Bowl games are one-off exhibitions, played a month after the college football season. They can, for a myriad of reasons, produce fluky results. As a team’s final statement before the offseason doldrums, bowl games impact perception disproportionately.
Here are five teams that played well in bowl games and will be at least a tad overrated entering 2017. Clemson would top this list, but they have to play next week.
USC Trojans: USC won the greatest Rose Bowl ever, as harkening back to 2006 is too far for instant historians. Sam Darnold, freshman QB, threw for 453 yards and five touchdowns. It does not take much to get the USC hype train roaring out of the station. A Rose Bowl win will do it.
Penn State Nittany Lions: Penn State lost the greatest Rose Bowl ever, by a field goal. But, they scored seven-straight touchdowns in a losing effort. Everyone loves offense. Penn State will have at least nine starters back from that offense. The Nittany Lions will start the season Top 10. Trace McSorley will have Heisman odds.
Oklahoma Sooners: Oklahoma beat another SEC team in a bowl game. It was an 8-win Auburn whose quarterback broke his arm in the first quarter. But, bowl hype dispenses with such trivialities. Oklahoma won 10-straight to close the season (when they didn’t play the two best teams on their schedule). Baker Mayfield is coming back. Here come the Sooners.
LSU Tigers: Louisivlle was deflated. LSU ran over a porous offensive line to sack Lamar Jackson eight times. The Tigers rolled to a competent 29-9 win. LSU does not have a quarterback. Ed Orgeron’s last full-time head coaching job saw him go 3-21 in the SEC. But, LSU, you’re not going to believe this, has talent returning. While the Tigers have not finished Top 10 since 2011, they will, without question, start there.
Miami Hurricanes: Miami won its first bowl game since 2006, beating West Virginia 31-14. Their mediocre season will now be a glass half-full. Media members cling to any scintilla of evidence “the U” is back. Mark Richt gets the benefit of the doubt, despite averaging 4.125 losses per season since 2009. Brad Kaaya leaving dampens things somewhat, but the bowl win provides a perhaps undue positive framing.