College football bowl game winners and losers Washington Texas SEC

College football bowl game winners and losers: Washington, Texas, SEC – USA TODAY

College football bowl game winners and losers Washington Texas SECplay

Michigan beats Alabama in the CFP semifinals and advances to the national championship

Michigan ousted Alabama and is on its way to the national championship. That's why we enlisted the help of college football star Matt Leinart to find out what makes the Wolverines so special.

There is only one game left before the season break: Michigan will face Washington next Monday in the national championship game of the College Football Playoff.

This was a big postseason for the Wolverines, who finally got over the playoff hurdle by defeating Alabama in the Rose Bowl and will have a chance to win the program's first undivided national title since 1948.

In the second semifinal, Washington edged Texas thanks to a memorable night from senior quarterback Michael Penix Jr., the game's offensive MVP.

While the Crimson Tide fell short, this was a pretty positive bowl season for the SEC. Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Missouri earned victories against the Power Five, with the Bulldogs recovering from their first loss in two years to post a 60-point win over Florida State.

With only the national title left to decide, these teams are the biggest winners and losers of bowl season:



After two straight playoff losses to Georgia and TCU, Michigan took a big step forward as a program with a 27-20 overtime win over Alabama in the Rose Bowl. The second overtime game in playoff semifinal history ended with a puzzling decision: Alabama ran quarterback Jalen Milroe right into the teeth of the Michigan defense on fourth-and-goal. This stop tells the story of the entire year for the Wolverines, who were simply the more physical and aggressive opponent in big wins against Penn State, Ohio State and the Tide.


The Sugar Bowl win over the Longhorns answered all the lingering questions about whether Washington can match the physical prowess of the other three teams in this year's playoffs. And the Huskies can add some elite quarterback play: Penix was outstanding against Texas, as was his strong and experienced receiver corps. While the Huskies enter the matchup with the Wolverines as slight underdogs, they are clearly prepared to win another game and bring the Pac-12 another national championship before the league closes shop.


The Volunteers got an early glimpse of the future under young quarterback Nico Iamaleava when they defeated Iowa 35-0 in the Citrus Bowl. In his first career start, the former five-star recruit completed 12 of 19 attempts for 151 yards and a touchdown while scoring three scores on the ground. Overall, Tennessee's 383 yards of offense were the second most Iowa had allowed all season, trailing the 397 yards posted by Penn State in late September.


After a 38-25 win over Penn State in the Peach Bowl, the Ole Miss hype train is ready to leave the station. The win, dismissed all year for coming up well short in key games against Alabama and Georgia, validates the Rebels' rise under Lane Kiffin and, along with the arrival of the nation's top transfer class, provides a major boost to the roster from Ole Miss to the top teams in the SEC heading into the 2024 season. With the impending return of quarterback Jaxson Dart, you can see why the train could be filling up.


Missouri was held in check by Ohio State's defense until the final drive of the third quarter and managed two scoring drives of at least 90 yards in the final 20 minutes to beat the Buckeyes 14-3 in the Cotton Bowl. With wide receiver Luther Burden mostly held under control until a late touchdown, the Tigers' offense continued to rely heavily on All-America running back Cody Schrader, who finished the game with 29 carries for 128 yards and a score. Missouri went 11-2 in this breakout season under coach Eli Drinkwitz and was projected to finish in the top seven in the final USA LBM Coaches Poll.


A nine-win season for Kansas? The program continues to skyrocket under coach Lance Leipold, who inherited the worst program in the Power Five by a wide margin, but has made the Jayhawks one of the top teams in the new-look Big 12. As expected, Kansas went into the offensive shootout in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against UNLV, with 449 passing yards and six touchdowns from Jason Bean and 591 yards of total offense to win 49-36.


What a year it has been for Northwestern, which hit one of its all-time lows in the program during the summer hazing scandal but managed to win eight games under new coach David Braun. That included a 14-7 Las Vegas Bowl win over Utah that was painful for the offensive playmakers and ended with just 211 yards and three turnovers.



Down 17-13 with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Alabama missed a chance to hold off the Wolverines and had to settle for a 52-yard field goal. That opened the door for Michigan to tie the game with 1:34 remaining in regulation and then win it in an extra frame thanks to Blake Corum's 17-yard score and defensive stop. While both teams made mistakes, it was the Tide who came up short in a rare semifinal loss to Nick Saban. Ultimately, Alabama deserves to be applauded for getting to this point after such a slow start in September, but it wasn't quite prepared to win the national title.


Washington held possession for over 36 minutes and prevented the Texas offense from getting into a rhythm. Still, one has to wonder why the Longhorns haven't committed more to the running game given their consistent success on the ground. Ultimately, the turnovers were the difference between winning at home and making it to the title game. Texas didn't do a good job protecting the football and paid the price. This is a program that is on the rise under Steve Sarkisian, but you never know when opportunities like this will arise.

Ohio State

Playing without former starting quarterback Kyle McCord and star wide receiver Marvin Harrison – and then without McCord's replacement Devin Brown, who suffered an ankle injury in the second quarter – Ohio State managed just one in a 14-3 loss to Missouri 203 yards of offense. With McCord now at Syracuse and Harrison heading to the NFL, there are some big questions about the state of this offense next season. The loss is coach Ryan Day's fourth in six postseason games.

State of Florida

It wasn't fair from the start: FSU played without anything close to a full deck of players after losing dozens to the optouts and the transfer portal, which quickly led to the ugliest outcome of the bowl season. Georgia's 63-3 win over the Seminoles in the Orange Bowl solidifies the Bulldogs' position as perhaps the team to beat in 2024. How you view the loss from FSU's perspective may depend on how you viewed the makeup of the four-team playoff: If you thought the 'Noles never deserved to be there, then here's a decent loss from 60 points as proof. But if you believe FSU should have been in the top four as the FBS' third undefeated team, it's easy to look at the depleted roster and call the bowl matchup an incomplete representation of the Seminoles' season.


After the 31-13 loss to Maryland in the Music City Bowl, Auburn coach Hugh Freeze admitted that he “didn't get too involved in the Tigers' offensive game plan because of recruiting.” That may be true – I mean, it has to be, because it would be stupid to say otherwise – but the public admission makes you wonder: With a salary of $6.5 million a year, you can't train at Freeze at the same time and recruit? Seems like other coaches are doing that, but who knows.

Miami (Florida)

It's been a year for Miami. On the one hand, the Hurricanes defeated Texas A&M and Clemson en route to bowl eligibility after finishing with a losing record in Mario Cristobal's debut season. On the other hand, they lost 31-24 to Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. That ended a season-ending swoon of four losses in five games for Miami, which appeared poised in early November to build serious momentum for 2024 but instead limps into the offseason with a new low.


Future ACC member SMU got a glimpse of life in the current Power Five league with a very humiliating 23-14 loss in the Fenway Bowl to Boston College, which finished 10th in the conference standings. There are better teams in the ACC than the Eagles, I will give everyone my due respect. The Mustangs are also giving up nine years of payouts from the ACC television contract to join, something the league will surely appreciate.

North Carolina

After going 6-0, North Carolina capped its second-half collapse with a 30-10 loss to West Virginia in the Duke's Mayo Bowl. The only advantage of the loss: Mack Brown didn't have to be covered in mayonnaise. Otherwise, this was a major disappointment for the Tar Heels, who gave up a touchdown on the first play and couldn't get anything going on offense behind young quarterback Connor Harrell, heir apparent to NFL-bound Drake Maye.

Eastern Michigan

As if the 69-10 loss to South Alabama in the 68 Ventures Bowl wasn't bad enough, Eastern Michigan punctuated the loss with an on-field brawl while the Jaguars gathered to sing the school's fight song. That's a black eye that dwarfs even a 59-point destruction, if that's even possible.