Top stats to know: Best of bowl season

Three lead changes in the final five minutes of Monday’s BCS Championship game punctuated the 2013-2014 college football bowl season. But even before Florida State rallied to defeat Auburn, there were other noteworthy accomplishments.

Using ESPN’s new college football metrics (see explanations here), ESPN Stats & Information takes a look back at the best performances and most noteworthy plays from the bowls.

Biggest Plays in Terms of Win Probability Added

Four of the 10 biggest plays of the bowl season, measured by the swing in win probability, came in the BCS Championship. But the play with the biggest change in win probability came in the first bowl game of the season.

Highest Swings in Win Probability

Best opponent-adjusted QBR

Brett Hundley, UCLA, 97.7

Hundley ran for UCLA’s first two touchdowns and passed for two more in the Bruins’ 42-12 victory over Virginia Tech in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. The Bruins’ sophomore QB scored on an 86-yard touchdown – the second-longest touchdown run by a quarterback this season – to stake UCLA to a 14-7 lead. His 97.7 QBR was his second-best opponent-adjusted mark of the season, behind his 98.4 in UCLA’s regular-season finale against L.A. rival USC.

Dak Prescott, Mississippi State, 97.6

Prescott passed for three touchdowns and scored two himself to power the Bulldogs past Rice 44-7 in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Prescott’s first scoring pass pulled Mississippi State into a 7-7 tie late in the first quarter, and he closed the first half with his third scoring pass, giving the Bulldogs a 27-7 halftime lead. Prescott’s adjusted QBR was a season high.

Blake Bortles, UCF, 97.2

Bortles passed for three touchdowns – each when it was a one-point or tie score – in orchestrating the Knights’ 52-42 victory over Baylor in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Bortles’ raw QBR (92.4) was the second-highest this season against Baylor (a top-10 team in defensive efficiency according to ESPN’s team ratings).

Davis Webb, Texas Tech, 96.6

Webb propelled the Red Raiders to a big lead with four touchdown passes in the first 20 minutes of what ended up a 37-23 victory over Arizona State in the National University Holiday Bowl. His raw QBR (91.3) was the second-highest this season against Arizona State, which played FBS’s toughest schedule, according to ESPN’s strength of schedule rankings.

Cody Kessler, USC, 96.5

Kessler passed for four touchdowns, all in the first half, in the Trojans’ 45-20 win over Fresno State in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl. His adjusted QBR in the bowl game, his third game in 2013 with a QBR greater than 90, was a season high.

Top Team Performances


Texas A&M added 28.2 expected points to its net scoring margin on offense in its 52-48 victory over Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Aggies accumulated 30 first downs, averaged 8.0 yards a play and scored touchdowns on their final six possessions.


Vanderbilt added 26.6 expected points to its net scoring margin in its 41-24 win over Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl. In the first half, the Commodores forced eight punts, caused a fumble, gave up one first down and didn’t allow a possession of more than four plays.

Special teams

Miami added 12.2 expected points to its net scoring margin in its 36-9 loss to Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The Hurricanes put two punts inside the Cardinals’ 20-yard line, averaged 24.8 yards on kick returns (50 percent more than Louisville) and on average began drives almost seven yards closer to the goal line than the Cardinals. The special teams excellence wasn’t nearly enough to overcome an offense that contributed -18.6 expected points, however.