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College Football Championship Bowl Games By The Numbers

November 18th, 2014

Since 1902 when the Rose Bowl was the only major college bowl game, these post-season college football games have been a huge tradition held in December and January. In recent years the number of bowl games has grown, reaching 35 team-competitive games beginning in 2010-11. The games are increasingly competitive, with the teams turning up to the bowl games more and more skilled.

We’ve analyzed  some of the more notable statistics from the 2009-10 bowl games through last year’s championship bowl game. The teams playing for the national championship will be the winners of the semifinal bowl games held January 1, 2015. These games will be held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. Early favorites include Florida State, Auburn, Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and Oklahoma.


Historically, the original bowl games were held in warmer climates like Florida, Louisiana, Texas and South California. Today, all but 5 of the 35 games are still held in cities at or below 36°. Obviously, no one would want to go to a bowl game in Northern Montana in January. Below you can see where the games have the been held the last ten years. The 2014-15 championship game will be held at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

National Championship Locations 2004-2014

Team Analysis

Below is an analysis of some statistics for each team that competed in the championship bowl games and their totals and averages for the team’s seasons. Of the five championship games, the teams participating seemed to be fairly evenly matched, though of interest is the 2012-13 Discover BCS National Championship, in which Alabama recorded significantly better season statistics across the board than their opponent, Notre Dame. For example, Alabama recorded 71 touchdowns throughout the seasons versus Notre Dame’s 38 total touchdowns. It is no wonder, then, that Alabama beat Notre Dame in the championship game 42 to 14.

Also interesting is the fact that though Alabama and LSU were fairly evenly matched throughout their 2011 seasons, the game was a shutout when Alabama beat LSU 21-0.

Statistics come from

This graph shows the total touchdowns each team accomplished throughout the season. Looking at it like this makes it easy to see that Notre Dame scored practically half of what their championship opponent, Alabama, scored, for example.

Total touchdowns by Team

This graph takes a look at rushed yards each team accomplished in the season. It’s easy to see that some teams were pretty even matched going into the championship game while others show a huge disparity.

Rushing Yards in Championship Game

This graph shows the total passing yards accomplished by each team during the season. Similar to rushing yards, Florida State and Auburn were pretty different in terms of passing yards accomplished.

Total Passing Yards in Championship Game

This graph shows the final scores of the championship game. Looking at this graph next to the other graphs here gives you a quick look at correlations between the final outcome of the game and the competing teams’ season stats.

Total Points in Championship Game

Championship Game MVP

Here’s a look at the championship games’ offensive and defensive MVPs, including their season stats. It’s interesting to note the difference between offensive MVPs Michael Dyer and Jameis Winston; Jameis Winston rushed nearly 4 times as many yards and scored 8 times as many touchdowns as Michael Dyer in their respective seasons, but both were named MVP. This could be because the talent in 2010 when Michael Dyer was named MVP was not as good as in 2013 when Jameis Winston was named MVP.

Offensive MVP Yards Gained During Season

Total Tackles By Defensive MVP During Season

Championship Game Attendance

The attendance for the championship bowl games seems to vary depending on location. The games held in Florida always have around 78,000 attendees, while the games held at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California always have around 94,000. This could be because there are more people in California or because of the iconic location, or a combination of both. Or perhaps the teams that played those years were from states where football is a big deal?

Number Of Attendees Each Year

Game Statistics

Here’s an analysis of each team’s game statistics for the championship bowl game. One statistic particularly interesting to note is that, as would make sense, it is the team that has the highest time of possession that usually wins. This was not the case, however, for the 2013-14 game when Florida State had possession for over 7 minutes less than Auburn and were still able to secure a win. In the same game, Auburn had 6 more first downs and 84 more rushing yards than Florida State and still ended up losing to Florida State.


Total Possession Time By Team During GamePassing Yards By Team During Game

The bowl games start December 20 and run through January 12, and while it’s still undetermined who will be playing in each game, this year’s bowl games are sure to be an exciting end to another great year of college football.

By Paxton Gray

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