2011-2012 College Football Bowls: Finding The Game That's Right For You

EUGENE, OR - DECEMBER 02: Players celebrate the Oregon Ducks 49-31 victory over the UCLA Bruins during the Pac 12 Championship Game on December 2, 2011 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Love MACtion? Defense? Classic schools? Tight scores? Using four different ranking systems, we will find the bowl game that is right for you, no matter what.

No mailbag this week. Instead, let's build off of a question in last week's.

As a refresher, here is a question from last Friday:

I know Ken Pomeroy has a sort of "excitement score" for basketball games which combines some statistical traits of teams and I was wondering if there were any traits that you would think would lead to more "exciting" football games? Some ideas of mine were passing down PPP, a combination of leverage % and passing down SR (teams that got into a lot of passing downs but were then able to get OUT of those bad situations), and low sack rates, we want passes flying. You could use it to make another Bowl Ranking List, because we all know the internet needs more of those.

-- M.M., via email

In response to this idea, I had a little fun and created what I called the MACtion scale. While Toledo and Northern Illinois were not near the top of the MACtion Scale (suggesting it still needs some tweaking), the list did still have two MAC teams in its top three, which ain't bad.

So I wanted to rank the bowl games based on combined MACtion ranking. And then this column got out of control. Below is a wide variety of rankings; by God, we're going to figure out which bowl game is best for you.

(BCS bowls in bold.)

Bowl Games Ranked By Combined MACtion Ranking
Date Bowl Team Team MACtion Rk
31-Dec AutoZone Liberty Bowl Cincinnati Vanderbilt 357 1
2-Jan Outback Bowl Michigan State Georgia 363 2
31-Dec Chick-fil-A Bowl Virginia Auburn 387 3
27-Dec Belk Bowl NC State Louisville 396 4
17-Dec R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl San Diego State UL-Lafayette 411 5
24-Dec Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl Southern Miss Nevada 412 6
29-Dec Valero Alamo Bowl Baylor Washington 417 7
4-Jan Discover Orange Bowl Clemson West Virginia 427 8
8-Jan GoDaddy.com Bowl Northern Illinois Arkansas State 440 9
17-Dec Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Ohio Utah State 441 10
22-Dec Maaco Bowl Las Vegas Boise State Arizona State 446 11
3-Jan Allstate Sugar Bowl Michigan Virginia Tech 460 12
2-Jan Progressive Gator Bowl Ohio State Florida 469 13
27-Dec Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Purdue Western Michigan 475 14
28-Dec Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl California Texas 475 15
31-Dec Hyundai Sun Bowl Georgia Tech Utah 478 16
2-Jan TicketCity Bowl Penn State Houston 483 17
9-Jan Allstate BCS National Championship Game LSU Alabama 490 18
30-Dec Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl BYU Tulsa 493 19
30-Dec Insight Bowl Iowa Oklahoma 494 20
30-Dec New Era Pinstripe Bowl Iowa State Rutgers 496 21
31-Dec Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Northwestern Texas A&M 496 22
20-Dec Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Florida International Marshall 500 23
21-Dec SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl TCU Louisiana Tech 507 24
17-Dec Gildan New Mexico Wyoming Temple 508 25
30-Dec Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Wake Forest Mississippi State 508 26
29-Dec Champs Sports Bowl Florida State Notre Dame 512 27
2-Jan Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma State Stanford 514 28
2-Jan Rose Bowl Wisconsin Oregon 519 29
31-Dec Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Illinois UCLA 520 30
6-Jan AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Kansas State Arkansas 529 31
26-Dec Advocare Independence Bowl North Carolina Missouri 537 32
28-Dec Military Bowl Toledo Air Force 565 33
2-Jan Capital One Bowl Nebraska South Carolina 577 34
7-Jan BBVA Compass Bowl Pittsburgh SMU 634 35

Okay, so what if big plays and oft-porous defenses aren't for you? What if you prefer other factors like, I don't know, quality defense? (What's wrong with you?) Here are some more combined rankings. If you like pure offense, defense, or special teams, start here.

For you special teams fetishists out there, you should absolutely not miss Boise-Arizona State and Ohio State-Florida. Oh baby.

Bowl Games Ranked By Combined F/+ Ranking
Date Bowl Team Team Combined
F/+ Rk
Rk Off.
F/+
Rk Def.
F/+
Rk S.T.
F/+
Rk
9-Jan BCS LSU Alabama 3 1 13 3 3 1 81 12
2-Jan Fiesta Okla. St. Stanford 10 2 9 1 30 4 58 7
2-Jan Rose Wisconsin Oregon 11 3 9 1 38 7 76 10
29-Dec Champs Sports Florida St. N. Dame 21 4 56 13 25 2 43 5
2-Jan Outback Michigan St. Georgia 24 5 37 6 28 3 94 14
3-Jan Allstate Sugar Michigan Va. Tech 31 6 34 5 46 9 125 23
22-Dec Las Vegas Boise St. Arizona St. 41 7 37 6 67 13 24 1
2-Jan Capital One Nebraska S. Carolina 44 8 65 14 37 6 125 23
6-Jan Cotton Kansas St. Arkansas 45 9 41 8 105 21 35 4
30-Dec Insight Iowa Oklahoma 47 10 46 10 64 12 101 16
2-Jan TicketCity Penn St. Houston 48 11 76 15 70 15 139 30
4-Jan Orange Clemson W. Virginia 52 12 31 4 116 26 125 23
21-Dec Poinsettia TCU La. Tech 61 13 89 20 49 10 50 6
28-Dec Holiday California Texas 65 14 112 25 39 8 73 9
2-Jan Gator Ohio State Florida 71 15 133 29 36 5 26 2
31-Dec Liberty Cincinnati Vanderbilt 74 16 80 16 85 18 86 13
31-Dec Texas Northwestern Texas A&M 74 16 44 9 124 29 124 22
26-Dec Independence N. Carolina Missouri 74 16 55 12 99 20 149 32
24-Dec Hawai'i So. Miss Nevada 87 19 83 17 94 19 131 27
30-Dec Armed Forces BYU Tulsa 87 19 96 21 82 16 71 8
31-Dec Sun Ga. Tech Utah 97 21 121 28 69 14 131 27
29-Dec Alamo Baylor Washington 100 22 46 10 192 35 130 26
7-Jan BBVA Compass Pittsburgh SMU 100 22 136 31 61 11 101 16
30-Dec Pinstripe Iowa State Rutgers 102 24 133 29 84 17 79 11
8-Jan GoDaddy.com N. Illinois Ark. St. 105 25 103 23 127 30 101 16
28-Dec Military Toledo Air Force 109 26 85 18 144 32 150 33
27-Dec Belk N.C. St. Louisville 111 27 98 22 122 27 132 29
30-Dec Music City Wake Forest Miss. St.
113 28 110 24 110 24 121 21
31-Dec Chick-fil-A Virginia Auburn 117 29 119 27 112 25 101 16
27-Dec Little Caesars Purdue W. Mich. 124 30 118 26 158 33 26 2
17-Dec New Mexico Wyoming Temple 124 30 139 32 122 27 102 20
17-Dec Idaho Potato Ohio Utah St. 131 32 88 19 158 33 154 34
31-Dec Fight Hunger Illinois UCLA 144 33 157 34 105 21 187 35
17-Dec New Orleans SDSU UL-Laf. 150 34 151 33 143 31 139 30
20-Dec Beef 'O' Brady's FIU Marshall 150 34 173 35 109 23 95 15

So forget great offense, great defense, or great anything. What if you just want a close game? Here are the games ranked by their projected margin.

Bowl Games Ranked By Proj. Scoring Margin
Date Bowl Away Home Proj. Margin Rk
8-Jan GoDaddy.com Bowl Northern Illinois Arkansas State 0.1 1
2-Jan Rose Bowl Wisconsin Oregon 0.5 2
4-Jan Discover Orange Bowl Clemson West Virginia 0.6 3
31-Dec Chick-fil-A Bowl Virginia Auburn 0.6 4
2-Jan TicketCity Bowl Penn State Houston 0.7 5
2-Jan Progressive Gator Bowl Ohio State Florida 0.7 6
26-Dec Advocare Independence Bowl North Carolina Missouri 1.3 7
30-Dec Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl BYU Tulsa 1.4 8
2-Jan Outback Bowl Michigan State Georgia 2.8 9
29-Dec Champs Sports Bowl Florida State Notre Dame 3.1 10
17-Dec R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl San Diego State UL-Lafayette 3.3 11
3-Jan Allstate Sugar Bowl Michigan Virginia Tech 3.6 12
31-Dec Hyundai Sun Bowl Georgia Tech Utah 3.7 13
2-Jan Capital One Bowl Nebraska South Carolina 3.7 14
30-Dec Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Wake Forest Mississippi State 4.2 15
31-Dec AutoZone Liberty Bowl Cincinnati Vanderbilt 4.3 16
17-Dec Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Ohio Utah State 4.6 17
6-Jan AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Kansas State Arkansas 4.7 18
28-Dec Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl California Texas 5.3 19
9-Jan Allstate BCS National Championship Game LSU Alabama 6.4 20
27-Dec Belk Bowl NC State Louisville 6.8 21
29-Dec Valero Alamo Bowl Baylor Washington 6.9 22
31-Dec Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Illinois UCLA 6.9 23
2-Jan Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma State Stanford 7.4 24
7-Jan BBVA Compass Bowl Pittsburgh SMU 7.9 25
21-Dec SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl TCU Louisiana Tech 7.9 26
27-Dec Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Purdue Western Michigan 8.6 27
31-Dec Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Northwestern Texas A&M 9.6 28
30-Dec Insight Bowl Iowa Oklahoma 10.1 29
30-Dec New Era Pinstripe Bowl Iowa State Rutgers 10.6 30
20-Dec Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Florida International Marshall 10.7 31
24-Dec Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl Southern Miss Nevada 11.4 32
28-Dec Military Bowl Toledo Air Force 12.8 33
22-Dec Maaco Bowl Las Vegas Boise State Arizona State 16.7 34
17-Dec Gildan New Mexico Wyoming Temple 19.2 35

And what if you just like the name on the helmets? What if you want to see great, historical football teams going at it? (Then Northern Illinois-Arkansas State probably isn't for you.) Here are the bowls ranked by teams' 100-year ranking (according to a combination of S&P+ and Estimated S&P+).

Bowl Games Ranked By Combined Historical Ranking
Date Bowl Away Home Historical Rk Rk
29-Dec Champs Sports Bowl Florida State Notre Dame 13 1
9-Jan Allstate BCS National Championship Game LSU Alabama 15 2
2-Jan Outback Bowl Michigan State Georgia 31 3
28-Dec Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl California Texas 32 4
2-Jan Progressive Gator Bowl Ohio State Florida 35 5
31-Dec Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Illinois UCLA 42 6
31-Dec Hyundai Sun Bowl Georgia Tech Utah 47 7
30-Dec Insight Bowl Iowa Oklahoma 48 8
2-Jan TicketCity Bowl Penn State Houston 53 9
7-Jan BBVA Compass Bowl Pittsburgh SMU 63 10
26-Dec Advocare Independence Bowl North Carolina Missouri 67 11
3-Jan Allstate Sugar Bowl Michigan Virginia Tech 70 12
31-Dec Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas Northwestern Texas A&M 74 13
2-Jan Rose Bowl Wisconsin Oregon 84 14
2-Jan Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma State Stanford 85 15
2-Jan Capital One Bowl Nebraska South Carolina 87 16
31-Dec Chick-fil-A Bowl Virginia Auburn 91 17
29-Dec Valero Alamo Bowl Baylor Washington 91 17
4-Jan Discover Orange Bowl Clemson West Virginia 92 19
22-Dec Maaco Bowl Las Vegas Boise State Arizona State 92 19
31-Dec AutoZone Liberty Bowl Cincinnati Vanderbilt 107 21
6-Jan AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Kansas State Arkansas 134 22
24-Dec Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl Southern Miss Nevada 134 22
27-Dec Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Purdue Western Michigan 141 24
28-Dec Military Bowl Toledo Air Force 142 25
30-Dec Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl BYU Tulsa 147 26
30-Dec Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl Wake Forest Mississippi State 152 27
27-Dec Belk Bowl NC State Louisville 152 27
21-Dec SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl TCU Louisiana Tech 154 29
17-Dec R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl San Diego State UL-Lafayette 170 30
30-Dec New Era Pinstripe Bowl Iowa State Rutgers 187 31
17-Dec Gildan New Mexico Wyoming Temple 188 32
17-Dec Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Ohio Utah State 204 33
20-Dec Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Florida International Marshall 210 34
8-Jan GoDaddy.com Bowl Northern Illinois Arkansas State 226 35

So there you go. With these factors, you should be able to find the bowl game that is right for you. And if you want to rank games by the quality of the city in which they are played, or the compatiblity of the two teams' color palates, I apologize, but you'll have to look elsewhere.

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