What grade did each team and conference earn this 2020-2021 bowl season? Which leagues and teams did the best job?
We still have one relatively important game to go, but until then – and with this updated after the College Football Playoff National Championship – how did every team do this bowl season compared to expectations?
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?
They’re the final exams, and here’s how they all did.
ACC Bowl Grades
ACC Bowl Grade: C-
ACC Straight Up: 0-6
ACC Against The Spread: 1-5
Okay, here’s why the ACC catches a huge grade break despite going 0-for-the-bowl season and getting blasted in two College Football Playoff semifinals – that’s sort of what was supposed to happen.
Clemson is the outlier. It was favored to beat Ohio State, but the team that showed up in New Orleans was not the Ohio State of the regular season. Notre Dame was supposed to get housed by Bama. Miami gets a break because it fought back after losing D’Eriq King, North Carolina was great despite missing a slew of stars, NC State lost a 50/50 game, and Wake Forest was a double-digit dog to Wisconsin.
Clemson Bowl Grade: C-
Line: Clemson -7.5, o/u: 65.5
Prediction: Clemson 38, Ohio State 27
Final Score: Ohio State 49, Clemson 28
– 5 Thoughts Reaction, Analysis: Sugar Bowl
It’s hard to get too mad at a team that ran into a buzzsaw. Lost in how good Ohio State was how good Clemson looked and played at the start, up 14-7 after the first ten minutes with the offense running like normal. There wasn’t any hope against the deep passes, the Buckeyes looked and played a half-click quicker, and it was simply one of those games when one amazing team was on and the other couldn’t do anything about it.
Miami Bowl Grade: B
Line: Oklahoma State -1, o/u: 62.5
Prediction: Miami 36, Oklahoma State 30
Final Score: Oklahoma State 37, Miami 34
– 10 Things To Know from the Cheez-It Bowl
The Hurricanes don’t get extra credit for coming back after getting down 21-0 in the first quarter and looking and playing totally unprepared, but they get extra credit for battling back when they could’ve easily have phoned it in. The game appeared to be over, D’Eriq King suffered a knee injury, and yet Miami pushed back to only lose by three. It was a loss, but it was a good one to build on.
North Carolina Bowl Grade: B
Line: Texas A&M -7.5, o/u: 66.5
Prediction: Texas A&M 34, North Carolina 20
Final Score: Texas A&M 41, North Carolina 27
– 5 Thoughts Reaction, Analysis: Orange Bowl
No, the Tar Heels didn’t win, and they didn’t cover, but they were missing their top two running backs, their top receiver, and they managed to make this a fight deep into the fourth quarter. The defense might have melted down late, but it was a strong performance by a hamstrung team that made it a fight without any excuses.
NC State Bowl Grade: B-
Line: Kentucky -3, o/u: 50.5
Prediction: NC State 27, Kentucky 23
Final Score: Kentucky 23, NC State 21
– 5 Thoughts Reaction, Analysis: Gator Bowl
Kentucky is a rough team to play against with its style and tempo, but the Wolfpack didn’t do themselves any favors. They couldn’t stop the run, couldn’t do anything on the offensive front, turned it over three times, got caught up in the battle of penalties, and never lead. However, even with all of the problems, they were RIGHT THERE with a shot in the final five minutes.
Notre Dame Bowl Grade: C
Line: Alabama -19.5, o/u: 65.5
Prediction: Alabama 44, Notre Dame 23
Final Score: Alabama 31, Notre Dame 14
– 5 Thoughts Reaction, Analysis: Rose Bowl
The expectations were low for the Irish, and they played exactly as everyone thought they would. It’s not their fault that Alabama is so amazing, but it’s the College Football Playoff – it shouldn’t have been that easy for the Tide. At no time did it seem like the Irish had any real possibility to make this a game. Even after a fantastic long scoring march pulled them within seven in the first half, Bama squashed the fun by scoring with ease. Notre Dame did cover, but the game was basically over at halftime.
Wake Forest Bowl Grade: C
Line: Wisconsin -10, o/u: 51.5
Prediction: Wisconsin 34, Wake Forest 20
Final Score: Wisconsin 42, Wake Forest 28
– 10 Things To Know from the Duke’s Mayo Bowl
This was a rough matchup for the Demon Deacons. Wisconsin had the exact wrong style, and yet the Wake Forest offense was able to look amazing in the beginning on the way to a 14-0 lead, ended up with over 500 yards of total offense, and … besides the four interceptions thrown for 176 yards, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?