The Motel 6 Cactus Bowl and the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl are behind us, and the names on the schedule ahead are more imposing ones like Rose and Sugar.
The early bowls between unranked teams don’t seem too important, but they can sometimes tell us something about the season past and illuminate the bowls to come. What have we learned this year?
The Mid-American Conference is overmatched this bowl season.
The MAC has developed a cult following, in part by playing some games on odd nights like Tuesdays and Wednesdays, giving college football junkies a chance to avoid withdrawal. That has spawned a tongue-in-cheek phrase for the conference’s games: “MACtion.”
This season seemed to be a sterling one for the MAC, with one member, Western Michigan, going undefeated. The team is ranked 15th, has secured the slot in the major bowls reserved for a minor conference team, and will play in the Cotton Bowl. It is the first major bowl appearance for the conference since Northern Illinois played in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 2013.
But things have not gone well for MAC teams in the bowls so far. Their record is 0-5, the worst of any conference.
Toledo started it off by losing to the Sun Belt champion Appalachian State in the Camellia Bowl. Central Michigan was hammered, 55-10, by Tulsa in the Miami Beach Bowl.
Eastern Michigan lost to Old Dominion, which was playing in its first bowl game. At least Eastern Michigan got a trip to the Bahamas out of it. Ohio lost to Troy.
Miami of Ohio, playing the toughest opponent on the slate, Mississippi State of the Southeastern Conference, gave a good account of itself in the St. Petersburg Bowl before losing by a point on a blocked field goal attempt.
The results were not even a huge surprise. The MAC team was the underdog in all five games, yes, even to Old Dominion. Though the conference had a respectable 3-4 record in bowls last season, in general it has struggled against top competition. Over the last 10 seasons it is 14-23 in bowl games.
This all doesn’t bode well for Western Michigan on Monday.
The Broncos completed a perfect regular season, their first since 1941, sweeping their MAC games and adding road wins over two Big Ten teams, Northwestern and Illinois. Quarterback Zach Terrell is one of the most accurate passers in the game.
Some fans thought Western’s record deserved even more recognition than a top 15 spot and a Cotton Bowl berth. But the MAC’s poor bowl performance shows that Western’s conference wins were far less impressive than they might have seemed.
The Broncos are 7- to 8-point underdogs against Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. They were by far the best MAC team this season, but unless they can drastically improve on the conference’s bowl record, they look doomed.
This article passed through the Full-Text RSS service – if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.
Recommended article: The Guardian’s Summary of Julian Assange’s Interview Went Viral and Was Completely False.