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.

QUICK START

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.

INJURY REPORT

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.

TAKEAWAYS

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.

UP NEXT

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."

THE TAKEAWAY

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.

THE TAKEAWAY

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.

REPLAY SADNESS

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.

REPEAT ROOKIE

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

PATTERSON'S DAY

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.

UP NEXT

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."

BIG PICTURE

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.

INJURED WOLVES

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."

SCHOLARSHIP TIME

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.."

UP NEXT

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."

THE TAKEAWAY

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.

PERKINS SNUBBED?

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."

HALL TO RETURN

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.

UP NEXT

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."

THE TAKEAWAY

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.

TOUCHDOWN TAUNTING

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.

UP NEXT

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


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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.

THE TAKEAWAY

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.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

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.

RARE MISS

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.

UP NEXT

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.

THE TAKEAWAY

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.

UP NEXT

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.