Dec 31, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Clemson Tigers tight end Brandon Ford (80) walks off the field with the Chick-fil-A Bowl trophy after defeating the LSU Tigers during the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Clemson won 25-24. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

NCAA Football: Ranking The Bowl Games So Far


As the countdown to the big showdown in Miami continues, we’ve been through 29 bowl games thus far. There have been some instant classics that have been thrillers to the end, and there have been games that have been blowouts and flops. What bowls had you on the edge of your seat? Which ones made good sleeping TV after a large holiday meal?

We’re ranking the bowls in four categories and are placing them in chronological order from earliest to latest. Check back the day after bowl games for updates to the list.

(UPDATED: 1/3/13, 6:20 am)

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New Mexico Bowl – Arizona 49, Nevada 48

For the postseason opener, this game was the best game in the very short history of the New Mexico Bowl and possibly a top ten game overall this year. Arizona was down 13 with 1:48 to go 4th Quarter when Wildcats QB Matt Scott led the offense to 2 straight touchdowns to steal the game away from the Wolfpack.

Las Vegas Bowl – Boise State 28, Washington 26

Washington was putting Boise on the ropes by coming out with a very heavy offense and it took an effort by first-year starter Joe Southwick to grab a score with a minute to go to secure the victory for the big Orange and Blue.

Little Caesar’s Bowl – Western Kentucky 21, Central Michigan 24

This was WKU’s first bowl ever, but the Hilltoppers cracked at the exact wrong moment, opting to go for it on fourth down when they could have attempted a field goal to potentially send it to overtime. The Hilltoppers failed, giving the Chippewas the win.

Belk Bowl – Cincinnati 48, Duke 34

In a game full of crazy antics, from a 79-yard punt from Duke to committing substitution penalties to icing the kicker, the game ended when Duke only played 59 minutes, giving up an 83-yard touchdown pass and a 55-yard interception return to seal the win.

Texas Bowl – Texas Tech 34, Minnesota 31

Texas Tech survived a B1G embarrassment by scoring a touchdown with about 1:10 left on the clock to tie it up, and ended the game on a 28-yarder with time running out to win it in their home state.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – Michigan State 17, TCU 16

In a game dominated by TCU in the first half, it was thrilling to see Michigan State come back from being shut out in the first half to beat the Horned Frogs.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl – Clemson 25, LSU 24

A game where Sammy Watkins was hurt, an unknown cramping disease affected the LSU players, fights broke out on two occasions and a a game winning field goal? Yes, please.

Outback Bowl – South Carolina 33, Michigan 28

A thriller with a game-winning touchdown by the Gamecocks with 3:30 left made you feel good about beating Denard Robinson and Michigan. Plus, fans were eager as to which appetizer they will get for free at Outback the next day, making for extremely compelling TV.

Sugar Bowl – Florida 23 Louisville 33

It was the biggest upset statistically speaking in BCS history as the Louisville Cardinals dominated one of the SEC’s best in Florida for a full 60 minute game and made for surprisingly a better bowl game than most expected coming in.

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SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl – BYU 23, SDSU 6

This game was thrilling in the fourth quarter, where BYU scored three touchdowns in a game where nothing other than field goals were scored in the first and second quarter, and nobody scored in the third.

New Orleans Bowl – LA-Lafayette 43, East Carolina 34

Zero red zone defense in this game, but the game as more thrilling than it ought to have been, with East Carolina dragging its feet and stats worse than Auburn heading into this game.

Military Bowl – San Jose State 29, Bowling Green 20

This game was a comeback story for the Spartans of San Jose State, who finished the season with 11 wins after having 11 losses last season. The game was won on a touchdown pass from SJSU with about 2:30 to go.

Russell Athletic Bowl – Virginia Tech 13, Rutgers 10 OT

The game did go into overtime and was a game to watch, but in regulation, this game was mired by poor offense and turnovers.

Pinstripe Bowl – Syracuse 38, West Virginia 14

Who doesn’t like snow bowls? Main highlight of the game was West Virginia attempted to ice the kicker by substituting too many players.

Alamo Bowl – Texas 31, Oregon State 27

Texas needed the fourth quarter to rally, down ten to the Beavers. David Ash proved why he’s the starter in Austin.

Music City Bowl – Vanderbilt 38, NC State 24

It was good to see Vanderbilt play in their second straight bowl game and win it, capping their best season since 1915 with 9 wins in Nashville.

Sun Bowl – Georgia Tech 21, USC 7

It was attractive enough to see if this USC team could win without Barkley, but they failed and officially became the first team to be a preseason No. 1 team and have 6 losses.

Gator Bowl – Mississippi State 20, Northwestern 34

It was the only Big 10 win of the day, but it was a big one as Northwestern beat up on the Bulldogs to claim it’s first bowl win since 1949 where they won the Rose Bowl.

Capital One Bowl – Georgia 45, Nebraska 31

A shootout until mid-third quarter, Georgia made up for it’s heartbreaker in the SEC Championship and it’s dissapointing bowl loss last year by taking down the Big 10 Runner-ups in Orlando.

Rose Bowl – Wisconsin 14, Stanford 20

This game was much closer than people once thought and brought some interesting things to the table. Had Wisconsin won this game, it would have likely crossed our Best of the Best category.

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St. Petersberg Bowl – UCF 38, Ball State 17

Ball State simply was outmatched in this game, and this game was so close to where UCF’s campus was, it would have been a very tall task for Ball State to stay competitive in the game.

Hawaii Bowl – SMU 43, Fresno State 10

Everybody and their mother had Fresno State in this game and they blew it. It was fun to see SMU just humiliate the heck out of Fresno, but you got the feeling of no satisfaction with this game as the Bulldogs just got rolled over.

Holiday Bowl – Baylor 49, UCLA 26

There wasn’t really a point in this bowl where there was tension at all, as Baylor just played like Baylor and beat the living daylights out of UCLA in their home state.

Liberty Bowl – Iowa State 17, Tulsa 31

This game was on during the Sun Bowl, which was by far a much more interesting game than the Liberty Bowl. Tulsa did get revenge for the opening season loss to Iowa State earlier this year.

Heart of Dallas Bowl – Purdue 14, Oklahoma State 58

Nobody outside of the Oklahoma and Indiana TV markets really paid attention to this game, partially for it being on during three SEC/Big 10 games and for the six touchdowns and one field goal Oklahoma State scored before the Boilermakers ever touched the endzone.

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Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Utah State 41, Toledo 15

What do you get when you have a blue field, two teams with dark blue or purple hues for uniforms and two teams that played in thrillers last year that failed to meet expectations for this bowl? That’s the Potato Bowl for you.

Independence Bowl – Ohio 45, LA-Monroe 14

Another team getting blown out in their home state. This game was extremely disappointing considering the success that LA-Monroe had this season.

Armed Forces Bowl – Rice 33, Air Force 14

Rice was the only team really doing anything in this game and made for a one-sided affair that had Rice score five times in the second half with the Falcons only able to score in the second quarter.

Fight Hunger Bowl – Arizona 62, Navy 28

In the biggest blowout of the year so far, Arizona never punted and had over 650 yards in the entire game before finally settling down in the fourth quarter.

Orange Bowl – Florida State 31, NIU 10

This game was determined from the start. Yes, it was close for a while and that made it slightly interesting, but these teams were simply not prepared for each other, making for a very sloppy game and a blowout. On the plus side, MVP Lonnie Pryor was a star that night and that stops this game from making a category in and of itself.

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