Yet again, the SEC enjoyed an incredibly successful stretch in the college football postseason. The league won seven of its nine bowl games, and can still tout LSU participating in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. As for the the Big 12, well ... not so much as the conference was on the losing side in all but one of its bowl games. Texas, however, stepped up again for the Big 12 this postseason as an underdog, defeating Utah in convincing fashion in the Alamo Bowl.
It was a mixed bag for everyone else in the 2019-20 college football bowl season which has just wrapped, with some good moments and some not so good per usual. Here, now, is a complete breakdown by conference in order of bowl record.
Despite the gaudy record, the SEC did not live up to expectation in the bowl season. Of course, the league will not care about that if it comes away with the big trophy on Monday night. The only underdog in the SEC was Kentucky, but the Wildcats won their game with Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl. The upset losers were Auburn to Minnesota in the Outback Bowl and Mississippi State to Louisville in the Music City Bowl.
Liberty won its bowl game in the first-ever postseason appearance for the Flames, defeating Georgia Southern 23-16 in the Cure Bowl. They have only been bowl-eligible for two seasons since moving up from FCS. Notre Dame crushed Iowa State 33-9 in the Camping World Bowl, giving another black eye to the Big 12.
For the second year in a row, Appalachian State lost its coach between the end of the regular season and the bowl game -- and for the second year in a row, the Mountaineers won anyway. They defeated UAB 31-17 to lead the league to an above .500 bowl record.
The American Athletic Conference standard bearer this season was Memphis after UCF had earned two straight New Year's Six appearances. The Tigers were playing without coach Mike Norvell, who had moved on to Florida State, and lost to Penn State 53-39 in a pretty entertaining Cotton Bowl. SMU and Temple got smoked in their bowl games, but it was not a bad postseason otherwise.
Boise State lost the Las Vegas Bowl to Washington 38-7 in former coach and current Huskies coach Chris Petersen's final game on the sidelines. There were some good moments, though. Hawaii upset BYU in its home bowl game, and Air Force grounded down Washington State 31-21 in the Cheez-It Bowl.
The Pac-12 has been trending in a better direction in the postseason since its dismal 1-8 showing two seasons ago. While the league fell short of the playoff, it did have a dramatic 28-27 win in the Rose Bowl over Wisconsin. Cal had something of a home game in the Redbox Bowl and beat Illinois 35-20. Iowa's 49-24 win over USC was the only Pac-12 loss to the Big Ten this bowl season.
The Big Ten's 4-5 record does not mean much. This bowl season will be remembered for the self-destructive losses by Ohio State and Wisconsin in the league's two biggest games. The Buckeyes shot themselves in the foot repeatedly in a 29-23 loss to Clemson in the CFP semifinals, and the Badgers saw four turnovers turn into 21 Oregon points in the loss in the Rose Bowl. The lone bright spot for the Big Ten this season was Minnesota's 31-24 win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl.
Last bowl season was miserable for the MAC, so getting three wins total and one more than expected made for a nice postseason for the league. Kent State's 51-41 win over Utah State in the Frisco Bowl to start things out was a fun game to watch, as was Ohio's 30-21 win over Nevada in the Potato Bowl near the end of the bowl season.
The league was awful behind Clemson this season, so a 4-6 bowl record does not feel too bad. This is especially true since the Tigers are playing in CFP National Championship Game on Monday night. However, Louisville was the only team besides Clemson to beat a Power Five conference opponent.
Conference USA was an underdog in almost all of its bowl games, so pulling off a 3-5 record is pretty good. League champ Florida Atlantic crushed SMU from the American Athletic Conference 52-28 in the Boca Raton Bowl for the best win the conference posted.
|Big 12||1-5||0-6||Yikes. I do not remember a major conference being an underdog in every single one of its bowl games, but that was the Big 12's lot in life this season. And things went about as well as could be expected. Oklahoma getting destroyed by LSU 63-28 in the CFP semifinals was bad, but the Sooners were not alone in blowout losses as Iowa State lost to Notre Dame 33-9 in the Camping World Bowl. The only saving grace was Texas' 38-10 win over No. 11 Utah, which served as one of the biggest upsets of bowl season.|