10 College Football Teams Most Disappointed with Their Bowl Game
With so many teams bowl-eligible these days, it's impossible to please everyone.
While coaches and players are usually disciplined enough to not rag on the bowl to which they're headed, we saw USC linebacker Tony Burnett use Twitter to disparage Georgia Tech, the Sun Bowl, the city of El Paso and the fact the game was on New Year's Eve.
News flash to Burnett: A 7-5 record is not exactly January bowl material.
Burnett was forced to apologize to the bowl and city of El Paso, but it got us thinking: How many teams are disappointed with their bowl berths this season?
Tony Burnett's comments may not have been the best PR move, but it's probably indicative of how the rest of the Trojans feel.
After all, the Trojans were the preseason No. 1 team in many polls and expected to find themselves heading to Miami at season's end.
But five losses have a way of ending national championship talk.
Such a precipitous fall for the Trojans this season has led several outlets, including Bleacher Report to ask the question, “Is USC the Worst Preseason No. 1 Team Ever?”
Take heart, USC fans. Notre Dame played in the 2010 Sun Bowl. Two seasons later, the Irish are playing for a national championship.
Plus, the Sun Bowl is better than no bowl, right? You'd think USC would have had enough of seasons without a bowl game.
Talk about a day late and a dollar short.
Kent State looked every bit as dominant a team as the MAC can produce these days. Despite losing to 2-10 Kentucky by 33 points, the Golden Flashes put together their program's first-ever 11-win season, earning the MAC East title and berth in the conference championship game against Northern Illinois.
Kent State sat at No. 17 in the BCS, needing to move up just one spot in the rankings to earn a BCS berth. With losses in front and a game against then-No. 21 Northern Illinois, a win all but guaranteed a trip to the Orange Bowl for Kent State.
Despite taking the Huskies to overtime in the MAC Championship Game, the Golden Flashes came up just short and kissed their BCS hopes goodbye.
But with an 11-2 finish, the Flashes should still be headed to a pretty impressive bowl destination, right?
No so much. With just one overtime loss, Kent State fell from the Orange Bowl all the way down to the lowly GoDaddy.com Bowl. Instead of a primetime meeting with Florida State on New Year's Day, Kent State will play Arkansas State out of the Sun Belt Conference is a game that gives “January bowl game” new meaning (the GoDaddy.com Bowl is on January 6 for some reason).
Sometimes being so close to something so great and falling just an inch short can be the greatest disappointment of all.
Remember those good old days when Michigan State was the toast of the Big Ten's Legends Division?
The Spartans had won the inaugural Legends title and had captured a share of the Big Ten crown the season before that. In two seasons (2010-2011), MSU had won more games (22) than it ever had in a two-season span, and no Big Ten team had won more games over the same span.
Sparty was expected to once again challenge for the divisional crown, but instead needed each and every game to earn a bowl spot, beating Minnesota on the last day of the regular season to earn win No. 6.
Now, MSU will have to be content with a trip to the rebranded Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (formerly the Insight.com Bowl).
Michigan State, like most other Big Ten teams, is getting a bump in its bowl invitation this season thanks to Ohio State and Penn State being ineligible. Both the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions would have certainly received a “better” bowl berth than the 6-6 Spartans, so maybe MSU fans should be thankful they're even headed to the B-Dubs Bowl.
Then again, it's not the expected Rose Bowl Game or consolation Outback/Capital One berth.
West Virginia's move from the Big Eat to the Big 12 this season was in part to improve the Mountaineers' bowl prospects.
The Big 12 has eight bowl tie-ins including the BCS while the Big East has six, and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl appears on both lists. And wouldn't you know it, West Virginia just happened to fall all the way down to the seventh Big 12 bowl slot this season—right into the Pinstripe Bowl.
Funny how things work out.
The Mountaineers will face old Big East conference foe Syracuse in New York City on December 29, and that clearly isn't where WVU had hoped to be spending bowl season.
Early in the year, West Virginia experienced an offensive explosion behind the leadership of senior quarterback and then-Heisman hopeful Geno Smith. It wasn't long before there was serious talk about WVU finding its way to the BCS in its first Big 12 season—and maybe even the national title game.
After the then-No. 7 Mountaineers dispatched the then-No. 9 Texas Longhorns, West Virginia lost five straight conference games to fall to 5-5. The Mountaineers didn't even become bowl eligible until November 23 with a win over Iowa State.
The Mountaineers finished in a four-way tie for fifth in the Big 12, ahead of only Iowa State and Kansas. This clearly isn't the ending West Virginia was hoping for, and there will be some hard lessons taken away from 2012.
South Carolina always seems to be the team that almost was.
Every season the Gamecocks are highly touted and benefit from its membership in the SEC with a preseason ranking that has little basis in logic or fact. Instead, pollsters seem to be relying on their hopes for South Carolina rather than what history has told us.
Once again, the Gamecocks have proven to be a pretty good second-tier SEC East program. And it's not too much of a stretch to claim that the East Division has been the SEC's second tier behind the dominant West for the past few years.
Enough of this “murder's row” nonsense. South Carolina's 2012 schedule included Vanderbilt, East Carolina, Alabama-Birmingham, Missouri and Kentucky to start the season.
Add in late-season games against Tennessee, Arkansas and FCS Wofford, and all of the sudden you're looking at a 12-game schedule with four decent opponents.
So can we stop with all this “week-in and week-out” bull?
Still, the legions of South Carolina fans—and the Gamecocks themselves—believe their own SEC hype. From their standpoint, the BCS has to be the goal each and every season. But despite spending the entire month of September and most of October in the Top 10, South Carolina failed—yet again—to reach the BCS.
Instead the Gamecocks will meet up with Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
Beating up on Michigan should provide a decent amount of entertainment for the Gamecocks faithful, but sooner or later, more will be demanded of the Head Ball Coach—as in a BCS appearance.
Despite finishing the season ranked No. 14 in the BCS rankings—and thus eligible for an at-large BCS berth—the Clemson Tigers will be facing LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome.
While the Chick-fil-A Bowl is certainly one of the top non-BCS games each year, the Tigers had their sights set squarely on the BCS in 2012.
Clemson lost just two games this season—against the only two ranked teams the Tigers faced this season. The September loss to Florida State kept the Tigers from the ACC Championship Game while the season finale against arch foe South Carolina likely kept Clemson from BCS consideration.
It's now time for the typical Clemson December motto: There's always next season.
Like Clemson, LSU was also hoping for a BCS berth this season, but unlike Clemson, the Bayou Bengals were expected to make yet another run towards the BCS National Championship Game.
But almost from the opening kickoff, it was clear that the 2012 Tigers didn't quite have the same impending dominance we saw from the 2011 SEC Championship version. LSU barely slipped past an absolutely terrible Auburn team in Week 4, winning 12-10, and followed that up with a flat 38-22 win over FCS Towson. That made the Tigers' loss to Florida on October 6 somehow less than shocking.
That loss, however, seemed to light the proverbial fire under LSU's hindquarters, and the Tigers proceeded to knock off then-No. 3 South Carolina and then-No. 20 Texas A&M before falling just short to then-No. 1 Alabama.
In the end, LSU emerged as a Top 10 team, easily qualifying for an at-large BCS spot. But thanks to that crazy two-teams-per-conference rule, the Tigers are headed to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
If that doesn't stick in your craw as an LSU fan, not much will.
Oklahoma is headed to the Cotton Bowl Classic, sometimes referred to as the “fifth BCS bowl.”
While the Cotton Bowl Classic is nothing of which to hang one's head, it's not exactly where the Sooners expected to be spending the New Year—and Oklahoma fans all across the nation can thank Northern Illinois.
The way the BCS is currently set up, Northern Illinois earns an automatic berth in the Orange Bowl for finishing the season as MAC champions while also earning a spot in the Top 16 of the BCS rankings ahead of an automatic qualifying conference's champion.
Since Louisville and Wisconsin couldn't figure out a way to win enough games to earn their own way into the Top 16, the Huskies take a spot away from an at-large team—like Oklahoma.
If you polled college football fans across the nation, you'd likely find an overwhelming majority of people would rather see the Sooners in a BCS bowl than Northern Illinois. But this is the system we have now, and we're stuck with it for now.
Is it 2014 yet?
Oregon and Kansas State
In the giving spirit of the Christmas season, we're going to give all of the readers a gift. We promised you ten teams in our list of disappointed teams, but when it comes to the 2013 Fiesta Bowl, we're giving you an extra selection.
Both Oregon and Kansas State fully expected to face off against one another in the BCS National Championship Game as recently as Week 12. Unfortunately, the night of November 17 was rough on both the then-No. 1 Wildcats and then-No. 2 Ducks.
Oregon lost to eventual Pac-12 champs Stanford while Kansas State was blown out by mediocre Baylor.
Enter Alabama and Notre Dame.
This season will mark the fourth consecutive BCS trip for the Ducks, but after perennial trips to the BCS, the goalposts have shifted a bit for Oregon and Chip Kelly. These days, it has to be national title or bust.
As for Kansas State, this will be the first BCS trip for the Wildcats since the end of the 2003 season. And while K-State's 2012 Big 12 title season will undoubtedly be remembered as an unqualified success, the Wildcats have to be feeling a little bit of dissatisfaction with the postseason destination considering where everyone assumed they'd be headed just a few short weeks ago.
As hard as it is to believe, 9-3 Louisiana Tech is not going bowling this season.
The Bulldogs are not one of the several teams sitting out the postseason for varying degrees of wrongdoing, nor did Louisiana Tech self-impose any sort of punishment. No, the Bulldogs are missing out mainly due to the failure of their current conference and the demanding and unrealistic selection timeline of the Independence Bowl.
Some hard questions are going to have to be asked by the powers that be at Louisiana Tech, but the football team has reason to be the most disappointed team in the nation. After all, the Bulldogs will spend the bowl season on the living room couch.
Even the university's president has weighed in, acknowledging the failure and accepting responsibility for the failure. But the real failure rests with the WAC, the Independence Bowl and the bowl system in general.
The Bulldogs are an incredibly fun team to watch and sport the nation's top scoring offense (51.5 points per game). With a 9-3 record, leaving the Bulldogs out of the postseason is an absolute travesty which is why we're placing Louisiana Tech at the top of our list of teams disappointed with their bowl destination.