The 50 Worst College Football Bowl Games in History
Bowl games are supposed to be season-ending rewards for solid performances during the season, but they're also supposed to put good football teams against other good football teams in entertaining matchups.
As we see here, that's not always the case. While anyone can point to a lopsided bowl win by their team as a “great game,” from the generic college football fan's perspective, a 49-point blowout isn't exactly what most are hoping to see.
Similarly, there are many bowl games in the past that have ended in kissing-your-sister ties, as well as the occasional mind-numbing scoreless ties.
So which bowl games are among the worst in college football history?
1902 Tournament of Roses East-West Football Game
Michigan vs. Stanford
The first game on our list is also widely considered the first college football bowl game. In 1901, the Tournament of Roses decided that funds needed to be raised to support the famous parade. The Tournament decided on sponsoring a football game between a school from the west coast and one from the east of the country. The Tournament East-West Football Game was the result, and this game eventually became the game we know today as the Rose Bowl.
In the first-ever Rose Bowl, Stanford and Michigan were the two teams selected, and the 10-0 Michigan team was a heavy favorite over 3-1-2 Stanford.
After running up 49 points on the hapless Stanford squad, and Stanford quit the game with eight minutes remaining.
Michigan finished the season 11-0, and was crowned national champions. Michigan was also dubbed the “point-a-minute” team, and they finished the season with 550 points without surrendering a single point all season.
1922 Tournament of Roses East-West Football Game
California vs. Washington & Jefferson
In the final “Tournament East-West Football Game” (the game was renamed the Rose Bowl Game in 1923, after the new stadium), a heavily-favored Cal team prepared to face an undefeated but otherwise unknown Washington & Jefferson Presidents football squad. Most California sports writers expected a massive Golden Bears victory, but the Presidents were a solid team in their own right, defeating Syracuse, Detroit, and Pitt earlier in the year—three eastern powerhouses of the day.
W&J could only afford to send 11 players on the cross-country trip, and the coach had to mortgage his house in order to finance the trip.
When the game was over, neither team was able to score a point, and the game ended in a 0-0 tie—the only scoreless tie in Rose Bowl history, and only one of four scoreless ties in major bowl history.
The game also tied a record for fewest passing yards in a football game since the forward pass was made a legal play: zero. This game also saw the first black quarterback to play in the Rose Bowl—more than four decades before the southern colleges and bowls integrated.
1948 Rose Bowl
Michigan vs. USC
The 1948 Rose Bowl pitted a 7-1-1 No. 8-ranked USC team against an undefeated and No. 2-ranked Michigan.
Michigan won the game easily, 49-0, emptying the Rose Bowl of its partisan USC crowd by midway through the fourth quarter.
In the aftermath of this game, the AP conducted its first-ever post-bowl poll at the urging of the Detroit Free Press. Prior to the bowl games, undefeated Notre Dame was ranked No. 1, and claimed the national championship. After Michigan's destruction of USC, AP writers were asked to select either Michigan or Notre Dame as the top team in the nation. Michigan received 266 votes to Notre Dame's 119.
1936 Sugar Bowl
TCU vs. LSU
This classic meeting between the the SEC and SWC saw the 11-1 TCU Horned Frogs clash with the favored 9-1 LSU Tigers at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.
If you like defense, this was the game for you. The only offensive points came from a second-quarter TCU field goal. LSU was awarded a safety later in the second quarter when TCU quarterback Sammy Baugh was penalized for intentional grounding while throwing from his own end zone.
TCU won, 3-2.
1940 Cotton Bowl Classic
Clemson vs. Boston College
The 1940 Cotton Bowl was another defensive snooze-fest filled with three-and-outs and very little offensive production.
The previously 8-1 Clemson Tigers defeated the 9-1 Boston College Eagles, 6-3.
1944 Cotton Bowl Classic
Texas vs. Randolph Field
During World War II, the shortage of college-age football players was felt even in the world of bowl games. The 1944 Cotton Bowl Classic was played not between two college teams, but between Texas and the boys from Randolph Field (today, Randolph Air Force Base).
Dana Bible led his No. 14 Longhorns to a 7-1 record in 1944, and were invited to play the Randolph Field Ramblers in the Cotton Bowl. The Ramblers were 9-1, and both teams were fairly evenly matched, consisting of many former Texas prep stars.
The teams were so evenly matched, in fact, that the neither team was able to move the ball effectively against the other. The game ended in a lackluster 7-7 tie.
1947 Cotton Bowl Classic
LSU vs. Arkansas
The 1947 Cotton Bowl Classic between LSU and Arkansas occurred at a time when many college football programs were just beginning to shake off the effects of personnel drainage due to World War II. LSU had put together an impressive team for the 1946 season, and posted a 9-1 record, good enough to have the Tigers ranked No. 8 in the final AP Poll. The Tigers were selected to play at the Cotton Bowl against the 6-3-1 Arkansas Razorbacks.
Prior to the game, weather forecasters warned of a unusually ferocious winter storm to blow through the area, and the game was pelted by rain, sleet, snow and ice. Even though every ticket had been sold, only 38,000 spectators actually showed up to watch the game.
What they saw a game where neither team could find the end zone.
LSU suffered a bad snap on an 18-yard field goal attempt as time expired, and the game ended in a 0-0 tie.
1948 Cotton Bowl Classic
SMU vs. Penn State
After the 1947 Cotton Bowl Classic ended in a 0-0 tie, fans in Dallas were hoping for a little more scoring and a winner in 1948. They'd get at least one of those.
SMU and Penn State were undefeated throughout the 1947 college football season, and both accepted bids to appear in the Cotton Bowl. Throughout the season, Penn State had held their opponents to an average of 17 rushing yards per game. While SMU fared better, running for 102.
After SMU jumped out to a 13-0 lead, the Nittany Lions marched down the field at the end of the second quarter against SMU reserves, and tightened the score at the half, 13-7. Penn State missed the extra point after a touchdown in the third quarter, and neither team was able to score again.
The game ended 13-13. Long before the era of “everybody gets a ribbon,” the 1948 Cotton Bowl Classic made sure each team got something for their undefeated season. Both teams received identical Cotton Bowl Champions trophies.
1959 Cotton Bowl Classic
TCU vs. Air Force
In what was another example of sputtering offenses and easily dominating defenses, TCU and Air Force battled to an unimpressive 0-0 tie in the 1959 Cotton Bowl Classic.
1981 Cotton Bowl Classic
Alabama vs. Baylor
In a colossal mismatch, the 1981 featured the Bear Bryant-coached 9-2 Crimson Tide from the SEC against the 10-1 Baylor Bears from the SWC.
In what is perhaps the first signs of the impending collapse of the SWC, Baylor showed that the best of the conference no longer matched up well against what the SEC had to offer. Right from the start of the game, the Tide ran roughshod over the Bears, and Baylor only managed to score when Alabama quarterback Walter Lewis was sacked in his own end zone for a safety.
Alabama won comfortably, 30-2.
1991 Cotton Bowl Classic
Miami (FL) vs. Texas
The Miami Hurricanes were coming off of their famous, if contentious 1989 national championship season, but suffered through two losses in 1990—to Notre Dame, and shockingly, to BYU. The Hurricanes were invited to play the surprising Texas Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day 1991. The Longhorns were coming off of a 5-6 season in 1989, but had beaten two top-five teams—Houston and Oklahoma—over the course of the 1990, and earned a bowl berth for the first time since 1987. Despite beginning the season ranked No. 23 in the AP Poll, the Longhorns had risen to No. 3, while the Hurricanes were No. 4.
Miami felt they needed to prove to the nation that they were still “The U,” and nothing would keep Miami from winning big games. By the fourth quarter, the heavily Texas-supporting crowd had largely cleared out of the Cotton Bowl, as the Hurricanes mercilessly ran up the score on a bewildered and over-matched Longhorns squad. Miami won, 46-3.
1995 Cotton Bowl Classic
USC vs. Texas Tech
As the bowl scene in America moved ever closer to a seemingly all-inclusive affair, the 1995 Cotton Bowl Classic featured a Texas Tech team that was unranked, and just 6-5 on the season. While the Red Raiders barely qualified for a bowl, their opponents were the No. 21 and 7-3-1 Trojans of USC—a team everyone expected to make a top bowl game even before the season began.
USC scored 28 first quarter points, and held a 30-0 halftime advantage. With reserves playing much of the second half for the Trojans, USC sleepwalked to a 55-14 victory in one of the most uneven match-ups in the bowl's history.
2008 Chick-Fil-a Bowl
LSU vs. Georgia Tech
Beginning with this game, the Chick-fil-A Bowl won the rights to select the top ACC program not appearing in a BCS bowl at the end of the season. For the 2008 game, that was Georgia Tech. The No. 14 Yellow Jackets were 9-3 heading into the game, and were facing the unranked 7-5 LSU Tigers (the Chick-fil-A Bowl selects after the BCS, Capital One Bowl, Cotton Bowl, and Outback Bowl for the SEC representative).
Right from the start, it was obvious that the game was a mismatch. But rather than the ranked Yellow Jackets bolting out to a massive early lead, it was the SEC's LSU Tigers.
By halftime, the score was already 35-3 in favor of LSU.
The sellout crowd at the Georgia Dome was treated to a second half filled with reserves and third-string freshmen, as LSU cruised to a 38-3 rout of the hometown Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
2005 Chick-Fil-a Peach Bowl
LSU vs. Miami (FL)
When the teams for the 2005 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl were announced, it seemed on the surface to be one of the best match-ups the game had in quite some time.
The No. 9 Miami Hurricanes would meet the No. 10 LSU Tigers in front of what was sure to be a sellout crowd at the Georgia Dome.
After a back-and-forth first quarter that ended with a 3-3 tie, the LSU Tigers completely dominated the rest of the game, scoring 37 unanswered points to end an anticlimatic 2005 bowl game, beating Miami, 40-3.
1972 Peach Bowl
NC State vs. West Virginia
This 1972 installment of the Peach Bowl was supposed to pit two of the better teams from the eastern United State against one another.
While on paper that sounded pretty good, the game result was another matter. West Virginia was completely unable to stop a very good NC State team while simultaneously being unable to sustain any offensive output themselves.
The Wolfpack won, 49-13.
2011 Capital One Bowl
Alabama vs. Michigan State
Last season's Capital One Bowl saw an Alabama Crimson Tide team that just missed out on the SEC-West title facing the Big Ten co-champion Michigan State Spartans.
While MSU fans were bemoaning the fact that the Wisconsin Badgers were chosen to play in the Rose Bowl despite the fact MSU had defeated Wisconsin earlier in the year, Alabama fans were gearing up for another great contest to use in their argument for superiority over the Big Ten.
In the end, it was a resounding success for the SEC, and the Crimson Tide, as Alabama rolled past Sparty, 49-7.
1999 Florida Citrus Bowl
Michigan vs. Arkansas
Despite being ranked No. 15 in both the coaches and AP polls, the 9-3 Michigan Wolverines were not ranked in the BCS at the end of the 1998 season. On the other hand, the SEC's Arkansas Razorbacks were No. 11 in both human polls, and No. 13 in the BCS.
Having barely missed out on the BCS selections for that season, Arkansas settled for what is generally regarded as one of the top non-BCS bowl destinations for an SEC team: the Florida Citrus Bowl (now the Capital One Bowl).
While many Michigan fans fondly remember this game for its epic comeback in the fourth quarter, the game left a bitter taste in the mouths of not only Arkansas fans, but SEC fans and bowl watchers around the nation.
Arkansas led 31-24 with six minutes remaining, only to watch the Wolverines score 21 unanswered points before the end of the game.
While comebacks make for great games, the 14-point Michigan victory was the culmination of an epic collapse and questionable coaching decisions in the waning moments of the game. Rather than being a blowout, or a classic finish, the 1999 Florida Citrus Bowl is remembered for its ignominious finish for Arkansas.
1984 Florida Citrus Bowl
Florida State vs. Georgia
It's a little odd that two programs located as close together as Florida State and Georgia don't enjoy a heated rivalry. After all, Georgia's biggest rival is arguably Florida—as if Florida State's.
But once in a while, usually at bowl time, the Bulldogs and Seminoles meet for a neighborly game of tackle football.
In 1984, the Bulldogs and Seminoles met in the Florida Citrus Bowl, and battled back and forth, eventually ending the game with a 17-17 tie.
While not quite like kissing your sister, this non-rivalry rivalry game was more like kissing a long lost cousin.
1969 Tangerine Bowl
Toledo vs. Davidson
When you think of great bowl game match-ups, Toledo and Davidson aren't exactly the schools that come to mind. Heck, if you think of football, Toledo and Davidson don't come to mind.
The season ended with Toledo's first-ever undefeated season, and the Rockets were ranked No. 20 in the AP Poll (despite remaining unranked in the Coaches Poll) with a 10-0 record.
Davidson finished as the Southern Conference champions for the first time, and qualified for the bowl with a 7-4 record.
The game was a completely lopsided affair, as Toledo scored 42 points before halftime. Davidson wasn't completely ineffective with the ball, but were only able to manage 33 total points in a game where Toledo put up 56.
A real shame is the fact that the impressiveness of 56 points was blunted by allowing 33 for a modest 23-point victory.
Perhaps if Toledo had fielded a strong defense that season, their fortunes would have been better than a low AP ranking.
1947 Tangerine Bowl
Catawba vs. Maryville
In 1947, Catawba—now a Division II program—met Maryville—now a Division III program—in the first-ever Tangerine Bowl.
Details are scare about this first bowl, probably because fewer than 9,000 people attended the game. Frequently featuring “small” programs in its early years, the inaugural game was no different. Unfortunately for those few in attendance, they were treated to a completely one-sided and uninteresting affair. Catawba won, 31-0.
1940 Sun Bowl
Arizona State vs. Catholic
After beginning in the middle of the Great Depression in 1935, the Sun Bowl had begun to build iteself into a respectable bowl desiccation, with such participants as Texas Tech, West Virginia, Utah, and New Mexico.
But the 1940 game featured an unknown up-and-comer, Tempe Normal Teacher's College (Arizona Sate) against a program that was then a power, and today is the virtual unknown—the Catholic University of America.
After appearing in the 1936 Orange Bowl, Catholic's next bowl trip was to the 1940 Sun Bowl to meet Arizona State. As the teams mixed it up on the field, the fans anxiously waited for one team to take control, or at least score a point.
Unfortunately, they're still waiting. Neither team was able to manage a single point, and the game ended in another infamous 0-0 tie.
Predictably, both coaches claimed to have the better team after the game was over.
1945 Sun Bowl
Southwestern vs. UNAM
The 1945 Sun Bowl is one of the more interesting examples of college football bowl games due to its inclusion of a Mexican football team.
Southwestern University from Georgetown, Texas was invited to the 1945 Sun Bowl to play the Pumas from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM in Spanish). The 1945 Sun Bowl still remains the only bowl game to include a non-US team.
The American media wasn't quite sure what to make of the Mexico Pumas, since they had played no US-based teams in during the 1944 season. The Pumas were 4-0-1, and Southwestern was considered slight favorites, mainly because no one knew what else to say. In the end, the Mexicans proved no match for the Pirates from Southwestern. The Pirates won easily, 35-0. The Mexican team was so hapless against their American counterparts, that they hold the Sun Bowl records for fewest offensive plays, fewest offensive yards, lowest offensive average per play, and fewest first downs. In comparison, Southwestern set several records at the time, including the then-largest margin of victory in the bowl's history, and most points scored by one team.
1969 Sun Bowl
Nebraska vs. Georgia
Nebraska jumped out to an early lead in this lopsided bowl game against Georgia. Nebraska kicked four field goals in the first quarter alone, and led 18-0 after fifteen minutes en route to a 45-6 victory over Georgia. The Bulldogs didn't score until there was just 6:20 remaining in the game.
2005 Sun Bowl
UCLA vs. Northwestern
When your team scores 38 points, that should be enough to win most football games—except when your defense gives up 50 points.
That's exactly the fate that befell Northwestern during the 2005 Sun Bowl.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 25 in the BCS, came into the game 7-4 while the UCLA Bruins were No. 16 in the BCS with a 9-2 record.
Neither team showed much care on defense, particularly in the first half, when the two teams combined for 51 points.
2008 Sun Bowl
Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh
In you're a fan of defensive struggles, then the 75th Sun Bowl was the game for you.
The 2008 edition of the bowl featured the AP's No. 24 Oregon State Beavers and the No. 18 Pittsburgh Panthers.
The only score in the game came from Oregon State's kicker, Justin Kahut, who connected on a 44-yard field goal with just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter. Oregon State won, 3-0.
2010 Liberty Bowl
Central Florida vs. Georgia
The 2010 Liberty Bowl was actually the second Liberty Bowl played in 2010. This game is the bowl following the 2010 season (the first 2010 Liberty Bowl was played in January, following the 2009 season).
The (December) 2010 Liberty Bowl pitted the struggling, and barely eligible Georgia Bulldogs against the BCS's No. 25 UCF Knights.
Even though the Knights were ranked, and sporting a 10-3 record, they were still considered underdogs against the 6-6 Bulldogs from UGA. After all, Georgia did play in the almighty SEC, and there was no hope of a team like UCF even coming close to a 6-6 record in such a conference, right?
UCF set out to prove otherwise. Right from the get go, UCF showed Georgia that they would not roll over for the Bulldogs, who were trying to avoid their first losing season in nearly two decades. After Georgia drove 95 yards down the field, the Knights' defense stiffened to force a Georgia field goal. Just before the half ended, UCF tied the score at 3.
Georgia would take the lead again in the third quarter with another field goal before UCF scored the game's only touchdown with just under six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, edging out the Bulldogs, 10-6.
To lose to a team like UCF is bad enough, but to do so in a game when both teams underperformed is just ugly.
1990 Holiday Bowl
Texas A&M vs. BYU
After the 1990 regular season, BYU found itself with a 10-2 record and a No. 13 ranking in the AP. Their opponents for the 1990 Holiday bowl was unranked Texas A&M, and many media-types around the nation were certain of a BYU victory.
Apparently, no one told the Aggies they were supposed to lose. In a game that was decided in the second quarter, Texas A&M routed the Cougars, 65-14, after A&M scored 23 points in the second quarter and 21 in the fourth.
1980 Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl
Dayton vs. Ithaca
One great thing about the lower divisions is the playoff system. Such a novel idea to determine a national champion usually has the side effect of creating great championship games, with two relatively even teams facing off to take home the trophy.
In Division III, the NCAA National Championship game is called the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. The bowl has certainly seen its fair share of close, nail-biters, but 1980 wasn't one of them.
In a game that still ranks as the largest championship game blowout, the Dayton Flyers absolutely embarrassed the Ithaca Bombers by a score of 63-0.
By comparison, we much prefer the tight, hard-fought Stagg Bowls of recent years.
2007 Pioneer Bowl
Tuskegee vs. Virginia Union
The Pioneer Bowl is the only bowl game played annually between two historically black colleges.
Each season, two Division II HBCs meet in Columbus, Georgia to compete in the Pioneer Bowl. The game is so important, that its usual participant, Tuskegee University declines bids to participate in the Division II playoffs so that it can compete in both the Pioneer Bowl and the annual Turkey Day Classic.
In 2007, the Pioneer Bowl between Tuskegee and Virginia Union University saw a combined 109 points scored, as neither team was capable of fielding anything more than token defense for the entire game.
Tuskegee won, 58-51. There aren't a great many things worse for a defensive coordinator than giving up 58 points—other than perhaps scoring 51 points and still losing.
2007 Motor City Bowl
Purdue vs. Central Michigan
After jumping out to a 34-13 halftime lead, Purdue almost suffered the ultimate embarassment against Central Michigan in the 2007 Motor City Bowl. The Chippewas scored 35 second half points before Purdue was able to stave off the onslaught, eventually winning, 51-48.
A win is a win, but the Boilermakers were 8.5-point favorites heading into the annual meeting between the MAC Champion and the last Big Ten team to receive a bowl berth.
1938 Sugar Bowl
Santa Clara vs. LSU
For the third straight season, LSU received an invitation to play in the Sugar Bowl in 1938. After losing to TCU, 3-2 in 1936 and to Santa Clara, 21-14 in 1937, the Tigers were hoping for a little redemption, not to mention payback, as their 1938 opponent was again Santa Clara.
In another infamous loss, LSU was completely unable to mount any kind of sustained offense, as Santa Clara edged the hapless Tigers, 6-0.
1942 Sugar Bowl
Fordham vs. Missouri
In what still ranks as the lowest-scoring Sugar Bowl in history, the 1942 edition of the game saw the Fordham Rams top the Missouri Tigers by the whopping score of 2-0.
Safeties are a rare enough play in college football, but when a safety is the only scoring play of an entire game, you can bet that there weren't many offensive fireworks to wow the crowd.
1950 Sugar Bowl
Oklahoma vs. LSU
The No. 9 LSU Tigers finished the 1949 season with a 8-2 record, and earned a trip to the Sugar Bowl to face the No. 2 and 10-0 Oklahoma Sooners.
The Sooners were favored in the game by nearly the entire national media, and by halftime, Oklahoma had shown why they were favored so. The Sooners cake-walked to a 35-0 victory in front of 82,000 howling LSU fans.
1958 Sugar Bowl
Mississippi vs. Texas
Ah, to recapture the old days of glory.
Mississippi fans haven't had much to cheer about this season, but there are still fond historical memories to relive for the Rebel faithful.
One such highlight was the 1958 Sugar Bowl, when the No. 7 rebels skated right past the No. 11 Texas Longhorns, 39-7.
The game was so one-sided that Texas was only able to manage a late score against the youngest and greenest players Mississippi had to offer.
1938 Orange Bowl
Auburn vs. Michigan State
The Michigan State Spartans haven't had the best bowl history lately, and their start wasn't much better.
Michigan State had completed the 1937 season with a 8-1 record, with notable wins over Michigan, Missouri, and Kansas. Michigan State's only loss on the year came at Manhattan, where the Spartans fell 3-0.
Auburn came into the Orange Bowl with a 5-2-3 record, but were still considered favorites to win the game. Even though the game ended in a 6-0 victory for Auburn, the game was statistically much more lopsided. The Tigers had 13 first downs compared to Michigan State's 2. Auburn also held Michigan State to just 67 offensive yards—nine fewer than Auburn running back Jimmy Fenton had on his own.
1972 Orange Bowl
Nebraska vs. Alabama
The 1972 Orange Bowl was one of those rare pre-BCS occasions where the nation was able to witness a post-season No. 1 vs. No. 2 match-up. The 1972 Orange Bowl was between No. 1 Nebraska and No. 2 Alabama.
The game was about as hyped and anticipated as any BCS Championship Game is today, but the actual game itself was a massive letdown for everyone who was hoping for an epic struggle against two great teams.
Nebraska raced out to a 14-point first quarter lead, and by halftime, the Cornhuskers led 28-0. From that point on, Bear Bryant's Crimson Tide could put up little more than token resistance, and the Huskers walked off the field winners, 38-6, and undisputed national champions.
1973 Orange Bowl
Nebraska vs. Notre Dame
After the Cornhuskers' impressive win over No. 2 Alabama in the previous year's Orange Bowl, Nebraska was again invited to play in Miami at season's end, this time against No. 12 Notre Dame. The Huskers weren't in the national championship race at the end of 1972, having lost two games on the season, and finding themselves ranked No. 9. Still, any chance to beat Notre Dame is relished, and Nebraska made the most of their opportunity.
In what was expected to be a close contest, Nebraska absolutely demoralized the Fighting Irish, scoring 40 points before Notre Dame finally responded late in the game. Nebraska won yet another Orange Bowl, this time over Notre Dame with a final score of 40-6.
2000 Orange Bowl
Michigan vs. Alabama
The 2000 Orange Bowl isn't included on this list because it wasn't an absolutely great game between two quality top ten teams, but for the way it ended.
The game was a back-and-forth contest between the 10-2, No. 5 Alabama Crimson Tide and the 9-2, No. 8 Michigan Wolverines.
After regulation, the teams were tied at 28, and the 2000 Orange Bowl became the first BCS bowl game to be decided in overtime.
Alabama won the coin toss, and elected to begin on defense. Michigan scored a touchdown, and Alabama quickly responded. But as both coaches began to huddle to discuss the next overtime period, Alabama's place kicker, Ryan Pflugner missed the PAT, giving Michigan a 35-34 overtime victory.
Even Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr could only bring himself to say “I feel bad for that kid [Pflugner]” in his usually brief on-field post-game interview.
1978 Fiesta Bowl
Arkansas vs. UCLA
When the No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks and No. 15 UCLA Bruins were slated to meet in the 1978 Fiesta Bowl, there were more than a few press articles about how evenly matched the two teams seemed to be on paper. Little did the press prognosticators know how right they were.
After Arkansas led 10-0 at halftime, UCLA scored 10 second half points to knot the score at 10. Niether team was able to advance the ball into their opponent's territory after the last UCLA score, and the contest ended in a 10-10 tie.
1962 Rose Bowl
UCLA vs. Minnesota
The 1962 Rose Bowl isn't infamous for who played in the game or even the final score (Minnesota beat UCLA, 21-3), but rather for what team didn't play in the game: Ohio State.
The Buckeyes were the Big Ten Champions of 1961, and received the usual invitation to play in the game. But faculty advisers at Ohio State were becoming increasingly concerned about the role of athletics at the university and the negative effect on academics. Ohio State took the unusual step of actually declining the invitation to the Rose Bowl, infuriating head coach Woody Hayes. There was even rioting in Columbus in the aftermath, and the Columbus Dispatch shamefully printed the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the faculty council members who voted against accepting the Rose Bowl bid.
And to think, the Ohio State alumni association and the faculty council were concerned that there was too much emphasis on the football team. Where could they possibly have gotten that idea?
2003 Rose Bowl
Oklahoma vs. Washington State
Bob Stoops has gone though a lot over his years at Oklahoma, not the least of which is the constant suggestion that his Oklahoma team can't win the big BCS games any more.
That wasn't always the case, though. In the 2003 Rose Bowl, a game that was supposed to be between two evenly-matched programs, Oklahoma dismantled a higher-ranked Washington State squad, winning comfortably, 34-14.
2002 Orange Bowl
Florida vs. Maryland
When any team from Florida earns a berth to the Orange Bowl, you know you're in for a treat. Unfortunately for the Maryland Terrapins, they were on the receiving end of a home-field-like beatdown at the hands of the Florida Gators in the 2002 Orange Bowl.
Although Maryland was ranked No. 6 in the AP, and Florida just one spot ahead at No. 5, the game didn't bear any resemblance to a contest between to evenly-matched teams. Florida absolutely walked away with the game, winning 56-23.
2001 Fiesta Bowl
Oregon State vs. Notre Dame
Notre Dame and BCS bowls aren't exactly two things we've seen a lot of together lately. But there was a time that Notre Dame was a perennial contender for a BCS berth, and at the end of the 2000 season, the No. 10 Fighting Irish found themselves invited to the Fiesta Bowl to face the No. 5 Oregon State Beavers.
Unfortunately for Bob Davie, the high of a BCS berth was followed by the complete let-down of a BCS creaming at the hands of those pesky Beavers.
Oregon State scored 29 third quarter points en route to a 41-9 thumping of Notre Dame.
2005 Fiesta Bowl
Utah vs. Pittsburgh
When the BCS was created, Utah vs. Pittsburgh probably wasn't the dream match-up envisioned.
Yet, the 2005 Fiesta Bowl saw the No. 19 Pittsburgh Panthers team receive a pass for their Big East title, while the BCS-busting Utah Utes raced up the polls to No. 5, becoming the first non-AQ program to break into the BCS.
While many observers felt that Utah didn't belong, it soon became clear that the game was a mismatch—in Utah's favor!
The Utes flew past Pitt, 35-7, becoming not only the first non-AQ program to play in a BCS bowl, but the first to win one as well.
2009 Rose Bowl
USC vs. Penn State
So what makes this Rose Bowl one of the 50 worst bowl games?
Quite simply, the 2009 Rose Bowl underlines the relative weakness the conference was suffering through, and is only now emerging.
The 2008 Penn State team was one of the best, top to bottom, Big Ten teams of the year, and they still didn't stand much of a chance against USC.
Thankfully for everyone, the conference is becoming less of a pushover, and looks more and more like the traditional powerhouse of yesteryear.
2007 Sugar Bowl
LSU vs. Notre Dame
Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes a team is invited to a particular bowl simply because of who the team is and not what they've accomplished on the field in that particular year?
If so, you probably count yourself amongst those who believe Notre Dame had no business playing in the 2007 Sugar Bowl.
Despite finishing the regular season ranked No. 11 in the BCS, Notre Dame needs a ranking of 8th or higher to earn an automatic BCS berth. Nonetheless, the Irish received an at-large berth for the 2007 Sugar Bowl, and were resoundingly throttled by the LSU Tigers, 41-14.
2002 Rose Bowl National Championship Game
Miami (FL) vs. Nebraska
The BCS was designed to eliminate controversy when it came to determining who was the national champion after the bowl dust had settled.
After the 2001 season, No. 1 Miami received a bid to the 2002 Rose Bowl, which was acting as that season's BCS Championship Game. Surpringly, the No. 2 Oregon Ducks and the No. 3 Colorado Buffaloes (who had beaten Nebraska earlier in the season, and won the Big 12 title) were passed over by the BCS in favor of No. 4 Nebraska for the national championship game.
As it turned out, Nebraska wasn't the best selection after all, as the Cornhuskers were pasted by the Hurricanes of Miami, 37-14.
2005 Orange Bowl National Championship Game
USC vs. Oklahoma
After years of controversial selections and computer anomolies, we finally have our true No. 1 vs. true No. 2 match-up. USC and Oklahoma were fairly unanimous as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation, at least according to both the computers and human polls.
USC dominated the game, and won 55-19, but this game ranks among the worst college bowl games for a different, much more sinister reason.
USC was forced to vacate the victory and return the Coaches' Trophy (given to the BCS Champion) due to the ineligibility of Reggie Bush. While USC won 13 games over the course of the season, their official record stands at 11-0.
2007 BCS National Championship Game
Florida vs. Ohio state
We include the 2007 BCS National Championship Game not because of the outcome (Florida over Ohio State, 41-14), although that was certainly anticlimactic to a great college football season, but because the selection process was so clouded in controversy.
First, there was the debate about No. 1 Ohio State and their narrow escape of then-No. 2 Michigan in the final regular season game. Ohio State beat the Wolverines by three points, and many believe that the game may have, and should have turned out differently were it not for a few questionable penalties against Michigan in the final minutes. There were numerous calls and wide speculation about the possibility of a rematch between Ohio State and Michigan in the new, separate BCS National Championship Game.
Eventually, Florida was ranked No. 2 in the BCS system, earning a bid to the game, after a crazy finish to the regular season for a number of would-be championship game participants. After Michigan fell to Ohio State, the Wolverines dropped to No. 3 in the BCS, with USC rising to No. 2 after beting No. 5 Notre Dame. Florida was No. 4, and defeated Florida State.
The following week, USC was upset by UCLA, leading many to believe that a Ohio State-Michigan rematch was at hand. However, No. 4 Florida defeated No. 9 Arkansas in the SEC Championship game, and leapfrogged Michigan into the No. 2 spot, earning the berth in the title game.
So much for doing away with national championship controversy.
2008 Sugar Bowl
Georgia vs. Hawai'i
When the final BCS rankings for the 2007 season were announced, there was the usual controversy at the top. Further down the list, almost unnoticed, Hawai'i became the latest team to bust up the BCS party, crashing in from the WAC after a perfect 12-0 campaign and No. 10 ranking.
The opponent for Hawai'i was No. 4 but twice-beaten Georgia. Many pundits eagerly awaited the game, as discussion focused on how Georgia would be able to handle the prolific passing attack of the Warriors.
As it turns out, the Bulldogs handled it quite wel, thank you very much. Georgia thumped the vastly over-matched Warriors, 41-10, in one of the biggest letdowns of the modern BCS era.