Home Schools With Most BCS/NY6 Appearances and No Wins

Schools With Most BCS/NY6 Appearances and No Wins

by Mike Ferguson

Photo courtesy of Notre Dame athletics

At Fifth Quarter, we annually review the schools with the most BCS and New Year’s Six victories.

In this piece, we’ll be looking at more schools who are no stranger to major bowl games. For these schools however, the bowl victories have escaped them.

The BCS was formed in 1998 as a way to determine a national champion. In 2014, the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six emerged.

Here’s a look at the schools with the most BCS and New Year’s Six bowl appearances without a win:

1. Notre Dame (8)

BCS/NY6 Record: 0-8
First Loss: Lost to Oregon State in Fiesta Bowl, 41-9 (2000)
Most Recent Loss: Lost to Oklahoma State in Fiesta Bowl, 37-35 (2021)
Overview: Three different head coaches have led Notre Dame to a BCS or New Year’s Six bowl. None of the three however, managed to lead the Fighting Irish to a victory. The average margin of defeat for Notre Dame in these games is greater than 20 points. This past season’s 37-35 loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl was Notre Dame’s lone BCS or New Year’s Six loss by fewer than 14 points. The Fighting Irish blew a 28-7 lead in the loss.

2. Cincinnati (4)

BCS/NY6 Record: 0-4
First Loss: Lost to Virginia Tech in Orange Bowl, 20-7 (2008)
Most Recent Loss: Lost to Alabama in Cotton Bowl, 27-6 (2021)
Overview: Like Notre Dame, Cincinnati is another program that found great regular season success under head coach Brian Kelly, but was unable to score a major bowl victory. Although he left for Notre Dame prior to the Sugar Bowl to close the 2009 season, Kelly led the Bearcats to back-to-back Big East crowns in 2008 and 2009. Luke Fickell has guided the Bearcats to perfect regular seasons in each of the last two years. Although it came up well short against Alabama this past season, Cincinnati became the first Group of 5 school to make the College Football Playoff.

T-3. Illinois (2)

BCS/NY6 Record: 0-2
First Loss: Lost to LSU in Sugar Bowl, 47-34 (2001)
Most Recent Loss: Lost to USC in Rose Bowl, 49-17 (2007)
Overview: Many may forget, but it was Illinois that Nick Saban defeated for his first BCS bowl victory in 2001. That year, the Fighting Illini were the unlikely Big Ten champion under Ron Turner. With Ohio State getting to play for the national championship in 2007, Illinois earned a trip to Pasadena under Ron Zook in 2007, only to be thrashed by USC. Zook remains the last coach to have a winning season in Champaign. That came in 2011.

T-3. Kansas State (2)

BCS/NY6 Record: 0-2
First Loss: Lost to Ohio State in Fiesta Bowl, 35-28 (2003)
Most Recent Loss: Lost to Oregon in Fiesta Bowl, 35-17 (2012)
Overview: Kansas State won the Fiesta Bowl in 1997 — the year prior to the formation of the BCS — but is 0-2 in trips since. In two stints under Bill Snyder, the Wildcats claimed the Big 12 title only to fall in Arizona to close the year.

T-3. Pittsburgh (2)

BCS/NY6 Record: 0-2
First Loss: Lost to Utah in Fiesta Bowl, 35-7 (2004)
Most Recent Loss: Lost to Michigan State in Peach Bowl, 31-21 (2021)
Overview: Of all the teams on this list, Pittsburgh has the longest stretch in between major bowl appearances. As champions of the Big East in 2004, the Panthers fell to Urban Meyer’s undefeated Utah team in the Fiesta Bowl. This past season, ACC champion Pitt led Michigan State in the fourth quarter of the Peach Bowl without standout quarterback Kenny Pickett. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, Michigan State scored 21 unanswered points in the final period.

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.