lead. Miami cut the gap to 17-14 with 1:43 to go in the 3rd and the score stayed that way until South Carolina took advantage of a Duke Johnson fumble that was recovered at the Hurricanes' 29-yard line. The Gamecocks needed just 2 plays to go up 24-14 with 4:13 to go in the game, but Miami answered with 2:16 to play to pull back within 3 points. Gambling that his defense could hold and get the ball back, embattled Miami head coach Al Golden opted to kick deep and South Carolina was able to run out the clock. It was a school record 5th consecutive bowl loss for Miami and a school record-tying 4th consecutive bowl win for South Carolina. The defeat dealt the 'Canes their first losing season (6-7) since 2007, and the win prevented Steve Spurrier from having his first losing campaign since his initial year as a collegiate head coach in 1987 when Duke went 5-6.

The fourth game to finish on December 27 was the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx, New York. A missed extra point in overtime doomed Boston College as Penn State scored the answering touchdown and converted the PAT for a 31-30 victory. Boston College struck first in the extra stanza on a 21-yard pass play, but the PAT was pulled wide right. Penn State knotted the game on Christian Hackenberg's fourth touchdown pass and Sam Ficken split the uprights for an uplifting bowl victory for a school that had served two years of an initial 4-year bowl ban in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Both schools finish the year with 7-6 marks as the Eagles endured their 5th consecutive bowl loss and Penn State won a postseason game for the first time since 2009.

The final game on December 27 saw USC outlast Nebraska for a 45-42 Holiday Bowl win in San Diego. Each team racked up 515 yards on offense and over 320 yards passing. Javorius Allen had 152 yards rushing and a pair of scores for the Trojans. The fireworks started early as Adoree' Jackson returned a kickoff 98 yards for a USC touchdown after Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah returned the opening kickoff 49 yards to set up a 3-0 lead for the 'Huskers. Nebraska had 3 touchdown drives that took 6 plays or fewer, and USC had 3 touchdown drives that required 5 plays or less. The 'Huskers were playing under interim head coach Barney Cotton, with incoming head coach Mike Riley assuming full control after the game, in the aftermath of the firing of Bo Pelini.

N.C. State downed UCF 34-27 in the St. Petersburg Bowl to cap a trio of games on December 26. The WolfPack took a 17-10 halftime lead and widened the gap to 34-13 on a field goal with 12:47 left in the game. The Golden Knights cut it to 7 with 1:44 left but had no timeouts remaining, so the game was over when N.C. State recovered the ensuing onside kick. UCF's 4-game winning streak came to an end, as well as a 3-bowl winning streak. It was the third straight win for N.C. State, which closed the season at 8-5 after going just 3-9 a year ago.

Louisiana Tech picked up its 3rd-ever bowl win, downing Illinois 35-18 in the Heart Of Dallas Bowl in the first of three games on December 26. The Bulldogs never trailed in the contest as they held a 14-3 lead after 1 quarter, a 21-9 advantage at halftime, and put the game away on Blake Martin's 28-yard run with 3:43 remaining. Illinois controlled the clock, but Louisiana Tech had the big plays which included an 80-yard pass-and-run from Cody Sokol to Kenneth Dixon in the first quarter, and a 69-yard interception return by Xavier Woods in the second. Defensive end Houston Bates, who transferred from Illinois, had 4 sacks of Illini quarterback Reilly O'Toole, With the win, CUSA concluded its below games with a 4-1 (.800) record.

Next up on December 26 was the new Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit which is operated by the NFL's Detroit Lions and replaces the Little Caesars Bowl. Rutgers won this one 40-21 over North Carolina after building a 40-7 lead. The Tar Heels' contribution to this game was an interesting moment in the 4th quarter when they recovered consecutive onside kicks. UNC had 2 touchdown passes called back for offensive interference calls.

Rice stymied Fresno State's offense and the Owls eventually wore down the Bulldogs to pull away for a 30-6 Hawaii Bowl victory on Christmas Eve in Honolulu. Driphus Jackson threw for 318 yards and 3 touchdowns for the victors while Fresno State was held to just 255 total yards en route to the program's 6th straight bowl loss.

The first bowl game played outside the U.S. or Canada took place on Christmas Eve afternoon as Western Kentucky gave back all but 1 point of a 35-point 4th quarter lead to survive Central Michigan 49-48 in the Bahamas Bowl. The Chippewas scored on a 75-yard pass, 3-lateral play at the end of regulation, but opted to go for 2 points and the win instead of kicking for overtime. The conversion attempt failed and the Hilltoppers had their first-ever bowl win. Western Kentucky's only other bowl appearance, and Central Michigan's last, came against each other in the 2012 Little Caesars Bowl won 24-21 by CMU. Chippewas quarterback Cooper Rush set a new FBS bowl record with 7 touchdown passes, 5 of which came in the 4th.

On December 23, Navy sank San Diego State 17-16 in The Poinsettia Bowl when the Aztecs missed a 34-yard field goal with 20 seconds left. SDSU had won all three previous meetings, including the 2-10 Poinsettia Bowl. Navy finished the season 8-5 with a 4-game winning streak, and raised the Academy's bowl record to 9-10-1.

Earlier Tuesday, Rakeem Cato completed 25 passes and 18 of them went to Tommy Shuler as the two combined to lead Marshall to a 52-23 win over Northern Illinois in the inaugural Boca Raton Bowl.

A brawl marred the end of a thriller at the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl on December 20, won 55-48 by Memphis in double overtime over BYU. The teams battled to a 45-all tie in regulation and traded field goals in the first extra period. Memphis PK Jake Elliott easily nailed a 55-yarder to extend the game and Memphis took the lead on Roderick Proctor's 11-yard reception from Paxton Lynch. The Tigers then sealed the win with DaShaughn Terry's interception of a Christian Stewart pass on 2nd down.

The 2014 bowl season got underway on Saturday, December 20 with five games, but none was more exciting than the inaugural Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. More on that in a moment.

The New Orleans Bowl delivered an early start to a 5-game schedule with a 10:00 a.m. local time kick-off. Louisiana-Lafayette made it 4-for-4 in this bowl with a 16-3 win that gave Nevada a thrd straight bowl defeat and a 7th bowl loss in their last 8 tries.

Utah State won the New Mexico Bowl 21-6, sending UTEP to its 6th straight bowl loss. The Miners are still looking for their first bowl victory since 1967.

Utah simply doesn't lose bowl games. Not many anyway. And the 2014 Las Vegas Bowl was no expcetion as the Utes improved their bowl record to 15-4 with a 45-10 rout of Colorado State. The defeat dropped the Rams to 6-8 in their bowl history. Utah has won 11 of their last 12 bowl contests. Colorado State was without head coach Jim McElwain who was hired by Florida after the regular season. Offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin was interim head coach for the bowl game.

Air Force won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl 38-24 over Western Michigan in a battle between teams that won a combined total of 3 games a year ago. The Falcons complete their season with a 10-3 record, while the Broncos finish 8-5. The game was played during a rainstorm that appeared to have kept fans away in droves. The victory clinched the AFA's first 10-win season since 1998 when Fisher DeBerry was the head coach. Western Michigan (0-6) is still looking for its first bowl win.

The day closed with theatrics in the Camellia Bowl. A 78-yard pass from James Knapke to Roger Lewis with 1:04 remaining lifted Bowling Green to a 33-28 win over South Alabama. "The Play" came on first down, immediately after the Jaguars had seized their first lead of the game on a 3-yard run by Terrance Timmons. South Alabama was striving to be victorious in its first-ever bowl appearance in just its 3rd season as a FBS program and its second season as a fully-eligible FBS team. Instead, the Falcons snapped their 4-bowl losing streak with their first bowl victory since the 2004 GMAC Bowl (now known as the GoDaddy Bowl) down the road in Mobile.

The bowl season swelled to 39 contests altogether this year, if you include the final 4 playoffs and title affair. A record 76 teams advanced to the postseason, representing nearly 60% of the 128 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

81 schools met postseason eligibility requirements. The 5 which were left behind are Temple, MTSU, Ohio, Texas State and newly defunct UAB. All were 6-6, except Texas State (7-5).

The new bowls this year were the Camellia in Birmingham, the Miami Beach and Boca Raton bowls (at obvious destinations), The Bahamas Bowl in Nassau, and the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, which comes under management from the NFL's Detroit Lions and replaces the Motor City/Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.

Several bowls underwent name changes. The Most notable of these is the Capital One Bowl becoming the Citrus Bowl, the Chick-fil-A reverting back to the Peach Bowl (sponsored by Chick-fil-A), the Gator officially becoming the TaxSlayer Bowl, and the Copper/Insight/Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl becoming the Cactus Bowl.

Sponsorships have changed all over the place, as they often do. For instance, the San Francisco area bowl game has been called the San Francisco Bowl, the Emerald Bowl, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and the Fight Hunger Bowl. This year the game moves to the NFL 49ers' new home in Santa Clara and becomes the Foster Farms Bowl.

All of the traditional bowl games were played within a 16-day span, concluding with the GoDaddy Bowl on January 4.

The computer was 24-15 in picking winners of the bowl games and CFP C'ship and is 374-238 since the inception of the rankings in 1993.

Five teams were led in their bowl games by assistants who were appointed as interim head coaches - Colorado State, Florida, Houston, Pittsburgh and Nebraska. Of those five schools, Florida was the only team to win its bowl with an interim head coach against a full-time head coach. Houston won its bowl game against another interim head coach for Pittsburgh.

For the second time in 3 years, Barry Alvarez came out of coaching retirement to lead Wisconsin in its bowl game. The Badgers defeated Auburn to square Alvarez's interim record at 1-1.

Only the newest teams in the FBS - Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Georgia State, Massachusetts, Old Dominion, Texas State and UTSA - have not made it to a bowl game. Of those schools, only Georgia State, UMass, Texas State were fully ineligible for selection this year.

South Alabama went bowling for the first time this year after just 3 seasons in the FBS.

Western Kentucky made its only previous bowl appearance in 2012 in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl when it faced Central Michigan. The Hilltoppers made it back to the bowl season this year and were once again paired with the Chippewas in the Bahamas Bowl. Incidentally, the 2012 matchup with WKU was also Central Michigan's last bowl trip. CMU won the first meeting. WKU won this meeting.

Alabama made its 15th Sugar Bowl appearance overall, and 2nd in-a-row.

Florida State made just its 2nd Rose Bowl appearance and they're back-to-back.

Texas played in the Texas Bowl for the first time. It was only the second time in 53 bowl appearances that the Longhorns played Arkansas in a bowl game.

This was the 4th straight season that Arkansas State appeared in the GoDaddy Bowl, but the first time the Red Wolves had their actual head coach with them. Three previous appearances came under interim head coaches (John Thompson in 2012 and 2013, and David Gunn in 2011). Current head coach Blake Anderson replaced Bryan Harsin (Boise State) who replaced Gus Malzahn (Auburn) who replaced Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss).

Louisiana-Lafayette played in, and won, the New Orleans Bowl for the 4th straight season. It is the only postseason game the Ragin' Cajuns have ever played in as a member of the FBS.

Thanks to a bloated bowl season, 10 games will feature these first-time matchups:
Utah State vs. UTEP (New Mexico Bowl)
Air Force vs. Western Michigan (Famous Idaho Potato Bowl)
South Alabama vs. Bowling Green (Camellia Bowl)
BYU vs. Memphis (Miami Beach Bowl)
Duke vs. Arizona State (Sun Bowl)
Texas A&M vs. West Virginia (Liberty Bowl)
Louisville vs. Georgia (Belk Bowl)
Maryland vs. Stanford (Foster Farms Bowl)
Arizona vs. Boise State (Fiesta Bowl)
Oregon vs. Florida State (Rose Bowl)

First Time Ever In A Bowl Game
South Alabama.

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:
Memphis, 2008
Tennessee, 2010
UTEP, 2010

Waiting To Return
These teams have the longest continuing current streaks of bowl absence:
New Mexico State, 1960
Eastern Michigan, 1987

Bowl Appearance Streak
These teams have the longest continuing current streaks of bowl appearances:
Florida State, 33
Virginia Tech, 22
Georgia, 18
Georgia Tech, 18

Bowl Winning Streak
These teams have the most consecutive bowl victories (last season of a bowl loss in parenthesis):
Louisiana-Lafayette, 4 (Never) - Includes 16-3 win over Nevada in this season's New Orleans Bowl
Marshall, 4 (2004) - Includes 52-23 win over Northern Illinois in this season's Boca Raton Bowl
Michigan State, 4 (2010) - Includes 42-41 win over Baylor i this season's Cotton Bowl
Oregon, 4 (2010) - Includes 59-20 win over Florida State in this season's Rose Bowl. (CFP C'ship game excluded)
South Carolina, 4 (2010) - Includes 24-21 win over Miami (FL) in this season's Independence Bowl
Texas A&M, 4 (2010) - Includes 45-37 win over West Virginia in this season's Liberty Bowl
Texas Tech, 4 (2008)
Clemson, 3 (2011) - Includes 40-6 win oer Oklahoma in this season's Russell Athletic Bowl
Missouri, 3 (2010) - Includes a 33-17 win over Minnesota in this season's Citrus Bowl
San Jose State, 3 (1987)
Syracuse, 3 (2004)
Utah State, 3 (2011) - Includes 21-6 win over UTEP in this season's New Mexico Bowl.

NOTE: UCF had 3-bowl winning streak end with a 34-27 loss to N.C. State in this season's St. Petersburg Bowl.
NOTE: Ole Miss had 6-bowl winning streak snapped with a 42-3 loss to TCU in this season's Peach Bowl.
NOTE: Florida State had 6-bowl winning streak snapped with a 59-20 loss to Oregon in this season's Rose Bowl.

Bowl Losing Streak
These teams have the most consecutive bowl losses (last season of a bowl win in parenthesis):
Ball State, 7 (Never)
Minnesota, 7 (2004) - Includes 33-17 loss to Missouri in this season's Citrus Bowl
Fresno State, 6 (2007) - Includes 30-6 loss to Rice in this season's Hawaii Bowl
UTEP, 6 (1967) - Includes 21-6 loss to Utah State in this season's New Mexico Bowl
Western Michigan, 6 (Never) - Includes 38-24 loss to Air Force in this season's Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Boston College, 5 (2007) - Includes 31-30 overtime loss to Penn State in this season's Pinstripe Bowl
Duke, 5 (1960) - Includes 36-31 loss to Arizona State in this season's Sun Bowl
Miami (Fla), 5 (2006) - Includes 24-21 loss to South Carolina in this season's Independence Bowl

NOTE: Bowling Green snapped a 4-bowl losing streak with a 33-28 win over South Alabama in this season's new Camellia Bowl.
NOTE: Wisconsin snapped a 4-bowl losing streak with a 34-31 win over Auburn in this season's Outback Bowl.

Bowl Winless (at least 1 appearance)
Ball State, 0-7
Western Michigan, 0-6 - includes 38-24 loss to Air Force in this season's Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Buffalo, 0-2
Kent State, 0-2
Akron, 0-1
Louisiana-Monroe, 0-1
UAB, 0-1

NOTE: Western Kentucky got off the above list with a 49-48 win over Central Michigan in this season's new Bahamas Bowl. The Hilltoppers are now 1-1 in their bowl history.

Best Bowl Winning Percentage
(Minimum 20 appearances. Source: College Football Data Warehouse)
USC, .667 (34-17) - Includes 45-42 win over Nebraska in this season's Holiday Bowl
Penn State, .644 (28-15-2) - Includes 31-30 overtime win over Boston College in this season's Pinstripe Bowl
Oklahoma State, .640 (16-9) - Includes 30-22 win over Washington in this season's Cactus Bowl
Mississippi, .639 (23-13) - Includes 42-3 loss to TCU in this season's Peach Bowl.
Florida State, .628 (26-15-2) - Includes a 59-20 loss to Oregon in this season's Rose Bowl (CFP Semifinal)
Syracuse, .620 (15-9-1)
Oklahoma, .594 (28-19-1) - Includes 40-6 loss to Clemson in this season's Russell Athletic Bowl
Auburn, .590 (22-15-2) - Includes 34-31 loss to Wisoncin in this season's Outback Bowl
Georgia, .590 (28-19-3) - Includes 37-14 win over Louisville in this season's Belk Bowl
Alabama, .589 (35-24-3) - Includes 42-35 loss to Ohio State in this season's Sugar Bowl (CFP Semifinal)

Most Bowl Wins
Alabama, 35 - Includes 42-35 loss to Ohio State in this season's Sugar Bowl (CFP Semifinal)
USC, 34 - Includes 45-42 win over Nebraska in this season's Holiday Bowl
Georgia, 28 - Includes 37-14 win over Louisville in this season's Belk Bowl
Oklahoma, 28 - Includes 40-6 loss to Clemson in this season's Russell Athletic Bowl
Penn State, 28 - Includes 31-30 overtime win over Boston College in this season's Pinstripe Bowl
Texas, 27 - Includes 31-7 loss to Arkansas in this season's Texas Bowl
Florida State, 26 - Includes a 59-20 loss to Oregon in this season's Rose Bowl (CFP Semifinal)
Tennessee, 26 - Includes 45-28 win over Iowa in this season's TaxSlayer Bowl
Nebraska, 25 - Includes 45-42 loss to USC in this season's Holiday Bowl
Georgia Tech, 24 - Includes 49-34 win over Mississippi State in this season's Orange Bowl
LSU, 23 - Includes 31-28 loss to Notre Dame in this season's Music City Bowl
Mississippi, 23 - Includes 42-3 loss to TCU in this season's Peach Bowl
Auburn, 22 - Includes a 34-31 loss to Wisoncin in this season's Outback Bowl
Ohio State, 21 - Includes 42-35 win over Alabama in CFP Semifinal in this season's Sugar Bowl (CFP C'ship game excluded)
Florida, 21 - Includes 28-20 win over East Carolina in this season's Birmingham Bowl
Michigan, 20

Only Florida State (13-0) finished the regular season unbeaten. No team went winless, and only 3 schools won less than 2 games - Georgia State (1-11), Idaho (1-10) and SMU (1-11).

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS schools were 100-8 (.926) in matchups vs. FCS teams this year, and they now have a cumulative record of 931-89 (.913) since 2003.

Here are the results from all of this season's FBS losses to FCS schools:
8/30: Bethune-Cookman 14, FIU 12
8/30: North Dakota State 31, Iowa State 14
9/6: Eastern Kentucky 17, Miami (Ohio) 10
9/13: Indiana State 27, Ball State 20
9/13: Abilene Christian 38, Troy 35
9/20: NW State (La.) 30, Louisiana Tech 27
9/27: Yale 49, Army 43 (OT)
10/11: Liberty 55, Appalachian State 48 (OT)

North Dakota State's win over Iowa State on opening weekend was the 5th straight over a FBS team for the three-time defending FCS champions. Since 2010, NDSU has won road games at Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State, Kansas State, and now Iowa State. Conversely, Iowa State has lost 2 straight to FCS schools after opening last season with a loss to Northern Iowa.

Bethune-Cookman's win over FIU on opening weekend was its second straight over the Golden Panthers.

This year, 103 FBS schools scheduled a total of 108 games against FCS foes. Appalachian State, Army, Ball State, Buffalo and FIU each played 2 such games.

It was a mixed bag of results for the Congrove Computer Rankings predictions this season. The preseason forecast correctly pegged the conference titles in the ACC (Florida State), American (UCF tied), Big Ten (Ohio State), CUSA (Marshall), and Independents (picked BYU to share). It picked additional division winners in the MAC East (Bowling Green), MAC West (Northern Illinois) and MWC Mountain (Boise State). For the year, the computer picked the winner in 75.7% of all games played for its 6th-best mark in 22 seasons, but it hit just 48.2% against the spread for its worst mark ever in that category. It's previous worst was 48.9% in 2010 and its historical average is 53.7%.

The preseason forecast correctly tabbed two of the final four teams (Florida State and Ohio State).

Florida State - 29-game winning streak (then-FBS longest) was snapped in a 59-20 loss to Oregon in the National Playoff semifinal game at the Rose Bowl. Still owns a 22-game conference winning streak (FBS longest).

Ohio State - Won 13 straight overall (FBS longest). Won 13 straight true road games (FBS longest). Defeated Oregon 42-20 in Arlington for CFP Championship.

Alabama - Won 16 straight home games (tied for FBS longest). Lost 42-35 to Ohio State in National Playoff semifinal at the Sugar Bowl.

Baylor - Won 16 straight home games (tied for FBS longest). Lost 42-41 to Michigan State in Cotton Bowl.

LSU - Won 49 straight regular season nonconference games (FBS longest). Lost 31-28 to Notre Dame in Music City Bowl.

Georgia State - Lost 11 straight overall (FBS longest). Lost 14 straight conference games (FBS longest). Regular season complete.

Kansas - Lost 30 straight road games (FBS longest). Regular season complete.

01/13: Buckeyes Go Nuts On Oregon - 2014 Bowl Season Recap
12/08: BCS or Playoff? It's Still An Imperfect System
12/07: "Rout" is the Word on Championship Weekend
11/30: 'Bama Wins Highest Scoring Iron Bowl In History; Division Titles Secured by Multiple Teams
11/23: FSU Escapes Once More; UCLA Handles USC
11/16: Mississippi State Goes Down; Florida State Escapes Again
11/09: Baylor Wins In Norman; TCU Drubs K-State; 'Bama Bounces LSU; Arizona State Stomps Notre Dame
11/02: Florida Romp Over Georgia Stuns Everyone
10/26: Stay For Ole Miss On Top Of Computer Rankings Will Be Brief
10/19: Baylor Bounced By WVU; Notre Dame No(le) Longer Undefeated
10/12: The Mississippi's Keep On Rollin'; Things Get Whacky In Waco
10/05: Weekend Of Insanity Sees 11 Teams In Top 25 Fall
09/28: Missouri Sends South Carolina's See-Saw Season Back Down
09/21: Florida State Prevails In OT As Winston Sits; Mississippi State Upsets LSU
09/14: South Carolina Outlasts Georgia; Boston College Upsets USC
09/07: Virginia Tech Finishes "Bash Big Ten" Day
09/01: FSU and LSU Survive On Saturday; Aggies Get One Hilluva Win On Thursday


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