NCAAF
December 21, 2020
BY Bryan Zarpentine

We Just Ranked Every Single 2020 CFB Bowl Game

While there were plenty of bumps along the way, we’ve made it to the end of the college football campaign and we’ll be rewarded with another memorable bowl season.

While a few bowls were canceled and a few teams that would have gone to a bowl have respectfully bowed out, there is still no shortage of great matchups to enjoy during the holiday season with 28 games scheduled.

And while you're probably stuck at home in the pandemic, there still probably isn't enough time to watch every single bowl game. But that's why we're here! 

We decided to help you out by ranking the entertainment value of every bowl game so you know what bowls you have to watch. 

28. Lending Tree Bowl: Western Kentucky vs Georgia State

There’s not a ton that’s worth watching here.

Neither team is particularly dynamic offensively and Western Kentucky didn’t even finish with a winning record. Georgia State quarterback Cornelious Brown came on strong late in the year, but he might be the only reason to tune in.

27. New Mexico Bowl: Hawaii vs Houston

The Cougars aren’t bad for a team that went 3-4 this season and probably doesn't deserve to be playing in a bowl game. Hawaii also had a disappointing 4-4 campaign, although they had some interesting battles in the Mountain West.

This won’t be the best bowl game of the season, but in the middle of the afternoon on Christmas Eve, it’ll be better than nothing.

26. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs Georgia Southern

If you like the triple-option, you’ll enjoy Georgia Southern’s version of it. But Louisiana Tech is a work in progress and didn’t exactly have many quality wins this year.

For what it’s worth, both teams finished with a winning record, so this isn’t going to be the worst bowl game of the season.

25. Gasparilla Bowl: South Carolina vs UAB

The Blazers went over a month without playing a game before winning their season finale and the Conference USA Championship Game. Their reward is playing a South Carolina team that was 2-8 and fired its coach. Only in 2020.

24. Myrtle Beach Bowl: North Texas vs Appalachian State

North Texas earned a bowl bid despite going just 4-5 and their most impressive win coming against a 3-6 Middle Tennessee team. However, Appalachian State is still a great team that’s worth watching despite being just 8-3.

But don’t be surprised if the Mountaineers run all over the Mean Green, as the early betting spread is nearly 20 points in favor of App State.

23. Gator Bowl: NC State vs Kentucky

The Wildcats didn’t do much to earn a bowl bid with a 4-6 campaign. Also, Kentucky’s offense isn’t exactly dynamic, so we have some questions about how watchable this game will be.

22. Arizona Bowl: Ball State vs San Jose State

Okay, so these aren’t name-brand programs but both are conference champions.

Between a great defense and quarterback Nick Starkel, San Jose State is worth checking out if you didn’t catch the Spartans beating Boise State in the Mountain West Championship Game.

21. First Responder Bowl: UTSA vs Louisiana

Don’t sleep on this matchup. UTSA was close to being in the Conference USA Championship Game. Plus, the Roadrunners is one of the best nicknames in the country.

To be fair, the same can be said of the Ragin’ Cajuns, who are a veteran team that has a great rushing attack. This is one of those under-the-radar bowls that you should go out of your way to watch.

20. Montgomery Bowl: Memphis vs Florida Atlantic

A year ago, this would have been one of the highlights of the pre-New Year’s bowls. That being said, Brady White and the Memphis offense are still worth checking out, especially as they go up against a Florida Atlantic defense that gave up just 16.5 points per game this season.

The Memphis offense vs the FAU defense should be an intriguing matchup.

19. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Tulane vs Nevada

Nevada fell a little short of reaching the Mountain West Championship Game, but the Wolf Pack passing attack is worth watching. Carson Strong threw for over 2,500 yards in just eight games. Plus, the Green Wave are actually favored in this game after winning four of five to end the regular season, so this should be a good game.

18. Liberty Bowl: West Virginia vs Tennessee

Only in 2020 would a team that had a six-game losing streak during the season go to a bowl game. Tennessee probably shouldn’t be playing in a bowl, although this should be an evenly-matched game against the Mountaineers.

17. Music City Bowl: Iowa vs Missouri

This isn’t the sexiest bowl matchup, although both teams came on strong late in the season. Plus, those SEC-Big Ten meetings are usually compelling.

16. Armed Forces Bowl: Tulsa vs Mississippi State

Mike Leach went 2-7 in his first season at Mississippi State. However, the Bulldogs are going to a bowl game and their air-raid offense does provide plenty of entertainment value, especially against a strong Tulsa defense that nearly won the AAC title.

15. Camellia Bowl: Marshall vs Buffalo

It’s the rare Christmas Day bowl game!

Despite losing in the MAC title game, we’re fascinated to see Buffalo’s potent rushing attack face a stout Marshall defense. Also, Marshall quarterback Grant Wells could be something special if he can get over the “yips” he had late in the season.

14. Boca Raton Bowl: Central Florida vs BYU

Outside of the major bowls, this game is one of the can’t-miss bowls. BYU quarterback Zach Wilson is probably going to be a first-round pick after the Cougars crushed everyone on their schedule outside of Coastal Carolina.

Of course, Dillon Gabriel and the Knights can also light up the scoreboard in what could be a shootout and arguably BYU’s most challenging game of the season.

13. Cure Bowl: Liberty vs Coastal Carolina

It’s a shame that Coastal Carolina didn’t end up in a better bowl game after the season they had. In fact, the same could be said of Liberty.

Nevertheless, these two teams had to cancel the game they were originally scheduled to play, so the Flames and the Chanticleers meeting up in a bowl game is fitting and we’re excited to see two of the best mid-majors in the country.

12. Citrus Bowl: Auburn vs Northwestern

This game is a little less appealing with Gus Malzahn being fired and the Tigers playing with an interim coach. However, Northwestern playing in the Citrus Bowl is a big deal and it’ll be interesting to see if Pat Fitzgerald’s defense can hold up against SEC athleticism.

11. Texas Bowl: TCU vs Arkansas

College football historians should appreciate the old-school Southwest Conference matchup, especially in the Texas Bowl. Also, Arkansas was much-improved this season and a bad SEC team should be a formidable opponent for a mediocre Big 12 team.

10. Duke’s Mayo Bowl: Wake Forest vs Wisconsin

If you enjoy run-heavy teams, this is the game for you. Wisconsin’s track record speaks for itself while the Demon Deacons have a unique long-mesh type of run offense.

To be fair, the Badgers were just 2-3 this season, although they’re a little better than that record suggests, especially if quarterback Graham Mertz can find his rhythm.

9. Alamo Bowl: Texas vs Colorado

It was hard to be sold on Colorado despite going 4-1, so we’re curious to see how they play against Sam Ehlinger and Texas. Plus, any excuse to watch Ehlinger put the Longhorns on his back one last time.

8. Rose Bowl: Notre Dame vs Alabama

While technically the Rose Bowl, this game will be played at AT&T Stadium.

More importantly, it will be the national semi-final. That means you have to watch it, just in case the Fighting Irish make things interesting with Alabama being favored by nearly three touchdowns.

7. Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs Iowa State

The Cyclones didn’t win the Big 12, but going to the Fiesta Bowl is still an amazing accomplishment for Matt Campbell’s team. Let’s just say that Brock Purdy is intriguing as a quarterback while Breece Hall was the best running back in the Big 12.

Of course, the Ducks can look awfully good when they’re at their best, too, making this a vastly underrated matchup.

6. Cheez-It Bowl: Oklahoma State vs Miami

Get ready to see some offense in this one, especially after the way Miami’s defense played in the season finale.

D’Eriq King didn’t necessarily transfer to Miami so he could play in the Cheez-It Bowl, but he’s a special player and we’re envisioning a fascinating shootout between him and Spencer Sanders.

5. Outback Bowl: Ole Miss vs Indiana

Even with Michael Penix Jr. getting hurt late in the season, the Hoosiers are legitimately good. Big Ten teams typically struggle in the Outback Bowl, but Indiana will like its chances against an Ole Miss team with a dreadful defensive record in 2020.

Of course, Lane Kiffin’s team can score the ball, so this could be a wild one.

4. Cotton Bowl Classic: Oklahoma vs Florida

Kyle Trask might be the Heisman winner while Spencer Rattler will start the 2021 season on the Heisman shortlist.

There will be a lot of offensive fireworks in this game between two major programs, so it’s high on the must-see list.

3. Peach Bowl: Cincinnati vs Georgia

The Bearcats didn’t make the College Football Playoff, but they’ll get their shot against a legitimate top-10 team.

This will be a great litmus test for Desmond Ridder because the Georgia defense is for real. We’ll find out how Luke Fickell’s team stacks up against a power-conference heavyweight.

2. Orange Bowl: Texas A&M vs North Carolina

If you haven’t seen North Carolina’s offense this year, you have to watch this game.

The Tar Heels had two 1,000-yard rushers this season on top of arguably the best quarterback prospect in the 2022 NFL Draft in Sam Howell.

On the other side, the Aggies will be bitter and looking to make a statement after being left out of the CFP.

1. Sugar Bowl: Ohio State vs Clemson

Outside of the National Championship Game, this is the best bowl game of the season.

Clemson was awfully impressive in the ACC title game, but the Buckeyes feel like they should have beat the Tigers last year, so they’ll be extra motivated.

The Tigers are surely the better team, but Justin Fields has a chance to elevate Ohio State’s level and pull off the upset.

Photo: Getty Images