OU football: UConn worst BCS team ever?
Connecticut awaits Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, with two prime questions. 1. Any way UConn can pull the upset? 2. Is UConn the worst BCS bowl team ever?
And the answers are: 1. Hard to see, but an upset like this you rarely see coming; 2. Depends on your definition.
Seems like as good a time as any to determine where Connecticut ranks on the BCS’ all-time worst teams list.
The Huskies are 8-4 overall and unranked in the BCS, though UConn has climbed to No. 25 in the AP poll. How do the Huskies rank with some of the other dubious participants in major bowls?
Part of the problem is determining which bowls you want to count? Just the BCS era, 1998-to-present? Or the BCS predecessors, the Bowl Alliance and the Bowl Coalition, which go back to 1992. Or, my preference, the accepted major bowls even before that: Rose, Sugar, Orange and Cotton bowls, plus the Fiesta in certain years (1986, 1988, when the Fiesta served as the national title game).
Basically, we’re talking about major bowls. Which from the 1940s into the ’90s consisted of the Rose, Orange, Sugar and Cotton. The Fiesta replaced the Cotton in 1995 as one of the big boys.
I went back to 1950 and found teams in major bowls with similar so-so records and similar low rankings.
Connecticut does not have the worst record. Here are the 12 worst records in major bowls in the last 60 years:
8-4: 1996 Texas (Fiesta), 2005 Florida State (Orange), 2010 Connecticut (Fiesta).
6-3-1: 1967 LSU (Sugar).
7-4: 1951 Kentucky (Cotton), 1977 Washington (Rose), 1984 Houston (Cotton).
6-4: 1954 Nebraska (Orange), 1959 Missouri (Orange), 1967 Texas A&M (Cotton).
6-4-1: 1983 UCLA (Rose).
6-5: 1994 Texas Tech (Cotton).
OK, so let’s make another list. All the non-top-20 teams in major bowls since 1950.
1954 Nebraska, 1960 Rice (Sugar), 1983 UCLA, 1984 Houston, 1990 Virginia (Sugar), 1994 Texas Tech, 1999 Stanford (Rose), 2004 Pitt (Fiesta) and 2005 Florida State.
A few notes about some of those teams. 1954 Nebraska and 1959 Mizzou were in the Orange Bowl because of the goofy rule that schools couldn’t go in successive years, which kept Big Seven champion out. 1994 Texas Tech got to the Cotton Bowl because Southwest Conference champ Texas A&M was ineligible, and Tech won the five-way tiebreaker. 1999 Stanford actually was ranked 22nd by AP. 2004 Pitt was ranked 21st by the BCS. 2005 Florida State was ranked 22nd by the BCS.
Sorry, I can’t explain 1960 Rice and 1990 Virginia.
And from 1963 through 1967, the AP poll only listed 10 teams, and I can’t find the data on the UPI’s weekly polls, so it’s possible that 1964 Syracuse, 1965 LSU, 1965 Florida and 1966 USC — who all entered major bowls with 7-3 records — might be unranked, too.
So let’s combine the lists. What teams have both a worse record than UConn’s 8-4 and a non-top-20 ranking?
* 1954 Nebraska. The 6-4 Huskers beat some teams: Oregon State, Kansas, Iowa State and Hawaii. Nebraska lost 34-10 to Duke in the Orange Bowl.
* 1967 Texas A&M. The 6-4 Aggies beat lost their first four games, including non-conference tilts against Purdue, LSU and (pre-Bowden) Florida State. But A&M won six straight, then Alabama 20-16 in the Cotton Bowl.
* 1967 LSU. The Tigers lost to two good SEC teams — Alabama and Tennessee — and tied Ole Miss, plus lost to a so-so Miami team. Then LSU beat Wyoming 20-13 in the Sugar Bowl.
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