We’ve reached the end of bowl season, which means we’ve also reached the end of my “5 biggest winners” column.
Thanks for reading if you’ve been following throughout the season. Today we will recap bowl season and the 5 biggest winners of the year. As usual, I give more credit to teams who win close games or pull off upsets than Alabama breaking another record or something, so keep that in mind if your favorite team won by 21 as a heavy favorite and doesn’t show up here.
Let’s start with bowl season:
I really didn’t want to put the Bulldogs here because I was pulling for Tulsa the whole way, but I can’t let personal bias creep in here. Mike Leach’s Air Raid finally gave fans some hope after ending the season with two straight wins over quality teams, with one of them being a 51-point performance against Mizzou. Those cowbells will be clanging loud and proud next year with renewed optimism despite a 4-7 2020 campaign.
What a thriller in the Peach Bowl, as Georgia squeaked by Cincinnati to grab a three point victory. That’s a fantastic win for the Dawgs, who despite losing to Alabama and Florida should be pleased with their 8-2 season. Cincinnati also showed that they were the real deal, only losing by a leg and a shoe that put it through.
3. West Virginia
The comeback! The missed field goal! West Virginia wins! Let me tell you just once that it is very, very hard to beat a 9-2 triple option team, even if they haven’t played anyone good. The Mountaineers are trending in the right direction, finishing 6-4 in a season without “gimme games”.
2. Ohio State
This game gets in here because of how absolutely massive an upset it was, a game where the Buckeyes clearly demonstrated dominance over Clemson when no one expected it. Last year against the Tigers, Ohio State got called for targeting, couldn’t punch it in inside the red zone, and turned it over. This year, Clemson got called for targeting, Ohio State punched it in every time they reached the end zone, and Clemson turned it over. They fixed every mistake from last year, and it payed off tremendously. Buckeye fans have waited a long time to get back to the championship game. I hope they enjoy it regardless of the outcome.
Congratulations, Liberty! You not only won your bowl, but you won the most exciting bowl of 2020-2021! After goofing up a chance to win the game in regulation, you blocked a field goal in OT to win a back-and-forth bizarre football game that had it all: fumbles, a FG block, comebacks, 2-pt conversions, and a whole lot more. That’s a 10-1 season to remember, especially the Virginia Tech ending back in November.
5 BIGGEST WINNERS OF 2020
AND NOW IT’S THE MOMENT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR: THE 5 BIGGEST WINNERS OF 2020!!! Not only did this season give us games, but it gave us great games with exciting storylines and finishes that fans of those teams or of the sport in general will remember for a long time. Here they are: the five big ones!
5. Will Play Anyone Anywhere: Coastal Carolina beats BYU 22-17
This one was one of the rare instances this year when covid gave us a good thing. Scheduling on the fly, BYU found itself on the coast of Carolina against some pumped Chanticleers in a battle of undefeateds. They also found themselves one yard short of a win, giving the birds their biggest win in program history. What a game, what a win, and what a season for Coastal Carolina!
4. Redemption: Ohio State beats Clemson 49-28
As said before, this was just a massive upset that no one saw coming on the scoreboard. Last year against the Tigers, Ohio State got called for targeting, couldn’t punch it in inside the red zone, and turned it over. This year, Clemson got called for targeting, Ohio State punched it in every time they reached the end zone, and Clemson turned it over. They fixed every mistake from last year, and it payed off tremendously. Buckeye fans have waited a long time to get back to the championship game. I hope they enjoy it regardless of the outcome, because they can now forget the 2019 Fiesta Bowl for good.
3. The Stretch for 2: Indiana beats Penn State in OT, 36-35
Oh my goodness. Just, wow. That game left me speechless. First, let me get this out of the way. I’ve seen a lot of football collapses and blown leads (especially being a Kentucky Wildcats fan), but Penn State blew the biggest blowing of blewitness I can remember in a long while. That was the collapse of all collapses, and coach James Franklin must’ve felt like he was in a horror movie or nightmare when it was over. The truth is, he was, because he stumbled in there in the first place.
Now that that’s out of the way, let me get to my main point: Indiana played some of the best football of anybody in the entire 2020 season so far, and Tom Allen’s coaching masterpiece gave them their biggest win in decades. Hoosier fans were handed this one by Penn State, but they did what few underdogs have ever done: took it and kept it.
Penn State made a mistake, they took advantage, State recovered, made another mistake, they took advantage, until they won by one point and one inch. I know Indiana fans have been waiting for this one for a long time. I said back in “5 biggest winner from Week 8” that if I did a “5 biggest winners from the 2020 season” that they’d probably be here. Welp, here they are.
2. Sooner or Later: Oklahoma beats Texas in 4OT, 53-45
After losing two in a row and skydiving out of the CFP plane, the Sooners overcame a quarterback injury, messed-up clock, and 4 amazing overtimes of silliness to defeat their archrival Longhorns in a Red River Showdown classic. Then they won out from there, took the Big 12, and romped Florida in the New Year’s Six. What a turnaround, and it all started here.
1. Down With #1: Notre Dame beats Clemson in 2OT, 47-40
Who else? Forget that Ohio State and Alabama just blew these teams away. The hyped underdog almost never wins these games against #1. Welp, this time they did, and they did it in the best way to end a college football game: double-overtime. From the moment Notre Dame joined the ACC for the 2020 season, one thought was on everyone’s mind: “When will they play Clemson, and what will happen when they do?” For years football fans have longed for a worthy ACC challenger to face the Clemson dragon every since the downfall of Florida State. I think this is what they had in mind, and what a game it was! Two overtimes, boatloads of points, big touchdown passes, and a very controversial pandemic court-storming. One thing we’ll never know, though: what would have happened if Clemson had Trevor Lawrence? The ACC Championship can’t give the answer.
A win over Clemson and a CFP berth. Not a bad season for Notre Dame. Perhaps the best season of any team this year.