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Do College Bowl Victories Matter for the Next Season?

I was watching Nebraska beat up on Arizona in the Holiday Bowl when one of the announcers stated something like:

Nebraska can use the momentum gained from this game and carry it into next season.

Initially my thought was that most teams had a little luck to get to a bowl and would regress some.  Also the winner of the bowl might have more Seniors on the team and the next season see less wins.  Since we haven't had a football article in a while, I decided to go ahead a try to find out if winning a bowl in one season leads to a better record next season.

Boring Math Background Information:   I looked at the bowl games from 2006 to 2008.  I took the regular season records, including conference championships games, and compared them to the next season's records, including conference championship and bowl games.  I got the winning percentage of the winning and losing bowl teams and determined how many games won or lost the team should have the next season.


Bowl Winners

Bowl Losers

Bowl year

Next year

Bowl year

Next year

Year W L % W L % W L % W L %
2008 273 139 0.66 255 177 0.59 295 121 0.71 284 155 0.65
2007 266 123 0.68 276 140 0.66 267 121 0.69 239 172 0.58
2006 279 110 0.72 277 137 0.67 267 125 0.68 229 170 0.57
Totals 818 372 0.69 808 454 0.64 829 367 0.69 752 497 0.60
Average Wins in a 12 Game Season




Analysis:  First, the season records of the winners and losers of the bowl games have the same winning percentage (69%).  This allows us to somewhat believe that the two teams in the bowl had similar talent levels.  Also, my first assumption was correct in that both the winner and loser of the bowl game will lose more games that next season.  The winners lost about 0.5 games more the next season while the losers lost about one full game the next season.

So fans of teams in bowl games this year, you can expect your team to lose more games than it did this year.  The winners of the bowl might not see as much of a drop off.  Now if only Arizona could have figured out that whole "offense" thing, I wouldn't have been so bored during the game and let my mind wander off into number land.