Wild Finishes Highlight Final Week of Bowl Games
While the BCS games this week featured some big shootouts and bigger upsets, the non-BCS games were equally exciting.
Here is a rundown of all the non-BCS bowl games from the final week of college football.
NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL: Notre Dame 29, Rutgers 16
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees ended his up-and-down career with the Fighting Irish throwing for 319 yards and no interceptions. The Notre Dame defense had one of its strongest games of the year, forcing four turnovers and holding Rutgers to just 236 total yards. With the game played in light rain, sloppy field conditions resulted in a field goal kicking contest, with Rutgers going 3/3 and the Irish 5/6.
BELK BOWL: North Carolina 39, Cincinnati 17
The Tarheels got a safety and a punt return touchdown on consecutive plays to blow open 16-0 first quarter lead en route to ending a three-game losing streak in this bowl. Defense and special teams keyed the Tarheels' victory as they forced two turnovers, sacked Cincinnati quarterback Brendon Kay five times (once for a safety) and scored two kick return touchdowns.
RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL: No. 18 Louisville 36, Miami 9
Miami recorded a safety early in the first quarter, but after that it was all Louisville as the Cardinals rolled off 36 unanswered points to secure the second 12-win season in school history. Playing in his last college game, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had one of the best games of his career, throwing for a career-high 447 yards and three touchdowns while adding another score on the ground.
BUFFALO WILD WINGS BOWL: Kansas State 31, Michigan 14
Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett caught ten passes (a school record in a bowl game) for 116 yards and three touchdowns as Kansas State rolled over Michigan to win its first bowl game in 11 years. Playing without injured quarterback Devin Gardner, Michigan’s offense was dreadful, racking up just 179 total yards (22 rushing) before an 82-yard scoring drive in the game's waning seconds. The Wolverines dropped six of their last eight games and lost their title of “Winningest Program in College Football History” to Notre Dame (73.3 winning percentage vs. 73.2).
BELL HELICOPTER ARMED FORCES BOWL: Navy 24, Middle Tennessee 6
Navy’s sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Midshipmen to their second bowl win in the last eight seasons. Reynolds’ 31 touchdowns on the season set an NCAA record for a quarterback and trail only Barry Sanders (37) and Montee Ball (33) in the record books.
FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL: Ole Miss 25, Georgia Tech 17
Ole Miss jumped out to a 23-7 lead and then held off a fourth-quarter Yellow Jacket rally to earn the Rebels’ sixth straight bowl win (10 of their last 11). Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace threw for 256 yards and rushed for 86 with three total touchdowns. Georgia Tech, which has lost eight of its last nine bowl games, was held to only 151 rushing yards, just half of its season average.
VALERO ALAMO BOWL: No. 10 Oregon 30, Texas 7
Marcus Mariota finished with 386 total yards to lead Oregon to its third straight bowl win and end the Mack Brown era at Texas on a sour note. While Oregon’s high-powered offense rolled up 469 yards, it was the Ducks’ defense that was the big story in this game, holding Texas to just 56 passing yards and returning two interceptions for touchdowns.
NATIONAL UNIVERSITY HOLIDAY BOWL: Texas Tech 37, No. 14 Arizona State 23
Texas Tech ended its five-game losing streak with a big upset of the Sun Devils. Red Raider freshman quarterback Davis Webb threw for 403 yards and a Holiday Bowl-record four touchdowns in the win. The Red Raiders scored touchdowns on their first four possessions and also got a kickoff return touchdown early in the second half.
ADVOCARE V100 BOWL: Arizona 42, Boston College 19
Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey won the battle between the nation’s two top running backs, rushing for 169 yards and two touchdowns as the Wildcats rolled up 529 yards of offense to win their second consecutive bowl game. BC’s Andre Williams, who finished fourth in the Heisman voting, was largely held in check, rushing for just 75 yards and one score on 26 carries. The Eagles kept it close early, pulling within 7-6 early in the second quarter only to see Arizona respond with 35 unanswered points.
HYUNDAI SUN BOWL: No. 17 UCLA 42, Virginia Tech 17
The Bruins blew out Virginia Tech to secure their first 10-win season in eight years. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley showed why he is one of next year’s Heisman favorites, accounting for 387 total yards and four touchdowns, including a team bowl record 86-yard rushing score. This was the Hokies’ second-worst ever bowl loss.
AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL: Mississippi State 44, Rice 7
Rice won its first conference title in 56 years, but that didn’t count for much in this one-sided affair. The Bulldogs rolled up 533 yards of offense while holding the Owls to just 145. Rice ranked 16th nationally in rushing, but was held to just 61 yards on the ground. MSU receiver Jameon Lewis set a school and Liberty Bowl record with 220 receiving yards.
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL: No. 21 Texas A&M 52, No. 24 Duke 48
If this was Johnny Manziel’s last college game, he certainly went out in style, accounting for 455 yards and five touchdowns, including a highlight reel play for the ages, while leading the Aggies back from a 21-point halftime deficit.
A&M’s porous defense gave up 661 yards to the Blue Devils, but made the play of their season with an interception return touchdown that provided the go-ahead score with 3:33 to play. This was Manziel’s ninth game with 450+ yards. Prior to his arrival in College Station, the Aggies had only two such games in school history.
TAXSLAYER.COM GATOR BOWL: Nebraska 24, No. 22 Georgia 19
Played in a driving rain much of the day, this game really turned on two consecutive plays late in the third quarter. Nebraska quarterback Tommy Armstrong was sacked and fumbled, but recovered the ball less than six inches from the goal line. But on the next play, the Cornhuskers got aggressive, going deep for a bowl-record 99-yard touchdown pass to Quincy Enunwa and taking a double-digit lead. Georgia made it inside Nebraska’s 21-yard line seven times, but came away with just one touchdown.
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL: North Texas 36, UNLV 14
UNLV opened the game with a 95-yard touchdown drive. But from that point on, the Mean Green controlled the game, scoring 28 unanswered points and holding the Rebels to just 167 more yards. This was North Texas' first bowl game since 2004 and just the second bowl win in school history.
OUTBACK BOWL: No. 16 LSU 21, Iowa 14
Playing without injured quarterback Zach Mettenberger, LSU relied on a pounding ground game to win the Tigers’ fifth bowl game in six years. Running back Jeremy Hill rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns in the win. This is LSU’s fourth consecutive year to finish with 10 or more wins, a school record.
CAPITAL ONE BOWL: No. 9 South Carolina 34, No. 19 Wisconsin 24
Connor Shaw’s up-and-down career at South Carolina ended on a high note as the senior threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, rushed for a score and caught a throwback pass for one more. Wisconsin’s high-powered rushing game ran for 293 yards but was held out of the end zone as the Badgers turned the ball over four times. The win was the Gamecocks’ third consecutive bowl win. This was Wisconsin’s first double-digit loss in over three years.
AT&T COTTON BOWL: No. 8 Missouri 41, No. 13 Oklahoma State 31
Henry Josey rushed for three touchdowns and the two teams scored 41 total fourth-quarter points as Missouri won a shootout against its old Big 12 foes. With Missouri up 34-31 and less than a minute on the clock, Tigers defensive end Michael Sam sacked OSU’s Clint Chelf (giving him a school record 11.5 sacks on the season) and forced a fumble, which was returned for a touchdown to put the game out of reach.
BBVA COMPASS BOWL: Vanderbilt 41, Houston 24
It was a game of runs as Vanderbilt jumped out to an early 24-0 point lead, only to see the Cougars score 24 unanswered points in the third quarter to tie the game. But the Commodores responded with 17 points of their own in the fourth to secure their second consecutive bowl win.
GoDaddy Bowl: Arkansas State 23, Ball State 20
Ball State took a 20-16 lead with just 1:33 to play, only to see the Red Wolves respond with a good kick return and a five-play, 59-yard drive for the game-winning touchdown with just 32 seconds left on the clock. With the help of a personal foul on the ensuing kickoff, Ball State was actually in position to 38-yard field goal to tie the game. But Arkansas State blocked the kick as time expired to seal the victory.