- College Football’s 2020-21 Bowl Season Winners and Losers
Alabama wasn’t the only SEC team that enjoyed the bowl season, although some other teams from the conference didn’t fare as well
The 2020 season will forever be remembered for being one of the most unique seasons ever played. But the sport managed to maneuver through varying starting points and cross the finish line with Alabama claiming ownership to . While there is no questioning Alabama’s place in college football, some schools can make or break their image with their performance in the bowl season. So who were some of this bowl season’s winners and losers? Let’s start with the most storied winner of them all.
WINNER: Nick Saban
The Alabama head coach won his seventh national championship and his . Saban’s seventh title moved one Crimson Tide icon ahead of another, with Saban breaking a tie with the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant.
WINNER: Big 12
The Big 12 has taken plenty of criticisms from outside the conference in recent years, and the conference failed to place a team in the College Football Playoff. But this was a darn good bowl season for the Big 12. The Big 12 went a clean 5-0 highlighted by Oklahoma’s 35-point blowout of Florida in the Cotton Bowl and Iowa State’s 17-point victory over Pac-12 champion Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
We will give the Pac-12 a slight pass for their winless bowl season (0-2), but the ACC cannot escape so easily. In a year where the ACC sent two teams to the College Football Playoff, the conference went a disappointing 0-6 in the postseason. Clemson and Notre Dame each suffered double-digit losses in the College Football Playoff, and North Carolina ran out of steam against Texas A&M in the Orange Bowl. Ranked Miami and NC State also came up on the losing end against their lower-ranked or unranked opponents.
WINNER: Steve Sarkisian
Sure, Nick Saban gets all of the glory, but Steve Sarkisian is certainly leaving Alabama behind on a hot streak. Sarkisian called a brilliant offensive game against Ohio State in the national championship and designed some plays that took the Buckeyes by complete surprise. Having coached a Heisman Trophy winner and won a national championship, Sarkisian is now off to Texas as hot as ever as he has seemingly re-launched his coaching career.
It was a bizarre year for the head coach of the Gators. After his Florida team lost in a lopsided Cotton Bowl to the Sooners, Mullen was quick to make excuses. It did not play particularly well after ending the season on a three-game losing skid.
WINNER: Hugh Freeze and Liberty
While the world may have been rooting for Coastal Carolina to complete an undefeated season, Hugh Freeze and Liberty embraced the role of spoiler in the Cure Bowl. Liberty ended its season with a 10-1 record after blocking an overtime field goal attempt by Coastal Carolina. Freeze became a trendy name for some coaching vacancies, but he may have to settle for trying to prove last season was not a fluke at Liberty.
Aside from Memphis, it was a tough bowl season for the American Athletic Conference. Cincinnati was left out of the playoff by the selection committee and was unable to hold on to a win against Georgia in the Peach Bowl, but it was the other losses suffered by the AAC that stained the conference’s 1-5 record. UCF, Tulane, and Houston all lost by double digits, and Tulsa lost to a Mississippi State team that won just three games during the regular season.
Get ready for the Aggie hype. Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M were not shy about suggesting they belonged in the College Football Playoff, but they didn’t suffer any letdown in the Orange Bowl. Texas A&M’s big win over North Carolina set the tone for where Fisher is taking Texas A&M. Expect plenty of offseason hype for the Aggies to be fueled by their finish to the season.
You know what stinks more than losing to a three-win Mississippi State team in a bowl game? Getting involved in a postgame fracas with players throwing haymakers and kicking others on the ground. It was an awful look by both programs, regardless of who supposedly started it. It wasn’t quite the Miami Beach Bowl Brawl, but it wasn’t pretty.
Before topping Houston in this year’s New Mexico Bowl (played in Frisco, Texas!), the last time the Rainbow Warriors won a postseason bowl game on the mainland was in the 1992 Holiday Bowl, against Illinois! Congrats Hawaii. You deserved it after such a long wait.
Indiana fans felt disrespected by seeing the Hoosiers left out of the New Years Six, some even taking the Big Ten to task for not helping out their cause for a better bowl game. After such a terrific season in Bloomington, it ended with a dud, a 26-20 loss to an Ole Miss team that didn’t know how to play a lick of defense all season long.
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him , on Twitter , on , and .
(Top photo courtesy of )