By Joey Peterson —
Most fans enjoy games that have thrilling finishes and highly contested games, however, that just wasn’t the case in the 2015-2016 college football bowl season. This is just the second year with the college football playoff system in place, which gives four teams a chance at winning the national championship. With the playoff games experiencing lower ratings than last year, it will be interesting to see if college football reanalyzes the current playoff format and when those games are contested, but that is subject for a later time.
For a bowl season widely filled with blowouts and wide margins of victories, there still were some games that that didn’t disappoint the fans and television viewers. Here’s my take on the top five games from this year’s bowl season.
- Alabama vs. Clemson-College Football Playoff National Championship
The stakes were at their highest and the stage was the biggest in college football, but neither the Crimson Tide nor the Tigers showed signs of the stage being too big. Both teams traded punch for punch for most of the game until some bold decisions by Alabama’s head coach, Nick Saban, on special teams turned the tides in Alabama’s favor. First came a surprise onside kick and next a kick return for a touchdown. The Crimson Tide appeared to be cruising towards another national title. Deshaun Watson and Clemson never faltered and almost had a chance of slaying the football giant, but fell short 45-40.
- Oregon vs. TCU-Valero Alamo Bowl
This game seemed to follow the same disappointing trend as the rest of the bowl season as Oregon raced out to a 31-0 lead heading into the locker room at halftime. However, one thing changed; Oregon’s starting quarterback, Vernon Adams, got hurt and would not play in the second half. The Horned Frogs took full advantage of the Ducks’ injury; TCU was able to answer back with 31 points of their own. The game would go into a third overtime where Bram Kohlhausen ran for a go ahead touchdown to give TCU a 47-41 victory.
- Wisconsin vs. USC-National Funding Holiday Bowl
The game would prove to be a back and forth contest, but the Badgers capitalized on more opportunities early to take a 20-7 lead halfway through the third quarter. However, the Trojans capitalized later in the game with a pair of touchdowns to take a lead of their own. The Wisconsin defense managed to make enough stops and slowed down the Trojans’ high powered offense, highlighted by linebacker Jack Cichy who sacked the quarterback on three straight plays. A field goal kick by Rafael Gaglianone late in the game gave the Badgers a 23-21 victory.
- Duke vs. Indiana-New Era Pinstripe Bowl
A game where defense was optional, and offense was the focus as both teams combined for over 1,200 yards. Even though the Hoosiers had a large margin in offensive yardage, they were not able to capitalize on enough opportunities as the Blue Devils forced overtime with the game tied at 41. Duke got the ball first and converted a field goal to take a three-point lead. However, Indiana got a chance to tie the game up, but the kick was no good. Or was it? The replay shows the ball was close to going in, but the play was never reviewed.
- West Virginia vs. Arizona State-Motel 6 Cactus Bowl
Saying both teams’ offensive units were clicking would be an understatement, as both teams combined for just under 1,200 yards of total offense. The teams traded score after score all the way to the end of the game. The Sun Devils connected on a 58-yard touchdown pass with just under five minutes to play to take a 42-36 lead. However, the Mountaineers were quick to answer with a ten play, 75-yard drive, and took the lead for with just over two minutes remaining. The one-point lead proved to be enough as West Virginia won 43-42.