UPDATED: 2020 Bowl Season Notes and Facts

December 29, 2020 by CollegeFootballPoll.com Staff

(NOTE: This was updated for relevant news regarding the Texas Bowl which was scheduled for December 31 between TCU and Arkansas.  That game has been canceled due to Covid issues in TCU's program.)

The 7th year of the College Football Playoff has only a 25% chance of producing a first-time champion. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State are all back. Notre Dame provides the only breakthrough opportunity for a new champion in the playoff era. The Crimson Tide and Tigers are each looking to capture their third playoff crown while the Buckeyes shoot for their second.

The season preview at CollegeFootballPoll.com, based on the Congrove Computer Rankings, once again predicted 2 of the 4 teams in the field (Alabama and Clemson) while it missed on USC and Wisconsin. Our season preview has now predicted 13 of the 28 teams selected (just under 50%) in the history of the playoff.

Alabama is the No. 1 seed this year, with Clemson No. 2, Ohio State No. 3 and Notre Dame No. 4.

Last year's playoff seeding had LSU No. 1, followed by Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma.

The semifinals take place on Saturday, January 1.

The #1 vs. #4 game between the Tide and Irish will take place in Arlington in the relocated Rose Bowl, a maneuver that was made to allow 16,000 fans to attend the game, as opposed to zero in Pasadena. The last time the "Rose Bowl" wasn't played in Pasadena was January 1, 1942 after Pearl Harbor had been bombed on December 7.  was done  in the Peach Bowl at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the 8 p.m. Fiesta Bowl matchup of Ohio State and Clemson. The winners face-off on Monday, January 13th in New Orleans.

Alabama is 2-5 all-time vs. Notre Dame. The Irish won the 1973 national title with a 24-23 win over the Tide in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama returned the favor with a 42-14 win in the 2012 season BCS Championship game. That's the last time these teams met.

Alabama is 6-3 in playoff games, including a 2-2 mark in the championship. Notre Dame's only previous appearance resulted in a 30-3 romp by Clemson in the 2018 season.

The #2 vs. #3 game between the Tigers and Buckeyes will take place in New Orleans in the Sugar Bowl where only 3,000 fans can attend. Cemson is looking for its 3rd title in the last 5 years while Ohio State would love to close the deal on its first since the inaugural year of the playoff format in 2014. The Tigers advanced to the championship game against LSU last season by eliminating Ohio State 29-23 at the Fiesta Bowl.

Clemson has never lost to the Buckeyes. They've met only four times and every encounter has been in a bowl game - 2109 Fiesta, 2016 Fiesta, 2014 Orange, and the infamous 1978 Gator Bowl which cost Ohio State head coach Woody Hayes his job for throwing a punch at Clemson player Charlie Bauman on the sideline after he intercepted an Art Schlichter pass.

The playoff championship game has been an Alabama vs. Clemson affair 3 times in the last 5 years, and one of those schools has played in the other two.

College Football Playoff Title Game Results
Season Won Pts. Lost Pts.
2014 Ohio State 42 Oregon 20
2015 Alabama 45 Clemson 40
2016 Clemson 35 Alabama 31
2017 Alabama (OT) 26 Georgia 23
2018 Clemson 44 Alabama 16
2019 LSU 42 Clemson 25

In all, 25 bowl games will now take place in the postseason. The national championship clash gives us a 26th game to watch, but is not a bowl game.

The computer expects 10 of the 25 games scheduled to be blowouts with predicted margins ranging from 10.01 points (Texas A&M over North Carolina) to 24.41 for Louisiana-Lafayette over UTSA.

The computer also has 9 games with margins under 5 points, including 4 games at 2 points or less. The tightest are Oklahoma's 0.87-point edge over Florida in the Cotton Bowl, followed by Western Kentucky's 1.8-point advantage over Georgia State in the Lending Tree Bowl.

SEC teams have taken 10 of the last 14 national championships with Alabama claiming 5 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.

Get all of the computer's Bowl Picks.

Computer Success

The 2020 season preview correctly projected the champions in 4 of the 10 conferences - the ACC, American, SEC and Sun Belt (co-champion), but 11 of its picks played in the championship game.

Worst Bowl Matchups

Last year, Kent State was the lowest-ranked program of all the bowl teams as the No. 86 Golden Flashes faced No. 67 Utah State in the Frisco Bowl to tie for the worst combined-ranking of 153. The Camellia Bowl matched that game with No. 83 FIU and No. 70 Arkansas State.

The Cure Bowl took the honors of the worst bowl matchup in 2017 and 2018 by hosting No. 83 Louisiana-Lafayette and No. 82 Tulane in the 2018 game (165 combined ranking) after welcoming No. 85 Georgia State and No. 79 Western Kentucky in 2017 (156 combined ranking).

There were plenty of bad matchups scheduled this year since won-loss record didn't have to be a consideration, but the worst of them all got canceled at various times due to Covid issues. The Gasparilla Bowl topped the list with No. 110 South Carolina facing No. 44 UAB (154 combined ranking), but that game was canceled two days after bowl selections were made due to Cvoid issues within the Gamecocks' program.  The Texas Bowl was handed that dubious honor until its matchup of No. 103 Arkansas facing No. 46 TCU (149 combined) was also canceled due to Covid issues in the TCU program.

The Liberty Bowl had No. 82 Tennessee playing No. 59 West Virginia (141 combined), but Tennessee had to back out on Monday due to Covid issues and was replaced by No. 41 Army. The Black Knights are 9-2, but had been left out in the cold after the Independence Bowl canceled its game on selection Sunday when it was unable to find an opponent for Army. Now, the Liberty Bowl has gone from being a terrible game, to a very interesting one as you can rest assured that the Black Knights will be fired up to play.

First-Time Meetings

The number of first-time bowl matchups decease for the first time in four years, but that's understandable given that there are 11 fewer bowl games than last year.  This year, 9 out of 28 are first-time meetings. Last year, it was 15 out of 38.

The Boca Raton Bowl is NOT a first-time matchup for the first time in five years.

Ohio State vs. Clemson is the only repeat matchup of a 2019 bowl game. None are matchups of games played in the 2020 regular season.

These games are all first-time meetings:
Myrtle Beach - Appalachian State vs. North Texas
New Orleans - Louisiana Tech vs. Georgia Southern
SERVPRO First Responder - UTSA vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Duke's Mayo- Duke vs. Wisconsin
Arizona - Ball State vs. San Jose State
Armed Forces - Mississippi State vs. Tulsa
Outback - Mississippi vs. Indiana
Fiesta - Oregon vs. Iowa State
Orange - Texas A&M vs. North Carolina

Rare Meetings

Famous Idaho Potato: Nevada vs. Tulane (Last and only meeting was 1992)
Montgomery: FAU vs. Memphis (last and only meeting was 2007 New Orleans Bowl)
New Mexico: Hawaii vs. Houston (Last and only meeting was 2003 Hawaii Bowl)
Cheez-it - Miami (FLA) vs. Oklahoma State (Last and only meetings was 1991)
Cotton - Oklahoma vs. Florida (last and only meeting was 2009 BCS Championship win for Gators)
Liberty - West Virginia vs. Air Force (last of three meetings occurred in 1961)
Peach - Cincinnati vs. Georgia (Met twice, 1942 and 1976. Georgia won both)
Citrus - Northwestern vs. Auburn (last and only meeting was 2010 Outback Bowl)
Gator - North Carolina State vs. Kentucky. (Met twice, 1909 and 1970. Series tied 1-1)

Interesting Meetings

Camellia Bowl: Buffalo vs. Marshall (Marshall leads series 8-1. Last played in 2004. Buffalo's only win came in first meeting in 1959.)
Cure - Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina (Old FCS foes played 14 times with a 7-7 split. First meeting as FBS teams.)
Lending Tree - Georgia State vs. Western Kentucky  (1-1 all-time. Last met in 2017 Cure Bowl with Georgia State winning 27-17.)
Alamo: Texas vs. Colorado (Old Big 12 foes. Texas leads series 11-7. Last met 2009.)
Music City (Canceled) - Iowa vs. Missouri (2010 meeting was first since 1910. Missouri leads series 7-6.)
Texas (Canceled) - TCU vs. Arkansas (Old Southwest Conference foes played home-and-home series in 2016-2017 with visitor winning both. Arkansas leads series 44-24-2.)
Rose - Alabama vs. Notre Dame (This is the fourth time in 8 meetings these teams have played in bowl games. Last was 2013 BCS Championship win for Tide.)
Sugar - Clemson vs. Ohio State (Fifth meeting, all in bowl games. Clemson lads 4-0.)

Never Been To A Bowl Game

Texas State

First Time Ever In A Bowl Game

Coastal Carolina

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:
Ball State, 2013
Mississippi, 2015
San  Jose State, 2015

Waiting To Return

This teams have the longest continuing current streak of bowl absence:
Kansas, 2008
Louisiana-Monroe, 2012
Oregon State, 2013
UNLV, 2013
East Carolina, 2014
Maryland, 2014
Rice, 2014
Rutgers, 2014
UTEP, 2014

Bowl Appearance Streak

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

Virginia Tech, 27 - The question is whether or not you put an asterisk next to this and allow an opportunity for the streak to continue next year since the school asked not to be invited but reportedly had interest from at least 3 bowl games.

Georgia, 24 - the leader now, without an asterisk.
Oklahoma, 22

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.). All teams listed are playing in a bowl game this year, unless otherwise noted.

Louisiana Tech, 6 (2011)
Alabama, 5  (2014)
Appalachian State, 5 (Never)
Army, 4 (1996)
FAU, 4 (Never)
Minnesota, 4 (2013) - Opted out
San Jose State, 4 (1987)
Syracuse, 4 (2004) - Opted out
Tennessee, 4 (2010) - had to back out of Liberty Bowl agreement the day after accepting the bid, due to Covid.
Troy, 4 (2009) - Uninvited this year
Duke, 3 (2014) - Uninvited this year
Florida, 3 (2015)
Iowa, 3 (2016) - Was scheduled to play Missouri in  Music City Bowl, but that game was canceled due to Covid issues with Missouri.
Kansas, 3 (2003) - Hasn't appeared in a bowl game since 2008
Northwestern, 3 (2015)
Ohio, 3 (2016) - Uninvited this year
Texas, 3 (2014)

Streaks snapped last year: Marshall had a 7-bowl winning streak snapped with a 48-25 loss to UCF in the Gasparilla Bowl.
Oklahoma State had a 3-bowl winning streak snapped with a 24-21 loss to Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl.
Wake Forest had a 3-bowl winning streak snapped with a 27-21 loss to Michigan State in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Wisconsin had a 5-bowl winning streak snapped with a 28-27 loss to Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
Baylor had a 3-game winning streak snapped with a 26-14 loss to Georgia in the Sugar 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.

Ball State, 7 (Never)
Northern Illinois, 6 (2011) - Uninvited this year
UTEP, 6 (1967) - Uninvited this year
Central Michigan, 5 (2012) - Uninvited this year
Indiana, 5 (1991)
Memphis, 5 (2014)
Colorado State, 4 (2013) - Uninvited this year
Michigan, 4 (2015) - Opted out

Streak snapped last year: Pitt ended a 4-bowl losing streak with a 34-30 win over Eastern Michigan in the Quick lane Bowl.

Bowl Winless (at least 1 appearance)

Ball State, 0-7
South Alabama, 0-2 - Uninvited this year
UTSA, 0-1

Last year: Buffalo and Kent State each dropped from this list by winning their respective bowl game this season. Buffalo entered the 2019 bowl season 0-3, while Kent State came in 0-2.

Best Bowl Winning Percentage

(Minimum 20 appearances)

All teams listed are playing in a bowl game this year, unless otherwise noted.
Utah, 18-6 (.750) - Opted out
Mississippi, 24-13 (.649)
USC, 35-20 (.636) - Opted out
Oklahoma State, 19-11 (.6333)
Penn State, 30-17-2 (.6326) - Opted out
Syracuse, 15-9-1 (.620) - Opted out
Alabama, 40-24-3 (.619)
Florida State, 28-17-2 (.617) - Opted out
Georgia, 32-20-3 (.609)

Most Bowl Wins

All teams listed are playing in a bowl game this year, unless otherwise noted.
Alabama, 40
USC, 35 - Opted out
Georgia, 32
Penn State, 30 - Opted out
Texas, 30
Oklahoma, 29
Tennessee, 29 - had to back out of Liberty Bowl agreement the day after accepting the bid, due to Covid.
Florida State, 28 - Opted out
LSU, 26 - Self-probation
Nebraska, 26 - Opted out
Georgia Tech, 25 - Opted out
Auburn, 24
Florida, 24
Mississippi, 24
Ohio State, 23
Clemson, 22
Michigan, 21 - Opted out


This Saturday's schedule final FBS-FCS matchup of Incarnate Word at Arkansas State was canceled and no other FBS-FCS games are remaining to be played.]

A total of 30 FBS teams played a total of 34 games against FCS schools this season with the FBS going 33-1. Since we began tracking this in 2003, the FBS teams are 1,468-128 (.920).

Last year, FBS teams were 111-3 (.974) in such games.

Here is the only FCS win vs. the FBS this season:
October 23: Jacksonville State 19, FIU 10

These were the FCS wins vs. the FBS in the previous 2 seasons:

August 29: Central Arkansas 35, Western Kentucky 28
September 7: Southern Illinois 45, Massachusetts 20
September 14: The Citadel 27, Georgia Tech 24 (OT)

August 29: 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


ALABAMA - Won 12 straight games overall (tied for FBS longest).
Last: Won 52-46 vs. Florida in SEC Championship game on Saturday, December 19.
Next: Plays Notre Dame in College Football Playoff Semifinal in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.
Note: Rose Bowl has been moved from Pasadena, California to Dallas, Texas.

COASTAL CAROLINA - Won 12 straight games overall (tied for FBS longest).
Last: Won 42-38 at Troy on Saturday, December 12.
Next: Plays Liberty in the Cure Bowl on Saturday, December 26.

NOTRE DAME - Saw its FBS-longest 16 game winning streak come to an end with a 34-10 loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship game.
Last: Lost 34-10 to Clemson in Charlotte on December 19.
Next: Plays Alabama in College Football Playoff Semifinal in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.
Note: Rose Bowl has been moved from Pasadena, California to Dallas, Texas.

OHIO STATE - Won 21 straight conference games (FBS longest). Won 9 straight road games (FBS longest). Won 21 straight regular season games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 22-10 vs. Northwestern in Big Ten Championship game at Indianapolis on Saturday, December 19.
Next: Plays Clemson in College Football Playoff Semifinal in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.

CLEMSON - Won 28 straight home games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 34-10 versus Notre Dame in ACC Championship game at Charlotte on Saturday, December 19.
Next: Plays Ohio State in College Football Playoff Semifinal in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.

NEW MEXICO - Lost 13 straight road games (FBS longest).
Last: Won 49-39 vs. Fresno State in Las Vegas (New Mexico's adopted home) on Saturday, December 12.
Next: Regular season complete.

AKRON - Lost 12 straight road games (FBS second-longest).
Last: Lost 56-7 at Buffalo on Saturday, December 12 at Buffalo.
Next: Regular season complete.

KANSAS - Lost 13 straight overall (FBS longest), 6 straight home games (tied with Rutgers for FBS longest).
Last: 16-13 loss at Texas Tech on Saturday, December 5.
Next: December 12 game vs. Texas canceled. Regular season complete.

UTEP - Lost 15 straight conference games (FBS longest).
Last: Lost 45-43 at North Texas on Friday, December 11.
Next: Regular season complete.