Two dozen schools will play January bowl games. It’s not the same achievement as it once was.

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A New Year’s Day bowl game has long had special meaning. The first one – named the Tournament East-West Game – was staged in Pasadena, Calif. The match-up between Stanford and Michigan took place on Jan. 1, 1902.

The contest was so one-sided (Michigan won 49-0) that the local Tournament of Rose officials decided to stage events other than football games for the next 15 years as part of their annual celebration. Among the competitions were chariot and ostrich races. College football returned to that scene in 1916 as a re-branded entity called the Tournament of Roses football game.

For decades, the Rose, Orange (which started in 1934), Sugar (1934) and Fiesta (1971) bowls has had the nation’s rooting interest each January with a bowl game.

For teams that qualified for January play, it was significant bragging rights. You had to be special to get invited to a game in the first month of the new calendar year.

Twenty-four schools in 12 different bowls will play on New Year’s Day or after this season. It’s a crowded field of January bowl games in ‘14.

What’s interesting today is the wide range of qualifications for the January bowl participants. To build up good resumes, schools should have to win games against good competition.

Here is a list of 2014 January bowl participants ranked in reverse order according to the winning rate of the teams these schools defeated.

For example, the combined winning percentage of the 8 schools Vanderbilt defeated was 27.1%.

SEC:  Vanderbilt (.271)

MAC:  Ball State (.296)

Mt. West:  UNLV (.321)

Sun Belt:  Arkansas State (.325)

Big Ten:  Iowa (.396)

Big Ten:  Nebraska (.398)

Amer. Athletic:  UCF (.402)

C-USA:  North Texas (.402)

Big Ten:  Wisconsin (.416)

Amer. Athletic:  Houston (.449)

Big Ten:  Ohio State (.451)

Big 12:  Oklahoma (.458)

SEC:  LSU (.459)

SEC:  Alabama (.474)

Big Ten:  Michigan State (.476)

ACC:  Clemson (.479)

Big 12:  Baylor (.496)

SEC:  Missouri (.508)

Big 12:  Oklahoma State (.508)

SEC:  Georgia (.510)

ACC:  Florida State (.519)

SEC:  Auburn (.552)

Pac 12:  Stanford (.579)

SEC:  South Carolina (.593)

Boldface indicates school in the major bowls (National Championship, Fiesta, Orange, Sugar, Rose)

If the measures above have any merit, some of the best games appear to be Oklahoma vs. Alabama, Oklahoma State vs. Missouri and Auburn vs. Florida State.

 

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