Bowl Season Recap: Alabama and Georgia Advance To Championship Game With 'Dawgs Favored by 0.01

January 5, 2022 by Staff

In the final bowl game of the season, Kansas State stung LSU 42-20 in the Texas Bowl on Tuesday night (January 4) in Houston. The College Football Playoff Championship game, which isn't technically a bowl game, is all that's left of the 2021 season.

As it was throughout the bowl season, opt-outs was part of the story in this game as Kansas State had none and LSU had several. But don't let that take too much away from the performance of Kansas State which clearly wanted to go out on a positive note, Sixth-year senior QB Skylar Thompson was 21-of-28 for 259 yards and 3 TD's with a pair of scoring strikes to Malik Knowles and one to Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn also had 21 carries for 146 yards and 3 TD's on the ground. Give credit to the LSU players who didn't quit as they posted 13 points in the 4th quarter, including an 81-yard TD pass from Jontre Kirklin to Chris Hilton Jr. on the final play of the game. Kansas State finished the season at 8-5 while LSU dropped to 6-7 for its first losing season since 1999. This was just the 10th bowl win all-time for Kansas State (10-13), but the school's third in its last four. LSU's bowl record fell to 26-24-1. Brad Davis served as interim head coach for the Tigers.

Ohio State rallied for a 48-45 win over Utah in a record-breaking Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. Earlier, the upset trend of the bowl season continued with Arkansas downing Penn State in the Outback Bowl, and Oklahoma State rallying past Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. In the other early game, favored Kentucky scored late to knock off Iowa in the Citrus Bowl. The final game on Saturday saw Baylor down Ole Miss 21-7 in the Sugar Bowl and the Rebels lost QB Matt Corral to injury in the first quarter.

Kentucky's 20-17 win over Iowa came in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando on a 6-yard run with 1:48 remaining by Chris Rodriguez, Jr. that capped an 8-play, 80-yard drive. DeAndre Square's interception turned back Iowa's threat and sealed the win for the Wildcats. It was the third interception thrown by Spencer Petras in the game. Kentucky had only intercepted 6 passes in the entire regular season and Iowa had only thrown 8. In fact, the Hawkeyes entered the game ranked 2nd in the nation in turnover margin at plus-1.08 per game, and Kentucky was nearly last at minus-1.08 per game. This was Kentucky's second win in the Citrus Bowl in the last four years after having never played in the game prior to the 2018 season. It was also the fourth straight bowl win for the Wildcats as they improved their all-time bowl record to 12-9 while wrapping up the school's fourth-ever 10-win season (10-3). The loss dropped Iowa to 10-4 on the year and its bowl record to 17-16-1.

Arkansas made the most of its first bowl appearance since the 2016 season by upending Penn State 24-10 in the Outback Bowl in Tampa. The Razorbacks trailed 10-7 at halftime, but all of game's second half points came in the third quarter when the Hogs blanked the Nittany Lions 17-0. This was the first-ever Outback Bowl appearance for Arkansas which raised its all-time bowl record to 16-24-3 and finished the season at 9-4. Penn State dropped to 7-6 on the season as its bowl mark fell to 30-19-2.

Oklahoma State won the Fiesta Bowl 37-35 over Notre Dame as the Cowboys overcame a 28-7 deficit with a 30-0 run before the Irish scored with 1:05 left but couldn't recover the onside kick. It's the largest margin that Oklahoma State has ever overcome for a win, and the largest lead that the Irish have ever squandered. It also ruined the debut of Marcus Freeman as head coach of Notre Dame when this looked like it would be a resounding victory. The win improved the Cowboys to 12-2 on the season and dropped Notre Dame to 11-2. The Irish have lost five straight times that they've appeared in the Fiesta Bowl and their overall bowl record dropped to 19-21. Notre Dame is just 6-15 in bowl games since 1994. Oklahoma State improved its bowl record to 21-11, including a stellar 12-5 mark under Mike Gundy.

An insanely entertaining Rose Bowl saw Ohio State rally late to upend Utah 48-45. The loss concluded a winless bowl season for the PAC-12 (0-5). Utah fell to 18-7 in bowl games, but the school's .720 winning percentage is still best in the country for programs that have at least 20 bowl appearances. The Utes finish 10-4 for the season while Ohio State improved to 11-2 on the year while chalking up its 26th bowl win (26-26). CJ Stroud threw for 573 yards and 6 TD's for Ohio State, coming up 3 yards short of tying the all-time FBS passing performance in a bowl game. Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba's 347 receiving yards set a new FBS record for any bowl. And the Buckeyes set a Rose Bowl record with 683 total yards. Even with all of those records falling, Ohio State didn't have its first lead until the 4:22 mark of the final quarter, and Utah tied it right back up with backup Bryson Barnes' 15-yard pass to Dalton Kincaid with 1:54 remaining. Barnes entered the game after Cameron Rising left with a concussion with 9:56 to go in the game. 42 points were scored in the second quarter of this contest, 21 each, including a 97-yard kickoff return for Utah followed by a 52-yard TD pass for Ohio State on the very next play. It was 35-21 Utah at the half.

The Sugar Bowl closed out New Year's Day, but it quickly became the game we didn't expect it to be when Matt Corral suffered what appeared to be an ankle or foot injury in the first quarter. Inexperienced freshman Luke Altmyer was thrown into the fray, but the Baylor defense let loose and collected 10 sacks and added 2 picks to an early interception of Corral in the 21-7 win. Still, Ole Miss hung around and it was 7-7 until Baylor scored two TD's in the fourth quarter. With the win, Baylor finishes 12-2 after a 2-7 campaign a year ago, setting a school record for wins in a season. Ole Miss dropped to 10-3 after going 5-5 a year ago. Despite losing its last three bowl games, The program owns the nation's second-best bowl winning percentage (.641) for teams that have played at least 20 such games. The Rebels are 25-14 overall, including a 12-3 mark since 1992.

2021 Conference Bowl Challenge Records - Final

NOTE: Vegas favorites (opening line) went 19-18 in bowl games this season and 14-23 against the spread.

Conference W-L Games Pct.
MWC 5-1 6 .833
3-1 4 .750
Sun Belt
3-1 4 .750
Big 12
5-2 7 .714
Big 10
6-4 10 .600
Independents 2-2 4 .500
SEC 5-7 12 .417
CUSA 3-5 8 .375
MAC 3-5 8 .375
ACC 2-4 6 .333
PAC-12 0-5 5 .000
NOTE: CFP Championship game does not count in bowl standings

Alabama and Georgia each dominated their opponent in the College Football Playoff semifinal games on New Year's Eve.

Alabama walloped Cincinnati 27-6 in Arlington in the Cotton Bowl, and Georgia followed suit by routing Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl.

Cincinnati simply couldn't generate enough offense or stop Alabama running back Brian Robinson, Jr., who had 204 yards on 26 carries while Heisman Trophy-winner Bryce Young threw 3 touchdown passes as he threw for 181 yards while completing 17-of-28 throws with 1 INT. Young owns the school single-season passing record of 4,503 yards.Overall, the Bearcats were held to 13 first downs and 218 total yards.

For Georgia, it was all about Stetson Bennett IV in the first half as the former walk-on tossed TD passes of 9 yards to Brock Bowers for the a 7-0 lead in the first quarter and a perfect dime to Jermaine Burton of 57 yards just before halftime to extend the lead to 27-3. In between, there was a great game plan that threw Michigan's defense completely out of sorts. The Wolverines had been the only FBS team all year to never trail at the half. The second half was the continuation of a staunch Georgia defense flexing its muscle and turning back Michigan by forcing turnovers or taking over on downs.

Now, Georgia's goal will be redemption after Alabama blew out the 'Dawgs 41-24 in the SEC title game. The Congrove Computer Rankings had Georgia favored by 3.13 in that game, and has Georgia favored by a whopping 0.01 this time (one-tenth of a point). The sportsbooks have Georgia by 2.5.

Nick Saban already has six national titles at Alabama and one at LSU. In the 8 seasons of the College Football Playoff, Alabama is 6-1 in semifinal games and won 4 titles. The lone year in which the Tide was omitted from the Final Four was in 2019 when LSU was the only SEC participant and won the title. Georgia is back for the second time and the first since 2017 when the Bulldogs lost in the national championship game to Alabama in overtime. Michigan and Cincinnati were newbies to the playofffs with the Bearcats becoming the first team from a non-Power 5 conference to gain entry to the elite group. Alabama was the No. 1 seed this year, with Michigan No. 2, Georgia No. 3 and Cincinnati No. 4.SEC teams have taken 11 of the last 15 national championships with Alabama claiming 6 of those. ACC schools have taken 3 of the last 6, courtesy of Clemson (2) and Florida State. Ohio State captured one for the Big Ten in 2014.

The Gator Bowl kicked off shortly after 11 a.m. on New Year's Eve, featuring ACC runner-up Wake Forest against Rutgers, an emergency replacement team for Texas A&M which became the first team to be forced to opt out of the bowl season, largely due to Covid issues. Rutgers' acceptance came on December 23, just eight days before this game was played. Given the short notice, the Scarlet Knights played remarkably well and were able to stay within arm's length for awhile, but the Demon Deacons' talent ultimately won out. Wake posted a 17-0 shutout in the second half for the 38-10 victory to equal the school's 2006 best record of 11-3, which is its only other double-digit win season. Rutgers, which was making its first bowl appearance since 2014, fell to 5-8 on the year.

On a cool, rainy day in El Paso, Central Michigan stunned Washington State 24-21 in the Sun Bowl. The nomadic Chippewas were originally in Arizona getting set to play Boise State in the Arizona Bowl, but the Broncos pulled out of that game and Miami pulled out of the Sun Bowl. So four days later,  CMU traveled east and knocked off the favored Cougars four days later. The Chips jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead which shrank to 21-14 in the third quarter. Marshall Meeder's 3rd field goal (49, 52 and 43 yards) restored some cushion with 9:11 to play and Wazzu didn't cut the deficit back to 24-21 until the 3:13 mark of the final quarter. The Cougars got the ball back after a 3-and-out, but came up a couple chain lengths short of a first down on a 4th-and-5 pass. This was the Chippewas' first bowl win since 2012, snapping a 5-bowl losing streak and improving their bowl record to 4-9 while concluding the 2021 season with a 9-4 record. Washington State still finished 7-6 under the interim leadership of Jake Dickert who was 3-2 in that capacity after Nick Rolovich and some assistants were fired for not being vaccinated under the mandate for state employees. The bowl game was his first as official head coach.

South Carolina, Purdue, Michigan State and Wisconsin were the bowl winners on Thursday, December 31.

South Carolina jumped out to an 18-0 lead in the first quarter and went on to a 38-21 win over border rival North Carolina in the Duke's Mayo Bowl. South Carolina, in its first season under Shane Beamer as head coach, finished the year at 7-6 and collected just the 10th bowl win in the history of the school (10-14). North Carolina  fell to 6-7 for the year and 15-21 in bowl games. Beamer moved wide receiver Dakereon Joyner to QB for this game and all he did was go 9-for-9 for 160 yards and the game's first TD pass, a perfect dime to Jaheim Bell that covered 69 yards. Grad assistant coach Zed Noland, turned QB, followed that up with a 66-yard pitch and catch to Bell. Kevin Harris rushed 182 yards and a score for the Gamecocks. North Carolina was held to 333 yards and could not convert a 3rd down into a first down, going 1-for-10 in that phase of the game. South Carolina dominated time of possession, 39:02 to 20:58. The Tar Heels still lead the border war series, 35-20-4. The schools are not scheduled to meet again until 2023 when they will open the season in the Duke's Mayo Classic Kick-off Game.

Purdue outlasted Tennessee 48-45 in overtime in the Music City Bowl. A 39-yard FG in the bottom of the first extra period gave the Boilermakers the win as they concluded a 9-4 campaign while the Vols dropped to 7-6. Tennessee had its four-bowl winning streak snapped in the process. The teams combined to produce 1,293 yards of offense with 666 for the Vols and 627 for the Boilermakers. Both starting QB's threw 5 TD passes as Hendon Hooker was 26-of-41 for 378 and no INT's for Tennessee, and Aidan O'Connell was 26-of-47 for 534 for Purdue with 3 INT's. Tennessee also got 180 yards out of RB Jabari Small, while Purdue's Broc Thompson led all receivers with 217 yards and 2 TD's.

Michigan State rallied from a 21-10 deficit in the fourth quarter with 21 unanswered points to sink Pittsburgh 31-21 in the Peach Bowl. Both teams were without their main star as Kenny Pickett (QB, Pittsburgh) and Kenneth Walker III (RB, Michigan State ) both sat out. Pickett finished 3rd in Heisman voting and Walker 6th. Pitt also lost backup QB Nick Patti in the first quarter to a broken collarbone in this game while scoring the games' first touchdown. Davis Beville took over and went 14-of-18 for 149 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Without Walker, MSU's running game produced only 56 yards, but Payton Thorne was 29-of-50 for 354 yards with 3 TD's and 1 INT. The schools combined for just 524 yards of offense. The ACC champion Panthers fell to 11-3 on the season while the Spartans improved to 11-2.  Michigan State is now 7-0-1 all-time vs. Pittsburgh.

Wisconsin (9-4) turned back Arizona State (8-5) in the night cap, 20-13, in the Las Vegas Bowl.  It was the 7th bowl win in the last 8 tries for the Badgers whose only loss in that span came against Oregon by a single point in the 2018 season Rose Bowl. Just 513 yards of offense was generated collectively, and Arizona State was held to just 60 yards rushing. Both team shave appeared in 33 bowl games with the Sun Devils now 16-16-1 and the Badgers now 18-15.

The first of three games on Wednesday, December 29 saw Maryland rout Virginia Tech 54-10 in the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium in The Bronx. It was the first bowl appearance for the Terrapins since 2014 and their first bowl victory since 2010 as they finished the season at 7-6. Virginia Tech lost a fourth consecutive bowl game and ended the year at 6-7. J.C.Price served as interim head coach for the Hokies who were without their top two quarterbacks, top two receivers and multiple others who either opted out or had entered the transfer portal. Maryland's first score came on a 91-yard punt return for a 7-0 lead before running a single offensive play. After the Terps scored on a strip-sack-touchdown on the second play of the fourth quarter, they were up 47-10. The 44-point margin was Virginia Tech's worst defeat, and Maryland's widest margin of victory, in a bowl game.

Up next was the Cheez-It Bowl, pitting Iowa State against Clemson. This game was interesting because both were ranked in the top ten at the start of the year - the Cyclones were 7th and the Tigers were 3rd. Neither lived up top those expectations, but Clemson turned a 2-2 start into a 10-3 finish while Iowa State lost three of its last four games to slump to a 7-5 finish. Iowa State QB Brock Purdy gave up a touchdown when he tried to bat down a pass that had been deflected by Clemson, but it hung in the air and the Tigers turned it into a touchdown. The Cyclones' final drive ended when Purdy reached first down yardage, but he fumbled the ball backyard and recovered it short of the line to gain. Iowa State dropped to 5-12 all-time in bowl games while Clemson improved to 24-20.

The coup de grace on Wednesday was the Alamo Bowl where Oklahoma and Oregon faced-off with interim head coaches on the sideline. The problem for Oregon was that Oklahoma's interim head coach was Bob Stoops. The Sooners broke out to a 30-3 halftime lead and kept Oregon at arm's length in the second half as Oklahoma prevailed 47-32. As Oklahoma games often go, this one saw a bunch of points and a bunch of yards as the teams combined for 548 yards passing and 513 yards rushing. These teams last met in the 2006 Holiday Bowl where Oregon picked up its lone win in the series, 34-33. Oklahoma has now won 7 of the 8 games played between these programs. The Sooners finished the season 11-2 while the Ducks fell to 10-4. Oklahoma improved its bowl record 31-23-1 while Oregon slipped to 15-19. This was Oklahoma's first Alamo bowl appearance and Oregon's third (1-2).

Houston upset Auburn 17-13 in the Birmingham Bowl, which was the first of four games on Tuesday, December 28. (There were suppose to be five games on this date, but UCLA had to withdraw from the Holiday Bowl just hours before kickoff). The go-ahead and, ultimately, winning score came on a 26-yard TD pass from Clayton Tune to Jake Herslow with 3:27 left in the game to cap an 8-play, 80-yard drive. The win lifted the American Athletic Conference to 3-0 in bowl games and dropped the SEC to 0-3. Since 2016, this bowl game has seen teams from the American knock off two SEC  schools, as well as one each from the ACC and Big 12. With the victory, Houston ended a 4-bowl losing streak and Dana Holgersen notched just his second-ever bowl win (2-6). The Cougars ended the year at 12-2 while the Tigers fell to 6-7 in Bryan Harsin's first season and leaving him with his first losing campaign in 9 years as a head coach. Auburn was playing without Bo Nix at quarterback after he left for Oregon a week after the three-year starter entered the transfer portal on December 12. The Tigers have now dropped three straight bowl games, and five of their last six.

Air Force upended Louisville, 31-28, in the First Responder Bowl as the nation's number one rushing offense cashed in on scoring strikes of 61 and 64 yards to Haaziq Daniels to Brandon Lewis in the first half while Daniels scored twice more on the ground from 1-yard and 5 yards. The Falcons led 28-14 at the break and held on for a third straight bowl victory that improved their season record to 10-3. The victory pushed the final bowl record for the Mountain West Conference to a collective 5-1. The Cardinals fell to 6-7. Both teams came in with .500 marks in bowl games.

Suffice it to say that the Liberty Bowl, otherwise known as the Mike Leach Bowl, dd not go the way Mike Leach wanted it to go. Texas Tech, the team that kicked Leach to the curb after the 2009 season, routed that school's former coach and his Mississippi State Bulldogs 34-7. And the Red Raiders did so with a former Texas Tech QB under Leach, Sonny Cumbie serving as interim head coach. Both teams finish the season at 7-6. It was Texas Tech's first bowl appearance since 2017 and first bowl win since 2013. The loss dropped the SEC to 0-4 in bowl games while the Big 12 won its bowl season opener.

In the nightcap on Tuesday, Minnesota used defense and a TD scored by a nearly 400-pound offensive lineman to down West Virginia 18-6 in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Arizona. Daniel Faalele - all 6'8" and 380 pounds of him - lined up in the backfield and plunged across from the 2-yard line for the first score of the game and Minnesota never looked back. The Mountaineers trailed 15-6 at halftime and their second half drives ended with three punts and a turnover on downs. The Golden Gophers ran for 249 yards with a pair of freshmen, Ky Thomas and Mar'Keise Irving, each going over 100 yards. West Virginia's bowl record fell to 16-23 as it finished the 2021 campaign with a 6-7 mark. Minnesota improved to 9-4 on the year and 10-12 in bowl games with a fifth straight bowl win.

On Monday, December 27, Western Michigan routed Nevada 52-24 in the Quick Lane Bowl as the Broncos collected the school's second-ever bowl win (2-9), the first for the MAC in this postseason game (1-3), and ended their own 3-bowl losing streak. Western Michigan's only previous bowl win came in the 2015 Bahama Bowl,a  45-31 win over MTSU. This was also just the second bowl win for the MAC in the 2021 bowl season (2-5), and the first loss for a Mountain West team. Nevada dropped to 7-12 all-time in bowl games, and both schools ended the season with 8-5 records.

A second game that was scheduled for Monday - the Military Bowl - was cancelled when Boston College had to pull out due to Covid issues. The Eagles were slated to face East Carolina. It's the third time since 2018 that Boston College had a bowl game effected. The 2018 First Responders Bowl was canceled by dangerous weather and the school opted out the 2020 bowl season after a 6-5 regular season.

Georgia State romped to a 51-20 win over Ball State in the Camellia Bowl, which was the lone Christmas Day game. A 28-0 explosion in the 3rd quarter extended a 20-13 halftime lead to 48-13. First, Robert Lewis scored on a 10-yard pass from Darren Grainger on the first series of the second half to close out an 8-play, 75-yard drive. After a 3-and-out from Ball State, a 68-yard, 7-play drive culminated with Grainger's 34-yard TD run to make it 34-10, Panthers. The Cardinals came up[ empty on their next possession with a missed 41-yard field goal and Georgia State scored 5 plays later on Grainger's 16-yard connection with Aubrey Payne. The quarter ended Antavious Lane housing a 55-yard interception return. On the day, Grainger was 15-of-19 passing for 203 yards and 3 scores, and he also rushed for 122 yards and a score. The Panthers improved their bowl record to 3-2 and finished the season at 8-5. Ball State fell to 6-7 on the year and 1-8 in bowl games. The MAC dropped to 1-5 in bowl games with two to play while the Sun Belt finished its bowl season at a collective 3-1.

The first of two bowl games on Wednesday saw Miami (Ohio) down North Texas 27-14 in the Frisco Football Classic. The game was a 'one-off', created this year for the sole purpose of not omitting any bowl qualified teams from a game. Miami is now 8-4 all-time in bowl games, but this was only its third such game since 2011 and its first bowl win since 2010 as the RedHawks lost in the 2016 St. Petersburg Bowl (now known as the Gasparilla Bowl) and the 2019 Lending Tree Bowl. It was the fifth straight bowl loss for North Texas which fell to 2-10 in bowl games.

The nightcap on Wednesday was the Gasparilla Bowl pitting two Florida schools against each other in Tampa. In this one, UCF pulled off the upset, downing favored Florida (-7.5) 29-17 by scoring the last 13 points of the game after the Gators had taken the lead halfway through the third quarter. The Golden Knights finished 9-4 in their first year under Gus Malzahn as head coach while Florida slipped to 6-7. The Gators were led by interim head coach Greg Knox who took over just days before a season-ending win vs. Florida State to become bowl eligible. UCF improved to 6-7 in bowl games as Isaiah Bowser rushed for 155 yards and 2 TD's on 35 carries. Florida is now 24-23 all-time in bowl games.

Army downed Missouri on a 41-yard walk-off field goal by Cole Talley in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth which was the lone bowl game on Wednesday (December 22). Mizzou had taken the lead with 1:11 left to play on a 6-yard pass from Brady Cook to Keke Chism, but the 2-point conversion pass failed and left the door open a crack. Jabari Laws, the Black Knights' passing quarterback and the third one they used in the game, came off the bench to lead an 8-play, 51-yard march into questionable field goal range for Talley who's previous season long was 33. The win boosted Army's final record to 9-4 and over-all bowl record to 7-3. The Black Knights are 3-0 in the Armed Forces Bowl, having also defeated San Diego State 42-35 in 2017 and walloping Houston 70-14 in 2018. Missouri fell to 6-7 on the season and 15-19 in bowl games with its third straight bowl loss.

Two games were played on Tuesday, December 21 and the Mountain West representative won both. The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, played on the Smurf Turf in Boise, saw Wyoming snag its third consecutive bowl win by knocking off Kent State 52-38. The Cowboys were led by QB Levi Williams who rushed for 200 yards and 4 TD's, and completed of 9-of-11 passes for 127 yards and another score. The Golden Flashes had a pair of 100-yard rushing performances from Bryan Bradford (8-109) and Marquez Cooper (24-125) while Dustin Crum threw for 316 yards and 4 TD's. Wyoming finished the year at 7-6 and improved to 9-8 in bowl games as the 52 points scored topped the school's previous bowl record by 14 points. Kent State dropped to 7-7 with season-ending losses in the MAC Championship and this bowl game, and fell to 1-3 all-time in its bowl history.

The second game played on December 21 was the Frisco Bowl, formerly the Miami Beach Bowl, where San Diego State earned a 38-24 win over UTSA after being installed as a slight underdog. The Aztecs were led by QB Lucas Johnson with 333-yards and 3 TD's through the air, and another TD on the ground. Ray Guy award-winner (best punter) set a new NCAA-record for average punting yards with 51.19 to top Texas A&M's Braden Mann of 50.98 which was set in 2018. The Roadrunners had five players opt out in advance of next year's NFL draft, including leading rusher Sincere McCormick (1,479 yards, 15 TD's). Both teams finished the season 12-2, but UTSA fell to 0-3 in bowl games. San Diego State picked up its seventh bowl win (7-9).

Tulsa was the victor of the lone bowl game on Monday, December 20. The Golden Hurricane downed Old Dominion 30-17 in a battle of 6-6 teams in the Myrtle Beach Bowl in Conway, South Carolina at the home of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. It was a first-time meeting of the two programs. The Monarchs reeled off five straight wins after a 1-6 start to become bowl eligible for just the second time in history, Tulsa's story was almost as remarkable as the Golden Hurricane finished with 3 straight wins to become eligible. The game featured the second-lowest combined ranking of the two participants with ODU ranked 91st and Tulsa ranked 72nd. Tulsa improved to 11-12 all-time in bowl games. ODU is 1-1.

Day two of the 2021 college football bowl season was Saturday, December 18 with a 6-pack of games and a day of upsets played out with Western Kentucky, UAB and Utah State all winning games in which they were the underdog. Only Louisiana and Liberty covered the spread as favorites.

The 8th Boca Raton Bowl saw Appalachian State lose a bowl game for the first time ever as the Mountaineers fell to 6-1 in its bowl history with a 59-38 loss to Western Kentucky. Appalachian State has played in a bowl game in every season of its eligibility since moving up to the FBS. Western Kentucky improved to 5-3 in bowl games as QB Bailey Zappe set new NCAA records for TD passes and passing yards in a single season. His 5,967 yards tops the 5,833-yard mark established by Texas Tech's B.J. Symons in 2003 and his 62 TD passes eclipses the mark of 60 that was set by LSU's Joe Burrow just two seasons ago. He reached those marks by throwing for 422 yards and 6 touchdowns against Appalachian State.

UTEP will have to wait awhile longer to erase its bowl losing streak. The Miners remain tied with Northern Illinois for the longest current bowl losing streak with 7 straight defeats in these games. The Miners also own the longest bowl drought with their last win coming in 1967. The Miners fell 31-24 to Fresno State in the 16th New Mexico Bowl, which has served as the destination for each of UTEP's last three bowl trips. It was the third consecutive bowl victory for the Bulldogs as they evened their all-time bowl record at 13-13. Fresno State was led by interim head coach Lee Marks.

UAB upset BYU 31-28 in the Independence Bowl to improve to 2-3 all-time in bowl games with both victories occurring since head coach Bill Clark led the drive to restart the program after the administration eliminated football following the 2014 season. Since its revitalization in 2017, UAB has a 43-20 record overall, a 2-2 bowl mark, a pair of CUSA championships and 3 divisional titles. The Blazers were a 7-pont underdog at the sportsbooks. BYU had a 192-yard, 3 TD rushing performance from Tyler Allgeier, while UAB's Dylan Hopkins was 19-of-23 for 189 and 3 TD's. The Blazers also got 183 yards rushing and a TD from DeWayne "Debo" McBride.

Utah State was also a 7-point dog at the sportsbooks. But the Aggies not only won the L.A. Bowl over Oregon State, they did it with a 3rd-string quarterback.Cooper Legas came off the bench when Logan Bonner suffered a knee injury in the first quarter. Second-string QB Andrew Peasley was out with a shoulder injury. Legas' first collegiate pass was a long bomb dime for a 62-yard touchdown hookup with Deven Thompkins to tie the game at 7-apiece in the 2nd quarter. He finished the night 11-of-20 for 171 yards and 2 TD's with a single INT. With the win, Mountain West Conference teams improved to 14-12 vs. the PAC-12 in bowl games.This was Blake Andersen's first season in Logan and he directed a turnaround from a 1-5 mark a year ago to an 11-3 season with a conference crown and a bowl win.

in the Lending Tree Bowl, Malik Willis and Liberty rolled to a 56-20 win over an Eastern Michigan team that couldn't stop the Flames, and couldn't keep up offensively. Liberty jumped out to a 33-10 lead and never looked back. It was 56-10 before EMU scored the final 10 points of the game. Liberty is 3-0 in bowl games, having qualified for the postseason in every year in which they were eligible for an invite since moving up to the FBS level. The Eagles dropped their fourth straight bowl game (1-4) and are still looking for their first bowl win since the 1987 California Bowl.

Louisiana used a 20-0 4th quarter t rally past Marshall 36-21 in the New Orleans Bowl to make Michael Desormeaux a winner in his head coaching debut. He replaces Billy Napier who resigned to take the same post at Florida. It was the 13th straight win for the Ragin' Cajuns (13-1) and third consecutive bowl victory (7-2). The Herd dropped to 7-6 on the season with their third straight bowl loss (12-5). Louisiana limited Grant Wells to just 99 yards passing while the Cajuns' Levi Lewis threw for 270 and a score, and ran for 74 yards. Marshall's Rasheen Ali rushed for 160 yards and 3 TD's on 20 attempts (8.0 yards per carry).

The college football bowl season kicked off on Friday, December 17 with MTSU producing a 31-24 upset of Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl, followed by Coastal Carolina outscoring Northern Illinois 47-41 in  the Cure Bowl in Orlando.

The Bahamas Bowl was one of the multiple cancellation casualties of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year's combatants had made previous trips to this game with neither winning. MTSU lost 45-31 to Western Michigan in 2015, and Toledo fell 35-32 to FIU in 2018. Prior to this year's game, the MAC had won in every odd year while CUSA had taken home the trophy in every even year. The victory improved the Blue Raiders' bowl record to 3-6 while the Rockets slipped to 10-9 with the program's fourth consecutive bowl loss.

On Friday night, the Cure Bowl saw Coastal Carolina redeem itself from last season's 37-34 loss to Liberty and pick up the school's first bowl win (1-1) in the process. The Huskies fell to 4-10 in bowl games and are in still in search of their first bowl win since 2011 after losing their 7th straight. Grayson McCall completed 22-of-30 passes for 315 yards and 4 TD's for the Chanticleers, completing the highest passing efficiency season of all-time for an FBS quarterback at 207.7, eclipsing the mark of 203.1 set last season by Alabama QB Mac Jones (now with the New England Patriots)..

Covid Takes It Toll On Bowl Teams/Games

On Tuesday, December 28, UCLA had to pull out of the Holiday Bowl scheduled to be played that night against NC State. The pregame parade was underway when the announcement was made.

On Monday, December 27, Boise State pulled out of the Arizona Bowl, a day after Miami pulled out of the Sun Bowl. Central Michigan switched from being Boise State's opponent in the Arizona Bowl to becoming Washington State's opponent in the Sun Bowl.

On Sunday, December 26, Boston College had to pull out of the Military Bowl the day before the Eagles were to face East Carolina in Annapolis, Maryland.  It's the third time since 2018 that Boston College had a bowl game effected. The 2018 First Responders Bowl was canceled by dangerous weather and the school opted out the 2020 bowl season after a 6-5 regular season.

On Sunday, December 26, Virginia had to pull out of the inaugural Fenway Bowl. The Cavaliers were scheduled to face SMU on Wednesday, December 29.

On Thursday, December 23, Hawaii had to pull out of the Hawaii Bowl which was scheduled to be played the following day. That game has been canceled and Memphis gets left with a trip to Hawaii with no game. It's the second straight year the Hawaii Bowl has been canceled for reasons related to covid.

Rutgers on Thursday, December 23 accepted the invitation to replace Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl. The Aggies had announced the previous day that it has pull out of the game due to covid issues within the program which left the availability of only 38 players for practice and just 13 on defense. This will be the first bowl game for the Scarlet Knights since 2014. The line opened at 11.5 at 5Dimes in favor of Wake and the Congrove Computer Rankings favor the Demon Deacons by 11.08. Wake Forest was a 6.15-point underdog to the Aggies.

Never Been To A Bowl Game

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:
Oregon State, 2013 - Lost 24-13 to Utah State in this season's L.A. Bowl.
East Carolina, 2014 - Was scheduled to face Boston College in Military Bowl, but that game was canceled due to Covid issues with the B.C. program.
Maryland, 2014 - Won 54-10 over Virginia Tech in this season's Pinstripe Bowl.
Rutgers, 2014 - Replaces Texas A&M in Gator Bowl after Aggies had to withdraw due to Covid protocols.
UTEP, 2014 - Lost 31-24 to Fresno State in this season's New Mexico Bowl

Waiting To Return

This teams have the longest continuing current streak of bowl absence:
Kansas, 2008
Louisiana-Monroe, 2012
UNLV, 2013
Rice, 2014

Bowl Appearance Streak

These teams have the longest continuing current streaks of bowl appearances:

*-Virginia Tech, 28 - Opted out due to Covid in 2020, but reportedly had interest from at least 3 bowl games. Lost 54-10 to Maryland in this season's Pinstripe Bowl.
Georgia, 25 - the leader now, without an asterisk.
Oklahoma, 23
Wisconsin, 20
Alabama, 18
Clemson ,18
Oklahoma State, 16

Bowl Winning Streak

These teams have the most consecutive bowl victories (last season of a bowl loss in parenthesis).
NOTE: CFP Championship games are NOT bowl games. All teams listed are playing in a bowl game this year, unless otherwise noted.

Alabama, 7  (2014) - Won 27-6 over Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl to advance the National Championship game in Indianapolis on January 10.
Minnesota, 5 (2013) - Won 18-6 over West Virginia in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl.
Kentucky, 4 (2017) - Won 20-17 over Iowa in the Citrus Bowl.
Northwestern, 4 (2015) - Uninvited this year
Syracuse, 4 (2004) - Uninvited this year
Texas, 4 (2014) - Uninvited this year
Troy, 4 (2009) - Uninvited this year
Air Force, 3 (2015) - Won 31-28 over Louisville in the First Responder Bowl.
Duke, 3 (2014) - Uninvited this year
Fresno State, 3 (2014) - Won 31-24 over UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl.
Georgia Southern, 3 (Never) - Uninvited this year
Kansas, 3 (2003) - Uninvited this year. Hasn't appeared in a bowl game since 2008.
Liberty, 3 (Never) - Won 56-20 over Eastern Michigan in the Lending Tree Bowl.
Ohio, 3 (2016) - Uninvited this year
Texas A&M, 3 (2017) - Had to opt-out of the Gator Bowl due to Covid issues.
Wyoming, 3 (2016) - Won 52-38 over Kent State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Winning streaks snapped this year:
Appalachian State's 6-bowl winning streak was snapped with a 59-38 loss to Western Kentucky in the Boca Raton Bowl. It was the school's first ever bowl loss (6-1).

Tennessee had its 4-bowl win streak ended with a 38-21 loss to South Carolina in the Duke's Mayo Classsic.
Iowa had its 3-bowl winning streak halted with a 20-17 loss to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.

Bowl Losing Streak

These teams have the most consecutive bowl losses (last season of a bowl win in parenthesis). All teams listed are playing in a bowl game this year, unless otherwise noted.

Northern Illinois, 7 (2011) - Lost 47-41 to Coastal Carolina in theCure Bowl.
UTEP, 7 (1967) - Lost 31-24 to Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl.
Indiana, 6 (1991) - Uninvited this year
Michigan, 5 (2015) - Lost 34-11 to Georgia in the Orange Bowl (semifinal of College Football Playoffs)
North Texas, 5 (2013) - Lost 27-14 to Miami (O.) in the Frisco Football Classic.
Colorado, 4 (2004) - Uninvited this year
Colorado State, 4 (2013) - Uninvited this year
Eastern Michigan, 4 (1987) - Lost 56-20 to Liberty in the Lending Tree Bowl. 
Miami, FLA, 4 (2016) - Had to opt-out of the Sun Bowl due to Covid issues.
Toledo, 4 (2011) - Lost 31-24 to MTSU in the Bahamas Bowl.
Virginia Tech, 4 (2016) - Lost 54-10 to Maryland in the Pinstripe Bowl.

Losing streaks snapped this year:
Central Michigan's 5-bowl losing streak came to an end with its 24-21 victory over Washington State in this season's Sun Bowl.

Bowl Winless (at least 1 appearance)

South Alabama, 0-2 - Uninvited this year
UTSA, 0-3 - Lost 38-24 to San Diego State in the Frisco Bowl.

Best Bowl Winning Percentage

(Minimum 20 appearances)

All teams listed are playing in a bowl game this year, unless otherwise noted.
Utah, 18-7 (.720) - Lost 48-45 to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.
Mississippi, 25-14 (.641) - Lost 21-7 to Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.
Oklahoma State, 21-11 (.656) - Won 37-35 over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
USC, 35-20 (.636) - Uninvited this year
Penn State, 30-18-2 (.612) - Lost 24-10 to Arkansas in the Outback Bowl.
Alabama, 42-24-3 (.630) - Won 27-6 over Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl. Advanced to National Championship game.
Syracuse, 15-9-1 (.620) - Uninvited this year
Florida State, 28-17-2 (.617) - Uninvited this year
Georgia, 34-20-3 (.613) - Won 34-11 over Michigan in the Orange Bowl. Advanced to National Championship game.

Most Bowl Wins

All teams listed are playing in a bowl game this year, unless otherwise noted.
Alabama, 42 - Won 27-6 over Cincinnati in Cotton Bowl. Advanced to National Championship game.
USC, 35 - Uninvited this year
Georgia, 34 - Won 34-11 over Michigan in the Orange Bowl. Advanced to National Championship game.
Oklahoma, 31 - Won 47-32 over Oregon in the Alamo Bowl.
Texas, 31 - Uninvited this year
Penn State, 30 - Lost 24-10 to Arkansas in Outback Bowl.
Tennessee, 29 - Lost 48-45 in OT to Purdue in the Music City Bowl.
Florida State, 28 - Uninvited this year
LSU, 26 - Lost 42-20 to Kansas State in the Texas Bowl.
Nebraska, 26 - Uninvited this year
Georgia Tech, 25 - Uninvited this year
Mississippi, 25 - Lost 21-7 to Baylor in the Sugar Bowl.
Ohio State, 25 - Won 48-45 over Utah in the Rose Bowl.
Auburn, 24 - Lost 17-13 to Houston in the Birmingham Bowl.
Clemson, 24 - Won 20-13 over Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl.
Florida, 24 - Lost 29-17 to UCF in the Gasparilla Bowl
Michigan, 21 - Lost 34-11 to Georgia in the Orange Bowl (semifinal of College Football Playoffs).


2 teams played 2 FCS teams this fall (UConn and UMass), and 115 teams played 1 FCS school for a total of 117 such matchups.

FBS teams finished the season 105-12 vs. the FCS and are 1,574-140 (.918) since we began tracking this in 2003.

Last year, 30 FBS teams played a total of just 34 games against FCS schools and the FCS won just 1 game (1-33). That honor also went to Jacksonville State with its 19-10 victory over FIU.

These were the FCS wins in 2021:
September 2: UC Davis 19, Tulsa 17
September 2: Eastern Washington 35, UNLV 33 (2 OT)
September 3: South Dakota State 42, Colorado State 23
September 4: Holy Cross 38, UConn 28
September 4: Montana 13, Washington 7
September 4: ETSU 23, Vanderbilt 3
September 11: Duquesne 28, Ohio 26
September 11: Jacksonville State 20, Florida State 17.
September 18: Incarnate Word 42, Texas State 34.
September 18: Northern Arizona 21, Arizona 19
November 6: Rhode Island 35, Massachusetts 22
November 13: Maine 35, Massachusetts 10

This was the only FCS win vs. the FBS in 2020:
October 23: Jacksonville State 19, FIU 10

In 2019, FBS teams were 111-3 (.974) in such games. These were the only FCS wins that season:
August 29: Central Arkansas 35, Western Kentucky 28
September 7: Southern Illinois 45, Massachusetts 20
September 14: The Citadel 27, Georgia Tech 24 (OT)


CINCINNATI - Won 13 straight overall (tied FBS longest). Won 16 straight conference games (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 27-6 to Alabama in the Cotton Bowl Final Four playoff game on Dec. 31.
Next: Season complete (13-1)

LOUISIANA - Won 13 straight over-all (tied FBS longest).
Last: Won 36-21 over Marshall in the New Orleans Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 18.
Next: Season complete (13-1)

NOTRE DAME - Won 9 straight road games (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 37-35 to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.
Next: Season complete (11-2)

CLEMSON - Won 34 straight home games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 20-13 over Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl on Dec. 29.
Next: Season complete (10-3)

FIU - Lost 11 straight over-all (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 37-17 at Southern Miss on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Next: Season complete (1-11).

VANDERBILT - Lost 21 straight conference games (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 45-21 at Tennessee on Saturday, Nov. 27.
Next: Season complete (2-10).

NEW MEXICO STATE - Lost 18 straight road games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 44-27 at home versus Massachusetts on Saturday, Nov. 27
Next: Season complete (2-10).