Photo courtesy of UNLV athletics
With more than 40 FBS bowl games, making a postseason bowl in major college football is easier than ever before. Some schools, however, haven’t seen it that way of late.
In a 2-part series, we’ll be looking at which schools have the longest droughts without a bowl appearance. In cases where teams received a bowl invitation but had the contest canceled or were forced to drop out during the COVID-19 pandemic, that will be counted as a bowl appearance.
To wrap up the series, here’s the longest bowl drought in each Group of 5 conference:
American Athletic Conference
Program: South Florida
Last Bowl: Lost to Marshall in Gasparilla Bowl on Dec. 20, 2018
Overview: It wasn’t that long ago that South Florida appeared to be an emerging power in the AAC. In 2016 and 2017, the Bulls put together back-to-back program record 11-win seasons and finished in the top 25 each year. After a 7-6 season in 2018 under Charlie Strong, USF has managed to go just 7-26 over the last three seasons and a dismal 3-20 in conference play. The Bulls have just a single win over an FBS program over the last two years.
Last Bowl: Beat Fresno State 30-6 in Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24, 2014
Overview: With a 4-8 record, Rice just enjoyed its best season since 2015. Still, the Owls haven’t made a bowl game since drubbing Fresno State in the 2014 Hawaii Bowl. Since 1994, Rice has had just eight winning seasons. To its credit — or to its fault — it has only had four head coaches over that stretch. Since the Hawaii Bowl win over the Bulldogs, Rice has averaged less than three wins per season.
Last Bowl: Never
Overview: Technically not a conference, it seemed wrong to leave FBS Independents out of the series. One of the newest FBS members, Massachusetts is still waiting for its first bowl appearance. Since becoming an FBS program in 2012, UMass hasn’t won more than four games in any season. The Minutemen are 20-92 over the last decade and have just two total wins over the last three seasons.
Program: Bowling Green
Last Bowl: Lost to Georgia Southern 58-27 in GoDaddy Bowl on Dec. 23, 2015
Overview: A MAC finalist every year from 2013 to 2015 and a 2-time champion, Bowling Green has fallen on hard times. Since a 10-win campaign under Dino Babers in 2015, the Falcons haven’t won more than four games in any season. That included a winless campaign against a MAC-only schedule in 2020. Bowling Green will try to avoid a seventh straight losing season in 2022. That hasn’t happened since the Falcons joined the MAC.
Last Bowl: Lost to North Texas 36-14 in Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1, 2014
Overview: UNLV enters the 2022 campaign, coming off of nine straight losing seasons. Since 2001, the Runnin’ Rebels’ Heart of Dallas Bowl loss to North Texas to cap the 2013 season remains their only bowl appearance. The 2013 season is the only one over that stretch where UNLV finished with a winning conference record. Over the last two seasons, the Rebels are just 2-16 overall.
Program: Texas State
Last Bowl: Never
Overview: Entering its 11th season as an FBS program, Texas State is one of just two FBS programs that has yet to play in a bowl game. The Bobcats found some success early as they transitioned to an FBS program. They went 6-6 in 2013 and 7-5 in 2014 under Dennis Franchione. Last season’s 4-8 finished marked the best season for Texas State since. The Bobcats will try to avoid a ninth straight losing campaign in 2022.
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.