Winners and losers from the bowl assignments:
Loser: Florida State. The Seminoles weren’t in a fabulous showdown to begin with when it looked like Louisville was headed to the Orange Bowl. But they weren’t in a no-win situation. Louisville is at least a representative program, plus a future ACC foe of Florida State. But now Florida State gets Northern Illinois, a totally no-win situation for FSU.
Winner: The MAC. The Mountain West and the Western Athletic Conference have had their turn at being a BCS buster. Now the Mid-American Conference gets its shake. The MAC has a long history of upsetting middling Big Ten teams. Wins over Michigan and Ohio State aren’t so prevalent. Northern Illinois can change that in the Orange Bowl.
Loser: Oklahoma State. When the Cowboys had an 11-point lead in the second half of Bedlam, the BCS remained a possibility, and the Cotton Bowl looked at least probable. Now OSU is headed for the Heart of Dallas Bowl, playing a bad Purdue team on ESPNU. Ouch.
Winner: Texas. The Longhorns avoided a Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M. Nothing else matters. Get rolled in the Alamo Bowl against Oregon State, and UT won’t care. The ‘Horns keep the Cold War alive.
Loser: Louisiana Tech. Only two bowl-eligible teams didn’t make a bowl. Middle Tennessee and Louisiana Tech. The latter was 9-3, spent some time in the top 25 and beat both Illinois and Virginia. But Louisiana Tech was a victim of the Northern Illinois fallout. When Northern Illinois made the Orange Bowl, it created a ripple effect that ended up knocking Iowa State out of Big 12 slot. The Liberty Bowl scooped up the Cyclones. On Saturday, the Independence Bowl offered a bid to Louisiana Tech, but athletic director Bruce Van de Velde asked for more time, thinking the Liberty was a likely option. The Independence then invited Ohio to play Louisiana-Monroe. Louisiana Tech was left out in the cold.
Winner: The MAC again. Seven Mid-American teams are in bowls. Same as the Big Ten.
Loser: Sugar Bowl. New Orleans went from Florida-OU to Florida-Louisville. Quite a comedown.
Winner: Pinstripe Bowl. On Oct. 12, what do you think were the chances of the Yankee Stadium bowl getting a West Virginia-Syracuse matchup. A revival of an old Big East rivalry.
Loser: Iowa State. If you finish ninth in a conference, you don’t really have a beef about which bowl you go to. And the Liberty Bowl actually is a decent prize for the Cyclones. Except ISU now has a rematch with Tulsa, a team it beat back in September and a team it plays again next September.
Winner: Big Bowl. Do you think that if the Orange Bowl people try really hard, they’ll be able to market a Notre Dame-Alabama national championship game?
Loser: Sun Bowl. The good folks of El Paso get Southern Cal, a dream-type team for the Sun Bowl, but are stuck with a losing-record Georgia Tech.
Winner: Fiesta Bowl. Clearly the second-best bowl game, Kansas State vs. Oregon. A bowl that’s had more than its share of mid-majors deserves a good consolation prize.
Loser: Mike Stoops. Even back when his defenses were good, Stoops didn’t have a great track record against Johnny Football-style quarterbacks.
Winner: Big Ten. For a lousy conference, the Big Ten sure ended up with some decent — and winnable — bowl games. Nebraska could beat Georgia if the Bulldogs are emotionally down in the Capital One Bowl. Michigan has a shot at South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Minnesota stinks but so has Texas Tech for a month and might still in the Houston bowl. Michigan State won’t get run over by TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and could have a chance at the end. Maybe even Wisconsin has a shot at Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
Loser: Vanderbilt. The Commodores had a great season, 8-4, and get stuck staying home in the Music City Bowl, against a team, North Carolina State, that fired its coach.
Winner: Las Vegas Bowl. The best pre-Christmas bowl, with Washington-Boise State. We’ll be ready for some decent college football by then.
Loser: Little Caesars Bowl. The ineligibility of Penn State and Ohio State means the Big Ten couldn’t fill its slot, so the Detroit game stooped to 7-5 Western Kentucky, against a 6-6 Central Michigan team.