Bowl Rankings: How Good Were All 26 Bowl Games?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Bowl Rankings: How Good Were All 26 Bowl Games?

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Bowl Rankings: How Good Were All 26 Bowl Games?


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You watched them, or you didn’t. No big whoop.

21. New Mexico Bowl

Hawaii 28, Houston 14
Pre-Bowl Matchup Ranking: 21
10 Things To Know from the New Mexico Bowl

In terms of how good we thought this bowl was going to be, it did exactly what it was supposed to …

Only in a whole other way.

The thought was that Houston would come out roaring against an inconsistent Hawaii team that didn’t have the pop, and all of that blew up fast with a 21-0 Rainbow Warrior lead going into halftime.

It got interesting in the third quarter as Houston woke up, scored 14 points, and all the excitement lasted about 30 seconds as Calvin Turner returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.

20. Boca Raton Bowl

BYU 49, UCF 23
Pre-Bowl Matchup Ranking: 5
10 Things To Know from the Boca Raton Bowl

This was interesting in a Let’s Watch The Top 5 NFL Draft Franchise Quarterback sort of way.

It was supposed to a fun and wild shootout between two of the best offenses in college football, and BYU ended that five plays in on a Zach Wilson touchdown run. He ran for a second score on the way to a 21-0 BYU first quarter lead, threw two touchdown passes for a 35-7 lead going into halftime, and it got up to 49-10 with 20 minutes left to play.

Wilson threw for 425 yards and three scores and ran for the two touchdowns, but … yuck. This game was a massive disappointment.

19. Montgomery Bowl

Memphis 25, Florida Atlantic 10
Pre-Bowl Matchup Ranking: 26
10 Things To Know from the Montgomery Bowl

In a normal year this would’ve been near the bottom, but it’s saved by a whole slew of worse games this bowl season.

This was never supposed to be a good game – Memphis was a nine-point favorite – and it wasn’t.

Florida Atlantic never showed any offense, Memphis QB Brady White led the way to an early lead, and this was over – quick and painless.

It was an 18-0 halftime lead for the Tigers,

18. Valero Alamo Bowl

Texas 55, Colorado 23
Pre-Bowl Matchup Ranking: 17
10 Things To Know from the Alamo Bowl

The 2020 Valero Alamo Bowl was exactly what we all thought it would be.

We didn’t think it was Tom Herman’s last game, but it was Herman in a bowl game – he doesn’t lose them.

Texas got up 14-0, there was a bit of intrigue going into halftime with the score 17-10 Longhorns with QB Sam Ehlinger hurt, and then it got ugly in a hurry.

Casey Thompson threw four second half touchdown passes, hitting Joshua Moore for two touchdown passes and working with RB Bijan Robinson for a scoring play. It was all a fun exhibition for the Longhorns after it got to 34-10.

17. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Nevada 38, Tulane 27
Pre-Bowl Matchup Ranking: 13
10 Things To Know from the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

It got somewhat interesting, but Tulane was never able to make the push to get over the hump.

Nevada took a 19-0 first half lead, but just when it looked like something special was going to happen with Tulane pulling within 26-20 in the third quarter, Carson Strong threw two touchdown passes to pull the Wolf Pack ahead for good.

Tulane never led, it was -3 in turnover margin, and Nevada was able to hold on whenever it was truly threatened.

16. Myrtle Beach Bowl

Appalachian State 56, North Texas 28
Pre-Bowl Matchup Ranking: 25
10 Things To Know from the Myrtle Beach Bowl

North Texas scored just enough to make Appalachian State keep pressing, and that was a problem.

The Mountaineers kept on trying after getting up 14-0 in the first quarter and 35-14 at halftime, and that led to a whole lot of fun if you enjoy a great running day vs. a totally miserable run defense.

Cameron Peoples ran for 317 yards and five scores, ASU ran for 500 yards and averaged close to 13 yards per carry, and considering it was the first bowl game of the season, it was at least memorable.

15. PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

Iowa State 34, Oregon 17
Pre-Bowl Matchup Ranking: 14
5 Thoughts Reaction, Analysis: Fiesta Bowl

It was 14-14 in the first half as it looked like the bowl season was finally going to give America something special, and then …


Iowa State came up with its biggest bowl win ever. It was relentless in the second quarter on the way to a 28-17 halftime lead, Oregon looked lost and couldn’t score in the second half, the Cyclones managed two field goals, and the game closed with a whimper.

Oregon turned it over four times, Iowa State had the ball for 43 minutes, and then it was over and everyone went home.

14. Vrbo Citrus Bowl

Northwestern 35, Auburn 19
Pre-Bowl Matchup Ranking: 19
10 Thoughts Reaction, Analysis: Citrus Bowl

It was a not-horrible bowl only because it was a one-point game late in the third. To sound like a cliché, Northwestern up by one late in the second half might as well be a two touchdown lead for most teams.

Sorry about that.

Auburn didn’t have its former or next head coach, it didn’t have enough offense, and Northwestern all of a sudden found an attack that was more physical, more creative, and more productive on the way to a dominant run to go up 35-13 in a ten minute span.

13. College Football Playoff National Championship

Alabama 52, Ohio State 24
Pre-Bowl Matchup Ranking: NR

It was certainly interesting for a while.

It was a bad game when Ohio State wasn’t able to give it a full push – Justin Fields really was hurt, two starting D linemen were missing, and Trey Sermon was knocked out right away – but nothing was stopping Alabama.

DeVonta Smith was breathtaking, the Tide offense put up 621 yards, and it was a wonderful performance by a dominant national championship team. It was also all but over at halftime.

12. TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

Kentucky 23, NC State 21
Pre-Bowl Matchup Ranking: 15
5 Thoughts Reaction, Analysis: Gator Bowl

It probably should’ve been a bit higher on the list, but it was chippy, it was ugly at times, and it wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing game to watch.

Three NC State turnovers were a problem, and there wasn’t a lot of offense on either side, but it was close late until a pick led to a UK TD run and a 23-14 lead in the final minutes.

The final score is better than the game – NC State never led, and the final Wolfpack touchdown came with just over a minute to go.

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