How Legit Are Bowl Game Winning Streaks?

Last night, Boise State slept walked past Utah 26-3 to win the Las Vegas bowl, snapping Utah's nine-game bowl winning streak. Utah's streak was the nation's longest active streak, and second longest bowl winning streak in history.

Today, Ivan Maisel in his daily 3-point stance, questions how legitimate bowl winning streak stats really are:

"Utah's loss ended its bowl winning streak at nine games, and I can't think of an emptier stat. Bowl winning streaks speak to good preparation by coaches and players but also to good fortune in matchups. Those streaks have their own arrhythmia: different players, different years, and sometimes plenty of seasons between victories."

As you'll recall, just a few years ago BC was working on a bowl winning streak of their own.

When Tom O'Brien was on the Heights, the Eagles "famously" rattled off six straight bowl victories from 2000-2005. Spaziani coached the Eagles to the program's seventh straight bowl victory in the 2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl, and Jagodzinski made it eight straight with BC's win in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Utah -- who was looking up at BC when the Eagles were on their active bowl win streak -- finishes tied with USC (1923-1945) for the second spot with nine straight bowl victories between 1999-2009.

Here are the nation's top five longest bowl game winning streaks:

1. Florida State (11) - 1985-1996
2. Utah (9) - 1999, 2001, 2003-2009
2. USC (9) - 1922, 1924, 1929, 1931-1932, 1938-1939, 1943-1944
4. Boston College (8) - 2000-2007
5. Syracuse (7) - 1988-1992, 1995-1996

So just how legit are these bowl winning streaks anyway? 

Some may say that Florida State and USC's bowl winning streaks are more impressive considering the fact that college football didn't have 35 different bowl games to play in back in the day. To their credit, Utah did win two BCS bowl games in that span, but there's also a lot of second- and third-tier bowl games mixed in there. Same can be said for BC. In contrast, during Florida State's bowl dominance, the Seminoles rattled off seven wins in bowl games that would become BCS bowls (3 Orange Bowls, 2 Fiesta Bowls and 2 Sugar Bowls).

FSU beat Oklahoma State, Indiana, Nebraska, Auburn, Nebraska, Penn State, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Nebraska, Florida and Notre Dame during their record streak -- all programs that are now a member of a BCS conference. Utah beat just five schools from AQ conferences during their nine game winning streak. BC beat just four BCS opponents.

There's also this bit of business about consecutive bowl game victories. USC can be forgiven, I guess, because there were only like five bowl games back in the 1920s and 1930s (and a World War mixed in there). But both Utah's and Syracuse's streaks were interrupted by seasons without a bowl appearance. Syracuse still managed to get above .500 in both the 1993 and 1994 seasons, but in Utah's case, it was a pair of sub-.500 seasons in between bowl victories 1 and 2.

Finally, there's quite a bit of luck involved in these streaks. Utah likely wouldn't have survived their 2007 Poinsettia Bowl matchup against Navy if not for a late interception and an officiating error. Similarly, BC probably loses the 2006 Meineke Car Care Bowl against Navy if not for a last minute fumble on the option pitch.

Bowl game winning streaks are certainly a nice stat that coaching staffs and programs can hang their hats on, but they seem to have questionable legitimacy. As Maisel aludes to, the bowl winning streak statistic seem a bit empty, especially in an era where over 58 percent of Division I-A teams play in a bowl every season.

Besides, when was the last time a recruit chose BC over a Penn State or Ohio State because of the program's eight game winning streak that included a big Motor City Bowl victory over Toledo? 

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