Oddsmakers in Las Vegas are the most dispassionate of all college football fans, and they must think highly of the SEC: the SEC has nine teams in bowls and all nine are favored by the oddsmakers.
Conversely, the Big Ten has seven teams in the postseason and all seven are underdogs. The MAC also is an underdog in all seven of its bowls.
[2012-13 College Football Bowl Season: The best individual matchups]
The other leagues: The ACC has six, with two favored; the Big East has five, with one favored; the Big 12 has nine, with five favored; Conference USA has five, with three favored; independents have three, with one favored; the Mountain West has five, with two favored; the Pac-12 has eight, with six favored; the Sun Belt has four, with all four favored; and the WAC has two, with both favored.
Here are some other bowl nuggets:
- Seven teams in bowls haven’t beaten any other bowl teams: Central Michigan (0-5 against bowl-bound teams), Duke (0-5), East Carolina (0-3), Mississippi State (0-4), Nevada (0-4), Ohio (0-3) and Purdue (0-4). And 12 other bowl teams have just one win over teams in the postseason: Air Force (1-4), Arizona State (1-4), Bowling Green (1-4), Georgia Tech (1-5), Louisiana-Monroe (1-3), NC State (1-1), Ole Miss (1-6), Rice (1-2), SMU (1-5), Utah State (1-2), Vanderbilt (1-4) and Western Kentucky (1-3).
- Which bowl team has the most wins over other bowl teams? It’s Notre Dame (9-0). Second is Stanford (8-2, including two wins over UCLA). Four teams won seven times against other bowl squads: Florida (7-1), Kansas State (7-1), Oklahoma (7-2) and Oregon (7-1). Two teams won six: Alabama (6-1) and Nebraska (6-2). A note: The records do not include wins over teams that had at least six victories but were ineligible or bypassed for the postseason.
- Two bowl teams, Iowa State and Ole Miss, had six losses to other bowl teams.
- NC State is the bowl team that played the fewest games (two) against other bowl teams.
- Of the 10 teams in the BCS games, all but Louisville won at least four games against other bowl teams. The records: Alabama 6-1, Florida 7-1, Florida State 4-2, Kansas State 7-1, Louisville 3-1, Northern Illinois 4-0, Notre Dame 9-0, Oregon 7-1, Stanford 8-2 and Wisconsin 4-3.
- The nation’s top two rushers will be on display in Saturday’s New Mexico Bowl. Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey is No. 1 at 146.4 yards per game, and Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson is No. 2 at 141.9 yards per game.
- Vanderbilt is playing in back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. Vandy lost to Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl last season and faces NC State in the Music City Bowl this season.
- While Vandy is playing in its home city of Nashville, San Diego State is the only team playing in its home stadium this postseason. The Aztecs meet BYU in the Poinsettia Bowl.
- Boise State is 10-2 headed into its Las Vegas Bowl date with Washington. Boise hasn’t lost as many as three games in a season since 2007. Coincidentally, one of the Broncos’ losses that season was to Washington in the only previous game between the teams.
- Georgia Tech is the second consecutive losing team to play in the postseason. The Yellow Jackets lost in the ACC title game to fall to 6-7 and had to get a waiver from the NCAA to appear in a bowl. UCLA was in the same situation last season, as it was 6-7 after it lost the Pac-12 title game; the Bruins finished 6-8. Tech meets USC in the Sun Bowl.
- There is one rematch in the postseason, with Iowa State and Tulsa squaring off in the Liberty Bowl. Iowa State beat the Golden Hurricane 38-23 in the season-opener.
- The Pinstripe Bowl matches Syracuse and West Virginia. WVU is in its first season in the Big 12 after leaving the Big East. Meanwhile, this will be the final game as a Big East member for Syracuse, which will be in the ACC next season.
- Western Kentucky, which meets Central Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, and Louisiana-Monroe, which plays Ohio in the Independence Bowl, are making their bowl debuts. Both have been to the Division I-AA playoffs (ULM went when the school was known as Northeast Louisiana).
- The Minnesota-Texas Tech matchup in the Texas Bowl is a rematch of the 2006 Insight Bowl in which the Red Raiders rallied from a 31-point deficit to win 44-41 in overtime. That loss led to Minnesota firing then-coach Glen Mason.
- Cincinnati meets Duke in the Belk Bowl. The Bearcats are going for their fifth 10-win seasons in the past six years. Duke, meanwhile, is in a bowl for the first time since 1994 and hasn’t won a bowl game since the 1960 season.
- Northwestern meets Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, and the Wildcats are searching for their first bowl victory since the Rose Bowl following the 1948 season.
- Oklahoma will see a familiar foe in the Cotton Bowl, as it faces former Big 12 rival Texas A&M. Sooners coach Bob Stoops is 11-2 against the Aggies.
- Nine teams allowed fewer than 10 rushing TDs this season, and all nine are in bowls. Notre Dame allowed the fewest, with two. BYU and Michigan State were tied for second, with five. Four of the nine teams are in two bowls: Alabama and Notre Dame in the national title game and Michigan and South Carolina in the Outback.
- Seven teams allowed fewer than 10 passing TDs, and each is in a bowl. Boise State allowed the fewest, with three. The only bowl matchup involving two of the seven teams is the Alabama-Notre Dame contest.
- Nineteen of the top 20 teams in scoring defense are in a bowl (all but No. 20 Penn State, which is ineligible). And 18 of the top 20 in scoring offense are in a bowl (all but No. 1 Louisiana Tech, which is 9-3 but was bypassed, and No. 8 Marshall, which finished 5-7).
- Seventeen of the top 20 in turnover margin are in bowls (all but Iowa, New Mexico and Middle Tennessee. MTSU was eligible but was bypassed). Three of the bottom 20 in turnover margin made it to the postseason: Air Force, Nebraska and Texas Tech.
- Maybe worrying about penalties is somewhat overrated. Eleven of the 20 most-penalized teams in the nation are in a bowl, including UCLA, which was the most-penalized team in the nation. Conversely, nine of the 23 least-penalized teams (there was a five-way tie for 19th) are home for the holidays.
- The NCAA has its own strength-of-schedule rankings, and using the organization’s figures, Northern Illinois – which is in the Orange Bowl – played the easiest schedule in the nation. Florida, which is in the Sugar Bowl, played the toughest.
- When he announced that he would coach Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl because of the departure of Bret Bielema to Arkansas, Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez noted that, “I’m not doing this for free.” Indeed, he will make at least $118,500 for coaching the Badgers in the Rose Bowl; it’s “at least” because he will get a $50,000 bonus if Wisconsin wins. The money will come out of Bielema’s $1 million buyout. Truthfully, it’s unseemly for Alvarez to pay himself for coaching the bowl. After all, he already makes $1 million a year as the athletic director.
- Speaking of coaches who guided their teams to the BCS but won’t be coaching them, Dave Doeren’s contract with Northern Illinois called for a $100,000 bonus for coaching the Huskies in a BCS game. (Yeah, like a MAC team in the BCS ever would happen: The school had to figure that money was safe.) But because Doeren already has left NIU for NC State, the school won’t pay the bonus. Extremely weak.
- Notre Dame will put players’ names on the backs of jerseys for the national title game.
- The FCS semifinals are this weekend, with top-seeded North Dakota State playing host to fifth-seeded Georgia Southern on Friday night and second-seeded Eastern Washington playing host to unseeded Sam Houston State on Saturday. Only the top five (of 20) teams are seeded, but Sam Houston State beat third-seeded Montana State last weekend, so a bit of extrapolation means SHSU likely would have been the sixth seed.
- Just for fun, let’s use the final BCS standings as our guide (figuring that the top 20 teams make the “playoffs”) and use the FCS results to extrapolate which four teams would be left in a 20-team FBS field. It would be the equivalent to top-seeded Notre Dame facing fifth-seeded Kansas State and second-seeded Alabama meeting sixth-seeded Stanford. Again, using the FCS results as a “guide,” Notre Dame would’ve beaten No. 16 Nebraska and No. 8 LSU; Alabama would’ve beaten No. 15 Northern Illinois and No. 10 South Carolina; K-State would’ve beaten No. 12 Florida State and No. 4 Oregon; and Stanford would’ve beaten No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 3 Florida. Florida would’ve beaten No. 14 Clemson; Oregon would’ve beaten No. 20 Northwestern; LSU would’ve beaten No. 9 Texas A&M; and South Carolina would’ve beaten No. 7 Georgia. In the first round (the top 12 get byes), No. 20 Northwestern would’ve beaten No. 13 Oregon State; No. 14 Clemson would’ve beaten No. 19 Boise State; No. 15 Northern Illinois would’ve beaten No. 18 Michigan; and No. 16 Nebraska would’ve beaten No. 17 UCLA.
- National titles will be determined in Division II, Division III and the NAIA ranks this weekend. In Division II, Valdosta (Ga.) State meets Winston-Salem (N.C.) State on Saturday in Florence, Ala. In Division III, perennial power house Union (Ohio) – which has won its three playoff games by a combined 199-44 – faces St. Thomas (Minn.) on Friday night in Salem, Va. And the NAIA final is Thursday night in Rome, Ga., between Marian (Ind.) and Morningside (Iowa). Marian is in just its sixth season of playing football.
- One thing that hasn’t been mentioned enough: Washington State finished the season with 349 rushing yards. You read that correctly: Washington State rushed for 349 yards this season. Two players, Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey and Temple’s Montel Harris, had higher single-game performances this season, and Army averaged more rushing yards per game (369.8). Part of the reason for the Cougars’ ineptitude on the ground is that they allowed a nation’s-high 57 sacks.
- Some other off-beat final statistics: Auburn and USF had just two interceptions each to rank last in the nation in that category; Boston College and Texas State managed just six sacks apiece to rank last nationally; Baylor’s defense allowed the most first downs nationally, at 327 – 151 more than Alabama, which allowed the fewest (176); Baylor also allowed opponents to convert 56.1 percent of their third-down conversions; NC State was the best in third-down defense, allowing just a 27.17 percent conversion rate; Memphis and Nebraska tied for losing the most fumbles, with 21; Idaho led the nation with 39 turnovers and also led by throwing 22 interceptions; and Auburn and Ball State allowed just 4 punt-return yards all season, while, conversely, New Mexico State managed just 15.
2012-13 College Football Bowl Season: 10 intriguing story lines