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Total Conference Bowl Wins

By Phil Steele

Think you’re already an expert on this year’s bowl matchups? How about a quick pop quiz relating to the expectations of each conference this year according to the experts in Las Vegas:

First question, which conference is favored to win more bowl games….the Sun Belt or the ACC and the Big Ten combined?

Next, what two conferences are favored to win all of their bowl games?

Finally which two conferences despite having seven teams each, find themselves an underdog in each game?

Answers: The Sun Belt is favored in all four of their bowl game while the ACC and Big Ten combined…just three! The SEC and the Sun Belt are favored in each of their bowl games while the Big Ten and MAC are an underdog in every game!

When evaluating the strength of a conference one of the major factors that goes into it, is how that conference performs in bowl games. In today’s blog, I will give you first how Las Vegas thinks each conference will do this bowl season and then give you my predictions on whether or not those conferences will exceed or fail to meet those expectations.

Let’s start with the strongest conference in the country, the SEC. According to Las Vegas, the SEC is favored to win all nine of their games with eight of them by three or more points and three of them by a touchdown plus. Clearly this looks like it will be yet another banner bowl season for the conference but will they sweep all nine of their bowl games like Vegas predicts?

Las Vegas Odds say SEC goes 9-0….but I will call for them to go UNDER that win total as they lose two but still finish with an excellent 7-2 mark.

Next up on the other end of the spectrum is the Big Ten. Bowl seasons have not been kind to the conference in recent years and this year according to Las Vegas will be no exception. Each and every one of the seven Big Ten bowl teams finds themselves an underdog including five by more than a field goal but will the conference really go “O”-fer for the year?

Las Vegas Odds say Big Ten goes 0-7…but I will call for them to go OVER that win total as they win one or two of their games in what will be another disappointing year.

The Big 12 sends nine of their ten teams to bowl games this year and Vegas has them favored in five of them. I think there could be a surprise or two in the matchups but overall I agree with Vegas and will call the Big 12 to finish with a 5-4 record.

The ACC has had a rough year and traditionally the conference has not performed well in bowl games especially in BCS bowls. This year according to Vegas the ACC will go 2-4 with four of their teams finding themselves an underdog of three or more. However, I think the ACC will steal three wins and go OVER the projected win total.

The Pac-12 had a strong year despite preseason No. 1 USC failing to live up to expectations, the conference still sent two teams to BCS bowls and Las Vegas thinks the conference will have a banner 2012-13 Bowl season. As of now Pac-12 teams are a favorite in seven of the eight bowl games including four as a touchdown plus! While I agree that the Pac-12 will have a good bowl season, I will call for them UNDER that projected win total as they finish 6-2 or 5-3 this bowl season.

The Big East has traditionally been beat-up by the media come bowl season but have had their fair share of big bowl wins including four BCS wins since 2005. This year Vegas has them going 1-4 in the bowls and it is tough for me to see where the extra win will come from as I will agree with the one-win total!

The Mountain West has actually finished as the top conference in bowl win percentage a couple of times in the last five years but that was when BYU, TCU and Utah were in the conference. This year they find themselves favored in three of their five bowl games but I think one of three will be upset and I will call for them to go UNDER the three-win total.

A year after having arguably their best season in conference history, CUSA had a tough year but thanks to a couple of wins by SMU and Rice in the regular season finale, they did get five bowl participants. Vegas, however, has them as an underdog in four of those five games but a couple of them (Rice and Tulsa) are only a very slight underdog. For that reason, I will call for one of those teams to win as I will go OVER the win total for CUSA this year.

Three independents made bowls this year including the Fighting Irish playing in the biggest one of all. Vegas has two of three as an underdog and BYU as a slight favorite. I will agree with Vegas and call for them to finish 1-2.

It’s been a banner year for the MAC as not only do they place seven teams in bowls but Northern Illinois becomes the first MAC team to play in a BCS game. However, like I mentioned at the top of the article, Vegas does not feel like it will go well for the conference this season as all five MAC teams find themselves an underdog including five by seven or more points. However, I think the conference will steal a win or two and I will call for them to go OVER the projected win total.

The WAC has two bowl teams this year and should have had three but regardless Utah State and San Jose State find themselves as solid favorites over their MAC opponents. However, San Jose State must replace their coach and Toledo is a dangerous dog including an upset over Cincinnati earlier this year. Therefore I will call for one of the two WAC teams to get upset and go UNDER their win total.

Remarkably the Sun Belt is a favorite in all four of their bowl games this year with all four being by a field goal or more. However, the conference is not used to playing the favorites role and I think one of two of the teams gets upset and I will call for the conference to go UNDER their win total.

Keep in mind if you want to become a bowl expert on all 35 games, I will be releasing a 2012-13 Bowl Guide that you can download absolutely free. Each of the 35 bowl games will be covered complete with game-by-game stats for all the teams, individual stat leaders for offense, defense and special teams, past meetings between the two bowl opponents, team bowl records, previous bowl game results, and a computer projected box score for each game.

New this year is a checklist for each individual position along with coaching, special teams, intangibles and crowd categories and I give a checkmark to who has the edge in each category. The more checkmarks equals the bigger the advantage.

I will have the complete bowl guide ready to download tomorrow for free but here is a quick preview of the two bowl games that kick off on Saturday.

New Mexico & Idaho Potato Bowl Previews
Phil Steele is a college football analyst who has been publishing his annual College Football Preview since 1995. His magazine is regarded as one of the best in the business.
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