Coming into the 2007 college football 32-bowl game extravaganza that men love and women generally hate, here are some interesting facts to impress your friends:
Which team playing this year has made the most bowl game appearances? Here are the Top 10: 1) Alabama with 54, 2) Texas and Tennessee, both 46, 4) Southern California 45, 5) Georgia 42, 6) Oklahoma 40, 7) Penn State 39, and 8) Louisiana State, Michigan and Ohio State, all three at 38.
Which team playing this year has the most bowl game victories? Here are the Top 8: 1) Alabama with 30, 2) Southern California 29, 3) Penn State 25, 4) Oklahoma and Tennessee, both 24, 6) Georgia and Texas, both 23, and 8) Georgia Tech, 22.
Which team playing this year has the best bowl game won-loss percentage? Here are the Top 7: 1) Utah 9-3 at 75%, 2) Boise State and Hawaii, both 5-2 at 71%, 4) Penn State 25-12-2 at 67%, 5) Boston College 12- 6 at 66%, and 6) Oklahoma State 11-6 and Southern California 29-16, both at 64%.
Here are the first 4 winners of this year's 2007 college football bowl game results:
Poinsettia Bowl – Utah Beats Navy by a Field Goal, 35-32
Navy led Utah 10-7 at the half, fell behind 35-24 in the 4th quarter, and then roared back to score on a 58-yard touchdown pass and 2-point conversion, making it 35-32. Navy even recovered the expected onside kick, but Utah's Joe Dale intercepted a pass on the ensuing drive to seal the victory.
Utah's win should have come as no surprise because among the 64 teams that competed in 32 bowl games, Utah came into the game with the best bowl game winning percentage-75-with a 9-3 record that is now 10-3 (77% rounded). Utah finishes its season at 9-4; Navy drops to 8-5.
New Orleans Bowl – Florida Atlantic Beats Memphis Easily, 44-27
Florida Atlantic University, its 73-year-old coach Howard Schnellenberger, and the Owls' players have officially and emphatically answered the question, "FA-who?" by whipping Memphis 44-27. The New Orleans Bowl victory was the first bowl game for Florida Atlantic, which has only had a football team for 7 years and did not become a Division 1A team until 2005.
None of this was new to Howard Schnellenberger, who build the Florida Atlantic program from scratch. Schnellenberger's New Orleans Bowl victory was his 5th straight. He remains a perfect 100% (5-0) in bowl games during his 23 years as a head coach. It would be difficult to fault Schnellenberger on this bowl game preparation.
Schnellenberger led Miami (FL) to the 1983 national championship with an Orange Bowl triumph over Nebraska. He also won the 1980 Peach Bowl with Miami, and another two bowl games with Louisville, the 1990 Fiesta Bowl and the 1993 Liberty Bowl. Schnellenberger may be the only college coach in history with a 5-0 record when playing in only 5 bowl games.
Rusty Smith threw for 336 yards and a New Orleans Bowl-record 5 touchdowns to lead the Owls to victory. That was excellent news for the Owls, but even better news for Florida Atlantic was this: Smith finished the season with 3,688 yards passing and 32 touchdowns, and he is a sophomore. Florida Atlantic finished the year at 8-5 while Memphis dropped to 7-6.
Pappajohns.com Bowl – Cincinnati Beats Southern Mississippi 31-21
Shifty Ben Mauk passed for 334 yards and 4 touchdowns, and DeAngelo Smith intercepted 3 passes to lead the Bearcats to a 31-21 win against Southern Mississippi. The victory gave Cincinnati its second 10-win season at 10-3, its first 10-win season since 1951, and virtually assured the Bearcats of a spot in the final rankings for the first time.
Outgoing Golden Eagles coach Jeff Bower, who has coached Southern Mississippi for 17 seasons, had to endure a last-game loss after being pushed out the door after a disappointing season. The Golden Eagles were 7-6, hardly golden but all eagles.
"We played extremely hard," said Bower after the loss, "but obviously we did not make enough plays to win the game." Bower and his Golden Eagles were done in by first-year coach Brian Kelly and his spread offense.
It has been all offense this year with a lot of teams. Some college football fans mistakenly thought that defense had been cut out of the game by the NCAA. Actually, defense was allowed this year, but most teams did not play defense all season. That includes Southern Mississippi that was 1 of 93 among 119 Division 1A teams (78%) which gave up at least 3 touchdowns a game (21 points).
Cincinnati gave up an average of 18 a game to rank 11th nationally in scoring defense.
New Mexico Bowl – New Mexico Shuts Out Nevada 23-0
Paul Baker ran for 167 yards in his first start, Donovan Porterie threw for a career-high 354 yards, and the New Mexico Lobos defeated Nevada 23-0 for their first postseason victory since 1961.
After a long 46-year wait, Lobo fans saw their team win another bowl game and hold the vaunted Wolf Pack-which averaged nearly 500 yards a game and 36+ points-to zero, zip, nada. New Mexico sprinted to a 20-0 halftime lead and never looked back. New Mexico finished the year at 9-4 while Nevada dropped to 6-7, a losing season.
(Editor's Note: This is the 1st article of a series on the 2007 bowl game results.)
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley