Now that the college football season is over, we look back at the New Year’s Six bowls and rank them from worst to best game.
6. PlayStation Fiesta Bowl: Clemson beats Ohio State 31-0
Let’s be honest here, no one wants to see a game become a blowout. Almost everyone would prefer a down-to-the-wire type of matchup, and on paper, Clemson vs. Ohio State seemed to fit the bill. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t. It had the appearances of a showdown early on as Clemson’s Deshaun Watson’s first throw of the game was intercepted by Ohio State’s Gareon Conley. But the pick would lead to a missed field goal, and the Buckeyes would remain quiet offensively the rest of the game. Ironically, it was Watson’s legs that proved to be the dagger in the Tigers’ win with his two rushing touchdowns.
5. Allstate Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma beats Auburn 35-19
Auburn didn’t seem concerned about showing Oklahoma its one-dimensional game plan, as running the ball would lead to their downfall. Auburn quarterback Sean White went down with a broken forearm in the first quarter, which only worsened the team’s play as Oklahoma stopped the run. Joe Mixon had a great performance with a total of 180 yards, which included 91 rushing, 89 receiving and two touchdowns. Heisman finalist Dede Westbrook caught one last touchdown from Baker Mayfield, and Samaje Perine surpassed Billy Simms for all-time rushing yards in Sooners history.
4. Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: Alabama beats Washington 24-7
Like any team facing Alabama this season, Washington stepped in thinking it had a chance. And rightfully so, as quarterback Jake Browning connected with Dante Pettis for a touchdown in the early going. The Crimson Tide responded with a touchdown on the subsequent possession, and its defense, to no surprise, won the game for them. A forced fumble leading to a field goal and a pick-six to head into the half was enough to put the Huskies away.
3. Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Wisconsin beats Western Michigan 24-16
Mismatch. That’s the first thing that came to mind when the committee placed Western Michigan against Big 10 powerhouse Wisconsin. The Broncos went into Arlington undefeated, but giving up two touchdowns on the Badgers’ first two drives of the game wasn’t going to help. After managing to stay alive 17-7 by halftime, there was still a glimpse of hope for the Broncos to make a storied comeback. But Western Michigan only scoring a field goal in the third quarter and conceding yet another touchdown in the fourth quarter was the end to a valiant effort.
2. Capital One Orange Bowl: Florida State beats Michigan 33-32
Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers was ruled out with a left hamstring injury, but that wouldn’t take anything away from a thriller. The Seminoles went straight down the field to score on an opening Dalvin Cook rushing touchdown, and the Wolverines looked like they missed the presence of Peppers as Deondre Francois connected a 92-yard pass to Nyqwan Murray to close the first quarter. All Michigan could do was connect with three field goals, but it took just one pick-six to get them back in the game. A classic was in store for the fourth quarter as Florida State prevailed after a wild comeback.
1. Rose Bowl Game: USC beats Penn State 52-49
Having the two hottest teams play against each other delivered us arguably the best game of the season. Penn State’s horrific start — throwing two straight interceptions — and terrific recovery — scoring seven straight touchdowns — was crazy. It was no more impressive than when the Nittany Lions scored on their first three possessions on the very first play of each drive during the start of the second half. USC entered the fourth quarter down 49-35 as quarterback Sam Darnold led the Trojans to tie the game. Trace McSorley had the chance to win it with 1:20 left, only to throw his third interception, which ultimately led to a USC game-winning field goal.