Thursday, January 01, 2015

Georgia Tech: 2014 Orange Bowl Champions



MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Georgia Tech players hopped happily, hugged each other and danced in place. The clock had just struck midnight on New Year's Eve, so they had two things to celebrate.

Minutes earlier, the Yellow Jackets had completed a 49-34 victory over Mississippi State in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

Quarterback Justin Thomas was chosen the game's outstanding player Wednesday night after he directed an offense that totaled a Capital One Orange Bowl-record 452 yards rushing. He ran for 121 yards and three touchdowns, and threw for 125 yards and a score.

Synjyn Days ran for 171 yards and three scores, including a 69-yarder that defused Mississippi State's comeback bid.

No. 12 Georgia Tech (11-3, No. 10 AP) earned its first Capital One Orange Bowl victory in 63 years. The Yellow Jackets improved to 2-8 in bowl games in the past 10 seasons.

"Our program took a step forward this year," Thomas said, "and we're planning to keep striving to put Georgia Tech's name on the top of the list."

The victory was especially sweet for an Atlantic Coast Conference team located in the heart of Southeastern Conference country.

"For a week or so we won't have to hear about the SEC," Tech coach Paul Johnson said.

No. 7 Mississippi State (10-3, No. 8 AP) lost three of its final four games after being ranked No. 1 for five consecutive weeks.

Mississippi State's Dak Prescott threw for 453 yards, a Capital One Orange Bowl record and a career high. Mississippi State outgained Georgia Tech 605-577, and the two-team total was a Capital One Orange Bowl record.

But the Bulldogs twice lost the ball on downs in the second half, and two onside kick attempts failed.

"We missed some big opportunities," coach Dan Mullen said. "We just didn't score enough points."

Mississippi State scored on a 42-yard Hail Mary on the final play of the first half to trail 21-20, but the Yellow Jackets were unfazed, bouncing back with touchdowns on their first four possessions of the second half to lead 42-20.

Georgia Tech gained 452 yards on the ground, the eighth time they've rushed for 450 yards since Paul Johnson took over in 2008. That breaks a tie with Nevada for the most in the FBS in that span.

"We talked about it at halftime -- if we scored every time in the second half, we couldn't lose, because we were ahead," Johnson said.

Georgia Tech's triple option attack had uncharacteristic balance in the first half, when Thomas threw 10 times for 125 yards. Senior Darren Waller had a career-high 114 yards on five catches, including a 41-yard score.

The nation's second-ranked rushing offense revved it up in the third quarter, when the Yellow Jackets pulled away by gaining 208 yards, all on the ground.

"That's our game, no matter who we play," Thomas said. "That's what we're going to do."

The 75,000-seat stadium was a third empty at the start and two-thirds empty with 10 minutes left. But fans made plenty of noise, especially Tech rooters.

After Georgia Tech scored a touchdown to take a 21-20 lead with 29 seconds left in the first half, the Bulldogs started at their own 28. Four plays advanced the ball to the Yellow Jackets 42 with 5 seconds left, and after a timeout, Prescott heaved a pass into the end zone. Two defenders and Mississippi State's Joe Morrow got their hands on the ball, and it deflected to Fred Ross, who made a diving scoop for the improbable score.

"I was just in the right spot," Ross said.

The Yellow Jackets responded by shifting their ground game into high gear. First, Days found a big hole on a dive play and broke two tackles en route to the end zone.

"It was a big spark," Thomas said. "We got that touchdown and never looked back."

Thomas then scored on a 32-yard keeper, juking past a defender in the backfield to break into the clear and make it 35-20. And after Jamal Golden forced a fumble at midfield, Thomas scored again on a 15-yard run.

"He made some great throws," Mullen said. "What made him dangerous is extending the plays. He made some great open field runs and made people miss."

Boise State: 2014 Fiesta Bowl Champions



GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Boise State Broncos are no longer just trick-play ponies.

They did score a touchdown on a Statue of Liberty play. This was the VIZIO Fiesta Bowl, so of course they did.

But once the tricks were used up and the offensive fireworks dulled, Boise State had to grind out this VIZIO Fiesta Bowl victory with its defense.

The Fiesta Bowl has brought out the best from the Boise State Broncos over the last decade, and Wednesday's game was no different. Story

Donte Deayon returned an interception for a touchdown in third quarter and sack specialist Kamalei Correa had his biggest takedown of the season on the game's final play, lifting No. 20 Boise State to a 38-30 victory over No. 10 Arizona in the VIZIO Fiesta Bowl on Wednesday.

"They hit us, we stiffened up and came up a winner," Boise State linebacker Tanner Vallejo said.

Boise State (12-2, No. 21 AP) lived up to its unpredictable reputation in the first quarter, pulling off the Statue of Liberty play while racing to a 21-0 lead in the opening 10 minutes.

Jay Ajayi scored two of his three touchdowns in the first quarter -- one on the trick play -- and finished with 134 yards rushing. Grant Hedrick was perfect through his first 14 passes and threw for 304 yards and a touchdown. Thomas Sperbeck had 12 catches for 199 yards.

The bulk of those numbers came in the first half, though. Once the second rolled around, the Broncos bogged down, allowing Arizona to cut the lead to eight in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats had a final chance, using their quick-strike offense to march down the field, but Correa sacked Anu Solomon at Boise State's 10-yard on the game's last play.

The Broncos charged onto the field after Correa's sack, celebrating a successful first season under coach Bryan Harsin with their third VIZIO Fiesta Bowl victory.

Not bad for a team supposedly in transition.

"People think Boise State isn't a powerhouse program," said Broncos receiver Chaz Anderson, who had a 57-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. "It feels good to be back to where we were in the past."

Arizona (10-4, No. 12 AP) was overrun by Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship and seemed to still have a hangover against the Broncos.

Once the Wildcats shook out of their daze, they shut down Boise State's high-powered offense and began chipping away at the lead.

The problem was that they needed to take bigger chunks.

Instead of scoring touchdowns, Arizona mostly dinked its way back, settling for three field goals after driving deep into Boise State's end.

Turnovers also hurt. Solomon threw for 335 yards and a touchdown, but had two interceptions that led to touchdowns for Boise State, including Deayon's pick six late in the third quarter.

"Everything wasn't going our way," the redshirt freshman said. "I was overthinking things and I just can't do that. I played like a freshman today."

With Wednesday's win over Arizona, Boise State is 3-0 in the VIZIO Fiesta Bowl despite entering each game as the underdog.

Of all the non-playoff bowls, the Fiesta had one of the most intriguing matchups: Two prolific offenses, two programs trying to make a statement with a big-bowl win.

It certainly lived up to the billing at the start.

The big-play Broncos burst out of the gate with long touchdowns on their first two drives: a 56-yard touchdown run by Ajayi and a 57-yard TD hookup between Hedrick and Anderson.

No VIZIO Fiesta Bowl with Boise State would be complete without a Statue of Liberty play, so the Broncos did that, too. Ajayi scored on it, taking a behind-the-back handoff from Hedrick, then stiff-arming Arizona cornerback Cam Denson to the ground on the 16-yard run.

"It was fun to have that play in this game as well," Harsin said.

Arizona was finally able catch its breath and marched in for a 1-yard touchdown dive by Solomon.

But just when the Wildcats looked like they were back in it, Solomon threw an interception, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Ajayi that made it 28-7.

Nick Wilson scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter, but Boise State still led 31-17 at halftime after Hedrick completed 17 of 18 passes for 272 yards.

Boise State had 2 yards on 14 plays in the third quarter, but took an 18-point lead Deayon's interception return.

Solomon made up for it right after that, scrambling to the right before finding Samjie Grant for a 51-yard touchdown strike that made it 38-27 heading into the fourth quarter.

Arizona cut it to eight on Casey Skowron's third field goal, from 32 yards, but failed to score on its final two drives.

"Our guys (have) come back from big deficits before," Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez said. "(We've) just got to play better. We did at times, but not good enough to win it."

TCU: 2014 Peach Bowl Champions



ATLANTA -- Gary Patterson knew just what to say when asked if TCU's rout of Mississippi was a statement the Horned Frogs should have been in the four-team playoff.

"I don't think I have to say anything," Patterson said.

No need. The Horned Frogs said it all on the field.

Playing like a team motivated by the playoff snub, No. 6 TCU rode three touchdown passes from Trevone Boykin and a dominant defense to a 42-3 rout of No. 9 Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl on Wednesday.

Josh Doctson had two touchdown catches and Aaron Green ran for a score and added a touchdown reception for the Horned Frogs (12-1).

"We showed Atlanta, the crowd and everyone that we deserve to be in the playoffs competing for the national championship," said receiver Kolby Listenbee, who threw a touchdown pass and had a scoring catch.

Added Doctson: "I think people around the nation will be talking about us for a while now."

TCU fans also were thinking of the national championship they can't win.

Late in the third quarter, when the lead was 42-0, TCU fans targeted the No. 1 seed in the playoff when they chanted "We want Bama!"

Ole Miss (9-4) lost four of its last six games. Bo Wallace threw three interceptions, including one caught in the Rebels end zone by defensive end James McFarland for a touchdown.

TCU looked like a championship contender to Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze.

"TCU is a very good team," Freeze said. "They deserved every mention they got this year to be in the hunt for one of the four. ... I'm glad I'm not on that committee to pick the four. They certainly could compete with any of the four in it, there's no question in my mind."

The action was as lopsided as the score. TCU finished with 423 yards and allowed only 129 to Ole Miss. The Rebels were held to 9 yards rushing in the biggest margin of victory in Peach Bowl history.

TCU led 28-0 at halftime.

"The first half was like a straight punch in the mouth," said Ole Miss tight end Evan Engram.

Ole Miss ranked first in the nation with its average of only 13.8 points allowed. Turnovers and TCU's quick-strike offense were too much to overcome.

Wallace completed only 10 of 23 passes for 109 yards with three interceptions.

The Rebels avoided the shutout when Gary Wunderlich kicked a 27-yard field goal with 7:18 remaining.

Boykin also had turnover problems, as he completed 22 of 31 passes for 187 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He had 10 carries for 65 yards.

There were a combined five turnovers in the first half, including three by TCU. Boykin threw two interceptions and wide receiver David Porter fumbled when trying to pitch to Green on a trick play.

The Rebels, held to four first downs and 59 total yards in the first half, couldn't take advantage of the turnovers.

By contrast, the Horned Frogs turned two Ole Miss turnovers into 14 points. On the Rebels' third snap of the game, a pass from Wallace was picked off by safety Chris Hackett. Two plays later, Listenbee threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Green.

Late in the half, Wallace tried to avoid a safety when pressured in his end zone by tossing the ball away, but McFarland snatched the ball up before it hit the turf for an instant touchdown and a 28-0 lead.

Wallace was sacked five times -- all in the first half.

The rout continued in the third quarter as Boykin threw touchdown passes of 35 yards to Listenbee and 27 yards to Doctson. The scoring catch moved Doctson past Reggie Harrell's team-record total of 1,012 yards receiving in 2003.

The Rebels finally staged an impressive drive late in the third quarter, when they had a first down at the TCU 8. On fourth down from the 7, the shotgun snap went past Wallace, and running back Jordan Wilkins fell on the ball at the 26.

Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil, an all-SEC first-team selection, was taken off the field in a cart late in the first half with an apparent right leg injury. Some TCU players walked over to offer encouragement to Tunsil as he waited for the cart.

Attendance was 65,706, ending the Peach Bowl's streak of 17 consecutive sellouts.

The bowl is sponsored by Chick-fil-A.