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'Bama Gives Saban His 5th National Title

2015 Bowl Season Recap

by Dave Congrove
January 12, 2016

Conference Bowl Records
Conference W-L Games Pct.
SEC 8-2 10 .800
CUSA 3-2 5 .600
PAC-12 6-4 10 .600
Big 10 5-5 10 .500
MWC 4-4 8 .500
Sun Belt 2-2 4 .500
ACC 4-5 9 .444
Big 12 3-4 7 .429
MAC 3-4 7 .429
American 2-6 8 .250
Independents 0-2 2 .000
Final (CFP C'ship game not counted in bowl standings)

A hard-fought, extremely competitive football game came down to two special teams plays by Alabama as the Tide got past Clemson 45-40 in the College Football Playoff Championship game on Monday night (January 11th).

After tying the game at 24 with a field goal early in the 4th quarter, Alabama recovered an onside kick that led to a 31-24 lead just two plays later. The Tide defense held Clemson to a field goal on its next drive, after which Kenyan Drake returned the kickoff 95 yards for a 38-27 Alabama lead.

Clemson never quit. Head coach Dabo Swinney was fond of saying, "B.Y.O.G. - bring your own guts", and his team responded with a touchdown drive to make it 38-33 with 4:30 left. Alabama showed its own determination by answering with an 8-play drive to stretch the lead to 45-33 with 1:07 to go. With players anxiously waiting to dump the Gatorade bucket on Nick Saban, Clemson put another pause on the celebration with a touchdown at the 12-second mark. Alas, an onside kick bounced too high, and too late to be recovered inbounds, and the win was finally secured for the Tide.

It's Saban's 5th national title, including 4 in the last 7 seasons with Alabama. The other came in 2003 with LSU. Clemson was looking for its first national title since 1981 and its second all-time.

The game had its share of expected stars who stepped up, as well as some unsung heroes. Heisman-winning running back Derrick Henry had 158 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns on 36 carries for Alabama. But the Tide also got 208 receiving yards and 2 TD's on just 5 catches by O.J. Howard who last scored a touchdown in 2013. Clemson QB Deshaun Watson was a magician, extending plays, creating plays, and eventually finishing with 405 yards passing, 73 yards rushing and 4 TD passes. Two of Watson's TD throws went to walk-on Hunter Renfrow (7 catches, 88 yards) who came into the game having caught just 26 balls for 404 yards all season.

Both teams finish the season 14-1 with Clemson's 17-game winning streak coming to a halt. Alabama also now claims the nation's longest current winning streak at 12 games.

Why couldn't the rest of the bowl season have been this exciting? The championship game, and the last bowl games played, made for must-see TV as West Virginia and Arizona State went back-and-forth all night in the Cactus Bowl, and TCU pulled off an incredible rally in the Alamo Bowl.

West Virginia ultimately won the Cactus Bowl 43-42 over Arizona State on a 15-yard TD pass with 2:19 left to play from Skyler Howard to David Sills. Sills is a backup freshman QB who played sparingly and had caught 6 passes all year. Howard wound up throwing for 532 yards and 5 TD's after averaging just 217 per game for the year. The Mountaineers had 676 yards of total offense. The lead changed hands 9 times.

Everyone in attendance will remember the Alamo Bowl. TCU was without QB Trevone Boykin and WR Josh Doctson and it was an unfair fight until Oregon lost QB Vernon Adams, Jr. to a concussion. When Adams went out, the Ducks had a commanding 28-0 lead. They made it 31-0 at halftime and everyone knows you can't rally from that far down against Oregon - they'll just outscore you. Well, as the venerable Keith Jackson used to say when he was announcing college football games, "Whoa Nellie!". Or for a more modern day reference, we'll quote Lee Corso and say, "Not so fast". 5th-year senior Bram Kohlhausen, who started in place of Boykin (suspension for arrest), came to life in the second half after a listless first half. Before the night was over, he would throw for 351 yards and 2 scores, rush for 45 yards and 2 more touchdowns, and show a blatant disregard for the beating he was sustaining in the process of willing his team to victory. It all led to a remarkable and improbable 47-41 triple-overtime win for TCU.

Two teams which possess among the best bowl records met in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville to kick off a set of 4 games on January 2. Georgia improved its bowl record to 29-19-3 with the 24-17 win. Penn State fell to 28-16-2. The Big Ten finished the 2016 bowl season with a 5-5 record.

Arkansas wore down and distanced itself from Kansas State in the second half of a 45-23 Liberty Bowl win. The Hogs racked up 569 total yards to the Wildcats' 242 and had 30 first downs to KSU's 13. Alex Collins ran for 185 yards and 3 scores for the Razorbacks who capped the season with their 6th win in the final 7 games to finish 8-5. Arkansas has now won 3 straight bowl games for the first time in school history. It was the 7th bowl loss in the last 8 tries for the Wildcats. After finishing the regular season with 3 straight wins to become bowl eligible, Kansas State slumps to 6-7 for their first losing campaign since 2008.

By the time New Year's Day came around, the pairings for the championship game of the 2nd College Football Playoff had already been decided. Clemson (14-0) and Alabama (13-1) will meet in Glendale, Arizona after each team shrugged off its respective semifinal foe on New Year's Eve.

The final games of 2015, and the first of 2016, were almost all blowouts.

Florida State (10-3) fell 38-24 to Houston in the Peach Bowl as the New Year's Six bowls got underway at Noon on New Year's Eve. Greg Ward, Jr. threw 2 TD passes and ran for another for the Cougars. Meanwhile, Sean Maguire battled through an early ankle injury to throw for 392 yards and 2 touchdowns, but was also intercepted 4 times. The 'Noles never led and were down 21-3 at halftime. FSU battled back in the second half to get within 7 at 31-24 with 4:55 left, but Houston drove for a touchdown after the ensuing kickoff. Houston head coach Tom Herman won 13 games (13-1) in his first season as a head coach.

Clemson bludgeoned Oklahoma 37-17 in the Orange Bowl with a 21-0 second half after trailing 17-16 at the break. Deshaun Watson threw a TD pass and ran for another while totaling 332 yards of offense. Wayne Gallman scored twice in a 150-yard rushing performance. The Tigers have scored back-to-back resounding wins over the Sooners after thumping OU 40-6 in last year's Russell Athletic Bowl. It was the 4th straight bowl win for Clemson which won its only national title in 1981.

Michigan State stayed close for a half, but Alabama broke open a 10-0 game in the third quarter with a 21-point outburst on two Calvin Ridley touchdown receptions and Cyrus Jones' 50-yard punt return. Heisman winner Derrick Henry added a TD run in the 4th to make the final 38-0 as 'Bama rolled in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas. The Crimson Tide last won the national championship in 2012 when they captured their third in a 4-year span. Alabama fell to eventual champion Ohio State in last year's semifinal Sugar Bowl game.

The blowout theme continued early on New Year's Day in the Outback Bowl as Tennessee crushed Northwestern 45-6. Wildcat fans surely hope it isn't the start of another 64-year bowl victory drought which Northwestern ended in the 2012 Gator. This was their first bowl appearance since that win over Mississippi State. The Wildcats are now just 2-10 all-time in bowl games. Conversely, It was the 27th bowl win for Tennessee (27-24).

Michigan followed suit with a 41-7 rout of Florida in the Citrus Bowl, improving the Wolverines to 3-0 all-time vs. the Gators, all in Florida-based bowl games. Florida ended a 10-4 season with 3 straight losses (Florida State, Alabama, Michigan) in which it scored a total of 24 points and 2 offensive touchdowns.

Ezekiel Elliott scored 4 rushing touchdowns to lead Ohio State past Notre Dame 44-28 in the Fiesta Bowl. The loss snapped a 2-bowl winning streak for Notre Dame which lost 9 straight from 1994-2006, but was 4-1 in its last 5.

The Rose Bowl saw Stanford pummel Iowa 45-16. The Cardinal raced to a 35-0 as Christian McCaffrey did what McCaffrey has been doing all season. He scored on the game's first play on a 75-yard pass reception from Kevin Hogan, then added a 63-yard punt return touchdown at the start of the second quarter. McCaffrey also had a long touchdown run called back, but he still finished with 172 yards rushing on 19 carries, 105 yards receiving on 4 catches, and 91 yards on returns. This was Stanford's 3rd Rose Bowl trip in the last 4 years after making no appearances from 2011-2012. It was Iowa's first Rose Bowl since the 1991 season.

Ole Miss took the blowout theme into the final game of the day with a 48-20 destruction of Oklahoma State in the Sugar Bowl. Chad Kelly threw for 302 yards and 4 TD's as the Rebels claimed victory in their first Sugar Bowl since the Archie Manning-led squad of 1969. It's the 11th bowl win for Ole Miss in its last 13 tries as its overall bowl record improved to 24-13. The loss dropped Oklahoma State's bowl record to a not-too-shabby 16-10.

The four December 30 bowls featured 3 SEC teams, including the conference's first loss. The nightcap saw Wisconsin beat USC for the first time.

Mississippi State had little trouble with the rain or N.C. State as the Bulldogs rolled to a 51-28 win in the Belk Bowl. A garbage touchdown by the Wolfpack with 45 seconds left made the score a little closer than it never really was. MSU opened a 21-0 lead, then had a brief lapse that allowed N.C. State to cut it to 21-14. The Wolfpack got to within 31-21 halfway through he 3rd but this always felt like the Bulldogs' game and they reeled off 20 unanswered points to leave no doubt.

Auburn scored 21 points in a 5:51 span bridging the 3rd and 4th quarters to break away from a 10-10 tie with Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl. Memphis was on the doorstep of a 17-10 lead on the opening series of the second half, but Auburn picked off Paxton Lynch's throw and took over on its own 6. Memphis finishes 9-4 after an 8-0 start, losing head coach Justin Fuente along the way to Virginia Tech as the successor to Frank Beamer. Auburn improved to 23-15-2 in bowl games. A loss would've sent Auburn to a second losing season in four years.

Texas A&M ran into a Lamar Jackson buzz saw as the freshman quarterback accounted for all 4 Louisville touchdowns in a 27-21 Music City Bowl victory for the Cardinals. Three of Jackson's scores came in the first quarter as the 'Ville opened a 20-7 lead on runs of 6 and 61 yards, and a 2-yard pass. He added a 17-yard pass in the 3rd quarter to push the Cards ahead 27-14. He finished with 227 passing and 226 rushing. The loss ended Texas A&M's bowl winning streak at 4 games. Josh Hubenak got the QB start for the Aggies after both Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray had transferred in recent weeks.

The Holiday Bowl pitted USC and Wisconsin for the first time since 1966, but this time the Badgers escaped with a 23-21 victory. The previous 6 matchups all took place from 1952-1966 and two of those were in Rose Bowls. The Trojans had one last chance to rally for the win, but eschewed a Hail Mary and wound up throwing short of the sticks and out-of-bounds on a 4th-down play from midfield with 7 seconds left to play.

The four bowl games on December 29 saw teams and individuals put up some ridiculous numbers.

The day began with the Armed Forces Bowl where Jared Goff threw 6 TD passes to lead California to a 55-36 rout of Air Force. Goff finished the day with 467 yards and raised his season touchdown total to 43 to surpass the PAC-12 mark set last year by former Oregon Duck, now Tennessee Titan, Marcus Mariota. Air Force has played in 5 of the 13 Armed Forces Bowls ever played, winning just one of them. The Falcons did manage to rush for 295 yards and had slight advantage in time of possession, but turned the ball over 3 times with a pair of fumbles and an interception. It was Cal's first bowl appearance since 2011 and first bowl win since 2008.

Up next came the Russell Athletic Bowl where Baylor rushed for 645 yards in 49-38 whipping of North Carolina. Johnny Jefferson had 299 of those with 3 TD runs of 11, 27 and 80 yards. Due to various injuries over the course of the season, the Bears were without quarterbacks Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham, receiver Corey Coleman, and running back Shock Linwood, yet still managed to amass 756 total yards.

More silly numbers were posted in the Texas Bowl as LSU administered a 56-27 pounding of Texas Tech. Leonard Fournette rushed for 212 yards and 5 TD's for the Tigers who scored 21 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter to break open a 21-20 game and take a commanding 42-20 lead. Overall, LSU rolled up 638 yards and held the one-dimensional Red Raiders to 29 yards rushing while halting Texas Tech's 4-bowl winning streak.

Meanwhile, the first Arizona Bowl had the dubious distinction of hosting two teams from the same conference as Nevada upended Mountain West for Colorado State 28-23. The Rams took a 23-22 lead on a field goal with 3:40 left in the contest, only to see the Wolf Pack answer with a 4-yard scoring run at the 1:06 mark. CSU then moved from its own 12 to the Nevada 12 before running out of time when the receiver of a 9-yard completion didn't get out of bounds. Nevada's first bowl win since 2010 snapped a 3-bowl losing streak.

The first of two bowl games on December 28th saw homestanding Navy sink Pitt 44-28 in the Military Bowl at Annapolis, Maryland. The Midshipmen finished the year 11-2 to set a school record for victories in a single season. They had finished with 10 wins three times, most recently in 2009. The win also gave Navy a 3rd straight bowl win for the first time in program history. Individually, QB Keenan Reynolds' 3 TD's pushed his career totals to 88 TD's and 530 points to set new NCAA records. Kenneth Dixon of Louisiana Tech had pushed ahead of Reynolds earlier in the bowl season. Reynolds' 4,559 yards rushing are the most by a quarterback in NCAA history.

The second game was the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit where Minnesota edged Central Michigan 21-14. The Golden Gophers came into the game with a 5-7 record and on a 7-bowl losing streak. Minnesota's last bowl win came in the 2004 Music City Bowl. This is just the 6th bowl win (6-12) in school history. The Gophers were the last of three 5-7 teams to get bowl invitations based on their APR (Academic Progress Rate) due to the shortage of qualified teams, and all 3 of those schools won their respective game (San Jose State and Nebraska were the other two).

Six bowl games took place on December 26, including one which served as the last football game for a legendary head coach, and another which became a school's first bowl victory since 1960.

Victory number 280 didn't come easy for Frank Beamer in his last game as head for Virginia Tech. The Hokies won a 55-52 shootout with Tulsa in the Independence Bowl thanks to, of all things, a game-ending sack. The game opened with the Golden Hurricane and Virginia Tech scoring 2 TD's apiece in the first 3 minutes and 18 seconds on a total of 13 plays. The Hokies led just 24-21 after the opening stanza, but opened a lead that grew as large as 45-21 in the 2nd before Tulsa scored the last 10 points of the half for a 45-31 count at intermission. The second half was quite different with a pair of Tulsa takeaways (a fumble and an interception) keeping the Golden Hurricane in the contest. They closed the gap to 3 with 3:47 to play and then forced Virginia Tech to punt, but a sack on 4th-and-16 from Tulsa's 40 sealed the win for Beamer. The Hokies' 23rd straight bowl appearance under Beamer came in the same bowl where the streak began with a 45-20 win over Indiana in 1993. The 76 total first-half points is a new all-time record for a half in all bowls. The teams combined for 1,161 yards of offense.

Another wild December 26 game produced 1,203 yards of offense as Duke edged Indiana 44-41 in overtime in the Pinstripe Bowl for the school's first postseason victory since 1960. Duke was making a 4th consecutive bowl appearance after failing to make a bowl trip from 1996-2011. Indiana was making its first bowl trip since 2007 and only its second since 1993. A narrowly-missed 38-yard field goal by Indiana in overtime sealed the win for Duke, but not with some dispute that the kick was actually good. It was an unfortunate finish for an exciting game that saw Duke take a 10-0 lead in the 1st quarter, but became a back-and-forth nail-biter.

Also on December 26, Washington State upended Miami 20-14 in the Sun Bowl for the school's first bowl win since 2003. The Cougars are 1-1 in their only two bowl appearances since defeating Texas in the 2003 Holiday Bowl. It was the 6th straight bowl loss for the Hurricanes who were playing under interim head coach Larry Scott after Al Golden was fired in late October. Miami srarted the season 4-3 under Golden, then went 4-1 under Scott to get to this bowl game. Miami's last bowl win came in the 2006 MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

Washington beat Southern Miss 44-31 in the Zaxby's Heart Of Dallas Bowl to give the state of Washington a 2-0 bowl season for the first time in history. The schools had six other cracks at accomplishing the feat in 1981, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2002 and 2013. Southern Miss completed the 2015 season with a 6-win improvement over 2014, going 9-5 vs. 3-9. This year, the last two losses were in the USM's first conference championship game and bowl game since 2011.

Marshall notched its 5th straight bowl win with a 16-10 victory over UConn in the December 26 St. Petersburg Bowl. The Herd are 10-2 overall in bowl games, including 4-0 under Doc Holliday. It was the first bowl game for the Huskies since the 2010 season Fiesta Bowl.

Also on the 26th, Nebraska scored 30 straight points to rally from an early 21-7 deficit and upset UCLA 37-29 in the Foster Farms Bowl. The Bruins began the year as one of the favorites to win the PAC-12, but wound up going 8-4 in the regular season, failing to clinch their division, and ultimately losing to a Cornhusker squad that went bowling with a losing record (5-7) and still has a losing record after the victory.

San Diego State methodically crushed Cincinnati 42-7 in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve. It was the 10th straight win for the Aztecs and their 11th victory of the season. The 11 wins are the most for the program since Don Coryell coached the program to a pair of 11-win campaigns in 1965 and 1969, and the 3 losses are the fewest in a season since 1996. American Athletic Conference teams, of which Cincinnati is among, have yet to win a 2015 season bowl game (0-3) and have been collectively outscored 119-59.

Western Michigan's 7th bowl game did the trick. The Broncos broke through to the bowl win column (1-6) with a 45-31 victory over Middle Tennessee in the Bahamas Bowl on Christmas Eve afternoon. Jamauri Bogan gave WMU the lead on a 1-yard run with 6:12 left in the game, and an interception set up a second Bogan 1-yard 1:12 later for what proved to be the final score. The Blue Raiders turned the ball over on downs on their next possession and the Broncos ran out the clock. Bogan finished with 215 yards and 4 scores on just 19 rushes with a 62-yard burst in the 1st quarter and a 46-yard gallop in the 2nd. MTSU's Richie James also had 4 TD's (2 rushing, 2 receiving) as he carried twice for 61 yards and caught 8 passes for 126. Middle Tennessee is now 1-4 all-time in bowl games.

Wednesday, December 23 was a terrible day for the MAC as both of its division champions were chewed up and spit out in bowl games.

Northern Illinois was held to 33 yards and 1 score in an embarrassing 55-7 loss to Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl. The Broncos won a bowl game for the 6th time in 7 years behind 654 yards of offense. The Huskies suffered a 4th straight bowl loss.

MAC champ Bowling Green took a 27-23 lead to the halftime locker room of the GoDaddy Bowl, but was outscored 35-0 in the second half and Georgia Southern walked away with a 58-27 win. This was the first year of FBS bowl eligibility for the Eagles. Georgia Southern converted a pair of third quarter fumbles into two scores to open a 51-27 lead. Favian Upshaw scored 4 touchdowns in the second half as part of a 199-yard rushing performance for the Eagles who, as a team, ran 68 times for 452 yards.

Tuesday, December 22 was a good day for the MAC as Akron and Toledo scored bowl wins.

Akron held off Utah State 23-21 to notch its first-ever bowl victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. The only previous bowl appearance for the Zips came in 2005. Akron's 5th straight victory lifted the school to its first 8-win season (8-5) since becoming a FBS program in 1987. For Utah State, the loss snapped a 3-bowl winning streak and sent the Aggies to a sub.-500 finish at 6-7. Utah State won just 1 of its last 5 games after a 5-3 start.

Toledo scored a 32-17 win over Temple in the debut of new head coach Jason Candle in the Boca Raton Bowl. The Owls slipped to 10-4 with their 4th loss in the last 7 games of the season after starting the year 7-0. Toledo improved to 10-2 on the season and 10-5 in bowl games.

Western Kentucky used a 38-7 run to rally from an early 14-0 deficit to down USF 45-35 in the 2nd Miami Beach Bowl on Monday, December 21. The teams combined for 1,209 yards of total offense with each gaining 28 first downs. WKU quarterback Brandon Doughty threw for 461 yards to finish the season with 5,055 yards and his career with 12,855 yards and 111 touchdowns in 3 years as the starter. Ironically, USF head coach Willie Taggart was the head coach at Western Kentucky when Doughty committed to the school in 2010. The Bulls closed a 38-21 gap to 38-35 with 11:42 left in the game, but the Hilltoppers responded with a 42-yard TD run by Anthony Wales with 5:58 remaining for the final outcome.

Five games kicked off the 2015 college football season on Saturday, December 19. The action began at the New Mexico Bowl where Arizona held off homestanding New Mexico for a 45-27 win. Both teams closed the season 7-6 as the Lobos fell to 1-2 in bowl games played in their own stadium. It was New Mexico's first postseason appearance since 2007.

BYU turned the ball over on its first 5 possessions, spurring Utah to a 35-0 lead with 4:38 still left in the first quarter at the Las Vegas Bowl. The Utes never scored again and the Cougars rallied late to make it interesting. But after cutting the gap to 7 points with 3:23 left in the game, Utah ran out the clock to secure the 35-28 win. It was the 90th Holy War meeting between the two schools, but the first in a bowl game.

The second Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama came down to a 23-yard walk off field goal as Appalachian State edged Ohio 31-29, It was the first-ever FBS bowl appearance for the Mountaineers in their first season of full eligibility. The Bobcats dropped to 2-7 all-time in bowl games.

San Jose State scored the final 14 points of the inaugural Cure Bowl in Orlando for a 27-16 win over Georgia State. The Spartans were one of three teams (Minnesota and Nebraska were the others) that finished the regular 5-7 and received postseason bids based on their APR (Academic Progress Rate). The Panthers qualified after a 6-6 regular season in their second year of full bowl eligibility.

Louisiana Tech downed Arkansas State 47-28 in the New Orleans Bowl to cap opening day of the 2015 bowl season. Kenneth Dixon's 4 touchdowns for the Bulldogs raised his career totals to 87 TD's and 522 points, which temporarily put him ahead of Navy's Keenan Reynolds. This was the second New Orleans Bowl invite for the Red Wolves, but the first time they actually were able to compete in New Orleans. The last invitation came post-Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and that game was moved from to Lafayette.

BOWL FACTS:
Only a few of the newest teams in the FBS have NEVER made it to a bowl game - Charlotte, Massachusetts, Old Dominion, Texas State and UTSA.

Appalachian State and Georgia Southern went bowling in their first year of full bowl eligibility, and both won. Georgia State went bowling in just its second year of eligibility, but lost.

Duke was making a 4th consecutive bowl appearance after failing to make a bowl trip from 1996-2011. This time, the Blue Devils even won a bowl game for the first time since 1960 when they edged Indiana 44-41 in overtime in the Pinstripe Bowl.

USC was 6-0 all-time vs. Wisconsin, including 2-0 in Rose Bowls. The two met for the first since 1966 and the Badgers broke through with a 23-21 win in the Holiday Bowl.

Memphis fell to 2-1 all-time vs. Auburn. The teams played a home-and-home series in '75 and '76. This year, they met in the Birmingham Bowl with Auburn prevailing 31-10.

Peach bowl invitees Florida State and Houston were somewhat regular combatants when both schools were independents. They met 16 times between 1960 and 1978 and the Cougars won 3/4 of them. Add this year's Peach Bowl win over the 'Noles and Houston now sports an unfathomable 13-2-2 lead.

Alabama and Michigan State had only met one other time. It took place just 5 seasons ago at the Capital One Bowl with the Tide whipping the Spartans 49-7. It wasn't any different his time around as Alabama rolled 38-0 in the national championship semifinal game in the Cotton Bowl.

Oklahoma and Clemson were in the other semifinal game at the Orange Bowl. The teams split 4 previous meetings, but Clemson had won the last 2 and both were in bowl games. Just last year, the Tigers routed the Sooners 40-6 at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. This year, Clemson won 37-17 in the national championship semifinal game in the Orange Bowl. THis was Clemson's 3rd Orange Bowl appearance in the last 5 seasons.

Tennessee and Northwestern's only previous matchup occurred in 1997 at the Citrus Bowl with the Vols prevailing 48-28. They met this year at the Outback Bowl with Tennessee rolling once again, 45-6.

Independence Bowl combatants Virginia Tech and Tulsa had previously played 4 times, all between 1970 and 1978. Tulsa won 3 of those by an average score 38-34. VT's only win came in 1970 by a 17-14 count. None of the meetings were decided by more than 7 points. Somewhat true to history, Virginia Tech beat Tulsa by 3 this time around, 55-52.

Michigan's prefect record vs. Florida stayed intact with a 41-7 rout in the Citrus Bowl. All 3 meetings haven taken place in Florida bowl games in either Orlando or Tampa.

Ohio State still hasn't lost to Notre Dame since 1936. The Irish won the first 2 meetings in '35 and '36. They didn't play again until '95 and '96 and the Buckeyes won both. Ohio State triumphed again over the Irish in the Fiesta Bowl to conclude the 2005 season, and defeated the Irish 44-28 in this year's Fiesta Bowl.

For as long as the Big Ten and PAC-12 have been meeting in the Rose Bowl, it would seem almost impossible that Iowa and Stanford have never met. But then again, this was only the 6th trip for the Hawkeyes to the Rose Bowl while it was the 15th for Stanford.

Penn State and Georgia had met just once before this year's TaxSlayer Bowl. That game took place in the Sugar Bowl at the end of the '82 season with the Bulldogs prevailing 27-23. Players on the roster included RB's Herschel Walker and Curt Warner, and placekicker Kevin Butler.

Oregon and TCU had only met twice previously - 1977 and 1978 - with each team winning on the road. Each of those years, both schools went 2-9. This year, the Ducks and Horned Frogs collided in the Alamo Bowl with TCU rallying from a 31-0 deficit for an unlikely 47-41 triple-OT win, all without its starting QB and star receiver.

The one and only previous meeting between West Virginia and Arizona State resulted in a 42-7 blowout win for the homestanding Sun Devils in 1979. Those two met in this year's Cactus Bowl with West Virginia earning a 43-42 win.

First Time Ever In A Bowl Game (result this year)
Appalachian State (won)
Georgia Southern (won)
Georgia State (lost)

First Time In A Long Time (result this year)
Of the teams that made it this year, these had the longest wait to get back to a bowl game:
Akron, 2005 (won)
Indiana, 2007 (lost)
Connecticut, 2010 (lost)
South Florida, 2010 (lost)
California, 2011 (won)

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, 34
Virginia Tech, 23
Georgia, 19
Oklahoma, 17

Bowl Winning Streak
These teams have the most consecutive bowl victories (last season of a bowl loss in parenthesis):
Marshall, 5 (2004) - Includes a 16-10 win over UConn in this year's St. Petersburg Bowl.
Clemson, 4 (2011) - Includes a 37-17 win over Oklahoma in this year's Orange Bowl (CFP Semifinal).
Louisiana-Lafayette, 4 (Never)
San Jose State, 4 (1987) - Includes a 27-16 win over Georgia State in this season's Cure Bowl.
South Carolina, 4 (2010)
Arkansas, 3 (2010) - Includes a 45-23 win over Kansas State in this season's Liberty Bowl
Navy, 3 (2012) - Includes a 44-28 win over Pittsburgh in this season's Military Bowl.
Missouri, 3 (2010)
Syracuse, 3 (2004)
Utah, 3 (2010) - Includes a 35-28 win over BYU in this season's Las Vegas Bowl.

NOTE: Utah State had 3-bowl winning streak end with a 23-21 loss to Akron in this season's Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
NOTE: Texas Tech had a 4-bowl winning streak end with a 56-27 loss to LSU in this season's Texas Bowl.
NOTE: Texas A&M had a 4-bowl winning streak snapped with a 27-21 loss to Louisville in this season's Music City Bowl.
NOTE: Michigan State had a 4-bowl winning streak snapped with a 38-0 loss to Alabama in this season's Cotton Bowl (CFP Semifinal).
NOTE: Oregon had a 4-bowl winning streak snapped with a 47-41 triple-OT loss to TCU in this season's Alamo Bowl.

Bowl Losing Streak
These teams have the most consecutive bowl losses (last season of a bowl win in parenthesis):
Ball State, 7 (Never)
Fresno State, 6 (2007)
Miami (Fla), 6 (2006) - Includes a 20-14 loss to Washington State in this year's Sun Bowl.
UTEP, 6 (1967)
Boston College, 5 (2007)
Iowa, 4 (2010) - Includes a 45-16 loss to Stanford in this season's Rose Bowl.

NOTE: Minnesota snapped a 7-bowl losing streak with a 21-14 win over Central Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl.
NOTE: Western Michigan snapped a 6-bowl losing streak with a 45-31 win over Middle Tennessee in the Bahamas Bowl for the school's first-ever bowl win (1-6).
NOTE: Duke ended a 5-bowl losing streak with a 44-41 overtime win vs. Indiana in this year's Pinstripe Bowl for the school's first bowl win since 1960.

Bowl Winless (at least 1 appearance)
Ball State, 0-7
Buffalo, 0-2
Kent State, 0-2
Georgia State, 0-1 - Includes a 27-16 loss to San Jose State in this season's Cure Bowl.
UAB, 0-1

NOTE: Western Michigan moved off of this list with a 45-31 win over Middle Tennessee in the Bahamas Bowl. The Broncos are now 1-6 overall in bowl games.

Best Bowl Winning Percentage
(Minimum 20 appearances)
Utah, 16-4 (.800) - Includes a 35-28 win over BYU in this season's Las Vegas Bowl.
USC, 34-18 (.654) - Includes a 23-21 loss to Wisconsin in this season's Holiday Bowl.
Mississippi, 24-13 (.649) - Includes a 48-20 win over Oklahoma State in this season's Sugar Bowl.
Penn State, 28-16-2 (.630) - Includes a 24-17 loss to Georgia in this year's TaxSlayer Bowl.
Syracuse, 15-9-1 (.620)
Oklahoma State, 16-10 (.615) - Includes a 48-20 loss to Mississippi in this season's Sugar Bowl.
Florida State 26-16-2 (.614) - Includes a 38-24 loss to Houston's in this year's Peach Bowl.

Most Bowl Wins
Alabama, 36 - Includes a 38-0 win over Michigan State in this year's Cotton Bowl (CFP Semifinal).
USC, 34 - Includes a 23-21 loss to Wisconsin in this season's Holiday Bowl.
Georgia, 29 - Includes a 24-17 win over Penn State in this season's TaxSlayer Bowl.
Oklahoma, 28 - Includes a 37-17 loss to Clemson in this season's playoff semifinal in the Orange Bowl.
Penn State, 28 - Includes a 24-17 loss to Georgia in this season's TaxSlayer Bowl.
Tennessee, 27 - Includes a 45-6 win over Northwestern in this season's Outback Bowl.
Texas, 27
Florida State, 26 - Includes a 38-24 loss to Houston in this season's Peach Bowl.
Nebraska, 26 - Includes a 37-29 win over UCLA in this year's Foster Farms Bowl.
Georgia Tech, 24
LSU, 24 - Includes a 56-27 win over Texas Tech in this season's Texas Bowl.
Auburn, 23 - Includes a 31-10 win over Memphis in this year's Birmingham Bowl.
Mississippi, 24 - Includes a 48-20 win over Oklahoma State in this season's Sugar Bowl.
Ohio State, 22 - Includes a 44-28 win over Notre Dame in this season's Fiesta Bowl.
Florida, 21 - Includes a 41-7 loss to Michigan in this season's Citrus Bowl.
Michigan, 21 - Includes a 41-7 win over Florida in this season's Citrus Bowl.

WINLESS:
UCF (0-12) and Kansas (0-12) were the only FBS programs that failed to post a victory in 2015.

FBS vs. FCS:
FBS schools were 96-9 (.914) in matchups vs. FCS teams this year, and they now have a cumulative record of 1,027-98 (.913) since 2003.

STREAKS:
Alabama - Won 12 straight overall (FBS longest). Beat Clemson 45-40 in the College Football Playoff Championship game.

Clemson - 17-game winning streak was snapped in a 45-40 loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff Championship game on January 11 after defeating Oklahoma 37-17 in the Orange Bowl semifinal.

Western Kentucky - Won 11 straight conference games (FBS longest). Defeated USF 45-35 in the Miami Beach Bowl on December 21.

Florida State - Won 21 straight home games (FBS longest). Lost 38-24 to Houston in the Peach Bowl on December 31.

LSU - Won 52 straight regular season nonconference games (FBS longest). Won 56-27 over Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl on December 29.

Eastern Michigan - Lost 14 straight conference games (FBS longest). Season complete.

Kansas - Lost 15 straight overall (FBS longest). Season complete.

Kansas - Lost 35 straight road games (FBS longest). Season complete.


2015 POST-GAME ARCHIVES
01/12: 'Bama Give Saban His 5th National Title
12/06: Committee's Big Debate - Oklahoma or Ohio State?
11/29: Conference Championship Matchups Determined; Clemson and Iowa Remain Undefeated
11/22: Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Houston No Longer Unbeaten
11/15: Baylor, Stanford, LSU and Utah all Lose
11/09: LSU, Michigan State, TCU Take First Loss
11/01: Higher Ranked Teams Avoid Upsets In Advance Of College Football Playoff Committee Rankings
10/25: Utah, FSU, A&M Lose; Colorado Ends 14-Game Conference Losing Streak
10/18: Michigan State Win Will Live In History
10/12: One Very Good Football Trip
10/04: Top 10 Shake-Up After UCLA, Ole Miss, Georgia Pounded
09/27: PAC-12 Top 25 Battles All Blowouts
09/20: Tide, Trojan Losses and 7 OT Games Highlight Week 3
09/13: SEC Has Tough Week; State Of Michigan Sweeps Oregon
09/08: Opening Week Delivers Few Surprises




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