Top 10 Best College Bowl Games of the 2012-13 Season
College football season is over. Alabama won the National Championship on Monday in a real stinker of a game against Notre Dame. You know, post season games aren't supposed to be that way, especially not National Championship games. Luckily, there were 35 bowls this year, and a handful of them gave us some fantastic football. In case you missed some of the better games, let's look back and rank the top 10 bowl games of 2012-2013.
Honorable Mention: Louisville vs. Florida in the Sugar Bowl
Louisville head coach Charlie Strong after the Sugar Bowl.
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Though this game was not very close, it had me locked to the TV, and it turned out to be an absolute stunner.
Big East Champ Louisville came into the game ranked No. 22 and were matched up against the fourth-ranked SEC superpower, Florida Gators. Hopes were not high for this game, but as Louisville safety Calvin Pryor predicted, the Cardinals were there to "shock the world."
And shock us they did.
On the first play of the game, Terell Floyd picked off Florida QB Jeff Driskel and ran it back for a 38-yard touchdown. On the following drive, Florida went 3-and-out, punting the ball to the Louisville 17-yard-line.
Led by sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater, the Cardinals orchestrated a 12-play 83-yard drive that resulted in Louisville's second touchdown and a 14-point lead.
Louisville took their early advantage and never looked back.
Florida made a few efforts but never really made their way into a threatening position. Had the game been closer, it would have made its way well into my top 10.
10. Military Bowl: San Jose St. vs Bowling Green
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The stage was set for this game to be a great one. Not only was 2012-13 the WAC's last season as a football conference, San Jose State's head coach Mike MacIntyre had just departed for a job at Colorado. This left defensive coordinator Kent Baer in charge for the Military Bowl.
Both teams scored fairly steadily. In the third quarter, San Jose State blocked a punt and scored a safety, widening the gap to six points at 19-13. Then in the fourth quarter, Bowling Green briefly took a one-point lead before San Jose State kicked a field goal and capitalized on a fumble recovery to score a touchdown, cementing their 29-20 victory.
This season marked the first time the Spartans had seen the Top 25 since 1975. It couldn't have ended any other way.
9. Russell Athletic Bowl: Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech
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Okay, so this one wasn't a back-and-forth thriller, but it was the only bowl game to go to overtime. This, plus the fact that Virginia Tech was on the verge of having it's worst season in 20 years coming into this game earned the Russell Athletic Bowl a spot on my list.
Rutgers got off to a quick start, recovering a Virginia Tech fumble in the end zone for a touchdown, then kicking a field goal near the end of the first to go up 10-0.
Drives in the second and third quarters ended in nothing but punts save for one interception and one turnover on downs. Some of the most unexciting football in recent memory.
Rutgers opened the fourth quarter by missing a 47-yard field goal that would have given them the win in the end. The Hokies took the ball down to the Rutgers eight-yard line and kicked a field goal to make the score 10-3. A 21-yard touchdown from Logan Thomas to Corey Fuller in the Hokies' following possession tied the score at 10, where it would stay until the end of regulation.
Virginia Tech's opening drive resulted in a 22-yard field goal in overtime, then (unsurprisingly) they stopped Rutgers' attempt at a response.
Final score: Virginia Tech 13, Rutgers 10
8. Capital One Bowl: Georgia vs. Nebraska
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Georgia's junior QB, Aaron Murray put on a performance for the ages in the Capital One Bowl between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
His 427 yards and 5 touchdowns through the air would have been more than enough in most scenarios, but it was a necessity against Nebraska, who held a 31-23 lead in the third quarter.
With 7:26 remaining in the third, Murray threw to Chris Conley for 49 yards and a score to tie the game at 31. Then in the fourth, Keith Marshal caught a 24-yarder from Murray to go up 38-31. Minutes later, the Conley connection opened up once again when a short slant route turned into an 87-yard TD to put the final nail in the coffin.
Georgia walked away with the win and a final score of 45-31.
7. New Orleans Bowl: LA-Lafayette vs. East Carolina
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Of the games on this list, this is probably the least likely one for you to have watched, but it was a fun one. The LA-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns took on the East Carolina Pirates in the best shootout of the postseason.
Terrance Broadway was the game's MVP, accounting for 424 yards and 2 touchdowns, the first of which came on a 12-yard scramble for the only points scored in the first quarter.
Three touchdowns were scored in the first four minutes of the second quarter—two by LA-Lafayette, and one by East Carolina. Then between the 7:15 mark and the 3:00 mark, three more touchdowns came, this time with two in favor of East Carolina.
At the halfway mark of the third quarter, the Pirates had tied it up at 31-31, but it wasn't long before the Cajuns scored again by way of a 14-yard touchdown pass from Broadway to Javone Lawson. A blocked extra point made it 37-31 in favor of Lafayette.
In the end, the Pirates could no longer move the ball, and the Ragin' Cajuns escaped this one with a 43-34 victory.
6. Meineke Car Care Bowl: Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
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Any game that ends in an unlikely comeback is fine with me. When Texas Tech scored 10 points in the final 1:10 of this one, they shocked the Golden Gophers and completed one of the more impressive comebacks of the postseason.
Eric Ward caught a 35-yard TD with just more than a minute left to tie the game. On the next possession the Gophers threw an interception that set up a 28-yard Texas Tech field goal with two seconds left to seal the deal.
A good old-fashioned clutch performance is what got the Red Raiders on this list. Texas Tech receiver Darrin Moore in particular came through for the Raiders with 11 grabs for 84 yards.
5. Belk Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Duke
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In what could have been, should have been Duke's first bowl win since 1961, a pair of unlikely Cincinnati touchdowns in the final minute shocked the Blue Devils and abruptly ended the game in favor of the Bearcats.
With a final score of 48-34, there was plenty of scoring in this one, but it was Cincinnati's 21-point fourth quarter that counted the most.
A Duke field goal in the middle of the fourth tied the game at 34. Cincinnati went 3-and-out on the following possession. Duke took the ball all the way to the Cincinnati 5-yard line, and a Blue Devil victory appeared to be imminent.
But then Duke fumbled and gave Cincinnati the ball on their own five-yard line, along with one last chance at victory with about 1:30 left in the game. Four plays later, Travis Kelce found himself in the end zone after an 83-yard touchdown reception to give the Bearcats the lead with under a minute to go.
On the next drive, Duke quarterback Sean Renfree threw an interception which was returned for a TD, sealing the win for the Bearcats and sending the Blue Devils home empty-handed.
4. Alamo Bowl: Texas vs. Oregon State
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After an uninspiring season, the Texas Longhorns—and especially head coach Mack Brown—had something to prove in this game. The No. 23 Longhorns took on the No. 13 Oregon State Beavers in what turned out to be a very exciting contest.
The Longhorns went into the 4th quarter down by ten points. The first two possessions ended in punts for both teams. When the Horns got it back for their second try, David Ash tossed one over to Johnathan Gray for a 15-yard UT touchdown, making the score 24-27.
The Beavers couldn't do anything on the following drive, and Keith Kostol's 33-yard punt gave the Longhorns the ball inside Oregon State's 48. This led to more Texas points in the form of a 36-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin, bringing the score to 31-27, where it would stay for the rest of the game.
Texas' victory is due in no small part to the performance of Alex Okafor, the Horns' defensive end, who recorded nine tackles, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the game.
3. Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Nevada vs. Arizona
No one could have predicted the final minutes of the offensive clinic Arizona and Nevada put on for the New Mexico bowl.
Down 48-35 with less than a minute remaining in the ball game, Arizona's chances were looking slim. They managed to score a dinky 2-yard touchdown with 46 seconds on the clock and hit the extra point to make it a 6-point game.
Remarkably, the Wildcats got the onside kick, a necessity for them to win. Even after that, they needed one more touchdown and only had 42 seconds to get it. Garic Wharton caught a 28-yarder, then Austin Hill caught a 21-yarder to put the Wildcats on the Nevada 2-yard-line before the Wolf Pack even knew what hit them. The drive capped off with another short touchdown pass to Terrance Miller, which would seal the incredible comeback.
Not only was this game a high-scoring back-and-forth shootout, it ended in one of the most impressive comebacks of the year.
Austin Hill of the Arizona Wildcats had what will likely be the most important clutch performance he'll have for quite some time, with eight receptions for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
2. Outback Bowl: South Carolina vs. Michigan
This game had more than its fair share of big plays. Four plays went for 30-plus yard touchdowns, there was a fourth quarter blocked field goal and Jadeveon Clowney became internet-famous with the most perfect tackle ever made.
As long as I've been watching football, I have never actually seen a play like this one. Maybe in the movies, but not in real life.
Clowney launched himself, untouched, into the Michigan backfield and made the coaches at South Pointe High School proud with a perfect form tackle right as Michigan running back Vincent Smith took the hand off, causing and recovering a fumble.
To put the magnitude of this hit into perspective, Clowney is 6'6", 250 lbs. and was traveling at or near top speed when he tackled Smith. Vincent stands at a mere 5'6" 175 lbs and was pretty much standing still like a tackling dummy when Clowney got to him.
The following play was a 31-yard Gamecocks touchdown, but the pesky Wolverines came right back and scored again to take the lead with 3:31 to play.
In dramatic fashion, the Gamecocks drained more than three minutes off the clock in the ensuing drive and scored a 32-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left to seal the deal.
I hope Jadeveon Clowney plays football forever.
1. Chick-Fil-A Bowl: LSU vs. Clemson
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The Chick-Fil-A bowl earning the top spot should not come as a surprise to anyone.
The story line was certainly there. LSU, though they got hit with a few losses this season, are an SEC juggernaut each and every year. Clemson, on the other hand, have not had 11 wins in a season since 1981 when they won the national championship.
With 1:39 remaining, and trailing 24-22, Tajh Boyd led Clemson down the field on an 11-play drive that ended in a game-winning field goal as time expired. Receiver DeAndre Hopkins played a huge role in this drive, catching three passes for a total of 56 yards, one of which was a 26-yarder on 4th-and-16.
The Clemson Tigers prevented another ACC defeat by the hands of the SEC and did it against one of the most formidable opponents the conference has to offer. Congratulations to Clemson. 12 wins next year?