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2022-23 college football records by conference: MAC, AAC reign as Big 12 disappoints (except for TCU)

techsm5

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This is the first season since 2019 that all bowling games scheduled at the start of the season have been played at the end. In that regard, it’s nice to have that bit of normalcy back. There were also plenty of exciting games, including the two college football playoff semifinals.

In fact, 22 of 41 bowl games ended with one-score margins, including two in overtime.

There’s no worse way to judge teams and conferences than bowling games. You have several teams that have changed coaches and sitters either because they don’t want to risk injury before the NFL Draft or because they entered the transfer portal. Additionally, there are often long layoffs between bowls and previous games for some teams. You never know what you’re going to get from any given team in a bowling game.

They’re still fun to watch, though.

With that in mind, here’s how the conference fared in this year’s playoffs. Below is a breakdown of how each conference performed and what was expected based on the odds for each bowling game.

Mac

4-2

This year’s bowl season champion is the MAC. The league did not have a game against a Power Five team because the Big Ten did not have enough eligible teams to send one to the Quick Lane Bowl. The results were highlighted by league champion Toledo beating Liberty in an eight-team battle to win. Ohio and Eastern Michigan also beat teams from Mountain West.

Independents

3-2

Okay, technically it’s not a conference. However, there were two notable games among this group. New Mexico State played in only its second game of bowling since 1960 and needed an NCAA waiver to be eligible. The Aggies took full advantage, beating Bowling Green in the Quick Lane Bowl. UConn, which had been one of FBS’ worst teams in recent seasons, also qualified for a bowl in coach Jim Mora’s first season. However, the Huskies fell to Marshall in the Myrtle Beach Bowl.

American

4-3

The highlight of the bowl season for the AAC was Tulane’s comeback win over USC in the Cotton Bowl. The Green Wave scored 16 points in the 4:07 final to beat the Trojans, 46-45. The conference also had two victories over the Sun Belt and one over the Mountain West. The only other game against a Power Five team was UCF’s 30-13 loss to Duke.

ACC

5-4

The league was kicked out of the CFP for the second straight season, and both teams that played for the conference title lost their respective bowl games. Clemson was notably uncompetitive and questions arise over the direction of the program. Pittsburgh’s win over UCLA highlights the ACC’s bowl-season victories. Louisville also won the first Scott Satterfield, uh, Fenway Bowl against Cincinnati. Florida State picked up its 10th win of the season in a thrilling 35-32 win over Oklahoma in the Cheez-It Bowl.

Big Ten

5-4

On par with the ACC, the Big Ten has also seen poor performances from its teams in the biggest games they have played. The conference put two teams in the CFP for the first time…and both lost. Michigan’s vaunted defense was crushed by TCU, 51-45 in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State missed a 50-yard field goal on the final play and fell to Georgia, 42-41. The Buckeyes led 38-28 midway through the fourth quarter but couldn’t hold on. The Big Ten are now 2-6 in the CFP semifinals. The league was also 1-2 in traditional New Year’s Day matches. Penn State beat Utah in the Rose Bowl, Illinois lost to Mississippi State in the ReliaQuest Bowl, and Purdue’s saves were erased by LSU in the Citrus Bowl.

SECOND

6-5

The SEC, specifically Georgia, is back in the CFP National Championship following the Bulldogs’ 42-41 win over the Buckeyes in the Peach Bowl. Georgia is looking to become the first repeat national champion since Alabama won back-to-back BCS championships in 2011-12. The SEC improved to 10-1 in CFP semifinal games. Mississippi State honored Mike Leach with pirate flags on their helmets and a ReliaQuest Bowl win over Illinois. Alabama won its eighth straight bowl game, dominating Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl. Tennessee capped off its first 11-win season since 2001 by defeating Clemson in the most orange of Orange Bowls.

United States Conference

3-3

UAB kicked off the bowl season with a 24-20 win over Miami (OH) in the Bahamas Bowl, but C-USA’s best wins came after that. Middle Tennessee State defeated San Diego State 25-23 in the Hawaii Bowl, and Western Kentucky defeated Southern Alabama 44-23 in the New Orleans Bowl. The biggest disappointment was UTSA’s loss to Troy 18-12 in a Battle of Conference Champions at the Cure Bowl.

West Mountain

3-4

It was an unusually tough year for Mountain West, who was the season’s defending bowling champion. The best teams in the league carried the banner well. The Fresno State champion defeated Washington State 29-6 in the LA Bowl. Runner-up Boise State beat North Texas in the Frisco Bowl and the Air Force won the Armed Forces Bowl over Baylor. The three winners ended the season with 10 wins.

Pac-12 3-4 The good news is that the Pac-12 has not been ruled out. Florida’s 30-3 demolition by Oregon State at the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 17 was the first win in a bowling game for the Pac-12 since the 2019 season. However, both participants in the conference title game gave up their games. USC lost a 15-point lead and lost to Tulane in the Cotton Bowl. Utah fell for the second straight season in the Rose Bowl, this time to Penn State, 35-21. Washington and Oregon have had good wins in their games. The Huskies beat Texas 27-20 in the Alamo Bowl, and the Ducks beat North Carolina 28-21 in a surprisingly weak Holiday Bowl.
Solar belt 3-4 The highlight of the bowl season for the Sun Belt was Troy’s win over UTSA. This gave the Trojans 12 wins for the first time ever. Marshall and Southern Miss also picked up wins. Marshall finished his first season in the league with nine wins, including one at Notre Dame. Coastal Carolina and Southern Alabama, which had excellent seasons otherwise, blew themselves up in their bowls. The Chanticleers lost to East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl, while the Jaguars were crushed by Western Kentucky.

Big 12

2-6

The Big 12 finish bottom of the pack, but they probably don’t care because TCU is still playing. The Horned Frogs are in the CFP National Championship after defeating Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl, becoming the first Big 12 team to play for a CFP title. The league’s only other win was Texas Tech’s win over Ole Miss at the Texas Bowl. Kansas came back from 18 points behind in the fourth quarter to force overtime with Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl, but the Jayhawks lost in the third period 55-53 for the bowl’s highest-scoring game of the season. It was KU’s first bowl since 2008.


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