Skip to main content
ABC News
Which Bowls Are Usually The Best — And Worst?

As I was writing my piece about 2016’s bloated bowl season, I developed a system for ranking each game based on a five-point grading scale in each of three factors: The quality of the teams involved, the evenness of the matchup and the amount of offense expected of each team in the game. Since I have those scores for every bowl that featured FBS/Div. I-A teams1 going back to 1936, I figured I’d calculate each bowl’s average over that span to see how they usually tend to grade out:

Not surprisingly, the championship games of the BCS (and, now, CFP) rank highest, followed by the rest of the BCS/New Year’s Six games — except, oddly, the Peach Bowl. (Aside from the mid-1980s and the last decade or so, the Peach hasn’t traditionally been much more than an average bowl.) Also near the top of the list: The oft-forgotten Bluebonnet Bowl, which was discontinued in 1987 despite consistently featuring good matchups between major-conference schools.

And if you’re curious, here are the rankings if we just limit ourselves to bowls that have played 10 or more times since college football’s BCS era started in 1998:


  1. Sorry, Salad Bowl.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.