Looking over historical college football content, one took notice of the 1972 college football season.
Going back 50 years, there were only 11 bowl slots — 22 opportunities for a team to play a game following the regular season. If those standards were still in place today, there wouldn’t even be enough bowls to accommodate each team ranked in the AP or Coaches Poll.
With 43 bowl games on the docket for 2022, there is a pretty good chance that someone will limp into a bowl with a losing record. For someone who wants to take in as much college football as possible, this is hardly a complaint.
While bowl games aren’t hard to make nowadays, winning them still has its challenges. Here’s a look at the nation’s five longest bowl losing streaks:
T-4. Michigan (5)
The Wolverines have been to a lot of bowl games during the Jim Harbaugh era, but have just a 1-5 record. It seems like teams from the southeast have been a Kryptonite. All five losses are to schools from the southeast.
- 2016 Orange Bowl: Florida State 33, Michigan 32
- 2018 Outback Bowl: South Carolina 26, Michigan 19
- 2018 Peach Bowl: Florida 41, Michigan 15
- 2019 Citrus Bowl: Alabama 35, Michigan 16
- 2021 Orange Bowl: Georgia 34, Michigan 11
T-4. North Texas (5)
Seth Littrell has been a great coach for the Mean Green. North Texas has consistently had winning seasons and reached bowl games. Unfortunately, winning those bowl games has been a completely different story.
- 2016 Heart of Dallas Bowl: Army 38, North Texas 31 (Overtime)
- 2017 New Orleans Bowl: Troy 50, North Texas 30
- 2018 New Mexico Bowl: Utah State 52, North Texas 13
- 2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl: Appalachian State 56, North Texas 28
- 2021 Frisco Bowl: Miami University 27, North Texas 14
3. Indiana (6)
Indiana football has been around since 1887 and has only participated in 13 bowl games throughout its entire history. The last four bowl appearances for the Hoosiers were absolute heartbreakers.
- 1993 Independence Bowl: Virginia Tech 45, Indiana 20
- 2007 Insight Bowl: Oklahoma State 49, Indiana 33
- 2015 Pinstripe Bowl: Duke 44, Indiana 41 (Overtime)
- 2016 Foster Farms Bowl: Utah 26, Indiana 24
- 2019 Gator Bowl: Tennessee 23, Indiana 22
- 2020 Outback Bowl: Ole Miss 26, Indiana 20
T-1. Northern Illinois (7)
The Huskies of Northern Illinois are currently on a 7-game bowl losing streak. The streak started with a magical 2012 season that culminated in the program’s first BCS bowl bid but ended horribly in a 31-10 Orange Bowl loss to Florida State. In general. bowl games have been difficult to win for this program. The Huskies are 4-10 all-time in bowls.
- 2012 Orange Bowl: Florida State 31, Northern Illinois 10
- 2013 Poinsettia Bowl: Utah State 21, Northern Illinois 14
- 2014 Boca Raton Bowl: Marshall 52, Northern Illinois 23
- 2015 Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State 55, Northern Illinois 7
- 2017 Quick Lane Bowl: Duke 36, Northern Illinois 14
- 2018 Boca Raton Bowl: UAB 37, Northern Illinois 13
- 2021 Cure Bowl: Coastal Carolina 47, Northern Illinois 41
T.-1 UTEP (7)
The Miners of UTEP sparingly make it to bowl games, but that could be about to change. This bowl losing streak for UTEP spans all the way back to 1988. UTEP appeared in its first bowl in seven years in 2021, but dropped a 1-possession game to Fresno State.
- 1988 Independence Bowl: Southern Miss 38, UTEP 18
- 2000 Humanitarian Bowl: Boise State 38, UTEP 23
- 2004 Houston Bowl: Colorado 33, UTEP 28
- 2005 GMAC Bowl: Toledo 45, UTEP 13
- 2010 New Mexico Bowl: BYU 52, UTEP 24
- 2014 New Mexico Bowl: Utah State 21, UTEP 6
- 2021 New Mexico Bowl: Fresno State 31, UTEP 24
Featured image credit: Ruben R. Ramirez/UTEP athletics