Friday, January 01, 2016

Ole Miss Rebels: 2016 Sugar Bowl Champions

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Chad Kelly threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns — three to Laquon Treadwell — and No. 16 Mississippi beat No. 13 Oklahoma State 48-20 in the Sugar Bowl on Friday night.

Ole Miss (10-3) jumped out to a 34-6 lead by halftime, cruising up and down the field against an overwhelmed Oklahoma State defense. The onslaught was punctuated late in the second quarter when left tackle Laremy Tunsil had a 2-yard touchdown run on a trick play after a lateral from Kelly.

Oklahoma State (10-3) lost its final three games after 10 straight wins. The Cowboys fell into a 41-6 hole midway through the third quarter and never mounted a legitimate challenge.

Mason Rudolph was 18 of 31 for 179 yards for Oklahoma State. Ole Miss outgained Oklahoma State 554-366 in total yards.

Ohio State Buckeyes: 2016 Fiesta Bowl Champions

GLENDALE, Ariz.—Ezekiel Elliott ran for 149 yards and matched a Fiesta Bowl record with four touchdowns, sparking Ohio State’s prolific offense ast he No. 7 Buckeyes downed eighth-ranked Notre Dame 44–28 in the BCS bowl game Friday afternoon.

The Buckeyes (12–1) were left out of the College Football Playoff thanks to an inopportune loss. They may leave the desert wondering what could have been after blowing past another playoff contender.

Ohio State rolled past the Fighting Irish (10-3), quick-hitting its way to one scoring drive after another and 496 total yards.

Elliott was Ohio State’s drive capper in the first half, scoring on three short runs. He turned into the show stopper in the second, leaving Notre Dame defenders flailing as he raced for a 47-yard score.
The Fighting Irish had some good offensive moments behind DeShone Kizer, but couldn’t keep up with the Buckeyes. Kizer threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns on 22-of-37 passing, but had an interception and lost a fumble.

Ohio State star defensive end Joey Bosa was ejected for targeting in the first quarter.

Notre Dame top linebacker Jaylon Smith, the Butkus Award winner as the nation’s best linebacker, had to be helped off four minutes in after suffering an apparent leg injury and did not return.

Will Fuller caught an 81-yard touchdown reception for the Fighting Irish.

Stanford Cardinal: 2016 Rose Bowl Champions

The 102nd Rose Bowl game was a blowout by the second quarter Friday, with Stanford well on its way to a 45-16 demolition of Iowa, when the Cardinal pulled the football equivalent of a three-card Monte on what seemed like a bunch of unsuspecting Midwest tourists.

Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan dropped back from the Iowa 31-yard line and reached toward the ground with both hands on the ball, giving the impression he had fumbled.

Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey, who got a head start on his 2016 Heisman Trophy campaign by racking up a Rose Bowl-record 368 all-purpose yards and scoring two touchdowns, added to the hoax, diving toward Hogan's hands as if he was recovering a fumble.

Stanford had never used the play in David Shaw's five years as coach, and the Hawkeyes bit on the fake like it was a hunk of prime rib at the Lawry's Beef Bowl. Hogan stepped back and lofted a high-arching pass to Michael Rector, who was wide open on a corner route in the right side of the end zone.

Rector hauled in the pass for a 31-yard touchdown and a 35-0 Stanford lead with 8 minutes 22 seconds left . . . in the first half. It was that kind of afternoon for the Hawkeyes, who hadn't been to the Rose Bowl in 25 years and looked like they had no business being there Friday.

Adding insult to Iowa and its faithful fans, who accounted for more than half of the crowd of 94,268 in the Rose Bowl, was the name Stanford coaches gave the trick play that made the Big Ten team look so foolish.

"We actually call it Hawkeye," said Rector, who caught two passes for 73 yards and two touchdowns. "We just made that up. We knew their defensive backs and linebackers flew down hard. We thought if we faked a fumble, they'd bite hard on it, and they did. It was a great throw by Kevin, and fortunately, I came down with it."

Shaw, who has coached the Cardinal to three Pac-12 Conference titles and two Rose Bowl wins in five years, said the play has "been in the works for six years," adding that he first saw Boise State run it under coach Chris Petersen.

"I always liked it and was looking for the right situation to do it," Shaw said. "We've worked on it at different times. For this game, if was a group effort. It's one of those things when you talk about it, everyone says, 'No, we can't do that.' Then we look at it again and say, 'Gosh, that could be really good.'"

There wasn't much Stanford couldn't do on Friday. The sixth-ranked Cardinal imposed its will on the fifth-ranked Hawkeyes, dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and running up a 38-0 lead early in the third quarter before Iowa finally got on the board.

Iowa gave up an average of 18.5 points a game during 12-1 season. Stanford (12-2) scored 21 points in the first quarter. The Cardinal racked up 429 yards compared to Iowa's 287. Stanford had seven sacks in the game, four coming on third down.

Hogan, a fifth-year senior, capped a stellar Stanford career by completing 12 of 21 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns, and his last pass in a Cardinal uniform was a beautiful 42-yard bomb down the left sideline to Rector for a touchdown with 1:54 left in the game.

The Hawkeyes spent much of the afternoon grasping at air in their attempts to corral McCaffrey, the speedy and elusive sophomore who became the first player in Rose Bowl history with at least 100 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving.

McCaffrey, who broke the previous all-purpose mark of 346 yards set by Wisconsin receiver Jared Abbrederis against Oregon in the 2012 game, caught a short curl pass from Hogan in stride and raced 75 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.

"We dominated up front," said Joshua Garnett, Stanford's Outland Trophy-winning left guard. "We dominated all facets of the game."

Football players often look for motivation in perceived slights during the week leading up to bowl games. For Garnett, it was a declaration by Iowa cornerback Desmond King, who said he was going to "pancake" Garnett.

There were also comments from other Hawkeyes who said they hadn't heard of McCaffrey until the Heisman Trophy show and that Stanford's offensive line wasn't much different than those they face in the Big Ten.

"They know who McCaffrey is now," Garnett said. "They said we're like a regular Big Ten offensive line. When you challenge guys like us, when you light a fire under us . . . we're the wrong guys to do that to.

"For us to dominate up front and prove to people in the Big Ten that we can scrap with them, get down and dirty with them, that means a lot. We showed them what Stanford football is all about. Once the whistle blows, there's nowhere to hide on the field."

Michigan Wolverines: 2016 Citrus Bowl Champions

Orlando, Fla. — Mark Schlissel, the University of Michigan president, didn’t see it coming.

As he stood on a portable stage inside the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium, with some 25,000 Michigan fans cheering in the stands and a victorious football team celebrating all around, there was an explosion behind him. And, quite naturally, he flinched.

“This is the first time I’ve been hit in the back of the head by a confetti cannon,” he explained later, laughing as he shook the last of the debris from his hair. “You know, if I was a real pro, I would know to stand a bit more to the right. I was a rookie.”

Understandably so, this being his first bowl trip as the university president. But exactly 18 months after assuming that post, and a year after the hiring of Jim Harbaugh as football coach was announced, Schlissel was beaming Friday after Michigan throttled Florida, 41-7, in the Citrus Bowl to cap a successful season.

“It’s exciting,” said Schlissel, who shared a hug and a few words with Harbaugh as he left the stage. “The kids worked so hard. The community cared so intensely. The alumni continued to support the team in good times and bad. And this is a great culmination of a fantastic year. A 10-win season. First year for the coach. More than anybody expected.”

And more than anything, Friday’s victory helped validate much of what we’ve seen in Harbaugh’s first year at his alma mater, from the tough, physical play on the field to the renewed energy in the stands.

The Wolverines certainly did exceed expectations, coming off a 5-7 season and the firing of Brady Hoke last fall. Friday’s bowl victory was Michigan’s first since the end of the 2011 season, and the third since 2002. And with the 10-3 finish, Harbaugh became the third coach in school history to win 10 games his first season.

That alone doesn’t mean much. (The other two — Hoke and Fielding Yost — don’t have a lot in common.) And Michigan needs no reminders it lost to its chief rivals again this season, dropping a heartbreaker on the final play to eventual Big Ten champ Michigan State and then getting drop-kicked again at home by Ohio State.

“We’re not saying this is the greatest year in the history of Michigan football,” Harbaugh said, doing his best to put it all in perspective. “But this team acquitted itself very well.”

Rudock’s best year

It was Harbaugh himself who had declared on New Year’s Eve this would be the “best year I’ve had in football” if the Wolverines could finish it off with a Jan. 1 victory over the Gators.

Friday, he wasn’t hedging one bit with that resolution.

“I thought long and hard before making that statement,” said Harbaugh, whose extended family was all on the field celebrating after the game. “And I told the team the same thing.”

At the postgame news conference, as Harbaugh was explaining all the reasons, he also turned to his quarterback, Jake Rudock, voted the game’s MVP after a “darn near flawless” performance, and asked him the same thing, “Jake, is this your best year in football?”

Rudock laughed, and replied, “Yeah, it’s hard to argue that.”

Indeed, it was, as Rudock, after losing his starting job at Iowa last January, opted to transfer for his fifth year as a graduate student, landing at Michigan in the spring and winning the No. 1 job in the fall.

By November, Harbaugh was calling him a “godsend” — citing his poise and his meticulous preparation — as the 22-year-old Florida native started rewriting the school record books. And after Friday’s 273-yard, three-touchdown day, Rudock, who says he’ll put off medical school to give the NFL a shot, sits No. 2 on the Wolverines' single-season list with 3,017 passing yards.

“The standard is just to play good, efficient football, and to do things right,” said Jedd Fisch, Michigan’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. “And that’s what he does so well. He does things right, all of the time. It matters to him.”

This game mattered to all of them, though. That was obvious in the run-up, with spirited practices in the 80-degree Florida heat and a businesslike approach to the bowl, in spite of the Disney World surroundings.

And it showed Friday, as Michigan produced what Harbaugh called the team’s “most complete game of the season.”

The Wolverines scored on seven of their first eight possessions, while piling up more points and more yards (503) than the Gators had allowed all season. Michigan outgained Florida, 160-2, in the third quarter, and ended the game by running out the final 5 minutes 11 seconds on the clock.

“They took it to us, beat us up front,” Florida coach Jim McElwain, whose team also won 10 games this season, finished atop the SEC East and came in with the nation’s fourth-ranked defense.

Rushing returns

Yet, a Michigan running game that stalled late in the season looked suddenly rejuvenated, with the line opening holes and the backs — led by De’Veon Smith — exploding through them.

Smith finished with 25 carries for 109 yards, the first 100-yard effort for Michigan since a Sept. 19 romp of BYU, when he topped the century mark but also suffered a high-ankle sprain that nagged him for the next two months.

“De’Veon was a man possessed running the football,” Harbaugh said.

The defense was, too, even without injured star Jabrill Peppers, who sat out with a hand injury. Florida’s offense looked anemic late in the season, thanks to poor quarterback play and a porous line. And it did again Friday after an encouraging start, as Michigan held Florida to 28 yards and one first down after halftime.

In the end, it was simply a punishing performance by the Wolverines, which is exactly what the fans were promised when Harbaugh returned last winter.

“You saw the epitome of what he’s been trying to do since Day 1 when he got here in what was on the field today,” said linebacker Joe Bolden, one of the departing seniors. “It’s what he wants. It’s what you’ll see.”

And now that the Wolverines have found their footing, and know where to stand, joked Schlissel, “We’re thrilled to do this every year.”

Tennessee Volunteers: 2016 Outback Bowl Champions

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Joshua Dobbs threw for 166 yards and ran for two touchdowns Friday, helping Tennessee cap its best season in eight years with a 45-6 rout of No. 12 Northwestern in the Outback Bowl.
Dobbs scored on runs 14 and 18 yards, while Jalen Hurd ran for 130 yards and one TD for the Volunteers (9-4), who finished with at least nine wins for the first time since 2007.
Northwestern (10-3) sputtered offensively and was unable to keep up with the stronger, faster Vols defensively in falling short on a bid to finish with a school-record 11 victories.
Dobbs completed 14 of 25 passes. The dual-threat quarterback ran 12 times for 48 yards, including a highlight-reel burst around right end in which he dove for his second TD after picking up a bobbled snap and tight-roping his way up the sideline to make it 31-6 early in the fourth quarter.