Fourth Quarter Fireworks Highlight First Week of College Bowl Games
While the first week of college bowl games may not have featured college football’s biggest names, the games certainly didn’t lack for excitement and late-game drama. Here are some of the highlights from this week in college football.
GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL: Colorado State 48, Washington State 45
This one was expected to be an offensive shootout and the two teams didn’t disappoint, rolling up a combined 995 yards and 93 points. CSU running back Kapri Bibbs rushed for 169 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Rams back from a 22-point deficit, the second-largest gap overcome in a non-OT bowl game. With the help of a Cougars fumble on a kickoff return, Colorado State scored 11 points in the game’s final 33 seconds to pull off the improbable comeback win.
ROYAL PURPLE LAS VEGAS BOWL: No. 25 USC 45, No. 20 Fresno State 20
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr led the nation in passing, but he was largely held in check by the Trojans, throwing for just 216 yards and two touchdowns. He was overshadowed by USC quarterback Cody Kessler, who threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns, both career highs. The Trojans were playing under their third coach this season (offensive coordinator Clay Helton) after the firing of Lane Kiffin and resignation of Ed Orgeron.
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL: San Diego State 49, Buffalo 24
Attempting to get its first bowl win in school history, Buffalo hung close for most of the first half before San Diego State blew the game open with 28 unanswered points in a nine-minute span. After rushing for just 57 total yards in his previous two games, Aztec running back Adam Muema exploded for 229 yards and three touchdowns.
R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL: Louisiana-Lafayette 24, Tulane 21
Turnovers proved to be the key in this one as the Ragin’ Cajuns were able to convert three Tulane interceptions into 17 points, including the game-winning field goal in the fourth quarter. Playing on its home field, the Green Wave had a chance to tie the game late but kicker Cairo Santos, the 2012 Groza Award winner, pushed a 48-yard field goal attempt wide left with just nine seconds left. Tulane running back Orleans Darkwa rushed for three touchdowns in the loss, giving him 39 in his career (tied with Matt Forte for the most in school history).
BEEF ‘O’ BRADY’S BOWL ST. PETERSBURG: East Carolina 37, Ohio 20
East Carolina running back Vintavious Cooper rushed for a career-high 198 yards and three touchdowns to help the Pirates snap a four-game bowl losing streak. Ohio took a 20-17 lead early in the fourth quarter before Cooper took over, scoring two touchdowns in less than eight minutes as ECU scored 20 unanswered points to close the game.
SHERATON HAWAII BOWL: Oregon State 38, Boise State 23
Oregon State cornerback Rashaad Reynolds returned two fumbles for touchdowns to help the Beavers jump out to a 31-6 halftime lead and then coast to victory from there. Boise quarterback Joe Southwick was suspended for the game, but backup Grant Hedrick did his best to provide a spark, throwing for 382 yards and a touchdown. Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion threw for 259 yards in the game, setting a new Pac-12 record with 4,226 passing yards on the season.
LITTLE CAESARS BOWL: Pittsburgh 30, Bowling Green 27
A pair of record-setting freshman sparked the Panthers to their first bowl win since 2010. Running back James Conner broke Tony Dorsett’s school bowl record with 229 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Tyler Boyd added another bowl record with 173 receiving yards. He also returned a punt for a touchdown and broke Larry Fitzgerald’s school record for receiving yards by a freshman in the win. This game was a back-and-forth affair that was decided by Pitt kicker Chris Blewitt’s 39-yard field goal with just 1:17 left to play.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA BOWL: Utah State 21, No. 23 Northern Illinois 14
Utah State’s defense shut down the Huskies’ Jordan Lynch to lead the Aggies to their third bowl win in school history. Lynch, who finished third in the Heisman voting, scored both of Northern Illinois’ touchdowns, but was held to just 39 rushing yards, keeping him from becoming the first player in NCAA history to have 2,000 rushing and passing yards in the same season. Utah State safety Brian Suite was a one-man wrecking crew, recording an interception and recovering a Lynch fumble to lead to 10 Aggie points.
MILITARY BOWL: Marshall 31, Maryland 20
Maryland completed a 17-play, 99-yard drive to take 20-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. But Marshall responded with 14 unanswered points in the next 11 minutes to give the Thundering Herd its first ten-win season since 2002. Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato (already third in the nation in passing touchdowns) threw for 337 yards and three scores in the win.
TEXAS BOWL: Syracuse 21, Minnesota 17
After a slow start, the two teams filled the fourth quarter with fireworks. Trailing 14-3, the Gophers scored 14 points in less than three minutes to take a 17-14 lead. But Syracuse responded with a 70-yard punt return with less than two minutes left and then pushed in the game-winning touchdown with 1:14 on the clock. Minnesota, which has lost six straight bowl games, is now 0-21 under coach Jerry Kill when trailing at half.
FIGHT HUNGER BOWL: Washington 31, BYU 16
Despite missing the fourth quarter with a hand injury, Washington running back Bishop Sankey rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns, tying the Huskies’ career TD record in the process, while leading UW to its second bowl win in 12 years. But an equally significant part of the win was the Huskies’ defense, which held BYU to just 180 rushing yards—nearly 90 yards less than the Cougars’ season average. The loss snaps a four-game bowl winning streak for BYU.