SEC & B1G Bowl Season (12/18/14)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
The Big Ten is an underdog in each of its ten bowl games. The SEC is favored in 75 percent of its matchups. How will bowl season unfold for each conference?



The bowl season is upon us. Ten conferences will send 76 teams to participate in 38 bowls. All of these high profile games allow the public to evaluate the power conferences based on the league's postseason performance.

In the last decade, the SEC has gone 55-31 in bowl games, the best mark among Power 5 conferences, while the Big Ten is last with a ghastly 27-47 record.

The SEC is generally considered the preeminent league in college football and bowl performance has a lot to do with that perception.

It may be unfair to judge a conference based on bowl outcomes, but it sure is fun!

Based on our predictions for bowl season, what are the odds that the Big Ten goes 0-10 in bowl games while the SEC wins out?

Big Ten Conference

The Big Ten went 2-5 in bowl games last year. Ten teams have qualified for the postseason this year, yet each is an underdog in Vegas. In our simulations, two Big Ten teams are actually more likely than not to win outright.

Based on our projections, there is just a 1.6 percent chance that each B1G team loses its bowl game, while there is just a 16.9 percent chance that the conference finishes with a winning record (6-4 or better), which would be the first winning bowl season for the Big 10 since the 2009-10 season. In 50,000 simulations of each scheduled game, here are the likelihoods for each possible record for the Big Ten in its bowl games this year (not inlcuding the possible CFP National Championship Game):

Record Chance
0-10 1.6%
1-9 4.2%
2-8 11.3%
3-7 21.0%
4-6 26.1%
5-5 18.9%
6-4 11.3%
7-3 4.1%
8-2 1.2%
9-1 0.3%
10-0 0.0%

Southeastern Conference

The SEC is favored in nine of twelve bowl games. Alabama is the biggest favorite (-9.5) with its CFP semifinal against Ohio State. Ole Miss, South Carolina and Texas A&M are at least field goal underdogs in their respective bowl showdowns according to the sportsbooks.

We have the SEC favored to win ten of the twelve bowl games. The SEC is 1,000-to-1 to sweep its bowl games based on our projections and is more than 60 percent likely to finish with a winning record (7-5 or better). The SES has less than a one-in-five chance of a losing record.

In 50,000 simulations of each scheduled game, here are the likelihoods for each possible record for the SEC in its bowl games this year (not inlcuding the possible CFP National Championship Game):

Record Chance
0-12 0.0%
1-11 0.1%
2-10 0.2%
3-9 1.8%
4-8 4.3%
5-7 11.0%
6-6 20.2%
7-5 21.2%
8-4 20.7%
9-3 12.5%
10-2 6.1%
11-1 1.8%
12-0 0.1%

The SEC and Big Ten are equally unlikely to finish at either extremes, a perfect or winless bowl season.

The SEC, though, is nearly four times more likely to have a winning bowl record than the Big Ten.

The Southeastern Conference should remain the dominant league in college football, including a strong bowl season and Alabama projected to win the College Football Playoff. The Big Ten, a projected bowl season loser, will have to wait another year to improve its perceived rank among the Power 5 conferences.