The Best Wins of the Season for Every Losing Bowl Team (Part 2 of 3)

photo credit: USATSI

Miami (Independence Bowl)
Best Win: vs. Duke
It's weird how Duke has become one of those barometer teams in the ACC. For a Miami team climbing the seemingly endless mountain to reach respectability once again, a win over Duke meant, for at least as long as Brad Kaaya is the quarterback, that Miami is going to stick around. Of course, ending the season with losses against Virginia and Pittsburgh aren't doing any favors to the resume. The 6-7 record doesn't tell the whole story here.

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Cincinnati (Military Bowl)
Best Win: vs. Toledo
Cincinnati is blessed to have a quarterback as talented as Gunner Kiel. They were also cursed when he got injured in the Military Bowl. Somehow their stud quarterback getting injured resulted in the defense giving up 33 points to freaking Virginia Tech. For a refresher, VT was the same team that went to a 0-0 overtime this season... and won on field goals. But Kiel isn't going anywhere, and Cincinnati looks poised to improve on their 9-4 record, especially if they start off their season with another 58-point bloodbath, like the one they hung on Toledo at the season's start.

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Duke (Sun Bowl)
Best Win: vs. Georgia Tech
I really can't stress the weirdness that is Georgia Tech, Duke, and Clemson being three of the four best teams in the ACC. This is how Florida State wins 28 straight, people! But for Duke, winning in any conference is better than going back to obscurity, and one thing David Cutcliffe knows how to do is maintain. Keep the order, win a set amount of games, keep the team competitive, however you want to phrase it. Cutcliffe knows how to do all of this, and for Duke, that's good enough.

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Boston College (Pinstripe Bowl)
Best Win: vs. Southern California
Not even a question, this was a magnificent win for BC over a still-finding-their-footing SoCal. Like most top-half ACC teams, though, six, seven, or eight wins seems to be where the Golden Eagles are going to top out at. Impressive running game aside, there's nothing that really makes them stand out from the pack of other college teams that have an impressive running game and not much else. For as much as the NFL has become a QB-friendly league whose teams often operate in a two-back system, college football continues to embrace everybody, regardless of position, getting a chance to run the ball. BC, Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, Navy, Wisconsin; having a great run game just doesn't mean that much in college football simply because it's too common.

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Nebraska (Holiday Bowl)
Best Win: vs. Iowa in OT to reach nine wins
You want to know how little having a great rushing attack matters? Ameer Abdullah ran for over 1,600 yards, racked up 19 touchdowns on a 6.1 yards-per-carry average, and he still should have had a better season. Abdullah was discussed as a Heisman candidate before getting outplayed by Melvin Gordon during the Wisconsin game and having a couple human games down the stretch. Did I mention he's only 5'9"? 

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West Virginia (Liberty Bowl)
Best Win: vs. Baylor
Boy, this win was impressive for just how much it haunted Baylor at the end of the season. Losing to a 7-win team from the Big 12 is all it takes to get booted from the playoff conversation. A loss to Texas aside, WVU was only at a disadvantage from the quality of opponents they faced. Their non-Texas losses came against Alabama, Oklahoma (at the time #4), TCU, Kansas State, and Texas A&M. That's not unbelievable! It's very possible to lose to every single one of those teams in a season regardless of how good you are, and WVU had the ninth-best passing attack in the nation, let by Clint Trickett and Skyler Howard. Just a bad schedule draw for WVU.

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Oklahoma (Russell Athletic Bowl)
Best Win: No. They don't get one.
You got a lotta f***ing nerve showing up here, Oklahoma. You lose to Clemmy-wait, excuse me, COLE STOUDT'S CLEMMY 40-6 and you want me to say nice things about you? Piss off! Jog on! Take ya bloody fanny off to the pub for a pint! God, look what you've done! Now I'm all cockney! And if I had me drouthers about me, I'd rap ya right across ya chin, I would. Seriously though, Cole Stoudt threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. You suck, Oklahoma. You suck a lot.

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Texas (Texas Bowl)
Best Win: vs. West Virginia
Nobody should have a single problem with Texas having a losing season. They're rebuilding, the same way Ole Miss rebuilt itself into a top-15 team: losing while getting awesome recruits. Texas was never really playing for 2014, and Charlie Strong wasn't coaching to win a championship. Strong has nothing to prove to any reporter, pundit, player, recruit, coach, or fan. We all know how serious he is, how much passion he has for the game, and how intelligent he is. If in four years, Texas is still putting up six-win seasons, then we'll be able to bash Charlie Strong. Or at least some random Longhorn boosters.

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LSU (Music City Bowl)
Best Win: vs. Ole Miss
Such a weird season for LSU. Expectations fluctuated wildly from week to week, depending on how people felt about Leonard Fournette and how crazy Les Miles was behaving. The fact that such an inconsistent team like LSU could not only survive in the SEC West, but also accrue eight wins is a testament to the team's raw talent, their great coaching, and how dangerous they're going to be next year. At the time of LSU's victory over Ole Miss, the Rebs were #3 in the nation, and Bo Wallace had seem to let all his troubles melt away. Now he has Senior Bowl MVP written all over him, and ugly performances like the one against LSU is why. Les Miles permanently broke Bo Wallace.

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Louisville (Belk Bowl)
Best Win: vs. Notre Dame
For a team that won nine games, I feel I know very little about Louisville outside of Bobby Petrino. Oh, and apparently they're the eleventh team Michael Dyer has played for in the past five years. Just shy of a dozen, dang. Looking back on The 'Ville's season, one of the things that stuck out the most to me was the sheer depth of the team. Three different QBs threw for over 700 yards, five different players ran for over 150 yards and two touchdowns, and five different receivers caught passes for more than 300 yards. Injuries can create inconsistencies, but I'll give it to Petrino (and the recruiting prowess of Charlie Strong), he makes the most of every single player he has.

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Maryland (Foster Farms Bowl)
Best Win: vs. Michigan or Penn State, whichever would bring more respect.
Maryland is not a good football team, but the Big Ten is basically the rich man's ACC. That means bad teams like Maryland have a chance because there's so many other bad teams. Tack on an easy non-conference schedule plus a down year for major conference powers, and a team like Maryland can easily get to seven wins. Way to go, Maryland. You took advantage of your opportunities. That's more than I can say about half the teams on this list.