Bowl Rankings: Great Bowls
You watched these bowls, you liked them, and then you moved on as a richer and more fulfilled person.
16. Cheez-It Bowl
You knew what you were getting – and it turned out to be gripping in the end.
Clemson’s defense was amazing, its offense wasn’t, and it was a 20-3 game before a late rally by Iowa State made this interesting over the final ten minutes.
The pick-six by Clemson’s Mario Goodrich off a batted Brock Purdy pass – Purdy miserably failed at getting the ball on the ground – was one of the wildest plays of the bowl season, and the game ended on something you probably have never seen. On fourth down, Purdy ran for a first down, got popped, fumbled the ball backwards, and recovered it behind the first down marker – Clemson survived.
You wanted the Bailey Zappe show? There you go.
The WKU quarterback threw for 422 yards and six touchdowns with no picks, the running game worked, and Appalachian State couldn’t keep up the pace after tying it at 24 late in the first half.
The Mountaineers ran for 251 yards and QB Chase Brice threw for 317 yards and four scores, but four turnovers were just enough to allow Zappe and company to keep on rolling.
WKU went for 638 yards, Appalachian State 609, and it was a wild game even if the outcome wasn’t in doubt in the second half.
It absolutely delivered.
This was supposed to have lots of points, and the two teams combined for 90. This was supposed to have lots of yards, and there were almost 1,200 of them. This was supposed to be a wild back-and-forth game, and it was that – at least for a while.
Down 17-7 in the first half, Wyoming kicked in with the big plays and pulled away in the second half with a 21-point run. There wasn’t a whole lot of drama in the end, and there were too many penalties and mistakes, but this was exactly the sugar rush bowl we were all hoping for.
In a shocking season of bowl results, this turned out to be a blast of a stunner because 1) Central Michigan was a last second substitution because Miami tapped out, 2) the Chippewas needed a game after Boise State couldn’t go in the Arizona Bowl, and 3) Washington State didn’t show up until it was too late.
Central Michigan had a 21-0 halftime lead with a dominant defensive performance, but Wazzu rallied back with backup QB Victor Gabalis filling in for an injured Jayden de Laura, but came up just short.
12. Vrbo Citrus Bowl
It started slow and turned out fantastic.
Kentucky seemed to have it in hand up 13-3 at halftime against a punchless Iowa offense, but everything stalled. The Wildcats couldn’t get the O going, the Hawkeyes came up with two terrific second half touchdown drives to go up 17-13, and they needed just one stop from that great D to pull off the win.
Eight plays, 80 yards, and one Chris Rodriguez touchdown later – and closed out with a pick – the Cats pulled it off. It was a blast of a way to start the New Year’s Day.
Well that turned out to be wonderful.
BYU should’ve rocked the Blazers – if the Cougars played like they did during the regular season – but it turned into a blast of a battle. UAB got up 14-0, Tyler Allgeier and the BYU running game took over on the way to a fourth quarter lead, and UAB pulled out the upset with a long late touchdown drive and a defensive stop.
10. Bahamas Bowl
Considering how utterly miserable the 2020-2021 bowl season was, to kick things off with a one-score game was a major positive.
It wasn’t anything special, but it was entertaining for a Friday afternoon with Middle Tennessee coming up with 17 straight points in the fourth quarter to take over. Maddening as the game was – RUN THE BALL, Toledo – it was competitive, there were several fun moments, and it came down to an onside kick. Good enough.
Haaziq Daniels went Aaron Rodgers and hit 9-of-10 passes for 252 yards and two scores, Air Force kept answering every time Louisville landed a punch, and the back-and-forth battle had more than its share of fireworks.
There were giant pass plays, a kick six, big scoring runs, and well over 800 yards of offense in a clean game with few mistakes. Throw in the Group of Five over Power Five battle, and this was a terrific watch among the early midweek bowl games.
Houston 17, Auburn 13
Pre-Bowl Matchup Ranking: 22
Post-Bowl Ranking: 2020: NA, 2019: 40
– 5 Thoughts: TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl Reaction
Of course it’s more fun to have a whole lot of points in a bowl game, but considering the Power Five vs Group of Five nature of this, it had a lot of drama and a fantastic finish.
The game was a relative uggo, but the payoff was there.
Houston got the game-winning touchdown helped a few penalties that probably should’ve been called on the play – and just before that – but whatever. It was a huge moment for the program in the Dana Holgorsen era, it was a thrilling end, and the fight and energy were there throughout on both sides.
Considering the two stars weren’t there, this turned out to be a terrific game – and a total disaster/epic euphoric bowl depending on which side of the Michigan State -3.5 you might have had.
Pitt not only didn’t have QB Kenny Pickett, but it lost backup QB Nick Patti early on. Davis Beville gave it a shot, but the Pitt passing game only came up with 170 yards against the nation’s worst pass defense.
Michigan State didn’t have RB Kenneth Walker, and it mattered – the ground game finished with just 56 yards.
The Panthers were able to get by on defense with a scoop-and-score in the third quarter enough for a 21-10 lead, but Michigan State closed with 21 unanswered points.
A touchdown pass to Jayden Reed gave the Spartans the lead, but Beville had Pitt on the march with a chance to tie the game with a field goal or come up with a win. One Cal Haladay 78-yard pick six later, and Michigan State had its 11th win.