The 2018-19 bowl season gave us the usual mixed bag, but it was a stunning performance from Conference USA that truly stood out as most of the Power Five conferences did little to separate themselves. Usually, by the time we reach the end of bowl season, we are talking about one conference or another dominating. Sometimes, the story is about a conference going in the tank, like the Pac-12 did last year.
That didn't really happen this year.
Nearly every conference had a hit-and-miss story this bowl season. Each Power Five league finished within a game of .500. That's not to say the Pac-12 did not finish last among its peers again, because it did, but the 1-8 mark from a year ago was certainly improved.
Here is a breakdown of how each league performed during bowl season, ordered by conference record. The expected record, based on each game's point spread, is included as well.
Conference USA's record ends up being the best of the season. The league was paced by champion UAB, which blew out MAC winner Northern Illinois in the Boca Raton Bowl. The two losses came to a pair of 10-win teams.
The only independent anyone talks about is Notre Dame, which got smoked in the Cotton Bowl. That is doing a disservice to BYU and Army, each of which won big. The Black Knights hung 70 on Houston.
Mountain West champion Boise State got rained out of the First Responder Bowl. Fresno State won the only other game against a Power Five school. The losses were ugly, including San Diego State getting shut out and Hawaii losing big at home.
After losing coach Scott Satterfield to Louisville, league champion Appalachian State handed C-USA one of its two losses by beating Middle Tennessee in the New Orleans Bowl. Troy also had a good performance in its win over Buffalo.
Oklahoma lost to Alabama in the Orange Bowl but came back from 28 down to make it respectable. The highlight was Texas taking down Georgia 28-21 in the Sugar Bowl. Bevo set the tone by running off the Uga pregame in an effort to say, "Hi! Wanna see my horns?!"
In the marquee Rose Bowl, Ohio State beat Washington to be the only winners from the East. The West was near perfect, with upset wins from Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa and Wisconsin. Purdue took the only West loss, but it lost spectacularly.
Alabama is still playing, but it was a disappointing bowl season. Georgia was better at tweeting than playing as it was among five favorites that last outright. Kentucky and Florida upsetting Penn State and Michigan, respectively, took some of the sting out. Also, LSU saved some face for Auburn last year by beating UCF. SEC went 3-1 vs. Big Ten but 1-2 vs. Big 12.
Clemson gets another shot at Alabama after pounding Notre Dame. The Tigers were the only ACC team to win that was favored to do so. Wake Forest, Duke, Syracuse and Virginia all won as underdogs. Boston College had its game with Boise State canceled due to weather, which is a first in the history of the bowls.
The Pac-12 was the only Power Five conference to finish below .500, but it is still an improvement the 1-8 mark last year. Only Utah, which lost to Northwestern, was involved in an upset. For a league with a reputation for high-scoring offenses, Oregon and Stanford won scoring only seven and 14 points, respectively. Cal only managed seven in a 10-7 overtime loss to TCU.
It was rough for the AAC, led by bell cow UCF having its 25-game win streak snapped by LSU. Temple not only lost as a favorite, but it lost two coaches in December. Houston took the worst loss of the bowl season in a 70-14 drubbing by Army. Cincinnati picked up the league's best win by beating Virginia Tech.
Only Ohio's 27-0 win over San Diego State in the Frisco Bowl saved the MAC from being shut out. Toledo lost in to FIU as nearly a touchdown favorite, and Buffalo was upset by Troy in Alabama. Eastern Michigan lost to Georgia Southern on the only regulation game-ending kick of the bowl season.