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TechSideline.com has come a long way since its conception in 1996. We are the #1 media source and community covering Virginia Tech athletics, producing an average of 123,000 unique viewers and over 8.5 million page views each month. We reach a coveted demographic (you know who you are) 24/7, 12 months out of the year.
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During the regular season, there is much discussion amongst college football analysts, as well as fans, as to which conferences are strong and which are weak. There is generally no final answer to the argument, but many people rely on the results of bowl games to settle the dispute.
This year, the Big East went 5-0 in bowl games, an outstanding mark for a conference that was gutted by the loss of Virginia Tech, Miami and Boston College to the ACC just three years ago. In fact, the Big East went 7-3 in head-to-head matchups with the ACC this year, including two victories in bowl games.
Louisville beat Wake Forest 24-13 in the Orange Bowl, while West Virginia squeaked by Georgia Tech 38-35 in the Gator Bowl. Rutgers continued their Cinderella story by routing Kansas State 37-10 in the Texas Bowl. South Florida trounced East Carolina 24-7 in the Papajohns.com Bowl, while Cincinnati beat Western Michigan 27-24 in the International Bowl.
As expected, the SEC was near the top as well. The conference that many consider to be the best conference in the nation went 6-3 in bowl games, including Florida’s 41-14 victory over Ohio State in the National Championship Game. LSU also knocked off Notre Dame 41-14 in the Sugar Bowl.
Other big bowl wins for the SEC came over the ACC. Georgia rallied to beat Virginia Tech 31-24 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and Kentucky upset Clemson 28-20 in the Music City Bowl. It was a very good bowl season for the tradition rich SEC.
The ACC and Pac-10 both finished .500 in bowl games. The ACC went 4-4 and the Pac-10 went 3-3. Unfortunately for the ACC, they lost all three of their high-profile bowl games. Wake lost to Louisville in the Orange Bowl, the Hokies were defeated in Atlanta, and Georgia Tech lost to WVU in the Gator Bowl.
Maryland’s Champs Sports Bowl win, 24-7 over Purdue, was the conference’s best bowl victory. Miami beat Nevada 21-20 in the MPC Computers Bowl, Florida State routed UCLA 44-27 in the Emerald Bowl, and Boston College won a close 25-24 Meineke Car Care Bowl over Navy.
The Pac-10 didn’t start well, losing their first three bowl games, but they finished very strong. Oregon was crushed 38-8 by BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl, Arizona State lost 41-24 to Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl, and UCLA was defeated by Florida State.
Things started going better for the Pac-10 in the Sun Bowl, when Oregon State beat Missouri 39-38. Cal crushed Texas A&M 45-10 in the Holiday Bowl, while USC routed Michigan 32-18 in the Rose Bowl in a game that was not as close as the score indicated. The Pac-10 appears to be a top-heavy conference if you just judge by bowl game results.
The Big 12 went 3-5 during the bowl season, but their three victories went relatively unnoticed. In a battle of 6-6 teams in the Independence Bowl, Oklahoma State beat Alabama 34-31, while Texas Tech rallied to beat 6-6 (now 6-7) Minnesota 44-41 in the Insight Bowl. Texas played poorly but knocked off Iowa 26-24 in the Alamo Bowl. All three of the Big 12’s bowl wins came against teams that entered the game with a 6-6 record.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma lost to Boise State 43-42 in the Fiesta Bowl, and Nebraska lost to Auburn 17-14 in the Cotton Bowl. And as mentioned above, Texas A&M and Kansas State were blown out by California and Rutgers respectively. It wasn’t a good bowl season for the Big 12.
Finally, we have the Big Ten, who boasted three top ten teams at the end of the regular season. Two of them, Ohio State and Michigan, were thought by some to be the two best teams in the country, but both of those teams were thrashed in their bowl games, and the Big Ten limped to a 2-5 record in bowl games.
Ohio State went undefeated in the regular season and was the favorite to win the National Championship, but they lost to Florida 41-14. Michigan went to the Rose Bowl and got hammered by a very talented USC team. Purdue, Minnesota and Iowa all lost their bowl games as well.
Penn State and Wisconsin were the only teams that represented their conference well. The Nittany Lions beat Tennessee 20-10 in the Outback Bowl, and Wisconsin defeated Arkansas 17-14 in the Capital One Bowl. Despite the Big Ten’s overall bowl record, at least they can hang their hats on two victories over SEC teams in New Years Day Bowls.
The 2006 college football season is behind us, and while it’s never possible to truly determine the best conference, the SEC is a pretty safe bet. Wins in the National Championship Game, the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and the Chick-fil-A Bowl are very impressive.
The argument will begin
all over again in September. It’s safe to say that we’re all looking forward
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