Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Kansas State: 2016 Texas Bowl Champions



HOUSTON -- Jesse Ertz threw for 195 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores in Kansas State's 33-28 victory over Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl on Wednesday night.

Ertz had a 79-yard touchdown pass and scoring runs of 1 and 5 yards to help give Kansas State its fourth straight win and first bowl victory since the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

The Wildcats (9-4) led by five when Ertz bulled into the end zone on a 1-yard run that made it 33-21 with nine minutes left. Ertz set up the score with a 20-yard run two plays earlier.

The Aggies (8-5) cut it to 33-28 on Josh Reynolds' 15-yard TD reception about a minute later.

Texas A&M attempted to convert a fourth-and-8 with about two minutes left, but Trevor Knight's pass was short, to give Kansas State the ball back and allow the Wildcats to run out the clock.

Reynolds had a Texas A&M bowl-record 12 receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Knight threw for 310 yards with three touchdowns and one interception as A&M dropped its second straight bowl game.

Kansas State did a good job of neutralizing Texas A&M star defensive end Myles Garrett. The junior, who is expected to declare for the draft and many believe could be the top overall pick in April, blocked an extra point in the second quarter. But he was unable to do much else while facing near-constant double teams and he finished with one tackle.

Texas A&M got to 23-21 when Reynolds made a 4-yard touchdown catch with about seven minutes left in the third quarter. A 25-yard field goal by Ian Patterson extended Kansas State's lead to 26-21 with about three minutes remaining in the quarter. A highlight of that drive came on a 36-yard run John Silmon.

The Aggies took a 7-0 lead when Keith Ford scored on a 7-yard run on their first possession.

Kansas State tied it when Ertz connected with Byron Pringle and he dashed down the field for a 79-yard touchdown run later in the first quarter.

The Wildcats took the lead when Ertz stiff-armed Justin Evans on a 5-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. But Garrett blocked the extra point to make it 13-7.


A 3-yard reception by Ricky Seals-Jones put A&M back on top 14-13 soon after that. But Kansas State regained the lead with a 40-yard field goal before pushing the lead to 23-14 on a 52-yard run by Dominique Heath just before halftime.

THAT'S A NO NO: Kansas State's cornerback Donnie Starks received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the end of the first half when he threw Reynolds to the ground and then squatted over him and pressed his crotch to the receiver's chest. Reynolds then punched at the crotch of Starks, but he was not penalized. The penalty was enforced on the opening kickoff of the second half.

Reynolds got a bit of revenge for the play when he caught his touchdown pass in the third quarter over Starks and stared him down after making the grab.

Utah: 2016 Foster Farms Bowl Champions



SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Joe Williams ran for 222 yards and a touchdown and Andy Phillips kicked a 27-yard field goal with 1:24 to play to lead Utah to its 14th victory in its past 15 bowl games, 26-24 over Indiana in the Foster Farms Bowl on Wednesday night.

Tyler Huntley ran for another score and the Utes (9-4) forced three turnovers to spoil Tom Allen's coaching debut at Indiana and improve Utah coach Kyle Whittingham's bowl record to 10-1.

Allen took over the Hoosiers (6-7) after Kevin Wilson's sudden resignation this month. Allen had finished his first season at Indiana as defensive coordinator and is now tasked with rebuilding the team as he did in his one year with the defense.

He appeared to be off to a good start when the Hoosiers rallied from 10 points down to take a 24-23 lead early in the fourth quarter on Devine Redding's 3-yard run following a fumble by Utah's Zach Moss.

Williams then lost a fumble on the next drive for the Utes, but Griffin Oakes missed a 40-yard field goal attempt with 5:34 left to prevent the Hoosiers from adding onto the lead.

That proved costly when Williams ran for 64 yards on the ensuing drive to help set up Phillips' fourth field goal of the game to make it 26-24.

Indiana's last gasp chance ended when Richard Lagow was hit on a desperation heave near midfield.

THE TAKEAWAY

Indiana: Allen's debut started off well when Kyle Fulks fumbled the opening kickoff for Utah and Indiana turned that into a touchdown on a 7-yard pass from Lagow to Mitchell Paige. But the Hoosiers struggled on offense after that. Lagow went 14 for 39 for 188 yards and an interception. The receivers didn't help with several drops but Lagow was often off-target or had passes batted down at the line of scrimmage.

Utah: The Utes took advantage of the bowl game to get a good look at freshman quarterback Huntley, who could compete with Troy Williams for the starting job next season. Huntley completed a 36-yard pass to Kyle Fulks on his only throw but was used much more in the running game. He finished with 23 yards on eight carries with the touchdown.

UP NEXT

Indiana: Allen viewed the preparation and bowl game as the start of his first full season in 2017. The Hoosiers will jump right into it, hosting Ohio State in the season opener on Aug. 31.

Utah: The Utes will have a far easier opener, getting FCS-level North Dakota at home on Aug. 31.

Miami: 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl Champions



ORLANDO, Fla. -- Miami fans asked Brad Kaaya to end the school's 10-year bowl-victory drought, and he delivered.

Now they have another request.

"One more year! One more year!" they chanted at Kaaya on Wednesday night, after he threw four touchdown passes to help Miami top No. 14 West Virginia 31-14 in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

And it's easy to see why they're clamoring for the school's most prolific quarterback to return.

Kaaya completed 24 of 34 passes for 282 yards for Miami (9-4) -- and went 18 for 19 in one dazzling stretch, the lone incompletion in that span being a drop. The four TDs tied both a Miami bowl record and Kaaya's collegiate best.

"I've got some soul-searching to do," said Kaaya, who already was Miami's career leader in passing yards and took over the No. 1 spots in attempts and completions on Wednesday.

"Regardless of if I'm here or not next season, I think this team is headed to greatness," Kaaya added. "I think there's a lot of good things going on and a lot of progress has been made, so I think this team will be good regardless of what happens over the next few days."

Skyler Howard passed for 134 yards and ran for a touchdown for West Virginia (10-3), which fell to 3-17 against Miami. Kennedy McKoy also had a touchdown run for the Mountaineers, who committed 11 penalties and allowed four sacks.

West Virginia came in averaging more than 500 yards per game. Miami held the Mountaineers to 229.

"That's the best defense we faced all year," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said.

Miami's offense wasn't bad, either.

The Hurricanes had lost six straight bowl games, and punted on their first six possessions Wednesday. But Kaaya finally got rolling, and Miami soon had total control.

Kaaya connected with Ahmmon Richards, Malcolm Lewis and Braxton Berrios for touchdowns in the final 6:30 of the first half to get Miami rolling, and found David Njoku for another touchdown on the first possession of the second half.

"They were ready to play," Holgorsen said. "This meant a lot to them. ... Outcoached us, outplayed us on all three sides."

THE TAKEAWAY

West Virginia: The Mountaineers fell short of tying a school record for wins in a season. There have been five teams in West Virginia's 125 years of football to win 11 games. ... West Virginia fell to 2-10 in bowl games played in Florida. ... It was the first time the Mountaineers and Hurricanes played since 2003, when both were in the Big East.

Miami: Freshman linebacker Michael Pinckney was ejected for targeting with 10:55 left in the third quarter, and per NCAA rule will have to sit out the first half of next season's opener. ... Not only did Miami punt on its first six possessions, but it went three-and-out on the first five of those.

NJOKU GONE

Njoku announced after the game that he's skipping his final two seasons of eligibility and entering the NFL Draft, after being told that he is potentially a first-round pick.

"It's kind of bittersweet, leaving my team a couple years early," Njoku said.

The redshirt sophomore caught eight touchdown passes this season.

BOWL STREAK

Among the 109 teams that won bowl games since Miami's last postseason victory in 2006: The other Miami (Ohio), Old Dominion (which didn't even have football in 2006), and all six of the other FBS teams from the state of Florida -- Florida, Florida State, Central Florida, South Florida, Florida Atlantic and Florida International.

ORLOSKY REFLECTS

West Virginia center Tyler Orlosky, one of the best at his position in the country this season, said he will look back on this season with pride.

"To be able to go out with 10 wins says a lot. ... We may not have won today, but we won the season in my opinion," Orlosky said.

LEWIS' CAREER


Lewis wrapped up his Miami career in a most memorable way. His TD catch in the second quarter was his first in a 35-game span for Miami, and was the third scoring grab of his career. The bowl game was Lewis' 50th and final game as a Hurricane, making him the 11th to play so many at Miami. His freshman season in 2012 ended after four games when he endured a badly broken ankle at Georgia Tech, so he was able to get a fifth year of eligibility.

UP NEXT

West Virginia: The Mountaineers ended this season against an ACC opponent, and start next season with one. West Virginia plays Virginia Tech at FedExField on Sept. 2.

Miami: The Hurricanes' Week 1 opponent for next season hasn't been announced, one of many things to be sorted out in the coming weeks.

Northwestern: 2016 Pinstripe Bowl Champions



NEW YORK -- Justin Jackson has the last name made for the bright lights at Yankee Stadium.

He had the kind of postseason game worthy of the setting.

"Big city. Big stage," he said. "We walked into Yankee Stadium and everything kind of really hit us."

Jackson made his case in the home of the Yankees to become Northwestern's Mr. December.

Unlike Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson, the Wildcats' stud running back did his damage one step at a time instead of one swing. Jackson ran for 224 yards and three touchdowns to power Northwestern to only its third bowl victory, 31-24 over No. 22 Pittsburgh in the Pinstripe Bowl on Wednesday night.

"Justin's day will go down as one of the great performances by a Northwestern running back," coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

Jackson was the straw that stirred Northwestern's offense in the Bronx and helped etch this performance alongside the 1948 Rose Bowl and 2012 Gator Bowl victories in the program's oft-futile history.

Jackson, the game's MVP , was awed by the lights and monuments at the stadium. But it was a more discreet spot in the locker room Northwestern borrowed from the Yankees that really bowled over Jackson.

"Like, Derek Jeter has peed in that urinal," he said.

Jackson had TD runs of 8 and 16 yards in the second quarter, then went deep on a 40-yard burst in the third that left one defender face down on the turf following a fantastic fake and gave the Wildcats (7-6) a 21-17 lead.

Rallying without injured quarterback Nathan Peterman and running back James Conner, Pitt yanked the lead away in the fourth on a short TD pass before it collapsed the rest of the quarter.

The Wildcats turned a fourth-and-1 into a 21-yard play-action TD pass that made it 28-24 and a hit late field goal for a seven-point lead.

The Panthers (8-5), who had wins over No. 2 Clemson and Big Ten champion Penn State, still had time to spoil Northwestern's upset bid with a late drive for the tying score. Scott Orndoff failed to hang on to backup quarterback Ben DiNucci's strike in the end zone on third down. DiNucci had his fourth-down pass picked off by Jared McGee, who helped bust up the previous pass play, to clinch the win for the Wildcats.

Northwestern's defense made the stops late. Jackson carried the Wildcats to a celebration on a purple-glittered baseball field .

"We didn't tackle a really good tailback," Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi said.

Jackson stiff-armed one defender, then bowled over a second for a 16-yard score that helped Northwestern take a 14-10 lead into halftime.

After some confusion over his final rushing total, Jackson fell just shy of setting the Pinstripe Bowl mark of 227 yards by Indiana's Devine Redding.

"We'll go over every yard," Fitzgerald said.

Peterman, who threw for 253 yards, gave Pitt a 17-14 lead on a 5-yard scamper in the third. Peterman's solid outing ended late in the quarter when he was sandwiched between two defenders and his head slammed the turf.

DiNucci was picked on Pitt's final drive with 30 seconds left in the game and the Wildcats would get their kicks from storming the field in a frenzy.

Conner, who capped a triumphant return from Hodgkin lymphoma, suffered a brutal helmet-to-helmet blow to the head late in the first half and did not return. Unlike some draft prospects, Conner played the bowl game even though he decided to skip his senior season and declare for the NFL draft. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Conner, who had 1,060 yards rushing and 20 total touchdowns entering the game, was far from a sure-fire early NFL pick.

"One of the defenders turned around and went for him, I guess, instead of going for the ball. Kind of interesting," Narduzzi said.

Conner was stuffed when he tried to go over the top on a failed fourth-down try in the first quarter.

THE TAKEAWAY

Northwestern: The Wildcats were stout all around. Clayton Thorson was 23 of 36 for 214 yards passing and had the winning TD pass. Garrett Dickerson caught the go-ahead TD and had five catches for 46 yards. The Wildcats can chalk this one up to a fantastic four: 4 for 4 on fourth-down conversions.

Pittsburgh: The Panthers may have pulled out a victory had their offensive stalwarts not been sidelined late with injuries. Losing to a 6-6 Big Ten definitely ends the year on a down note.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Pitt will fall out of the Top 25 and failed to finish the season ranked and with nine wins for the first time since 2009.

UP NEXT


Northwestern can only hope Jackson's latest breakout game in the national spotlight will propel the program to great heights in the loaded Big Ten.

Jackson led the Big Ten with 1,300 yards rushing and became the first Wildcat to rush for 1,000-plus yards in three straight seasons. He said he would return for his senior season. "You don't come here and not get a degree," he said.

Fitzgerald cracked: "There's no way. Your dad will kill you."

Pitt has to replace Conner in the backfield and find a new offensive coordinator. Pitt offensive coordinator Matt Canada called the shots for the final time before packing up for the same position at LSU.