Tuesday, January 25, 2022

2021-22 college football bowl records by conference: Mountain West, AAC reign as Pac-12 disappoints again

Here’s where every conference stands at the end of the 2021-22 bowl season

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We started season with 41 bowl games scheduled. A few days before the announcement of the matchups, another bowl was added so all the eligible teams and Hawaii (6-7) could have a place to play. Hawaii ended up dropping out of the Hawaii Bowl at the last minute due to COVID-19. That became the first of five total bowl games that were canceled entirely because of roster issues due to a combination of coronavirus, injuries, opt-outs and transfers.

The Sun Bowl and Arizona Bowl each lost a team within a day of each other, so the two remaining teams played in the Sun Bowl, while the Arizona Bowl was canceled. The Gator Bowl also found a replacement for Texas A&M after it had to drop out. Rutgers called its team back from a holiday break and replaced the Aggies in the game against Wake Forest. The Scarlet Knights ended up being the only team below .500 to play in a bowl game.

I always say that there is no worse way to judge conferences that bowl games because of all the roster/coaching staff turmoil that can happen between the regular season and the postseason. Also, there are often long layoffs. You just never know what you are going to get from any given team in a bowl game.

With that said, here is how the conference performed in this year’s postseason.

Here is a breakdown of how each conference performed and what was expected based on the odds for each bowl game.

Mountain West

5-1

The Mountain West is the champion of bowl season. Nevada was the only team to lose, falling to Western Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl. Boise State and Hawaii were unable to play. The marquee win for the MWC came when San Diego State beat UTSA in a matchup of teams with at least 11 wins.

American

3-1

The AAC had three of its games canceled due to roster issues with their schedule opponents. However, you can argue that it won bowl season just by Cincinnati earning a spot in the College Football Playoff. The Bearcats were the only AAC team to lose but acquitted themselves reasonably well given the talent difference with Alabama.

Sun Belt

3-1

The Sun Belt did not put many teams in bowl games, but at least they all got to play. Coastal Carolina’s win over MAC champion Northern Illinois in a 47-41 shootout was the highlight victory. Appalachian State was the only team to taste defeat. At 7-2, the Sun Belt is the second-most successful conference in bowl games over the last two postseasons.

Big 12

5-2

While the Big 12 came up just short of placing a team in the CFP, it did well with the bowl chances it received. Oklahoma State came from 21 points down to Notre Dame to win the Fiesta Bowl. Later that night, league champion Baylor beat Mississippi 21-7 in the Sugar Bowl. The conference finished 3-0 against the SEC, and it’s 10-2 overall across the last two postseasons.

Big Ten

6-4

The Big Ten got off to a 5-0 start before tailing off. It won arguably the two most entertaining games, both by 48-45 scores as Purdue needed OT to knock off Tennessee, while Ohio State came from behind to beat Utah. Jaxon Smith-Njigba had 15 catches for 347 yards and three TDs in that game. On the downside, conference champion Michigan laid an egg in its CFP semifinal, losing to Georgia 34-11 in an Orange Bowl game that was not as close as the score indicates.

Independents

2-2

The Marcus Freeman era at Notre Dame got off to a great start in the first half of the Fiesta Bowl, but the Fighting Irish fell apart after halftime and lost to Oklahoma State. BYU suffered the other loss among the independents, falling to UAB in the Independence Bowl. Army won a thrilling Armed Forces Bowl 24-22 over Missouri on a last-second field goal.

SEC

5-7

SEC folks will look at this record and say that they won the only two games they care about. They are not wrong. Alabama and Georgia were dominant in their respective CFP semifinals, and the league will have another national champion. The other games were not so great. Arkansas and Kentucky were winners on New Year’s Day, beating Penn State and Iowa respectively. While the league did not do well against the Big 12, as noted above, it was 3-1 against the Big Ten.

Conference USA

3-5

It was a hit-and-miss bowl season for Conference USA as the record would indicate. Western Kentucky was the highlight for C-USA after putting up 59 points in a win over Appalachian State in the Boca Raton Bowl. UAB also had a big win over BYU. The Blazers have appeared in a bowl in every season since their return in 2017 with the exception of the limited 2020 postseason.

MAC 3-5 The biggest win for the MAC this bowl season came in the Sun Bowl where Central Michigan beat Washington State, 24-21.  The Chippewas had been scheduled to play in the Arizona Bowl, but when Boise State pulled out, they hustled over to replace Miami (FL). Miami (OH) won the legendary Frisco Football Classic Bowl and will likely be able to claim that it was the only champion of that game.

ACC 2-4 It was another rough year for the ACC. League champion Pittsburgh blew a late lead and lost to Michigan State in the Peach Bowl. Wake Forest lost out on a chance to play Texas A&M in the Gator Bowl, but the Demon Deacons handled Rutgers easily, as you would expect. At least Wake got to play.  NC State’s team and fans trekked all the way to LA only to have their game with UCLA canceled at the last minute due to COVID-19 issues with the Bruins.

Pac-12

0-5

At least UCLA didn’t lose. Every team in the Pac-12 that did play lost for the second straight season. Utah put on the best show, giving Ohio State everything it could in a thrilling defeat. It would have been nice to see what the Utes could have done if QB Cameron Rising hadn’t been injured late in the game. Oregon’s promising season ended with a thud. The Ducks lost three of their last four games, and they were not especially close, including the loss in the Alamo Bowl to Oklahoma. The Pac-12 is now 0-11 in bowls across the last two postseasons.

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