When the third Popeyes Bahamas Bowl takes place in Nassau on December 23, 2016, the game will feature teams from two of three conferences: the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference.
The American Athletic Conference placed all eight bowl-eligible schools into bowl games in 2015. Conference champion Houston (Chick-fil-A Peach), Cincinnati (Hawai’i), Memphis (Birmingham), Navy (Military, presented by Northrop Grumman), Temple (Marmot Boca Raton), Tulsa (Camping World Independence), UConn (St. Petersburg) and USF (Miami Beach) all participated in bowl action.
The American has had at least five teams in bowl games in every season since the conference was formed in 2013, including a record eight in 2015.
West Division champion Houston won the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championship Game with a 24-13 victory at home over East Division champion Temple. Houston finished 13-1 overall, 7-1 in AAC games, after defeating Florida State 38-24 in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. The Cougars finished No. 8 in the both the final Associated Press Poll and the final USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Navy finished No. 18 in both the AP and USA Today polls. Temple received votes in the final AP and USA Today polls, while Memphis received votes in the final USA Today poll.
Conference USA placed all five bowl-eligible schools into bowl games in 2015, and C-USA posted a 3-2 record. Middle Tennessee was chosen for the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, while champion WKU (Miami Beach), Louisiana Tech (R&L Carriers New Orleans), Marshall (St. Petersburg), and Southern Miss (Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas) also participated in bowl action. C-USA has led all conferences in bowl winning percentage three times in the last five years, including 2014.
This season, Charlotte is conditionally eligible for bowl participation. UAB will restart football as a member of C-USA in 2017.
C-USA has had at least five teams in bowl games in every season since 2002, with a high of six schools selected in 2005 and 2007-10. Conference USA is 18-8 in bowl games in the last five years.
East Division champion WKU won the 2015 Conference USA Championship Game with a 45-28 victory at home over West Division champion Southern Miss. WKU, which won its first C-USA title, finished 12-2 overall, 8-0 in C-USA games. The Hilltoppers finished No. 24 in the final Associated Press Poll and received votes in the final USA Today Coaches’ Poll. Marshall also received votes in the final USA Today poll.
The Mid-American Conference tied a record with seven teams in postseason bowls in 2015. Western Michigan was chosen for the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl while conference champion Bowling Green (GoDaddy), Northern Illinois (San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia), Toledo (Marmot Boca Raton), Ohio (Raycom Media Camellia), Central Michigan (Quick Lane) and Akron (Famous Idaho Potato) also participated in bowl action.
The MAC has had at least five teams selected for bowl games each season since 2011, and eight times overall.
East Division champ Bowling Green won the 2015 Marathon MAC Football Championship with a 34-14 win over West Division champ Northern Illinois. The Falcons, which won their second MAC title in the last three seasons, finished 10-4 overall and 7-1 in MAC action. Bowling Green received votes in the final USA Today Coaches’ Poll, while Toledo received votes both the final Associated Press Poll and the final USA Today Coaches’ Poll.