Photo courtesy of Ohio State athletics
The last few decades in college football have seen numerous changes.
The number of bowl games alone since 1990 has gone more than doubled from 19 to 40 in 2019. The number of FBS teams has also risen since then from 106 to 130. The name FBS is also pretty new. It was previously known as Division I-A.
In 1998, college football moved from the Bowl Alliance to the Bowl Championship Series. The BCS featured multiple formula changes. It went from four bowls — the Orange, Rose, Fiesta and Sugar — to five in 2006. The fifth game was the BCS National Championship, which rotated between the other four bowl venues.
In 2014, the College Football Playoff came to be and two more bowls were designated as major ones — the Peach Bowl and the Cotton Bowl. These bowls came to be known as the New Year’s Six. Going back to the BCS, we looked at the teams that have won the most BCS and New Year’s Six bowls:
1. Ohio State (11)
BCS/NY6 Record: 11-6*
First Win: Beat Texas A&M in Sugar Bowl, 24-14 (1998)
Most Recent Win: Beat Washington in Rose Bowl, 28-23 (2018)
BCS/CFP National Titles: Two (2002, 2014)
Overview: Since 1998, Ohio State has the most major bowl appearances and the most wins. The Buckeyes have claimed two national championships and played for two others. Of the six major bowl losses for Ohio State, three have come to Clemson. The Buckeyes have won BCS and New Year’s Six bowls under three different head coaches. They’ve played in major bowls under four different coaches since 1998.
2. Alabama (9)
BCS/NY6 Record: 9-5
First Win: Beat Texas in BCS National Championship, 37-21 (2009)
Most Recent Win: Beat Oklahoma in Orange Bowl, 45-34 (2018 College Football Playoff)
BCS/CFP National Titles: Five (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017)
Overview: Alabama is second on the list despite not winning a BCS game until the 2009 season. Five of the nine major bowl wins on the list for the Crimson Tide have been national championships. Alabama fell to Clemson in the title game two other times.
T-3. Clemson (7)
BCS/NY6 Record: 7-4
First Win: Beat Ohio State in Orange Bowl, 40-35 (2013)
Most Recent Win: Beat Ohio State in Fiesta Bowl (2019 College Football Playoff)
BCS/CFP National Titles: Two (2016, 2018)
Overview: Of the teams on the list, Clemson was the last team to win a BCS bowl. The Tigers have won two national championships since 2015 and played for two others. Three of the four losses for Clemson in major bowls since 1998 have come in the College Football Playoff. The other was a 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl to cap the 2011 season. Of Clemson’s seven wins, five come against Ohio State and Alabama.
T-3. Florida (7)
BCS/NY6 Record: 7-2
First Win: Beat Syracuse in Orange Bowl, 31-10 (1998)
Most Recent Win: Beat Virginia in Orange Bowl, 36-28 (2019)
BCS/CFP National Titles: Two (2006, 2008)
Overview: Since 1998, Florida has won major bowl games under three different head coaches. After winning the Orange Bowl twice in Steve Spurrier’s final four seasons, the Gators won three BCS bowls in a 4-year span under Urban Meyer, including national championships in 2006 and 2008. Florida has won New Year’s Six bowls in each of its first two seasons under Dan Mullen. Both losses in BCS games for Florida came in the Sugar Bowl. The Gators fell to Miami in 2000 and to Louisville in 2012.
T-3. LSU (7)
BCS/NY6 Record: 7-1
First Win: Beat Illinois in Sugar Bowl, 47-34 (2001)
Most Recent Win: Beat Clemson in National Championship, 42-25 (2019)
BCS/CFP National Titles: Three (2003, 2007, 2019)
Overview: LSU has the best winning percentage of any team on the list. Since the inception of the BCS, the Tigers have won three national championships under three different head coaches — Nick Saban, Les Miles and Ed Orgeron. The lone BCS loss for LSU came in a 2011 rematch for the national title. After beating Alabama 9-6 during the regular season, the Crimson Tide blanked the Tigers for college football’s ultimate prize, 21-0.
T-3. USC (7)
BCS/NY6 Record: 7-2**
First Win: Beat Iowa in Orange Bowl, 38-17 (2002)
Most Recent Win: Beat Penn State in Rose Bowl, 52-49 (2016)
BCS/CFP National Titles: One (2004**)
Overview: During the middle part of the 2000s, USC was college football’s premier program. Although they weren’t BCS national champions, the Trojans were No. 1 in the final AP Poll in 2003, sharing the national title with LSU. USC blasted Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl to win the 2004 title before losing to Texas at the Rose Bowl for the title the following year. Unfortunately for USC, those championships would ultimately be vacated. Aside from Texas in the Rose Bowl for the 2005 title, the only other loss for USC came against Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl to close 2017. USC won three straight Rose Bowls from 2006-08.
*Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas to cap 2008 season was vacated
**Orange Bowl win over USC for the BCS National Championship to cap the 2004 season was vacated