Bowl game performance factors into this significantly of course, but it is far from the only factor.
7 year streak being broken isn't, by itself, reason to demote. Every other factor looks about the same as it did during those 7 years, and Auburn still managed to outperform expectations even while losing, as the first team to make FSU look mortal. Indeed, still getting a team to the BCSCG is a point in the SEC's favor, along with the 7-3 bowl record, which probably would have been 8-2 had Aaron Murray not been injured.
2. PAC 12
Didn't score any "big" bowl game wins, but most of their teams were undermatched in bowls, so it would have been hard to. Stanford, Oregon, UCLA, USC all solid teams capable of holding their own against anyone. Only the SEC can claim more in that category with 5 or 6. Despite a couple of great moments, Arizona St. still doesn't make that list. In a close call, I judged the SEC's bottom feeders of Kentucky, Arkansas, and Florida (wow!) to be a hair better than Colorado and Cal.
I place them here very grudgingly, FSU's national championship being the deciding factor, although I don't for one second believe the Noles would have made it through either of the above 2 conferences undefeated. Clemson's bowl win also forces me to place the conference higher than I would have liked to, because the fact is, after FSU and Clemson, this conference sucks, and prior to the Orange Bowl win I was giving Clemson very little credit.
4. TIE Big 12 and Big 10
I was a little more bullish on the Big 10 this year than were most, but they didn't prove it in the bowl games so much, although Sparty would obviously be a tough out for anyone right now. But then outside of OU, the Big 12 didn't prove too much in the bowls either. Michigan and Texas are mirror underachievers at the moment. Why Brady Hoke remains employed while Mack Brown doesn't..... one of life's mysteries. Baylor was never anything special in games not played in Waco. Had OU lost the Sugar Bowl I could make a case for Big 10 #4 and Big 12 #5, but the Sooners carried the conference banner this postseason.
I thought since September that UCF and Louisville were capable of competing against anybody, but after that it gets a little thin.... Houston had their moments..... and it's downright hilarious that the Big 10 is weakening itself by bringing in a bad Rutgers team. Cincy getting run by UNC in the Belk Bowl didn't help the cause any.
7. Conference USA
Even though Rice managed to win the conference, mainly through scheduling, it was really Marshall and East Carolina who carried the water by hanging tough and winning against teams from automatic qualifier conferences. Indeed, ECU is the state champion of North Carolina after taking down UNC and NC St (both on the road) while Marshall took care of Maryland in the bowl game, and both teams took Virginia Tech to the wire. The bottom 1/3rd of the conference, UTEP, Southern Miss, UAB, and FIU, was about as bad as it gets though, with La Tech not much better. Marshall's conference championship loss to Rice remains perplexing.
8. Mountain West
As a whole they improved over 2012, and it was a close call for the #7 spot with C-USA, but their bottom 3rd (Hawaii, New Mexico, Air Force, Wyoming) was just as bad, and their performance against AQ conferences not quite as impressive.
9. Sun Belt
Before the season I wouldn't have thought I'd rank them ahead of the MAC, but the proof in the pudding leaves me no choice. Impressive bowl win by Arkansas St. over Ball St... they were about a 10 pt dog when it opened. At 2-0, the only undefeated conference in bowls, and that was with 8-4 WKU staying home. I also think the bottom part of the conference is better than that of CUSA or MWC, with only Georgia St. as the true road kill, but the top part not quite as strong.
10. Mid American
That was about the most awful bowl game showing I can remember by one conference. Only one impressive OOC win all year, NIU over Iowa in opening week. Perhaps the bright spot was Akron taking a sorry Michigan team to the wire, but when you get below the conference's top 5 teams (who all lost their bowl games), it was a pretty sorry state of affairs for the other 8, although credit to Tater Tot for the job he did getting Akron to 5-7 this year. But you could make a strong argument for Miami (OH), Eastern Michigan, UMass, and Western Michigan as the 4 worst teams in FBS.