The 2016-17 edition of college football’s postseason is stacked full of 40 FBS bowl games, one FCS contest, and then the third-ever CFB Playoff title game.
The total number of games is static with last season, up from 39 in 2014, 18 in 1995, 11 in 1975, and only six in 1955. As of today, 80 of the 128 FBS programs ascend to a bowl game, that’s 63% of the field.
The five oldest are the Rose (1902), the Orange, Sun and Sugar (all 1935), and the Cotton (1937). The two newest are the Arizona and the Cure, both which debuted last season.
Florida leads the pack with nine bowl games within its state lines, followed by Texas with six, California with four and Louisiana, Alabama and Arizona tied at three each.
With 40-plus non-conference games in 15 days, there is something for everybody. Take a look at the following fantastic facts associated with this season’s bowl buffet.
Did you know…
TWO teams will go bowling on their home field
Though a handful of teams will be playing in their home state, NEW MEXICO and HAWAII will actually play their bowl game at home. For New Mexico, it’s the New Mexico Bowl vs. UTSA on Saturday, Dec. 17. For Hawaii, it’s the Hawaii Bowl vs. Middle Tennessee on Saturday, Dec. 24.
The Lobos are 5-1 at home this season vs. 2-3 on the road. The Warriors, at 3-3 at home and 3-3 on the road, have less of an advantage.
FIVE Games feature Power vs. Non-Power Matchups
In 2015, two non-Power teams managed to upset Power conference members during bowl season: (21) Navy beat Pitt in the Military Bowl and (18) Houston beat (9) Florida State in the Peach Bowl. Here’s a look at smaller schools with the same opportunity this year.
St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami, Ohio (MAC) vs. Mississippi State (SEC)
Military Bowl: (24) Temple (AAC) vs. Wake Forest (ACC)
Cactus Bowl: Boise State (MWC) vs. Baylor (B12)
Birmingham Bowl: USF (AAC) vs. South Carolina (SEC)
Cotton Bowl: (15) WMU (MAC) vs. (8) Wisconsin (B10)
WAKE FOREST has NEVER scored a point against (24) TEMPLE
Not only will Wake Forest have an opportunity to score a bowl win for the first time since 2008, it will have a chance to score on the Owls for the first time in history. The two schools have met only once previously, in 1930 in Philadelphia, a game Temple won 36-0.
The reunion is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 27 in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md.
FOUR games are being played in MLB stadiums
Four of the 40 bowl games, or 10 percent, will be played in venues normally used for baseball.
Miami Beach Bowl (Central Michigan vs. Tulsa) in Marlins Park – home of the Miami Marlins – ironically, it’s located on the former site of the old Orange Bowl.
St. Petersburg Bowl (Miami Ohio vs. Mississippi State) in Tropicana Field – home of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Cactus Bowl (Boise State vs. Baylor) in Chase Field – home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Pinstripe Bowl (No. 23 Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern) in Yankee Stadium – home of the New York Yankees.
MIAMI (OHIO) has ELEVEN wins against current SEC members
In perhaps the stat of the season – Miami (Ohio) is 11-18-1 all-time vs. the SEC. Here’s a look at the wins listed chronologically.
1912 – 13-8 win over Kentucky in Lexington.
1920 – 14-0 win over Kentucky in Oxford, Ohio.
1972 – 21-8 win over South Carolina in Columbia
1973 – 13-11 win over South Carolina in Columbia
1973 – 16-7 win over Florida in the Tangerine Bowl
1974 – 14-10 over Kentucky in Lexington
1974 – 21-10 win over Georgia in the Tangerine Bowl
1975 – 20-7 win over South Carolina in the Tangerine Bowl
1979 – 15-14 win over Kentucky in Lexington
1986 – 21-12 win over LSU in Baton Rouge
2000 – 33-0 win over Vanderbilt in Nashville
The RedHawks will get a chance to improve their record on Mon. Dec. 26 in the St. Petersburg Bowl vs. Mississippi State.
FOUR of the games feature two teams without winning records
Ten percent of this year’s contests pit teams against each other who both didn’t make it above .500 in the regular season. Yikes.
New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 17) – (6-6) Southern Miss vs. (6-6) UL Lafayette
St. Petersburg Bowl (Dec. 26) – (6-6) Miami, Ohio vs. (5-7) Mississippi State
Quick Lane Bowl (Dec. 26) – (6-6) Maryland vs. (6-6) Boston College
Independence Bowl (Dec. 26) – (6-6) NC State vs. (6-6) Vanderbilt
ARMY and NORTH TEXAS are the only two teams who have already played in 2016
The only rematch from the regular season in this year’s bowl lineup, Army and North Texas met on Oct. 22 at West Point – the Mean Green won the game 35-18. It was North Texas’s first-ever win over the Black Knights.
The two play again on Dec. 27, in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in the historic Cotton Bowl, a mere 45 miles from the North Texas campus.
THREE games will be played in the same stadium
The staff that runs Camping World Stadium (previously known as the Citrus Bowl and the Tangerine Bowl) in Orlando, Fla. will have to set up and take down three separate bowl games in a matter of 15 days.
First up, it’s Cure Bowl (UCF-Arkansas State) on Dec. 17, then the Russell Athletic Bowl (No. 16 West Virginia-Miami Fla.) on Dec. 28 and finally the Citrus Bowl (No. 20 LSU- 13 Louisville) on Dec. 31.
EASTERN MICHIGAN snaps the BIGGEST bowl drought
No fanbase has waited longer to go bowling than the Eagles of Ypsilanti. It’s been 29 seasons since Eastern Michigan streaked to a 10-2 record, winning its only MAC title and beating San Jose State in the California Bowl in Fresno.
The 1987 season also marked the programs’ best-ever finish and the only time it has achieved double-digit wins.
FOUR Teams Have NEVER Lost a Bowl Game
Even though these four haven’t appeared often in late December, they’ve never let their fans down when they did. All but one of the schools, Eastern Michigan, hails from the Sun Belt conference.
UL LAFAYETTE – 4-0 all-time – wins in the 2011, ‘12, ‘13 and ‘14 New Orleans Bowls. Playing Southern Miss in, what else, the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 17.
IDAHO – 2-0 all-time – wins in the 1998 and 2009 Humanitarian Bowls. Playing Colorado State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 22.
APPALACHIAN STATE – 1-0 all-time – won the 2015 Camellia Bowl. Playing Toledo in Camellia Bowl on Dec. 17.
EASTERN MICHIGAN – 1-0 all-time – won the 1987 California Bowl. Playing Old Dominion in the Bahamas Bowl on Dec. 23.
The RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL has had the most previous names
The postseason game with the most severe case of multiple personality disorder is the Russell Athletic, which has had a whopping seven different names since it kicked off in 1990.
Take a look: Blockbuster Bowl (1990-93), Carquest Bowl (1994-97), MicronPC Bowl (1998-2000), Florida Tourism Bowl (2001), Mazda Bowl (2002-2003), Champs Sports Bowl (2004-2011) and finally, the Russell Athletic Bowl (2012-present).
THREE games feature matchups we haven’t seen in 50-plus years
The postseason version of “Reunited and it feels so go” features three combos that are at least as old as my sister.
GEORGIA TECH vs. KENTUCKY – last met in 1960 – reuniting in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Dec. 31.
MEMPHIS vs. WESTERN KENTUCKY – last met in 1956 – reuniting in the Boca Raton Bowl on Dec. 20.
(24) TEMPLE vs. WAKE FOREST – last met in 1930 – reuniting in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27.
(19) UTAH is the team with the BEST all-time bowl record with five or more appearances
The Utes are 15-4 (78.9%) all-time in bowl action, putting them ahead of the next closest competitors TCU (15-5-1 – 73.8%) and Miami, Ohio (7-3 – 70%).
Utah plays Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl, TCU plays Georgia in the Liberty Bowl, and Miami (Ohio) plays Mississippi State in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
FIVE teams haven’t won a bowl game in more than a decade
The following five schools, listed by the year they last won, have waited the longest in this year’s field to taste from the chalice of postseason glory. Snapping the streak will be more difficult for three of the five, tasked with facing ranked opponents.
2006 – HAWAII – last bowl win vs. Arizona State in the Hawaii Bowl, 0-3 since. Plays Middle Tennessee in the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24.
2006 – MIAMI (FLA.) – last bowl win vs. Nevada in the MPC Computers Bowl, 0-6 since. Plays (16) West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 28.
2004 – (10) COLORADO – last bowl win vs. UTEP in the Houston Bowl, 0-2 since. Plays (12) Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29.
1991 – INDIANA – last bowl win vs. Baylor in the Copper Bowl, 0-3 since. Plays (19) Utah in the Foster Farms Bowl on Dec. 28.
1987 – EASTERN MICHIGAN – last and only bowl win vs. San Jose State in the California Bowl – 0-0 since. Plays Old Dominion in the Bahamas Bowl on Dec. 23.
All but NINE games will be aired on ESPN
The leader in sports will lead the way this bowl season by covering 78% of the games on its flagship channel. If you add in the four games airing on ABC and the one on ESPN2, 90% of the games will be covered by the family of networks.
Here are the four exceptions: The Cure Bowl (UCF vs. Arkansas State) on CBSSN, the Foster Farms Bowl (Indiana vs. No. 19 Utah) on FOX, the Sun Bowl (No. 18 Stanford vs. North Carolina) on CBS, and the Arizona Bowl (South Alabama vs. Air Force) on ASN/CampusInsiders.
SEVEN Games feature matchups between former conference rivals
These pairings go way back – to when the two schools played each other regularly. It’s an opportunity to show your old league how far you’ve come, or on the flip side, to firmly state, “We’d still be beating the junk out of you.”
Texas Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Kansas State – members of the Big 12 together from 1996-2011. The two split their Big 12 meetings 5-5.
Alamo Bowl: (12) Oklahoma State vs. (10) Colorado – members of the Big Eight together from 1960-95 and the Big 12 from 1996-2011. Colorado leads the series 24-19-1 in conference play.
New Orleans Bowl: Southern Miss vs. UL Lafyette – members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association from 1928-41 and the Gulf States from 1948-51. Southern Miss leads 13-6 in conference play.
Poinsettia Bowl: BYU vs. Wyoming – members of the Rocky Mountain Athletic from 1922-37, the Mountain States Athletic from 1938-61, the WAC from 1962-98, and the Mountain West from 1999-2010. BYU leads 44-30-3.
Quick Lane Bowl: Boston College vs. Maryland – members of the ACC from 2005-13 – Boston College leads 7-2 in conference play.
Russell Athletic Bowl: (16) West Virginia vs. Miami (Fla.) – members of the Big East from 1991-2003 – Miami (Fla.) leads 11-2 in conference play.
TaxSlayer Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky – members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association 1896-1922, the Southern from 1923-32 and the SEC from 1933-63 – Georgia Tech leads 11-7-1.
(21) TENNESSEE and NEBRASKA have the most combined bowl experience
The Volunteers (51) and Cornhuskers (52) have over 100 previous bowl appearances between them, making the Music City Bowl the most experienced game of the season.
Coming in a close second is the Peach at 99 (No. 4 Washington – 35 and No. 1 Alabama 64) and then the Rose at 98 (No. 9 USC – 52 and No. 5 Penn State – 46).
SIX games feature a matchup we have NEVER been seen before
Of the six first-ever meetings, two are never-seen before clashes between the SEC and ACC.
Camellia Bowl – Appalachian State vs. Toledo
St. Petersburg Bowl – Miami (Ohio) vs. Mississippi State
Cactus Bowl – Boise State vs. Baylor
Belk Bowl – Arkansas vs. (22) Virginia Tech
Arizona Bowl – South Alabama vs. Air Force
Citrus Bowl – (20) LSU vs. (13) Louisville
(15) WESTERN MICHIGAN is the team with the WORST all-time bowl record with five or more appearances
The Broncos are 1-6 (14.3%) all-time in bowl action, the only win coming last season over Middle Tennessee in the Bahamas Bowl. The next lowest marks belong to Northwestern (2-10 – 16.7%) and Middle Tennessee (1-4 – 20%).
Western Michigan plays (8) Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl, Northwestern plays (23) Pitt in the Russell Athletic Bowl, and Middle Tennessee plays Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.
TWO teams are playing in their first ever bowl games
UTSA and OLD DOMINION will see bowl action for the first time in program history.
UTSA fielded its first football team in 2011, meaning it waited a mere five seasons to go bowling. The Roadrunners will face New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 17.
Old Dominion started football operations in 1930, but didn’t field a team from 1941-2008. It reappeared as an FCS school from 2009-13 and finally moved up to the FBS as a member of Conference USA in 2014. The Monarchs are set to square off Eastern Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl on Dec. 23.