One of the biggest laments this bowl season is the appearance of three teams with losing records. While I personally hate the fact that bowls have been watered down to the point where mediocrity is now being rewarded, the three team who came in with 5-7 records have certainly played well.
I was and still am against a storied program such as the Nebraska Cornhuskers accepting a bowl bid with a 5-7 record. Nebraska has five national championships, three Heisman Trophies and 46 conference titles. They are one of only ten major college programs with over 800 wins and they are getting close to 900. A program like this should consider a 5-7 season worthy of reward. But, they went out and dominated UCLA, at one point running off 30 consecutive points, turning a 21-7 deficit into a 37-1 lead.
In fact, all three of the 5-7 teams came away with bowl victories. San Jose State won the Cure Bowl in Orlando over Georgia State 27-16 on December 19th. While it is possible UCLA at 8-4 might have had a tough time getting excited about playing a 5-7 Nebraska in their bowl game, Georgia State had no such excuse. It was their first bowl since moving into the FBS Division. They were plenty motivated.
Also, the Minnesota Golden Gophers came into the Quick Lane Bowl at 5-7 when they faced the Central Michigan Chippewas. The Chips came in at 7-5 on the season, but were a slight underdog to the Gophers from the Big Ten.
The MAC, which CMU belongs is often a whipping boy for the Big Ten which the Gophers are a member. So CMU had plenty of motivation to win. Yet the Gophers won 21-14. So that is three 5-7 teams in bowls and all three came away with a win. That is the best way to shut up the critics.