When the inaugural Bahamas Bowl takes place in Nassau in December 2014, the game will feature two of the more successful conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision during recent seasons — Conference USA and the Mid-American Conference.
Conference USA placed five schools into bowl games in 2013, led by champion Rice (Auto Zone Liberty). Current members Marshall (Military), Middle Tennessee (Bell Helicopter Armed Forces) and North Texas (Heart of Dallas) also qualified for bowl action.
The conference had six bowl-eligible schools in 2013 as Florida Atlantic was not selected.
This season, Old Dominion and Western Kentucky become members of the conference, while UTSA is fully eligible for bowl participation after completing its two-year reclassification from the FCS level.
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 11-5 in bowl games in the last three years.
West Division champ Rice won the 2013 Conference USA Championship Game with a 41-24 victory at home over East Division champion Marshall. Rice, which clinched its first outright conference title since 1957, finished 10-4 overall, 7-1 in C-USA’s West Division.
The Owls were one of three C-USA schools with 10 or more victories along with current member Marshall (10-4). The Thundering Herd and North Texas also received votes in the final USA Today Coaches’ Poll.
The Mid-American Conference also placed five teams in postseason bowls in 2013 as conference champion Bowling Green (Little Caesars Pizza) joined Northern Illinois (San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia), Ball State (GoDaddy), Buffalo (Famous Idaho Potato) and Ohio (Beef ‘O’ Brady’s) in bowl action.
The conference had seven bowl-eligible schools last season as Toledo and Central Michigan were not selected.
The MAC has had at least five teams selected for bowl games each season since 2011, including a league-record seven invitations in 2012.
East Division champ Bowling Green took the 2013 Marathon MAC Football Championship after a 47-27 victory over West Division champ Northern Illinois. The Falcons (10-4) were one of three MAC schools with 10 or more victories as NIU (12-2) and Ball State (10-3) also reached the 10-win plateau. NIU finished No. 23 in the final BCS standings.