Thursday, December 28, 2017

Purdue: 2017 Foster Farms Bowl Champions



SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- When Elijah Sindelar took the field for Purdue's late comeback attempt in a bowl game he thought back on a failed opportunity in a similar situation in the season opener.

The difference from that interception he threw against Louisville to a bowl-game winning touchdown against Arizona sums up the progress the Boilermakers made in their first season under coach Jeff Brohm.

Sindelar threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Mahoungou with 1:44 remaining and Purdue capped its most successful season in years in dramatic style with a 38-35 victory over Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl on Wednesday night.

"I just did not want to do that again," Sindelar said about his interception in the opener. "I remembered that feeling, I was going to try to do everything I could to make sure we didn't have to experience that again."

The Boilermakers (7-6) had squandered a 17-point halftime lead when Khalil Tate threw his fifth TD pass with 3:21 remaining to give the Wildcats (7-6) the lead.

But Sindelar responded with a 75-yard drive that ended with the deep throw into the end zone to Mahoungou, giving the Boilermakers their first winning record since 2011 and first bowl win over a major conference team since beating Washington in the 2002 Sun Bowl. Purdue had won only nine games in the previous four seasons before Brohm arrived.

"That's a memory you'll cherish for the rest of your life," Brohm said "They definitely earned it because they put in the hard work, have gone through the adversity and continued to hang in there."

Sindelar threw for 396 yards and four touchdowns, with Mahoungou (118 yards) and Gregory Phillips (149) each topping the 100-yard mark and catching two TD passes.

Tate was just as good, showing he can win with his arm as well as he can with his legs that carried him to 1,353 yards rushing in the regular season. Tate threw for 302 yards and five touchdowns but his late interception to Jacob Thieneman ended the comeback attempt.

"They made one more play than we did at the end to win," coach Rich Rodriguez said. "It's pretty simple. Give them credit but I'm also pretty excited about the future."

Brohm pulled out all the stops, going for it three times on fourth down, calling a couple of flea-flickers and using an innovative trick play on a fake kneel down to set up a field goal at the end of the first half that made it 31-14.

THE TAKEAWAY

Purdue: The Boilermakers were dynamic in the 31-point first half, showing off offensive prowess that was rarely seen on a consistent basis during the regular season. The offense stalled mostly in the second half before the winning score. The most promising drive before that ended when Markell Jones got stopped just short of the first-down marker on a fourth-down pass.

Arizona: The Boilermakers managed to keep Tate's electric running in check, holding him to just 58 yards on 20 carries. But that opened up space for him to exploit them with downfield throws and he had career highs in touchdown passes and yards passing.

DISPUTED PLAY

Arizona was still steaming after the game about the fake kneel down at end of the first half on a play Purdue practiced all season.

The Boilermakers took over at their 32 with 56 seconds left after Tate lost a fumble. Purdue appeared to be taking a knee on the play to run out the clock, but running back D.J. Knox was crouching hidden behind a guard. Sindelar then handed the ball to Knox, who waited a second as the linemen stood and then ran around left end for a 30-yard gain that helped set up the field goal.

Rodriguez thought it should have been a dead play because he said the officials told his players not to rush.

"If the refs tells us it's a kneel it's really a dead play," linebacker Tony Fields II said. "We can't do anything as linebackers or DBs. They don't even want us to rush the quarterback because that's an injury prevention thing. They got us."

Brohm successfully ran a similar play in the Boca Raton Bowl last year at Western Kentucky.

THEY SAID IT


Mahoungou hurt his shoulder the play before his winning catch but wasn't going to leave the game. He drew on a saying from position coach JaMarcus Shephard.

"He says, `Don't tell me how rough the seas are, just bring me the damn ship," Mahoungou said. "So I just had to bring the damn ship."

UP NEXT

Purdue: The Boilermakers will try to build on Brohm's successful first season. They start with a tough conference test when they host Northwestern on Aug. 30.

Arizona: The Wildcats are excited to see what a full season with Tate at quarterback looks like. The 2018 campaign will start at home against BYU on Sept. 1.

Texas: 2017 Texas Bowl Champions



HOUSTON -- Texas coach Tom Herman knows he has a long way to go to get the Longhorns where he wants them to be.

But finishing with the school's first winning record since 2013 following a 33-16 victory over Missouri in the Texas Bowl on Wednesday night certainly has them on the right track.

"It's really important for these guys to call themselves a winner," Herman said, "and to be able to walk around their hometowns over the next few weeks of Christmas break knowing they had a winning season. It wasn't going to be life or death. We would have been just fine next year, but this was a big step forward."

Freshman running back Daniel Young had 64 yards receiving with a touchdown and added 48 yards on the ground to pace Texas (7-6).

The Longhorns, in a bowl for the first time since 2014, bounced back from a loss to Texas Tech in their regular-season finale to finish with their first winning record since going 8-5 in coach Mack Brown's final season in 2013.

Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger split time at quarterback for Texas, and both players threw a touchdown pass. The defense helped out, too, with Anthony Wheeler scoring a TD on a fumble return in the first half and Davante Davis grabbing an interception with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Armanti Foreman dashed 18 yards for a touchdown on the ensuing drive to extend the lead to 33-16 and put the game out of reach.

Michael Dickson, who won the Ray Guy Award as the nation's best punter, was selected the game's Most Valuable Player, making him the first non-offensive player to be Texas Bowl MVP and the second punter ever to win MVP of a bowl game, joining Florida State's Graham Gano, the MVP of the 2008 Champs Sports Bowl.

Dickson, who will forego his senior season to declare for the NFL draft, punted 11 times for 452 yards, with four landing inside the 5.

He was shocked that he won the honor.

"I didn't believe it when they told me at first," he said. "I was like, `Wait, why am I going on stage?' It's still kind of sinking in now."

Missouri coach Barry Odom said he's never seen a punting performance like Dickson's.

"I guess that's why he won that award," Odom said. "He's pretty good and they played well off of it."

Drew Lock passed for 269 yards and a touchdown, but also threw an interception and lost a fumble in the loss, which snapped a six-game winning streak for the Tigers. Lock led the nation during the regular season with a Southeastern Conference-record 43 touchdown passes and had thrown three or more in eight straight games.

"We'll use this as a learning tool and motivation and continue to build our program and build our team," Odom said. "We've got a lot of exciting things happening."

Buechele connected with Young on a 22-yard touchdown pass to put Texas up 7-0 early in the first quarter. Ehlinger found John Burt for a 7-yard score later in the first to push the lead to 14-0.

The Tigers (7-6) got within 14-7 when Ish Witter ran 4 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. But Witter fumbled later in the period and Wheeler scooped it up and rumbled 38 yards for a touchdown to leave Texas up 21-7 at halftime.

Lock threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to Johnathon Johnson on the first play of the second half, but the 2-point conversion failed, leaving the Tigers down 21-13.

They cut the margin to 21-16 with a 28-yard field goal by Tucker McCann with about three minutes left in the third quarter, but weren't able to move the ball much after that.

The Longhorns went up 23-16 when a bad snap sailed over Lock's head and rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety near the end of the third quarter.

Texas used a 41-yard field goal early in the fourth to make it 26-16 with about 12 minutes left.

Ehlinger was 11 of 15 for 112 yards, and Buechele finished 6 of 14 for 55 yards.

THE TAKEAWAY

Texas: Herman's first season with the Longhorns was somewhat of a disappointment, but his team's performance against Missouri should give fans hope that the program is back on the right track.

Missouri: Texas found a way to stymie Missouri's potent offense after the Tigers scored 45 or more points in each of their previous six games, a school record.

HONORING NOBIS

Texas junior linebacker Breckyn Hager honored former Longhorns star Tommy Nobis, who died this month at 74, by wearing his retired No. 60 jersey. The Longhorns also wore stickers on their helmets with No. 60 to honor Nobis. The linebacker played for Texas from 1963-65 and was the top pick in the 1966 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons. He was a five-time Pro Bowler who played in the NFL until 1976.

UP NEXT


Texas: Herman appears to have two improving quarterbacks in Buechele and Ehlinger, but to develop more consistency next season the coach might need to pick one as his starter and stick with him.

Missouri: Lock will have to decide if he'll declare for the NFL draft or return for his senior season. With offensive coordinator Josh Heupel leaving to coach Central Florida, Lock's decision could hinge on his feelings about the new offensive coordinator.

"This game won't affect my decision at all," Lock said. "If we had come out and scored 150 points on them, it wouldn't have made a difference. If we had scored zero, it wouldn't have made a difference. I still have things to evaluate, and I'm going to take in a little more information before the deadline."

Iowa: 2017 Pinstripe Bowl Champions



NEW YORK -- Akrum Wadley had never been to Yankee Stadium, even though he grew up about 20 miles across the river in New Jersey. On his first visit, he seemed to bring out all of Newark to cheer him on. His 40 tickets to give away weren't enough to satiate his hometown fans.

"I couldn't get more tickets," he said, laughing.

He had all his fans in New Jersey to the ones freezing inside Yankee Stadium to the black-and-gold faithful in Iowa that packed bars roaring in approval: Wadley's homecoming ended with an MVP trophy that helped put the Hawkeyes' bowl misery on ice.

Wadley rushed, received and returned in dazzling fashion on a frozen field and Iowa beat Boston College 27-20 in the frigid Pinstripe Bowl on Wednesday night to snap a five-game bowl losing streak.

"You can't pay for moments like that," Wadley said.

The only milestone that eluded him was the winning touchdown: Drake Kulick fought for a 1-yard run late in the fourth quarter on his only carry of the game that clinched the win for the Hawkeyes.

The Hawkeyes (8-5) had been the only team in the nation to lose a bowl game in each of the last four seasons. Iowa had last won a bowl game in 2010 and started the losing streak the next season.

It ended in New York.

The Hawkeyes used their first sack of the game late in the fourth to spark the winning drive. Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson hit Darius Wade, and Parker Hesse recovered a fumble at the BC 45.

Nate Stanley's pass to Nate Wieting on a rollout was ruled a touchdown until a review showed the tight end was down at the 1. No worries. Kulick got the call over Wadley, who had 283 total yards in his final game, and barged through for the go-ahead score. The smattering of Iowa fans went wild and Josh Jackson gave them reason to stay on their feet when he sealed the win with an interception.

"For our team to come out the way they did in the second half, it was a breakthrough moment for us," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.

Boston College (7-6) had nothing on its final drive and that ended an otherwise miserable day at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees' postseason games in October seemed downright balmy compared to the kickoff temperature of 23 degrees and a wind chill that made it feel like 12 degrees. The stadium turf was akin to running on ice and the conditions forced players to change from cleats to sneakers to get some grip. The most common huddle was the one around the sideline heaters.

Boston College's AJ Dillon found the field just to his liking, and ripped off a 66-yard run in the second quarter and had 126 yards rushing overall in the first half. He had a 4-yard TD run in the first quarter. His monster half helped the Eagles hold a 281-56 edge in total yards, a staggering discrepancy that made little impact on the scoreboard.

"I thought we moved the ball well given what the conditions were," Boston College coach Steve Addazio said.

The Hawkeyes had two clutch plays that kept it close: Iowa safety Jake Gervase intercepted a pass on the third play of the game and returned it to the BC 6. The Hawkeyes got a field goal. And Wadley returned a kickoff 72 yards that led to a touchdown on Stanley's 8-yard TD pass to Noah Fant. With a short field, Iowa was stout and kept it at 17-10 at halftime.

Wadley, a two-time 1,000 yard rusher, scored on a 5-yard run in the third and Miguel Recinos and Colton Lichtenberg swapped field goals in the fourth to make it 20-all with 8:09 left in the game.

THE TAKEAWAY

Iowa: Ferentz tied Hayden Fry for first on Iowa's career wins list with 143.

Boston College: The Eagles are still trying for their first eight-win season since 2009.

THE WAVE

Iowa fans ended the first quarter with "The Wave." Iowa fans at Kinnick Stadium turn and wave to patients at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, a 12-story building that sits right across the street. On game days, patients and their families can watch the game and, after the first quarter, wave back. The Hawkeyes kept the tradition going at Yankee Stadium.

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BOWL GAME

The Yankees remain committed to hosting the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. The wintry temps kept most of the 37,667 fans out of the seats and the stadium was sparsely populated in the second half.

UP NEXT


Iowa: Jackson faces a big decision. Jackson did not announce if he will come back for his senior season. Jackson's numbers, along with his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame and his abundance of physical gifts, have left many NFL draft pundits pegging him as a possible first-round pick in 2018. Jackson redshirted his first season and is set to graduate in May. He finished with eight interceptions.

Boston College: The Eagles return a nice chunk of their starting offense and should again contend for another seven-win season. Under coach Steve Addazio, the Eagles have had four seven-win seasons in his five years at BC.

Florida State: 2017 Independence Bowl Champions



SHREVEPORT, La. -- Freshman James Blackman was throwing the touchdown passes. Another freshman, Cam Akers, was gaining big chunks of yards on the ground.

Florida State might still be a little melancholy after a season that started with national championship hopes ended on Wednesday with an Independence Bowl win. But the performances from young players like Blackman and Akers in the 42-13 victory over Southern Mississippi are a solid hint that the Seminoles could be a powerhouse again in a hurry.

Blackman threw for 233 yards and an Independence Bowl-record four touchdowns, including three to junior receiver Auden Tate. Akers led the Seminoles with 94 yards rushing and also caught a 14-yard touchdown pass.

Blackman started the season's final 12 games after sophomore starting quarterback Deondre Francois suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener. He's had some ups and downs since the promotion, but saved the best for last against Southern Miss.

"It's pretty impressive, he had to grow up really fast," Florida State interim coach Odell Haggins. "He had to take the diapers off and go to work."

Florida State (7-6) ended the season on a four-game winning streak and avoided its first losing season since 1976. Now new coach Willie Taggart takes over and appears to have plenty of talent on the roster to work with going forward.

Southern Miss took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter after a 63-yard touchdown drive that was aided by two 15-yard Florida State penalties, one for unsportsmanlike conduct and the other for roughing the kicker.

But the Golden Eagles couldn't keep the momentum, mainly because of their own mistakes, including four defensive offside penalties on Florida State's opening drive.

"If you can get a little momentum going, you've got a chance to get this thing into the third quarter or the fourth quarter and we'll see what happens," Southern Miss coach Jay Hopson said. "But give (Florida State) credit, they deserved to win. They made plays, but I thought we fought hard. Just a tough loss today."

Blackman matched an Independence Bowl record with three touchdown passes in the first half to help Florida State take a 23-6 lead.

The Seminoles pushed the advantage to 33-6 late in the third quarter before Southern Miss finally responded with a touchdown. By then, the game was essentially out of reach.

Southern Miss (8-5) was led by Ito Smith, who ran for 92 yards. Kwadra Griggs completed 13 of 25 passes for just 86 yards and a touchdown.

AKERS GETS 1,000

Akers finished his freshman season with 1,024 yards rushing after running for 94 yards on just 13 carries against Southern Miss. The 5-foot-11, 213-pounder broke Dalvin Cook's program record for the most yards rushing by a freshman in a season. Cook had 1,008 yards in 2014.

THE TAKEAWAY

Florida State: The Seminoles earned a good ending to an otherwise dreary season. Florida State was simply more talented than Southern Miss at just about every position and it showed.


Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles were able to grab an early lead, but couldn't keep the momentum. Southern Miss is a program that relishes its opportunities against Power Five opponents, but the talent gap was too much for the Golden Eagles to overcome on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Florida State: The Seminoles get a fresh start with Taggart. Florida State still has a talented roster and there's ample reason to believe it could be a quick turnaround for the storied program.

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles should be in pretty good shape next season, though they'll have to replace star running back Ito Smith and the entire starting secondary.