It feels like only yesterday we were all examining meaningless pre-season polls and arguing over whether or not our favorite teams were considered overrated or underrated this year. We’ve had four amazing months of College Football with Georgia being crowned the National Champion for the second straight year. The past month has been filled with amazing matchups that displays the special season that is College Football. These are the Top 10 Bowl Games from 2022!
10. The Duke’s Mayo Bowl- Maryland 16, NC St. 12
The first game on the list was a featured two teams that seem to be stuck in the middle of their conference. NC St. will find out about life after Devin Leary, while Maryland will still have to deal with Michigan, Ohio St. and Penn St. in the east side of the Big 10.
Both teams came in the Mayo Bowl with similar game plans. They wanted to throw the ball all over the field. They combined for 86 pass attempts, but they only managed to complete 42 of them. NC State had almost zero offense, but their defense still showed why they gave most of the ACC fits all season long with their 4 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss. In the end, it was the only offensive touchdown that won the game for Terrapins. And while this wasn’t the best game on the field, it makes our Top 10 for the four pounds of mayo being poured on a coach.
It will be fascinating to see where both of these teams wind up at the end of the 2023 season.
9. The Rose Bowl- Penn St 35, Utah 21
It’s strange to say that this was the very last traditional Rose Bowl game featuring a matchup between the Big 10 and Pac 12. Both teams came in riding high as Utah was again the Pac-12 champion keeping USC out of the playoff and Penn St. having only two losses both to College Football Playoff Teams.
This game served as an announcement for the Nittany Lions for 2023. Nicholas Singleton is going to be a nightmare for Big 10 defenders and Kaytron Allen will be his perfect compliment. The two of them rushed for 157 yards and 3 touchdowns on a very good Utah run defense. Sean Clifford capped off his doctoral season playing effective football and making the right play when it mattered most. And while Utah lost this game in convincing fashion, there is a lot to like about the Utes future, especially with Cameron Rising returning.
The next question for Penn St. to answer is can the young talented group get past Ohio St. and Michigan? That’s the biggest test they have to face in 2023. As for the Utes, can they avoid the losses to finally position themselves for a College Football Playoff birth?
8. The Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl- Pitt 37, UCLA 35
Pittsburgh and UCLA both came into the season looking to build on their successful 2021 campaigns. The difference was the Pitts lost some of their key contributors, while UCLA returned their dynamic rushing attack.
Pitt and UCLA came into the Sun Bowl slightly shorthanded as they had key players opt out and enter the transfer portal. While both teams were missing their leading rushers from the regular season, the “next man up” mindset won out. Rodney Hammond Jr. had a big 93 yards for the Panthers, while freshman running back TJ Harden averaged 10 yards a carry for the Bruins. This back and forth contest had 6 total turnovers and in the end it was a late field goal that sent the Pittsburgh Panthers riding high into the off-season.
Both these teams will finish 2022 at 9-4. Don’t be shocked if each of them hits the transfer portal hard and wind up ranked in the preseason top 25 in 2023.
7. The Cheez-It Bowl- Florida St. 35, Oklahoma 32
Both of these teams started in a much different place at the start of the season. Oklahoma was filled with the public drama of Lincoln Riley and Florida State on the edge of going through a coaching change. It’s crazy the difference between these programs a mere four months later.
Jordan Travis had a fantastic season and could really own next season in the ACC. While Dillon Gabriel battled injuries all season and never got back to his UCF form. Jordan Travis accounted for over 450 total yards of offense connecting with Johnny Wilson for over 200 of those yards. And while FSU tried to air it out all over the field in Orlando, it was the impressive ground attack that kept the Sooners in the ball game. Barnes and Sawchuk each topped over 100 yards for OU as the Sooners rushed 60 times in this game. In the end, the Sooners didn’t have an answer for Jared Verse. His 1.5 sacks and 3 tackles for a loss were huge for the Seminole defense to get FSU to 10 wins.
Florida St. enters the off-season flying high while there are questions galore for Oklahoma. It’s too early to tell with Brett Venables. Hopefully year two in Norman will be better for him and he can recover like Mike Norvell has in Tallahassee.
6. The Gator Bowl- Notre Dame 45, South Carolina 38
During the Irrational Confidence preview of this matchup, we talked about how both Notre Dame and South Carolina had similar arcs of their season. Both teams started off the season slow but pulled off big upsets late in the season to provide intrigue going into the Gator Bowl.
Spencer Rattler started to remind the country why he was considered one of the top quarterbacks in 2021 at Oklahoma. His connections with his receivers and an aggressive defense kept South Carolina in the game with their three interceptions. Not to be outdone, but Tyler Buchner returned in spectacular fashion. His return and the Notre Dame ground attack wore down South Carolina. JD Bertrand’s leadership on defense was key throughout the game to keep the Fighting Irish within striking distance. The game winning touchdown was huge to allow Marcus Freeman to finish the season with 9 wins.
2023 will be interesting for both South Carolina and Notre Dame. Will either program be able to make noise nationally and build on their late season success, or will it be another four or five loss season?
5. The Holiday Bowl- Oregon 28, UNC 27
This matchup was supposed to be an offensive showcase of possibly the two front runner candidates for the 2023 Heisman. And while Bo Nix and Drake Maye played admirably, it wasn’t the insane video game offensive game predicted.
Bucky Irving’s 149 yards rushing, and 2 touchdowns was the story for the Ducks to get them to a 10 win season. UNC had a lead, but Bo Nix led a drive down field to take the lead. Drake Maye needed a little more time to finish off a late 4th quarter drive for the Tar Heels, but his Hail Mary attempt fell short as time expired.
This game was definitely a great building experience for both programs as they head into 2023 with high expectations. Oregon will look to get over the PAC-12 mountain, while the ACC is wide open for UNC next year.
4.The Liberty Bowl- Arkansas 55, Kansas 53
If you were like many and turned this game off at halftime with Arkansas leading 31-13, no one will really blame you. The first half was a typical football game between a team from the SEC and an overachiever from the Big 12.
Jalon Daniels led the Jayhawks on a wild comeback that forced the Razorbacks into three overtime periods. In the end, he had accounted for 6 total touchdowns with over 500 yards passing. But at the end of the day, Kansas could do nothing to stop the Hogs rushing attack. Star QB KJ Jefferson accounted for 4 touchdowns total and Arkansas had almost 400 yards rushing on the afternoon. In the end, Arkansas’ defense stopped the 2-point try by Kansas to seal the victory.
Leaving this game, people will talk about how Kansas did not give up and how the favorite Arkansas did just enough to survive the upset. It will be interesting to see how both of these programs follow up in 2023. Speaking of upsets…
3. The Cotton Bowl- Tulane 46, USC 45
Tulane’s magical season continued into bowl season. Early on, Caleb Williams showed the world why he was the Heisman Trophy winner and how electric the USC offense can be, even without Jordan Addison. But throughout the game, the Green Wave would just not quit.
Tyjae Spears capped off one of the best performances in all of bowl season with 205 yards and 4 touchdowns. He finishes the season with 21 total touchdowns and has now eclipsed 120 yards in every game since October 15th. Michael Pratt completed only 8 passes but delivered a last second touchdown when it mattered the most. USC showed their video game numbers on offense, but questions remain on defense going into 2023.
The Cotton Bowl is one of the great upsets in college football that will show how the group of 5 programs are able to compete with Power 5 schools. Tulane was one of the feel good stories of the year and USC will be the story of the team that just could not finish the job on multiple occasions in 2022.
2.The Fiesta Bowl (College Football Playoff)- TCU 51, Michigan 45
Going into the Fiesta Bowl, TCU was the underdog of the entire college football season. Going from unranked to the College Football playoff was truly remarkable for Sunny Dykes’ Horn Frogs. Midnight was supposed to ring out for this Cinderella as many people didn’t see TCU getting past Michigan. Just like all season long, TCU proved the doubters wrong and why Fort Worth is Funky.
TCU did exactly what they needed to do to win this football game. Get a lead early and force Michigan to play catchup. They just couldn’t let Michigan be in front and bleed out the clock. Max Duggan threw for 2 touchdowns and 225 yards, but the story has to be Emari Demercado and his 150 yards on 17 carries subbing in for Kendre Miller who was banged up. Michigan did everything it could to slow down Quentin Johnston, but he still showed why he’s the top receiver in the 2023 draft class with 6 catches and 163 yards.
Michigan tried for a fiery comeback and made it a ball game. But just like they have done all year, the Horn Frogs had an answer for each Michigan score. If it wasn’t for our number 1 game, this game would be talked about as one of the greatest playoff games in history.
1. The Peach Bowl (College Football Playoff)- Georgia 42, Ohio State 41.
Earlier in the day, TCU and Michigan put on an absolute classic in the Fiesta Bowl. And sometimes nothing is better than Cinderella pulling off the upset. But the teams in Atlanta decided to show the world why Georgia and Ohio State are considered two of the best football programs in the country.
Coming into this game, the entire country was picking Georgia to waltz through Atlanta and the Buckeyes on their way to becoming back-to-back National Champions. A month-long talk of how the Buckeyes backed into the playoff and would be boat raced by UGA, clearly motivated the Buckeyes. CJ Stroud and Stetson Bennet put on an absolute clinic between the two of them. Both of them completing 23-34 pass attempts and having a combined 746 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Buckeyes seemed to be on their way to pulling off the upset until UGA stormed back erasing a 14-point Ohio State lead. The Buckeyes still had a chance to win it at the end of regulation with a 50-yard field goal that missed sending the Bulldogs to LA.
This was truly a game for the ages. Proving that Georgia is now the king of college football and that Ohio State is one few elite programs in College Football. This will be a Peach Bowl that is talked about for a long, long time.