Everything You Might Have Missed During the Final Week of Bowl Games
While you probably tuned in to the playoff and other “Big Six” bowl games, there was a lot of action in games further down the schedule. Here are all the highlights from the last week of bowl season that you might have missed.
Military Bowl Presented by Northrup Grumman
Virginia Tech 33, Cincinnati 17
Virginia Tech broke open a 10-10 tie with 20 unanswered points to put away the Bearcats. Hokie running back J.C. Coleman (157 yards) became the first Virginia Tech player to have back-to-back 100+ yard rushing games since David Wilson in 2011.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
No. 15 Arizona State 36, Duke 31
Down most of the day, Duke put on a fourth-quarter rally to take a 31-30 lead with just 5:03 to play. But the Blue Devils’ lead was short-lived, as Arizona State got a big return on the ensuing kickoff to set up the go-ahead touchdown one play later. Duke has not beaten a Top 25 team outside the ACC since 1971.
Duck Commander Independence Bowl
South Carolina 24, Miami 21
South Carolina receiver Pharoh Cooper caught 9 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown to lead the Gamecocks to their school-record fourth consecutive bowl win. Miami’s Duke Johnson notched his 14th career 100+ rushing yard game, tying him with Clinton Portis and Edgerrin James for the most in Hurricane history.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Penn State 31, Boston College 30 (OT)
Boston College kicker Mike Knoll picked the worst possible time to miss, shanking an extra point in overtime that allowed Penn State to score the comeback win. After struggling much of the season, Nittany Lion quarterback Christian Hackenberg threw for 371 yards and four touchdowns in Penn State’s first bowl win since coming off of NCAA probation.
National University Holiday Bowl
No. 24 USC 45, Nebraska 41
Playing without fired head coach Bo Pelini, the Cornhuskers put up a valiant effort, going toe-to-to with a USC roster littered with NFL talent until a Hail Mary at the final whistle was knocked away. But Nebraska was unable to overcome the Trojans’ offensive firepower, led by freshman CB/WR Adoree’ Jackson, who had a 98-yard kick return touchdown to go along with three catches for 73 yards and another score.
Autozone Liberty Bowl
Texas A&M 45, West Virginia 37
A&M rolled up 529 yards of total offense en route to their fourth consecutive bowl win, a school-record. Unfortunately, the accomplishment was marred by student assistant Michael Richardson, who was caught on video twice throwing punches at West Virginia players on the A&M sideline. Coach Kevin Sumlin later announced that Richardson had been “permanently dismissed” from the Aggie program.
Russell Athletic Bowl
No. 17 Clemson 40, Oklahoma 6
Three years ago, Oklahoma fans basically ran defensive coordinator Brent Venables out of town. But Venables got the last laugh as his top-ranked Tigers’ defense embarrassed the Sooners, holding Oklahoma’s offense to just 275 total yards and forcing five turnovers (including an interception returned for a touchdown). The 34-point margin was the second-worst loss for Oklahoma under coach Bob Stoops.
Advocare V100 Texas Bowl
Arkansas 31, Texas 7
The Razorbacks’ defense stifled the Texas offense all night, holding the Longhorns to just 59 total yards (just two rushing), forcing two turnovers and recovering a fumble for a touchdown. Things got so bad for Texas that Arkansas just started putting nine guys on the line of scrimmage and daring Texas to stop them.
The loss gives the Longhorns their first losing season since 2010 and just the second since 1997.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Notre Dame 31, No. 23 LSU 28
Fighting Irish kicker Kyle Brindza hit a 32-yard field goal as time expired to snap Notre Dame’s four-game losing streak. Making his first career start, Irish quarterback Malik Zaire threw for 96 yards and a touchdown and matched those numbers on the ground. LSU’s Leonard Fournette rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns and added a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown in the loss.
No. 13 Georgia 37, No. 21 Louisville 14
Freshman running back Nick Chubb rushed for a career-high 266 yards, a record for any freshman in a bowl game, and two scores against the nation’s second-best rush defense to lead Georgia to its second bowl victory in three years. It was the second-biggest rushing day in school history, behind Herschel Walker’s 283-yard performance against Vanderbilt in 1980.
Foster Farms Bowl
Stanford 45, Maryland 21
Stanford blew a 7-7 game open with 21 unanswered points in the second quarter and never looked back. The Cardinal had its most complete offensive performance of the season (208 yards passing, 206 rushing) and combined that with a stellar defensive performance, holding the Terrapins to just 205 total yards (17 rushing).
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl
No. 6 TCU 42, No. 9 Ole Miss 3
Although TCU got left out of the playoff, the Horned Frogs certainly made a statement that they should have been included, rolling up 42 points and 423 yards on the nation’s top-ranked defense. But as good as TCU’s offense was, the defense was even better, holding the Rebels to just 129 total yards (9 rushing) and forcing five turnovers. TCU has now won seven of its last nine bowl games, while the defeat handed the Rebels their first postseason loss since 2000.
No. 18 Wisconsin 34, No. 19 Auburn 31 (OT)
Looking to rebound from its 59-0 loss in the Big Ten title game, Wisconsin rushed for 400 yards and running back Melvin Gordon (251 yards) broke Ron Dayne’s school record for rushing in a bowl game. Auburn took a lead with less than three minutes to play, but the Badgers drove the field for a tying field goal with seven seconds left in regulation and then made another in overtime. But the Tigers’ attempt to answer clanked off the right upright, handing Wisconsin its first bowl win since 2009.
Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl
No. 16 Missouri 33, No. 25 Minnesota 17
For both teams, this game came down to an ability—or inability—to run the ball. Missouri rushed for a season-high 337 yards while holding the Gophers’ 27th ranked rush offense to just 106 total yards. The win gave Mizzou its 23rd win in the last two seasons, the best two-year mark in school history.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Houston 35, Pittsburgh 34
Houston scored three touchdowns in the final 3:41 to shock Pitt and score one of this bowl season’s most improbable wins. In the final minutes of the game, the Cougars recovered two onside kicks and capitalized before going for—and getting—the win with a two-point conversion with just 59 seconds left. The 25-point margin represents the largest 4th quarter comeback in bowl history.
Tennessee 45, Iowa 28
The Volunteers jumped out to a 28-0 lead less than 18 minutes into the game and never looked back, racking up 461 total yards en route to their first bowl win and winning season since 2008.
Valero Alamo Bowl
No. 14 UCLA 40, No. 11 Kansas State 35
This was one of the more entertaining games of bowl season as UCLA jumped out to a 31-6 halftime lead, only to see the Wildcats come storming back. Kansas State scored to pull within five with 1:21 to play. But UCLA recovered the ensuing onside kick to ice the game. Playing in his final college game, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley only threw for 136 yards and a touchdown, but added 96 yards and two scores on the ground.
Ticketcity Cactus Bowl
Oklahoma State 30, Washington 22
The Cowboys didn’t look like a team that needed a miracle upset just to become bowl eligible. Instead, they jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead and cruised to victory from there. But the story everyone will talk about was defensive lineman James Castleman, who lined up at quarterback for a one-yard touchdown run and later blasted the paint from a Washington defender’s helmet on this 48-yard reception that gave OSU a key first down during its final drive.
Florida 28, East Carolina 20
East Carolina outgained Florida, 536-339, but the Pirates offense struggled when it mattered, turning the ball over three times, missing a field goal and turning the ball over on downs twice in the first quarter. The Pirates boasted one of the better offenses in the country (15th in scoring), but went stagnant in the second half—after a touchdown three minutes into the third quarter, ECU managed just two field goals and six other drives that netted 92 total yards, five punts and an interception on first-and-goal from the Florida 5-yard line. Gator running back Adam Lane accounted for nearly a third of the Florida offense, rushing for 109 yards and a score in the win.
Toledo 63, Arkansas State 44
Toledo got two defensive touchdowns and running back Kareem Hunt busted out for 271 yards and 5 scores as the Rockets routed Arkansas State. The Red Wolves kept it close early, pulling to within 21-17 early in the second quarter. But Toledo responded with a 21-0 run to essentially put the game away midway through the third. The two teams combined for 107 points, the third-most in bowl history.