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Ranking the top 5 college football bowl games of 2020-21

Profile Picture: Jason Ence

December 22nd, 2020

The 2020-21 college football bowl schedule isn't as robust as years past due to a bevy of cancellations, but there are still 28 games on tap, and each of them feels like a gift during such a wild and unpredictable season.

We've examined the slate closely, and have ranked the top 5 college football bowl games of 2020-21.

5. Outback Bowl: #11 Indiana vs. Ole Miss

Sat, January 2 2021, 5:30 PM

Indiana Hoosiers

Moneyline

-215

Spread

-6.5

Total

O 66.5

Ole Miss Rebels

Moneyline

+170

Spread

+6.5

Total

U 66.5

Tom Allen’s name is being floated around for multiple potential big jobs should they come open in the next year or so, but Indiana’s head coach will be going backwards in his coaching resume as he faces Ole Miss on Jan. 2. Allen coached linebackers and special teams in Oxford from 2012-to-2014 as part of Hugh Freeze’s staff, where he helped make their defense one of the best pass-rushing units in the nation. At Indiana, he has limited teams this season to under 20 points per game.

Now, he and the pass-happy Hoosier offense will face off with the Lane Train and their explosive passing attack. Lane Kiffin’s first year with Ole Miss has seen scoreboards lighting up, both for and against his team. The Ole Miss defense has allowed more than 40 points per contest, but the Rebels offense has scored at least 31 points in all but one game this year, and they have scored 48 or more in three of their last four games. This will be a matchup of two great minds, and should be entertaining, to say the least.

4. Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. #12 Coastal Carolina

Sun, December 27 2020, 12:30 AM

Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

Moneyline

-295

Spread

-6.5

Total

O 59.5

Liberty Flames

Moneyline

+205

Spread

+6.5

Total

U 59.5

This matchup was supposed to happen a few weeks back, but thankfully for college football fans everywhere that did not happen. Its cancellation led to one of the finishes of the year, as the Chanticleers instead faced BYU and won on a last-gasp tackle at the one inch line. Now, unbeaten Coastal Carolina will get its shot at a Liberty team that is 9-1 on the season and would like to ruin an unbeaten campaign.

Both teams rank in the top 20 in scoring offense, each averaging north of 37 points per game, so there should be offense aplenty in this meeting. Jamey Chadwell and Hugh Freeze are two of the best offensive play-callers in college football, while QBs Malik Willis and Grayson McCall have combined to throw 43 touchdowns to just six interceptions.

Coastal Carolina will hope to not only win, but send a message to the selection committee that their 12th-place ranking was much too low.

3. Orange Bowl: #5 Texas A&M vs. #13 North Carolina

Sun, January 3 2021, 1:00 AM

North Carolina Tar Heels

Moneyline

+180

Spread

+6.5

Total

O 68.5

Texas A&M Aggies

Moneyline

-225

Spread

-6.5

Total

U 68.5

Many feel that the Aggies should be playing in the College Football Playoff, myself included. This will be their chance to make a statement, if they choose to do so. Texas A&M scores nearly 32 points per game, and excluding the 52 points allowed to Alabama, they are conceding just 17 points per contest.

Jimbo Fisher is having his best season in College Station, and will want to finish 9-1 and possibly in the top four of the final AP poll. The question remains, will they be motivated or will their disappointment in missing the playoffs cause them to come out flat?

On the other side, North Carolina has been rejuvenated under the leadership of Mack Brown. His high-powered offense averages 43 points per game and is quite balanced, and the Aggies struggled with similar offensive styles from Alabama and Florida.

The Tar Heels are coming off a game where their two-headed monster at RB combined for nearly 550 yards on the ground, and found the end zone five times. This should be a very engrossing matchup with lots of points scored.

2. Cotton Bowl: #7 Florida vs. #6 Oklahoma

Thu, December 31 2020, 1:00 AM

Oklahoma Sooners

Moneyline

+132

Spread

+3.5

Total

O 71.5

Florida Gators

Moneyline

-159

Spread

-3.5

Total

U 71.5

The Gators nearly upended the college football landscape, as they came close to knocking off Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. They cut the game to a six-point contest with two minutes left, but failed to recover the onside kick. Even so, Kyle Trask threw for 408 yards and three touchdowns, bolstering his Heisman campaign as he threw 43 touchdowns on the season. However, the loss of Kyle Pitts (who opted out of the bowl game) is a huge blow to their offense, as they struggled a bit at times without him this season.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler overcame some early-season struggles to put together a solid campaign, with the freshman leading his team to a Big 12 conference championship win over Iowa State. He had a rough game with three interceptions against the Cyclones, but threw for 322 yards to almost perfectly hit his per-game average.

These two teams combine to average nearly 1,000 yards per game, but Oklahoma’s defense has been better against the run. Either way, this game should provide plenty of offense and exciting quarterback play.

1. Sugar Bowl: #2 Clemson vs. #3 Ohio State

Speaking of quarterback play, no game features more of it than this matchup. QBs Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields lead their respective teams into the playoffs, knowing they may well be the first two players taken in the 2021 NFL Draft in the spring.

Fans everywhere will be hoping for a repeat of their previous matchup, a thrilling 29-23 victory by Clemson where the two combined for 699 yards of total offense. Trevor Lawrence led a four-play, 94 yard drive in the final minutes of the game to send Ohio State home.

Fields and Ohio State struggled in the first half of the Big Ten title game, before realizing they didn’t need to pass the ball and simply allowed Trey Sermon to run wild. His 331 rushing yards set a new school record, as the Buckeyes scored 16 unanswered in the second half to win.

Ohio State will need better play from Fields to beat a Clemson team holding opponents to less than 100 yards rushing per game. After their rout over Notre Dame in the ACC Championship, many will be interested to see if Ohio State deserves their spot in the playoff and can get revenge on Clemson for ending their season two years in a row.


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