Here is the final look at how the conferences performed in the 2011/2012 bowl games. This analysis isn't just looking at win/loss record, but looks at how the conferences should have done based on each game.
The rationale for this is that the actual record alone doesn't tell the whole story. If a conference is having a down year and/or gets some matchups that aren't favorable, you'd expect a poor record so even a 0.500 record may be an indication the conference did well or at least better than expected. Thus comparing the actual with expected record is useful, as is looking at how a conference does against the spread, as that tells you if the teams did better/worse than Vegas and the public bettors expected.
The table below has the totals for 34 bowls (BCS Championship game not included since it was SEC vs SEC) and lists the expected record based on Vegas' individual game picks, the record based on my computer's individual game picks, the record my computer said was most likely for the conference taking into account the chance of winning each game and the possible permutations, and then the actual record and record against the spread. The list is ordered by Vegas expected record.
The SEC was supposed to go undefeated but didn't, going 5-2. That wasn't really unexpected, my computer said that 5-2 was the most likely record. And the SEC did go 4-3 against the spread so all in all the SEC did about what was expected.
Similarly, the Big-12 was supposed to go 6-2 and did, although they did go 6-2 against the spread so beating expectations there. My computer had the SEC and Big-12 in a virtual tie for the best conference and the bowl games did nothing to contradict that.
Behind them, the only other conferences expected to do better than 0.500 by Vegas were the Sun Belt and Mountain West, but neither did. The Sun Belt did what my computer said they would, 1-2, and the Mountain West was a game worse than expected. These are weaker conferences and did nothing to show that perception wasn't true.
The other major conferences also did about what was expected. The ACC probably underachieved a bit, Vegas expecting 4-4, but my computer said 2-6/3-5 and they finished 2-6. They went 3-5 against the spread though so probably a slight underachievement.
The BigTen was expected to be 3-7 by Vegas, the most likely record according to my computer though was 4-6 and they did that.
And the Pac-12 went 2-5, better than Vegas' 1-6, but worse than my computer's 3-4.
So there you have it. A look at how the conferences really did in the bowl games.