Bowl games’ highlighted winners and losers


BYU quarterback Zach Wilson faced off against Western Michigan.

By Baron Ropp, Round Table reporter

In this year’s set of bowl games, many teams showed their talent to the world, becoming the “winners” of bowl season by putting up unbelievable stat lines, coming out out with unbelievable victories under pressure, or adding yet another chapter to such a storied rivalry. The losers would be beaten in their games, end historic win streaks, or not be able to finish what they started.

There are, in fact, winners and losers from this college football bowl season.

Winner: Zach Wilson

Freshman quarterback Zach Wilson came out of the 49-18 trouncing of Western Michigan with an impeccable stat line. Wilson broke the school record for most passes without an incompletion by going a perfect 18-for-18 against WMU. Wilson brought the Cougars back from a deficit at halftime and didn’t look back the entire second quarter. Wilson also had 321 yards of passing with two touchdown passes.

Loser: West Virginia

The Mountaineers took a tough 38-14 loss to Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl and lost not only their bowl game but also will no longer have their Heisman-finalist quarterback Will Grier or head coach Dana Holgorsen, who accepted a multimillion-dollar contract to coach at Houston. Jack Allison, who had to start in place of Grier, showed little to no promise while he was on the field, and the trademark West Virginia defense was nowhere to be found.

Winner: Gus Malzahn

Malzahn was one of the main coaches in the hot seat this year. After being crowned SEC West champions just a year ago, Malzahn’s squad has been stumbling all year. Following a victory over No. 6 Washington in their season opener, everything seemed to be going as planned for the Tigers, but after going 4-1 in their first five games, the Tigers finished off the season with a pitiful 7-5 record. Malzahn needed a bowl game victory to make the cries for the loss of his job quieter. Not only were the Tigers victorious, but with 56 points they also put up the most points in a half of a bowl game in the history of bowl games.The Tigers even had a defensive touchdown in the mix. Malzahn’s job seems safe – for now.

Loser: UCF National Championship Backers

Many University of Central Florida fans believed that their team should have been in the college football playoff because they have won their past 25 games.The Knights would get a New Year’s Six bowl matchup with LSU, and early on it looked like those fans were correct. The Golden Knights had a 14-3 lead, including a 93-yard pick six. It seemed like they were snubbed from a playoff spot… until LSU scored three unanswered touchdowns in a row to make it a 24-14 game. When all was said and done, the Golden Knights fell, despite a late comeback push to make it a one-score game. The final was 32-40 with an LSU victory.

Winner: Alabama vs. Clemson Part IV

It’s no surprise that Alabama and Clemson easily outplayed their opponents. The Tide have an offense this year that allows them to easily beat anyone they play. A healthy Tua brought the Oklahoma defense to its knees. Clemson outplayed the Fighting Irish in the Orange Bowl, with amazing performances by the nation’s leading rusher, Travis Etienne.The Tigers defense also came to play, holding the Irish to just three points without star defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence.

The Tigers and the Tide will face each other for the fourth year in a row (only one of these matchups wasn’t in the national title game). Currently, Alabama leads the series currently with a 2-1 record.

Loser: Comebacks

In New Year’s Six bowls alone, five comebacks weren’t completed (Penn State, Oklahoma, Georgia, Washington and UCF).

Penn state was down big late in the game to Kentucky. Kentucky, normally seen as a basketball school, was coming off what was most likely the best football season in school history. The school’s leading rusher, Benny Snell, had an amazing performance up until the fourth quarter in which it seemed like the Nittany Lions were storming back.In the final minute of the game, Penn State notched a touchdown to make it a three-point game, but it would end up losing.

Georgia also seemed to be coming back after a 20-7 deficit at halftime, but the Bulldogs would fall 21-28 when all was said and done.The team that is ranked No. 5 is now 1-4 in its bowl games after this loss.

Oklahoma also seemed to be storming back after a massive 28-0 deficit early in the game, but the Sooners definitely wish that their comeback would have come “sooner” in the game.

Even the 9-3 Washington Huskies seemed to be coming back against Ohio State, forcing three three-and-outs in a row, and getting a touchdown from Miles Gaskin in the final minutes of regulation. An onside kick by the Huskies was recovered by Ohio State in the last minute, effectively stunting the Huskies’ comeback, and winning the Rose Bowl.