The Mountain West’s Mountain Division, thanks to bowl wins by Utah State and Air Force, produced four teams with 10 or more wins. The Mountain West West Division, due to losses by Nevada and San Diego State, failed to produce a single team with at least eight wins.
The Big Ten West had Wisconsin… and that was about it in terms of impressive bowl performances. The Big Ten East featured the main-event successes of both Ohio State and Michigan State, plus bowl conquests by Rutgers and Penn State.
The SEC East did go 5-0, but its bowl lineup consisted of injury-depleted Louisville; Minnesota; East Carolina; Miami; and Iowa. The SEC West was terrible in its bowl games, but its lineup was Ohio State, Georgia Tech, TCU, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, West Virginia, and Texas. If you switched opponents for the two divisions, the SEC East would not have finished with a winning record. It’s all about matchups… and divisions have a lot to do with them. Imagine how different college football would be with division-less conferences.
(Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
9 – Thin conferences, strong individual teams
The Big Ten and Big 12 were not very deep this season — getting shredded in bowl games will reveal such a reality. Yet, while these conferences failed to demonstrated quality depth, the top two teams in each league — Ohio State and Michigan State; TCU and Baylor — all proved to be worthy of the hype. Quality teams stood out from their conference homes.
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
8 – Replay administration continues to be spotty at best
The incorrect ruling on a goal-line play in LSU’s Music City Bowl loss to Notre Dame was just one of many instances of replay-booth failure during the bowls. Early in the Sugar Bowl, an Ohio State receiver made an acrobatic Odell Beckham-level catch… or at least, he came close. Yet, the replay booth did not ask for an extended review. It is alarming how many plays were either evaluated incorrectly or did not gain the time needed for a thorough review.
(Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
7 – ACC makes three, thanks to the bees
Remember when Clemson beat LSU in the 2012 Peach Bowl to announce itself as a program that had arrived and could beat quality SEC opponents? Georgia Tech’s win over Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl has that same feel. This victory was gigantic for the Jackets and the ACC.