What grade did each team and conference earn this bowl season? Which leagues and teams did the best job?
There’s still a little bit to go – this will be updated after it’s all over – but we got through another bowl season.
Which teams showed up, which teams didn’t, and how did all of the conferences do?
We assign a grade for each team based on relative performance. Winning the game is all that really matters, but did the team play up to its capabilities, or did it have to push a bit too hard against an inferior opponent? Did the losing team come up with a strong fight, or did it get embarrassed?
ACC Bowl Grades
ACC Bowl Grade: B-
It could’ve been a whole lot worse. Bump this up if Clemson wins the national title, but going 4-6 with some total flops wasn’t okay. The league was maligned all season, and this was its chance to show off.
Clemson did just that in the Fiesta win over Ohio State. Louisville was great against Mississippi State in the Music City, and Virginia fought the good fight in the Orange loss to Florida. However, Boston College and Miami were stomped on by Group of Five programs, and Pitt had to fight WAY too hard to get by Eastern Michigan in the Quick Lane – no, no, no.
Boston College Bowl Grade: D
Final Score: Cincinnati 38, Boston College 6
Line: Cincinnati -7.5, o/u: 55
The Eagles were never in it. The only reason the grade isn’t a total fail is because they didn’t have RB AJ Dillon, and the coaching change mattered, but still … don’t be the Power Fiver that loses to a Group of Five program by 32.
Clemson Bowl Grade: A
Final Score: Clemson 29, Ohio State 23
Line: Clemson -2, o/u: 62.5
– 5 Thoughts on the Fiesta Bowl
Of course there’s still unfinished business to take care of, and the team was outplayed by Ohio State in a whole slew of ways, and it was helped by a questionable non-fumble call and a misfire by Justin Fields, and … whatever. Clemson won another College Football Playoff game and is in its fourth national title game in five years.
Miami Bowl Grade: D-
Final Score: Louisiana Tech 14, Miami 0
Line: Miami -6, o/u: 50
– 5 Thoughts on the Independence Bowl
The only reason this isn’t a big, screaming F is because the defense wasn’t bad. It got no help from the woeful offense and didn’t do anything with that whole Turnover Chain thing to matter. It’s the first team to ever get shutout in the Independence Bowl, and no, you don’t lose to Conference USA teams twice in the season year if you’re Miami.
Florida State Bowl Grade: C
Final Score: Arizona State 20, Florida State 14
Line: Arizona State -4, o/u: 54.5
– 5 Thoughts on the Sun Bowl
The coaching change didn’t matter too much – the Noles have been dealing with that for half the season – and there was a great fight to keep it close. But turner after turnover after turnover proved devastating.
Louisville Bowl Grade: A
Final Score: Louisville 38, Mississippi State 28
Line: Mississippi State -4.5, o/u: 62.5
– 5 Thoughts on the Music City Bowl
Boom. It was a rocky start, but once the Cardinals eased their way into it, they were explosive, dominant, and closed out a wonderful first season under Scott Satterfield with something special. This one bowl performance will do wonders for the program this offseason.
North Carolina Bowl Grade: A
Final Score: North Carolina 55, Temple 13
Line: North Carolina -6, o/u: 57
– 5 Thoughts on the Military Bowl
Yo, Boston College and Miami … this is what a Power Five program is supposed to do to a Group of Fiver. The Tar Heels came out sharp from the start and all but put this away by halftime with a terrific performance to close out Mack Brown’s first year back in Chapel Hill.
Pitt Bowl Grade: C+
Final Score: Pitt 34, Eastern Michigan 30
Line: Pitt -12, o/u: 51
– 5 Thoughts on the Quick Lane Bowl
Yeah, Pitt won, buuuuut … it took WAY too much effort to get by a mediocre MAC team. Give Eastern Michigan credit for playing above its pay grade, but it took a huge day from Maurice Ffrench to survive a total embarrassment.
Virginia Bowl Grade: B
Final Score: Florida 36, Virginia 28
Line: Florida -14.5, o/u: 54.5
– 5 Thoughts on the Orange Bowl
Of course the Cavaliers were hoping to pull off another bowl win over an SEC team after whacking South Carolina last year, but they came up with a terrific performance in the loss. More than a two touchdown underdog, they pushed the Gators hard with Bryce Perkins the only passer – not Joe Burrow, not Jake Fromm – to throw for 300 yards on this secondary.
Virginia Tech Bowl Grade: B-
Final Score: Kentucky 37, Virginia Tech 30
Line: Virginia Tech -3, o/u: 46
– 5 Thoughts on the Belk Bowl
It was the final game under defensive coordinator Bud Foster, there was almost a month to prepare, and yet there was absolutely no answer, adjustment or solution for UK QB Lynn Bowden and his 233 rushing yards. Even with all of the problems, the Hokies were right there until the end.
Wake Forest Bowl Grade: B-
Final Score: Michigan State 27, Wake Forest 21
Line: Michigan State -3.5, o/u: 51.5
– 5 Thoughts on the Pinstripe Bowl
Where was the offensive production in the second half? Michigan State’s defense isn’t that good, but this was an absolutely winnable game that didn’t happen after getting shut out in the second half. The passing game was outgained by Sparty.