This is my last regularly scheduled blog of the college football season. Five months go by so fast. Hopefully, I will get a chance to index things on here so they’re easier to find.
For the final blogger poll, click here.
I’ll get to the point now.
The SEC was #1 going into the bowls, so going 9-2 (counting the championship game) was obviously good enough to stay #1.
I do want to stress a little bit how impressive that is. Only one of the SEC bowl teams (Auburn, the worst of the SEC bowl teams) played an opponent that was not in a Power 5 (P5) conference.
Contrast that with the Pac-12, who played three non-P5 (Group of Five or G5) opponents in 10 bowl games.
(BYU isn’t in any conference, but it was most recently in the Mountain West and never has been a P5 program, so it’s classified in the G5 group.)
One of the Pac-12’s P5 opponents was Nebraska, who was granted a waiver as a 5-7 team because there were not enough normal bowl-eligible teams.
These were the match-ups for the SEC:
#1 vs. Big Ten #1 (then vs. ACC #1 in championship)
#2 vs. Big XII #2 (Ole Miss is counted as #2 because it got a better bowl selection than Florida; Oklahoma St. is likewise counted over TCU for the same reason)
#3 vs. Big Ten #4
#4 vs. Big Ten #5 (four teams went 5-3 in the SEC, so some of these will be debatable)
#5 vs. Big XII #7 (Kansas St. was actually #8 in the standings, but Texas did not qualify for a bowl game)
#6 vs. Big XII #6
#7 vs. Big Ten #7
#8 vs. ACC #5
#9 vs. ACC #9
#10 vs. AAC #5
These were the Pac-12 match-ups:
#1 vs. Big Ten #2
#2 vs. Big XII #3
#3 vs. Big Ten #6
#4 vs. ACC #6
#5 vs. Independent
#6 vs. Big Ten #8
#7 vs. MWC #2
#8 vs. Big XII #5
#9 vs. CUSA #2
#10 vs. MWC #3
I don’t look at margin of victory for the purposes of these rankings, but I think they do help show that most of these SEC bowl wins weren’t just luck.
The Big Ten ended up with a worse record than the Pac-12 even though Nebraska and Minnesota got to play in bowl games with losing records. The win by Nebraska was good, but you expect any but the worst Big Ten teams to beat Central Michigan. I would also give the Big Ten credit for not playing any other G5 opponents.
There was a clear enough gap between the Big Ten and the Pac-12 to begin with, so even if the bowls were harder, there isn’t any reason for the Big Ten to pass up the Pac-12. Also if you look at the apples-to-apples games, USC-Wisconsin was a 50/50 game and Stanford beat Iowa soundly.
The Big XII went 3-4 in bowl games, so likewise, I see no reason they should pass up the Big Ten.
The AAC only had two wins. Although both were against the ACC, the ACC still won four bowls. The two conferences were so close, I think that was enough to flip the two.
The other conferences were all within a game of .500, so there was no reason to make any other changes. The lower-ranked conferences don’t play as many bowl games, so those are a smaller percentage of overall games anyway.