2018 Bowl Season Notes and Facts

December 25, 2018 by Dave Congrove

The Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com say the 2018 bowl season could be a series of tight games, with only one team favored by double-digits.

Michigan is a 15.45-point favorite over Florida in the Peach Bowl, but the next-largest computer spread goes to Stanford as a 9.04-point pick over Pittsburgh in the Sun Bowl.

The computer lists 27 games under a 7-point spread, and 16 of those have a less than 4-point margin.

The closest? Northern Illinois gets a mere 0.17-point edge over UAB (Boca Raton Bowl), Army is only a 0.86-point choice over Houston (Armed Forces Bowl), and Northwestern has a 0.91-point advantage on Utah in the Holiday Bowl.

As for the Final Four contests, Clemson is a 7.93-point computer favorite over Notre Dame, but Alabama gets only a 4.47-point nod over Oklahoma.

Ultimately, the computer has the Tigers over the Tide in the National Championship game on January 7th in Santa Clara.

SEC teams have taken 9 of the last 12 national championships with ACC schools winning 2 of the last 4. Ohio State captured one for the Big Ten in 2014.

Get all of the computer's Bowl Picks.

Cure Bowl Does It Again - Wins Worst Bowl Matchup Award

By ranking, the worst matchup in this year's bowl games is No. 83 Louisiana-Lafayette vs. No. 82 Tulane in the 4th annual Cure Bowl. Last year, this young postseason affair had the lowest-ranked team in the bowl season (No. 85 Georgia State) against the 6th lowest-ranked (No. 79 Western Kentucky). This year, they outdid themselves and invited the 2nd and 3rd lowest-ranked teams.

The Hawaii Bowl also gets scraps, but at least one of them is the home team. This holiday classic has the No. 84 Rainbow Warriors and against No. 71 Louisiana Tech. Hawaii is the lowest-ranked school out of all the bowl teams, despite an 8-5 record.

The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl comes in third on this list with a pairing of 74th-ranked Western Michigan against 73rd-ranked BYU.

Computer Success

Michigan State, Oklahoma, Clemson and USC were the four teams destined to make the Final Four this year, according to the preseason projections based on the Congrove Computer Rankings. The Sooners and Tigers are in, and that means the computer has predicted half the field four times since the playoff format began. 2016 has been the only season in which only one correct team (Alabama) was projected.

In all 5 seasons of the playoff format, a member of the computer's preseason Final Four advanced to the championship game.

The 2018 preseason rankings correctly projected the champions in 5 of the 10 conferences - the ACC, Big 12, MAC, SEC and Sun Belt. It also tabbed Notre Dame as top Independent. It correctly pegged 11 division winners, including both sides of the Mountain West and the American.

The computer also nailed the exact final regular season record of 24 teams, and came within 1 win or loss on 40 teams.

No Travel Required

Two schools are literally playing home games - Hawaii and USF. The Rainbow Warriors are hosting Louisiana Tech while the Bulls are entertaining Marshall.

A few other schools are a short bus ride away from their game day location. Troy only has to travel 145 miles to face Buffalo in Mobile's Dollar General Bowl, Baylor will only trek 186 miles from Waco to Houston to play Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl, and South Carolina will go just 92 miles to battle Virginia in the Belk Bowl.

13 First-Time Meetings

The 2018 bowl season has 13 first-time matchups. 2015 and 2017 saw 11 such games, but that number dropped to 7 in 2016.

The Boca Raton and Gasparilla Bowls offer first-time matchups for the third straight year as Northern Illinois faces UAB in Boca Raton, and USF hosts Marshall in Tampa.

Not a single game on this year's schedule is a repeat matchup of a 2018 regular season game, and only one game - the Miami-Wisconsin Pinstripe Bowl - is a rematch of a 2017 bowl game.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Florida-Michigan matchup in the Peach Bowl is the second time they've met in a bowl game in the last three years. It's all their fourth bowl pairing since 2003, and their fifth meeting overall since 2003. Michigan is 4-0 all-time vs. Florida.

Virginia Tech and Cincinnati have also been occasional partners in bowl games. The Hokies beat the Bearcats 20-7 in the 2008 season Orange Bowl and 33-17 in the 2014 season Military Bowl where they are facing each other again this year. A third bowl meeting took place in the 1947 Sun Bowl with Cincinnati prevailing 18-6. Overall, this is their 5th meeting in the last 13 seasons as they also played in the regular season in 2006 and 2012.

These games are all first-time meetings:
Eastern Michigan vs. Georgia Southern
Northern Illinois vs. UAB
Ohio vs. San Diego State
Marshall vs. USF
Buffalo vs. Troy
Georgia Tech vs. Minnesota
TCU vs. Cal
Duke vs. Temple
Purdue vs. Auburn
Iowa State vs. Washington State
N.C. State vs. Texas A&M
Iowa vs. Mississippi State

Here is when all the other bowl participants last faced their opponent (season of their last meeting in parenthesis):

Utah State vs. North Texas (2004)
Tulane vs. Louisiana (2016)
Fresno State vs. Arizona State (1941)
FIU vs. Toledo (2010 Little Caesar's Bowl)
Western Michigan vs. BYU (1970)
Memphis vs. Wake Forest (1967)
Houston vs. Army (2004)
Louisiana Tech vs. Hawaii (2011)
Boston College vs. Boise State (2005 MPC Computers Bowl)
Miami vs. Wisconsin (2017 Orange Bowl)
Baylor vs. Vanderbilt (1954)
Syracuse vs. West Virginia (2012)
Virginia vs. South Carolina (2003)
Florida vs. Michigan (2017)
Arkansas State vs. Nevada (1999)
Clemson vs. Notre Dame (2015)
Alabama vs. Oklahoma (2014)
Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati (2014 Military Bowl)
Pittsburgh vs. Stanford (1932)
Michigan State vs. Oregon (2015)
Oklahoma State vs. Missouri (2014)
Northwestern vs. Utah (1981)
Penn State vs. Kentucky (1999 Outback Bowl)
Ohio State vs. Washington (2007)
Texas vs. Georgia (1984)

Never Been To A Bowl Game

Coastal Carolina
Texas State

First Time Ever In A Bowl Game


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 (last season of a bowl appearance in parenthesis):
Buffalo (2013)
Syracuse (2013)
Tulane (2013)

Waiting To Return

This teams have the longest continuing current streak of bowl absence (last season of a bowl appearance in parenthesis)::
Kansas, 2008
Kent State, 2012
Louisiana-Monroe, 2012
Ball State, 2013
Oregon State, 2013
UNLV, 2013

Bowl Appearance Streak

These teams have the longest continuing current streaks of bowl appearances:
Virginia Tech, 26
Georgia, 22
Oklahoma, 20

Florida State's streak ends at 36.

Bowl Winning Streak

These teams have the most consecutive bowl victories (last season of a bowl loss in parenthesis. CFP Championship games are NOT bowl games.):
Marshall, 6 (2004)
Utah, 5 (2010)
Georgia, 4 (2013)
Louisiana Tech, 4 (2011)
San Jose State, 4 (1987) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Wisconsin, 4 (2013)
Appalachian State, 3 (Never)
Army, 3 (1996)
FAU, 3 (Never) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Kansas, 3 (2003) - Hasn't appeared in a bowl game since 2008
Mississippi State 3 (2014)
Syracuse, 3 (2004)
Tennessee, 3 (2010) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Troy - 3 (2009)

NOTE: Last season, Western Kentucky had its first bowl loss since 2012, losing 27-17 to Georgia State in the Cure Bowl to end a 3-bowl winning streak.
Last season, Missouri had its first bowl loss since 2010, losing 33-16 to Texas in he Texas Bowl to end a 3-bowl winning streak.
Last season, Virginia Tech had its first bowl loss since 2013, losing 30-21 to Oklahoma State in the Camping World Bowl to end a 3-bowl winning streak.
Last season, Stanford had its first bowl loss since 2013, falling 39-37 to TCU in the Alamo Bowl to end a 3-bowl winning streak.
Last season, Clemson had its first bowl loss since 2011, falling 24-6 to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to end a 5-bowl winning streak.

Bowl Losing Streak

These teams have the most consecutive bowl losses (last season of a bowl win in parenthesis):
Ball State, 7 (Never) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
UTEP, 6 (1967) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Northern Illinois, 5 (2011)
Central Michigan, 4 (2012) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Colorado State, 4 (2013) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Indiana, 4 (1991) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Kentucky, 4 (2008)

NOTE: Last season, Fresno State ended a 6-bowl losing streak dating back to 2007 with a 33-27 win over Houston in the Hawaii Bowl.
Last season, Iowa ended a 5-bowl losing streak dating back to 2010 with a 27-20 win over Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Last season, Middle Tennessee snapped a 4-bowl losing streak dating back to 2009 with a 35-30 win over Arkansas State in the Camellia Bowl.

Bowl Winless (at least 1 appearance)

Ball State, 0-7 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Buffalo, 0-2
Kent State, 0-2 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
South Alabama, 0-2 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
UAB, 0-2
UTSA, 0-1 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season

NOTE: Last season, Georgia State notched its first bowl win by defeating Western Kentucky 27-17 in the Cure Bowl.

Best Bowl Winning Percentage

(Minimum 20 appearances)
Utah, 18-4 (.818)
Mississippi, 24-13  - Bowl ineligible this season
USC, 35-19 (.648) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Oklahoma State, 18-10 (.643)
Florida State, 28-16-2 (.630) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Penn State, 29-17-2 (.625)
Syracuse, 15-9-1 (.620)
Mississippi State, 13-8 (.619)
Georgia, 31-19-3 (.613)
Alabama, 38-24-3 (.608)

Most Bowl Wins

Alabama, 38
USC, 35 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Georgia, 31
Oklahoma, 29
Penn State, 29
Florida State, 28 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Tennessee, 28 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Texas, 28
Nebraska, 26 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Georgia Tech, 25
LSU, 25
Mississippi, 24 - Bowl ineligible this season
Auburn, 23
Ohio State, 23
Florida, 22
Clemson, 21
Michigan, 21


Two games this week pit FBS teams against FCS schools and Iowa State survived Drake 27-24 while Liberty cruised to a 52-17 over Norfolk State. FBS teams finish the year with a 105-7 (.938) record  vs. the FCS and are now 1,324-124 (.914) since 2003.

Here are all of the FCS victories over FBS teams, so far, in 2018:

August 30: UC Davis 44, San Jose State 31
September 1: Villanova 19, Temple 17
September 1: Northern Arizona 30, UTEP 10
September 1: Nicholls State 26, Kansas 23 (OT)
September 2: North Carolina A&T 28, East Carolina 23
September 8: Maine 31, Western Kentucky 28
September 22: Illinois State 35, Colorado State 19


UCF - Won 25 straight overall (FBS longest), Won 18 straight conference games including consecutive AAC titles (FBS longest). Plays LSU in Fiesta Bowl on January 1st.

Alabama - Won 26 straight home games (FBS longest). Plays Oklahoma in Orange Bowl (Final Four semifinal game) on December 29.

Oklahoma - Won 20 straight true road games (FBS longest). Plays Alabama in Orange Bowl (Final Four semifinal game) on December 29.

Rutgers - Lost 11 straight over-all (FBS longest). Season completed.
(NOTE: Rutgers also owns FBS longest conference losing streak at 12 games).

San Jose State - Lost 13 straight road games (FBS longest). Season completed