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Ranking all 35 Bowl Games for Entertainment Value

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Well the bowl season is done and there is no college football for eight months now.  There was a whirlwind of 35 bowls played in 23 days which put some fans into football overload.  We're here to help you wade through the chaos and determine which games were actually entertaining this year.  A lot of attention is given to the BCS games but does the hype really match the big names?

Here is last years edition if want to check it out.  In 2009 the lesser known bowls provided most of the action.  What about 2010?  Let's start the rankings!

CELLAR DWELLERS - #35-30.  The duds that were either so one sided or boring to keep tuned in.

#35. Capital One Bowl - Alabama defeats Michigan State 49-7.

Sparty could claim they deserved to be in a BCS game instead of Wisconsin or Ohio State.  That argument went out the window with four minute remaining in the second half and down 28-0.  Bama fans enjoyed the rout but for the average fan this one was brutal to watch.

#34 New Orleans Bowl - Troy crushes Ohio 48-21.

Playing in a 9/10 empty Super Dome created an environment that produced this dud of a game.  The real men of Troy led 38-7 at halftime and their third stringers allowed a couple late scores to make the Bobcats feel better. 

#33 Independence Bowl - Triple option Air Forces outmaneuvers triple option Georgia Tech 14-7.

The Yellow Jackets didn't score in the final 46 minutes of the game and also had four turnovers.  This game was like Army-Navy except without the excitement.  I'm a MWC fan but this one  was hard to watch. One redeeming factor: the teams tried to a convert a combined eight fourth downs.

#32 Liberty Bowl - UCF beats Georgia 10-6 on New Years Eve.

This was a field goal fest until UCF finally scored a touchdown with 9 minutes remaining in the game.  The Bulldogs had a shot to win this game at the last second but that didn't make the first 59 minutes worth watching this one.

#31 Sun Bowl - Notre Dame dominates Miami 33-17 in snowy El Paso.

This was deemed to be an exciting match up with the Irish and Canes renewing their rivalry.  Unfortunately Miami didn't bring their cold weather gear or defense to El Paso.  Most entertaining aspect of the game was hearing that the field was being cleared of snow using tables and folding chairs. 

#30 Champs Sports Bowl - Big East woes start as NC State downs West Virginia 23-7.

This game was 10-7 at halftime but it still wasn't very fun to watch.  The Wolfpack nickel and dimed their way to a win.  The tough part was watching how bad West Virginia played amidst their coaching turmoil.  The Mountaineers at least busted out their Pro Combat uni's which provided some eye candy. 

The countdown continues after the jump!

THE THAW BEGINS - #29-20. Signs of life for college football fans.

#29 New Mexico Bowl - BYU crushes UTEP 52-24 to kick off the bowl season.

The New Mexico is usually pretty entertaining buy the battle of 6-6 teams was not even at all.  The Cougars rolled up quickly on the Miners and scored at least 14 points in the first three quarters.  UTEP QB Trevor Vittatoe only had one good leg and it was painful trying to watch him run the offense.

#28 Las Vegas Bowl - Heralded match up between Utah and Boise is missing as Broncos win 26-3.

Utah scored first with a field and then were shutout by the Broncos from that point.  The first quarter was awful for both teams.  The Utes were without QB Jordan Wynn and they looked lost without him.  This was also missing the hurricane force winds that made the 2009 version so entertaining.

#27 Cotton Bowl - A usually great game is ruined by FOX.  LSU knocks of Texas A&M 41-24.

This game dropped at least 10 spots due to the awful coverage by FOX.  They should never be allowed to cover any college sport.  If you don't broadcast the regular season you shouldn't be able to broadcast the post season.  Band geeks did enjoy the coverage that each school band received.

#26 Gator Bowl - Mississippi State embarrasses Michigan 52-14.

This would have been much lower but the Wolverines actually led 14-10 after the first quarter.  As the game wore on it was entertaining at least to try and figure out how many days until Rich Rodriguez would fired.  2011 was off to a rough start for the State of Michigan. 

#25 Texas Bowl - Illinois takes down Baylor 38-14.

The Illini hopped out to a 24-0 lead before the Bears got on the board.  The two teams did combine for nearly 1,000 yards of offense which is a redeeming factor.  Rough way for Baylor fans to end a great season.

#24 BBVA Compass Bowl - Pitt takes down Kentucky 27-10.

Pittsburgh led this game 20-3 before the Wildcats showed signs of life.  No matter who plays in this game it is usually awful.  Legion Field in Birmingham is falling down and badly needs some renovations.  

#23 Fiesta Bowl - UCONN is who we think they are!  Oklahoma crushes Huskies 48-20.

This game could have been ranked much lower but I have to give credit to UConn for not completely embarrassing themselves.  That said this game should never have been played between these two teams.  No 8-4 team that is unranked should get paid more than $17M just because it won a water downed conference like the Big East.

#22 Holiday Bowl - The rematch no one wanted to see and Nebraska didn't want to play. Washington wins 19-7.

I watched this game when it was played in Seattle back in September.  That game was worth watching even though it was one sided.  The Huskers were sent to football purgatory by replaying a regular season opponent in a bowl game.  Yes the Huskies won but I would say that is more because Nebraska simply didn't care.

#21 Alamo Bowl - Oklahoma State takes care of Arizona 36-10.

This one started off with lots of scoring in the first quarter and a Cowboy lead of 17-7.  Arizona stuck around for awhile but four turnovers for the Wildcats squashed what could have been a great game. Nick Foles was responsible for three of those with his interceptions.

#20 Humanitarian Bowl - Northern Illinois takes down Fresno State 40-17.

This game could swing several spots based on how you feel about the blue turf of Boise.  It seems like everyone was expecting Northern Illinois to roll over since they lost their head coach to Minnesota.  Instead it was Fresno State who lived up to their awful bowl game performances.   

GRAB SOME SNACKS #19-11. Things are starting to get good.

#19 Orange Bowl -  Stanford beats down Virginia Tech 40-12 in front of a bunch of Hokie fans.

Stanford led 13-12 at halftime and looked we might on the verge of an exciting Orange Bowl.  Then Andrew Luck became best friends with Coby Fleener and they connected on touchdown scores of 41, 58, and 38 yards.  The announcers all had a man crush on Andrew Luck and spent half the game talking about if Jim Harbaugh might leave.

#18 TicketCity Bowl - Tech Tech holds off Northwestern 45-38.

Northwestern was down 31-9 in the third quarter before making a strong push.  Too bad the Wildcat defense had no answer for Taylor Potts all game.  This started off as on of the worst bowls but it finished up strongly.  Points deducted for being sponsored by TicketCity.

#17 Bowl - Miami of OH defeats Middle Tennessee State 35-21 without a head coach.

This summed up the season for Middle Tennesee State and Dwight Dasher fairly well.  Dasher busts out a 49 yard touchdown run to give the Blue Raiders a 14-7 lead.  Dasher is also intercepted four times in the game and has one taken back for a pick six.  Awful logos hurt the eyes.

#16 Fight Hunger Bowl - Nevada caps dream season with 20-13 win over Boston College.

The Wolf Pack brought a ton of fans to San Francisco and saw Nevada finally get a bowl victory.  All the touchdowns were scored in the first quarter and from there on out it was a field goal fest.  This game didn't have a ton of fireworks but most of that credit goes towards the Boston College run defense that held Nevada to just 114 yards on the ground.

#15 Hawaii Bowl - Tulsa explodes on the islands for a 62-35 victory over Hawaii.

The Golden Hurricane swept into Hawaii and unleashed all their weapons.  This game nearly had 100 points of total offense but blunders by the Warriors were their ultimate undoing.  Bryant Moniz had 411 yards passing but the bigger story was his four interceptions.  Add in a pair of fumbles and it gives you a pretty good idea of why the Warriors lost.

#14 Military Bowl - The last stand for Ralph Friedgren ends up with Maryland defeating ECU 51-20.

The Terps led the entire game in the third quarter the Pirates were only down 23-9.  That is when the Da'Rel Scott show started and his scores from 61 and 91 yards put an exclamation point on the final game for outgoing coach Ralph Friedgren. This game was entertaining just to see what Friedgren would do knowing that this was his last game at the helm and try and figure out why he was being dismissed.

#13 Armed Forces Bowl - Army holds off the SMU air attack 16-14.

The Black Knights scored all 16 of their points in the first half and then did everything they could to keep SMU from making it two bowl victories in a row.  The Mustangs had a chance to take the lead with 4 minutes left but the 47 yard field goal attempt went wide left.  SMU played in it's home stadium but still couldn't stop Army from their first winning season since 1996.

#12 Poinsettia Bowl - Aztecs have record setting performance in 35-14 win over Navy.

Brady Hoke capped off his two year turn around with the Aztecs first bowl victory since 1969.  Ronnie Hillman set a bowl record with 228 yards rushing.  Vincent Brown set a record of his own 165 yards receiving.  The most dramatic part of the game happened overnight as the city of San Diego pumped out 1.5 million gallons of water that turned Qualcomm stadium into a swamp.

#11 Chick-fil-ABowl  - Florida State ends 2010 with a 26-17 win over South Carolina.

Injuries played a big role in this game as the Seminoles lost QB Christian Ponder and the Gamecocks lost RB Marus Lattimore.  Stephen Garcia did everything possible to try and lose the game with three interceptions in the first half but the old ball coach kept his team within striking distance.  In the end Jimbo Fisher was able to get the Seminoles a 10 win season something that Bobby Bowden hadn't done since 2003.


DON'T GET OFF THE COUCH #10-1.  The games you shouldn't have missed.

#10 Meineke Bowl - Clemson simply runs out of time in 31-26 loss to USF.

The Big East took down the ACC and the Clemson Tigers were simply caught in a case of to little to late.  The Tigers scored two touchdown in the final two minutes to make a 31-13 game all of a sudden 31-26.  One more onside kick could have capped a fantastic comeback but it was not to be.

#9 Outback Bowl - Florida beats Penn State 37-24 and Joe Pa can't figure out what happened.

The tough thing was watching the Gators have success and actually look like a competitive team.  It had been a nice change of pace to watch the struggle this year.  Ahmad Black intercepted Matthew McGloin with 1:11 remaining and returned it 80 yards to seal the victory.  This was supposed to the final game for Urban Meyer as a head coach but will that actually happen?

#8 Beef O Brady Bowl - Bad food but good game in Tropicana Field as Louisville defeats Southern Miss 31-28.

Everyone was hoping for a football or fan to fall into the big tank of sting rays but the game was still entertaining despite the small crowd.  The Louisville Cardinals scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to squeak by Southern Miss.  Jeremy Wrights 95 yard kick off return tied the game at 28 and then seven minutes later the Cardinals took the lead for good.  Bonus points for being the first bowl that wasn't a blowout.

#7 Insight Bowl - Iowa defeats Missouri 27-27 in the battle of the yellow pants.

At times it was hard to tell which team was Iowa and which was Mizzou as both teams have the same school colors and sported matching yellow pants.  Blaine Gabbert had 41 completions for 417 yards but his second interception was returned 72 yards by Micah Hyde to give the Hawkeyes the go ahead score with 6:19 left.  Another impressive thing is that Iowa won despite having several players suspended or kicked off the team for indiscretions prior to the game.

#6 Sugar Bowl - Ohio State beats Arkansas 31-26 and earns plenty of awards that can be sold easily.

The first half belonged to the Buckeyes who held a 28-10 lead over the Razorbacks.  Ryan Mallett was 24 for 47 and 277 yards which isn't impressive except for the fact his receivers refused to catch any ball thrown to them.  Drops, drops and more drops were the story for Arkansas.  Still despite the troubles Arkansas managed to claw their way back in this one.  With 1:08 remaining Mallet finally completed a pass but unfortunately it was to a Buckeye.

#5 Pinstripe Bowl - Syracuse uses a salute by Kansas State to grab 33-36 victory in the Big Apple.

The first bowl game in New York turned to be much more entertaining than any expected.  Big plays by both teams made this a game that anyone could win.  Kansas State scored a touchdown with 1:24 remaining and needed a two point conversion to tie.  Adrian Hilburn was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct after saluting the crowd after his score.  This pushed the two point try back 15 yards and the Wildcats failed on a broken play.

#4 BCS Championship - The biggest game of the year was solid but not the greatest in Auburn's 22-19 win over Oregon.

For the first quarter it looked like TCU looked they could lay claim to being the #1 team in the country.  After that things got rolling and Cam Newton and Nick Fairley provided some nice game tape for the NFL draftnics to analyze.

#3 Little Caesars Bowl - Florida International stages big comeback to defeat Toledo 34-32 for first ever bowl win.

Toledo took a 32-31 lead with 1:14 remaining after a touchdown and two point conversion.  The Golden Panthers picked up a 4th and 17 on a hook ladder play to keep the drive alive.  A 34 yard field goal with four seconds remaining gave the SunBelt squad it's first bowl victory in it's first appearance.  The Golden Panthers were even down 24-7 at one point in the third quarter but outscored Toledo 27-8 for the dramatic win.

#2 Music City Bowl - North Carolina uses the Les Miles school of clock management in 2OT 30-27 thriller over Tennessee.

How many times will Derek Dooley will have victory snatched away from him? Well no matter what kind of blunders his opponent commits the Volunteers keep losing the close ones.  Dooley and the Volunteers were celebrating their victory when the officials ruled there was still one second left on the clock.  This let North Carolina hit a 39 yard field to tie the game at 20 and force overtime.  Each team scored a touchdown in the first overtime.  The Vols could do nothing in the second overtime and the Tarheels used a 20 yard field goal to win a crazy game.

#1 Rose Bowl - TCU wins for the ages with the 21-19 victory over Wisconsin.

The "Granddaddy" lived up to it's named and provided entertainment the entire game as TCU helped win one for the little guy.  The first quarter was filled with a bowl record of 24 combined points.  Afterwards two heralded defenses dug in and every yard gained was a battle.  The Badgers had a chance a chance to tie the game with 2:16 left in the game.  The two point conversion was knocked down by Tank Carder and his eight powerbands which allowed the Horned Frogs to run out the clock after a couple first downs.


I'm sure you will beg to differ of some or most of the rankings.  Where did I hit and miss?  Post your thoughts and own polls in the comments below.

Conference Bowl Records

  • Atlantic Coast 4-5
  • Big 12 3-5
  • Big East 4-2
  • Big Ten 3-5
  • Conference USA 2-4
  • Independents  2-1
  • Mid-American 2-2
  • Mountain West 4-1
  • Pacific-10 2-2
  • Southeastern 5-5
  • Sun Belt 2-1
  • Western Athletic 2-2