Monday, December 31, 2018

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Alabama: 2018 Orange Bowl Champions

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- This season's Alabama juggernaut has yet to be stopped, and Oklahoma's shaky defense sure wasn't going to get in the way.

Maybe Clemson can.

Tua Tagovailoa threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns and No. 1-ranked Alabama beat No. 4 Oklahoma 45-34 on Saturday night in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Orange Bowl .

The high-scoring Sooners reached the semifinal despite a porous defense that was no match for Alabama's diverse attack, and the defending champion Crimson Tide led 28-0 after only 17 minutes.

Alabama (14-0) advanced to the national championship game for the fourth consecutive season and will play Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California against familiar foe Clemson, which beat Notre Dame 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl. The Tigers, ranked No. 2, and Alabama will face off in the playoffs for the fourth year in a row, and have split two title games.

"They've got a great program and a great team," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "I'm sure it'll be a great challenge for us, and I'm sure we'll need to play better than we did today."

Saban spiked his headset during one of his several sideline tirades. He lobbed oranges during the postgame celebration.

"It was more fun throwing the oranges," he said.

Tagovailoa's performance argued for a Florida recount in the Heisman Trophy vote. He finished as the runner-up to Oklahoma's Kyler Murray but won sweet consolation by completing 24 of 27 passes, with scores to four receivers.

"It's always good to see your hard work pay off," said Tagovailoa, who played on a sore left ankle. His completion percentage was an Orange Bowl record.

While Tagovailoa connected on his first nine passes for 184 yards, Murray was sacked twice before he threw a pass, and his first completion came with his team already down 21-0.

"The slow start got us beat," Murray said. "It's tough to come back from that."

Murray had one brilliant moment, a perfect deep throw on the move to Charleston Rambo in the end zone for a 49-yard score. He passed for 308 yards and ran for 109 but took several jarring hits, including when All-America nose guard Quinnen Williams dislodged his helmet and forced him from the game for one play in the fourth quarter.

The Sooners (12-2) came up short in a bid for their first national title since the 2000 season.

"Agonizingly close," coach Lincoln Riley said.

His team was bowled over, on one play in particular. When Robert Barnes tried to stop Josh Jacobs in the open field, the Alabama running back lowered his head for the collision and continued to the end zone for a 27-yard score while the Sooners safety spun to the turf, dazed and briefly unable to get up.

"When I saw an opportunity to score, I just tried my best to score," Jacobs said with a chuckle.

Alabama had the ball for more than 36 minutes and totaled 528 yards.

"Our offense really controlled the tempo of the game," Saban said. "The only time we really got stopped in the game is when we stopped ourselves."

In a matchup between the two highest-scoring offenses in the country, Oklahoma fell too far behind early.

On the first snap, DeVonta Smith turned Tagovailoa's short pass into a 50-yard gain. The Crimson Tide went on to score an Orange Bowl-record 21 points in the opening quarter.

"It's not the result we wanted or expected," Riley said. "We had a hard time breaking their string of momentum. We dug ourselves too big a hole."

At one point the disparity in yards was 191-0. The most noise the Sooners mustered in the early going was when linebacker Kenneth Murray talked trash with the Alabama bench -- with his team trailing by three touchdowns.

The Sooners rallied and closed to within 11 points three times in the final 18 minutes. But two onside kicks failed, and Alabama ran the final 4:23 off the clock after Oklahoma's last score.


Alabama took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards for a touchdown. Oklahoma was awarded a fumble recovery at the 1, but officials overturned the ruling following a replay review, and Damien Harris scored on the next play.

The Sooners' first three plays lost 6 yards, forcing a punt, and eight plays later Tagovailoa hit Henry Ruggs III with a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Tagovailoa threw deep to Jerry Jeudy for 40 yards to set up the Crimson Tide's third score, and Jacobs' catch and run for a touchdown made it 28-0.


Tide linebacker Christian Miller limped to the locker room in the third quarter with a left hamstring injury. An MRI was planned, and his availability for the title game was uncertain, Saban said.


The Crimson Tide need one more win for their sixth national title in the past decade. They have a chance to finish 15-0, which hasn't been done at the top level of college football since Penn went 15-0 in 1897.

Saban moved closer to his seventh national title, which would break the record he shares with the Crimson Tide's Bear Bryant.


Alabama seeks its second consecutive title when it plays Clemson for the fourth postseason in a row. The Crimson Tide won 24-6 in the semifinal a year ago, and 45-40 in the title game for the 2016 season. Clemson beat Alabama for the championship 35-31 two years ago.

The Sooners will begin another bid for their first national title since 2000 when they open the 2019 season at home against Houston on Aug. 31.

Clemson: 2018 Cotton Bowl Champions

ARLINGTON, Texas -- When Clemson's Dabo Swinney entrusted a team with championship aspirations to freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence in September, this is what the Tigers' coach had in mind.

Lawrence threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns and No. 2 Clemson beat No. 3 Notre Dame 30-3 on Saturday in the Cotton Bowl to reach the College Football Playoff title game. The Tigers (14-0) will play No. 1 Alabama -- a 45-34 winner over No. 4 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl -- for a fourth straight season in the playoff on Jan. 7 in Santa Clara, California.

"He's just so poised. He just sees it. And he's got a gift of an arm," Swinney said. "But I just love his humility and how consistent he is with his preparation, day in and day out. Easy, easy guy to coach. Easy guy to get behind and support. His teammates love him."

Clemson's overpowering and experienced defensive line, led by ends Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant, smothered Ian Book and the Fighting Irish (12-1), holding them to 248 yards.

On offense, freshmen led the way. Lawrence, making his 10th career start, was 27 for 39 and did not throw an interception against a Notre Dame defense that had been one of the best on the country. Freshman receiver Justyn Ross had six catches for 148 yards and two long touchdowns.

"It makes it a lot easier on me when you just have guys all around you who are such great players and take that load off of you. There's not much pressure when you have guys this good playing around you," Lawrence said.

The Irish hung around for a quarter, with the teams exchanging field goals. But in the first quarter, Notre Dame All-America cornerback Julian Love went out with what coach Brian Kelly said after the game was a head injury and Lawrence started taking apart the Irish.

Lawrence hooked up with Ross deep down the sideline and the big receiver beat Love's backup, Donte Vaughn, for a tackle-breaking, 52-yard score early in the second quarter. The Irish looked as if they might keep it close to halftime, but they couldn't keep Clemson out of their backfield -- even without suspended star tackle Dexter Lawrence.

In the final 2 minutes, Trevor Lawrence connected with Ross on a 42-yard score and with Tee Higgins for a one-handed, 19-yard touchdown reception -- again over Vaughn -- with 2 seconds left in the second quarter. Lawrence was 13 for 15 for 229 yards in the quarter.

"I wanted to help our team," said Love, who passed concussion protocol at halftime and returned to the game. "And in a sense, I let them down in that regard."

That made it 23-3 at half and once again the Fighting Irish looked outclassed against the best of the best. Not so different from the 42-14 loss to Alabama in the 2012 BCS championship game or the 44-28 loss to Ohio State in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl. In fact, Notre Dame is 0-8 in BCS and New Year's Six games since winning the Cotton Bowl in 1993.

Receiver Miles Boykin insisted this Notre Dame team was different.

"I thought we played just as athletic as them and just as fast as them and it came down to execution and we didn't execute today," he said.

Though to be fair, Clemson has been doing this to everyone since Lawrence settled in. The Tigers haven't had an opponent stay within 20 points since a close call against Syracuse on Sept. 29.

That was Lawrence's first game as a starter, one he didn't finish because of a head injury, and Clemson's first after quarterback Kelly Bryant left the team.

Bryant, a senior, led the Tigers to the playoff last season and a semifinal loss to Alabama. He was pivotal in an early victory this season at Texas A&M. But Lawrence is a rare talent, a potential first overall NFL draft pick. When Lawrence took over, the ceiling on Clemson's potential rose. Now it is being realized.

"I felt like he gave us the best chance to win and play at an explosive level," Swinney said.

With his flowing blond hair, Lawrence is positioned to become one of college football's biggest and most recognizable stars. It will help to have receivers such as Ross, Higgins and Amari Rogers, all underclassmen. And a runner like sophomore Travis Etienne, who broke a 62-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

But Lawrence is the leader. In his 11th start, he will try to become the first true freshman quarterback to lead his team to a national championship since Oklahoma's Jamelle Holieway in 1985.

"He doesn't just have a talented arm. That's just what you guys see," Clemson All-America defensive tackle Christian Wilkins said. "He's a cool customer. He's never rattled."


Notre Dame: As 12-point underdogs, the Irish needed to play their best and catch a couple breaks. Neither happened. They nearly had a takeaway deep in Clemson territory in the first quarter, but a loose ball was ruled barely out of bounds by replay review. Love's injury left them exposed at corner. And an offensive line, which had been up and down and shifting around much of the season, was no match for Clemson.

Clemson: Dexter Lawrence, sidelined by a failed NCAA test for performance-enhancing drugs, was hardly missed. The 340-pound junior was on the sideline, wearing on an orange sweat shirt with a white tiger paw logo. Clemson is working on an appeal for Lawrence and two other players, but it is unlikely the Tigers will have them back for the national title game.

Florida: 2018 Peach Bowl Champions

ATLANTA -- Florida capped its big comeback season -- and left Michigan reeling again.

Lamical Perine had a 5-yard scoring catch and 53-yard touchdown run to lead No. 10 Florida's strong rushing attack Saturday, helping the Gators affirm their return to relevance with a 41-15 rout of No. 8 Michigan in the Peach Bowl.

After finishing 4-7 in 2017, Florida enjoyed a dramatic turnaround in Dan Mullen's first season as coach.

The victory put Florida (10-3) in position to enter next season as a Top 10 team.

"In year one, to come here and to know where we were this time a year ago to where we are today, it's special to me," Mullen said. "... To finish as a 10-win season, one of the Top 10 teams in the country, that's pretty special."

Florida (10-3) closed the season with four straight wins.

"I don't know many teams that'd be lining up to play us right now," Mullen said.

Michigan (10-3) closed a promising season with two straight lopsided losses.

Feleipe Franks ran and passed for touchdowns to lead Florida's offense.

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson led Florida's defense with two interceptions, including one returned 30 yards for a touchdown with less than five minutes remaining. Gardner-Johnson's first interception early in the second half, when Florida led only 13-10, set the tone for the Gators.

"We showed a lot of heart and a lot of fight and treated it like a regular week," Gardner-Johnson said. "I don't know how they prepared. But I don't think they prepared too well."

The Wolverines faced the unenviable task of having four top starters, including top rusher Karan Higdon and leading tackler Devin Bush, skip the game to focus on the NFL draft.

Coach Jim Harbaugh said he thought his Michigan players recovered from allowing 567 yards in a 62-39 loss to Ohio State to close the regular season, ending the Wolverines' hopes for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

"I thought they were ready. ... I thought they were emotionally ready, yeah," Harbaugh said, adding he still considered the season to have been "very good."

"It would have been a great season had we won this game," he said. "Didn't get that done."

Harbaugh said he does not plan staff changes.

Florida compiled 427 total yards, including 257 on the ground.

Franks had a 20-yard scoring run in the second quarter and finished with 74 yards rushing on 14 carries while passing for 173 yards. Perine had 76 yards rushing. Jordan Scarlett ran for 59 yards, including a 1-yard scoring run.

Trailing 13-10, Michigan's first possession of the second half began at its 48. The excellent scoring opportunity was only a prelude for disappointment.

The Wolverines gained one first down before Patterson's deep pass over the middle was intercepted at the 3 by Gardner-Johnson, whose 47-yard return to the Michigan 44 set up the Gators.

Speedy Kadarius Toney gained 30 yards on a fourth-down, end-around run to the Michigan 5. Franks' 5-yard touchdown pass to Perine pushed the Florida lead to 20-10.


Florida: From the start, with players bouncing up and down on the sideline, the Gators seemed intent on ending their feel-good season with a win. Florida made a statement it will be a team to watch in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division in 2019 after it piled up big yards on the nation's top-ranked defense.

Michigan: The Wolverines' loss of talent was evident on both sides of the ball, especially at running back. Tru Wilson made the start as the replacement for Higdon at running back but had only three carries for nine yards. Christian Turner and Chris Evans each had seven carries. The committee approach couldn't make up for Higdon's departure. Michigan was held to 66 yards rushing, including 32 by Turner.


Michigan had two apparent touchdowns negated following video reviews by officials.

On the Wolverines' first possession, Turner's 46-yard touchdown run was turned into a modest 8-yard gain when the review showed he stepped out of bounds at the Florida 38.

Michigan came away with no points when fullback Ben Mason was stopped for no gain on back-to-back runs.

"That hurt," Harbaugh said.

Patterson's apparent 8-yard scoring pass to Tarik Black was taken away in the fourth quarter when the review showed Black lost control of the ball when falling back.


Turner, who played in only two regular-season games, will retain his freshman eligibility in 2019 under college football's new redshirt rule.


Shea Patterson's 9-yard scoring pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones in the first quarter was the Wolverines' only touchdown. Patterson threw two second-half interceptions and completed 22 of 36 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown.


Florida: Franks will return for his junior season as Florida will attempt to build off the 10-win season. It opens the 2019 season against Miami on Aug. 31 in Orlando.

Michigan: The Wolverines expect to have four returning starters on their offensive line, including left guard Ben Bredeson, when they open the 2019 season Aug. 31 against Middle Tennessee State. Patterson returns for his senior season at quarterback, with Michigan again trying to build an offense to keep pace with its recent string of top-five defenses.

Nevada: 2018 Arizona Bowl Champions

TUCSON, Ariz. -- As Nevada quarterback Ty Gangi worked through his progressions, Reagan Roberson slipped out into the left flat unnoticed.

Gangi flipped the ball out to his tight end and Arkansas State's defense quickly converged. Roberson shed the first would-be tackler like he was brushing off a bug, made a beeline for the corner of the end zone, diving across the line just before two more defenders could stop him.

Following more than three quarters of offensive ineptitude, the Wolf Pack found their offensive rhythm at just the right time, beating Arkansas State 16-13 on Saturday in the Arizona Bowl on Roberson's 11-yard overtime catch-and-run.

"They took some things away and we had to go to the tight end more," said Gangi, who threw for 200 yards and a touchdown on 18-of-34 passing with two interceptions. "I gave him a chance and he made a great play for me, broke a tackle and dove into the end zone for the winner."

Nevada (8-5) looked as if it would never get the chance. The Wolf Pack struggled against Arkansas State's stout defensive front, barely eking out 100 yards of total offense for three quarters.

Nevada stayed in it with a bend-don't-break defense and found a rhythm with a couple of big plays in the fourth quarter. Devonte Lee put the Wolf Pack up 10-7 on a 1-yard run with 1:06 left and, after the Red Wolves tied it with Blake Grupe's last-play field goal, Roberson sent them racing onto the field with his bulldozing touchdown.

"This is right up there at the top as far as guys fighting and believing in each other," Nevada second-year coach Jay Norvell said.

Arkansas State (8-5) needed a little more belief -- at least in the red zone.

The Red Wolves made five trips inside Nevada's 20 and came away with seven points. Arkansas State had two turnovers in the end zone and twice failed to convert on fourth down, including once on a trick play.

Throw in a blocked field goal and another short one badly missed by Grupe, the Red Wolves head into the offseason wondering what if after racking up 499 total yards and coming away with 13 points.

"We've had a struggle with that for a long time," Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson said. "You can blame on whatever you want to, at the end of the day we just didn't get it done."

Arkansas State's Warren Wand ran for 140 yards and Justice Hansen threw for 275 yards, but also had three interceptions -- two in the end zone -- after throwing six during the regular season.

The Red Wolvers' miscues in the red zone allowed Nevada to still be within 7-3 at halftime despite managing 72 total yards.

"We believed in the plan and if you continue to work, good things will happen," Novell said. "Just amazing."


Nevada's offense came to life at just the right time to avoid ending the season with a loss to rival UNLV and a disappointing bowl performance.

Arkansas State will lament its lost offensive opportunities all offseason.


Arkansas State lost two of its best players by early in the third quarter.

Defensive end Ronheen Bingham, who led the Red Wolves with nine regular-season sacks, had to be helped from the field with a serious left leg injury in the first quarter. On the first play of the third quarter, defensive back Justin Clifton went down with an injury.

"It was tough seeing two of our best defensive players go down," Red Wolves safety B.J. Edmonds said. "We still played well after that, but who knows what could have happened."


Nevada receiver Ben Putman had two of the game's biggest plays, catching a pair of 44-yard passes from Gangi -- one on a flea flicker, the other to set up Lee's 1-yard score late in regulation.

A walk-on, Putman finished with four catches and a game-high 144 yards. After the game, Norvell rewarded the junior with a scholarship.

"I didn't know who he was three months ago," Norvell said. "All he does is compete.."


Arkansas State: Hansen is a senior, so the Red Wolves will need a new QB next season. They also have 14 players on their two-deep roster who are seniors.

Nevada: The Wolf Pack also will be searching for a new QB with Gangi in his final year of eligibility. They also have 14 seniors on the two-deep roster, most of their skill players on offense should be back.

Virginia: 2018 Belk Bowl Champions

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Shortly after winning the Belk Bowl and earning Virginia its first bowl victory since 2005, quarterback Bryce Perkins raised the bar.

"This is the first step toward making big strides," Perkins said. "Next year we want the Coastal Division -- and the ACC championship."

That would mean knocking off perennial ACC power Clemson, which has won four straight conference titles.

For now though, the Cavaliers (8-5) will have to settle for savoring a 28-0 victory over South Carolina in the Belk Bowl, a win that snapped the longest bowl drought in the ACC.

Perkins threw three touchdown passes to Olamide Zaccheaus, the game's Most Outstanding Player, and Virginia's 14th-ranked pass defense dominated a South Carolina team that had averaged more than 38 points over its previous five games.

Perkins completed 22 of 31 passes for 208 yards and ran for 81 yards. Zaccheaus had 12 catches for 100 yards and Jordan Ellis ran for 106 yards and a touchdown as Virginia held more than a 24-minute edge in time of possession.

Perkins said he felt chemistry with Zaccheaus the first day he transferred in last year from Arizona Western Community College -- and his favorite target agreed.

"The biggest thing with me and Bryce is we get along so well off the field -- and that just carries over," Zaccheaus said. "Even when I might not make a play or he might not make a play, it's like, `Who wants it on the next play?' We're the same that way."

Virginia's defense was relentless.

It put the clamps on quarterback Jake Bentley, who had thrown for 16 touchdowns over the previous five games, including a 510-yard, five-TD performance against Clemson earlier this month. Bentley was limited to 218 yards on 17-of-39 passing and was intercepted twice.

South Carolina (7-6) was 2 of 13 on third down conversions and 2 of 5 on fourth downs.

The Gamecocks clearly weren't the same playing without wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who bypassed the bowl game to begin preparing for the NFL draft.

Coach Will Muschamp said he was "disappointed" in the team's performance, adding "we didn't put on a good show and that's on me."

Bentley said he didn't play well at all.

"The interceptions especially and then not executing in the red zone is a tough thing to swallow," said Bentley, who added that he hasn't made a decision on whether he'll enter the NFL draft.

The Gamecocks were shut out for the first time since 2006, when they lost 18-0 to Georgia.

"That is huge," Virginia safety Joey Blount said. "I don't know of many teams that have done that in a bowl. That just shows our defense is for real."


South Carolina: The first game of the post-Samuel era did not go well. That could be a troubling sign for next season for the Gamecocks, who had come into the game as five-point favorites. It would be a little surprising if Bentley turns pro, particularly after such a poor performance.

Virginia: Bronco Mendenhall's defense limited what the Gamecocks could muster on offense with a series of blitzes and strong coverage in the secondary. Most of that unit will return next season.


South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said he felt Perkins should have been the game's MVP because of his ability to "keep plays alive with his feet on third downs" time and time again.

Ellis said having Perkins on the field is like playing a video game.

"You think he's going to get sacked and he ends up getting out it and running for 10 or 15 yards and getting a first down," Ellis said. "It's just crazy to watch him play. He gets out of trouble and can throw the ball down the field. It's just hard to stop him. He's going to be even better next year."


Virginia defensive back Bryce Hall announced he is returning for his senior season after contemplating entering the NFL draft. Hall leads the nation with 20 pass breakups during the regular season. That should bolster a secondary that is returning most of its players other than Tim Harris.


South Carolina: The Gamecocks return to this stadium on Aug. 31, 2019 to face border state rival North Carolina in a neutral site game. This was South Carolina's first loss in Bank of America Stadium. The Gamecocks have won regular-season games in 2011, 2015 and 2017.

Virginia: Has a bright future next year with Perkins returning at quarterback. The Cavaliers are back in action on Sept. 7, 2019 when they host William & Mary.

Washington State: 2018 Alamo Bowl Champions

Gardner Minshew II and that glorious mustache conjured up a final bit of magic in a grand finale for Washington State.

Minshew, a graduate transfer quarterback whose whiskered upper lip was loved and mimicked by Cougars fans all season, threw two touchdown passes and ran for another score in sending No. 13 Washington State (No. 12 AP) to a 28-26 win over No. 24 Iowa State (No. 25 AP) in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Friday night.

Minshew's passing and scrambling earned the Cougars (11-2) a school record for wins in a season. He also finished with 4,779 passing yards this season, breaking the Pac-12 single-season record previously held by California's Jared Goff (4,719).

Minshew passed for 299 yards Friday, none of them bigger than a play made out of desperation when Iowa State had all the momentum.

After watching a 21-10 lead dwindle to 21-20 by early in the fourth quarter, the Cougars stripped the ball from Iowa State running back David Montgomery at the Cyclones' 30. Minshew, who had been held in check in the third quarter, escaped a third-down pass rush to flip a last-second shovel pass to Tay Martin that went for 20 yards.

The play stunned the Cyclones, and Max Borghi scored on a 10-yard run the next play.

It was just another big fourth-quarter moment for the transfer from East Carolina whom coach Mike Leach had lured out West with the promise he could lead the nation in passing.

Minshew was the nation's leading passer in yards per game this season and won the Johnny Unitas Award as the nation's top senior quarterback in a season the Cougars fell one game short of playing for the Pac-12 championship.

Nearly all of his completions this season were more orthodox than the flip to Martin. None were bigger than this one for the season and the legacy it left for the program.

"I want to say thank you to these coaches, this university and these fans for taking me in," Minshew said.

"So glad to be a part of this," he added. "One thing I've always been told is to leave a place better than we found it. This place could be really special."

The Cyclones did a good job in bottling Minshew up for much of the game. Iowa State's defense held Washington State to 10 points and 135 yards below its season averages, and two of the Cougars' touchdowns came on short drives after turnovers.

But after Minshew found a way to get Washington State in the end zone, the Cougars' defense made the one play it had to at the end.

Iowa State's last chance came after quarterback Brock Purdy scored from a yard out with 4:02 left. The Cyclones went for two, but a pass to Montgomery was stopped well short of the goal line after a false-start penalty pushed the line of scrimmage back to the 8.

Iowa State had seven false-start penalties and had two players ejected for targeting hits on Minshew.

Purdy passed for 315 yards, and Cyclones wide receiver Hakeem Butler caught nine passes for 192 yards, 6 yards shy of the Alamo Bowl record. Montgomery rushed for 124 yards.

The Cyclones (8-5) had rallied from a 1-3 start to finish third in the Big 12, the program's best conference finish in 40 years.

"This team never quits, plays with elite attitude and elite effort. The missing piece for us right now is in the detail," Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. "Now, to take the next step in this program is detail. It's what got us tonight. Silly mistakes."


Washington State: Minshew survived several tough hits in the first half and was excellent when it was time to kill the clock. He completed 9 of 13 passes in the fourth quarter for 78 yards. After Iowa State's final touchdown, he completed three passes, two of them converting third downs, as the Cougars ran out the clock.

Iowa State: Turnovers and targeting calls were critical. Purdy threw two first-quarter interceptions, and Montgomery's fumble was a game-changer. Iowa State had two key defenders ejected in the second quarter for targeting hits to Minshew. Senior linebacker Willie Harvey was ejected after smashing Minshew in the face mask on a scramble. Defensive end Eyioma Uwazurike was booted after a sack knocked Minshew's helmet off.


Washington State cornerback Marcus Strong had a long touchdown interception return wiped out in the first quarter when he was flagged for taunting on his way into the end zone. Strong stepped in front of a pass intended for Butler and had a clear path to the goal line. He was penalized because he held the ball out and looked back as Purdy made a futile dive for his feet. Instead of the score, the Cougars got the ball on the Iowa State 20 and scored two plays later when Minshew connected with Renard Bell.


Washington State: Leach has to find another big-armed quarterback to be among the nation's passing leaders in 2019. If he does that, the Cougars should be among the Pac-12 favorites as they return 14 starters on offense and defense, plus their kicking specialists.

Iowa State: The Cyclones were in the mix for a Big 12 title game berth late in the season and will expect to be in contention again in 2019, with Purdy leading an experienced lineup that loses only five senior starters. The key will be the NFL draft options for 1,000-yard rusher Montgomery and 1,000-yard receiver Butler.

Syracuse: 2018 Camping World Bowl Champions

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Syracuse sent Eric Dungey out a winner, and got a good look at its future.

Dungey capped his record-setting college career by throwing for 303 yards, Abdul Adams and Trishton Jackson combined to score three touchdowns in their Syracuse debuts and the 17th-ranked Orange got their first 10-win season since 2001 by topping No. 15 West Virginia 34-18 in the Camping World Bowl on Friday.

"The trophy is really, really heavy," Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. "And I'm glad we got it."

The Orange ended with a flourish, too: Down 18-17 going into the final quarter, they scored 17 points in the first 5:01 of the fourth.

"Just very thankful," Dungey said, talking through tears. "I've been through a lot. ... All I want to do is compete. I'll get grief for crying, but I've been through a lot here. All I can say is I'm very thankful."

Adams rushed for two first-half scores, and Jackson hauled in a TD pass from Dungey on the first play of the fourth quarter for Syracuse (10-3), which survived a game that featured eight lead changes. Adams (from Oklahoma) and Jackson (from Michigan State) are transfers who had to sit out a year, which by NCAA rule was satisfied at the end of the first semester.

Their touchdowns counted; their year will not. Under the new NCAA rule on redshirting, Adams and Jackson still have two remaining seasons of eligibility, and both are expected to play big roles for the Orange in 2019.

"It's going to be fun to watch Syracuse in the future," Dungey said.

Jack Allison, making his first collegiate start because West Virginia star quarterback Will Grier elected to skip the bowl game and focus on preparing for the NFL, completed 17 of 35 passes for 277 yards for the Mountaineers (8-4). Besides Grier, West Virginia was also without two of his three top targets this season -- Gary Jennings was ruled out long ago with an ankle injury, and Marcus Simms was a surprise scratch.

"I can make a bunch of excuses," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "We played a good team. Give Coach Babers a lot of credit. They played good all year."

He also gave Allison high marks. Allison had thrown 10 passes this season before Friday.

"Proud of him," Holgorsen said. "He's had how many snaps this year, 10, 11? I thought his demeanor was good."

Kennedy McCoy had a 3-yard touchdown run for West Virginia on a direct snap, and Evan Staley made four field goals for the Mountaineers.

Kendall Coleman had three sacks for the Orange. Andre Szmyt made a pair of field goals for Syracuse, ending his freshman season with 30 -- one shy of the Football Bowl Subdivision record set in 2003 by Georgia's Billy Bennett.


Syracuse: Dungey came into the game holding or sharing 18 Syracuse records, and got another one in his collegiate finale. He passed Ryan Nassib (9,190) for most passing yards in Syracuse history, finishing his career with 9,340. "The only thing I care about is we got to 10 wins for the first time since 2001," Dungey said. ... Adams said he learned midseason that he could play in the bowl game. "I knew I would be ready," he said.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers fell in a bowl game for the third consecutive season, but probably have a good idea about their starting quarterback in 2019. Allison had nine completions go for more than 15 yards.


Syracuse will end the season in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2001, when it finished No. 14. The last time the Orange finished a season higher than that was 1992, when they were No. 6.


Staley came in as one of 13 major college kickers to be 75-for-75 or better on extra-point tries over the last two seasons. He missed his first PAT attempt Friday, the ball bouncing off the right upright. Going back to his senior high school season, Staley -- who was only 7 years old when he told late coach Bill Stewart that he was going to West Virginia -- had made 101 consecutive PAT tries.


Syracuse: Visit Liberty -- and new coach Hugh Freeze -- on Aug. 31, 2019.

West Virginia: Host James Madison on Aug. 31, 2019.

Auburn: 2018 Music City Bowl Champions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jarrett Stidham threw for 373 yards and five touchdowns in his final college game, and Auburn routed Purdue 63-14 in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl on Friday.

Auburn raced out to a 56-7 halftime lead, scoring TDs on its first eight possessions -- spanning only 11 minutes -- to set a record for points in any half of any bowl game, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The Tigers also tied Music City Bowl records for most points and TDs -- set by West Virginia in 2000 -- with 5:36 left in the first half.

The 56 points by halftime were the most scored in any half in program history.

Auburn (8-5) rolled in the finale of a season in which it opened with a top-10 ranking, stumbled a bit in the middle and concluded with a record-setting performance. It was the Tigers' first postseason victory since beating Memphis in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl.

Auburn scored the most points by a Southeastern Conference team in a bowl, topping Alabama's 61-6 win over Syracuse in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 1, 1953. The Tigers had a chance to match the most points ever scored in a bowl (70), most recently reached by Army in the Armed Forces Bowl last week, but they took a knee at the Purdue 1-yard line with 61 seconds left.

"We've had some ups and downs this year,'' Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said, crediting his seniors for keeping the Tigers together. "This was a big win for us.''

Stidham, a junior who already has declared his intention to leave school early for the NFL draft, got the Tigers off to a fast start, and they just poured it on from there.

"We just tried to make those explosive plays that we've needed all year,'' Stidham said.

Purdue (6-7) dropped three of its last four games in its second season under coach Jeff Brohm.

"That one snowballed faster than most,'' Brohm said. "I've been part of games that were a bad outcome, but that one happened fast. Credit to them, they made their breaks. Every little thing that went wrong seemed like it could. We got behind the eight-ball early.''

Auburn started the game with the ball and needed only 63 seconds to set the tone, with Stidham finding JaTarvious Whitlow for a 66-yard TD pass. Whitlow also added a pair of short TD runs as Auburn led 28-7 at the end of the first quarter.

"I mean, it was a thing of beauty to watch from the sideline to watch the guys make plays,'' Malzahn said. "When we make explosive plays and we play fast, we're a pretty good offense, and today it all came together. I really believe that will carry over to next season.''

The Tigers outgained Purdue 586-263 in total offense and had only one three-and-out late in the third quarter. Purdue was intercepted twice and turned it over on downs twice. Auburn punted once all game.

Darius Slayton set a bowl record with three TD catches of 74, 52 and 34 yards. Javaris Davis had a sack and an interception in the first quarter for Auburn, and Big Kat Bryant returned an interception 20 yards for a TD and a 45-7 lead with 12:29 left in the first half.


Purdue: With defensive tackle Lorenzo Neal out after tearing an ACL in the regular-season finale against Indiana, the Boilermakers had few answers for anything Auburn tried on offense.

Auburn: It sure looks as if coach Malzahn made the right decision when he took back the playcalling duties he handled his first three seasons at Auburn.


Purdue: Brohm has a handful of key seniors to replace, including quarterback David Blough and his top two running backs in D.J. Knox and Markell Jones.

Auburn: The search for Stidham's replacement begins with sophomore Malik Willis getting the first look once Malzahn finally pulled his starting quarterback with 1:33 left. Joey Gatewood also played late in the game, driving the Tigers to the 1 before taking a knee.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Baylor: 2018 Texas Bowl Champions

HOUSTON -- Charlie Brewer threw for 384 yards and two touchdowns, the second a tiebreaking 52-yarder in the fourth quarter, and ran for 109 yards and another score to help Baylor beat Vanderbilt 45-38 in the Texas Bowl on Thursday night.

Brewer connected with Marques Jones for the 52-yard stroke that that made it 45-38 with less than two minutes left. The Bears then stopped Vanderbilt on fourth-and-5 to secure the victory.

Brewer's other touchdown pass was a 75-yarder earlier in the fourth quarter and he scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.

The Bears finished 7-6 a year after they managed just one in coach Matt Rhule's first season.

Vanderbilt (6-7) was led by Kyle Shurmur, who threw for 286 yards and a touchdown, and Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who ran for two touchdowns and set a Texas Bowl record with 243 yards rushing -- which ranks second in school history. Shurmur moved past Jay Cutler (8,697) for most career yards passing in school history with 8,865.

Baylor led by 3 with about 10 1/2 minutes left when a pass intended for Denzel Mims bounced off of him as he fell in the end zone and was intercepted by Randall Haynie. Haynie grabbed the ball and stood on tiptoes before falling backward out of the end zone.

Two plays later, Vaughn ran 66 yards to get Vanderbilt to the 1, and Khari Blasingame ran it in on the next play to put Vanderbilt up 35-31. The Bears regained the lead when Trestan Ebner scored on the 75-yard catch and run on the first play of the next drive.

Vanderbilt tied it on a 33-yard field goal with 3 1/2 minutes remaining.

Ebner's 34-yard touchdown run gave Baylor a 24-21 lead early in the third quarter. The Bears padded the lead when Brewer scrambled for a 1-yard score with about five minutes left in the third.

Vanderbilt had a chance to cut the lead to 3 after that, but Jared Pinkney fumbled after a 32-yard reception and the Bears recovered it at their own 2. But Baylor couldn't move the ball and had to punt.

Shurmur threw a 52-yard pass to Amir Abdur-Rahman to get the Commodores to the 2-yard line and Blasingame scored on the next play to get to 31-28 near the end of the third quarter.

The Commodores took a 7-0 lead when Shurmur connected with Blasingame on a short pass and dashed down the field for a career-long 65-yard touchdown reception on the third play of the game.

The Bears settled for a 23-yard field goal on their first drive before taking a 10-7 lead when John Lovett ran 12 yards for a touchdown with about two minutes left in the first quarter.

Vanderbilt went back on top 14-10 when Vaughn ran 68 yards for a touchdown late in the first.

JaMycal Hasty gave Baylor a 17-14 lead when he scored on an 18-yard run early in the second quarter.

But Vaughn's second long run came not long after that to make it 21-17. Vaughn broke a couple of tackles and then outran the rest of the defense on the 69-yard score. Jameson Houston dove at his feet near the 20-yard line, but barely clipped one of his legs and Vaughn didn't break his stride on the way to the end zone.


Both teams showed power on offense but will need to improve on defense, especially in giving up big plays, if they hope to take another step next season.


Baylor: After the turnaround this season, the Bears should be improved next year with Brewer returning.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores will have to find a replacement for Shurmur, their starter for the last three years, with his record-setting career ending Thursday night.

Wisconsin: 2018 Pinstripe Bowl Champions

NEW YORK -- Jonathan Taylor ran for 205 yards and a touchdown and topped the 2,000-yard season mark to help Wisconsin rout Miami 35-3 in a chilly Pinstripe Bowl on Thursday night.

Taylor, just a sophomore, ripped off runs of 39 and 41 yards and was sensational at Yankee Stadium and combined with a defense that forced five turnovers to help a Wisconsin (8-5) team ranked fourth in the first AP Top 25 poll salvage its fifth straight bowl victory.

The loss had to seem like a rerun for Miami: Taylor ran for 130 yards in Wisconsin's 34-24 win over the Hurricanes last season in the Orange Bowl.

"We've got the best back in the country," Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said after he accepted the trophy from Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner.

Both teams were ranked inside the top 15 last December. A year later, Wisconsin and Miami (7-6) both showed at times why two teams that opened the season inside the top 10 were stuck playing in a ho-hum bowl game with temperatures in the 30s and a sparse crowd in the Bronx. Miami's Malik Rosier threw three interceptions before he was replaced late in the third quarter; Wisconsin's Rafael Gaglianone whiffed on two field goals.

The Badgers, certainly used to the cold, came out swinging for the fences -- they scored two touchdowns just 3 1/2 minutes into the game and seemingly knocked the will out of Miami. Jack Coan made the most of his start for injured Alex Hornibrook (concussion) and hit Kendric Taylor for a 35-yard TD on the first drive. Rosier's first pass of the game was intercepted and Taylor capitalized with a 7-yard score to make it 14-0 before some fans even hit their seats with a hot drink.

Coan is a Long Island native and needed nearly 50 tickets for friends and family. He ran right for a 7-yard touchdown in the fourth for a 28-3 lead that made it worth the trip for the thousands of fans in red -- an unseemly sight in June at Yankee Stadium -- that stuck it out to the end. Coan made his fifth appearance this season and burned his eligibility to take a redshirt year.

It sure seemed worth it for Wisconsin.

Coan was the home state star but Taylor put a final exclamation point on a season that made one of college football's top stars.

Taylor had 117 yards rushing at halftime and finished with his fifth 200-yard game this season, not bad for a running back that averaged 165.8 yards per game. He joined Ron Dayne and Melvin Gordon as Wisconsin's 2,000-yard rushers.

Rosier got the start over N'Kosi Perry, who had a rocky season and faced heat for two questionable Snapchat posts, in a move that was quickly second-guessed. His third interception of the game was turned into Alex Ingold's 2-yard touchdown and a 21-3 lead. Perry eventually checked into the game -- but Taylor and Coan had long turned this one into a rout.

Taylor, the game's MVP, has been a bright spot for a team that failed to come close to lofty expectations. He finished last season with an FBS freshman-record 1,977 yards and showed the performance was no fluke this season, highlighted by a 321-yard outing against Purdue.


The Hurricanes played without center Tyler Gauthier (academics) and punter Zach Feagles (leaving the program).


Former Wisconsin star Russell Wilson sent a videotaped message of support and former Miami QB Jim Kelly, who is battling cancer, appeared at midfield for the coin toss. Kelly also presented Taylor with the MVP trophy.


Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz's final game before he leaves for Temple was a dud. The Badgers had 406 total yards.

Wisconsin needs to put a better team around Taylor to become a threat in the Big 10.


Miami: Is Perry the answer at QB? Jarren Williams, who flirted with transferring, should push Perry for the No. 1 spot and both will try and win the job in training camp.

Wisconsin: Taylor returns for his junior season as a strong contender for the Heisman Trophy and will try and keep the Badgers in the College Football Playoff race.

Duke: 2018 Independence Bowl Champions

SHREVEPORT, La. -- Temple was making big special-teams plays, returning interceptions for touchdowns and looking like a team that might crush Duke for a big postseason win.

But the Owls had one problem that couldn't be overcome: Coach David Cutcliffe doesn't lose in Shreveport.

Daniel Jones threw for 423 yards and five touchdowns, T.J. Rahming caught 12 passes for 240 yards and two scores, and Duke recovered from a slow start to blow past Temple 56-27 in the Independence Bowl on Thursday.

Cutcliffe is now 4-0 in the Independence Bowl dating back to 1998.

"When we come to Shreveport," Cutcliffe said with a grin. "Don't bet against us."

Duke (8-5) snapped a two-game losing streak by putting on an offensive show. The Blue Devils scored touchdowns on seven straight drives, flipping a 27-14 deficit in the second quarter to a 56-27 lead by midway through the fourth.

"We kind of hit a lull for a second, but I don't think we ever lost confidence," Jones said. "We knew we had some good stuff and if we caught a few breaks we could catch momentum and keep it rolling."

Jones' five touchdown passes and 423 yards passing both set Independence Bowl records. So did Duke's 56 points. Cutcliffe wasn't surprised by the offensive success because he felt the team's preparation was excellent.

"It was very evident in Durham what their intentions were," Cutcliffe said. "We didn't have a bad minute of practice."

This was Cutcliffe's first Independence Bowl win at Duke. He led Ole Miss to victories in Shreveport in 1998, 1999 and 2002 and is already enshrined in the bowl's Hall of Honor.

Temple (8-5) lost for just the second time in its past eight games.

"We've got a great culture, we love each other and we're tough," Temple interim coach Ed Foley said. "But you still have to go out and make plays. And (Duke) went out and made more plays than us. That's what cost us the game."

The Owls took a 13-7 lead in the first half after Delvon Randall's 52-yard interception return for a touchdown. It was the 10th game this season in which they scored a non-offensive touchdown.

Temple pushed ahead 27-14 late in the second quarter, but Duke responded with 22-yard touchdown pass from Jones to Rahming to pull within 27-21 by halftime.

"When we came in at halftime our offense was hot. It was a just a matter of time," Cutcliffe said.

Temple's Anthony Russo completed 25 of 46 passes for 228 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The Owls didn't score in the second half and gave up 42 unanswered points.

"They brought a little more pressure, but that's on me and the offensive line to get that picked up," Russo said. "I just don't think we found our groove in the second half."


Things were going so well for Jones that he completed a 6-yard pass to himself during the fourth quarter. He tried to throw a pass over the middle, but a Temple defender batted it into the air before it fell back in Jones' hands and he sprinted forward to make something out of the play.


Temple: The Owls looked great for most of the first half, but once Duke's offense got going, Temple's defense didn't have an answer. Now Temple will focus on the transition to new coach Manny Diaz, who replaces Geoff Collins.

Duke: It was an impressive win for Duke, which scored just 13 combined points in losses to Clemson and Wake Forest to end the regular season. The lopsided result gives the Blue Devils some momentum heading into 2019.


Temple loses a senior class that's been to four straight bowl games. But the Owls will return some quality players on both sides of the ball, including Russo. Temple hosts Bucknell in the season opener next year.

Duke should return most of its defense next season, but must replace several offensive starters, including three linemen. The Blue Devils have a difficult game against Alabama in Atlanta to open next season.

TCU: 2018 Cheez-It Bowl Champions

PHOENIX -- TCU swapped kickers after California called a timeout at the end of regulation -- and missed.

Faced with a similar decision in overtime, the Horned Frogs stuck with their original kicker.

Jonathan Song delivered on his second-chance kick, ending a strange night in the desert.

Song kicked a 27-yard field in overtime after being replaced at the end of regulation, lifting TCU to a 10-7 win in an interception-filled Cheez-It Bowl on Wednesday night.

`They talked me out of it," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "I obviously got a chance to tell them they were wrong on the headset. We got another chance and did it."

TCU and Cal spent the night trading interceptions, turning the Cheez-It Bowl into the Cheez-INT Bowl by combining for nine interceptions, most in the bowl's 30-year history.

TCU's Jawuan Johnson had the final interception of the night to open overtime, nearly returning it for a pick-six.

At the end of regulation, the Horned Frogs (7-6) followed a Cal timeout by switching from Song to Cole Bunce, who hooked his 44-yard attempt wide left. TCU sent out Song again in overtime and, after another Cal timeout, opted to leave him.

The junior sent the kick straight through the uprights and the Horned Frogs rushing onto the field after a night of survival.

TCU's Sewo Olonilua ran for 194 yards and a touchdown -- one of the few offensive bright spots outside of Song's kick.

"It was a rough day for sure. Ugly win," said TCU quarterback Grayson Muehlstein, who threw four interceptions and had 27 yards on 7-of-20 passing. "Turned the ball over way too many times, but we managed to just hang in there and just keep fighting."

Jaylinn Hawkins had three interceptions, breaking the Cheez-It Bowl record while earning defensive player of the game.

The Bears (7-6) just couldn't overcome their own miscues.

Cal's Chase Garbers threw three interceptions before being replaced by Chase Forrest, who threw two more -- including the biggest one by Johnson in overtime.

"We just made too many mistakes during the game to win against a quality opponent like that," Cal second-year coach Justin Wilcox said.

Cal had the first big play after a miscommunication between Muehlstein and Jarrison Stewart led to Hawkins' first interception. Garbers scored two plays later on a 4-yard run .

Five more interceptions followed in the first half -- one on a failed TCU trick play -- and Cal led 7-0.

Garbers completed 12 of 19 passes, but had three interceptions so Cal's coaches opted to start Forrest in the second half.

"After the first half, you have some decisions like that that," Wilcox said. "Chase Garbers made and a couple of balls he obviously would like to have back. We felt like we needed a little bit of a spark."

TCU left Muehlstein in at quarterback despite three first-half interceptions. Hawkins picked up his third interception of the game on the opening drive and Muehlstein was briefly replaced by true freshman Justin Rogers before returning.

The Horned Frogs finally got something going in the third quarter, scoring their only touchdown on Olonilua's 2-yard run -- a run initially ruled short before being overturned on review.

Neither team could get much going the rest of the half and the interceptions continued until Song sent his chance kick through the uprights.

"I'm glad that's over," Patterson said.


The Horned got in their own way all night, yet found a way to close out the season with a victory.

The Bears also couldn't get out of their own way, suffering a defeat that will sting all offseason.


Buffalo Wild Wings was the bowl's sponsor from 2012-13 before it became the Cactus Bowl. Cheez-It came on as the title sponsor this year and Buffalo Wild Wings couldn't resist a little Twitter jab as the strange night wore on.

"Cal-TCU is headed to overtime, and we've never owed you a bigger apology," the company tweeted.


TCU was called for a sideline interference penalty on Johnson's overtime interception when sports information director Mark Cohen stepped onto the field to celebrate.

Patterson was not thrilled and couldn't resist a couple of digs.

"Jiminy Christmas," he said. "Have you guys ever known that, in 150 years of a football that the SID gets a penalty?"


TCU: Robinson transferred to Missouri, but the Horned Frogs hope to have Collins back and healthy next season. Top receiver Jalen Reagor also is a sophomore, so he should be back in 2019.

Cal: RB Patrick Laird and top linebacker Jordan Kunaszyk are seniors, but Garbers is a freshman and the offensive line is relatively young.

Minnesota: 2018 Quick Lane Bowl Champions

DETROIT -- Mohamed Ibrahim took full advantage of holes his teammates created to burst through the line or get to the outside.

And when defenders were in Ibrahim's way, he simply lowered his shoulder to run over them.

Ibrahim ran for career-high 224 yards and two touchdowns, leading Minnesota to a 34-10 victory over Georgia Tech on Wednesday night in the Quick Lane Bowl.

The Golden Gophers (7-6) won three of their last four games, and Ibrahim had a lot to do with that. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound redshirt freshman running back had 121 yards rushing in a win at Wisconsin that made Minnesota bowl eligible and ran for 155 yards last month in a victory over Purdue.

"He's not the biggest, strongest or fastest," coach P.J. Fleck said. "He has that too short, too small, too this, king of the toos, which is right up my alley. This kid's got more heart, passion, courage and plays the game the right way more than anybody I've ever met."

The Yellow Jackets (7-6) did not have the speed or strength to slow down Ibrahim, who was so effective Minnesota didn't have to punt once. And, their triple-option offense was stunted in coach Paul Johnson's finale .

"They did pretty much whatever they wanted," said Johnson, who is retiring as Georgia Tech's coach. We never stopped the run and then we let them throw it over our head a couple times.

"I wasn't expecting that, but that's life and you move on."

The Gophers limited Georgia Tech to 206 yards on the ground after it led the nation with 335 yards rushing per game.

Minnesota led 13-0 early in the second quarter after Tanner Morgan threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Johnson in the first quarter and Emmit Carpenter made two field goals. Ibrahim's 3-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter made it 20-3.

The Yellow Jackets responded with Nathan Cottrell's 20-yard touchdown run, but their defense allowed Ibrahim to score again on the ensuing drive. Morgan connected with Johnson on a 30-yard touchdown strike with 6:19 left, giving the Gophers a 24-point cushion.


Minnesota: Ibrahim has the potential to be one of the top players on offense in the Big Ten next season. He runs with a mix of speed and power.

"He's a physical back," Johnson said. "He broke tackles and he ran through us some."

Ibrahim had the best day on the ground for a Gopher since 2005 when Laurence Maroney had 258 yards rushing against the Badgers.

"That's big," Ibrahim said. "He's a superstar and he had a great career."

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets were in trouble when they fell behind because they don't pass much, making it tough to come back. They averaged fewer than 10 passes during the regular season and it was clear both of their quarterbacks were not comfortable dropping back to throw.

"It's tough to go out this way," Marshall said. "We didn't come ready to play and it showed."


Johnson set single-season school record with 1,169 yards receiving and 12 touchdowns. He finished the season with 78 catches, six short of another Minnesota record.

"The hard work and dedication paid off," he said.


Georgia Tech linebacker Charlie Thomas and Minnesota linebacker Kamal Martin were suspended for undisclosed violations of team rules.

"If you don't do the right things, you're not going to travel," Fleck said.

The Gophers also were without senior linebacker Blake Cashman, who announced his intention to skip the bowl game to focus on preparing for the NFL draft.


Minnesota: The Gophers had a nation-high 52 percent of their roster filled by freshmen, giving them a lot of hope for next season when they open at home Aug. 29 against South Dakota State.

"We have a bright future -- for sure," Ibrahim said. "We're coming together as a team."

Georgia Tech: It will be challenging for Geoff Collins to win in his coaching debut with the Yellow Jackets. They play Aug. 22 at Clemson in the first game on the ACC Network. The former Temple coach, who is from Georgia, will be installing a new offense without a handful of starters on offense and the defense is losing eight starters.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


Season's Greetings
From The Bedlam On Baltic Avenue.

ISML 2018: Dark Horse Kamui Kanna Wins Diamond Necklace

ISML 2018: Dark Horse Kamui Kanna Wins Diamond Necklace
Longshot Willem Kmetsch Takes Diamond Pendant

By Jo-Ryan Salazar
The Bedlam on Baltic Avenue
December 25, 2018

Match Day 6 of the 2018 International Saimoe League Diamond Period is in the books and the stage is set for the postseason. Kamui Kanna won the Diamond Necklace, defeating Kurisu Makise 17417-17053. Rounding out the order were Rikka Takanashi (12491), Yukino Yukinoshita (9403), Saber (6729), Shouko Nishimiya (5847), Tooru (4904) and Shiro (3274).

In the Male Division, longshot Willem Kmetsch, listed at 40-1, won the Diamond Pendant, defeating Shouto Todoroki 17027-16933. Rounding out the order were Kiyotaka Ayanokouji (8752), Touma Kamijou (7015), Gilgamesh (5391), Riku Dola (4694), Shirou Emiya (4024) and Yuuta Togashi (3409).

In the wildcard rating for the Female Division, the top three were Illyasviel von Einzbern (278547.4), Shiro (241046.2) and Sagiri Izumi (240298.5). Over on the Male Division, the top three were Astolfo (217858.5), Saitama (204897.5) and Kusuo Saiki (143299.7).

In other Female Division actioon, Schwi Dola routed Tomoyo Daidouji 25541-11401, Chiyo Sakura won a 17599-17530 nailbiter over Haruhi Suzumiya, Nanami Aoyama defeated Taiga Aisaka 17426-16475, Megumin exploded past Nao Tomori in the closest victory of the round and Upset of the Round, a 13367-13323 thriller and Shinka Nibutani prevailed over Yuki Nagato 17514-16696.

In other Male Division action, Taki Tachibana defeated Itachi Uchiha 17081-16729, Izaya Orihara prevailed over Conan Edogawa 16943-16742, Takashi Natsume whipped past Edward Elric 17653-16299, Yato flew past Kazuma Satou 13704-12793, Li Syaoran routed Ken Kaneki 24184-11863 and Izuku Midoriya roared past Ryuuji Takasu 22610-13003.

The postseason nears in the 2018 International Saimoe League, the world's premier anime character competition. Vote for your favorite characters at InternationalSaimoe and join the ongoing debate and keep it right here on The Bedlam on Baltic Avenue for continuing coverage!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Louisiana Tech: 2018 Hawaii Bowl Champions

HONOLULU -- Skip Holtz felt the need to refocus his players after they spent the better part of a week in paradise.

The sixth-year Louisiana Tech coach dressed down his team one night before the bowl game and it certainly appeared to pay off.

J'Mar Smith threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score in a big third quarter to lead Louisiana Tech to a 31-14 win over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl on Saturday night.

The Bulldogs (8-5) rallied from a 7-3 halftime deficit to secure their fifth bowl victory in as many seasons, a program first.

"I got a little bit upset (Friday) night, got a little emotional last night because I felt like we were here for vacation and the bowl game, not for the win, and I was wrong. These guys flipped the switch, they went out there and they played their tails off," Holtz said.

Defensive end Jaylon Ferguson, who had 2 1/2 sacks to become the NCAA's career leader, said Holtz's fiery talk ignited the Bulldogs.

"We thought it was just a typical meeting but he turned it up on us. He turned it all the way around on us," Ferguson said. "Being in Hawaii and waking up to the ocean view is relaxing, to be honest, and it felt like everybody was a little too relaxed. But after last night we were all dialed up. Me and my roommate, we stayed up and talked about it all night. We all knew Coach was upset. We know we came here to win. We know he wants to win, and everything that was said wasn't negative at all, it was to encourage us."

Smith threw for 285 yards on 19-of-31 passing with an interception. He tossed a 58-yard touchdown to Jaqwis Dancy and scored on a 4-yard run that was part of a 21-point third quarter.

Louisiana Tech took the lead for good on Israel Tucker's 5-yard TD run with 10:27 left in the third.

"In the first half I thought our defense played their tails off. Our offense had three turnovers, we shot ourselves in the foot, we had a number of foolish penalties, we just kept kind of shooting ourselves in the foot. But we came out in the second half, we kept banging that rock and the defense played 60 minutes. I'm proud of these guys, the way they came in, the way they competed," Holtz said.

Ferguson set the sacks record when he dropped Hawaii quarterback Chevan Cordeiro for a 2-yard loss late in the third quarter.

"The play that it happened on wasn't by me, but created by the effort on the back end," said Ferguson, who finished the season with 17 1/2 sacks.

His 45 career sacks broke the previous mark set by Arizona State's Terrell Suggs.

"Coming into the game, that wasn't my goal. The goal was to win the game in Hawaii. I could have had zero sacks tonight as long as we won the game," said Ferguson, selected MVP of the game along with Hawaii defensive end Kendall Hune.

Hawaii played without wide receiver John Ursua, who leads the nation with 16 touchdown catches. Ursua, sidelined with an undisclosed injury, was ruled out just minutes before the start of the game.

The Bulldogs had a Hawaii Bowl-record nine sacks, four by Willie Baker. Amik Robertson had two of their three interceptions.

It was the most sacks allowed in a game by Hawaii.

"They're really good," Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich said of Louisiana Tech's defensive line. "I think that's the best defensive front we've seen. They can get home with three (pass rushers), they can get home with four, they're an extremely talented group and I think they were motivated today."

The Rainbow Warriors (8-6) were just 2 of 14 on third down and got penalized 12 times for 140 yards.

Hawaii is 6-6 in bowl games and 4-4 in the Hawaii Bowl. The Rainbow Warriors lead the series against Louisiana Tech 8-3.


Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs entered with the 28th-best pass defense in the country, allowing just 193.6 yards per game. They held Hawaii's ninth-ranked passing offense to 168 yards, well below its average of 321.2 yards. Three of four starters in the secondary will be back for Louisiana Tech next season.

Hawaii: While the Rainbow Warriors were denied their second Hawaii Bowl victory in three seasons, they still improved by five wins from last year's 3-9 record and finished with the program's first winning season since 2010. All but three of 22 starters are expected to return next year.

"I think eight wins is a very encouraging step for this program, but we don't feel very good right now," Rolovich said. "When you take a step back and think about what this team has done, I think that there's a lot of positives."


While it was the Bulldogs' first appearance in the Hawaii Bowl, it was Holtz's second win in two trips to the postseason game. He previously coached East Carolina to a 41-38 victory over Boise State in the 2007 Hawaii Bowl.

"I had the opportunity to bring one other team out here and I said to these players that this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip and we have the opportunity to make this trip and it will be a lifetime of memories," Holtz said.


Louisiana Tech, which will have to replace three of its four starting defensive linemen and five of its 11 defensive starters next year, kicks off at Texas on Aug. 31.

Hawaii opens against Arizona on Aug. 24, its first of three consecutive Pac-12 opponents to begin the 2019 season. It will host Oregon State the following week before visiting Washington.

FFXIV: The Warrior's Code With Kahori Harukawa

#FFXIV #Stormblood #WAR #jobquest #heavensward #ARR

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Watch the UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifiers Draw


Real Madrid: 2018 FIFA Club World Cup Champions

Real Madrid capped off another memorable year by claiming a third successive FIFA Club World Cup title, defeating host team Al Ain 4-1 at Abu Dhabi's Zayed Sports City Stadium.

The Best FIFA Men's Player 2018 Luka Modric opened the scoring on 14 minutes for the UEFA Champions League winners, before Marcos Llorente doubled the advantage on the hour-mark.

Skipper Sergio Ramos then made it three on 79 minutes as Los Blancos secured their fourth Club World Cup crown, with an own goal - after strong work from Vinicius Jr. - reaffirming Real's three-goal lead after a superb header from Tsukasa Shiotani.

Los Blancos applied early pressure but they nearly went a goal down when Hussein Elshahat latched onto the end of Marcelo's misplaced header and cut into the area before getting his shot off - only to be denied by a stunning block from skipper Sergio Ramos.

Just one minute later, though, the holders were in front when Karim Benzema played the ball back to Luka Modric on the edge of the 'D' and the Croatia star curled the ball into the bottom corner. Moments after Real were celebrating their opener, Al Ain had the ball in the back of the net but Caio's effort was flagged for offside.

Santiago Solari's side doubled their lead on the hour mark when the ball fell to Marcos Llorente after a corner, and goalkeeper Khalid Eisa was powerless to stop the midfielder's stunning strike from finding the bottom corner.

Sergio Ramos recorded Real's third, powering a header past Eisa after a corner, before Shiotani headed a consolation goal for the host team after Caio's free-kick. Yahia Nader then turned Vinicius Jr's effort into his own net in injury-time, rounding off a superb win.

The result means Real add to their 2014, 2016 and 2017 Club World Cup titles, while manager Solari claimed his first trophy as Los Blancos boss.

Alibaba Cloud Match Award​ winner: Marcos Llorente (Real Madrid) 

Troy; 2018 Dollar General Bowl Champions

MOBILE, Ala. -- Troy's offense limped through November with a handful of injuries, and a subpar game against Appalachian State in the regular-season finale cost the Trojans a shot at winning the Sun Belt Conference title.

After a few weeks of rest, the Trojans were healthy for the Dollar General Bowl. It made all the difference.

Sawyer Smith threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns, B.J. Smith and Sidney Davis ran for touchdowns and Troy beat Buffalo 42-32 on Saturday night. Troy coach Neal Brown said the victory was gratifying, even if the win was slightly bittersweet.

"Being at full strength, I think it kind of gave you a glimpse at what we might have been," Brown said.

Troy (10-3) secured the hard-fought win on Davis' 20-yard touchdown run with 3:09 remaining, a play after Buffalo's Tyree Jackson fumbled to give the Trojans possession. It was the Bulls' third lost fumble.

The entertaining game had several big swings in momentum, especially during a strange third quarter that featured Buffalo scoring seven points despite not running an offensive play.

Troy took a 21-17 lead on Smith's 2-yard touchdown run with 9:47 left in the third and then immediately recovered an onside kick. The Trojans were driving for another score before a B.J. Smith fumble bounced into the hands of Buffalo's Tyrone Hill, who ran 93 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulls a 24-21 lead.

Troy jumped ahead 35-24 after two quick touchdowns in the fourth quarter and held off Buffalo's final rally. Sawyer Smith's favorite target was Damion Willis, who caught 13 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns. The quarterback said even though the Trojans made a few mistakes in the second half, he could feel momentum building.

"I knew how the offense was playing and how good we could be in the second half," Smith said. "I really had no doubt."

Buffalo's Jackson threw for 274 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The quarterback said the Bulls made some uncharacteristic mistakes that caused a sour end to the season.

"As an offense, we pride ourselves on playing good football," Jackson said. "We've played good football all year, no penalties and winning the turnover battle. Today we struggled with that and put our defense in a tough situation."

Buffalo (10-4) took the early 7-0 lead on Jaret Patterson's 11-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the game. The drive was helped by a spectacular 51-yard pass completion that bounced off K.J. Osborn's hands and pinballed between a few defenders before being caught by Antonio Nunn.

Troy bounced back quickly with its own huge gain through the air -- a 60-yard touchdown from Sawyer Smith to Tray Eafford.

The game stayed tight throughout the first half and Buffalo took a 17-14 lead late in the second quarter on Adam Mitcheson's 41-yard field goal. The Bulls had the halftime lead despite three turnovers, including two fumbles.


Buffalo: It's a disappointing loss for the Bulls, who are still looking for their first bowl win in program history. Buffalo dominated at times, but the four turnovers proved to be tough to overcome.

Troy: The Trojans secured their third straight 10-win season, which is the longest such streak in program history. Sawyer Smith was excellent and Troy finally got its run game going in the second half. The Trojans were also able to capitalize on Buffalo's turnovers.


The Bulls should return most of their offense next season, but must replace eight defensive starters. Buffalo opens at home against Robert Morris next season.

Troy has a few holes to fill, but should return another very good team next season. Troy opens at home against Campbell next season.

"We've got a chance to put another run together," Brown said. "We really do."

Army: 2018 Armed Forces Bowl Champions

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. initially ran right before cutting back the other way and eluding a tackler. He sent two other defenders sliding to the ground when he switched directions again and took off toward the end zone.

That nifty 77-yard run was one of his Armed Forces Bowl-record five rushing touchdowns as the No. 22 Black Knights overwhelmed Houston 70-14 on Saturday to reach 11 wins for the first time in program history.

"Just trying to get back to the line of scrimmage," Hopkins said. "There was this huge convoy of guys right there when I was running in. ... I just felt like people were on me. I thought it was Houston, and I realized it was gray jerseys. It was a really good team win."

The Black Knights' (11-2) 56-point win tied the FBS record for largest margin of victory in a bowl game, set by Tulsa in its 63-7 win over Bowling Green in the 2008 GMAC Bowl.

Army scored 70 points in a game for the first time since 1955, when it scored 81 against Furman, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The win was its ninth straight since an overtime loss at playoff team Oklahoma exactly three months earlier.

"Great, great finish to a terrific season," coach Jeff Monken said.

Houston (8-5) lost for the fourth time in five games since starting 7-1 and getting into the AP Top 25 poll for one week in late October. The injury-plagued Cougars suffered their most-lopsided loss in their 27 bowl games, and their biggest loss overall since a 66-10 loss at UCLA during the 1997 regular season.

"That's the hardest part to swallow, you're 7-1," second-year coach Major Applewhite said. "I'm proud of the way our kids fought. I'm not proud of losing the games at the end of the season the way we lost them."

Hopkins ran 11 times for 170 yards before coming out of the game midway through the third quarter when it was 49-7. He also completed the first 1,000-yard passing season for Army since 2007. He was 3-of-3 passing for 70 yards, including a 54-yarder that set up one of his three 1-yard TD plunges. He also had a 2-yard TD run.

Army got 507 of its 592 total yards on the ground in its highest-scoring game this season -- and the most points in the program's nine bowl appearances. The Black Knights won a bowl for the third consecutive year, including last year's Armed Force Bowl over San Diego State.

On the first play of the second quarter, on Houston's first snap after Hopkins' long TD run, Cameron Jones had a 23-yard fumble return for a score after James Nachtigal forced the turnover when he sacked Clayton Tune.

While Hopkins had his left arm in a sling after the game, he said he was "a little banged up" and that it was just a precaution. The junior quarterback's 77-yarder on the last play of the first quarter made it 14-0.

"He did a really good job of finding an initial opening because it was almost a busted play," Monken said. "It was not designed to go back that direction and he kind of skipped out of the way of a guy."

Tune, the true freshman filling in for injured playmaker D'Eriq King, was 21-of-32 passing for 230 yards and was sacked 10 times. He was responsible for both Houston TDs, a 3-yard pass to Romello Brooker in the second quarter and a 6-yard run with 6 1/2 minutes left.


Houston: The Cougars didn't have King or NFL-bound defensive tackle Ed Oliver. King, who will be back next season, was responsible for 50 touchdowns in 11 games before knee surgery. Oliver missed four games because of a bruised right knee, then skipped the bowl game to focus on preparing for the NFL draft.

"I love Ed to death, but there were more issues than missing Ed," Applewhite said. "Give credit to Army."

Army: After a 10-loss season as freshmen, the Black Knights senior class won 29 games the past three seasons. They finished with back-to-back seasons of at least 10 wins. Army is an AP Top 25 team for the first time since 1996, the academy's only other 10-win season.

"I knew we had something special going on in our program," Monken said.


Houston plays its 2019 season opener Aug. 31 at Oklahoma.

Army opens the 2019 season at home against Rice on Aug. 30.

Wake Forest: 2018 Birmingham Bowl Champions

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Jamie Newman's season started on a sour note and finished on a sweet one.

Newman ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left to cap a big performance and Wake Forest's comeback in a 37-34 victory over Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday. The quarterback who lost the competition for the starting job in fall camp, then replaced an injured Sam Hartman, delivered big play after big play in a storybook ending to the season.

"When Sam got hurt and Jamie became the starter, it wasn't like, `Woe is us,' and `we're in trouble," Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. "Jamie and Sam were going back and forth all of camp and then Jamie got hurt (bruised quad) in the last scrimmage."

Even after that go-ahead score, the Demon Deacons (7-6) had to wait to celebrate until Riley Patterson's 43-yard field goal attempt went wide right as time expired.

Both teams scored touchdowns over the final 1:15. Memphis (8-6) lost a big lead for the second straight game after jumping ahead by 18 points in the first half.

Voted the game MVP, Newman ran for three touchdowns and passed for a fourth to lead Wake Forest, throwing for 328 yards and rushing 23 times for 91 more.

He led the Demon Deacons on a 75-yard drive starting at the 1:15 mark, covering most of it with completions of 49 and 20 yards to Alex Bachman.

"Alex Bachman made some great plays down there, a lot of one-on-one balls, 50-50 balls, and he won," Newman said.

He rebounded from an early sack on that last scoring drive, and from a pick-six in the first half, too.

"We practice this every Wednesday throughout the week," Newman said of the two-minute drill. "This was just another day at the office out there."

Bachman's second catch was reviewed and the spot was upheld at the 1-yard line after his right arm hit the pylon. Newman kept the ball for the go-ahead score.

Bachman finished with seven catches for 171 yards.

Memphis swiftly moved into position to at least tie the game. Brady White found an open Joey Magnifico on the right sideline for a 44-yard gain, with the tight end battling for extra yards down to the 17.

"I fully expected us to win that game," Tigers coach Mike Norvell said.

The Tigers went backward after that, though, including a false start penalty after Patterson lined up to attempt a game-tying kick.

Wake Forest safety Cameron Glenn said it felt "kind of like an out-of-body experience" when the kick went right.

"I felt like my soul just lifted out of my body or something," Glenn said. "It's crazy."

In the Tigers' last outing, they had led by 17 points against No. 7 UCF in the American Athletic Conference championship game, only to lose 58-41.

Subbing for All-America running back Darrell Henderson, Patrick Taylor Jr. had given Memphis the lead with a 9-yard touchdown to cap a 14-play, 88-yard drive. Before that, the Tigers had come up empty on nine consecutive drives.

"We just kept talking to our guys on the sideline, `just continue to play," Norvell said. "We were struggling there at times in the third and fourth quarter getting things going offensively. I thought our guys responded."

Tony Pollard scored on a 97-yard kickoff return to tie the NCAA career mark with seven. Memphis also scored on a 37-yard interception return by Chris Claybrooks.


Memphis: Lost its fourth straight bowl game and second straight big lead. Ran for 207 yards without Henderson, who skipped the game to prepare for the NFL draft.

Wake Forest: Outgained Memphis 529-378 in total yards. Last five bowl wins have all come after early deficits, including four double-digit holes.


Pollard matched the career mark shared by Clemson's C.J. Spiller, Houston's Tyron Carrier and San Diego State's Rashaad Penny. Memphis fans responded with chants of "Tony!" at Legion Field.

It was Pollard's first kick return for a score this season, with teams kicking to him only 21 times before the bowl game. He returned four the distance in 2017 and did it twice as a redshirt freshman in 2016.

"All week coach did a good job drawing it up how they would come down and how the blocks would work out and it happened just the way we drew it up," Pollard said.


Wake Forest returns both Newman and the freshman Hartman, the starting quarterback until a season-ending leg injury. Dortch is a third-year sophomore, but three offensive line starters are seniors. The defense is poised to only lose three starters.

Memphis gets back both Taylor and Pollard, along with White, but the defense loses six starters for a team seeking its sixth straight bowl bid.

FULL REPLAY - DRAW for FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™

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Friday, December 21, 2018

BYU: 2018 Potato Bowl Champions

BOISE, Idaho -- At the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl pregame news conference Thursday, BYU coach Kalani Sitake set high expectations when asked about how he thought quarterback Zach Wilson would play.

"Perfectly," Sitake said jokingly. "That's what I'm praying for, perfect play from everyone."

Sitake didn't get it from everyone, but he did from Wilson.

The BYU freshman was 18-of-18 passing for 317 yards and four touchdowns, and the Cougars beat Western Michigan 49-18 on Friday.

Selected the game MVP, Wilson tied the NCAA bowl record for completion percentage set by Riley Skinner at 11-for-11 for Wake Forest in the 2008 EagleBank Bowl.

Wilson and Skinner are the only players in FBS history to post a 100 percent completion percentage in a bowl game (minimum 10 pass attempts).

Wilson's 18 straight completions are second-most in an NCAA bowl game behind Georgia's Mike Bobo, who had 19 straight against Wisconsin in the 1998 Outback Bowl.

His four passing touchdowns also tied a BYU bowl game record.

"I've been trying to let Zach loose for a long time now," Sitake said as he patted Wilson on the back. "I think an aggressive style of offense is what we need. This was really good for us to see that we could win a game when a team commits to stopping the run against us."

In the first half, BYU (7-6) struggled to sustain momentum offensively and had just 115 yards, despite Wilson completing all eight of his attempts, mostly on short routes. The ground game had a total of 20 yards on 17 carries.

But with BYU down 10-7 at halftime, Sitake unleashed Wilson in the second half.

The Cougars' 28-point third quarter started with an 8-yard pass from Wilson to Dylan Collie. Then, after a 37-yard TD run by Riley Burt, Wilson hit Aleva Hifo on a 70-yard scoring strike.

"I think the bar is set a little too high for the next bowl game," Wilson said. "But I think we proved what we can do as a team and found our offensive identity and discovered what we're good at."

Despite the record-setting performance, Wilson admitted afterward that he had no idea his day was going so well statistically.

"The game flashes by so quick, and I thought I had at least six or seven incompletions," Wilson said. "That's when you realize the success for a quarterback is based on the team around you."

Western Michigan (7-6), which was without starting quarterback Jon Wassink due to a foot injury, rolled up 192 yards of offense in the first half with freshman Kaleb Eleby. But the Broncos managed only 41 yards on 18 plays in the decisive third quarter.

"I thought our defense did a great job of keeping us in it," Western Michigan coach Tim Lester said. "Once they got a lead on us, they got after our secondary pretty good. We knew this game was going to be about which quarterback could get into a rhythm, we said that all week, and [Wilson] got comfortable."

Florida International: 2018 Bahamas Bowl Champions

NASSAU, Bahamas -- FIU fumbled away the opening kickoff, gave up a touchdown 23 seconds into the game and found itself trailing by double digits by the end of the first quarter.

They needed a comeback.

And Anthony Jones might know more about comebacks than anyone on the FIU roster.

Jones -- one of two FIU players who were victims of a drive-by shooting in September -- rushed for three touchdowns, including the clincher with 41 seconds remaining as the Panthers topped Toledo 35-32 on Friday in the Bahamas Bowl. Jones tied a school record with the three scores, and FIU (9-4) set a school record with its ninth win of the season.

"I'm extremely happy for my teammates, these seniors, all my coaches, the support staff at FIU, they were all behind me the whole time," Jones said. "I've been extremely blessed by the man above."

Jones and offensive lineman Mershawn Miller were shot in the city of Opa-locka, Florida -- just north of downtown Miami -- on the afternoon of Sept. 6. The alleged gunman is in custody and is facing two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Miller was hit in the arm; Jones was shot in the back and the bullet exited just under his eye. He lost about 20 pounds in the days afterward, during which he was fed by tube.

"This is a gift from God," FIU coach Butch Davis said.

Eli Peters had three touchdown passes and threw for 264 yards for Toledo (7-6), which fell in a bowl game for the third consecutive year. Jon'Vea Johnson had two of those TD grabs, and Diontae Johnson had six catches for 98 yards and a score for the Rockets.

It was FIU's second bowl victory. The other came in 2010 -- also against Toledo.

"It's been an up and down year," Toledo coach Jason Candle said. "It has had its highlights, and its moments where we weren't so good. Consistency is everything in college football. ... You have to be really consistent, really good at what you do for the long haul and there were times this year that we didn't handle that so well."

Jones scored on runs of 6, 30 and 18 yards for the Panthers. Sterling Palmer caught a touchdown pass and Maurice Alexander rushed for another score for FIU.

Christian Alexander completed 17 of 26 passes for 209 yards and a touchdown for FIU. The Panthers got a huge fourth-down conversion on a pass hauled in by Tony Gaiter IV with 2:40 remaining, the biggest play in a drive where Jones capped the win with his final TD run -- the 18-yarder that sealed the win.

FIU played without starting quarterback James Morgan, who has an arm injury. Morgan completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,727 yards and 26 touchdowns in the regular season. FIU also didn't have running back Shawndarrius Phillips, who was left home after a domestic battery charge stemming from a June case became known this month.

And yet, the Panthers had more than enough.

They got on the board when Jones got his first rushing score of the day early in the second quarter, took a 14-10 lead into the half and grabbed the lead for good on Jones' 30-yard run with 3:47 left in the third quarter.

"We just played as a team today, man," Jones said. "Our coaches did a great job preparing us for this bowl game. Hats off to Toledo, but we did a great job today. We made history today."


Toledo: The Rockets scored with two seconds remaining in the game on a 43-yard touchdown pass from Peters to Jon'Vea Johnson, a play where the clock originally ran down to zero before some time was added. The Rockets then tried an onside kick, which FIU linebacker Sage Lewis recovered.

FIU: Jones became the sixth player to rush for three touchdowns in a game for FIU, and the first since Kedrick Rhodes did it in a loss to Louisiana in 2011.


Toledo finished the year with 525 points, the second most in school history. The Rockets scored 549 points in 2011, and this season's total was 16 better than the 509 they posted last season.


Toledo: Opens next season on Aug. 31, 2019 at Kentucky.

FIU: Opens next season on Aug. 31, 2019 at Tulane.