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From mayonnaise baths and squabbles over opt-outs to thrilling finishes, heroic performances and historic outcomes, Bowl Season brought a little bit of everything for college football fans over the holidays as the 2021 season came to an end. The action started on Dec. 17 with a Middle Tennessee win over Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl and ran all the way into January with captivating Fiesta Bowl and Rose Bowl games.
In between, there were memorable moments for programs all over the country who closed the book on their campaigns with one last hurrah. While bowl games may be relatively forgettable to some big-time programs left out of the College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six games, they clearly meant a lot to some teams enjoying the national spotlight provided by a postseason platform.
Among those falling in that category were UCF, which finally got a crack at Florida and beat the Gators 29-17 in the Gasparilla Bowl on Dec. 23. Another significant regional outcome came a week later, when South Carolina edged North Carolina 38-21 in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl to finish with a 7-6 record in Shane Beamer’s first season as head coach.
While there was plenty of discussion about the flaws of the bowl game system as some coaches left their teams for new jobs and some players opted out, it was clear in the celebrations of most victors who got one last chance to play came with plenty of meaning.
We covered all the action here, and you can relive the big moments of bowl season by scrolling through for analysis and highlights from all the action.
The penultimate game of the FBS college football season turned out to be a snooze-fest. Wildcats running back Deuce Vaughn got loose to the tune of 146 rushing yards and four total touchdowns — three rushing, one receiving — in a stellar performance for the consensus All-American. Yes, this was a blowout, but there was still plenty of intrigue, particularly on the LSU side. Interim coach Brad Davis had just 38 scholarship players on the sideline, none of whom were quarterbacks. Senior wide receiver Jontre Kirklin took the snaps and completed 64% of his passes, tossed three touchdowns and rushed for 61 yards.
No. 7 Baylor beat No. 8 Ole Miss 21-7 as the Bears capped off a historic season in Dave Aranda’s second year. In winning the Sugar Bowl for the first time since 1957, the Bears not only notched their first 12-win season in program history, but gained their first New Year’s Six/BCS bowl victory since the system was introduced in 1998.
The game was difficult for Ole Miss to swallow, however, as star quarterback Matt Corral was knocked out of the game in the first quarter after injuring his right leg on a sack. The play came on third down when defensive end Cole Maxwell hit Corral and his leg appeared to buckle. Ole Miss missed a field goal on the next play.
True freshman Luke Altmyer came in and played admirably in relief, throwing for for 174 yards and a touchdown on 15 of 29 passing. However, Baylor’s defense was dominant against an overmatched Rebels offensive line, posting 10 sacks, breaking up seven passes and forcing three interceptions against Corral and Altmyer combined. Cornerback Al Walcott caught an interception off a Matt Jones tip and took it 96 yards for the first score of the game.
Baylor running back Abram Smith rushed for 172 yards on 25 carries to break the program record for single-season yards rushing, passing Terrance Ganaway’s 2011 mark. Quarterback Gerry Bohanon struggled, completing 7 of 17 passes for 40 yards. However, he motioned Tyquan Thornton into a throw for a two-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter. Freshman Monaray Baldwin scored the Bears’ other touchdown on a sweep.
Ole Miss’ defense played good situational football, holding the Bears without a third-or fourth-down conversion through the first half. However, the Bears finished the game converting 7 of 15 third downs. Ole Miss converted 5 of 6 fourth-down attempts, but missed two field goals that could have kept the game manageable. Ultimately, the floodgates opened as Baylor rushed for 279 yards in a physically dominant performance. | Takeaways
In a Rose Bowl Game that will live for the ages, No. 6 Ohio State came from behind to pull off an epic 48-45 win over No. 11 Utah on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California. This incredible game saw Ohio State’s offense rewrite the record books and come back to win in the fourth quarter after trailing nearly the entire evening. OSU clinched its victory with a 56-yard drive in the game’s final minute that set up a go-ahead 19-yard field goal with nine seconds left.
Utah took control early, jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Then both teams combined for six touchdowns in the second quarter, setting the scene for what would be a wild back-and-forth affair over the game’s final 30 minutes.
It wasn’t until Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud hit wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba for a 30-yard touchdown with 4:22 left to play that the Buckeyes took their first lead of the game at 45-38. It was the third time Stroud and Smith-Njigba hooked up for a score, and it was just the tip of the iceberg.
Stroud finished with 573 yards passing and six TDs. Smith-Njigba caught 15 balls for 297 yards and three TDs, setting Ohio State records for most receiving yards in a season as well as receptions in a single season. Wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., who took on a starting role for the first time this season due to Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave opting out, caught six passes for 71 yards and three scores of his own.
For Utah, the game slipped away in the fourth quarter when QB Cam Rising left following what looked to be a concussion. Rising’s head hit the turf after being sacked, and he laid motionless on his back for a few minutes before getting up and walking off the field on his own. His backup, Bryson Barnes, led a game-tying touchdown drive in the final minutes, before the game-deciding field goal. Rising finished the day with 214 yards passing and two touchdowns while also leading the Utes in rushing with 92 yards and a score. | Takeaways
No. 9 Oklahoma State pulled off the biggest comeback in school history, storming back from a 21-point deficit to defeat No. 5 Notre Dame 37-35 in the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day.
The Fighting Irish came out blazing on offense against Oklahoma State’s highly-ranked defense with quarterback Jack Coan rolling up 342 yards and four touchdowns in the first half. Notre Dame built up a 28-7 with just over a minute left in the second quarter, but a quick Oklahoma State score before halftime and an impressive drive to start the third quarter quickly cut the lead to 28-21.
But while the Cowboys offense finally got into a rhythm, it was assisted by an Oklahoma State defense that made the necessary halftime adjustments to slow down Coan and the Notre Dame offense. The Irish signal-caller may have had 342 yards and four touchdowns in the first half — numbers that were already good enough for the best performance by a quarterback against Oklahoma State this season — but he had just 40 passing yards in the third quarter. It should be noted Coan did finish the game with 509 yards and an impressive effort late in the fourth quarter, setting a Fiesta bowl passing record with the performance.
The play of the game might have come early in the fourth quarter when All-American safety Kolby Harvell-Peel crashed in to make a stop on Notre Dame freshman running back Logan Diggs and stripped the ball free before he was brought to the ground. Even though Notre Dame would get the ball right back with a forced fumble at the goal line, the loss of field position and the impact it had on Oklahoma State’s confidence set the tone for the fourth quarter.
FIRST TAKEAWAY OF THE GAME‼️
The Cowboys’ defense comes up BIG 💪 pic.twitter.com/PiWo1ATPPq
The previous record for the biggest comeback in Oklahoma State history was 20 points — in 1979 against Colorado. | Takeaways
Kentucky nearly blew a 10-point halftime lead but Wan’Dale Robinson and Chris Rodriguez helped lead a game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes to secure the Citrus Bowl victory against Iowa.
Robinson was the star of the game, pulling 10 catches for 170 yards including some incredible grabs on the game-winning drive. More than half of Will Levis’ pass completions went to Robinson, and his performance against a very good Iowa pass defense made up nearly two quarters of scoreless football from the Kentucky offense in the second half.
Iowa had the opposite game flow offensively, stuck in the mud in the first half and then finally putting things together for two touchdown drives near the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth quarter. But ultimately three Iowa turnovers kept the Hawkeyes from being able to claim the win, as the Wildcats picked off Spencer Petras in the final minute to seal the win.
DeAndre Square with the INT for Kentucky to secure the victory! pic.twitter.com/BvyP8qMbLg
This is Kentucky’s fourth straight bowl win under Mark Stoops, who has gotten the Wildcats to the postseason every years since 2016. | Box Score
The Razorbacks finished off an impressive 2021 season with a 24-10 win over Penn State in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. Penn State, which was missing a number of starters — particularly on the defensive side of the ball — came out strong to start but seemed to run out of gas in the second half. The Nittany Lions were up 10-7 at halftime, but the Razorbacks took control with a 17-point third quarter and it was all she wrote.
The Razorbacks struggled early a bit themselves, as the offense seemed unsure of itself with star receiver Treylon Burks opting out of the game. The Hogs then began to lean on their ground game with quarterback K.J. Jefferson and a host of backs, and it was effective against a thin Penn State defense. Jefferson finished with 110 yards rushing and only threw for 90 yards, while Dominique Johnson, Raheim Sanders and Malik Hornsby combined for 231 yards rushing as the Razorbacks rushed for 361 yards as a team.
In there like swimwear pic.twitter.com/jkncYcC0nB
As for Penn State, it was its own worst enemy at times. The Nittany Lions managed only three points out of three red-zone trips, and failed to take advantage of two Arkansas red-zone turnovers. | Box score
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — No. 3 Georgia crushed No. 2 Michigan 34-11 on New Year’s Eve in the Orange Bowl, setting up a 2021 SEC Championship Game rematch with No. 1 Alabama in the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship. The Bulldogs and Crimson Tide will meet in the title game for the second time in the last five years.
Georgia marched 80 yards on its first possession of the game and never stopped in the opening 30 minutes, becoming the first team in CFP history to score points on its first five possessions. While that didn’t make for an exciting game, it at least allowed any neutral parties to get on with their holiday plans.
After Georgia took a 7-0 lead, the Michigan offense responded well and drove into UGA territory. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, a pass from Cade McNamara to Erick All on fourth down was off All’s fingertips and resulted in a turnover on downs. A few plays later, Georgia’s Kenny McIntosh took a hand-off on a sweep and surprised nearly everyone in Hard Rock Stadium when he pulled up and tossed an easy touchdown pass to Adonai Mitchell.
GEORGIA PULLED OUT THE TRICKS TO SCORE 🤯#CFBPlayoff pic.twitter.com/7sSnq1MbaA
From there, the rout was on. Michigan had its moments, but it turned the ball over on four straight possessions (two interceptions, a fumble and once on downs) in the second and third quarters to immediately destroy any momentum it was attempting to build. Georgia was not nearly as wasteful with its opportunities and looked a lot more like the team we saw during the regular season than the one that lost to Alabama in the SEC title game a few weeks ago. | Takeaways
ARLINGTON, Texas — No. 1 Alabama rolled through No. 4 Cincinnati 27-6 behind a monster day from running back Brian Robinson Jr. The redshirt senior rushed for an Alabama bowl record 204 yards on 26 carries to deliver the Crimson Tide the Cotton Bowl and their sixth appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young threw for just 181 yards against Cincinnati’s elite pass defense, but he tossed three touchdown passes to as many different receivers. Young broke program records for both single-season yards passing and passing touchdowns in his first game since winning the Heisman.
Bryce Young to Cameron Latu for another Bama TD! pic.twitter.com/RcaAg47P65
The Tide put together an 11-play scoring drive — featuring 10 rushes — on their first possession to set the tone for the game. The Bearcats managed to get into the red zone three times, but they settled for field goals twice against the most vaunted dynasty in college football history. Cincinnati managed to compile just 72 yards in the first half, the fewest in any half in College Football Playoff history. Cincy played better in the second half but still averaged just 3.8 yards per play. Quarterback Desmond Ridder struggled mightily, completing just 17-of-32 passes for 144 yards. Running back Jerome Ford had 77 yards but only got 15 rushes in the game.
Alabama has now won all six matchups against Cincinnati in their combined history, though the teams had not played since 1990. The Tide await either No. 2 Michigan or No. 3 Georgia in the CFP National Championship on Jan. 10, 2022. | Takeaways
Central Michigan accepted a late bid to the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl, but showed no signs of being off-schedule with its fast start and eventual 24-21 win against Washington State. Jim McElwain’s Chippewas were available to play after Boise State backed out of the Arizona Bowl, and so CMU made the four-hour road trip from Tucson to El Paso in time to play in Friday’s historic bowl game.
HOW ABOUT THE CHIPPEWAS?!
After making a late arrival to The Sun Bowl, @CMU_Football is dominating. pic.twitter.com/5ZSYfI7jXX
When the game started, Washington State showed no signs of an advantage from being slated to play in the game all month. CMU jumped to a 21-0 halftime lead and defended that advantage throughout the second half, holding on with a few key defensive stops in the fourth quarter for the victory. Washington State’s offense was entirely ineffective early, but caught a spark when Victor Gabalis came came on at quarterback and led three touchdown drives in the final 20 minutes of the game.
THE COUGARS! @WSUCougarFB delivers a beautiful touchdown to cut the lead down to three. pic.twitter.com/O6rB7XNIfa
For Central Michigan, the win is the program’s first in a bowl game since 2012 and snaps a five-game bowl losing streak. Jim McElwain now improves to 2-2 in bowl games overall, with a 1-1 mark at both CMU and Florida. | Box Score
Wake Forest has won 11 games for the second time in program history after an impressive effort to put away Rutgers in the second half of a unique edition of the Gator Bowl. The Scarlet Knights were the opponent invited after Texas A&M withdrew from the bowl game thanks to carrying the highest APR score among 5-7 teams. Early on in the game it looked like the heavy underdogs were poised to put a scare in the Demon Deacons, but the Wake Forest defense pulled in a couple of interceptions and came up big on third down en route to a second half shutout.
Let’s go, @ProjectBabyZK 🎩
1⃣6⃣ Deacs have now forced a turnover
🔟 Deacs have intercepted a pass pic.twitter.com/mv0qEUiH57
Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman had a phenomenal game, totaling 304 yards and three touchdowns through the air leading an offense that moved the ball well most of the game. The 28-point margin could have been even larger if not for some red zone stands by the Rutgers defense that prompted field goals instead of touchdowns. Wake Forest kicker Nick Sciba was a perfect three-for-three on his field goal attempts, connecting from 23, 29 and 37 yards to extend the team’s lead.
In addition to getting Wake Forest to 11 wins for just the second time in school history, the victory improves the Demon Deacons to 4-2 in bowl games under Dave Clawson. | Box Score
Wisconsin knocked off Arizona State 20-13 in a Las Vegas Bowl that was every bit as exciting as the final score suggested. While it finished as a one-score game, there was never a moment in the game when Arizona State — which was down a host of starters on both sides of the ball — felt like a real threat to take the lead. Jayden Daniels threw an interception on the game’s first possession, which Wisconsin quickly turned into a touchdown. Not long after, it was 14-3 Wisconsin, and the Badgers never looked back.
Wisconsin’s 17-year old running back (we are legally required to tell you he’s only 17) Braelon Allen led the way for the Badgers offense, rushing for 159 yards on 29 carries. Wisconsin’s passing attack was nonexistent for the most part, and Jake Ferguson led the team with three catches for 33 yards despite missing most of the game due to an injury.
Jayden Daniels did everything he could to keep the Sun Devils in the game, but his one-man show was one of many to fail in Las Vegas. Still, he threw for 159 yards and rushed for 40, accounting for 199 of the 219 yards the Sun Devils finished with.
The win improves Wisconsin to 9-4 on the season while Arizona State falls to 8-5.
Michigan State used a 21-point fourth quarter to come back from a 21-10 deficit and beat Pitt in the Peach Bowl. The Panthers began the game without star quarterback Kenny Pickett and were quickly reduced to their third-string QB when backup Nick Patti injured his shoulder in the first quarter. Michigan State overcame some shaky play of its own on offense as it was without star running back Kenneth Walker III, but the Spartans got things together just in time. Payton Thorne threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns, while Jalen Nailor and Jayden Reed combined for 12 catches, 188 yards and two scores.
Jayden Reed climbed the ladder AND rocked the baby 👶 pic.twitter.com/s2vETumzPL
Michigan State finishes the season 11-2, which is the most wins it’s had in a season since going 12-2 in 2015. Pitt finishes the season at 11-3, its most wins since 1981. Even with the loss, it’s hard to argue that any season that includes an ACC title is anything but a rousing success for the Panthers. | Box score
A wild Music City Bowl ended Thursday with Purdue winning a 48-45 thriller over Tennessee, thanks in part to a controversial overtime officiating decision. Mitchell Fineran won it for the Boilermakers on a 38-yard field goal after the Volunteers failed to score in overtime. However, there was debate over whether Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright scored or was stopped short of the goal-line on a fourth-down attempt during the Volunteers’ possession in overtime. The ruling on the field was that Wright was stopped short. However, a video review appeared to show that he was never down and reached the ball over the goal-line while on top of a Purdue defender.
Tennessee was denied a TD after this play was ruled a turnover on downs: pic.twitter.com/ma8Gs9wZzM
But after a review, the officiating crew upheld the call on the field, which gave the Boilermakers the football needing only a field goal to win it. Fineran’s make then brought an end to a game that featured nearly 1,300 yards of total offense between the two teams. It was the highest scoring Music City Bowl ever due to a frenetic finish to regulation. The teams combined for 28 points in a span of less than three and a half minutes late in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee kicker Chase McGrath came up short on a potential game-winning 56-yard field goal attempt as time expired, and the controversial overtime period ensued. With the win, Purdue finishes the season 9-4, while Tennessee finished 7-6. In some ways, the loss for the Volunteers mirrored their 31-26 loss to Ole Miss in October when Tennessee fans littered the field with trash amid displeasure with the officiating. The Volunteers were penalized a whopping 15 times for 128 yards in the Music City Bowl, which only served to heighten the frustration with the overtime spot for a pro-Tennessee crowd at the game in Nashville, Tennessee.
PURDUE WINS ‼️@BoilerFootball knocks off Tennessee in the @MusicCityBowl on a walk-off FG in OT 🙌 pic.twitter.com/uNI2KBZQw4
South Carolina was a double-digit underdog by kickoff, but the Gamecocks got off to a roaring start with two splash-play touchdowns and 18-0 start to the game. South Carolina used two quarterbacks as both Dakereon Joyner and Zeb Noland had success running an offense that leaned on the ground game once the Gamecocks established their advantage in the game. North Carolina’s inability to stop the run proved to be the fatal flaw in their performance, as South Carolina rolled up 301 rushing yards on 51 attempts and only punted twice across nine offensive possessions.
TWO CATCHES. TWO TDs FOR JAHEIM BELL 😤 pic.twitter.com/ikMaMEThmK
The win is absolutely massive for Shane Beamer as an emphatic finish to a first year on the job that had already exceeded preseason expectations. Beating Auburn, Florida and making it to the postseason was plenty to celebrate, but adding a dominant win against a border war rival in front of plenty of fans and alumni in the Charlotte area is a great way to head into the offseason.
Oklahoma scored 24 unanswered points in the second quarter of the Alamo Bowl to blast the Ducks 47-32 in a matchup that was not as close as the final score. The Sooners held a 30-3 lead at the half behind four combined touchdowns from quarterback Caleb Williams and running back Kennedy Brooks. The dynamic backfield finished with six TDs on the day.
But perhaps the best moment of the evening came when Drake Stoops, son of legendary (and, for this game, interim) coach Bob Stoops, caught a touchdown pass from Williams.
Drake and Bob Stoops shared the love after this TD 💪❤️ pic.twitter.com/dhomTCkzsn
Oregon running back Travis Dye had a strong day with 153 yards and quarterback Anthony Brown added 306 yards, but too much of their production came after the game was decided in the second half. Brooks rushed for 142 yards, while Williams had 242 yards passing on just 27 attempts.
The victory gives Stoops his 10th bowl victory and a career winning bowl record. The Sooners have won back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 2011. | Takeaways
Down by one score in the final minute of the fourth quarter, Iowa State was driving with a chance to tie the game. Unfortunately, the Cyclones had one heartbreak left. Quarterback Brock Purdy ran for a first down on a fourth-and-2, but fumbled the ball back behind the first down marker to turn it over on downs and suffer a Cheez-It Bowl loss to No. 19 Clemson.
The perfect ending to an absurd Cheez It Bowl. Brock Purdy gets the first down on 4th and 2 then fumbles backwards behind the first down line. What a game. What a bowl pic.twitter.com/6AtMRRMAkB
Clemson running back Will Shipley posted 116 total yards and a touchdown to lead the Tigers and kicker B.T. Potter nailed field goals of 51 and 23 yards. Cornerback Mario Goodrich added a defensive touchdown with an 18-yard pick-six off a twice-batted Purdy pass.
The loss finished off one of the most painful 7-6 seasons imaginable for Iowa State. Five of the losses came by one score and were decided on the final possession. Conversely, Clemson captured its 11th consecutive 10-win season, the third-longest streak in college football history behind Nick Saban’s Alabama and Bobby Bowden’s Florida State. | Box score
Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa tied the program’s single-season passing touchdown record and broke the yardage record, as the Terrapins handed Virginia Tech its worst bowl loss in program history. Tagovailoa threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns in the win on 24 pass attempts, with 111 yards and both scores going to Darryl Jones.
The Terrapins dominated every phase of the game as Maryland captured its first winning record since 2015 and first bowl victory since Ralph Friedgen retired in 2010. Tarheeb Still returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to get things going, and Greg Rose recovered a fumble and returned it for a score. Three different rushers reached the end zone for Maryland.
92-YARD HOUSE CALL 🏠 pic.twitter.com/CbArIp5aIx
Virginia Tech quarterback Connor Blumrick played the first meaningful snaps of his career against the Terrapins, throwing for 110 yards and rushing for a score. However, Virginia Tech compiled just 259 yards of total offense to reach its third losing season in four years, the first time the Hokies have fallen to that mark since 1979. Former Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry takes over the program in 2022. | Box score
Minnesota’s defense suffocated West Virginia as the Gophers rolled in a two-score victory over the Mountaineers. WVU mustered just 51 yards rushing and 191 total yards against the physical Minnesota defense as the Gophers dominated the game in the trenches. Freshman running backs Ky Thomas and Mar’Keise Irving each easily cleared 100 yards rushing as part of a 261-yard day for Minnesota on the ground. West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege posted just 140 yards passing and an interception as WVU was held scoreless in the second half. Minnesota is now 23-10 over the past three seasons under head coach P.J. Fleck. | Box score
Minnesota brought in the big man to score 🤯
Daniel Faalele is 6’9 380 lbs! pic.twitter.com/hQsye0FAS4
Texas Tech came into the Liberty Bowl as nearly double-digit underdogs against a Mississippi State squad with multiple ranked victories on its résumé. When the dust settled, it was Red Raiders interim coach and former QB Sonny Cumbie — who is heading to Louisiana Tech as head coach — who emerged victorious over his former coach Mike Leach to lead Tech to its first winning season since 2015.
Tech quarterback Donovan Smith threw for 252 yards and added two total touchdowns after entering the year as the third-string quarterback. Running backs Tahj Brooks and SaRodorick Thompson ran wild with a combined 187 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries.
Mississippi State struggled to find any momentum on either side of the ball, as the Bulldogs posted just 344 yards and averaged just 4.7 yards per play. Quarterback Will Rogers threw for 290 yards, one touchdown and one interception in Leach’s first matchup against the team that fired him more than one decade ago. | Box score
📺 ESPN#WreckEm | @JJ_spark12 pic.twitter.com/YaZp40PSIT
Air Force came into the First Responder Bowl with the top rushing offense in the country, so it’s only natural that it topped Louisville in its final game of the season with a wide open aerial attack. Haaziq Daniels threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns — both of which were to senior Brandon Lewis — to lead the Falcons to their second bowl win in three seasons. Those 252 passing yards are just shy of the 269 passing yards that the Falcons had during the entire month of October (four games). Daniels also added two more touchdowns on the ground to account for all four of the their end zones on the afternoon. | Box score
Brandon Lewis out here breaking ankles 😲
Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune found Jake Herslow for 26-yard touchdown with 3:27 to play to give Dana Holgorsen’s crew a hard-fought win over Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl. The loss means this Tigers team will finish the season at 6-7 — the first sub-.500 season for the program since 2012. The game-defining touchdown came after a prolonged Cougars scoring drought that started midway through the first quarter after they took a 10-0 lead.
The game puts to bed a disappointing first season for Auburn coach Bryan Harsin. His team lost its last five games, including a four-overtime loss to Alabama and a blown 28-3 lead at home against Mississippi State. Needless to say, pressure will be on the former Boise State coach going into the 2022 season. | Box score
.@UHCougarFB with a late TD to retake the lead ‼️ pic.twitter.com/huQiCerOls
Western Michigan won its second-ever bowl game as a program in its home state, jumping all over Nevada early and cruising to a 52-24 win in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Nevada did enjoy the element of surprise in the early stages of the game thanks to the overwhelming number of absences from the team that got the Wolf Pack to this game. Head coach Jay Norvell left to take the job at Colorado State, and with multiple coordinators also departing for other jobs, this was a skeleton staff on the sideline leading a team that was down nearly 20 players because of injuries, transfers and opt-outs. The offense, in particular, lacked star quarterback Carson Strong and the top five pass-catchers from the regular season. So when backup quarterback Nate Cox led two scoring drives in the first 20 minutes of the game, it inspired some belief in this undermanned Nevada squad.
But Western Michigan made good adjustments defensively, and Nevada’s defense had a difficult time getting stops. Each of the Broncos’ first five possessions ended in scores with four reaching the end zone, and by the time they punted for the first time, it was a 28-point game in the third quarter. Western Michigan’s ground game was punishing, rolling up 352 yards and four touchdowns, and the effort was complimented by huge plays in special teams starting in the game’s early stages when Sean Tyler — who also led the Broncos in rushing with 146 yards — ran a kickoff back 100 yards for the first touchdown of the game.
100 YARDS AND NO ONE WAS GONNA STOP HIM 🏠 📞 pic.twitter.com/5v4v12eyhc
In addition to being the second bowl win in WMU program history it is the first for head coach Tim Lester, who improves to 32-25 overall across five seasons at his alma mater. Nevada now officially moves into the Ken Wilson era, as the longtime former Wolf Pack assistant and recent Oregon defensive coordinator takes over as the program’s head coach. Box Score
Georgia State used a 28-point third quarter to turn an entertaining and competitive Camellia Bowl into an absolute blowout. Ball State jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but it only held the lead for a few more minutes before never seeing it again. The Panthers put together three touchdown drives of 75, 68 and 71 yards to take a 41-13 lead before Antavious Lane picked off a Drew Plitt pass and returned it 55 yards to make it 48-13 Georgia State on the final play of the quarter.
Georgia State quarterback Darren Grainger introduced himself to a national audience by throwing for 203 yards and three touchdowns while also leading the team in rushing with 122 yards and a touchdown. Aubry Payne led the Panthers with 109 yards on eight receptions, while Ball State’s Jayshon Jackson caught 12 passes for 146 yards and a score.
The win gives Georgia State a record of 8-5 on the season with eight wins being the most it’s had in any season since joining the FBS. | Box score
Well, the Hawaii Bowl may be off because of COVID-19 issues within Hawaii’s program, but apparently that doesn’t mean there isn’t a Hawaii Bowl champion. Looks like Memphis is heading back home with some hardware. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2021 Hawaii Bowl champions … the Memphis Tigers.
2021 Hawaii Bowl Champions. Feels good to be bringing this trophy back to Memphis. 🌊🏝🏆🏆#MEMPHIS @MemphisFB #HawaiiBowl pic.twitter.com/7aH4lqpmHT
The Knights had been waiting for the chance to take a bite out of the Gators since the Knights re-appeared in the national spotlight in 2017. It feasted Thursday night in Tampa. Isaiah Bowser ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns and Ryan O’Keefe added 110 on the ground and 85 as a receiver to take the 29-17 win. The dagger came late in the third quarter when Knights quarterback Mikey Keene found O’Keefe open down the left sideline for a 54-yard touchdown that gave them a 26-17 lead.
Ex-UCF athletic director Danny White pushed hard for a home-and-home series with the Gators before White moved on to Tennessee. Terry Mohajir took over for White and agreed to a 2-for-1 deal that will send the Gators to Orlando in 2030, with the two playing in Gainesville in 2024 and 2033. | Box score
The inaugural Frisco Football Classic was tight early, but one fatal error late in the second quarter proved to be the game-changing play in the RedHawks’ 27-14 win over the Mean Green. The Mean Green were down 20-14 late in the half when Jacquez Warren picked off Mean Green QB Austin Aune on the Miami 10-yard line to thwart a 10-play, 61-yard drive and give the Redhawks momentum going into halftime. Miami went 75 yards on eight plays to open the third quarter, and Brett Gabbert hit Nate Muersch with an 11-yard scoring strike to push the lead to two scores. The defense held from there and the Redhawks got their first bowl win in 11 years. | Box score
Cole Talley drilled a 41-yard field goal as time expired to give Army a 24-22 win over Missouri in a thriller in Fort Worth, Texas. The walk-off kick capped off an eight-play, 51-yard drive that took the final 1:11 off the clock.
IT’S GOOD 🙌@ArmyWP_Football wins the @ArmedForcesBowl with a 41-yard FG! pic.twitter.com/o5vWRJuRod
The fourth quarter of the Armed Forces Bowl was by far the most action-packed. Army got things started when backup quarterback Tyheir Tyler hit Brandon Walters all alone in the end zone from 15 yards out to give the Black Knights a 21-16 lead. Tyler was one of three quarterbacks who played in the game for Jeff Monken’s crew.
But Missouri would respond when it needed to most. Freshman quarterback Brady Cook, who got his first career start over Connor Bazelak, found Keke Chism in the back of the end zone from six yards out with 1:11 to go to give the Tigers a 22-21 lead. Cook’s touchdown pass capped off an 11-play, 83-yard drive that began with Missouri taking over with 2:44 to play and no timeouts. However, Cook missed an easy throw on the ensuing two-point conversion that would have made it a three-point game. That allowed Army’s field goal to end the game instead of taking it to overtime. | Box score
San Diego State quarterback Lucas Johnson put together the best performance of his career to lead the Aztecs past UTSA 38-24 in the Frisco Bowl, capping off the program’s first 12-win season in history. Johnson was masterful through the air, completing 24 of 36 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns and adding another rushing score to sink the Roadrunners.
San Diego State boasted one of the top defenses in college football in 2021, but its offense had to come to the rescue as UTSA jumped out to a 14-7 lead. Johnson led scoring drives of 10, nine and six plays in the second and third quarters to spur a 17-0 run that gave the Aztecs a lead they would never relinquish. Wide receiver Jesse Matthews, who finished with 175 yards on 11 catches, caught a pair of touchdowns in the first half to add to the lead.
.@lucasj_7 with touchdown No. 3, this time to @rell4six! Watch on @ESPN.#BeatUTSA pic.twitter.com/mAMT3t1YBI
UTSA receiver Zakhari Franklin cleared the 1,000-yard receiving mark with 89 yards and a touchdown, but the Roadrunners could not keep pace in the game’s middle quarters. With All-American running back Sincere McCormick out preparing for the NFL Draft, backups Brenden Brady and B.J. Daniels combined for 114 yards on 19 carries. SDSU running back Greg Ball rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown.
The bowl victory is the second in third years for the Aztecs and first since Brady Hoke took over the program in 2020. UTSA is still searching for its first ever bowl victory after winning Conference USA in 2021 for the first time.
Wyoming quarterback Levi Williams ran for 200 yards and four touchdowns, threw for 127 yards and one more score to slice and dice the Kent State defense on the blue turf in Boise in the Cowboys’ 52-38 win. His four rushing touchdowns are a single-game record for the Potato Bowl, and are three more than he had for the entire season prior to Tuesday night. Seven of the Cowboys’ final nine drives resulted in points, and the two that didn’t ding the scoreboard were the victory formation drives at the end of each half.
Golden Flashes quarterback Dustin Crum had four passing touchdowns as his team racked up 656 total yards in a losing effort.
Levi Williams outran the entire defense for rushing TD No. 4️⃣ ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/IwN38Gm18J
Tulsa caps its season with a fourth straight victory and first bowl win since 2016 behind a defensively dominant performance. Old Dominion’s LaMareon James ran back the opening kick 100 yards for the first score of the game, but the Monarchs didn’t score an offensive touchdown until the 7:15 mark of the fourth quarter, and by then it was too late to stage a rally. Ultimately, Old Dominion finished with just 247 yards and only 10 first downs.
Tulsa took a 30-10 lead with 9:04 left on quarterback Davis Brin’s second touchdown pass of the game. The Golden Hurricane racked up 529 total yards and the production was evenly split between throwing and passing. Shamari Brooks, Anthony Watkins and Deneric Prince were each productive on the ground.
#SCTop10 interception for LJ Wallace!#ReignCane 👑🌀 #HuntForTheCrown
The Golden Hurricane were one of the most turnover-prone teams in the FBS this season, but they won the turnover battle 2-0 today to put a nice cap on a season that began 1-4. But this is nothing for ODU to hang its heads over. The Monarchs started out 1-6 after not playing in the 2020 season. Great job just to reach a bowl. | Box score
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