Grading the Conferences’ Bowl Performances

Atlantic Coast Conference:

It is no secret that the BCS era hasn’t been kind to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Entering the season the ACC had won just a single BCS title, appeared in just three title games and had the worst record in the BCS bowls (3-13) among AQ conferences.

This bowl season broke new ground for the ACC. Clemson and Florida State both brought home BCS Bowl victories including the BCS National Championship. But the magic doesn’t end there for the ACC as the conference set an all time high 11 teams to a bowl. In total the conference went 5-6 this bowl season.

The good news for the ACC is that 2 of those losses were not all that bad for the ACC. One came loss came at the hands future ACC member Louisville; the other loss came from departing member Maryland.

While Duke lost to Texas A&M in the Chic-Fil-A bowl, the ACC runner up played strong and held on to a 10 point lead midway through the fourth quarter. First year ACC members Pitt and Syracuse each contributed a bowl win as well.

Final Grade: A+

The ACC finally racked up some badly needed BCS wins and ended the SEC title streak.

Big 12:

The bowl season had several ups and downs for the Big 12. The conference came up big with Oklahoma winning a BCS bowl against Alabama, however that same BCS success did not extend to conference champion Baylor who was upset by UCF in the other BCS Bowl the conference played in. Texas Tech (7-5) pulled off an unlikely win against Arizona State (10-3). Meanwhile Oklahoma State had a victory against Missouri within reach before a fumble with 55 seconds left in the game sealed their fate.  Kansas State defeated Michigan and Texas suffered a blowout at the hands of Oregon. In total the Big 12 sent just six teams to a bowl game down from last years nine.

Final Grade: B+

The Big 12 found both glory and embarrassment in the BCS this year.

Big Ten:

It was another disappointing season for the Big Ten. The Conference capped off another season with an embarrassing bowl record (2-5). However things were not all that bad. The annual New Years Day embarrassment for Big Ten fans wasn’t very embarrassing this year. Michigan State had a terrific win in the Rose Bowl, and Nebraska defeated Georgia. Iowa held their own against a ranked LSU team losing by only a touchdown. Wisconsin fought a closely contested battle against South Carolina before the Gamecocks pulled away late in the game for a 10-point victory. The Big Ten went 2-2 on New Years Day and looked competitive in all 4 games. Ohio State and Minnesota were competitive in their bowl games but ultimately lost. The only embarrassment this year for the Big Ten was Michigan who had a poor showing against Kansas State.

Final Grade: B-

The Big Ten got a badly needed New Years Day lift.

Pac-12

The Pac-12 ended the bowl season with a 6-3 record. However Stanford lost to Michigan State in the Rose Bowl, which left the Pac-12 without a BCS win. The Pac-12 while having a stellar bowl record failed to catch a high quality win. The Pac-12 racked up three wins against western non-AQ schools, and the remaining three wins were expected victories against AQ schools. The Pac-12 was unable to come away with any statement win to give the conference momentum heading into the next season.

The Pac-12 saw disappointment when Washington State choked away a win against Colorado State and went on to see Arizona State lose a heavily favored match against Texas Tech.

Final Grade: B

The Pac-12 showed Quantity but lacked Quality.

 Southeastern Conference:

The SEC finished with an impressive 7-3 record. While the W/L column looks good not all is well in SEC land. The SEC went 0-2 in their BCS games and if not for a late fumble in the Cotton Bowl the SEC would of lost its three biggest bowl games. But the biggest disappointment for the conference this year is the end of their title streak.

Final Grade: B+

The SEC failed to live up to the hype in their biggest games, but was still dominant.

American Athletic Conference:

The newly named AAC entered the season with lots to prove. At stake was the very legitimacy of their conference. Would the AAC continue on the path of the old Big East? Or would the AAC be nothing more than a glorified version of Conference-USA? With UCF defeating Baylor the AAC/Big East racked up yet another BCS win and proved that their league can hold its own against the top conferences. The most important thing for the AAC is that UCF not departing member Louisville carried the torch for the league this year essentially showing that the league can prosper despite the departures.

The AAC in total went 2-3 in the bowls including a win and a loss by departing members Louisville and Rutgers. Future AAC members went 2-1 giving this conference hope for the future.

Final Grade: A+

Their bowl season wasn’t pretty, but the AAC won the one game they needed to win.

Conference-USA:

The C-USA went 3-3. Two of those wins and one loss came from departing members. North Texas & Marshall showed signs of promise however the blowout loss that conference champion Rice suffered at the hands of Mississippi State is a tough pill to swallow.

Final Grade: C

Tough days ahead for the C-USA as another round of defections will hit the conference this offseason.

Mountain West:

The MWC went 3-3 in the bowls.  Colorado State’s comeback victory against Washington State was perhaps the best performance for the conference.  New member Utah State showed signs of promise after winning both its division and its bowl game against MAC champion NIU.

The MWC however had some tough losses. The conference champion Fresno State lost badly to USC. Boise State the most prominent program in the conference has fallen on hard times lately. The Bronco’s lost their bowl game, which only added more doubt about the future of this program. UNLV suffered a blowout loss to North Texas. Despite three games against the Pac-12 the MWC did not look dominant in any of them.

Final Grade: C-

The MWC finishes the season with more questions than answers.

Mid American Conference:

The MAC went 0-5 in its bowls

Final Grade: F

The MAC reaffirms its place at the bottom of the barrel.

 Sun Belt:

The Sun Belt went 2-0 in bowls.

Final Grade: A+

The Sun Belt did about all you could ask them to do this postseason.

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