ASK CFN - The Hottest & Coldest Bowl Programs
Posted Dec 29, 2006

Who are the best and worst bowl teams in recent years? Is this the golden age of running backs? These and more in the latest Ask CFN.

Pete Fiutak

Fire over your questions to me at I might not be able to answer them all, but I promise they're all read. Any e-mails sent to this address may be published or edited unless requested otherwise. (Please put ASK CFN in the subject line, and PLEASE keep the questions short ... it makes my life easier.)

Past ASK CFNs ...    
How ineffective was Reggie Ball?
- A 2007 Top 10 Mock Draft
Can Michigan win a national title?
- BCS possibilities for several teams
- West Virginia schedule, BCS rules
- Toughest coaching jobs
- Hidden Heisman 5

- Is Temple worst ever?
- Oklahoma-Oregon fiasco
- Has Bob Stoops lost it?
- Is Colorado done?

With all of the mid-majors making statements in the early bowl season, I was thinking there are enough quality programs out there to scrape together  a new twelve team BCS Conference that would deserve the automatic bid and compete with the big boys. What twelve mid-major teams would be in this conference, and how would it stack up against the other six? – CD

A: Interesting concept. When putting together a conference, or when leagues are looking at teams they’d like to have, prestige, fan base, TV markets, and other concerns are in the mix. Based on what would be the most competitive, most interesting conference formed among the non-BCS teams (not counting Notre Dame), my new league would be …

East: East Carolina, Marshall, Houston, Navy, Southern Miss, Toledo
West: Boise State, BYU, Fresno State, Hawaii, TCU, Utah  

I struggled not putting Miami University and Bowling Green in from the MAC, and Tulsa, UTEP and Memphis probably belong in from Conference USA. Marshall just barely gets the nod because of the decent fan base and the interest it would generate. The West would be way, way better than the East early on, but this would still be a competitive, solid league from top to bottom. While it wouldn’t crack the top six of the BCS conference rankings, it probably wouldn’t be too far off.

In response to my request last week for readers to submit their choices for the most ineffective, longtime starting quarterback in recent college football history, in comparison to Georgia Tech’s Reggie Ball, based on the number of responses …
5. Damien Allen, Vanderbilt
4. Chris Rix, Florida State
3. Andrew Zow, Alabama
2. Jamie Howard, LSU

And number one in a landslide, getting more votes than everyone else combined …
1. Steve Bellisari, Ohio State
While he went a respectable 19-13 as a starter, that doesn’t quite get the job done at Ohio State. Was it just luck that the Buckeyes won the national title the year after his era? Completing 51% of his passes, and just 45% in his senior year with 35 career touchdowns and 29 interceptions, he was truly mediocre. Ending his career with a DUI didn’t help the legacy.

For the sake of argument on the anti-playoffs side of the debate:  why should Ohio State have to play any more games to prove they belong in the National Championship game?  They're undefeated.  Why should they have to play as part of a Plus-One, 8 team, 16 team, or any other number of team playoff structure to prove what they've already proven throughout the course of the entire regular season? – TL

A: Why should Ohio State have to play Florida? I understand what you’re getting at, but what if the Big Ten is really lousy and Michigan is overrated? What if that win over Texas really wasn’t that big a deal, and what if Florida is out of this world but was knocked down a peg because of its schedule? I’ve always been on the record that eight and 16 team playoffs would be overkill, but I'd love to see what Boise State could do against Ohio State if it comes up with the win over Oklahoma. Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that Auburn wanted to prove what it could do against Oklahoma and USC, and USC wanted to prove what it could do against LSU and Oklahoma.

I can't remember a season in which a group of rookies has impacted the NFL as much as they have this year.  Is this the best rookie class ever? – JarBuckl

A: As Bill Parcells would say, let’s not put this group in Canton quite yet. Last year was one of the best college football seasons for a reason, and many of those stars have ripped it up right off the bat. If nothing else, the first round appears on the way to being among the best ever as far as NFL-ready playmakers, while DeMeco Ryans, the first pick in the second round, Greg Jennings, Devin Hester, Maurice Jones-Drew, and many, many others have made big splashes.

We’ll know more about recent draft classes over the next few seasons, but it’ll be hard to top 1964 with ten players from that group now inducted to the Hall of Fame led by Roger Staubach and Carl Eller. 1983 will probably go down as the best class ever with John Elway, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Darrell Green, Eric Dickerson, Jimbo Covert, Bruce Matthews, Roger Craig and Richard Dent, but 2006 is loaded with more potential stars, even if there aren’t any all-timers like Elway or Marino

Has there ever been so many great running backs in college football at any one time? The big names coming back next year are astounding. – RK

A: 2005 was really, really good with Reggie Bush, LenDale White, DeAngelo Williams, Laurence Maroney, Brian Calhoun, and even an injured Adrian Peterson, but 2007 has the potential to be even better. Even with Peterson and Marshawn Lynch likely to be long gone to the NFL, as many as 39 of the top 50 runners from 2006 (that’s not including West Virginia QB Pat White) could return.

Steve Slaton, Mike Hart, Ray Rice, Darren McFadden, P.J. Hill, James Davis, C.J. Spiller, Darius Walker, Branden Ore, Yvenson Bernard, Ian Johnson, Jonathan Stewart, Jorvorskie Lane and Chris Markey are just a few of the big names, while lesser known players like Marshall’s Ahmad Bradshaw, Southern Miss’s Damion Fletcher, Fresno State’s Dwayne Wright, UCF’s Kevin Smith, and Ohio’s Kalvin McRae (assuming they all return) will be in the top 25 nationally. Also, don’t forget about guys like Jamaal Charles of Texas, Justin Forsett of Cal, Minnesota’s Amir Pinnix, and all the USC backs who could explode with more work. Yeah, this might be the golden age of running backs, and why more and more NFL types aren't ready to give big bucks to many of the free agents with a glut of talent out there.

Has anyone looked at the issue that Colt Brennan played in 14 games this year (and I’m not sure how he ended up with 13 regular season games – did they have an exemption or a waiver) versus Klinger probably playing in 12 in 1990? Certainly, Brennan put up some incredible numbers in a system designed to do that against relatively weak competition (with perhaps, the exception of Alabama, Oregon State, Arizona State and Boise State), but at the same time to make a big deal of breaking Klinger’s record playing in two more games is interesting (perhaps there should be an asterisk). – PJ

A: I agree to a point and think the NCAA should rewrite its record book to include the stats in all the bowl games (Ron Dayne's rushing record would be even more impressive then), but do you remember Klingler’s 1990 season? That Houston team ran it up every chance it got, only beat two teams that finished with winning records, and scored 84 on D-IAA Eastern Washington with Klingler throwing 11 touchdown passes. Brennan did what he did in 14 games, but those weren’t cheap stats with almost all coming in the natural course of the game. Forgetting the bulk numbers like yards and touchdowns, you can’t take away his astounding 73% completion percentage with a mere 12 interceptions in 559 attempts.

Why does everyone think this "plus one" is the answer? Does everyone seriously expect 80,000-100,000 fans to travel a crossed the country for a semi-final and then again a week later to a different spot in the country for a championship game? Think about it this year, if Michigan beat Florida in the Rose bowl and then met OSU in Arizona after beating LSU in say New Orleans. Would there really be enough fans to travel each week to fill up the stadium each week? I don't think so and I think the bowl people who are so concerned with which teams bring the most fans know that wouldn't work to fill up their stadiums! - Matt, Michigan

A: The national title game is a no-brainer and would be sold out no matter where it was played. Forgetting the fans of the participating teams, it would be Super Bowl-like as far as ticket prestige. Yeah, it would be hard for most fans to make the two trips, but selling out the stadiums wouldn’t remotely be an issue, just like there is never a problem selling out the Final Four in college basketball several times over without the fan bases of the participating teams. Remember, fans don’t know their team is in the Final Four until the week before, and yet dome after dome is sold out well in advance.

Which college football programs are historically the best in bowl games?  I mean, which ones consistently over-achieve in bowls?  Also which programs are historically the worst in bowl games?  Arkansas and more recently Notre Dame come to mind first in that category.  Any others? - WB Patterson

A: Among the teams in this year’s bowl season, here are the hottest and coldest ones over the last several years  …

Hottest …
1. Boston College – 11-6 all-time with six straight wins.
2. Utah – Five straight wins highlighted by a 35-7 Fiesta Bowl against Pittsburgh.
3. Ohio State – Four straight wins including three Fiesta Bowls and a national title. Before this run, OSU lost three of its previous four.
4. LSU – Won seven of the last nine including the 2003 Sugar over Oklahoma for the national title.
5. Texas – Won four of the last five including two straight Rose Bowls and a national title

Best of the rest ....
Boise State – The Broncos might have lost its last two, but one was on a last-second misfire against Boston College in the MPC Computer Bowls and one was in a 44-40 classic against Louisville in the Fort Worth Bowl. They won their previous five.
Clemson – Won three of its last four.
Georgia – Has won seven of the last nine.
Hawaii – 5-2 all-time after beating Arizona State.
Maryland – You have to go back to 1984, but the Terps have won five of its last six.
Miami – Won seven of the last nine, but lost to LSU 40-3 in last year’s Peach Bowl.
Minnesota – Lost in a 34-31 stunner to Virginia in the 2005 Music City Bowl, but won the previous three.
Navy – Three wins in the last four including two straight. Oregon State – Has won three of its last four.
Penn State – Won three of its last four and eight of its last 11 including the 2006 Orange Bowl and the 1994 Rose.
Texas Tech – Lost to Alabama in last year’s Cotton Bowl, but won the previous three.
Wake Forest – Won its last three going back to 1992.
Wisconsin – Won eight of the 11 since Barry Alvarez turned things around including three Rose Bowls and a Capital One Bowl win over Auburn last year.

Coldest …
1. Notre Dame – Lost eight straight going back to the 1994 Fiesta Bowl.
2. New Mexico – 3-8 all-time with five straight defeats. Even with a home bowl against San Jose State this year, the Lobos lost.
3. Houston – Has lost six straight going back to the 1981 Sun Bowl.
4. Texas A&M – After losing to Cal in the Holiday Bowl, it’s on a string of six losses in its last seven.
5. West Virginia – The team had one sensational half against Georgia to get the Sugar Bowl win. Before that, the program lost 11 of its previous 12.

Worst of the rest …
– Beat Missouri in 2003 Independence Bowl, but lost ten of the previous 11.
BYU – Broke a four game losing streak with the win over Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl. Is 8-16-1 all-time.

East Carolina
– Lost three of its last four after losing to South Florida in the Bowl.

Florida – Beat Iowa in last year’s Outback, lost five of the previous six.
Kansas State – With the loss to Rutgers in the Texas Bowl, lost three of the last four.
Kentucky – Lost three straight and four of its last five going back to the 1983 Hall of Fame Bowl.
Louisville – Lost three of its last four.
Michigan – Lost three straight and four of five including two Rose Bowls.

– After the pathetic performance to BYU in this year’s Las Vegas Bowl, the Ducks have lost four straight.

Purdue – Has lost five of the last six, but all were relatively close.
Rice – You have to go back to 1957, but it’s lost four straight including a stunner to Troy in the New Orleans Bowl.
South Carolina – 3-11 all-time, but won three straight before last year’s loss to Missouri in the Independence Bowl.
UCLA – With the Emerald Bowl loss to Florida State, the Bruins have lost seven of their last ten after being amazing winning nine straight from 1982 to 1991.