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35 Bowl Observations & Fun Facts
OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE 2013-2014 BOWLS - We get the bowl analysis rolling with 35 interesting tidbits.
By Matt Zemek
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35 OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE 2013-2014 BOWLS
35) Six teams are returning to the same bowl they played in last season.
Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans), Arkansas State (GoDaddy.com), Minnesota (Texas), Cincinnati (Belk), Texas (Alamo), and Stanford (Rose) are the six repeat visitors to bowl cities.
34) Miami has one win against an FBS opponent with a winning record (Georgia Tech, a 7-5 team that won two games against FCS schools).
33) Number of 6-6 teams in these bowls: 7, down from 12 last season.
Seven 6-6 teams (four from the Sun Belt) were not invited to bowls.
32) Number of bowls matching Pac-12 and SEC teams: none.
The really sad dimension of this reality is that you can pretty much take it to the bank every year.
31) Nebraska-Georgia in the Gator Bowl is a rematch of last season's Husker-Dawg meeting in the Capital One (formerly Citrus) Bowl.
30) Noticeable bowl snubs just keep coming each year.
In 2010, 8-4 Temple did not get picked for a bowl game. In 2011, 7-5 Western Kentucky did not get selected. In 2012, 9-3 Louisiana Tech and 8-4 Middle Tennessee did not get chosen. This year, 8-4 Western Kentucky 7-5 Toledo, and 7-5 UTSA were not taken by any bowl game.
29) Rice, playing in the Liberty Bowl against Mississippi State, is celebrating its first outright conference championship since 1957.
28) Baylor, playing in the Fiesta Bowl against UCF, is reveling in the fact that it has won its first outright conference championship since 1980.
27) Bowling Green, in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl against Pittsburgh, is savoring its first outright conference championship since 1992.
26) Michigan State, in the Rose Bowl against Stanford, is cherishing its first outright conference championship since 1987.
25) Fresno State, in the Las Vegas Bowl against USC, is clasping its first outright conference championship since 1991.
24) Number of 7-5 bowl teams: 12, plus 7-6 Colorado State.
Including the group of 6-6 bowl teams, 20 bowl teams have failed to produce a record better than two games over .500.
23) Number of bowl teams with 10 or more wins, by conference: SEC 4; ACC, Big 12, MAC, and Pac-12 with 3; Big Ten and The American with 2; Conference USA and Mountain West with 1; Sun Belt 0.
22) BCS bowl invitations handed out to the six division winners who lost their respective conference championship games: 1 – Ohio State, Big Ten.
21) For the second straight season, the Las Vegas Bowl matches two teams that will open the following season.
Last year, Boise State and Washington played in the Las Vegas Bowl before opening the 2013 season in Seattle. This year, Fresno State and USC will meet in Vegas before opening the 2014 season in week one.
20) Number of 10- or 11-win SEC teams that won't play in a BCS bowl: 2.
19) Six bowl teams – Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers – went 3-5 in their conferences this season.
Oregon State, Washington State, and Arizona went 4-5 in the Pac-12. Texas Tech went 4-5 in the Big 12's nine-game round-robin schedule.
18) Texas Tech lost its last five games this season and still made the Holiday Bowl.
In 2012, Texas Tech lost four of its last five regular season games. In 2011, the Red Raiders lost each of their last five games.
17) Bowl matchups in which the win-differential between the two teams is three or more: 6.
16) Number of bowls (out of 35) not televised by ESPN/ABC or an affiliated cable channel part of the ESPN umbrella: 2.
15) Number of bowls matching teams from the Big 12 and the ACC: 0.
14) Number of bowls matching teams from the Pac-12 and The American: 0.
13) Total number of non-AQ conference teams in this season's bowl lineup (including BYU and Navy but excluding Notre Dame): 21, which means there are 49 teams from AQ conferences in this season's list of bowl games.
12) Non-AQ conference teams playing AQ opponents in bowl games: 6, up from 5 last season.
11) Bowl games pitting one non-AQ team against another: 7, down from 10 last season.
10) The 10 best bowls, counting down to the best one: Potato. Buffalo in a bowl game is a rare event, and San Diego State, though schizophrenic, can be an entertaining team to watch when it finds a measure of added inspiration under head coach Rocky Long.
9) Hawaii. Boise State prepares to welcome (in all likelihood) either Bryan Harsin or Justin Wilcox as its new head coach, but in the meantime, the Broncos – beginning a new phase of their existence without Chris Petersen – will face an Oregon State team that might be different after having three and a half weeks to regroup. This could be an immensely entertaining Christmas Eve treat.
8) Fight Hunger. Speaking of Chris Petersen, Washington has to be thrilled to gain the services of one of the most respected coaches in the United States. This contest against BYU will give the Huskies an instructive and revealing measuring-stick moment against BYU's formidable defense. Washington-BYU offers an instructive contrast in styles, not just a clash of the two teams that stood atop college football at the end of the 1984 season.
7) Las Vegas. This is one of the best pre-Christmas bowl matchups in quite some time. In a fairer, better world, this game would be staged in a venue such as the Holiday Bowl and played after Christmas. It's too early to unwrap this game, but it should offer a compelling television experience. Fresno State, which almost made a BCS bowl, plays a USC team that made a serious run at the Pac-12 South title and knocked off Stanford in the process. There's more quality in this game than in several bowls combined.
6) Buffalo Wild Wings. Brady Hoke gets a month to reassess everything he's been doing at Michigan, and every player on his team. The Wolverines should play with great energy. Kansas State wizard Bill Snyder is one of the sport's great coaches. He should have more than a few tricks up his sleeve. These teams were not electrifying during the regular season, but they might use that very reality to perform well in Tempe, Ariz.
5) Chick-Fil-A (formerly Peach). Seeing the magical mystery tour of Duke and coach David Cutcliffe is one reason to like this game. Seeing Johnny Manziel play what could very well be his last collegiate game is another reason to set aside time for this encounter in Atlanta. There had been reports earlier on Sunday afternoon that the Chick-Fil-A was going to settle on a Georgia-Miami matchup that would have fizzled due to the injury suffered by Bulldog quarterback Aaron Murray. ACC Commissioner John Swofford intervened and pushed hard to get Duke in this game against Texas A&M. It's a good thing he did.
4) Capital One (formerly Citrus). South Carolina's Big Ten bowl tour has skipped from one school to another in recent years. The Gamecocks have played Iowa in the Outback Bowl, Nebraska in the Capital One, and Michigan in the Outback. This Wisconsin team is probably the best Big Ten team Steve Spurrier has faced over the past half-decade. The fact that the Badgers embarrassed themselves in their season finale against Penn State makes them a very dangerous opponent in this situation. Expect Wisconsin to run the ball relentlessly and test the middle of the Gamecocks' defensive line.
3) Rose. This Rose Bowl will probably be a lot like last year's slugfest between Stanford and Wisconsin, but a 1970s-style game is a fresh change of pace in this era of up-tempo and spread offenses. It's not "more of the same." Stanford's red and Michigan State's green will continue the Christmas season in a fitting way. These teams would have both sat on the fence under the 2014 playoff (semifinal) plan, so this game is a fascinating and important proving ground for both of them, especially the Spartans, who are making their first appearance in the Granddaddy in 26 years.
2) Cotton. What was a Big 12 matchup is now a Big 12-SEC clash, and in the climate-controlled conditions of Jerry Jones's pleasure palace, Oklahoma State and Missouri should dazzle. These are two legitimate top-15 teams that have achieved more in recent seasons than many critics (this one included) had expected. The Cotton Bowl will go up against the Orange Bowl on Friday, Jan. 3. This is a better game than Ohio State-Clemson.
1) BCS National Championship Game. Isn't it great when the biggest game also figures to be uproariously enjoyable? Seeing Gus Malzahn match wits with Jimbo Fisher – a coach who has quieted skeptics both inside and outside the Florida State program – will be a treat. Watching Auburn's indomitable offense collide with Florida State's imposing defense could very well provide the heavyweight confrontation that will turn Tigers-Seminoles into a classic.