Ranking All 40 Bowl Games: From The Duds To The Classics

Ranking All 40 Bowl Games: From The Duds To The Classics

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Ranking All 40 Bowl Games: From The Duds To The Classics


It was a strange, occasionally ugly, and almost totally unpredictable bowl season. How good were the games? Here’s the ranking of all 40 of them. 

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There might have been a horrible start to the bowl season, and there were way too many forgettable games, but it all ended with a thrilling bang.

As the only human who watched each and every one of them, based on entertainment, importance, and excitement, here we go with the ranking of all 40 post-season games.

Bad Bowl Games That Made You A Lesser Person For Watching Them

40. Dollar General Bowl

FINAL: Appalachian State 34, Toledo 0

A total and complete dud. Toledo, apparently, thought the season ended with the MAC Championship. Appalachian State was strong defensively throughout, but this was more about Toledo and its pathetic performance with 146 yards of total offense.
5 Things That Matter

39. Military Bowl

FINAL: Navy 49, Virginia 7

What the hell was that, Virginia? The Cavaliers scored on the opening kickoff, and then left the building. Navy scored 49 unanswered points, owned the ball, controlled the clock, and came up with one of the biggest blastings of the bowl season.
5 Things That Matter

38. Bahamas Bowl

FINAL: Ohio 41, UAB 6

UAB might have had a nice season, but it ran into a buzzsaw. Ohio outclassed the Blazers from the start, cranking up a 27-3 halftime lead and cruising from there. That was the Bobcat team everyone was hoping would’ve finished in the MAC title game.
5 Things That Matter

37. DXL Frisco Bowl

FINAL: Louisiana Tech 51, SMU 10

There were other big upsets this bowl season, but this was the ugliest of the bunch. SMU didn’t have a defense, but at least the offense was supposed to make this wild. Instead, under new head coach Sonny Dykes, the Mustangs looked like they had no idea how to play the sport of football. Louisiana Tech was up 42-10 at halftime, and the Mustangs didn’t come out of the locker room in the second half.
5 Things That Matter

36. Bad Boy Mowers Gasparillia Bowl

FINAL: Temple 28, FIU 3

Yuck. It was boring, there wasn’t any offensive fun, and FIU had no answers for the Temple defense. The Golden Panthers played like a team that had no real idea how to deal with a bowl game. Three turnovers, 252 yards, and three points from FIU. Again, yuck.
5 Things That Matter

35. Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl

FINAL: Florida Atlantic 50, Akron 3

A total and complete clunker, it was the Florida Atlantic show as Lane Kiffin was able to put his team and what his program has done on full display. Akron, though, just didn’t show up, managing just 146 yards and a measly field goal.
5 Things That Matter

Bowl Games. No More, No Less. They Killed Some Time.

34. Las Vegas Bowl

FINAL: Boise State 38, Oregon 28

Boise State rocked from the start, the Oregon offense couldn’t get going, and it turned into a much uglier rout than the final score makes it appear. With four turnovers, ten penalties and 47 rushing yards, Oregon was a disaster.
5 Things That Matter

33. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

FINAL: Wyoming 37, Central Michigan 14

Seriously, Central Michigan? Eight turnovers? It’s not like Wyoming did anything amazing – even with Josh Allen playing and doing a decent job. The Cowboys finished with just 275 yards, but his early touchdown passes put it away. Again – eight CMU turnovers.
5 Things That Matter

32. Quick Lane Bowl

FINAL: Duke 36, NIU 14

Northern Illinois has become an annual bowl dud. It came up with a bit of a fight in the second quarter, but Duke had a 26-14 lead at halftime. There weren’t any worries the rest of the way considering the Huskies couldn’t keep the chains moving. Duke converted 10-of-19 on third down tries and 2-of-3 fourth down attempts. NIU was 1-of-12 on third downs and misses all six fourth down chances.
5 Things That Matter

31. Walk-On’s Independence Bowl

FINAL: Florida State 42, Southern Miss 13

It was about the Florida State show. The Seminoles showed off the talent that everyone was hoping would’ve shown up at times throughout the year, and Southern Miss didn’t have a chance. The game became the Wait For Willie show – the Noles proved they had enough returning talent for Taggart to get out to a good start.
5 Things That Matter

30. Sugar Bowl

FINAL: Alabama 24, Clemson 6

If you like brilliant defensive performances by a team that playing at the highest of levels on one side of the ball, this game was for you. If you like good bowl games – especially in the College Football Playoff – this was a total clunker. Especially after the Rose Bowl was finishing up earlier, this game was awful.
5 Things That Matter

29. Cotton Bowl

FINAL: Ohio State 24, USC 7

Ohio State showed that it probably was one of the four best teams. USC showed that the Pac-12 really was down. Sam Darnold showed off a slew of flaws. Ohio State went through the motions at times and was fine. USC didn’t have any answers. It was supposed to be one the best matchups of the bowls, and it wasn’t even close.
5 Things That Matter

28. Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl

FINAL: Utah 30, West Virginia 14

This was over the moment that West Virginia QB Will Grier got hurt in the regular season. The Mountaineers didn’t have any offense, Utah limped along for three quarters before finally putting the game away, and it was more about West Virginia’s struggles than anything amazing the Utes did.
5 Things That Matter

27. San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

FINAL: Michigan State 42, Washington State 17

Over when it became apparent that Luke Falk wasn’t playing, Michigan State exploded with a 21-point third quarter and coasted from there. It was a big moment for the Big Ten, and a dud for the Pac-12 – the Cougars were supposed to be more dangerous, and weren’t.
5 Things That Matter

26. Hyundai Sun Bowl

FINAL: NC State 52, Arizona State 31

NC State showed up right away, and that was it. The Wolfpack were up 28-10 at halftime, and there weren’t any problems from there. The Sun Devils – in a strange position with fired head coach Todd Graham giving it one last go – didn’t have any defensive answers.
5 Things That Matter

25. Cactus Bowl

FINAL: Kansas State 35, UCLA 17

UCLA put up a good fight without Josh Rosen, but the offense fizzled in the second half, Kansas State scored 28 unanswered points, and the game became all about missing the Bruin star quarterback. K-State QB Alex Delton was fun, but he wasn’t enough to make this interesting.
5 Things That Matter

24. Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl

FINAL: Texas 33, Missouri 16

It should’ve been better. Texas got up 14-0, and that was about it. Missouri actually showed a little defense, but the offense couldn’t stop screwing up, turning it over four times. It wasn’t a pretty game, but the Longhorns will take it.
5 Things That Matter

Good Bowls. Worth The Time And Effort.

23. Camping World Bowl

FINAL: Oklahoma State 30, Virginia Tech 21

It wasn’t a bad game, but it went totally to form. Oklahoma State’s offense did what it was supposed to do, Virginia Tech showed off its shortcomings, and it was a solid game from start to finish. It wasn’t anything memorable, but in a bad season of bowls, this gets credit for not being miserable.
5 Things That Matter

22. AutoNation Cure Bowl

FINAL: Georgia State 27, WKU 17

How did Georgia State win this? WKU threw for 351 yards, but QB Mike White was sacked six times. Slow and steady won the race for the Panthers in a tight game into the fourth. It wasn’t always scintillating, but it was a close battle.
5 Things That Matter

21. AutoZone Liberty Bowl

FINAL: Iowa State 31, Memphis 20

It wasn’t quite as fun as the final score might indicate. Neither team could score in the fourth, and it turned out to be more about the Iowa State war of attrition than anything fantastic happening on either side of the ball. It was tense, and it was close, but it wasn’t scintillating. Like Cyclone fans care.
5 Things That Matter

20. R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

FINAL: Troy 50, North Texas 30

This was actually interesting until the third quarter. Both passing games worked just fine, but the Mean Green couldn’t run the ball a lick. Six Troy sacks, 11 tackles for loss, and four Brandon Silvers touchdown passes turned this into a blowout. A fun blowout.
5 Things That Matter

19. Fiesta Bowl

FINAL: Penn State 35, Washington 28

Don’t be fooled by the final score – the game wasn’t all that great. Penn State was up 28-14 in the first half, and put it on cruise control from there. The overarching theme of hoping Saquon Barkley didn’t get hurt gave the game a weird vibe, but Penn State showed just how good it really was this season.
5 Things That Matter

18. Orange Bowl

FINAL: Wisconsin 34, Miami 24

It looked like it was going to be an ugly blowout on one side, and then it completely flipped. Alex Hornibrook was brilliant, the Badger defense clamped down, and the team that was so, so close to being perfect going into the College Football Playoff proved that, yeah, it really could play.
5 Things That Matter

17. New Era Pinstripe Bowl

FINAL: Iowa 27, Boston College 20

Neither team was very good, and Iowa only came up with 200 yards of total offense, but at least it was close. Boston College should’ve won, but three turnovers were too much to overcome. But compared to the last few Iowa bowl clunkers, this was fantastic.
5 Things That Matter

16. New Mexico Bowl

FINAL: Marshall 31, Colorado State 28

One of the better early bowl games, Marshall exploded with Beast Mode runs, a big pass play, and a day of offensive balance, but Colorado State wouldn’t quit. The Ram O, though, didn’t kick it in until it was too late.
5 Things That Matter

15. TaxSlayer Bowl

FINAL: Mississippi State 31, Louisville 27

A delightful surprise, Mississippi State wasn’t supposed to show up or have a chance – it had a ton of reasons to struggle. Instead, the defense kept forcing Lamar Jackson to screw up, MSU QB Keytaon Thompson outplayed the former Heisman winner, and it was a thriller that came down to the end.
5 Things That Matter

14. Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

FINAL: Middle Tennessee 35, Arkansas State 30

A fun game with a good late rally, Arkansas State came up just short in a sloppy, but entertaining shootout. The two teams combined for six turnovers and 17 penalties, but there was plenty of offense and enough interesting moments to make this worth the watch.
5 Things That Matter

The Great Ones. These Helped Make The Bowl Season.

13. Hawaii Bowl

FINAL: Fresno State 33, Houston 27

A solid game throughout, Fresno State came through late, Houston played hard, and it was a good battle that someone had to lose. There were a few penalties, but it was a sharp game with enough offense to keep things moving with good performances all the way around.
5 Things That Matter

12. Citrus Bowl

FINAL: Notre Dame 21, LSU 17

Miles Boykin. 55-yard brilliant touchdown catch. Boom. One of the better plays of the bowl season, Notre Dame pulled off a thrilling win in a wild fourth quarter. The two teams struggled to do anything interesting, and then combined for 25 fourth quarter points, highlighted by Boykin’s game-winning play for the Irish.
5 Things That Matter

11. NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

FINAL: New Mexico State 26, Utah State 20 OT

New Mexico State played like a team that hadn’t been in a bowl game in a bazillion years, and Utah State kept pushing and fighting. Considering the bowl drought storyline, the walk-off overtime score for NMSU gave this one of the more satisfying endings of the bowl season.
5 Things That Matter

10. Outback Bowl

FINAL: South Carolina 26, Michigan 19

South Carolina did what it needed to in the comeback win, but this was more about Michigan’s collapse. It was like watching a slow-moving car crash – the Wolverines couldn’t stop screwing up. It went from being one of the more obvious bowl outcomes of the season, to one of the more stunning. Bowl games might be self-contained entities, but the entire Michigan offseason will be based on this.
5 Things That Matter

9. Foster Farms Bowl

FINAL: Purdue 38, Arizona 35

This was a blast, and it would’ve been a lot more fun had we all had any sort of an inkling that this was going to be Rich Rodriguez’s last game. The two teams combined for 985 yards, Khalil Tate was fantastic, the Purdue offense was fantastic, and it was a desperately-needed close firefight among a group of bad, boring bowls.
5 Things That Matter

8. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

FINAL: Army 42, San Diego State 35

It was a strange, strange game, but it was a thriller. Army always had the ball, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny was unstoppable, and it turned into a crazy game with 21 fourth quarter Black Knight points to get the job done.
5 Things That Matter

7. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

FINAL: Northwestern 24, Kentucky 23

A controversial booting of Benny Snell, a few bad coaching decisions, and a game that came down to a final two point conversion for the win. The Clayton Thorson injury soured the fun, but it was an interesting game throughout.
5 Things That Matter

6. Birmingham Bowl

FINAL: USF 38, Texas Tech 34

It was like a beautiful oasis among a wasteland of early bowl games. The 21-point USF fourth quarter – and the performance by QB Quinton Flowers – were enough to make this one of the more entertaining bowls of the season. A fun finish and over 1.100 yards of total offense overcame 20 penalties and four turnovers.
5 Things That Matter

5. Belk Bowl

FINAL: Wake Forest 55, Texas A&M 52

EXACTLY what you want out of a mid-level bowl game, the two teams combined for 107 points, 899 passing yards, a ton of big plays, lots of heroic performances, wild mood swings, lots of craziness, and two teams that played really, really hard. This didn’t stop being entertaining.
5 Things That Matter

The Classics. These Will Be What Everyone Will Remember.

4. Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

FINAL: UCF 34, Auburn 27

Forgetting for a moment that UCF types went with a combination of delusional and cheeky fun after winning this, it was one of the more important bowl outcomes. Auburn might not have shown up, and it wasn’t able to turn the lights on when it did, but this was all about UCF and the fun it had winning it.
5 Things That Matter

3. Valero Alamo Bowl

FINAL: TCU 39, Stanford 37

Never count out TCU. The 16-point fourth quarter, the surprising shootout, and the great performances by the main players – Bryce Love ran for 145 yards and two scores, Kenny Hill did everything for the Horned Frogs – made it good, but it was the Horned Frog comeback that made this a standout thriller.
5 Things That Matter

2. Rose Bowl

FINAL: Georgia 54, Oklahoma 48 2OT

It was a nearly-perfect game. Both teams were amazing. Both teams came up with big plays. It was a thriller from start to finish, and in the end, Georgia won it instead of Oklahoma losing it. There wasn’t any defense for long stretches of time, and Baker Mayfield didn’t get a shot to do enough in overtime, but that’s nitpicking. It was one of the greatest Rose Bowls ever, and it was the best College Football Playoff semifinal of the eight, by a mile.
5 Things That Matter

1. College Football Playoff National Championship

FINAL: Alabama 26, Georgia 23 OT

Considering no one expected much of anything – all-SEC game, regional showdown, no real star power – and it turned into one of the greatest games of all-time, it was a total gem.

At least, it was one of the greatest finishes ever.

The Rose Bowl might have been a better game, but the mood swings, the overtime, the emergence of Tua Tagovailoa, and that it was the national championship made it the star of a bad, bad bowl season.

And we all deserved it.

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