Photo courtesy of Ohio State athletics
It’s been less than a month since we said goodbye to college football.
Although a handful of bowls were canceled, it was an exciting bowl season and an exciting college football season all around. Georgia claimed college football’s ultimate prize, but a number of programs enjoyed great seasons.
This piece, which has been done for three years now, looks at programs who are used to having great seasons. Below, we look at the programs with the most victories in Bowl Championship Series (BCS) and New Year’s Six bowls since the inception of the BCS in 1998.
1. Ohio State (13)
BCS/NY6 Record: 13-7*
First Win: Beat Texas A&M in Sugar Bowl, 24-14 (1998)
Most Recent Win: Beat Utah in Rose Bowl, 48-45 (2021)
BCS/CFP National Titles: Two (2002, 2014)
Overview: Ohio State failed to win the Big Ten this season for the first time since 2016, but it did finish on a high note. The Buckeyes closed the year with a thrilling 48-45 victory over Utah in the Rose Bowl. That was enough to keep Ohio State atop this list.
2. Alabama (12)
BCS/NY6 Record: 12-6
First Win: Beat Texas in BCS National Championship, 37-21 (2009)
Most Recent Win: Beat Cincinnati in Cotton Bowl, 27-6 (2021)
BCS/CFP National Titles: Six (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2020)
Overview: Alabama fell one win shy of its seventh national championship under head coach Nick Saban. The Crimson Tide still have 12 major bowl victories in 13 years under the legendary head coach.
T-3. Clemson (7)
BCS/NY6 Record: 7-5
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: For the first time since 2014, Clemson failed to win the ACC. That resulted in the Tigers settling for a Cheez-It Bowl victory over Iowa State and an 11th straight 10-win season. Clemson enters 2022 with the longest active winning streak among Power 5 schools.
T-3. Florida (7)
BCS/NY6 Record: 7-3
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: A disappointing 6-7 season that led to the dismissal of head coach Dan Mullen ultimately ended Florida’s string of three consecutive New Year’s Six bowl appearances. New head coach Billy Napier will be held to a high standard in Gainesville. Four of the last six head coaches for the Gators have taken the program to a major bowl.
T-3. Georgia (7)
BCS/NY6 Record: 7-3
First Win: Beat Florida State in Sugar Bowl, 23-13 (2002)
Most Recent Win: Beat Alabama in College Football Playoff National Championship, 33-18 (2021)
BCS/CFP National Titles: One (2021)
Overview: This is the third year that we have updated this list and Georgia is making its first appearance. Under Mark Richt, the Bulldogs went 2-1 in the Sugar Bowl. In six seasons under head coach Kirby Smart, Georgia has won five New Year’s Six bowls and made seven. This season, Georgia topped Alabama in an SEC Championship rematch for its first national championship in 41 years.
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: In 2019, LSU won its third national championship since 2003. Since then however, the Tigers have not managed a winning season. After a 5-5 finish in 2020, LSU suffered its first losing season since 1999 this past year. The Tigers do have the best winning percentage in major bowls of any team on this list. New head coach Brian Kelly will try to add some victories to this list.
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: USC is coming off its worst season since 1991 and its second losing campaign in four years. During the middle part of the 2000s however, 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. New head coach Lincoln Riley hopes to return the Trojans to their winning ways.
*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
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.