By Garrett Athey & Reagan Ahlquist
The college football season has come to an end, so bowl games are starting up. While the top four teams include Alabama, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Clemson battle which will play in the championship games, other outstanding teams will also compete in bowl games, which are held for teams that had an exceptional season to compete against each other in the postseason. Some of the most intriguing games this year include the Peach Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Cotton Bowl. These games will feature the teams that had great seasons, but were just short of reaching the playoffs.
The Peach Bowl has No. 7 Auburn competing against No. 12 Central Florida taking place in Atlanta, Georgia. Auburn had three losses all season, but one was in the Southeastern Conference Championship against Georgia. The loss to Georgia dropped them down below the top four teams and out of playoff contention. However, Auburn did defeat previously undefeated Alabama during the regular season, proving they are capable of defeating any team. On the other side, Central Florida finished off their undefeated season after winning the American Athletic Conference Championship against Memphis. Some fans feel that Central Florida was snubbed by the committee because they never lost a game this season, but were not selected to play in the playoffs. Although Central Florida was undefeated, they had a pretty easy schedule and never faced a top ten team all season. They also had some close wins against easy opponents which kept them out of the playoffs. Senior Connor Hughes said, “Auburn will win because they have more losses, but they played harder teams and had more quality wins.” Auburn will have a better chance at winning the game as long as their standout running back Kerryon Johnson who was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year.
The Fiesta Bowl features No. 9 Penn State against No. 11 Washington who will battle it out in Arizona. Penn State had a good season, only losing two games to Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Michigan State. They were led by star running back, Saquon Barkley, who had a breakout season and was considered to win the Heisman. On the other hand, Washington also lost two games to Pac-12 rivals Arizona State and Stanford. Quarterback Jake Browning has been the successful leader of this Washington team, leading them to a bowl game this year and the playoffs last year. As for who will win, Senior Brenden Rose said, “Penn State because Saquon Barkley is an absolute monster who will lead his team to victory.” Washington will put up a good fight for Penn State and the game will be a joy to watch.
No. 6 Wisconsin will be facing No. 10 Miami for this year’s Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Wisconsin finished the regular season with a record of 11-1, and their only loss was to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game. Wisconsin was led by their defense, which was the best in total defense. Down South, the “U” is back, as for the first time since 2013, Miami is ranked again. Miami leads all of college football in turnovers, thanks to their new motivation with their turnover chain. Wisconsin is favored in this matchup by -5.5 odds according to OddsShark, but many analysis will not be surprised if Miami pulls off the upet.
No. 5 Ohio State will be facing off against No. 8 University of Southern California (USC) in this year’s Cotton Bowl taking place in Texas. The Ohio State Buckeyes were controversially not included in the college football playoffs after finishing the season 11-2, including a victory in the Big Ten Championship. USC finished with a record of 11-2, led by standout quarterback, Sam Darnold, who is a projected first round draft pick if he decides to leave. This game will be a tough matchup for both teams, but Ohio State should have the upper hand according to Glenelg Senior Austin Steckler who said, “Ohio State is the better team. They should have made the playoffs and were overall dominate all year.” This game will be an exhilarating match between two quality teams as they battle to take home the hardware for the Cotton Bowl.
When the college football season coming to an end, fans have some exciting bowl games to look forward to. These eight teams will be battling for their last game of the season, and for some players, the last game of their careers.