Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Central Florida: 2014 Fiesta Bowl Champions

Central Florida, making its first appearance in a BCS bowl, posted a massive 52-42 upset victory over Big 12 champs Baylor in Wednesday night's Fiesta Bowl. The Knights (12-1), who were 17-point underdogs at kickoff (the largest margin ever overcome in a BCS bowl), posted 558 yards of total offense and overcame three first-half turnovers with a balanced attack.
UCF running back Storm Johnson ran for 124 yards and three touchdowns, while quarterback Blake Bortles contributed four scores of his own. Meanwhile, Baylor (11-2) looked sloppy throughout. The Bears were flagged 17 times for 135 yards, including a number of crucial penalties in pass coverage that kept UCF drives alive.
The Knights jumped on Baylor early, posting two quick Storm Johnson touchdowns to take an early 14-0 lead. Baylor got a touchdown late in the first quarter on a plunge by quarterback Bryce Petty, but Central Florida held a 14-7 lead after the first 15 minutes.
The second quarter was a mess of turnovers, blown coverages, and sloppy offense. After the teams exchanged punts, Baylor was stopped on fourth down at the UCF 33 yard line when Petty fumbled the snap.
Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles responded by throwing an interception three plays later, but Baylor could not capitalize. Bortles threw his second interception on the next play, and this time the Bears were not so magnanimous. Petty connected with Levi Norwood on a 30-yard touchdown, though the point after attempt failed. Storm Johnson fumbled the ball back to Baylor on the next play, the third consecutive UCF snap to end in a turnover. This time, however, the Bears were in the giving spirit: Petty threw an interception into the UCF end zone, and Bortles turned it into a 50-yard touchdown pass five plays later.
Baylor took over at its own 22, and embarked on an eight-play, 78-yard touchdown drive capped when Petty scrambled right, dove for the end zone, and took a hit from a UCF defender.
The score cut the UCF lead to one point with less than three minutes to go, but neither team was done. Two minutes later, Bortles hit Rannell Hall on a swing pass that the receiver took 34 yards for a touchdown, capping a nine-play, 83-yard drive. Baylor took the ball to the UCF 28 before time ran out, but a 45-yard field goal attempt missed. Despite three turnovers, Central Florida was up 28-20 at the half.
The teams exchanged punts to start the second half, but Baylor struck first. Petty ran in his third touchdown of the night from the goal line, then ran in the two-point conversion, to finish a 68-yard series and tie the game at 28. Bortles and the Knights responded with a touchdown drive of their own, with Bortles throwing to Breshad Perriman to restore the UCF lead. Six minutes later, Bortles ran for another score, extending the Knights' advantage to two touchdowns early in the fourth quarter.
Baylor was not going quietly, though. It took the Bears just four plays and 81 seconds to score again, highlighted by Petty's 28-yard completion to Clay Fuller to set up a Glasco Martin 9-yard touchdown run. But when Storm Johnson broke a 40-yard touchdown run just minutes later to restore UCF's two-possession lead, what little momentum Baylor held evaporated. Two penalties short circuited Baylor's next drive, the Bears were forced to punt, and Central Florida bled the clock below the 5:00 mark before kicking a field goal to go up 52-35. Baylor put together a late scoring drive to narrow the UCF margin, but it was too little, too late. Central Florida fielded the onside kick, and the upset was complete.
Box Score Hero: The Player of the Game has to be Bortles, who completed 20/31 attempts for 301 yards and three touchdowns. Bortles also ran eight times for 93 yards and a score. Johnson's 124 rushing yards cannot be ignored, though, nor can Rannell Hall'sfour catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
Rankings Ramifications: Baylor, which entered the game ranked No. 6, will plummet with the loss, while Central Florida could well move into the finakl Top 10. It's an incredible accomplishment for a program that only moved into FBS football in 1996 and did not join a BCS automatic qualifier conference until this season.
But Did They Cover? Baylor was a massive 17-point favorite. Sometimes, even Vegas gets it wrong.

Michigan State: 2014 Rose Bowl Champions

Michigan State has defeated Stanford, 24-20, in the 100th Rose Bowl after the kind of defensive stand -- and offensive play-calling -- that might have been expected.
The game was decided on this play: Stanford has the ball on a fourth-and-one play at its own 34 with less than two minutes to play.
The Cardinal used its final timeout, presumably to decide whether they would hand the ball off to the left of center or right of center.
Then Michigan State used a timeout, apparently to talk about whether Stanford would run to the left of center or the right of center.
Stanford came out in a fullhouse backfield -- the Cardinal call it their "elephant" set -- and handed the ball to Ryan Hewitt, who was carrying the ball for the first time.
He went nowhere.
It was one of many questionable play calls by Stanford in the second half.
The tackle was made by Kyler Elsworth, the fifth-year senior linebacker -- and a former walk-on -- who started the game because star linebacker Max Bullough was benched for the game after violating an undisclosed team rule.
With 1 minute 43 seconds left, No. 4 Michigan State ran out the clock for its 13th win in 14 games this season.
Fifth-ranked Stanford dropped to 11-3.
A crowd of 95,173 enjoyed mid-70s temperatures, a cloudless sky and the type of game many predicted.
It was a test of wills between Stanford's bone-crunching running game against a top-rated Michigan State defense.
The defense won.
Stanford's Tyler Gaffney ran for 91 hard-earned yards in 24 carries. But take away a 47-yard gain early in the game and he wasn't much of a factor. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan passed for 143 yards and ran for 41.
The game's top player on offense was Michigan State's Connor Cook. The redshirt sophomore completed 22 of 36 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. And while he was productive, he was also lucky. He threw at least three other passes that should have been intercepted.
Jeremy Langford led the Spartans' running attack, gaining 84 yards and scoring a touchdown in 23 carries.

2014 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade

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This was a bummer. My main camera was already on a low battery when I started shooting. So I had to send my iPad over to do most of the heavy lifting. At least I got something out of it.

LSU: 2014 Outback Bowl Champions

TAMPA, Fla. -- Chilly, wet conditions bogged down Wednesday's Outback Bowl, but No. 16 LSU used Jeremy Hill's tough running and a stifling defense to outlast Iowa 21-14 and earn its 10th win of the season for a school-record fourth straight season. 

Here's how the Tigers earned the win: 

It was over when: Jeremy Hill broke three long runs -- including a 37-yard touchdown -- on LSU's final possession, allowing the Tigers to run three minutes off the clock and go up 21-7 with 2:02 to play. Hill finished with 216 yards, becoming the first LSU back since 2004 to crack the 200-yard mark in a game. 

Game ball goes to: Jamie Keehn and LSU's punt coverage team. While neither team's offense was able to get it in gear consistently, Keehn's overall consistency kept Iowa deep in its own territory. The Tigers' James Wright recovered Kevonte Martin-Manley's muffed punt at the Iowa 39, setting up a Hill touchdown run that made it 14-0 LSU in the second quarter. 

Stat of the game: Two. Iowa's two turnovers -- the fumbled punt and Craig Loston's fourth-quarter interception deep in LSU territory -- were the difference in the game. The offenses combined to generate just 535 yards (302 by LSU and 233 by Iowa), so the turnover battle played a major role on Wednesday. 

South Carolina: 2014 Capital One Bowl Champions

ORLANDO (AP) — Connor Shaw was responsible for five touchdowns, including three passing, and No. 8 South Carolina outlasted No. 19 Wisconsin 34-24 in the Capital One Bowl on Wednesday.
The Gamecocks' senior was named the game's MVP after picking apart the Badgers defense, completing 22 of 25 passes for 312 yards. Shaw also had rushing and receiving scores.
South Carolina (11-2) won its third straight bowl game to cap its third straight 11-win season.
Bruce Ellington caught six passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
The Badgers (9-4) lost their fourth consecutive bowl game, failing to capitalize on 100-yard rushing games from both Melvin Gordon and James White, and struggling after quarterback Joel Stave left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury.
Backup Curt Phillips was intercepted twice.
While the Gamecocks struggled to contain the Badgers rushing attack for most of the game, Shaw and Ellington did plenty to keep South Carolina productive on offense.
Trailing 17-13 in the third quarter, Ellington reeled in a juggling reception near the sideline on a fourth-and-7 play. Then, two plays later Shaw found Ellington for 22-yard touchdown strike to put the Gamecocks up by three.
The Badgers lost Stave on the next series, and with Phillips taking over, were stopped short on fourth down run inside the Gamecocks 30.
South Carolina took advantage, and needed just six plays for Shaw to find Jerrell Adams for a 3-yard touchdown that made it 27-17 with 11:05 to play in the game.
Wisconsin wasn't done. Kenzel Doe took the ensuing kickoff and ran it back 91 yards for a score to get the Badgers back within a field goal.
But then Shaw went back to work.
Pinned inside his own 15 to start the drive, he used a combination of runs and passes to set up his 1-yard touchdown plunge to cap a nine-play, 81-yard drive that made it 34-24.
Wisconsin appeared to be done after Phillips was intercepted by Kaiwan Lewis with less than five minutes to play. But the Gamecocks gave it right back on a Brandon Wilds fumble on the next series.
The Badgers picked up a few first downs, but then Phillips was intercepted again by Skai Moore with 3:14 left to end the threat.
Wisconsin got the ball back one more time, but Gordon fumbled inside the South Carolina 20 to help the Gamecocks secure the win.
Wisconsin led 14-13 at the half, scoring on a pair of touchdown passes by Stave.
But the Badgers did most of their damage on the ground, piling up 159 rushing yards and 7.2 yards per carry in the opening 30 minutes.
Both drives were over 70 yards against a South Carolina defense that entered the game ranked second in the Southeastern Conference, giving up just 142 yards per game.
Jadeveon Clowney had four tackles in the half, including one for a loss. But he was mostly a non-factor early as the Badgers alternated White and Gordon in the backfield.

North Texas: 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl Champions

DALLAS (AP) — Derek Thompson threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns, Brelan Chancellor scored twice and North Texas dominated the second half Wednesday to beat UNLV 36-14 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
This was the Mean Green's first postseason appearance in nine years.
This was the Mean Green's first postseason appearance since a 2004 New Orleans Bowl loss to Southern Miss and its first bowl victory since New Orleans in 2002. The Rebels lost for the first time in four bowl games.
UNLV (7-6) drove 95 yards for a touchdown on its opening possession but didn't score again until the Mean Green (9-4) were up 28-7 in the fourth quarter.
With the score 7-7 at halftime, the Mean Green went ahead for good at 14-7 in the third quarter on Thompson's 7-yard scoring pass to Drew Miller — the fourth third-down conversion on the drive.
Chancellor kept the possession alive by slipping past UNLV's Peni Vea along the sideline and staying inbounds for a 17-yard catch on third-and-16. That was one play after North Texas was backed up by a late-hit penalty on guard Mason Y'Barbo.
Tim Cornett, UNLV's career rushing leader, was held to 33 yards — 71 below his average and the same total as quarterback Caleb Herring, who threw for 196 yards and two touchdowns.
Chancellor, who had 74 yards receiving and 47 rushing, scored on runs of 3 and 15 yards. The Mean Green sacked Herring five times.
Darnell Smith had a 34-yard catch to put North Texas up 28-7 before Herring's 13-yard scoring pass to Jerry Rice Jr., the first career touchdown for the son of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in his final college game.
North Texas came in with one of the nation's top scoring defenses and forced seven straight scoreless UNLV possessions. The Rebels punted on their first three possessions of the second half, and the Mean Green scored each time.
UNLV missed a chance to take control in the first quarter when Keith Whitely muffed a punt to keep the Rebels from getting the ball back after a 95-yard drive highlighted by Herring's 29-yard pass to Devante Davis and punctuated with a 9-yard scoring toss to Marcus Sullivan.
Zed Evans recovered Whitely's muffed punt at the UNLV 42, and Antoinne Jimmerson scored from inside the 1 a play after his run from the 3 was ruled a touchdown before getting overturned on replay.
Davis had 10 catches for 96 yards for the Rebels.
North Texas' James Jones dropped what would have been an easy interception that he could have returned for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half. Coach Dan McCarney called timeout moments before the Mean Green blocked a field goal that Kenny Buyers would have easily taken about 50 yards for a score on the final play before halftime.
The Rebels were in position to try the 52-yard field goal at the end of the half after the Mean Green jumped offside with UNLV punting on fourth-and-5 with 24 seconds left. Nolan Kohorst's kick was well short.

Nebraska: 2014 Gator Bowl Champions

JACKSONVILLE (AP) — Tommy Armstrong Jr. connected with Quincy Enunwa for two touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in the third quarter, and Nebraska held on to beat No. 24 Georgia 24-19 in the rain-soaked Gator Bowl on Wednesday.
Playing in their 50th bowl, the Cornhuskers (9-4) ended a four-game losing streak against teams from the Southeastern Conference. The streak included a 45-31 loss to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl last season.
The rematch was much different.
Nebraska did a solid job against running back Todd Gurley, who ran for 125 yards and a touchdown last year. Gurley finished with 86 yards on the ground.
Gurley was more effective in the passing game, catching seven passes for 97 yards and a score. His 25-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter cut Nebraska's lead to 24-19.
But the Huskers stopped Georgia (8-5) twice on fourth down in the closing minutes. Rantavious Wooten and Arthur Lynch dropped fourth-down passes that ended drives in the red zone.
Those drops were indicative of the entire game for Georgia. The Bulldogs moved inside the 25-yard line seven times, but settled for four field goals.
Despite those, Georgia had a chance late.
Wooten dropped a fourth-and-2 pass at the 10-yard line with 4:42 remaining. Georgia got the ball back with 3:18 to play and marched toward the end zone. But Lynch couldn't haul in a fourth-and-3 pass that would have moved the chains with about 25 seconds remaining.
Nebraska ran out the clock from there.
The Huskers pulled ahead 24-12 late in the third on the longest play in Gator Bowl history.
Armstrong dropped back on a third-and-14 play at the 1 and heaved the ball as far as he could to Enunwa, who was streaking wide open down the left sideline. Georgia cornerback Shaq Wiggins let Enunwa go, but got no safety help deep. Quincy Mauger had a chance to tackle Enunwa, but bounced off him just past midfield.
Enunwa coasted the rest of the way.
Enunwa finished with four receptions for 129 yards. He also broke a school with 12 touchdown receptions, eclipsing the mark of 11 set by Johnny Rodgers in 1971.
Armstrong, filling in for injured starter Taylor Martinez, completed 6 of 14 passes for 163 yards. He also had a 5-yard TD pass to Enunwa in the second quarter.
Ameer Abdullah ran 27 times for 122 yards and a score. It was his 11th 100-yard game of the season.
Nebraska finished with 307 yards, 109 fewer than Georgia.
Turnovers were the difference.
Nebraska turned two of them into two touchdowns. Reggie Davis muffed a punt deep in Georgia territory in the second quarter and Nebraska scored two plays later.
The Huskers also turned Hutson Mason's lone interception into points. Mason overthrew Chris Conley near the sideline. Josh Mitchell picked it off, setting up Abdullah's TD run.
Mason, making his second straight start in place of injured starter Aaron Murray, completed 21 of 39 passes for 320 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Texas A&M: 2013 Chick-Fil-A Bowl Champions

Farewell, Johnny. It was wonderful while it lasted.
The 2013 Chick-Fil-A bowl will long be remembered as Heisman winner Johnny Manziel’s final game in college. Years from now, few will remember the details of the Texas A&M comeback to beat an upstart Duke team that played nearly three quarters of flawless football before finally relenting, 52-48, on New Year Eve.
Perhaps even fewer will recall that the key play in the game was turned by the very same A&M defense that allowed Duke to move at will up and down the field all game long.
Never mind all that. For now, breathe in the wonder of Manziel, who threw for 382 yards on 30 of 38 passing, while rushing for another 73 yards and one touchdown. That’s 455 yards of offense and five total touchdowns for those keeping score at home.
It almost wasn’t enough.
Duke scored on its first six possessions and jumped out to a 38-17 halftime lead (the score was 28-3 at one point). Blue Devils quarterback Anthony Boone was phenomenal, throwing for 427 yards on 29 of 43 passing. He was 11 for 11 on third down alone, keeping drives alive time after time. But it wasn’t quite enough.
This was no game for defenses. A combined 1,203 yards and 100 points was belched forth by both offensive attacks.
And yet Tony Hurd’s 55-yard pick six of a Boone pass in the fourth quarter ended up being the difference. Such is college football.
A&M closes the season at 9-4, while Duke finishes its dream season at 10-4.
“I can’t even think about anything other than this game right now,” Manziel said afterward, in response to a reporter who asked whether he would now turn pro. “It’s unreal. I love Texas A&M. I love my teammates. I love ‘em more than anything on the face of this earth.”
Enough to come back for another year?  Stay tuned.

Mississippi State: 2013 Liberty Bowl Champions

MEMPHIS (AP) — Dak Prescott threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more scores and Mississippi State trounced Rice 44-7 on Tuesday in the most one-sided Liberty Bowl victory in the game's 55-year history.
Mississippi State (7-6) wrapped up its fourth straight winning season and prevented Rice (10-4) from winning bowl games in back-to-back years for the first time. By accounting for five touchdowns, Prescott set a Liberty Bowl record.
After falling behind 7-0, the Bulldogs scored touchdowns on four consecutive possessions.
Mississippi State's Jameon Lewis caught nine passes for 220 yards to break the Liberty Bowl receiving record held by Houston's Vincent Marshall, who had 201 yards in a 44-36 loss to South Carolina in 2006. Lewis also set the school single-game record.
Prescott was 17 of 28 for 283 yards and also ran for 78 yards on 14 carries.
Prescott's performance delighted a partisan crowd of 57,846 and capped a triumphant late-season performance amid personal tragedy for the sophomore quarterback, whose mother, Peggy, died of cancer in November.
Prescott came off the bench in the fourth quarter to lead Mississippi State to a 17-10 overtime victory over Ole Miss that made the Bulldogs bowl eligible. He then delivered arguably the finest performance of his career Tuesday on a day when he knew the offense would be resting on his shoulders.
Although Prescott and senior Tyler Russell had shared quarterback duties throughout the regular season, Prescott had the job to himself in the Liberty Bowl while Russell recovered from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. Prescott responded better than anyone could have reasonably imagined.
Rice took an early lead on Charles Ross' 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter after the Owls recovered a fumble at the Mississippi State 47. The Bulldogs dominated from that point on.
Mississippi State responded to Rice's early score by producing touchdowns on each of its next four possessions to grab a 27-7 halftime lead. Prescott threw touchdown passes to LaDarius Perkins, Malcolm Johnson and Artimus Samuel in the first half. Prescott added two touchdown runs in the third quarter.
Rice's offense simply couldn't keep up that pace.
The Owls had won the Conference USA title - their first outright league championship of any kind since 1957 - by relying on a rushing attack that was ranked 16th among all Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Rice had shown it could run the ball against SEC competition by rushing for 306 yards on 51 carries in a season-opening 52-31 loss to Texas A&M.
Mississippi State stopped that Rice rushing attack in its tracks.

UCLA: 2013 Sun Bowl Champions

EL PASO — That, as the folks in the industry say, is a wrap. UCLA labored, even struggled at times, but in the end the Bruins had a glitzy Hollywood ending for the 2013 season.
Quarterback Brett Hundley dipped and dodged on the field and off, leaving defenders in his wake along with the idea that he just might hop, skip and jump into the NFL draft.
Linebacker Jordan Zumwalt appeared to be auditioning for the lead in the next Incredible Hulk movie. Zumwalt Smash?
Linebacker Myles Jack scored another touchdown, this time while playing defense.
And a 42-12 victory over Virginia Tech on Tuesday in the Hyundai Sun Bowl left the Bruins (10-3) with their first 10-win season since 2005.
The sequel, the Bruins think, could be better.
"To see what we did this year, with 10 victories playing the schedule we had, it's scary to think we can be a lot better next year," Hundley said.
The Bruins announced their 2014 intentions with four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to break open the game after leading 14-7 through three quarters.
Where this will lead is open for interpretation. The consensus among the Bruins was that they were headed in an upward direction. UCLA fans will certainly demand that.
"I think the expectations that matter are our own," UCLA Coach Jim Mora said.
Which are?
"We need to get to a Rose Bowl," Mora said. "We need to get to and win a Rose Bowl."
Others were reaching even higher.
"I don't think there is a bar for us," receiver Devin Lucien said. "We've got to continue what we started this season. The national title is our motivation."
That is certainly part of Hundley's checklist.
"When you think of a legacy, you think about Super Bowls and national championships, Rose Bowls, something where you put your stamp on the program," Hundley said.
Whether this was Hundley's final stamp remains to be seen. A redshirt sophomore, he is eligible to declare for the NFL draft, a decision he will make in the coming days or weeks.
The Bruins could start the season as a top-10 team and go from there . . . if Hundley returns.
"That speaks for itself," Lucien said.
Anyone who says otherwise needs only to look at the statistics sheet from Tuesday. Hundley accounted for 387 of UCLA's 447 yards — 161 rushing and 226 passing — against a defense that ranked in the national top 10 in nearly every category.

Arizona: 2013 Advocare V100 Bowl Champions

Arizona’s bowl game was supposed to be all about the All-American running backs.
That was half true.
Ka’Deem Carey rushed for 169 yards to definitively win the battle of the backs in the Wildcats’ 42-19 romp over Boston College in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La., on Tuesday, but the feel-good ending to the season was stuffed with heroes in cardinal and navy.
The offensive MVP award went to quarterback B.J. Denker, freshman Nate Phillips set the record for the bowl game with 193 receiving yards, The Kid’s kid caught the first two touchdown passes of his career, safety Will Parks made the play of the game with a pick-six in the first half … and both lines earned a round of atta-boys, too.
Coach Rich Rodriguez, as he accepted the trophy during the postgame celebration, took the moment to be his own pitchman.
“We think we have a great thing going at the University of Arizona. We’ve got great facilities, a wonderful academic atmosphere, a beautiful campus,” he said.
“And I think if (recruits) get to know my guys, the guys on this team, who wouldn’t want to come play for the University of Arizona right now?”
Rodriguez has now won a bowl game at Arizona the hard way (two touchdowns in the final minute to win the New Mexico Bowl) and the easy way (cruising in the second half against the Eagles), both capping 8-5 seasons that flash a “Ready to Launch” signal for the Wildcats.
“Win or lose, I felt the foundation of our program has been established by the last two senior classes,” Rodriguez said in his postgame interview on 1290-AM (KCUB).
“We think we’re going to keep getting better. Certainly, winning today, and winning how we did, gives us a lot of confidence going into the offseason.”
This is a lot different than the feeling around the program on the night of Nov. 30, when Arizona State throttled the Cats 58-21 and was headed to the Pac-12 championship game. The Sun Devils lost that one, then were upset by Texas Tech in the Holiday Bowl on Monday night.
About 14 hours later, Arizona was walking off with a bowl trophy. Happy New Year, UA fans.
The game-within-the-game was Carey vs. Boston College’s Andre Williams, who won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back and who was fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
For much of the first half, the competition fizzled. Carey lost a fumble on his first attempt. Williams couldn’t get his 227 pounds into a higher gear.
Carey eventually had a Ka’Deem Carey kind of day. He got his yards. He scored twice.
Williams … not so much.
He rushed 26 times for 75 yards, finishing 100 yards below his season average, always met at the line of scrimmage by a Wildcat or three. Williams’ longest run was 7 yards.
“I think the biggest key for us, defensively, was trying to tackle to tackle him before he got going through the second level,” Rodriguez said in his postgame press conference.
“We wanted to tackle him early and be really physical. Our guys up front held the point pretty good, and on the back end, we tackled well. We got him on the ground quickly and didn’t let him get the big runs.”
Denker, the quarterback who absolutely nobody wanted out of high school, went out on top, completing 17 of 24 passes for 275 yards and two scores, also rushing for 51 yards and a touchdown. Two of his touchdown tosses went to Trey Griffey, certainly a proud moment for his dad, Ken Griffey Jr., who was shooting photographs from the sideline.
Phillips had his best day as a Wildcat with nine catches for 193 yards, eclipsing the bowl record of 191 set by South Carolina’s Sidney Rice in 2005.
Just about the only nervous moment for Arizona came late in the first half. Boston College trailed 7-6, was dominating time of possession and had recovered Phillips’ muffed punt catch at the UA 40. Three plays later, Parks totally changed momentum, using his film study to diagnose a route, cut off a sideline pass and race 69 yards for a score. He was chosen the game’s defensive MVP.
“When I caught it, I was thinking end zone, end zone, end zone,” Parks said on 1290-AM.
“It was pretty crazy. Once I celebrated, I was like, ‘I just changed the game for us.’ But it was a whole defensive effort.”
The all-around effort propels Arizona into an offseason in which the next big question is whether or not Carey jumps to the NFL. After that, Rodriguez is expected to sign his best class at Arizona. And after that, he’ll have to find a quarterback for 2014.
In the meantime, the Cats will enjoy their bowl victory while, correctly, setting their sights higher in years to come.
“I’m really proud of our football team and my seniors. We enjoyed the week but at the same time, we knew the reason we came down here was to win a football game,” Rodriguez said.
“I think it will help in recruiting a little bit. There’s just a positive vibe surrounding our program.”