Five straight bowls: Just how many teams?
When running through the accomplishments of his young football program, one of the first things USF coach Jim Leavitt will point to is the Bulls' four straight bowl appearances. It's important to USF because the Bulls didn't make a bowl until that streak started, and perhaps the only more impressive accomplishment is USF's record against ranked opponents in recent years.
But just how many teams can boast four straight bowls, and how many are in position to make it five straight this winter? Remember, of course, that there are 34 bowls in the current lineup, so making it to a bowl four straight years doesn't require greatness so much as a consistent ability to get to seven wins.
The answer is 31 teams -- fully a quarter of the 120 teams in I-A football have been to four straight bowls, and of those 31, 23 have won at least twice in that span, as USF has.
It's hard to quantify bowl success by wins and losses -- Oklahoma and Ohio State are 1-3 in the past four years, but are playing in elite games compared to Tulsa, which is 3-1. Here are the 31 teams, with their record in the last four bowls:
ACC (5): Boston College 3-1, Florida State 2-2, Virginia Tech 2-2, Clemson 1-3, Georgia Tech 0-4.
SEC (4): LSU 4-0, Florida 3-1, Georgia 3-1, Alabama 2-2.
Big 12 (4): Texas 4-0, Missouri 3-1, Texas Tech 2-2, Oklahoma 1-3.
Pac-10 (3): California 4-0, USC 3-1, Oregon 2-2.
Big East (3): West Virginia 4-0, Rutgers 3-1, USF 2-2.
Big Ten (3): Penn State 3-1, Wisconsin 2-2, Ohio State 1-3.
Mountain West (3): TCU 4-0, Utah 4-0, BYU 2-2.
Conference USA (3): Southern Miss 3-1, Tulsa 3-1, Houston 1-3.
Western Athletic (2): Boise State 1-3, Nevada 1-3.
Independent: Navy 1-3.
How many of those 31, you ask, are in position to continue their bowl streak? Twenty-two of them are already bowl-eligible, and of the other nine, most are on pace to keep their streaks alive. Rutgers and USF are 6-2 -- both have beaten two I-AA teams, but one of them will be eligible after they meet Thursday.
Four teams -- Missouri, Oklahoma, Georgia and Southern Miss -- are 5-4, but all should be able to pick up one win in their last three games. Nevada is 5-3, and the only two teams in really bad shape are FSU and Tulsa, who are both 4-5. If the Seminoles can beat Wake Forest and Maryland, they'll be eligible before they go to Gainesville to face top-ranked Florida.