10 College Football Programs That Will Benefit from Epic Bowl Wins
Anyone who says bowl games do not matter is wrong. It is not only a good way to end the season. but it also prepares for the future of the programs.
This bowl season had some fantastic games showcasing some great players. While some of these athletes will move on to the NFL and other things, many will be returning to the college football world, ready for more next year.
These 10 teams not only won their bowl game, but the win will serve as a major building block toward next season and beyond.
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It took a second-half rally for Florida State to defeat Notre Dame, but it eventually came away with a 18-14 victory in the Champs Sports Bowl.
The Seminoles had higher expectations after beginning the season ranked No. 5 in the country, but the team finished strong and will have momentum heading into 2012.
Junior quarterback E.J. Manuel will return, as well as many players from the fourth-best scoring defense in the country.
It will not be long before Florida State is back near the top of the college football world.
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Houston was one game away from competing in the BCS game, but a loss to Southern Miss derailed those hopes.
The Cougars had to settle for a win over Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl, but this will still be important for the future of Houston.
The school will join the Big East next season as part of an expansion to make up for other teams leaving. After spending most of the year having to answer whether they are good enough to compete against better teams, the Cougars did not want to make the jump before proving it can first.
A dominant victory over Penn State showed the team was capable of defeating a quality Big Ten team.
Even though quarterback Case Keenum will not be returning, Houston proved it belongs with the big boys.
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This is not the first and will not be the last for Alabama, but winning a national championship is always nice.
The win in the BCS National Championship Game over fellow SEC member LSU proved Alabama was the best team in the country and deserved to be a participant in the game.
Although Nick Saban did not struggle with recruiting before, the win will continue to help win local battles against other conference members.
Recruits love going to winners, and no one was a bigger winner than Alabama this season.
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Arkansas had a solid regular season, winning every game except against Alabama and LSU, who were the top two teams in the country.
Still, the Razorbacks were doubted since they did not have many quality wins and were blown out by the elite teams in the conference.
By defeating Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl, Arkansas proved it is worthy of the top-five ranking the team earned at the end of the season.
There are a lot of young pieces on this team that will form a very dangerous squad next year.
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Nobody gave West Virginia credit, simply because it played in the Big East.
The Mountaineers did more than silence critics by scoring 70 points in a rout over Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Next season, West Virginia will either be overwhelming favorites in the Big East or still a top contender in the Big 12, depending on what the courts decide.
Either way, Geno Smith will lead the team to plenty of victories regardless of the opponent.
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Michigan wanted a win in the Sugar Bowl to solidify a good season, but the Big Ten needed the victory to remain relevant.
They both got what they wished when the Wolverines won in overtime over Virginia Tech and saved the Big Ten from too much embarrassment.
In one season, Brady Hoke completely turned around the struggling program and made Michigan into a top team once again.
Next year, senior quarterback Denard Robinson could lead the Wolverines back to the national championship.
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Oklahoma State will lose plenty of talent next season due to graduation and the NFL, but the Cowboys sent a message to the rest of the nation that they could be a new national power.
The team missed out on a chance to play for the national championship, but a victory over Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl proved it was still one of the best teams in football. The Cowboys also received four first-place votes in the final AP Poll.
Coach Mike Gundy has completely transformed the program. Oklahoma State had at least 11 wins in each of the last two years, something the school has never done previously.
As long as Gundy stays with this team, the Cowboys will continue to be contenders.
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In its first season with a major conference, Utah handled the pressure and put together a good season. The bowl game was simply icing on the cake.
Down 24-10 in the fourth quarter to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, quarterback Jon Hays threw two touchdown passes to force overtime. The Utes would eventually win 30-27.
The win further cemented the idea that Utah belonged in the Pac-12. It was able to handle tough competition every week and even defeated a supposedly superior team in the bowl game.
There is still a way to go until the Utes are contenders, but they are moving in the right direction.
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Cincinnati not only helped itself out with a win in Liberty Bowl, but it was important for the Big East Conference as well.
The Bearcats defeated Vanderbilt, a team that represents the SEC and toughest conference in college football. While the Commodores are far from elite in their own conference, it was vital for Cincinnati to come away with a victory.
Only three members of the Big East that are returning reached bowl games, so Cincinnati needed to represent the conference well to show it could still compete in 2012 and beyond.
The team did that and should be among the favorites in the conference next year.
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It took one of the highest-scoring bowl games in history, but Baylor finally defeated Washington in the Alamo Bowl by a score a 67-56.
Robert Griffin III announced he will enter the NFL draft and forgo his senior season, but in one year the quarterback completely transformed the reputation of the school.
Baylor was once a laughingstock in the Big 12 but finished in the Top 25 this season for the first time since 1986.
Griffin's journey will pave the way for many other talented players to choose the Bears in hopes of someday winning the Heisman Trophy as well.