Big 12 Sports Articles

College Football Conference Power Rankings: 2021 Season

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With the exception of the College Football Invitational Final, the bowl games are complete. Some conferences snoozed. Others excelled. Some teams were forced to back out due to COVID-19. Some teams are calling shenanigans. Some teams are using excuses for losses while others are proudly holding up their trophies. Who is the ultimate conference? Read below. Alas, the final conference rankings of the season.

 

1. Big 12 Conference (29-8, 9-0 vs. FCS) (5-2 in bowls)

The Big 12 Conference regains the top spot after a wildly successful bowl season. Notre Dame suffered two losses this season. Both of those losses came against schools that will play in the Big 12 Conference in the coming years. The Big 12 finished 3-0 against the SEC, outscoring them 97-34. What was that about the Big 12 Conference again? They don’t play defense? Teams coached by Lane Kiffin and Mike Leach were held to a touchdown each. 70 percent of the conference made it to a bowl game. 50 percent of the conference won their bowl game. 20 percent of the conference won a New Year’s Six Bowl. 40 percent of the conference won their bowl games by 15 or more points. Not one of these games was played against a Group of Five school. Ladies and gentlemen, the best conference in college football is: The Big 12 Conference.

-Liberty Bowl: Texas Tech 34 Mississippi State 7

-Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Minnesota 18 West Virginia 6

-Cheez-It Bowl: No.19 Clemson 20 Iowa State 13

-Alamo Bowl: No.14 Oklahoma 47 No.15 Oregon 32

-Fiesta Bowl: No.9 Oklahoma State 37 No.5 Notre Dame 35

-Sugar Bowl: No.6 Baylor 21 No.8 Ole Miss 7

-Texas Bowl: Kansas State 42 LSU 20

2. American Athletic Conference (31-20, 9-1 vs. FCS) (6-1 in Bowls)

The ACC wanted no part of this conference after seeing UCF and Houston take down Auburn and Florida. The only loss this conference suffered during bowl season came against the No.1 team in the nation. That’s impressive. The new Big 12 Conference finished 5-1 against the SEC, and the one loss was against No.1 Alabama. Buy the Big 12’s stock now while the prices are low.

-Myrtle Beach Bowl: Tulsa 30 Old Dominion 17

-Gasparilla Bowl: UCF 29 Florida 17

-Birmingham Bowl: No.21 Houston 17 Auburn 13

-Cotton Bowl: No.1 Alabama 27 No.4 Cincinnati 6

-Hawaii Bowl: Memphis def. Hawaii by forfeit

-Military Bowl: East Carolina def. Boston College by forfeit

-Fenway Bowl: SMU def. Virginia by forfeit

 

3. Mountain West Conference (35-22, 9-2 vs. FCS) (5-3 in bowls)

Two of the three bowl losses took place due to COVID-19, or at least that’s what was said. On the other hand, Utah State provided us further proof that the Mountain West Conference is the superior conference to the Pac-12. Utah State’s victory over Oregon State provides the Mountain West a winning record against the Pac-12. Let’s not forget, two former members dominated what was formerly known as the Pac-10 this year. Utah won the conference. BYU defeated Utah and went 4-0 against other Pac-12 Conference schools. Yes, there are some stinkers in the Mountain West Conference. On the other hand, the top half of this conference is pretty darn good. Power Five teams don’t want to deal with Boise State, Air Force, Nevada or San Diego State. 

-New Mexico Bowl: Fresno State 31 UTEP 24

-LA Bowl: Utah State 24 Oregon State 13

-Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Wyoming 52 Kent State 38

-Frisco Bowl: San Diego State 38 No.24 UTSA 24

-Quick Lane Bowl: Western Michigan 52 Nevada 24

-First Responder Bowl: Air Force 31 Louisville 28

-Hawaii Bowl: Memphis def. Hawaii by forfeit

-Arizona Bowl: Central Michigan def. Boise State by forfeit

4. Southeastern Conference (54-16, 13-1 vs. FCS) (5-8 in bowls)

The SEC had as many losses during bowl season as it did in the regular season. Oh, you mean, the SEC can’t compete with real teams? That’s what I’ve been saying all along. When the conference plays schools with winning records rather than beating up on UL Monroe and ETSU…..oh wait a second. Vanderbilt lost to ETSU. Excuse me. Maybe Samford is a better example. After all, Florida beat Samford 70-52. 18 points is a pretty decent margin of victory, right?
The bottom line is this conference sucks. It is top-heavy. There is Alabama and Georgia, then there are 50 pounds of crap, then there is the rest of the SEC. The new Big 12 Conference finished 5-0 in bowl games against SEC teams not named Alabama. I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention the COVID-19 forfeit from the Aggies. Let’s face it. A&M wanted no part of Wake Forest. How humiliating would it have been to lose to an ACC school? Kudos to Rutgers for stepping in at the last minute as I’m sure Wake Forest fans said “And it’s goodbye to A&M”.

-Armed Forces Bowl: Army 24 Missouri 22

-Gasparilla Bowl: UCF 29 Florida 17

-Birmingham Bowl: No.21 Houston 17 Auburn 13

-Liberty Bowl: Texas Tech 34 Mississippi State 7

Duke’s Mayo Bowl: South Carolina 38 North Carolina 21

-Music City Bowl: Purdue 48 Tennessee 45

-Gator Bowl: No.20 Wake Forest 38 Rutgers 10 (Texas A&M Forfeit)

-Cotton Bowl: No.1 Alabama 27 No.4 Cincinnati 6

-Orange Bowl: No.3 Georgia 34 No.2 Michigan 11

-Outback Bowl: No.22 Arkansas 24 Penn State 10

-Citrus Bowl: No.25 Kentucky 20 No.17 Iowa 17

-Sugar Bowl: No.6 Baylor 21 No.8 Ole Miss 7

-Texas Bowl: Kansas State 42 LSU 20

 

5. Big Ten Conference (39-12, 7-0 vs. FCS) (6-3 in bowls + 0-1 in APR replacement)

They finished 1-3 against the SEC. The real key factor here was Iowa’s loss to Kentucky. Losing to the SEC West? Okay, the conference likely stays ahead of the SEC in that case. Losing to an SEC East school not named Georgia? Yeah, you’re moving down. The Big Ten threw away all justification for staying ahead of the SEC, thus it drops from No.1 to No.5 because the SEC has no justification for being in the top three. The SEC sucked, and the Big Ten Conference is the only reason the SEC’s record doesn’t look as bad as the conference did on the field. Oh, you beat West Virginia? Whoopdy freaking doo! BYU would defeat Ohio State. In fact, maybe UAB would too.

-Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Minnesota 18 West Virginia 6

-Pinstripe Bowl: Maryland 54 Virginia Tech 10

-Music City Bowl: Purdue 48 Tennessee 45

-Peach Bowl: No.11 Michigan State 31 No.13 Pitt 21

-Las Vegas Bowl: Wisconsin 20 Arizona State 13

-Rutgers replaced Texas A&M based on APR scores in the Gator Bowl

-Orange Bowl: No.3 Georgia 34 No.2 Michigan 11

-Outback Bowl: No.22 Arkansas 24 Penn State 10

-Citrus Bowl: No.25 Kentucky 20 No.17 Iowa 17

-Rose Bowl: No.7 Ohio State 48 No.10 Utah 45

6. Atlantic Coast Conference (36-27, 12-1 vs. FCS) (3-7 in bowls)

I hate taking anything away from Wake Forest after its stellar season, but the ACC really only had one true bowl victory. Hey! If I were Texas A&M, I’d be freaked out about playing Wake Forest. Then again, the Aggies were scared to play Baylor, Texas, and Texas Tech for the past decade. I have no proof, but something in my mind tells me the ACC asked schools to use COVID-19 as an excuse to avoid the embarrassment of losing to schools from The American. Both of those bowl games were canceled. It’s not surprising since the ACC holds the Washington, D.C. market. Politics as usual?

-First Responder Bowl: Air Force 31 Louisville 28

-Pinstripe Bowl: Maryland 54 Virginia Tech 10

-Cheez-It Bowl: No.19 Clemson 20 Iowa State 13

-Duke’s Mayo Bowl: South Carolina 38 North Carolina 21

-Peach Bowl: No.11 Michigan State 31 No.13 Pitt 21

-Gator Bowl: No.20 Wake Forest 38 Rutgers 10 (Texas A&M Forfeit)

-Military Bowl: East Carolina def. Boston College by forfeit

-Holiday Bowl: No.18 North Carolina State def. UCLA by forfeit

-Fenway Bowl: SMU def. Virginia by forfeit

-Sun Bowl: Central Michigan 24 Washington State 21 (Miami (FL) Forfeit)

7. Conference USA (27-37, 14-0 vs. FCS) (3-5 in bowls)

Conference USA got off to a hot start winning three of its first four games. They were on their way to rising up the rankings, but the conference collapsed and ended up with a losing record. The Sun Belt doesn’t jump over them as one of its top three teams lost. While the Sun Belt has a winning overall record, Conference USA defeated all of the FCS teams it played against plus now has a victory over a BYU team that finished 6-1 against Power Five schools. Unfortunately for Conference USA, it’s likely to lose seven of its eight bowl schools to conference realignment.

-Bahamas Bowl: Middle Tennessee 31 Toledo 24

-Boca Raton Bowl: Western Kentucky 59 Appalachian State 38

-New Mexico Bowl: Fresno State 31 UTEP 24

-Independence Bowl: UAB 31 No.12 BYU 28

-New Orleans Bowl: No.16 Louisiana-Lafayette 36 Marshall 21

-Myrtle Beach Bowl: Tulsa 30 Old Dominion 17

-Frisco Bowl: San Diego State 38 No.24 UTSA 24

-Frisco Football Classic: Miami (OH) 27 North Texas 14

8. Sun Belt Conference (24-20, 8-1 vs. FCS) (3-1 in bowls)

To be honest, I don’t think this conference is as good as the record says. I think it’s like the SEC in the sense that it is very top-heavy. Louisiana-Lafayette probably would have finished second in the SEC East this year behind Georgia. Thus, why Florida stole their coach.

-Cure Bowl: Coastal Carolina 47 Northern Illinois 41

-Boca Raton Bowl: Western Kentucky 59 Appalachian State 38

-New Orleans Bowl: No.16 Louisiana-Lafayette 36 Marshall 21

-Camellia Bowl: Georgia State 51 Ball State 20

9. MAC (24-32, 11-1 vs. FCS) (3-5 in bowls + 1-0 in emergency replacement games)

The MAC stumbled out of the gates this bowl season with an 0-4 record. They made up for it though and managed to climb out of the cellar thanks to a God-awful performance by the Pac-12. And how about Central Michigan? They supposedly “upgraded” their opponent and won. I would expect Boise State to defeat Washington State, but if the Pac-12 is claiming Power Five Conference status, Central Michigan deserves to use that statement to their advantage.
-Bahamas Bowl: Middle Tennessee 31 Toledo 24

-Cure Bowl: Coastal Carolina 47 Northern Illinois 41

-Lending Tree Bowl: Liberty 56 Eastern Michigan 20

-Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Wyoming 52 Kent State 38

-Frisco Football Classic: Miami (OH) 27 North Texas 14

-Camellia Bowl: Georgia State 51 Ball State 20

-Quick Lane Bowl: Western Michigan 52 Nevada 24

-Arizona Bowl: Central Michigan def. Boise State by forfeit

-Central Michigan replaced Miami (FL) in the Sun Bowl and won

10. Pac 12 (16-27, 7-2 vs. FCS) (0-6 in bowls)

Wow! This team entered the bowl season in ninth place. Perhaps that was because they get the benefit of the doubt for being considered a “Power Five Conference”. This conference was so bad, and its teams know it. Not a single victory in bowl season. The Mountain West Conference finishes the season with a winning record against the Pac-12. At this point, the Big Sky Conference might be better than the Pac-12.

-LA Bowl: Utah State 24 Oregon State 13

-Alamo Bowl: No.14 Oklahoma 47 No.15 Oregon 32

-Las Vegas Bowl: Wisconsin 20 Arizona State 13

-Rose Bowl: No.7 Ohio State 48 No.10 Utah 45

-Holiday Bowl: No.18 North Carolina State def. UCLA by forfeit

-Sun Bowl: Central Michigan 24 Washington State 21 (Miami (FL) Forfeit)

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