Alabama Football: When bowl games mattered and ’21 bowl projections

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The most seasoned of Alabama football fans remember eras when going to a bowl game; any bowl game was a big deal. The Alabama Crimson Tide is the ‘bowling-est’ team in college football history, going back to that first ‘Grandaddy’ visit back on January 1, 1926.

Making it to a post-season bowl game was long the definition between the most successful college football programs and other teams. Alabama Football has played in a record 73 bowl games. The most recent being the National Championship game win over Ohio State. The win over the Buckeyes and four other Crimson Tide National Championship games are counted as bowl games.

Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant’s 1961 National Championship team played in the 1962 Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. That season college football had 11 bowl games. The number of bowl games slowly grew to 18 by 1991. In the first decade of the 21st century, the bowl game count went from 25 to 28, 32 and 34. There were 35 bowl games in the 2010 season and the number peaked at 41 in the 2015 season.

In last season’s bizarre year there were just 26 bowl games. A new high is planned for the 2021 season with 42 bowl contests. Clearly when 80 of 130 teams compete in bowl games, making many of the games brings little enhanced stature.

Historically bowl game locations were in warmer climates, making southern teams valuable for generating attendance. Offsite eyeballs have surpassed butts in seats as the measurement of bowl viability as bowl games have become more packaged television than live events.

Alabama Football Is No. 1

The Alabama Crimson Tide is No. 1 among college football programs in bowl games played at 73. Alabama Football is also No. 1 with 44 bowl wins. Nine more college football programs have played between 50 (Penn State) and 57 bowl games (Texas). Nineteen college football programs have played in 40 or more bowl games and eight of them are current SEC teams.

So what SEC schools will bowl at the end of the 2021 season? A good source for predictions is Jerry Palm. The CBS prognosticator has 11 SEC teams bowling in the 2021-22 season. Only Arkansas, South Carolina and Vanderbilt are left out.

Per Palm, the Alabama Crimson Tide will join Oklahoma, Clemson and Ohio State in the College Football Playoff. Georgia, Texas A&M and LSU will get the Sugar, Fiesta and Peach, respectively. Even Auburn and Tennessee will go bowling according to Palm. In December, Palm has the Auburn Tigers at the Duke’s Mayo Bowl and Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl.

Invaluable data for this post came from and

Why Mac should start for the Pats. dark. Next

Jerry Palm has a track record for successful predicting. Still, the Tennessee Vols as a bowl team seems to be one of his weaker selections.