2015-16 NCAA Football Bowl Games
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2015%E2%80%9316 NCAA Football Bowl Games
2015-16 NCAA football bowl games
Regular seasonSeptember 3, 2015 - December 12, 2015
Number of bowls42[a]
All-star games3
Bowl gamesDecember 19, 2015 - January 11, 2016
National Championship2016 College Football Playoff
National Championship
Location of ChampionshipUniversity of Phoenix Stadium
Glendale, AZ
ChampionsAlabama Crimson Tide
Bowl Challenge Cup winnerSEC
Bowl record by conference
Conference Bowls Record Final AP Poll
SEC 11 9-2 (0.818) 5
Pac-12 10 6-4 (0.600) 3
Big Ten 10 5-5 (0.500) 6
ACC 10 4-6 (0.400) 3
Mountain West 8 4-4 (0.500) 0
American 8 2-6 (0.250) 2
Big 12 7 3-4 (0.429) 4
MAC 7 3-4 (0.429) 0
Conference USA 5 3-2 (0.600) 1
Sun Belt 4 2-2 (0.500) 0
Independents 2 0-2 (0.000) 1

The 2015-16 NCAA football bowl games were a series of college football bowl games. They completed the 2015 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The games began on December 19, 2015 and, aside from the all-star games, ended with the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship which was played on January 11, 2016.

A new record total of 41 team-competitive bowl games were played in FBS, including the national championship game and the inaugural Cure Bowl and Arizona Bowl. While bowl games had been the purview of only the very best teams for nearly a century, this was the tenth consecutive year that teams with non-winning seasons were bowl-eligible and participated in bowl games. To fill the 80 available team-competitive bowl slots, a new record 15 teams (19% of all participants) with non-winning seasons participated in bowl games--12 had a .500 (6-6) season and, for another new record, three had a sub-.500 season. Those three teams each had 5-7 seasons, sharing a new record for the most regular season losses by a bowl team, which had previously been six.[1] This situation led directly to the NCAA Division I Council imposing a three-year moratorium on new bowl games in April 2016.[2]


The schedule for the 2015-16 bowl games is below. All times are EST (UTC-5). The rankings used were the CFP rankings.[3]

College Football Playoff and Championship Game

The 2015-16 postseason was the second to feature a College Football Playoff (CFP) to determine a national champion of Division I FBS college football. Four teams were selected by a 12-member committee to participate in a single-elimination tournament, whose semifinals were held at the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl as part of a yearly rotation of six bowls. Their winners advanced to the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on January 11, 2016.[4][5]

Both semifinal bowls were held on December 31, 2015.[4] Under the TV contracts with ESPN that predate the CFP, both the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl (the first two bowls in the three cycling pairs that host semi-final games) are guaranteed exclusive TV time slots on January 1, regardless of whether they will be hosting a semifinal game.[6] Analysts expressed concerns that the semifinal games could face reduced television viewership due to the New Year's Eve scheduling, believing that fans would not be accustomed to the scheduling, and that they would face competition from New Year's Eve events and television specials like New Year's Rockin' Eve, which is aired by ABC--a corporate sibling to CFP broadcaster ESPN.[4] ESPN then proposed moving the semifinal games to January 2, 2016, a Saturday, arguing that the games would enjoy a higher level of prominence if held on a day of the week that is traditionally associated with college football. However, its proposal was rejected.[4]

CFP commissioner Bill Hancock suggested this scheduling issue would instead "change the paradigm of what New Year's Eve is all about," opining that "if you're hosting a New Year's Eve party, you better have a bunch of televisions around."[7] Ratings for the two semifinal games were down from the prior season's equivalents, with the Orange Bowl reaching a 9.7 rating (in comparison to 15.5 for the 2015 Rose Bowl) and the Cotton Bowl reaching a 9.9 rating (in comparison to a 15.3 rating for the 2015 Sugar Bowl). On the online WatchESPN streaming service, the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl drew the second and third-largest streaming audiences in the service's history (excluding 2014 FIFA World Cup games), behind the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship.[8] As a result of the reduced viewership, it was reported that ESPN was negotiating $20 million worth of credits to advertisers to compensate for the lower than expected ratings.[9]

Semifinals 2016 Championship Game
December 31 - Orange Bowl
  1   Clemson 37  
  4   Oklahoma 17   January 11 - National Championship
      1   Clemson 40
December 31 - Cotton Bowl     2   Alabama 45
  2   Alabama 38
  3   Michigan State 0  

Date Game Site Television Teams Affiliations Results
Dec. 31 Peach Bowl Georgia Dome
Atlanta, GA
ESPN #18 Houston Cougars (12-1)
#9 Florida State Seminoles (10-2)
Houston 38
Florida State 24
Orange Bowl
(Playoff Semifinal Game)
Sun Life Stadium
Miami Gardens, FL
4:00 pm
#1 Clemson Tigers (13-0)
#4 Oklahoma Sooners (11-1)
Big 12
Clemson 37
Oklahoma 17
Cotton Bowl Classic
(Playoff Semifinal Game)
AT&T Stadium
Arlington, TX
8:00 pm
#2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1)
#3 Michigan State Spartans (12-1)
Big Ten
Alabama 38
Michigan State 0
Jan. 1 Fiesta Bowl[10] University of Phoenix Stadium
Glendale, AZ
1:00 pm
#7 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1)
#8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-2)
Big Ten
Ohio State 44
Notre Dame 28
Rose Bowl Game Rose Bowl
Pasadena, CA
5:00 pm
#6 Stanford Cardinal (11-2)
#5 Iowa Hawkeyes (12-1)
Big Ten
Stanford 45
Iowa 16
Sugar Bowl Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans, LA
8:30 pm
#12 Ole Miss Rebels (9-3)
#16 Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2)
Big 12
Ole Miss 48
Oklahoma State 20
Jan. 11 College Football Playoff National Championship
(Cotton Bowl winner vs. Orange Bowl winner)
University of Phoenix Stadium
Glendale, AZ
8:30 pm
#2 Alabama Crimson Tide (13-1)
#1 Clemson Tigers (14-0)
(records include CFP semi-final wins)
Alabama 45
Clemson 40

Non-CFP bowl games

For the 2015-16 season, two new bowl games were added, the Cure Bowl and the Arizona Bowl, bringing the total number of bowl games to 41.[3][11][12][13] Due to not having enough teams with a 6-6 or better record to fill available bowl slots, the increase in number of bowls had the adverse effect of allowing a record three teams with losing records (5-7) to participate in bowls. The teams were selected by being the ones with the highest Academic Progress Rate (APR) among all 5-7 teams.[14] The participating teams with a losing record were Nebraska, Minnesota, and San Jose State.[14]

Date Game Site Television Teams Affiliations Results
Dec. 19 New Mexico Bowl University Stadium
Albuquerque, NM
2:00 pm
ESPN Arizona Wildcats (6-6)
New Mexico Lobos (7-5)
Mountain West
Arizona 45
New Mexico 37
Las Vegas Bowl Sam Boyd Stadium
Whitney, NV
3:30 pm
ABC #22 Utah Utes (9-3)
BYU Cougars (9-3)
Utah 35
BYU 28
Camellia Bowl Cramton Bowl
Montgomery, AL
5:30 pm
ESPN Appalachian State Mountaineers (10-2)
Ohio Bobcats (8-4)
Sun Belt
Appalachian State 31
Ohio 29
Cure Bowl Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium
Orlando, FL
7:00 pm
CBSSN San Jose State Spartans (5-7)
Georgia State Panthers (6-6)
Mountain West
Sun Belt
San Jose State 27
Georgia State 16
New Orleans Bowl Mercedes-Benz Superdome
New Orleans, LA
9:00 pm
ESPN Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (8-4)
Arkansas State Red Wolves (9-3)
Sun Belt
Louisiana Tech 47
Arkansas State 28
Dec. 21 Miami Beach Bowl Marlins Park
Miami, FL
2:30 pm
ESPN Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (11-2)
South Florida Bulls (8-4)
Western Kentucky 45
South Florida 35
Dec. 22 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Albertsons Stadium
Boise, ID
3:30 pm
ESPN Akron Zips (7-5)
Utah State Aggies (6-6)
Mountain West
Akron 23
Utah State 21
Boca Raton Bowl FAU Stadium
Boca Raton, FL
7:00 pm
ESPN Toledo Rockets (9-2)
#24 Temple Owls (10-3)
Toledo 32
Temple 17
Dec. 23 Poinsettia Bowl Qualcomm Stadium
San Diego, CA
4:30 pm
ESPN Boise State Broncos (8-4)
Northern Illinois Huskies (8-5)
Mountain West
Boise State 55
Northern Illinois 7
GoDaddy Bowl Ladd-Peebles Stadium
Mobile, AL
8:00 pm
ESPN Georgia Southern Eagles (8-4)
Bowling Green Falcons (10-3)
Sun Belt
Georgia Southern 58
Bowling Green 27
Dec. 24 Bahamas Bowl Thomas Robinson Stadium
Nassau, Bahamas
ESPN Western Michigan Broncos (7-5)
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (7-5)
Western Michigan 45
Middle Tennessee 31
Hawaiʻi Bowl Aloha Stadium
Honolulu, HI
8:00 pm
ESPN San Diego State Aztecs (10-3)
Cincinnati Bearcats (7-5)
Mountain West
San Diego State 42
Cincinnati 7
Dec. 26 St. Petersburg Bowl Tropicana Field
St. Petersburg, FL
11:00 am
ESPN Marshall Thundering Herd (9-3)
Connecticut Huskies (6-6)
Marshall 16
Connecticut 10
Sun Bowl Sun Bowl Stadium
El Paso, TX
2:00 pm
CBS Washington State Cougars (8-4)
Miami Hurricanes (8-4)
Washington State 20
Miami 14
Heart of Dallas Bowl Cotton Bowl
Dallas, TX
2:20 pm
ESPN Washington Huskies (6-6)
Southern Miss Golden Eagles (9-4)
Washington 44
Southern Miss 31
Pinstripe Bowl Yankee Stadium
Bronx, NY
3:30 pm
ABC Duke Blue Devils (7-5)
Indiana Hoosiers (6-6)
Big Ten
Duke 44
Indiana 41 (OT)
Independence Bowl Independence Stadium
Shreveport, LA
5:45 pm
ESPN Virginia Tech Hokies (6-6)
Tulsa Golden Hurricane (6-6)
Virginia Tech 55
Tulsa 52
Foster Farms Bowl Levi's Stadium
Santa Clara, CA
9:15 pm
ESPN Nebraska Cornhuskers (5-7)
UCLA Bruins (8-4)
Big Ten
Nebraska 37
Dec. 28 Military Bowl Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
Annapolis, MD
2:30 pm
ESPN #21 Navy Midshipmen (10-2)
Pittsburgh Panthers (8-4)
Navy 44
Pittsburgh 28
Quick Lane Bowl Ford Field
Detroit, MI
5:00 pm
ESPN2 Minnesota Golden Gophers (5-7)
Central Michigan Chippewas (7-5)
Big Ten
Minnesota 21
Central Michigan 14
Dec. 29 Armed Forces Bowl Amon G. Carter Stadium
Fort Worth, TX
2:00 pm
ESPN California Golden Bears (7-5)
Air Force Falcons (8-5)
Mountain West
California 55
Air Force 36
Russell Athletic Bowl Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium
Orlando, FL
5:30 pm
ESPN #17 Baylor Bears (9-3)
#10 North Carolina Tar Heels (11-2)
Big 12
Baylor 49
North Carolina 38
Arizona Bowl Arizona Stadium
Tucson, AZ
7:30 pm
ASN Nevada Wolf Pack (6-6)
Colorado State Rams (7-5)
Mountain West
Mountain West
Nevada 28
Colorado State 23
Texas Bowl NRG Stadium
Houston, TX
9:00 pm
ESPN #20 LSU Tigers (8-3)
Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5)
Big 12
LSU 56
Texas Tech 27
Dec. 30 Birmingham Bowl Legion Field
Birmingham, AL
ESPN Auburn Tigers (6-6)
Memphis Tigers (9-3)
Auburn 31
Memphis 10
Belk Bowl Bank of America Stadium
Charlotte, NC
3:30 pm
ESPN Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-4)
NC State Wolfpack (7-5)
Mississippi State 51
NC State 28
Music City Bowl Nissan Stadium
Nashville, TN
7:00 pm
ESPN Louisville Cardinals (7-5)
Texas A&M Aggies (8-4)
Louisville 27
Texas A&M 21
Holiday Bowl Qualcomm Stadium
San Diego, CA
10:30 pm
ESPN Wisconsin Badgers (9-3)
#25 USC Trojans (8-5)
Big Ten
Wisconsin 23
USC 21
Jan. 1 Outback Bowl Raymond James Stadium
Tampa, FL
ESPN2 #23 Tennessee Volunteers (8-4)
#13 Northwestern Wildcats (10-2)
Big Ten
Tennessee 45
Northwestern 6
Citrus Bowl Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium
Orlando, FL
1:00 pm
ABC #14 Michigan Wolverines (9-3)
#19 Florida Gators (10-3)
Big Ten
Michigan 41
Florida 7
Jan. 2 TaxSlayer Bowl EverBank Field
Jacksonville, FL
ESPN Georgia Bulldogs (9-3)
Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5)
Big Ten
Georgia 24
Penn State 17
Liberty Bowl Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
Memphis, TN
3:20 pm
ESPN Arkansas Razorbacks (7-5)
Kansas State Wildcats (6-6)
Big 12
Arkansas 45
Kansas State 23
Alamo Bowl Alamodome
San Antonio, TX
6:45 pm
ESPN #11 TCU Horned Frogs (10-2)
#15 Oregon Ducks (9-3)
Big 12
TCU 47
Oregon 41 (3OT)
Cactus Bowl Chase Field
Phoenix, AZ
10:15 pm
ESPN West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5)
Arizona State Sun Devils (6-6)
Big 12
West Virginia 43
Arizona State 42

+ Notre Dame is eligible for any one of the bowl bids reserved for ACC teams, if Notre Dame: (a) is bowl-eligible; and (b) is not selected for one of the CFP Bowls. Notre Dame may not be selected for one of the bowl games having ACC tie-ins unless Notre Dame has no less than one less overall loss than the winningest-remaining ACC team which has not yet been selected for a bowl game.

BYU has an agreement with the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl and the Hawaiʻi Bowl for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The Cougars will appear, in place of a Mountain West team, in the Las Vegas Bowl this season.

All-star games

Date Game Site Television Participants Results
Jan. 23 East-West Shrine Game Tropicana Field
St. Petersburg, FL
4:00 pm
NFL Network East Team
West Team
West 29
East 9
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl StubHub Center
Carson, CA
6:00 pm
ESPN2 National Team
American Team
National 18
American 17
Jan. 30 Senior Bowl Ladd-Peebles Stadium
Mobile, AL
2:30 pm
NFL Network North Team vs.
South Team
South 27
North 16

FCS bowl game

The FCS has one bowl game; they also have a championship bracket that began on November 28 and ended on January 9.

Date Game Site Television Participants Affiliations Results
Dec. 19 Celebration Bowl Georgia Dome
Atlanta, Georgia
ABC North Carolina A&T Aggies
Alcorn State Braves
North Carolina A&T 41
Alcorn State 34


The Southeastern Conference was the Bowl Challenge Cup winner for the 2015-16 bowl season, which is awarded to the FBS football conference with the highest winning percentage. In addition, the nine total bowl wins by the SEC were the most ever accomplished by a single conference during a single bowl season. Southeastern Conference member Alabama won the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship game to finish the year as consensus national champions for the 2015 football season.

Selection of the teams

CFP top 25 teams

On December 6, 2015, the College Football Playoff selection committee announced their final team rankings for the year:[15]

Rank Team W-L Conference and standing Bowl game
Clemson Tigers
ACC champions Orange Bowl
Alabama Crimson Tide
SEC champions Cotton Bowl Classic
Michigan State Spartans
Big Ten champions Cotton Bowl Classic
Oklahoma Sooners
Big 12 champions Orange Bowl
Iowa Hawkeyes
Big Ten West Division champions Rose Bowl
Stanford Cardinal
Pac-12 champions Rose Bowl
Ohio State Buckeyes
Big Ten East Division co-champions Fiesta Bowl
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Independent Fiesta Bowl
Florida State Seminoles
ACC Atlantic Division second place Peach Bowl
North Carolina Tar Heels
ACC Coastal Division champions Russell Athletic Bowl
TCU Horned Frogs
Big 12 second place (tie) Alamo Bowl
Ole Miss Rebels
SEC West Division second place Sugar Bowl
Northwestern Wildcats
Big Ten West Division second place (tie) Outback Bowl
Michigan Wolverines
Big Ten East Division third place Citrus Bowl
Oregon Ducks
Pac-12 North Division second place Alamo Bowl
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Big 12 second place (tie) Sugar Bowl
Baylor Bears
Big Twelve fourth place Russell Athletic Bowl
Houston Cougars
American champions Peach Bowl
Florida Gators
SEC East Division champions Citrus Bowl
LSU Tigers
SEC West Division third place (tie) Texas Bowl
Navy Midshipmen
American West Division co-champions Military Bowl
Utah Utes
Pac-12 South Division co-champions Las Vegas Bowl
Tennessee Volunteers
SEC East Division second place (tie) Outback Bowl
Temple Owls
American East Division champions Boca Raton Bowl
USC Trojans
Pac-12 South Division co-champions Holiday Bowl

Conference champions' bowl games

The Cotton Bowl Classic and Orange Bowl featured two conference champions playing against each other. Rankings are per the above CFP standings.

Bowl-eligible teams

Number of bowl berths available: 80
Number of bowl-eligible teams: 77

Conditionally bowl-ineligible teams

Number of bowl-ineligible teams: 51

Note: Being bowl-ineligible does not, in itself, exclude a team from the chance to play in a bowl game. Tiebreaker procedures based on a school's Academic Progress Rate (APR) allowed for the possibility of 5-7 teams to play in bowl games since not enough teams qualified to fill all 80 spots with at least a 6-6 record.

Note: Teams with Asterisk (*) have a 5-7 record (14 total). Since a maximum of 77 bowl slots were filled, 3 of these teams qualified for a bowl game. These teams were Nebraska, Minnesota, and San Jose State.[16]Missouri would have qualified over Minnesota or San Jose State, but announced they would decline a bowl bid.[17]

Note: There are 128 teams in FBS.

See also


  1. ^ 41 FBS bowl games, including the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, and 1 FCS bowl game.


  1. ^ "College Football Teams Which Played in Bowl Games Despite Losing Records". thesportsseer.com. December 30, 2013. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ McMurphy, Brett (April 11, 2016). "NCAA approves three-year halt to new bowl games". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ a b "2015-16 College Football Bowl Schedule - 2016 Playoff" Archived March 18, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, FBSchedules.com. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  4. ^ a b c d "A daunting task: Can the CFP, ESPN change old New Year's Eve habits?". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc. July 2, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ "College Football Playoff 101", ESPN, May 19, 2014. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  6. ^ "College Football Playoff drops ball with 2015 New Year's Eve semis". SI.com. January 12, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  7. ^ Tony Barnhart (January 6, 2014). "Before BCS ends, the whens, wheres, whys of College Football Playoff". CBSSports.com. Retrieved 2015.
  8. ^ "College Football Playoff TV ratings drop with New Year's Eve time slots". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2016.
  9. ^ "ESPN is reportedly giving $20M back to advertisers because the College Football Playoff on New Year's Eve was such a disaster". SBNation. Vox Media. Retrieved 2016.
  10. ^ "BattleFrog Announced as Title Sponsor of 45th Annual Fiesta Bowl" (Press release). Fiesta Bowl. December 4, 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  11. ^ Kelley, Kevin (May 6, 2015). "Three New Bowls Approved, Pushes Total to 42 in 2015", FBSchedules.com. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
  12. ^ Swiatecki, Chad (May 26, 2015). "Austin's Bowl Game Hopes Delayed to 2016". Austin Business Journal. Retrieved 2015.
  13. ^ Lisaius, Som (October 1, 2015). "Organizers, Officials Celebrate Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl", Tucson News Now. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  14. ^ a b "Nebraska, Minnesota, San Jose St. taking 5-7 records to bowl". NCAA.com. Retrieved 2015.
  15. ^ "2015 College Football Rankings - Week 15 - College Football Playoff Rankings", ESPN, December 6, 2015. Retrieved December 6, 2015.
  16. ^ Johnson, Greg. "NCAA Football: Council approves process to allow 5-7 teams into bowl games". ncaa.com. NCAA. Retrieved 2015.
  17. ^ Paul, Richard. "Missouri not interested in bowl after 5-7 season". The Oceanside Post. Retrieved 2015.

Further reading

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