While an SEC showdown will determine the national champion on Monday night, one conference, just to the west, made a compelling case as a powerhouse.
Break up the Southwest Conference!
The SWC went 7-0 this bowl season. It didn't matter if it was early (TCU's win on Dec. 21) or late (SMU's victory on Jan. 7). The members totally dominated in San Diego, winning both bowl games there, and in Texas, where they won four of the state's six games.
Teams from the WAC, Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12 and Big East were victimized. The games were marked by record-setters and even a Heisman Trophy winner:
TCU 31, Louisiana Tech 24: San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. TCU quarterback Casey Pachall broke three of Andy Dalton's single-season records as TCU, which won the Rose Bowl last season, finished with an 11-2 record.
Texas 21, California 10: Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl. Texas outrushed Cal, 109 yards to 7, and QB David Ash threw for one TD and caught another.
Baylor 67, Washington 56: Valero Alamo Bowl. Baylor rolled up 777 yards of offense behind its Heisman Trophy-winning QB, Robert Griffin III, in the highest-scoring regulation bowl game in history.
Texas A&M 33, Northwestern 22: Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl. Aggies QB Ryan Tannehill threw for 329 yards, and A&M fans made life tough on Northwestern. "My ears are still ringing because of the noise," coach Pat Fitzgerald said.
Houston 30, Penn State 14: TicketCity Bowl. Case Keenum threw for 227 yards in the first quarter, setting an NCAA bowl record, and finished with 532 yards and three TDs.
Arkansas 29, Kansas State 16: AT&T Cotton Bowl. The Razorbacks set a school record with their 11th victory and Joe Adams scored on a punt return for the fourth time this season.
SMU 28, Pittsburgh 6: BBVA Compass Bowl. SMU scored 21 points in the first quarter and held Pitt to 205 total yards as defensive end Margus Hunt had four sacks.
We can only assume Texas Tech and Rice are preparing to join next year's bowl fiesta. The Red Raiders just missed, ending an 11-year string of bowl appearances, and Rice can point to Vanderbilt's bowl appearance as hope for private schools everywhere.