Marvel Cinematic Universe Scenes to Describe 2022-23 College Football Bowl Games

 TCU Football 2022 Depth Chart: Week One - Frogs O' War

College Football bowl season is upon us! 82 teams will play in 41 bowl games to end the 2022-23 college football season.

College Football Playoffs and New Year's Six - Avengers: Endgame

You may consider these 6 games the "Endgame" for college football's best.

"This is the fight of our lives. We are going to win. Whatever it takes." - Captain America to the Avengers, before time traveling AND Kirby Smart, Ryan Day, Jim Harbaugh and Sonny Dykes, before their respective teams take the field.

Peach Bowl - Georgia vs Ohio State

After losing 45-23 at home to Michigan, Ohio State fans had a wide range of emotions. From "fire Ryan Day" to "skip the Rose Bowl" fans weren't happy as many were sulking and depressed following a second straight loss to their rival.

By the middle of Avengers: Endgame, Thor was sulky and depressed, following the loss of several family members and friends, plus his entire planet of Asgard. But when he went back in time, he ran into his mother, who previously was killed. This gave him a new burst of energy and a renewed purpose. Before departing, he stuck his hand out for Mjolnir, proving he is still worthy!

That's how Ohio State must have felt when they woke up the Saturday morning after USC's loss in the PAC-12 title game, giving new life and new hope to Buckeyes nation. After sulking around for a week, they stuck their hand out and received the CFP bid (which is kind of the same as Mjolnir).

“It's not about how much we lost. It's about how much we have left.” - Tony Stark, 'Avengers: Endgame'

Georgia lost 15 players from last year's championship team to the NFL Draft. No one would have been surprised if there was a "small" drop off (like 1 loss?). But 2022 Georgia did something that 2021 Georgia did not - win the SEC Championship and go undefeated.

Fiesta Bowl - Michigan vs TCU

Michigan was in the CFP last year and got blown out by Georgia, 34-11. They must have been thinking like Bruce Banner at the beginning of Endgame, when the heroes were debating going after Thanos - “how do we know it's going to end any differently than it did before?”

"Before you didn't have me." is what Captain Marvel said in response. I'd imagine this is what Michigan QB JJ McCarthy tells the team in the locker room. McCarthy won the QB battle over Cade McNamara, who started last year's Playoff game (and season). McCarthy threw for 20 TDs (ran for 4 more) and only 3 INTs.

"I don't judge people by their worst mistakes" - Natasha Romanoff to Clint Barton, before Natasha's death, which result in the soul stone for Clint. This is what the CFP committee told TCU after the Frogs remained at #3 following an overtime loss to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game. That was TCU's worst mistake, their one loss, and the committee didn't judge them too harshly for it, keeping them in the field of four after going unbeaten in the regular season (including an earlier win over K-State). Speaking of...

Sugar Bowl - Alabama vs Kansas State

"I don't even know who you are" - Thanos, Avengers: Endgame
Thanos and Wanda are fighting and Wanda complains about Thanos taking everything from her, to which Thanos responds with this great quote.

This felt like a perfect analogy to me. Alabama and Nick Saban often playing the role of the villainous Thanos. Thanos claims he doesn't know who Wanda is, well, does anyone know who Kansas State is?

Seriously, how much K-State football did casual fans watch in 2022? How many people know about dynamic RB Deuce Vaughn. Wildcats are not a program known for it's lengthy football history or for being in the spotlight, so it's fair to wonder "who they are".

Orange Bowl - Clemson vs Tennessee

"You took everything from me" - Wanda, Avengers: Endgame

Same scene as the Sugar Bowl listed above with a different purpose. Wanda claims Thanos took everything from her and in this case, South Carolina took everything from both of these teams. In back-to-back weeks, the Gamecocks destroyed the CFP hopes of both of these teams. First, they beat Tennessee 63-38, and then ended Clemson's historic 40-game home winning streak, beating them for the first time since 2013.

Rose Bowl - Penn State vs Utah

"Part of the journey is the end."

This is the last ever traditional Rose Bowl. Well, kind of. It's not on New Year's Day because of the Sunday tradition in Pasadena and presence of the NFL. But if we ever get Big Ten vs PAC-12 again, it will be because of CFP bracket.

For Penn State, this is the end of the road for Sean Clifford, who holds many records and honors after being a four-year starter at Penn State. PSU is 31-14 with Clifford as the starter.

For Utah, it's a long road to get here. Utah transitioned from the Mountain West to PAC-12 in 2011 and won the PAC-12 for the first time in 2021, reaching the Rose Bowl for the first time. Back again for the second year in a row, with a veteran-heavy team, this feels like a last hurrah of sorts, and a last chance to get over the hump and capture, arguably, the school's biggest win ever.

Cotton Bowl - USC vs Tulane

“I used To have nothing. And then I got this - this job, this family and I was better because of it. Even though they’re gone, I’m still trying to be better.” - Natasha

USC and Tulane both used to have nothing, but then they got these coaches, and they were better because of it.

Before Lincoln Riley came along, USC last won the PAC-12 in 2017 (excluding 2020 COVID season), which is also their last NY6 bowl game (lost Cotton Bowl). Their last bowl win is 2016 and this is their first bowl appearance since 2019 Holiday Bowl. Before Riley, USC mostly stunk.

Before Willie Fritz came along, Tulane had won 7 or more games TWICE in their entire history and haven't played in a major bowl game since 1940 Sugar Bowl and won their first conference championship since 1939.

More from Avengers: Endgame (Non-NY6 Bowls)

Return from the Snap

3 bowl games were cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic and again in 2021, due to an outbreak on one of the teams. These four games "return from the snap", to be played for the first time since 2019.

Holiday Bowl - Oregon vs UNC

Holiday Bowl first originated in 1978, making it one of the oldest games. However, the 2021 game between NC State and UCLA was cancelled due to COVID outbreak and 2020 was cancelled due to pandemic.

Military Bowl - Duke vs UCF

UNC beat Temple 55-13 in the last Military Bowl in 2019. ECU and Boston College game was cancelled in 2021 and 2020, there simply weren't enough teams willing to play bowl games due to COVID.

This feels like a return from snap for Duke football, who won 8 games in 2022, for the first time since 2015. It's their first bowl game since 2018.

For UCF, this is their first non-NY6 bowl game outside the state of Florida since 2010 (Liberty Bowl).

Hawaii Bowl - Middle Tennessee State vs San Diego State

Last year's Memphis vs Hawaii game was cancelled, which stinks but also meant Memphis had a fun stress-free trip to Hawaii. This year's game is the first since 2017 to not feature Hawaii.

Time Travel - Endgame and Doctor Strange

Duke's Mayo Bowl - NC State vs Maryland

In another universe, this is an ACC conference game, as opposed to an ACC vs Big Ten game. These schools played almost every year from 1946-2013 and are dead even at 33-33 all-time (plus 4 ties). It's their first game since ACC conference play in 2013.

Music City Bowl - Iowa vs Kentucky

It feels like these two teams are trapped in a time loop like Doctor Strange and Dormammu. Kentucky beat Iowa last season, 20-17, in the Citrus Bowl. This year's game has the lowest point total for gambling purposes (31.5 over/under).

Myrtle Beach Bowl - UConn vs Marshall

Congrats to UConn, who is bowling for the first time since 2015, where they also faced Marshall in the St Petersburg Bowl.

Alamo Bowl - Washington vs Texas

Time travel back to 2009-2013, when Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian compiled a 34-29 overall record as coach of the Huskies. Sarkisian is 0-1 all-time vs Washington (as head coach of USC in 2015, Trojans lost 17-12).

Camellia Bowl - Buffalo vs Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern QB Kyle Vantrease threw for 3,901 yards, 25 TDs, and 15 INTs. He previously spent 5 years with Buffalo, appearing in games each year from 2017-2021.

More Doctor Strange

Cheez-It Bowl - Oklahoma vs Florida State

"Just because someone stumbles and loses their way, doesn't mean they are lost forever" - Professor X about Doctor Strange in Multiverse of Madness

Oklahoma has been the most dominant team in the Big 12 for many years. However, they finished just 6-6 in 2022, taking a big stumble in the first year post Lincoln Riley. Entering the SEC in 2024, are they lost forever? Or can they re-find their way?

Florida State had a fairly successful 9-3 season, but has been in a rut, having stumbled for a long time. This is only their second bowl game since 2018. During head coach Mike Norvell's first two seasons, FSU won a combined 8 games. 2022's 9 wins are their most since winning 10 in 2016.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Eastern Michigan vs San Jose State

"But I can lose. Again and again and again and again forever. That makes you my prisoner." - Doctor Strange to Dormammu in the first Doctor Strange movie.

Eastern Michigan hasn't won a bowl game since 1987, that's the second longest drought among teams that have won a bowl game (UTEP last win in 1967).

"As you can see, I am NOT dead!" - T'Challa in Black Panther.

This famous quote is relevant for Kansas, UConn, and New Mexico State. All 3 programs, at one point or another over the past decade, have been proclaimed "dead" by both CFB media and their own fans.

Liberty Bowl - Kansas vs Arkansas

Kansas hasn't been to a bowl game since 2009. Between 2010-2021, Kansas won 21 games total. Since 2018, they won 7 total games, with 3 different head coaches.

In year two under Lance Leipold, Kansas went 6-6. They started 5-0 and hosted ESPN's College Gameday,

Myrtle Beach Bowl - UCONN vs Marshall

In 2010, UConn won the Big East and went to the Fiesta Bowl. Since than, they have not finished over .500 (6-6 entering this game). Since 2018, they have won 4 total games. 10 total wins since their last bowl appearance in 2015 (from 2016-2021).

UConn went 6-6 in veteran head coach Jim Mora Jr's first season as head coach, including notable wins against Fresno State, Liberty and Boston College.

Quick Lane Bowl - New Mexico State vs Bowling Green

This is only the third bowl game in New Mexico State history after- the Aggies finished 6-6. It's their fifth 6-win season since 1986.

Since their last bowl appearance in 2016, New Mexico State has won 8 games total. In each of the last 4 seasons, they won 2, 1, 2, 3 games, respectively.

More Black Panther

Sun Bowl - UCLA vs Pitt

After being defeated by T'Challah, Erik Killmonger says "The sun will never set on the Wakandan empire."

Killmonger's purpose as the villain in the movie is to release the weapons and technology that Wakanda possesses to share with the rest of the world.

Both of these teams possess very valuable weapons at running back.

For Pitt, Israel Abanikanda ran for 1,431 yards (9th best in country) and 20 TDs (first in country)

For UCLA, Zach Charbonnet ran for 1,359 yards (15th best in country) and 14 TDs (15th best in country)

Guardians of the Galaxy

Hawaii Bowl - San Diego State vs Middle Tennessee State

Christmas Special - Drax and Mantis go to Earth looking for Kevin Bacon as a Christmas gift for Peter Quill

"That's the greatest Christmas gift I could ever get." - Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. That's what Star Lord, Peter Quill, said to Mantis after finding out they have the same father. Mantis and Drax spent most of this show searching for the perfect Christmas gift for Peter. They brought back Kevin Bacon.

San Diego State and Middle Tennessee State play on Christmas Eve and both enter this game 7-5. The perfect Christmas gift for either team would be an 8th win. MTSU last won 8 games in 2018. SDSU won 12 last season.

There is clear symmetry here, thought we can debate if you'd rather have 8 wins or Kevin Bacon as the greatest Christmas gift.

Bahamas Bowl - Miami Ohio vs UAB

This game is being played in another Galaxy. This and the Hawaii bowl are the only 2 games not being played on continental US land. And technically, Bahamas is the only game not played in the US at all. 

Both of these teams are basically from another galaxy too, as neither is front and center within their own states. Miami Ohio is probably the 8th or 9th most recognizable school in Ohio while UAB shares a state with Alabama and Auburn.

Captain America Bowl Games

Pinstripe Bowl - Minnesota vs Syracuse

Steve Rogers is from New York, where this bowl game is played. At the end of the First Avenger movie, he wakes up listening to an old Yankees game from 1941.

In 1941, Minnesota football went 8-0, finishing #1 in AP poll, claiming a National title that year.

Syracuse, New York's college football team, went 5-2-1 in 1941

"You are not worthy" - Thor in Avengers: Age of Ultron

A look at 4 teams who, metaphorically, were unable to lift the hammer and have been deemed not worthy of bigger games and bigger spotlights.

Citrus Bowl - Purdue vs LSU

Historically, the Citrus Bowl is a nice game with a New Year's Day (or January 2nd) time slot. But both of these teams are deemed "not worthy" of a bigger game after losing their Conference Championships.

Purdue could have beaten Michigan to earn their first Rose Bowl appearance since 2000 and LSU could have beaten Georgia to secure a spot in the Sugar Bowl, returning to the NY6 for the first time since their 2019 Championship season. However, Purdue lost to Michigan in the B1G Championship and LSU lost to Georgia.

Frisco Bowl - Boise State vs North Texas

The Frisco Bowl is the other game featuring conference championship game runner ups. Boise State went 8-0 in Mountain West Conference play, only to lose at home to Fresno State in the Championship. North Texas lost to UTSA and then fired their head coach, Seth Littrell, deeming him unworthy too.

Captain America Bowl Games

Pinstripe Bowl - Minnesota vs Syracuse

Steve Rogers is from New York, where this bowl game is played. At the end of the First Avenger movie, he wakes up listening to an old Yankees game from 1941.

In 1941, Minnesota football went 8-0, finishing #1 in AP poll, claiming a National title that year.

Syracuse, New York's college football team, went 5-2-1 in 1941

Armed Forces - Baylor vs Air Force

Natasha Romanoff: First rule of going on the run is: “Don’t run. Walk.”
Steve Rogers: [in a pair of loose shoes] If I run in these shoes they’re going to fall off.” Captain America: The Winter Soldier

“Peggy Carter: Did you have something against running away?
Steve Rogers: You start running, they’ll never let you stop. You stand up, push back. Can’t say no forever, right?” Captain America: The First Avenger

Air Force is ranked #1 in rushing offense and Baylor is 44th in rush defense.

Independence - Houston vs Louisiana

“Iron Man: Shit!
Captain America: Language!” Avengers: Age of Ultron

Houston had NY6 expectations coming into 2022. They went 12-2 in 2021 and returned many key players. Instead, they fell apart early and end their last AAC season 7-5, playing in a pre-Christmas bowl game in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Louisiana won the Sun Belt in 2021 under Billy Napier, who left for Florida and the Cajuns fell to 6-6, after 3 consecutive 10+ win seasons.

First Responder - Memphis vs Utah State

“Sam Wilson: You must miss the good old days, huh?
Steve Rogers: Well, things aren’t so bad. Food’s a lot better; we used to boil everything. No polio is good. Internet, so helpful. I’ve been reading that a lot trying to catch up.” Captain America: The Winter Soldier

This is the 4th edition of the "First Responder" bowl branding but the bowl game itself has existed since 2011 (did not realize this until I did the research).

Memphis had a strong run from 2017-2019, which is their most recent "glory days". They played in the Liberty Bowl (vs Iowa State), Birmingham Bowl (vs Wake Forest), and Cotton Bowl (vs Penn State). Now, they find themselves in a middle-tier bowl against a 6-6 Mountain West team coming off a second straight 6-6 season.

Utah State won the MWC last season, finishing 11-3. Following that up with a 6-6 season is certainly far off from the "glory days" that Sam referenced.

New Orleans Bowl - South Alabama vs Western Kentucky

Sam Wilson, who is from New Orleans, is the new Captain America.

In 2023, Conference-USA will look a LOT different. Gone are FAU, UTSA, UAB, Rice, North Texas, and Charlotte. Can Western Kentucky emerge as the new leader of C-USA? It's possible, among a group that will include Middle Tennessee State, Louisiana Tech, Liberty.

What is South Alabama's connection to Captain America? The schools initials are USA (University of South Alabama).

"Hey, let's do get help" - Thor to Loki in Thor Ragnorak

Guaranteed Rate Bowl - Wisconsin vs Oklahoma State

Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz has entered the transfer portal and will not play in this game, leaving Chase Wolf, an unproven backup with 31 career pass attempts (6 in 2022) to step in and start.

Oklahoma needs to get help, in a lot of ways. Cowboys started the year 5-0 and were ranked as high as #7, but lost 5 of 7 and 2 straight to end the regular season.

Las Vegas Bowl - Florida vs Oregon State

Remember when Florida QB Anthony Richardson was a Heisman front runner after a week 1 upset over Utah? Good times. Richardson has opted out of the Vegas Bowl, which means Gators need to "get help" as they turn to unproven backup Jack Miller III, formerly of Ohio State.

Other MCU References and Bowl Games

Gator Bowl - South Carolina vs Notre Dame

Thanos Bowl

As mentioned earlier, South Carolina beat Tennessee and Clemson in back-to-back weeks, preventing both from making the CFP. What a way to end the season if they could win a third straight against a prestigious, historically dominant school in Notre Dame.

Meanwhile, everyone hates a good villain right? Notre Dame is one of the most despised college football programs around the country. There is no middle ground. You either cheer for them or boo them.

New Mexico Bowl - SMU vs BYU

Thor was banished to New Mexico after disobeying his father's (Odin) orders.

BYU beat then-#9 Baylor week 2, before losing to Oregon. They were 4-1 and ranked 16th heading into a game against Notre Dame, which they lost 28-20. Before that loss, there was a thought that BYU could be a NY6 bowl game. But they also lost to East Carolina and Arkansas (both at home) and Liberty, making them unworthy of going anywhere other than New Mexico.

SMU lost to the top 3 teams in the AAC - Cincinnati, UCF, Tulane, meaning like BYU, they were also unworthy.

LendingTree Bowl - Southern Mississippi vs Rice

“If you try to escape, or play any sort of games with me, I will taze you and watch ‘Supernanny’ while you drool into the carpet.” – Agent Coulson, Iron Man 2

I love all bowl games equally. I swear. But this is a game featuring a 5-7 Rice team vs a 6-6 Southern Miss team that lost 3 of it's last 4.

Fenway Bowl - Cincinnati vs Louisville

Hulk Smash

Fenway Park is best known for the big green monster wall in left field. The Avengers have a big green monster, known as the Hulk.

Cincinnati vs Louisville have played 53 times and they play for a rivalry trophy known as the Keg of Nails. That Keg represents being tough as nails, strong as the Hulk.

"He's a friend from work!" - Thor to Hulk in Thor Ragnorak

Cincinnati hired away Scott Sattefield from Louisville, to be their new head coach. Satterfield will have no involvement in the bowl game, but is still a familiar face to Louisville players.

These programs are also familiar with each other having played together in the Big East and Conference USA.

Cure Bowl - Troy vs UTSA

In Iron Man 2, Tony Stark was dying due to palladium poisoning related to the incidents of the first movie. Later, he found a new element and was able to create a "cure" to save his life.

Troy won 5 games in each of the last 3 seasons, before hiring Jon Sumrall.

UTSA was a middle-to-bottom of the pack C-USA team, before Jeff Traylor showed up. He won 7 games in year 1 (2019), something UTSA had only done twice before, and won 11+ in back-to-back seasons.

Both Sumrall and Traylor are the "cure" to fix both programs, who are trending up.

General MCU Quotes

"Before we get started, does anyone want to get out?" - Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I personally love bowl games. I think there is meaning and significance to them, but not everyone agrees. Especially players. Many opt out, to begin draft prep or move on via transfer portal.

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