While many fans had their eyes on the College Football Playoff semifinals, the other four New Year’s Six bowls also featured compelling action.
No. 6 Tennessee decisively beat No. 7 Clemson in the Orange Bowl. No. 5 Alabama showed its dominance in a win over No. 9 Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl. No. 16 Tulane pulled off a comeback for the ages over No. 10 USC in the Cotton Bowl. And in the Rose Bowl, No. 11 Penn State had a big second-half breakthrough to beat No. 8 Utah.
FOX Sports lead college football analyst Joel Klatt broke down all the action on the latest episode of the “Joel Klatt Podcast,” offering commentary for each team.
Orange Bowl: Tennessee beats Clemson, 31-14
Tennessee: “That was a really good performance by Tennessee. Josh Heupel has done an outstanding job at Tennessee and I don’t think they’re going anywhere. I didn’t think this was a blip for them just because they got Hendon Hooker. and some receivers very good. I think this is a project that this can continue. I don’t think Tennessee is going anywhere. This is a team and a program that makes this side of the SEC formidable. It’s not just Georgia. I know Georgia just won this team, but it’s going to be hard to keep going year after year.”
Clemson: “On the Clemson side, I thought it was a little disappointing. I thought this would be a stepping stone. I thought this would mark the first game of next season for them with the momentum they would have after getting off the bench by DJ. Uiagalelei and Cade Klubnik are out there, I thought this would be the start of a championship for them. It may be, but they sure didn’t play well enough in the crucial moments. Obviously, field goals were missing . makes you win..Dabo has his work cut out for him. I think he’s in a decent position. It’s a good roster, but I’m not sure if they’re as talented as they are relative to other teams around the country and where they were three, four years ago.”
Clemson not elite anymore?
Sugar Bowl: Alabama beats Kansas State, 45-20
Kansas State: “K-State was totally overachieved. K-State is an overachiever program. They overachieved by winning the Big 12 championship. They overachieved most of the year. I love Deuce Vaughn, by the way. I think that Deuce will be a very good pro. But when you look at this team, they just didn’t have what it took to go beat Alabama or even stay with Alabama, particularly when Alabama has its entire roster and is motivated for playing. “
Alabama: “This dominating win, can it push them? Yes, it can. Will it be the changing of the guard at Alabama? Absolutely yes, it is. The only thing they can rest on is that they did it this time and remember that since Nick Saban won his first title at Alabama, it hasn’t been three years without a title. So next year is that year.. The precedent has been that during recruiting cycles, Nick Saban has shown that he is a of the only guys in history to win national championships during the cycle of multiple recruiting classes. He’s done that with every recruiting class he’s had at Alabama.”
Will Alabama return to the CFP next season?
Cotton Bowl: Tulane beats USC, 46-45
Tulane: “Tulane, congratulations on a big win in the Cotton Bowl. I hope this propels you to success in the years to come. When you make Group 5 teams, you need many years to get on the radar and make a playoff push. So we have another playoff that will be a four-team invitational next year and then we start moving into an expanded role in 2024. Maybe Tulane is building something very special like we saw at Boise State, UCF and Cincinnati where they can play at the top end of college football. This is one of those historic wins where you hope if you’re a Tulane fan it propels them to many years of success.”
USC: “What a horrible collapse by USC. There’s no other way to put it. It was 15 with just over four minutes to go — you’ve got to win this game. You’ve got to make plays to lose this game and It felt like they did. They lost a wonderful performance from Caleb Williams. That’s the scary part for USC, and I really believe in what Lincoln Riley is doing there, the scary part for USC is that you got that guy that we are.Everybody’s starting to realize that after winning the Heisman Trophy and watching him play in that half of the postseason, what we’re seeing is that this guy has a generational talent. [Patrick] Muhammad 2.0. Even better than what Mahomes was at Texas Tech. This guy’s skill is amazing. You can’t waste it. You have one more year left with this guy. You can’t waste Caleb Williams. So USC has to figure that defense out.”
USC and Tulane: What does the future hold?
Rose Bowl: Penn State beats Utah, 35-21
Utah: “For the second year in a row, Utah fans will be left wondering what could have been. For the second year in a row [in the Rose Bowl], Cam Rising—who is the catalyst for their success, both offensively and as a team—comes down and passed us. When it came down, I knew it didn’t look good. You could feel the whole side of the stadium, that sideline, the air was coming out of the stadium and Penn State took advantage of that.”
Penn State: “This program should be very excited about where they’re going … the best part about Penn State is its youth, and this is a very scary proposition for the Big Ten and the Big Ten East for next season . It’s a very good young team. . Both running backs are excellent. They were able to run the ball very well against Utah, which not many teams were able to do. Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton, very good players. They have what I consider a top- Three or four defensive players in the entire Big Ten will be back next year and I know he didn’t start right away, but Abdul Carter is a sensational player. They have to replace Joey Porter Jr., but they could. to do -but in the secondary and bring different pieces and continue to play at a high level. So this Penn State team, I think everything is looking up for them.”
Will Penn State’s success make the Big Ten better next season?
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