Mountain West Boasts Highest Bowl Win Percentage Among FBS Conferences

Monday January 11, 2010

Jan. 11, 2010


For the third time in six years, the Mountain West Conference posted the best win percentage among the 11 conferences that make up the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. The Mountain West claimed the 2009-10 Bowl Challenge Cup after sending five teams into postseason action and finishing with a 4-1 (.800) mark.  The Bowl Challenge Cup was created by ESPN in 2002 as a competition among the conferences in the FBS during the college bowl season. In order to win the trophy, a conference must have the highest win percentage with a minimum of three teams from that conference participating in the postseason.

The Mountain West earned its first Bowl Challenge Cup after registering a 2-1 record in bowl competition during the 2004-05 season. The MWC also won the Cup in 2007-08 with a 4-1 mark and is the only conference to win the trophy three times since the award's inception.

Wyoming (7-6, 4-4) opened the 2009 MWC bowl season with a 35-28 overtime victory vs. Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 19. It was the Cowboys' first bowl appearance since 2004, and marked the first time the program has won consecutive bowl games since 1958 and 1966. Dave Christensen is the second head coach in Wyoming history to lead his team to a bowl game in his inaugural season, and first to win. Former Poke head coach Paul Roach went 10-3 in his first season in 1987 and took his team to the Holiday Bowl against Iowa.

BYU (11-2, 7-1) captured the MWC's second bowl victory of the season after cruising past No. 18 Oregon State, 44-20 in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Dec. 22. The Cougars finished the year ranked 12th in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls, marking the program's third-best final standing in the polls since finishing No. 1 in 1984. Since 1984, BYU's two other seasons finishing higher than No. 12 came in 1994 (No. 10, coaches) and 1996 (No. 5, both polls).

Utah (10-3, 5-3) defeated California, 37-27, in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23 and extended the nation's longest active bowl win streak to nine games. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham is the only head coach in the FBS that has led his teams to five consecutive bowl games and captured wins in each of those contests. The Utes' finished the season ranked 18th in both of the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls.

Air Force (8-5, 6-2) halted a three-game bowl losing streak with its 47-20 win over Houston in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 31. It was the Falcons' first postseason win since a 37-34 victory over Fresno State in the 2000 Silicon Valley Bowl. The 47 points also set a school record for most points in a bowl game, breaking the old mark of 45 in the 1998 Oahu Bowl in a 45-25 win over Washington.

TCU (12-1, 8-0) made its fifth straight bowl trip, and first BCS appearance, in the 2010 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4. The Horned Frogs had their four-game bowl win streak, and 14-game overall win streak, snapped after falling to No. 6 Boise State, 17-10. TCU concluded the season with 12 wins for the second time in the program's 114-year history. The 1935 national championship team was also 12-1. TCU ended the season ranked sixth in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls, marking the Horned Frogs second straight top-10 finish and third in the last five years.

Over the past six seasons (including 2009), the MWC owns the best win percentage in bowl games among the 11 conferences with an 18-8 mark (.692). The SEC is second with a 31-17 (.646) record, followed by the Big East at 19-12 (.613) and the Pac-10 at 20-14 (.588).

Below is a list of bowl records by conference:

2009 Conference Bowl Records Percentage
Mountain West 4-1 .800
Big East 4-2 .667
Southeastern 6-4 .600
Big Ten 4-3 .571
Big 12 4-4 .500
Western Athletic 2-2 .500
Atlantic Coast 3-4 .429
Conference USA 2-4 .333
Pacific-10 2-5 .286
Mid-American 1-4 .200
Sun Belt* 1-1 .500
*Do not meet the minimum number of games threshold (3) and thus are not eligible for bowl trophy.

ESPN Bowl Challenge Cup Previous Winners
Year Conference W-L Pct.
2009-10 Mountain West 4-1 .800
2008-09 Pacific-10 5-0 1.000
2007-08 Mountain West 4-1 .800
2006-07 Big East 5-0 1.000
2005-06 Atlantic Coast
Big 12
2004-05 Mountain West 2-1 .667
2003-04 Atlantic Coast 5-1 .833
2002-03 Big Ten 5-2 .714