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Ranking the 10 best bowl games of 2012-13

Chick-fil-A Bowl - LSU v Clemson Getty Images

Before the postseason began, we asked y’all to vote on which bowl games you felt would be the best and worst of the non-BCS group.

Thirty-five bowls later, the only thing we’ve confirmed is that you might be better off picking games by throwing a dart blindfolded. With that in mind, it’s time to go back and rank the 10 best bowls of the 2012-13 postseason (note: there’s no need to rank the 10 worst because, well, why would you want to relive cruddy bowls?).

1. Outback Bowl: No. 8 South Carolina 33, No. 24 Michigan 28

A back and forth game between the Big Ten and SEC that came down to the final seconds on New Year’s Day would be enough by itself to warrant the top spot on our list. Then Jadeveon Clowney made arguably the best individual, game-changing play of the bowl season. Of course, if you argue with Clowney, he’ll form tackle you into a fine powder.

2. Chick-fil-A Bowl: No. 11 Clemson 25, No. 14 LSU 24

Tajh Boyd‘s heroics against LSU’s blitz-happy defense were amazing until you realize he was actually a test subject in a real-life episode of ESPN’s “Sports Science.” Today, we ponder how many times a quarterback can get hit with the same amount of force per square inch exerted by a space shuttle on liftoff… and live to tell about it.

3. Alamo Bowl: No. 19 Texas 31, No. 20 Oregon State 27

“Texas back?!?!?!?” will undoubtedly be the theme for the Longhorns this year after a come-from-behind win over Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl. Defensive end Alex Okafor went Oka-BEASTMODE with nine tackles, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble, most of that damage coming in the third and fourth quarters. The win makes UT’s offseason tolerable, but 2013 is a critical year for Mack Brown.

4. Belk Bowl: Cincinnati 48, Duke 34

Oh, Duke. Y’all were so close to winning your first bowl game since 1961. Unfortunately, the Blue Devils “Belk’d it” by allowing Cincinnati to score on an 83-yard touchdown pass and a 55-yard pick-six within the final minute of the game. For 59 minutes though, this game was awesome.

5. New Mexico Bowl: Arizona 49, Nevada 48

Nobody circles the wagons like the fightin’ RichRods. Down 13 with under two minutes to play, Arizona scored not once, but twice with the help of a successful onside kick to win the first bowl game of the season. I can only imagine the shock of the loss played a role in Chris Ault‘s retirement. Okay, it didn’t really. But still.

6. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette 43, East Carolina 34 

America demands offense in games that have no national implications because we don’t give a single damn about your defensive coordinator’s job security, even in the worst of economies. The New Orleans Bowl understood that and obliged by racking up 45 points in the second quarter. The sacrifice was complete.

7. Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Texas Tech 34, Minnesota 31

Comebacks are always welcome in bowl games and Texas Tech scored 10 points in the final 1:10. However, we can only speculate that had Tommy Tuberville been on the sidelines, the Red Raiders would have elected to take a knee and play for overtime rather than attempt a risky 28-yard, game-winning field goal.An opportunity missed to jump up our rankings, to be sure.

8. Rose Bowl: No. 7 Stanford 20, Wisconsin 14 

This was the only BCS bowl where the game was decided by a touchdown or less. That should give you an idea as to how the BCS bowls played out this year. Defense lovers will point to the low score; cynics like me who only wish they were athletic enough to play football will point to some iffy execution by both offenses. But a close one in The Grandaddy of Them All? We’ll gladly take it.

9. Capital One Bowl: No. 5 Georgia 45, No. 25 Nebraska 31

The irony of an “SEC defense” and the “blackshirts” giving up a combined 76 points and over 1,000 yards was too much for us not to include this game. This was old man football… if the old man was in better shape than you and could probably beat you up.

10. Military Bowl: No. 21 San Jose State 29, Bowling Green 20 

I’m gonna miss you, WAC. At least San Jose State was able to get you a win before you went peacefully into that big ‘ol bowl game in the sky. Also, there were, like, four blocked punts because weird things tend to occur when #MACtion and #WACtion happens at the same time on the same field.

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25 Responses to “Ranking the 10 best bowl games of 2012-13”
  1. classyjacklambert says: Jan 8, 2013 5:58 PM

    I think you have 1 and 2 backwards. The come from behind by two scores victory by Clemson in a game few thought they would win would push that to the top for me but I can see your logic as well. That was a brutal hit by Clowney.

  2. davidjcu says: Jan 8, 2013 6:01 PM

    South Carolina teams FTW

  3. igottz5onit says: Jan 8, 2013 6:05 PM

    I gotta agree with classyjack. The outback bowl was good too but the officiating was terrible and Michigan really had no business being in that game so late.

  4. polegojim says: Jan 8, 2013 6:11 PM

    @igot… um… Michigan WAS in the game late… because they played well… so how is it they had ‘no business’ doing it? It’s DONE!

    Evidently… they were much better than you thought… and you had ‘no business’ thinking otherwise.

  5. scalpemseminoles says: Jan 8, 2013 6:23 PM

    You can’t say a team had no business in the game if they almost won it

  6. mp1113 says: Jan 8, 2013 6:32 PM

    Only 1 bcs game….Good. They all sucked anyway

  7. thefiesty1 says: Jan 8, 2013 6:38 PM

    Glad to see the Alamo game in the top 10. It was a good game in the second half. But how about we eliminate all the bowl games that invite a 6-6 team only to result in low attendance and poor TV ratings. Use 16 bowl games for a playoff NOW. Maybe we wouldn’t be subjected to the debacle last night.

  8. igottz5onit says: Jan 8, 2013 6:56 PM

    Look there was no offense intended towards Michigan. They were a good team and I had no dog in this fight. But South Carolina was a much better team than Michigan and the refs were calling this game like they had money on Michigan winning straight up. Am I the only one that saw the “first down” before Clowney’s crazy hit?

  9. hockeyfan28 says: Jan 8, 2013 7:08 PM

    Igottz what game where you watching? South Carolina couldn’t tackle Denard Robinson all day they where near equal in yardage too man if your an SEC guy say it but man all Michigan had to do is not blow a coverage on the final touch down pass and they win the game.

  10. igottz5onit says: Jan 8, 2013 7:12 PM

    I’m not an sec guy. I hate the sec. Maybe I’m just crazy and saw it differently.

  11. thegamecocker says: Jan 8, 2013 7:37 PM


    Michigan is a good team that played the Fighting Gamecocks tough. But their secondary was shaky all day and Carolina kept coming up with the big plays. They could not keep up with the SC wide-outs. It was the best bowl game of the season and Clemsons’ win over LSU was also good.

  12. clemsonstillsucks says: Jan 8, 2013 8:24 PM

    Am I crazy or is the guy Clowney beheaded the same one that got him in the “family jewels” a couple of series earlier?

    I already erased the game from the DVR so I can’t confirm it.

  13. scalpemseminoles says: Jan 8, 2013 8:26 PM

    According to all you moron pundits, fsu niu was a close game. Why isn’t that on here if it was close?

  14. clemsonstillsucks says: Jan 8, 2013 9:07 PM

    Close – yes. Entertaining…no. The game was similar to watching Fred and Grady fight over a bottle of ripple.

    And I like FSU – no harm intended.

  15. sssjim7 says: Jan 8, 2013 9:23 PM

    Hey… great list…

    Personally, I understand your logic and don’t disagree with it… but… I would have put the Sugar bowl in the list somewhere…

    I know it turned out not to be close, but, honestly, I couldn’t turn the channel on that game… for some reason I kept expecting Florida to come back and win… what an incredible, almost surreal experience… definately the upset of the season!

    I flipped off the Notre Dame game after the first quarter… it was over…

    And even though the Sugar bowl turned out to be over after the first quarter, too… it never seemed that way while watching… I guess it was just the suspense of it all…

    Anyway, just my .02

  16. truthbtyped says: Jan 8, 2013 9:31 PM

    NCAA!!! NCAA!!! NCAA!!! Sorry, my favorite team didn’t win the National Championship so I figured I’d take a note from SEC fans and just start cheering for the NCAA!!! Still undefeated!!!

  17. truthbtyped says: Jan 8, 2013 9:43 PM

    That Clowney hit was almost as embarrassing as losing to Appalachian State in the Big House. Watching Smith’s helmet pop off in slow motion is priceless.

  18. thegamecocker says: Jan 9, 2013 9:03 AM


    I agree. The Sugar Bowl with Louisville upsetting Florida was a terrific game to watch. Teddy Bridgewater is the best drop-back QB in college football. Little in the way of mobility but can make all the throws, is incredibly accurate, and doesn’t make “NOVA” kind of errors……oh, you’re wondering what a “NOVA” kind of error is??? It’s the Rutgers’ QB who has NO F’ING CLUE what to do with the football when he hears cleats coming after him! It also includes the HEAD COACH, KYLE FLOOD, who is afraid to make a change at QB. The Russell Bowl turned out to be the WORST BOWL GAME to watch as Rutgers lost to 6-6 Va Tech…..a hideous game to watch!!!

  19. foreverlsu says: Jan 9, 2013 10:01 AM

    truthbtyped says:Jan 8, 2013 9:31 PM

    NCAA!!! NCAA!!! NCAA!!! Sorry, my favorite team didn’t win the National Championship so I figured I’d take a note from SEC fans and just start cheering for the NCAA!!! Still undefeated!!!

    Very weak! …but more evidence to prove that the SEC is truly the top conference.

    Looking forward to reading comments next year about how the SEC is no longer the top conference, the SEC is top heavy, graduation rates, etc.

  20. cfballfan1 says: Jan 9, 2013 10:06 AM

    What about the BW-3 Bowl?? That was as closely – contested as any in this list & a come- from – behind 1 point Sparty win?!!

    You missed this one big – time.

  21. 8to80texansblog says: Jan 9, 2013 12:13 PM

    I may be biased…. ok I’m definitely biased.

    The Cotton Bowl was awesome. Johnny Football’s performance was must see tv!! 516 total yds (FBS Bowl Record) 229 yds rushing (FBS Bowl record for a QB), 4 TDs. When was the last time a Heisman winner went off like that in a bowl game… 13.5 yds a carry…. Awesome!

    The game might not have been great as A&M rolled over the old conference foe, but it might have been the best individual performance of the bowl season.

  22. truthbtyped says: Jan 9, 2013 4:06 PM


    I don’t think many people will disagree that the SEC is the toughest conference overall in the NCAA this year. Its just funny hearing SEC!!! SEC!!! all the time from SEC team fans that didn’t win the National Championship. If you’re not an Alabama fan why are you cheering?? The SEC is the only conference where fans seem to love the conference more than their individual teams. At least SEC fans are always winners when they play in conference games. Lol

  23. gfunk5299 says: Jan 9, 2013 4:11 PM

    I get it, so a 9-7 SEC game is because of awesome defense, but a 20-14 Rose Bowl is athletically challenged.

    And you wonder why we all (except those annoying SEC fans) hate the media, reporters, the SEC, SEC fans and ESPN.

    Did the record TD’s from a RB come from the athletically challenged Montee Ball? Is NFL starter Russel Wilson part of your definition of athletically challenged Big Ten / Pac 12?

    Just checking, you cynic.

  24. conwayallday says: Jan 9, 2013 10:17 PM

    The Clemson/LSU game was by far the best game. It was by far the most anticipated bowl game outside of the NC game and it lived up to the hype. Clemson coming back from the most clutch position a team could dream of. Not to mention it had about a million more viewers than the Outback bowl. That game was amazing. The Outback bowl was also a good bowl game but it can’t compare to the Chick-fil-a bowl. It is best remembered as the WTF bowl. The refs did look like they had a motive to call it in Michigans favor. The Clowney hit was amazing but one hit against a 5 loss team doesn’t compare to an entire 4th quarter comeback against a true SEC powerhouse that could’ve easily been in bama’s shoes. Take into consideration Clemson was given no chance and SCar was supposed to wipe the table with a team that wouldn’t be in the top 25 if it weren’t for the “name brand” of Michigan from 50 years ago. Both teams looked bad IMO. This is about the only site claiming the Outback bowl was #1.

  25. clemsonstillsucks says: Jan 9, 2013 10:59 PM

    @ gfunk

    No real opinion either way as to your post, other than to point out Russell Wilson’s prior collegiate career at NC State – an ACC school. Where, if I may add, I told my wife (who is an NCSU alum)a couple of years ago one Saturday “that kid’s a stud and will find his way to the NFL, Oompah Loompah or not.”

    Either way – congrats to the PAC 12 on an…err, successful…season. May your conference offer up the next sacrifice to the SEC chosen One in the 2013-2014 season!

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