Home field advantage in bowls?

Should teams have a home field advantage in a bowl game?

People who organize bowl games and give out invitations apparently think so.

In the last two bowl games for Oklahoma, the Sooners had to play Clemson from the Atlantic Coast Conference in Orlando and Miami – right in the heart of ACC country. Clemson had many more fans than OU in those games.

Look at these examples of bowl games this season:

  • New Mexico plays The University of Texas at San Antonio in the New Mexico Bowl.
  • Central Florida plays Arkansas State in Orlando.
  • Louisiana-LaFayette plays Southern Mississippi in New Orleans.
  • Idaho plays Colorado State in Boise.
  • Troy (Alabama) plays Ohio in Mobile, Alabama.
  • Hawaii plays Middle Tennessee in Honolulu.
  • North Texas plays Army in Dallas.
  • Texas A&M plays Kansas State in Houston.
  • Tennessee plays Nebraska in Nashville.
  • Florida State plays Michigan in Miami.
  • Florida plays Iowa in Tampa.
  • USC plays Penn State in Pasadena.

Granted, a trip to Hawaii, Florida or New Orleans might make up for playing a home team. And it’s not a great trip to play a bowl game at or near your hometown.

UCF, Hawaii, Tennessee and USC will probably take a team bus rather than an airplane to their bowl games. All these teams that play close to home will stay in hotels before the game and get all the banquets, goodie bags, etc., that come with bowl games.

As for fans, bowl committees sell more tickets if at least one of the teams is in town or in close driving distance. But for some fans, just like the teams, traveling to Orlando, Miami, Honolulu or the Bahamas is worth it even if you have to play a team with home field advantage.

OU beat Florida State 13-2 in the 2001 Orange Bowl in Miami for the national championship. In 2004, OU had to play LSU in New Orleans for the national title. The Sooners lost 21-14 in front of a partisan crowd.

And in 2008, OU lost a national championship game to Florida, 14-24, and that game was played in Miami.

OU has a long list of bowl games played against teams that were local.

  • In the 1950 Sugar Bowl, OU beat LSU 35-0.
  • In 1965, OU lost to Florida State 36-19 in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.
  • In 1968, the Sooners fell to SMU (from Dallas) in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston.
  • In the 1980 Orange Bowl, OU beat Florida State 24-7 in Miami.
  • In 1981, OU beat FSU again, 18-17, in the Orange Bowl in Miami.
  • OU beat Houston 40-14 in the 1981 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
  • The Sooners lost to Arizona State, 32-21, in the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona, in 1983.
  • Miami beat Oklahoma 20-14 in the 1988 Orange Bowl in Miami.
  • OU beat Texas Tech 41-10 in the 1993 John Hancock Bowl in El Paso.
  • In 2013, OU lost to Texas A&M 13-41 in Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

In 1985, OSU had to play Florida State in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida. The Cowboys lost 34-23.

In 1952, Tulsa lost 13-14 to Florida in the Gator Bowl. The Golden Hurricane beat Hawaii 62-35 in the Hawaii Bowl in 2010.