Winners and Losers of the Bowl Selection Show
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Every year some teams draw just the matchup they want, and every year there are snubs. This year was not an exception to the norm, as Northern Illinois luckboxed a trip to the Orange Bowl against Florida State and Louisiana Tech failed to earn a bid.
But which Bowls themselves were losers? Which teams are experiencing feelings of remorse after a top preseason billing? Are any teams making their first bowl appearances?
These quandaries and more as we look at the winners and losers of the Bowl Selection show.
Loser: Florida (vs. Louisville in the Sugar Bowl)
A better Sugar Bowl matchup would have been Florida vs. Florida State
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Florida could be looked at as either a winner or a loser. On one hand, they missed the chance to draw a top BCS opponent.
On the other, they get to face a pretty tough and underrated Louisville team. What they will miss out on is the ratings and glory, in exchange for a likely victory.
And if they don't win? That just looks really bad.
Winner: Northern Illinois (vs. Florida State in Orange Bowl)
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Northern Illinois strikes gold here drawing the Florida State Seminoles. What a potential statement game this could be for them. If they lose, nothing is lost, but if they take down a top BCS opponent like FSU, they will put their program on the map.
Ranked 15th overall in the BCS, it's already been a huge season for the Huskies, who finished 12-1 with an undefeated run through MAC play.
Winners: The Cotton Bowl and the Chik-Fil-a Bowl
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How about the Cotton and the Chik-fil-A Bowls for lucking into even better matchups than the Orange and Sugar Bowls?
The Cotton Bowl will feature Texas A&M and Oklahoma, and the Chik-fil-A Bowl will host No. 14 Clemson vs. No. 8 LSU.
It's not that the Orange and Sugar Bowls are going to be particularly bad, but the best matchup of the lot is the showdown between Clemson and LSU, and the Chik-fil-A sponsorship claimed it.
Winner: Western Kentucky
Hilltoppers are stoked for Bowl action.
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Also, you have to give it up to Western Kentucky for making their first ever bowl after getting snubbed last year.
Yes, they are going to Detroit the day after Christmas, but they are still going bowling, and that has to feel good.
The Hilltoppers have been one of the better small schools at the FBS level the last two seasons and it has to be a sweet reward to earn a bowl berth after striking out following an impressive 2011. They will play in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Loser: Louisiana Tech
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Louisiana Tech just couldn't score a break when it came to bowl bids. The 9-3 Bulldogs did lose to their only ranked opponent all year, No. 22 Texas A&M, and they also lost to San Jose State and Utah State, but a dominant win over Illinois and wins over Virginia and UNLV stand out among their nine wins.
Louisiana Tech was the highest scoring team in the nation, posting 51.5 points per game, and they also finished fourth in the nation in passing yards with 350.8 per game. Their defense wasn't effective, but it was good enough to hold opponents to 38.5 points per game. Awful as that is, it gave the Bulldogs a plus-13 average margin of victory.
According to ESPN, they were extended a bid to play in the AdvoCare Bowl, but declined it. The game would have pitted them against Louisiana-Monroe.
Loser: Middle Tennessee
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The 8-4 Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders beat Western Kentucky, Memphis, Georgia Tech and Troy, but suffered a bad loss to their only ranked opponent, falling 45-3 to then-No.12 Mississippi State.
It's an awfully good season, though, as they beat several good opponents but did not earn a bowl bid.
Loser: The Big 12
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Oklahoma not getting a Sugar Bowl invite created a domino effect in which other teams fell to lesser bowls.
If the Sooners had gone to the Sugar Bowl, Texas would have gone to the Cotton Bowl and Oklahoma State would have gone to the Alamo Bowl.
However, when OU went to the Cotton Bowl, Texas then moved to the Alamo Bowl and OSU moved to the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Every Big 12 team moved down a notch from where they would have gone if Oklahoma had earned the bid to New Orleans and the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
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USC receives a disappointing Sun Bowl bid against a 6-7 Georgia Tech team after the Trojans started the season No. 1 overall in the preseason polls.
The Trojans were slapped with tough NCAA sanctions in 2010 and lost a lot of depth due to a major loss of scholarships and upperclassmen transfers, but Lane Kiffin also brought in a top recruiting class expected to at least ease the depth lost.
Despite being a team comprised of a lot of underclassmen, USC still should have been better than 7-5 and 5-4 in Pac-12 play.
They won by a margin of 9.6 points per game this season, but lost to every ranked opponent they played (Stanford, Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame).