The MAC Did That?!?
With just one game left in the College Football Bowl Season, the scores are tallied, the results are in, and the MAC has won its first OUTRIGHT Bowl Challenge Cup! Like Tobey McGuire Spider-Man said in Spider-Man Now Way Home: “That’s Great! What is it?!”, we too had some questions. So, what is the Bowl Challenge Cup? Beginning in the 2002 season, it's simply a competition between all FBS conferences to see which conference completes the best bowl season winning percentage vs just wins/losses as each conference sends a different number of teams to the postseason. In order to qualify for the cup championship, your conference has to have the highest winning percentage in FBS with a minimum of three games (which is why despite being undefeated in 202, the MAC did not win/qualify as they only had two teams in bowl games). This is the MAC’s first outright title since the challenge's inception. The conference shared the title in 2011-2012 with Conference USA, both going 4-1 (and not losing to each other, which we were secretly hoping for).
As it stands, the MAC is tied with a Power Five program and sits ahead of two fellow Group of Five conferences and one Power Five conference. Check the standings below: Number of Bowl Challenge Cup championships
Conference Times Championships
MWC 5 2004–05, 2007–08, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2021–22
C-USA 3+1⁄2 2011–12, 2012–13, 2014–15, 2018–19
SEC 3 2013–14, 2015–16, 2019–20
ACC 2+1⁄2 2003–04, 2005–06, 2016–17
Big Ten 2 2002–03, 2017–18
Big 12 1+1⁄2 2005–06, 2020–21
MAC* 1+1⁄2 2011–12, 2022–23
AAC(Big East til ‘13) 1 2006–07
Pac-12 (PAC-10 til ‘10) 1 2008–09
Sun Belt 0 0
This is one of the lowest winning percentages of any outright Bowl Challenge Champion, a 66.67 winning percentage, however, it is not the lowest win total. No, that honor goes to the Mountain West, who went 2-1 in bowl play in 20004-2005 to secure the cup.
Let's look back on the fast facts from the four wins that the Mid-American Conference earned to secure the Bowl Challenge Cup.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Eastern Michigan
The Eagles snapped a 35-year bowl victory drought with their 41-27 drubbing of San Jose State. This is not only just the second bowl win in EMU history, it is also their second win over the same opponent. This is also their first 9-win season since 1987, the last year that they won the Mid-American Conference.
Boca Raton Bowl - Toledo
The Rockets faced Liberty for the first time since they joined the FBS, and the fourth time in school history. After trailing 7-3 at the break, the Rockets dialed it up in the second half and some super late-game defensive heroics on a 2-Point Conversion secured the victory for Toledo. The Rockets handed Liberty their first-ever bowl loss as an FBS school.
Camelia Bowl - Buffalo The Bulls faced Georgia Southern and their former quarterback Kyle Vantrease in this win. After a scoreless first quarter, the Bulls owned a 14-6 lead at the break. Alex McNulty sealed the deal for the Bulls in the fourth with his fourth-quarter 20-yard field goal. The Bulls never trailed after going up 7-3 in the second quarter.
Arizona Bowl - Ohio Boy, we got some #MACtion here. After it was determined that four quarters weren’t enough to decide the winner, the Bobcats and Wyoming took it to OT. After Wyoming went up 27-24, Ohio put together its best drive of the day to secure the win. This was the third meeting between Ohio and Wyoming, with the Cowboys winning the previous two.
While Bowling Green and Miami (OH) were not in the win column, they lost their two games by a combined nine points. (Miami (OH) loss to UAB 24-20 in The Bahamas Bowl, BGSU 24-19 loss to New Mexico St in the Quick Lane Bowl).
Winning the Bowl Challenge Cup is mainly for bragging rights, (and a sweet-looking trophy, just look at it!!) but it's always good to take home some postseason hardware. Congrats to all the MAC teams who won bowl games, and congrats to the entire conference for celebrating this postseason challenge championship!