Final Grades For Every College Football Team, Conference: How Did Everyone Do In 2020?

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Final Grades For Every College Football Team, Conference: How Did Everyone Do In 2020?

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Final Grades For Every College Football Team, Conference: How Did Everyone Do In 2020?

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The grades and analysis for every college football team and conference for the 2020 season. How did everyone do?


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This is it. It’s the final look-back on the 2020 college football season, and then it’s time to move on with our lives.

How did everyone do?

The final grades get a wee bit of a break in some spots because of what it took to simply get on the field in this insane year, so the grades are based almost all on what happened on the field.

How did each team and each conference do based on their original expectations? The final grades are in …

2020 Team Season Grades
ACC | American | Big Ten East | West
Big 12 | C-USA East | West
Independents | MAC East | West
Mountain West | Pac-12 North | South
SEC East | West | Sun Belt East | West

ACC Team Season Grades

ACC Season Grade: B

The bowl season might have been a total dud, but the ACC got two teams into the College Football Playoff – forget that both Clemson and Notre Dame were rocked; they got there – meaning North Carolina could get into the Orange.

Having Notre Dame in the mix was fun, the league was entertaining, and outside of miserable years from Duke and Syracuse, it was relatively evenly balanced with just enough curveballs – like Florida State shocking North Carolina – to keep it interesting.

2019 Final Grade: C-


Boston College 2020 Season Grade: B

2020 Record: 6-5
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking
: 67
CFN 2020 Final Rankings
: 48
2019 Final GradeB-

The program made a quick transformation under head coach Jeff Hafley. There’s a whole lot of tweaking that needs to be done, a bit more defense would be nice, and there was a whole lot of bum-slaying happening in the win column, but it was a fun year with good fights against Clemson and North Carolina.

Clemson 2020 Season Grade: A-

2020 Record: 10-2
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking
: 2
CFN 2020 Final Rankings
: 3
2019 Final GradeA+

Yeah, Clemson is at least supposed to play for the national title every year now, but it won another ACC title, got to another College Football Playoff, and had another wonderful year. There’s absolutely nothing routine about any of that.

Duke 2020 Season Grade: D

2020 Record: 2-9
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking
: 51
CFN 2020 Final Rankings
: 92
2019 Final Grade: C+

There were two blowout wins over Syracuse and Charlotte, but otherwise this was a total nightmare of a year. The defense that was supposed to be okay went bye-bye in a hurry, there wasn’t a turnover the offense didn’t like to give up, and it got ugly in big loss after big loss.

Florida State 2020 Season Grade: D

2020 Record: 3-6
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking
: 33
CFN 2020 Final Rankings
: 83
2019 Final GradeC-

The first year under Mike Norvell was horrible. To be fair, there were COVID issues and it was a rough offseason, but you’re Florida freaking State. You’re not supposed to have a sad college football team. There was a stunner over North Carolina, but the other two wins were over a miserable Duke squad and against an FCS program.

Georgia Tech 2020 Season Grade: C-

2020 Record: 3-7
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking
: 65
CFN 2020 Final Rankings
: 82
2019 Final Grade: C-

It wasn’t a great run, but in the total overhaul of the program’s style, second-year head man Geoff Collins came up with three wins against Florida State, Louisville and Duke. However, the Yellow Jackets were Syracuse’s only win and there were way too many blowout losses.

Louisville 2020 Season Grade: C-

2020 Record: 4-7
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking
: 32
CFN 2020 Final Rankings
: 69
2019 Final GradeA

The Cardinals were hoping for a whole lot more coming off a strong first season under Scott Satterfield. A 1-4 start was tough, a 2-6 beginning was tougher, but closing out with a 45-21 win over Wake Forest showed promise for 2021.

Miami 2020 Season Grade: B

2020 Record: 8-3
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking
: 19
CFN 2020 Final Rankings
: 2
2019 Final Grade: C-

Considering where the program was at after 2019, starting out 8-1 was great before getting rocked by North Carolina and losing the bowl – and QB D’Eriq King – against Oklahoma State. Even so, it was a good step forward under Manny Diaz.

North Carolina 2020 Season Grade: B

2020 Record: 8-4
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking
: 17
CFN 2020 Final Rankings
: 14
2019 Final Grade: B+

It took a few weird twists and turns to get there, but the Tar Heels turned out to be close to what they were supposed to be. There was a shocking loss to Florida State and a dud against Virginia, but they rocked Miami and got to the Orange Bowl. Even more than that, it was a fun campaign.

NC State 2020 Season Grade: B

2020 Record: 8-4
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking: 44
CFN 2020 Final Rankings: 37
2019 Final Grade: D

There’s never a reason to complain about being 8-4 at NC State, unless there’s a blowout loss to North Carolina and a disappointing bowl defeat to Kentucky. Yeah, the Pack missed Clemson and Notre Dame, and they had a whole slew of winnable games, but it was still a good run. This year, take the eight wins.

Notre Dame 2020 Season Grade: A

2020 Record: 10-2
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking: 15
CFN 2020 Final Rankings: 5
2019 Final Grade: B+

Don’t get caught up on what the season wasn’t. Notre Dame got rolled in the ACC Championship and in the College Football Playoff, but … it was in the ACC Championship and the College Football Playoff. So it’s not Alabama and it’s not Clemson – whatever. It was an outstanding year by any reasonable standards.

Pitt 2020 Season Grade: B-

2020 Record: 6-5
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking: 18
CFN 2020 Final Rankings: 41
2019 Final Grade: B

Opt-outs and injuries kept the season from being better than it was, but the Panthers closed strong with wins in three of the last four games as the offense woke up. Two of the losses – NC State and Boston College – were each by a point and there weren’t any great wins.

Syracuse 2020 Season Grade: D

2020 Record: 1-10
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking: 52
CFN 2020 Final Rankings: 9
2019 Final Grade:C-

The Orange never blocked anyone, lost its starting quarterback early, lost a few key parts to the secondary to opt-outs, and only managed a home win over Georgia Tech. They dropped the last eight games, but they battled in a slew of decent close losses, but … no, you don’t lose at home to Duke this year.

Virginia 2002 Season Grade: B-

2020 Record: 5-5
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking: 31
CFN 2020 Final Rankings: 45
2019 Final Grade: A

No one was expecting a second straight run to the ACC Championship game, and the 1-4 start made that clear. However, the Cavaliers won four straight – starting with a shocker over North Carolina, which provided a little hope, and … a 33-15 loss to rival Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech 2020 Season Grade: C+

2020 Record: 5-6
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking: 16
CFN 2020 Final Rankings: 42
2019 Final Grade: B

The 5-2 start wasn’t a mirage, but it pushed up the expectations. To be extremely fair, the program was never quite right all year thanks to virus issues. There was a strong win over rival Virginia, but that came after losing four straight – including to Liberty – in a disappointing second half of the season.

Wake Forest 2020 Season Grade: B-

2020 Record: 4-5
CFN 2020 Preseason Ranking: 39
CFN 2020 Final Rankings: 40
2019 Final Grade: B+

It stunk to lose the final three games, but the Demon Deacons were generally what they were supposed to be. The 45-21 loss to Louisville was the only true dud of the five losses, and collapsing in the bowl loss to Wisconsin wasn’t fun, but beating Virginia and Virginia Tech was fun.

2020 Team Season Grades
ACC | American | Big Ten East | West
Big 12 | C-USA East | West
Independents | MAC East | West
Mountain West | Pac-12 North | South
SEC East | West | Sun Belt East | West

NEXT: American Athletic Conference

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