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The final FBS game of the 2011 college football season that isn't the BCS National Championship Game featured another thing that made the season great: #MACtion. And the Northern Illinois Huskies capped an exciting season with a 38-20 win over Arkansas State in the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl that had its fair share of excitement.
Chandler Harnish threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns through the air, and the Huskies' defense forced five Arkansas State turnovers, returning one Ryan Aplin interception for a touchdown, in recovering from a 13-0 deficit to score 31 consecutive points. Northern Illinois scored a touchdown on a fake end around play-action pass and got Jamal Womble's first career touchdown run on the day.
Red Wolves quarterback Aplin threw three interceptions, marring a night on which he threw for 352 yards and a touchdown and ran for another.
For more college football, stay tuned to SB Nation’s college football news coverage. And visit our many college football blogs. For more on Northern Illinois, keep it locked to SB Nation Chicago and our Huskies team blog, Red and Black Attack. For more on Mid-American Conference football, visit Hustle Belt.
The Arkansas Razorbacks have completed their first 11-win season since 1977 and the most successful year of their SEC tenure, downing the Kansas St. Wildcats, 29-16, in the 2012 Cotton Bowl. It wasn't technically a BCS game, but it was one of only a handful of bowls to pair two top-10 teams, something not even the Orange Bowl could claim.
This should make for the fourth top-five poll finish in program history.
With Tyler Wilson likely sticking around, Paul Petrino coming back, and a rearranged defensive staff -- along with the potential of a Knile Davis return -- a top-five start for 2012 is in the cards as well.
Though Wilson posted only 216 yards on a subpar (347) night by Razorbacks standards, a superb effort by the Hogs defense limited the ground-adept Cats to only 92 yards worth of rushing. The Arkansas D added six sacks and two turnovers to boot. It's not often we get to tout Arkansas' defense, but there you have it.
Let's not overlook the season enjoyed by K-State, which bolted together double-digit wins of their own thanks to guile and spare parts and craft. Bright futures all around?
For now, we'll just trust this gentleman will be spotted throughout each and every avenue of Dallas at one point or another this evening:
From a four-touchdown, five-minute spurt around halftime to the highest combined-scoring first quarter and first half in Orange Bowl history to WVU pulling starting quarterback Geno Smith with 20 minutes left in the game, WVU made that whole rejected-by-the-ACC thing look mighty silly indeed.
Smith passed for 401 yards and six touchdowns, Tavon Austin put together 163 combined yards and four scores, Shawne Alston rushed for 78 and scored twice. It goes on and on. The funny thing is Clemson's offense actually played reasonably well, putting up 440 yards, but letting go of four turnovers made far too big of an opportunity for one of the nation's fastest, most capable offenses.
Dana Holgorsen, who became the head coach of the 'Eers after a rocky setup with previous coach Bill Stewart fell apart, has helped give West Virginia its third victory in a BCS bowl game.
For the fifth time in school history, the Michigan Wolverines have won 11 games in a season. Brendan Gibbons was good on his third of three field goal attempts of the 2012 Sugar Bowl, making it 23-20 in favor of Michigan after third-string Virginia Tech Hokies kicker failed for the first time in his five attempts. Life's like that.
Michigan's offense was all but shut down for the entire evening, gaining only 184 yards in five periods. Virginia Tech held Denard Robinson to 130 total yards -- Danny Coale caught 117 even with a touchdown called back -- but gave up three turnovers and had to settle for field goals all night long.
The question coming into this game was whether the Hokies even deserved to be in New Orleans. They certainly proved they can compete with anybody, but missed again in their efforts to add a noteworthy victory to their 2011 campaign.
Brandon Weeden threw three touchdowns to Justin Blackmon to help Okie State hold off Stanford.
The Oregon Ducks have handed the Wisconsin Badgers their second Rose Bowl loss in a row in one of the highest-scoring games in Rose history (and one of the highest-scoring games of a HIGH-SCORY bowl season), 45-38. The Ducks left Russell Wilson only 16 seconds on the clock to attempt a comeback, but, as has been the case all year, the closing moments were not kind to the Badgers.
UW made it all the way to midfield with only nine ticks left, then found Nick Toon near the red zone as two second remained. A spike attempt did not make it to the ground in time, and after a review, that was that. In a game filled with close calls, that was the closest, but it's in the books.
Oregon's 621 yards worth of offense came in only 24 minutes worth of possession. A BCS bowl win for the Ducks, a possible top-four finish, and the conclusion of perhaps the finest season in school history.
Michigan State came back from a 16-0 halftime deficit to win the program's first bowl game under Mark D'Antonio, 33-30 over Georgia in triple overtime at the 2012 Outback Bowl.
Sparty nearly had six points in the first possession of the third frame, when Cousins' pass was mishandled by a wide-open Keshawn Martin on 3rd and 2 that would've given MSU the first down and possibly a touchdown.
Cousins finished with 300 yards on 27 of 50 passing for one touchdown and three interceptions in a game that featured seven consecutive Sparty drives of three-and-out before both teams caught fire on offense late.
The 2012 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl was not where either Florida or Ohio State dreamed of finishing its 2011 season. But it was the Gators who got the 24-17 win in Jacksonville to avoid ending their season with a losing record.
The Gators got 132 passing yards and a touchdown pass from John Brantley and 71 rushing yards and a blocked punt from Chris Rainey, and scored touchdowns on Andre Debose's 99-yard kickoff return touchdown and Graham Stewart's return of the blocked punt.
The game was closer to a nightmare for Ohio State, which had problems stopping Florida, moving the ball, and on special teams. And yet, with less than a minute to go, the Buckeyes were within a touchdown; an onside kick recovered by Stephen Alli preserved the Gators' win.
Braxton Miller, who threw for 71 yards and a touchdown on that final drive to close the game to a single possession, finished with 162 passing yards and two touchdowns on the day.
The Gators improved to 7-6 on the year, and dodged their first losing season since 1979. For the Buckeyes, their 6-7 record makes 2011 the first year since 1897 that Ohio State has had seven losses.
The South Carolina Gamecocks have won 11 games for the first time in school history, downing the Nebraska Cornhuskers, 23-13, in the 2012 Capital One Bowl. Considering the milestone, it's a curious assortment of players to have done it. No Stephen Garcia, no Marcus Lattimore, and only three quarters worth of Alshon Jeffery.
There will surely be those who continue to doubt Case Keenum's ability to succeed at the next level, but he took at least a step in the direction of answering some of the concerns over his abilities while leading the Houston Cougars to a 30-14 win over Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl on Monday. Keenum completed 44 of 68 passes for 533 yards and three touchdowns as the Cougars overcame the disappointment of losing in the Conference USA title game and beat their first ranked opponent of the season.
Keenum got the Cougars off to a fast start while leading his team to scores on their first three possessions. The Cougars jumped out to a 17-0 lead following a pair of touchdown passes from Keenum and never led by fewer than 10 points after that. Although the Cougars were held out of the endzone and Keenum was stopped from essentially rewriting the record book (he did set a record for most completions in a bowl game) during the second half, they were able to move the ball whenever they needed to and avoided any turnovers.
The Cougars defense, meanwhile, had little trouble slowing down the Nittany Lions offense. The Cougars intercepted Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden three times and held him to just 7 of 26 passing. Penn State did get a little life in the third quarter when Bolden hooked up with Justin Brown on a 69-yard touchdown that cut their deficit to 27-14, but the Cougars immediately answered with a field goal.
Keenum wasn't the only Cougars player to put some outrageous numbers. Patrick Edwards caught nine passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns, including one that went for 75 yards. Justin Johnson caught Keenum's other touchdown throw and racked up 147 yards on 12 catches. Keenum, who already had the NCAA record for all-purpose yards, went over 20,000 for his career and the Cougars compiled more than 600 yards of offense in the game.
Reviewing the college football bowl games from over the holiday break as if they were feature films.
Gus Malzahn has coached his last game as offensive coordinator of the Auburn Tigers, a 43-24 Chick-fil-A Bowl win over the Virginia Cavaliers. If this bowl was a showcase for what the Arkansas St. Red Wolves are going to run in 2012, you might want to tune in to a little bit more Sun Belt football than usual next year.
The 2011 Liberty Bowl provided most of the points and excitement on the final day of the 2011 college football season that is actually part of 2011, and it gave the Cincinnati Bearcats the penultimate college football victory of 2011, in a 31-24 triumph over Vanderbilt.
Cincinnati's 17 fourth quarter points propelled them, and both their offense and special teams produced them: Ralph Abernathy's 91-yard kickoff return touchdown made Vandy's 21-17 lead, itself produced by a big 68-yard touchdown catch from Chris Boyd, very short-lived, and Isaiah Pead's 12-yard touchdown run with less than two minutes on the clock sealed the Bearcats' win. Pead ran for 150 yards and a touchdown, propping up Cincinnati's offense, which got just 79 passing yards and a touchdown from Zach Collaros, who also threw two interceptions.
Vanderbilt's passing game was worse, however: Jordan Rodgers completed just four of 14 passes, and Larry Smith, who came in for him, completed eight of his 19 attempts for 142 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Commodores runners combined for 127 yards and two touchdowns, with Zac Stacy and Jerron Seymour both getting to paydirt.
The 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is over, and awareness has been raised both for the pressing cases of the millions who are underfed and the thousands (dozens?) of people who suffered through Illinois' 20-14 victory.
Nathan Scheelhaase starred for Illinois, throwing for 139 yards and a touchdown and running for another 110 yards, but he was the best part about a game that featured two interim coaches and two teams too mediocre to either be compellingly good or bad. UCLA fell to 6-8 with the loss, and became the first bowl team of the modern era to finish its season two games under .500.
UCLA quarterback Kevin Prince threw for 202 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but completed just 14 of his 29 attempts. Oh, and UCLA ran for 18 yards on 30 carries.
On the bright side, Illinois' victory means the Illini did win bowl games in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history, and also won their first game since October 8. Which is nice.
Additionally, Western Kentucky will not play in a bowl game. No word on if that is because Illinois and UCLA did, and the Hilltoppers don't want to be part of a group that calls those two entities a member.
For more on the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, if you're really sure you can handle it, head to UCLA blog Bruins Nation and Illinois blog Hail to the Orange, plus SB Nation Los Angeles and Big Ten blog Off Tackle Empire.
The Utah Utes needed three separate comebacks to make it happen, but they continued a string of bowl excellence with a 30-27 win over Georgia Tech in the 2011 Sun Bowl.
John White ran in Utah's game-winner in overtime from eight yards out, and ran for 115 yards on the day. Jon Hays helped Utah come back from 7-3, 24-10, and 27-24 deficits with his 193 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Utah's resilience helped down a Yellow Jackets that was doomed by its special teams, especially its kickers. The Georgia Tech option attack rolled up 318 rushing yards, with Preston Lyons running for 139 of them, but Justin Moore missed two field goals early and Davis Scully missed a potential game-winner from 48 yards out as time expired in the fourth quarter.
The win runs Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's bowl record to 7-1.
Texas A&M tried to give away another big lead. Northwestern's Cardiac Cats tried to stage another comeback. Neither happened in the 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl, as the Aggies countered two late Northwestern touchdowns with a field goal to ice a 33-22 victory.
The Aggies, playing little more than a week after the death of offensive lineman Joseph Villavisencio and in the last game most of fired head coach Mike Sherman's staff will caoch at A&M, led 30-7 in the fourth quarter, and were on the verge of yet another collapse in a 2011 season full of them after Northwestern scored twice in the period.
But the Aggies came out throwing on their final drive, and Ryan Tannehill — who threw for 329 yards and a touchdown on the day — found Jeff Fuller for a spectacular leaping catch that put Lou Groza Award winner Randy Bullock in position to end Northwestern's comeback attempt with a 31-yard field goal.
Fuller had seven catches for 119 yards and a touchdown, while Ryan Swope had eight catches for 105 yards.
Northwestern's Kain Colter had just 13 yards through the air, but threw the Wildcats' only passing touchdown and also scored on the ground while rushing for 65 yards. Dan Persa threw for 213 yards for the Wildcats, who failed to earn their first bowl win since 1949.
On paper, the Insight Bowl was supposed to be one of the more lopsided bowls of the season. And though the Sooners did come away with a 17-point win, thanks to a 21-yard touchdown run by Blake Bell on fourth and one with under a minute to go, Iowa did make things interesting.
The Hawkeyes offense was all but dead for much of the game, until it sprung to life for two lengthy touchdown drives in the fourth quarter. Through the first three quarters, Oklahoma was anything but dominant, yet still held a 21-0 lead. But back-to-back touchdown drives -- both of which were over 70 yards and double-digit plays -- brought the Hawkeyes right back into the game as Oklahoma clung to a 21-14 lead.
But just as Iowa drew close, the Sooners put it out of reach, kicking a field goal to make it a two-possession game with two and a half minutes to go. After Iowa failed to answer, Oklahoma drove in the dagger for good measure as Bell, the backup and short-yardage quarterback, scampered into the end zone for the final touchdown of the game as the Sooners downed the Hawkeyes, 31-14.
Oh, and there was that whole ESPN SkyCam thing. The best part of the game had to be the falling camera that attacked Marvin McNutt.
For more on the Sooners, be sure to check out the SB Nation blog Crimson And Cream Machine. Head over to Black Heart Gold Pants for everything Hawkeyes. For more college football, stay tuned to SB Nation’s college football news coverage.
Vick Ballard's touchdown runs of 60 and 72 yards were enough for a Mississippi State offense that committed four turnovers and managed little in the way of passing to compliment a stifling defense in a 23-17 win over Wake Forest in the 2011 American Mortgage Music City Bowl at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.
Ballard, who finished with 183 yards rushing on just 14 carries, was named the game's MVP, but a Bulldog defense that allowed only 287 total yards and held the Demon Deacons to 2 of 17 on third down kept State from giving away the game. State quarterback Chris Relf finished 12 of 19 for 129 yards and a touchdown, plus 64 yards rushing, but threw two interceptions into the end zone. The senior leaves as the winningest quarterback in school history (.681), passing Wayne Madkin (.676). Even Ballard wasn't immune to turnovers, fumbling to set up a Wake Forest touchdown drive in the first quarter before answering with a touchdown on State's next possession.
Sophomore quarterback Tanner Price finished 24 of 46 for 214 yards for the Demon Deacons, and senior Brandon Pendergrass finished with 73 yards on 24 carries for one touchdown. Wake Forest held the ball longer (35:50) and committed fewer penalties (four for 35 yards compared to MSU's five for 43), but couldn't maintain drives on third down.
After a 7-7 first quarter, Mississippi State built a lead on the momentum of a blocked field goal by senior defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, who swatted a 33-yard attempt by Jimmy Newman in the second quarter. Two plays later, Relf found Arceto Clark for a touchdown, and after State missed the PAT, they'd tack a field goal of their own to build a 16-7 lead and never trailed again.
"Anytime you have adversity, the blocked field goal was really rough because as the game wound down towards the end of the game, that field goal became huge. We make that one, we are in much better shape," Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said.
With the win, the Bulldogs have now won five straight bowl games, tying Rutgers for the longest streak in the nation.
Jawan Jamison rushed for two touchdowns in the first half and Brandon Coleman scored on an 86-yard catch in the fourth quarter, lifting the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to a 27-13 win over the Iowa St. Cyclones in the Pinstripe Bowl on Friday.
Playing at Yankee Stadium for the second time this season, Rutgers (9-4) won its fifth straight bowl game while frustrating an Iowa State offense that had trouble getting out of its own way.
Coleman's 86-yard catch down the left sideline on a pass from Chas Dodd into tight coverage was a dagger, giving the Scarlet Knights their 14-point lead. But the defense also came up big, stopping the final two Iowa State (6-7) drives.
Corner Logan Ryan jumped in front of Steele Jantz's pass near the sideline on the Cyclones' final possession for an interception that all but sealed the win.
For more on the Pinstripe Bowl, check out SB Nation's Rutgers blog, On the Banks, and our Iowa State blog, Wide Right & Natty Lite. For more news and analysis from this bowl season, check out our college football hub.
The BYU Cougars were down for most of the 2011 Armed Forces Bowl, never taking a lead in the game until late in the third quarter. When the Tulsa Golden Hurricane promptly retook the lead on a 30-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback G.J. Kinne, things looked bleak for a BYU squad led by the struggling Riley Nelson at quarterback. The Cougars would get the ball back with 4:18 left in the game down just four points, however, and Nelson would atone for the poor decisions he made throughout the day. With the clock running, Nelson faked the spike with 11 seconds left and found Cody Hoffman for the duo's third touchdown connection on the day.
Tulsa fumbled the ball away on a last-ditch desperation pass, sealing the 24-21 victory for BYU. Golden Hurricane quarterback G.J. Kinne played well in his final college game, going 17-for-31 passing for 210 yards and three touchdowns. He couldn't overcome the constant pressure from the Cougars' front seven, however, nor the complete ineffectiveness of his running game. Tulsa managed just 37 total yards on the ground.
Nelson went just 17-for-40 passing, including two interceptions thrown straight into the arms of waiting Tulsa defenders. Luckily, he had the 6-4 Hoffman on his side. The sophomore receiver caught eight passes for 122 yards in addition to his three scores, none bigger than the last one. The spike formation left Hoffman one-on-one with a defensive back, who he easily boxed out for the catch. That play would not have happened if not for a play made earlier on the drive by Nelson. Facing 4th-and-9 on the Tulsa 47-yard line Nelson improvised, tucking the ball in and breaking tackles on a 14-yard run to keep the game-winning drive alive.
For more on the Armed Forces Bowl, visit BYU blog Vanquish The Foe. Visit our StoryStream for more updates from today's game. For more news and analysis from this bowl season, check out our College Football hub.
In what could be Robert Griffin III's final game, the Baylor Bears and Washington Huskies combined to break the all-time bowl yardage record, putting up 1,399*. The score was 67-56 in favor of Baylor, coming just two shy of the bowl points record set in 2001. If not for that damn missed field goal ...
Also falling: the all-time bowl touchdowns record, with 17 passing 16.
Early in the second half, there was a time Florida State had more return yardage that yards produced by its offense. The Notre Dame defense had held the Seminoles scoreless through the first half in 30 minutes of football that were better suited for napping than viewership. But in the second half, both teams came to life, and Florida State began to pile up the points.
Notre Dame opened up a 14-0 lead on an impressive juggling touchdown catch by Michael Floyd. At the time, it felt like Florida State was all but dead, unable to mount any kind of serious offensive charge and trailing by 14. But Notre Dame would go silent as the Seminoles put up 18 unanswered points -- 15 of which came in the fourth quarter -- to down the Fighting Irish in the Champs Sports Bowl, 18-14.
Dustin Hopkins got the Seminoles on the board with a 42-yard field goal, EJ Manuel found Bert Reed on the first play of the fourth quarter, cutting Notre Dame's lead to five, 14-9. Jimbo Fisher had some weird two-point conversion thing going on, thus the odd score. Just over a minute and a half later, Manuel hit Rashad Greene for 15 yards and a touchdown -- on an impressive catch, no less -- to give the Seminoles the led, 15-14. And again, the two-point conversion was no good.
Florida State tacked on a field goal, Tommy Rees added an armpunt for Notre Dame and the Seminoles comeback was complete.
The biggest comeback in bowl history, Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas, and a pair of controversial 2010 finishes highlight Part Two of the quest for the best game in each bowl's history.
The Cal Bears turned the ball over five times -- four fumbles and a pick -- as Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz dialed up the pressure, leading to a 21-10 Longhorn victory in the 2011 Holiday Bowl. Texas sacked Cal quarterback Zach Maynard five times while limiting the Bears to just 10 points and one yard net rushing in a somewhat dominant win.
Cal kicker Georgio Tavecchio got the scoring started, putting the Bears on top 3-0 with a 47-yard field goal in the first quarter. In the second, Texas broke out a trick play deep in Cal territory as wide receiver Jaxon Shipley found quarterback David Ash for four yards and a touchdown. At the half, Texas held a 7-3 lead, with each defense asserting itself in the first 30 minutes.
After Isi Sofele gave Cal a 10-7 lead five minutes into the second half, it was all Longhorns. The defense clamped down and continued forcing turnovers while the offense did just enough to get Texas out in front and keep it there. Just under two minutes after Cal took the lead in the third quarter, Ash answered with a 47-yard strike to Marquise Goodwin for the score, putting the Longhorns on top for good.
Texas added one more touchdown for good measure on the first play of the fourth quarter, coming on a four-yard Cody Johnson touchdown. The Texas defense forced one more turnover, a fumble, as Cal tried to claw back into it late in the fourth quarter, sealing the win and running out the clock on the ensuing possession.
The high-scoring 2011 Military Bowl ended with the sort of explosive play that defined it, followed by an untimely misfire. Air Force scored on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Tim Jefferson to Zack Kauth with under a minute to go to cut Toledo's lead to 42-41, then failed to execute on a fake point-after that ended with punter David Baska fumbling the ball out of bounds.
After the Falcons also failed to recover an onside kick, the Rockets were left standing as the smoke cleared.
Both teams cranked up high-octane offenses for this one. Toledo's Terrence Owens threw for 201 yards and three touchdowns, with Adonis Thomas contributing another 127 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while Air Force got 160 yards and two touchdowns through the air from Jefferson, who added 65 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Falcons rushers combined to gain 248 yards on the ground.
For more college football, stay tuned to SB Nation's college football news coverage. For more on the 2011 Military Bowl game, visit MAC blog Hustle Belt and Mountain West blog Mountain West Connection, plus SB Nation Denver.
The NC State Wolfpack jumped out to a 21-10 lead over the Louisville Cardinals by halftime and increased their lead to 31-10 midway through the third quarter. Quarterback Mike Glennon picked up three touchdown passes to put the Wolfpack in position for what looked like an easy victory, but Charlie Strong's Cardinals don't give up easily, and rallied back into the football game.
The Cardinals picked up a touchdown when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater connected with Nate Nord to cut into the Wolfpack lead, 31-17. Early in the fourth quarter, Louisville picked up a fumble to get the ball back to their offense, but the ensuing drive ended on a failed 4th-and-1 call to give the ball right back to the Wolfpack. On their next drive however, Teddy Bridgewater once again marched the Cardinals down the football field and into the endzone to put the game within a touchdown 31-24.
The Cardinals tried an onside kick, but the Wolfpack was able to recover it. Oddly enough, NC State ran the ball four straight times including on fourth down to turn the ball over on downs. Teddy Bridgwater went to work again, driving the Cardinals down the field but was picked off by David Amerson at the 16-yard line, sealing the win for the Wolfpack. Bridgewater ended the day with 273 yards in the air and two passing touchdowns, but ultimately his three interceptions were just enough to hold back the Cardinals offense.
For more college football, stay tuned to SB Nation's college football news coverage. And visit our many college football blogs. For more on the NC State Wolfpack visit SB Nation's NC State blog On Backing The Pack. For more on the Louisville Cardinals visit SB Nation's Louisville blog Cards Chronicle.
Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve threw for touchdowns, helping the Purdue Boilermakers hold on for a 37-32 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl.
Raheem Mostert returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, while Carson Wiggs kicked three field goals and recovered two onside kicks. The Boilermakers (7-6) also recovered a fumble with under two minutes left to secure a victory in their first postseason appearance since the 2007 season, when they won the Motor City Bowl.
It was Purdue's first bowl game under third-year head coach Danny Hope.
The Boilermakers grabbed control with a 20-point second quarter, and Western Michigan (7-6) wasn't able to catch up. The Broncos have not won a bowl game in four tries.
Alex Carder threw for 439 yards and three touchdowns for WMU, but was intercepted four times.
Western Michigan grabbed the lead thanks to a turnover early in the first quarter. Paul Hazel sacked TerBush and forced a fumble, which the Broncos recovered at the Purdue 49. The sack occurred on third down and would have forced Purdue to punt anyway, but the fumble provided Western Michigan with good field position.
It took advantage one play later -- Carder found Jordan White for a 49-yard TD, and kicker John Potter rushed for a two-point conversion.
That began a series of drives and plays that provided high drama. Following the WMU touchdown, in chronological order:
- Wiggs recovered an on-side kick.
- Purdue running back Akeem Hunt fumbled the ball away four plays into the bonus possession, but Purdue got it back when Gerald Gooden picked off Carder. That led to a 49-yard kick from Wiggs and a 10-8 Purdue edge with 10 1/2 minutes left in the half.
- Western Michigan drove for a touchdown. Carder hit Josh Schaffer from a yard away on third down.
- Mostert returned the following kickoff 99 yards for a score, putting the Boilermakers back in front.
- Wiggs attempted an on-side kick for a second time, and for the second time it worked. This one resulted in Pegram's one-yard run across the goal line with 4:57 to play. On the final play of the half, Wiggs connected on a 19-yard field goal to send Purdue into the break with a 27-15 advantage.
The Boilermakers never ran away with the game in the second half, but did enough -- offensively and defensively -- to keep Western Michigan from getting back into the game.
From the Beef 'O' Brady's to the Independence, it's time to review the second film festival of college football's bowl season. Our critic was not impressed. Part One here.
Quick, close your eyes and guess which team is losing its interim head coach after this game. Actually, you'll need to read the following in order to make an informed decision. OK, so, one team in the 2011 Independence Bowl ran for seven yards per carry throughout its 44 attempts, while the other couldn't break two.
The Missouri Tigers will enter the SEC with a 41-24 win over an ACC team, which is quite the SEC thing to do. The North Carolina Tar Heels have the talent to stand with just about anybody in the country, but Mizzou played with far more interest in the game's outcome.
Quarterback James Franklin finished with 142 yards passing and 132 through the air, along with a pair of touchdowns. Kendial Lawrence tacked on 99 rushing yards, various Tigers caught a pass or two, and Mizzou's defense limited everybody but Bryn Renner to 36 yards on the day.
Larry Fedora inherits a talented team that's clearly in need of direction, or at least not playing in Shreveport anymore.
After a first half that ended with fireworks, the 2011 Hawai'i Bowl fizzled, with a final 30 minutes filled with defense and low on points. Near the end of the second quarter, a sequence featuring two fumbled kickoffs, a long touchdown run, an impressive touchdown catch and a brawl in the end zone unfolded. It would prove to be the high-point of the game.
Southern Mississippi sent Larry Fedora off into the sunset -- or to North Carolina, whatever you prefer -- with a 24-17 win in the Hawi'i Bowl in front of a subdued crowd at Aloha Stadium. The Golden Eagles wrapped the game up with a fourth quarter touchdown pass from Austin Davis to Kelvin Boulden, breaking a 17-all tie at the time. Nevada was unable to respond, plagued by off-target passes and an offense unable to come back, as Fedora enjoyed on final Gatorade bath as Southern Miss head coach.
Davis completed just 18-of-43 passes, but threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Golden Eagles to a bowl win. Southern Miss also got it done on special teams, blocking a punt on Nevada's first possession and recovering it for a touchdown.
The ground game for Nevada was a constant, despite a sketchy passing game. Lampford Mark carried the ball 29 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns, both of which were game highs. In fact, Mark matched the Golden Eagles' total rushing yardage exactly in the loss.
The amateur career of Boise St. Broncos passer Kellen Moore, the winningest quarterback in college football history, ends in appropriate fashion: a complete dismantling of a mediocre western team. The final score was 56-24, and if you weren't reminded the Arizona St. Sun Devils are a BCS conference team, you'd be tempted to think of it as just another Broncos trampling of some WAC team.
Said it before, saying it again: the Las Vegas Bowl is beneath these Broncos. For the second year in a row, they've come to Sin City to obliterate an inferior opponent instead of a legitimate challenger. We get to complain about it frequently.
Moore finished with 266 yards, two touchdowns and a handful of turnovers, so the game ball goes to Doug Martin, who turned in 151 yards rushing, 26 yards on catches and a 100-yard kick return. Receiver Gerell Robinson was pretty much ASU's entire attack, gaining 241 of their 384 yards.
In other news, the career of Dennis Erickson, which includes two national titles and lasting contributions to offensive strategy, likely comes to a close.
Still, the story is Boise State, and you better put on a great show in that Sugar Bowl, Virginia Tech.
For more on the Broncos, check out Boise State blog One Boise Nation Under God. For more on the Sun Devils, visit Arizona State blog House of Sparky. Stick around for more college football news and so forth.
The 2011 Poinsettia Bowl, an exercise in penalties and other misfortune for much of the evening, turned into a darn shootout there at the end. The TCU Horned Frogs emerged with the 31-24 victory, their second straight bowl win in the state of California.
Five touchdowns in 15 minutes set up the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs with a seven-point deficit as four minutes remained. They stalled, and it was on TCU to burn out some clock. A loping Casey Pachall first down juuust about put it away with under two minutes to go.
La Tech won the first half, though the scoreboard didn't show it, but wasn't able to make enough of its advantage. A bricked field goal and a first-and-goal that turned into a non-bricked field goal made for seven points missing, which would've altered the second half quite a bit. Two Bulldogs turnovers negated any gains they might've gained from TCU's many mistakes, and the more talented team emerged with the win.
Skye Dawson is your box score hero, posting 85 yards and a touchdown for the Horned Frogs. Quarterbacks Pachall and Colby Cameron combined to throw 36-of-72 for 470, an odd arrangement of numbers indeed.
It's the 109th win in Gary Patterson's TCU career, tying him for the all-time school lead.
What happens to a team when its coach leaves before a bowl game? What happens when he sticks around for one final game? Let's take a look.
An entirely unpleasant thing has come to an end: the 2011 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl is over, with the previously 6-6 Marshall Thundering Herd having vanquished Florida International, 20-10. It was a very bad game.
T.Y. Hilton, the lone attraction for the uninvested observer, ended up on the wrong side of the game's key play.
With FIU trailing by only three as five minutes remained, Hilton fumbled the ball for the second time in the game. This one wound up in Marshall's hooves, and a courageous fourth-down conversion near midfield iced the game -- Rakeem Cato threw for a 35-yard touchdown to Aaron Dobson when the average team would've elected to just punt and hope for a stand. That part was pretty good. The rest of this game was so bad.
Young Dobson may get the offensive game ball, catching seven times for 81 yards and both Marshall touchdowns.
Both of these teams made it in over Western Kentucky, which had a better Sun Belt record than FIU and had beaten the Golden Panthers head-to-head. Just wanted to point that out.
Since they don't really count but you watch them anyway, let's look at the games of bowl season they way they should be viewed: as long, unscripted movies of varying quality. Today we review the three films from Saturday.
Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns have won their first-ever Division I bowl game, upending the San Diego St. Aztecs, 32-30, in the 2011 New Orleans Bowl. They came out hot, played like madmen, bled from their foreheads, took every available risk and made endless mistakes, but in the end, the team that wanted to win more did.
Blaine Gautier was heroic, throwing for 469 yards, including the game-winning drive, and taking shots aplenty while dealing with constant center exchange issues. Ladarius Green and Javone Lawson combined for 275 of those yards. SDSU's Ryan Lindley was quite impressive as well, producing 413 yards despite facing a blazing fast secondary and lacking the running game the Aztecs have relied on all year.
With six minutes left, the Aztecs pulled within two on a Adam Muema run up the middle, and ULL's many and creative special teams mishaps from earlier in the evening loomed large.
In response, Darryl Surgent made a one-handed, self-tipping catch while having his arm yanked, gaining 55 yards despite being interfered with. In true UL-Lafayette fashion, some snapping difficulties followed, but a spectacular Lawson catch (while being interfered with) later and it was first-and-goal. A successful field goal followed, shrinking San Diego State's window.
The Aztecs followed with a two-minute drive, needing a touchdown. With a minute left, Lindley ran for a first down to ULL's 30. Fullback Chad Young took a screen inside the red zone. He struck a seam-splitting Colin Lockett from 12 yards out with 35 seconds left to give SDSU its first lead since early in the first quarter. The two-point attempt was no good.
With just seconds remaining, Gautier powered the Aztecs within range of a 55-yard field goal try for Brett Baer. A penalty drew him within 50, but it would've been good from the original distance.
The nation's third-leading rusher, SDSU's Ronnie Hillman, may have seen his profile dinged just a bit. He averaged only two yards per carry, but it's hard to do much beyond that when the athletically superior opposition is clearly keyed to shut down the run.
For more on this game, visit Big East blog Big East Coast Bias and Mountain West blog Mountain West Connection. Surely one of those covers SDSU. For more college football, stay tuned to SB Nation’s college football news coverage. And visit our many college football blogs.
In accordance with every other Ohio Bobcats game and every other Utah State Aggies game, the inaugural Famous Idaho Potato Bowl came down to the closing minutes. A clutch drive, some goal line creativity and some confounding officiating conspired to give the Bobcats the first bowl win in program history.
With two to go and USU leading 23-17, Tyler Tettleton's OU offense got the ball on their side of midfield after some fine punt coverage.
His first strike found Riley Dunlop for 18 yards, followed by an eight-yard Donte Harden run. Under pressure, Tettleton took off, racing up the right sideline for 16 more and out of bounds at the 18 as the clock neared one minute.
Harden reached the 11 on a swing pass, with a fourth-and-six following shortly after. Tettleton unfurled a heave while under duress, finding LaVon Brazill for the first down. He lunged toward the goal line, nearly setting up the go-ahead extra point. He was evidently down inches shy of the line, but fumbled the ball into the end zone, where he recovered it.
Officials reviewed the call, announced the call on the field had been confirmed. Ohio celebrated, but it wasn't clear just what had been confirmed. The officials then announced a touchdown. Ohio celebrated again as ESPN's Mike Bellotti decried the advanced fumble being ruled a score. The officials reviewed it again. It was ruled down at the "six-inch line."
Ohio set up in a shotgun and fired Tettleton into the line, where he was stuffed. Down to 20 seconds. Tettleton deployed a fake dive that was supposed to be a pass but turned into a bootleg, diving into the end zone. The extra point was true, 24-23, Ohio.
The Temple Owls remain on the rise, posting their second nine-win season in three years, their first bowl victory in 32 and their third four-loss campaign in a row. The latest Owls glory comes at the expense of the Wyoming Cowboys, who lose the 2011 New Mexico Bowl, 37-15, with the latter score coming in garbage time.
As far as bowl season openers go, this one was quite a dud, especially given that Nelly has apparently replaced B.o.B. as this year's relentless interstitial musician.
Temple did it on the ground, putting up 253 yards and led by Bernard Pierce's 99. But Chris Coyer was effective when called upon, throwing for 169 yards and a touchdown on only 12 attempts. The Owls defense held star freshman Brett Smith to 127 yards and three interceptions on 30 tries.
For more, check out Wyoming blog Cowboy Altitude and MAC blog Hustle Belt. For more on college football, stay tuned to SB Nation’s college football news coverage. And visit our many college football blogs.
Even the least essential bowls are capable of producing memorable games. Let's find the best game in each bowl's history. Here's the complete 2011-2012 bowl games TV schedule.
Love MACtion? Defense? Classic schools? Tight scores? Using four different ranking systems, we will find the bowl game that is right for you, no matter what.
It's time to make some first-impression bowl picks and love every second of it. It's the most ... wonderful time ... of the year ... Stay tuned here for more college football news and coverage.
Spencer Hall ranked every bowl game, and then got sort of punchy, and then kept ranking them anyway. Don't watch bad football. It can kill you.
Eight teams from the Big 12 will be going bowling, with Oklahoma State representing the conference in the BCS.
The Stanford Cardinal and Oregon Ducks go to the BCS, two of seven Pac-12 teams who received bowl bids.
An incredible 10 teams from the B1G will be making bowl game appearances, with Wisconsin and Michigan representing the conference in the BCS.
Seventy bowl game bids, 72 bowl-eligible teams. It's not quite the crowd that got left out last year, but two teams will still be home for the holidays despite meeting postseason requirements. This is where we point out the 6-7 UCLA Bruins, who don't even have a head coach, are going to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, where they'll play the 6-6 Illinois Fighting Illini, who also don't have a head coach.
The 7-5 Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, eligible for the first time in their history and coming off two wins over their past two years, didn't make it in, but 6-7 UCLA did. WKU has never gotten to go to a bowl and finished with a winning record, but they'll watch UCLA, which has been to dozens. And finished with a losing record. We'll keep saying it.
Ball State, at 6-6, doesn't earn quite the same sympathy, since their regular season mark matches UCLA's and, well, they would've gotten run over if they'd had to play Oregon in a 13th game too.
For more on each bowl game pairing, check out SB Nation's college football bowl game bids coverage.
Eight ACC teams made bowl games, with two of those teams making it to the BCS.
Nine teams from the SEC are in eight different bowl games. The biggest is obviously the BCS National Championship game, where the LSU Tigers face the Alabama Crimson Tide.
SB Nation has a complete breakdown of the 2011-2012 FBS Bowl Schedule so you can find out where to go for every matchup.
Two predictions for every bowl game. One in a world where the SEC is already guaranteed another national championship, and one in which Oklahoma State kicks in the door. Bowl game bids and pairings as they're announced right here.
Arkansas State has earned its way into a bowl game named after a website whose commercials try entirely too hard.
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