From start to finish, Dan Matt had a phenomenal set of picks en route to the pool championship. He correctly picked 8 of 9 and 13 of the first 15 games correctly and always either led the pool or was tied at the top. The hot start coupled with a hot finish - prior to losing the last game before the title bout Dan had won nine straight games - put him in position, with a high-scoring title game, to finally crack the wall of champs. Alabama's 45-40 victory sealed Dan's long-awaited championship by giving him the tiebreaker win over Finn Harkins. Incredibly, Dan correctly picked 32 of the 41 games played, by far the most games picked correctly in pool history. Dan also had another entry finish third while Mark Minger and Danny Strain rounded out the top five.

Few non-Ohio State fans were happy when Buckeyes RB Ezekiel Elliott scored a 1-yard TD with 28 seconds to play in the national title game. Jay Treadway was one of those happy fans. Thanks to the running-up-the-score TD, which gave Ohio State a 42-20 lead, Treadway won the tiebreaker over Debbie Matt to claim his second pool championship (2005-06). Treadway correctly picked the winner of a pool-best 26 games helped by a 9-0 start. His biggest risks were taking Clemson to beat Oklahoma (only 21% of entrants did) and Oklahoma State to defeat Washington (24%). Debbie Matt and Kevin Newman finished second and third, respectively. They were the only entrants to correctly predict the Ohio State-Oregon championship contest. Newman was the lone person to call Ohio State's championship.

While many other entrants soaked up the spotlight during Bowl Pool XVI, Andrew Fenton's entry continued to flow under the radar. It was never more than two games out of first place and, thanks to a late-2013 and early-2014 surge he defeated Jeff Przylucki and Rick Strain by one and two games, respectively, to win his second bowl pool. He iced his championship when Arkansas State, an 8.5-point underdog, not only covered but defeated Ball State in the GoDaddy.com bowl on the eve of the National Championship game. Still, his biggest key to winning was going 7-1 on Dec. 28-30 (the only loss was taking Michigan to beat Kansas State). Only one other person lost 1 game during that stretch (runner-up Przylucki) while the average record was 4-4.

A year after finishing in a tie for first (but ending up second via the tiebreaker) Lisa Harkins became the first female to grace the Wall of Champions. Her overall picks were so good Lisa clinched the pool with four games remaining and finished with a 22-13 record. Her fast start (8-2) coupled with a stretch of picking 11 of 12 games correctly from Dec. 29 to Jan. 1 allowed her to high-step to victory. Her biggest risks were taking Washington (+5.5) and Minnesota (+14.5) to cover the spread in their respective games, something only 33% of pool entrants did. Both gambles paid off and is one reason she will forever be enshrined on the Wall of Champs. The tiebreaker determined second and third place, allowing Ricky Strain and Daniel Matt to grab 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

How interesting that in the first year switching from straight-up picks to picking against the spread we had the closest finish in bowl pool history? Three entrants finished with an impressive 23-12 record. However, thanks to the low-scoring 21-0 title game Aaron Fraser won the tiebreaker over Lisa Harkins and Ed Harkins. Fraser's "biggest risk" was taking Louisiana-Lafayette (23% of pool entries went with the Ragin' Cajuns), but he might have won the pool by going 5-1 in games involving the Big Ten around New Year's Day. That, plus nabbing Northern Illinois and Alabama in the final two games, both pick'ems, finally enshrined the longtime pool entrant on the famous Wall of Champions.

In winning his third bowl pool in five years -- Dynasty, anyone??? -- Chris Mackinder went out on a few limbs that helped him finish 24-11 en route to the title. He picked middle-of-the-pack Big Ten team Illinois to beat Baylor (40% of entrants did so) and Florida State to upset South Carolina (along with 27% of entrants), wins that offset some other poor early selections. The key to his victory, however, was picking 11 of the final 14 games correct. It came down to total points in the BCS Championship game, but the low-scoring affair (41 total points) gave Mackinder the 1st place tiebreaker over Ryan Morris. Ron Boos finished a game back in 3rd place.

When Alabama scored a couple late touchdowns to beat Texas for the title, Rick Strain used his tiebreaker to claim the championship. Strain went out on a few limbs during the bowl pool season which helped catapult him to the forefront of the standings. In the first game, Strain took 10-point underdog Wyoming (5 of 40 picked Wyoming) to defeat Fresno State. The Cowboys got the thrilling victory in OT. He also was in the minority in picking Air Force to knock off Houston (9 of 40 picked Air Force). Strain finished 23-11 and the Alabama victory in the national championship, along with the high tiebreaker, allowed him to jump to first place and send Ken Harkins into a very close second place.

It took a couple of big risks for Chris Mackinder to become the pool's first two-time winner. He went out on a limb in taking Oregon to defeat Oklahoma State (7 of 34 picked Oregon) and taking Mississippi to knock off Texas Tech (4 of 34 picked Ole Miss). Both picks came through. Mackinder finished 24-10, tying the record for most wins in a bowl pool. The number of losses, however, is a new record for a bowl pool champion since there were a record 34 bowl games. His victory wasn't sealed until Tulsa beat Ball State in the GMAC Bowl (a Ball State win would have dropped Mackinder in a tie with his wife, Nicole, for first). Mackinder was never a game out of first in a pool that was well balanced from start to finish.

After two straight third-place finishes (he won the tiebreaker in '06-07), Bill Mellian finally reached the top of the Bowl Pool mountain. His 24-8 record ties him with his son-in-law for the best in Bowl Pool History. Mellian was never a game out of first, winning 9 of the first 11 games. He went a perfect 6-for-6 on New Year's Day and never relinquished the lead after that. He did need Tulsa to win the GMAC Bowl and a LSU or low-scoring OSU win in the title game to clinch the pool and he got both to beat Denny Kapp, Jeff Przylucki and Nick Rizzi by one game. His biggest gamble was picking his beloved Wolverines to beat the Gators in the Capital One Bowl.

Thanks to a record 32 bowl games, Chris Mackinder set a new record for the most correct bowl game picks. Mackinder finished 24-8 despite losing his final two games to skate to a one-game victory. Jay Treadway's 23 wins were just shy of making him a back-to-back winner while Bill Mellian was two games back to claim third place. Mackinder's biggest gamble was taking a leap of faith and selecting Boise State to beat the BCS choker Sooners of Oklahoma. Thanks to some amazing plays, Boise State beat Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime. Mackinder also was in the minority (11 of 43 entries) that picked Georgia to beat Virginia Tech.

For the first time in bowl pool history, the tiebreaker had to decide the champion. Both Jay Treadway and Ross DeFabis finished with 20-8 records but it was Treadway's tiebreaker (72) that beat DeFabis' (66) thanks to Texas' 41-38 win over USC for the national title. Treadway, who also finished third with another entry, had a great year all around. He started out a perfect 9-0, but still shared first with two others (DeFabis and Fred Mackinder). It was his finish, however, that proved to be the difference. Treadway went 7-1 in his final eight games while DeFabis, who held a two-game lead with eight games to play, finished 5-3.

When Nick Rizzi was sitting at 5-4 after nine games, he likely wasn't thinking he would win the bowl pool championship. But he got on a roll and a 20-8 finish capitalized when USC romped Oklahoma for the national title sealed the deal. Believe it or not, Rizzi didn't make any bold pick as his biggest "upset" pick was taking Cincinnati to beat Marshall in the Fort Worth Bowl (11 of 29 people picked that "upset"). Regardless, when USC beat Oklahoma 55-19, Rizzi was in sole possession of first place, one game ahead of Sarah Vabulus and Jeff Przylucki.

One year after finishing second to Ross DeFabis, Jeff Przylucki showed DeFabis what second place felt like. While it wasn't as big of a gap between first and second, Przylucki's 21-7 record was three games better than DeFabis' second-place record of 18-10. There really was only one game - Cal's 52-49 victory over Virginia Tech in the Insight Bowl - where Przylucki took a big risk. However there is nothing wrong with being among the majority if you're getting picks correct.

Talk about running away with a championship. Ross DeFabis can hang his hat on the fact his 20-8 record was four games better than the second-place finisher Jeff Przylucki's 16-12 record. DeFabis was alone (1 vs. 27) on two picks. Both gambles paid off as DeFabis' Wake Forest Demon Deacons defeated Oregon 38-17 in the Seattle Bowl and Tulane beat Hawaii 36-28 in the Hawaii Bowl. Both picks gave DeFabis such a big cushion that his title was wrapped up with two games left.

When 83 percent of the pool entrants pick at least 60 percent of the games correctly, it can be tabbed an "easy picking" bowl pool year. That said, Andrew Fenton still had to nail the most picks. By finishing 19-6, Fenton finished one game ahead of Nick Rizzi and Justin Spack to claim the pool championship. The pool wasn't decided until the title game when Miami dominated Nebraska. But it was Fenton's pick of LSU over Illinois in the Sugar Bowl two days earlier that basically sealed the pool. LSU, the minority pick and underdog, beat Illinois 47-34 in that game.

Despite losing his first two bowl games and actually starting 2-4 after six games, Steve Lyons outlasted 13 other entries to claim the title. Lyons finished 17-6 (that's a 15-2 record in the final 17 games if you're counting), one game ahead of Jessy Bobee and Mike Kompoltowicz. His biggest gamble was taking LSU to upset Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl. He also was among the minority in taking Iowa State to beat Pittsburgh in the Insight.com bowl.

 

When someone picks just six bowl games incorrect, a bowl pool championship is practically in the bag. That is exactly what Andrew Young did in beating out the smallest field - 13 entries - in bowl pool history. Interestingly enough, he was 2-2 after four games but finished 17-6 with a two-game cushion over second place entrant Denny Kapp. His biggest gamble was selecting Arkansas over Texas in the Cotton Bowl. He also was one of four people to pick Michigan State to defeat Florida in the Citrus Bowl with Bobby Williams as the interim coach.

Who knew that in December of 1998 two soon-to-be best friends would conjure up the great idea of having a joint bowl pool? Well, that is exactly what Chris Mackinder and Mike Harkins did. However, because of the newness, no information on the first pool is known - except that there were a pretty low 17 entries and 13 wins was good enough for 5th place.


 

 


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