College Football’s bowl season is over. Teenagers have been toasted. Frogs have battled. Palms have been greased. The Gaudy blazers are en route to their respective dry cleaners. Here’s a recap, before everything goes full-on Alabama vs. Clemson.
When it counted, the bowls were crap. Eight games occurred on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Only one – Alabama (-10) in the Cotton – had a double-digit spread. The average victory margin in those games was 27 points. The closest victory margin was Houston’s 38-24 win over Florida State. A bit of “bum luck.” A dash of poor scheduling. It was an anticlimactic showcase. Ratings declines were anything but “modest.”
That stretch made it, on aggregate, the most lopsided bowl season this century.
Too Many Bowl Games
Sure, you sound like grandpa yelling at kids making this case. People can consume what they wish on TV. But, if you still argue the bowl experience is special, 80 teams is too many.
The 12 games before Christmas were a blur. So were many of the games after. We had multiple 5-7 teams participating. That was not, necessarily, 5-7 vs. FBS. We had multiple teams playing home games in their stadium. There were five games sponsored by companies offering fried chicken variants.
Enough is enough. We’ve hit the saturation point. Which means there will probably be more next year.
Conference Narrative Season
Bowls are the conference measuring stick, since too few inter-conference meetings occur in the wild. Conference pride narratives, inevitably, abound. If you’re reading much into these results, you’re reading too hard.
The SEC went 8-2. 8-2. That impresses, until you point out the SEC was favored in…eight of their 10 bowl games. Give the Tide their due with the Michigan State demolition. The rest of their conquered foes: Kansas State, Penn State, Northwestern, N.C. State, Oklahoma State, Memphis (w/out Fuente), and Texas Tech. The two underdogs? Quarterback gutted A&M did not cover as a dog against Louisville. Florida got an ass kicking from Michigan. The SEC met expectations.
It was a mixed bag for the Big Ten at 5-5. Their schedule was a bit more rigorous than the SEC. The B1G played three Top 10 teams, six in the Top 25. That did not include unranked 9-win Georgia and 8-win UCLA. Michigan State and Iowa lost badly. But, Ohio State handled Top 10 Notre Dame comfortably. Michigan made Florida not want to play anymore. Five-win Nebraska took down UCLA. Wisconsin beat USC.
Another mixed bag for the Big 12 at 3-4. Baylor and TCU gave rousing efforts, beating Top 15 teams with their backup quarterbacks. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State played Top 15 teams and gave uninspired ones.
The Pac 12 went 6-4, against a slate of the mostly mediocre, unranked, and non-Power 5. Stanford looked like one of the nation’s four best teams during the Rose Bowl beatdown. They did during much of the regular season too, except the couple times they didn’t which cost them a playoff place. Oregon offered the aforementioned Alamo Bowl to remember, with the biggest blown lead in bowl history to a banged up TCU.
The ACC was another muddle at 5-6. Clemson crushed Oklahoma. North Carolina and Florida State lost to ranked opponents by double digits. Frank Beamer retired with a bowl win, 55-52 over Tulsa. Woo hoo!
Dabo Swinney: Clemson brought its own guts. The Tigers shut down Oklahoma 21-0 in the second half. They owned both lines of scrimmage, rushing for 312 yards on 58 carries and holding Oklahoma to just 67. This was biggest win of Dabo’s career. He has gone undefeated. He has eradicated “Clemsoning” from the lexicon. This happened after losing talent and a standout offensive coordinator. You almost forget Clemson isn’t a traditional football power. Whatever happens against Bama, this season was incredible.
Michigan Men: Florida had terminal issues and limped to the finish. Still, Michigan delivered a beatdown to the Gators, in their home state. It was a statement. It was a testament. Jake Rudock and Jehu Chesson rolled over an SEC defense that, by its own count, had 11 Jabrill Peppers. Heck of a rebound, after the way Michigan’s regular season ended and after where they were 12 months ago.
Wardrobe Changes: Fashion maven. Coaching MacGyver. TCU was riddled with defensive injuries. Star wideout Josh Doctson was knocked out for the season. Trevone Boykin struggled with injuries, then missed the Alamo Bowl after an arrest. He still pulled off an incredible comeback to reach 11 wins for the second-straight season.
Disrespkt: Michigan State wanted its shot. The Spartans received it, and lost 38-0. Their offense did nothing. Their defense gave out in the second half. Their special teams allowed a punt return touchdown. This was far from the best Dantonio Spartan team. But, they also played far from the best Saban Bama team. Michigan State winning 12 games, and beating Ohio State and Michigan on the road is hardly failure. Though, for a program that feeds on inveterate confidence, this was a blow.
James Franklin: He’s been unfairly maligned given the sanctions induced trauma he’s inherited. Still, Christian Hackenberg’s regression (and early exit to the NFL) plus losing a bowl game to a Georgia team ostensibly being coached by grad assistants was not a good look.
Don Pellum: Oregon’s star quarterback went down. They entered the second half with a five-score lead and a defense that could totally give up a five-score lead to a backup quarterback. The Ducks dropped from 28th to 85th in S&P+ defense in 2015.