College Sports

January 7, 2014

Bowl review: BCS era rallies to go out with a big-time bang

Comebacks captivated, Johnny Football shined and Florida State made the ultimate rally

The 2013-14 bowl season started with a big comeback — Colorado State rallying from 22 points down to win the New Mexico Bowl — and ended with another when Florida State overcame an 18-point deficit to win the BCS National Championship Game. With 35 games in all, it’s difficult to keep up. But fear not, here is a recap of the final bowl season before the four-game playoff format kicks in.

Not in high Cotton

Oklahoma State’s 41-31 loss to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl dropped the Big 12 to 1-10 over the past 11 Cotton Bowls. All the losses have come to SEC schools. And to make things worse, the only Big 12 team to win during that time was Missouri (2008 vs. Arkansas), which is now in the SEC. In its six-game losing streak, the Big 12 has been outscored by an average of 15.8 points.

Bowling with Johnny

If Johnny Manziel leaves Texas A&M for the NFL, the quarterback will leave behind a bowl legacy that will be difficult to top. He led the Aggies to victories in both of his bowls — a 41-13 win against Oklahoma in last year’s Cotton Bowl and a stirring 52-48 defeat of Duke in this season’s Chick-fil-A Bowl. In the two games, Manziel was 52 for 72 passing (72.2 percent) for 669 yards with one interception and six touchdowns. He also had 28 carries for 302 yards (10.8 yards per attempt) and three touchdowns.

Texas Bowl II?

The Texas Class 5A Division I state championship football game between Allen and Pearland drew 54,347 fans to AT&T Stadium. If that had been a bowl game, it would have placed 13th in attendance out of 35 bowl games. Average attendance at bowl games was 48,989. Interestingly, the most-attended game was not the championship game at the Rose Bowl (94,208) but the Rose Bowl game (95,173).

Rare skids

Alabama and Ohio State are now riding two-game losing streaks. Alabama’s loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl gave the Crimson Tide its first two-game losing streak since the 2008 season, which also ended with a loss (to Utah) in the Sugar Bowl. Ohio State, which lost to Clemson in the Orange Bowl, had won 24 consecutive games before losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game and Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

Somethin’ about Texas

Middle Tennessee had its lowest offensive output of the season in its 24-6 loss to Navy in the Armed Forces Bowl at TCU. The previous low for the Blue Raiders, who averaged 29 points per game, came in Denton with a 34-7 loss at North Texas in October.

Top comebacks

1. Florida State. It wasn’t the largest comeback, but it had the largest ramifications. The Seminoles trailed Auburn 21-3 late in the first half, took the lead with 4:31 to play, then had to come back one more time on a touchdown with 13 seconds left — to win the national championship.

2. Texas A&M. The Aggies trailed Duke 38-17 at halftime but came charging back behind Johnny Manziel to win the Chick-fil-A Bowl 52-48. The comeback was completed on Toney Hurd Jr.’s interception return for a score with 3:33 to play.

3. Colorado State. Washington State led the Rams 38-23 early in the third quarter at the New Mexico Bowl. Colorado State outscored the Cougars 25-7 from there to win 48-45. The Rams scored 18 points in the final 2:52, including the game-winning field goal on the final play.

By the numbers

1Loss in school history for Ohio State when scoring at least 35 points after its 40-35 loss to Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The Buckeyes are now 279-1-1.

2Victories against top-10 teams this season for UCF after defeating Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl. Before this season, the Knights had only one win against a ranked opponent.

56Passing yards for Texas against Oregon in the Alamo Bowl.

75Yards in interception returns for Oregon against Texas.

5Total yards covered in Iowa’s two scoring drives during its 21-14 loss to LSU in the Outback Bowl. The drives were set up by an interception return to LSU’s 1 and a kickoff return to the 4.

1Touchdown that Georgia scored in seven trips inside the Nebraska 21-yard line in a 24-19 loss in the Gator Bowl.

20Combined punts for Vanderbilt and Houston in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Both teams punted 10 times.

99Yards covered for Nebraska in Tommy Armstrong Jr.’s touchdown pass to Quincy Enunwa in the Gator Bowl. The Cornhuskers’ longest pass play during the regular season was 49 yards.

505Total yards rushing and passing for Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd — 78 more than Ohio State gained as a team — in the Orange Bowl.

41:27Time of possession for USC against Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Conference call

The Big 12 went 3-3 in bowl games. The Big 12 is 20-19 in bowl games over the past five seasons, with one winning record during that span. A look at conference records in this season’s bowl games:

Conference W-L
Sun Belt 2-0
SEC 7-3
Pac-12 6-3
Independents 2-1
Big 12 3-3
Conference USA 3-3
Mountain West 3-3
ACC 5-6
American 2-3
Big Ten 2-5
Mid-American 0-5

Odds and trends

• Texas Tech has won six of its past seven bowl games and is 9-2 since 2002.
• Oregon held Texas to one touchdown in winning the Alamo Bowl 30-7. The last time the Ducks held a bowl opponent to seven points or fewer was the 1920 Tournament East-West Game — now the Rose Bowl — when the Oregon Webfoots lost 7-6 to Harvard. Oregon made 25 bowl appearances between those two games.
• North Texas’ first bowl victory since 2002 was the second in school history, coming in the Mean Green’s seventh bowl appearance. UNT’s win came in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against UNLV, which had been 3-0 in bowl games. The Rebels were playing in their first postseason game since 2000 and first outside of Las Vegas in 30 years.

Random useless knowledge

Someone from schools’ sports information departments actually researched these statistics:

• San Diego State’s win in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl gives the Aztecs nine consecutive wins in the Mountain time zone, the nation’s longest active streak.
• Counting the Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl, East Carolina has a nation-leading streak of 24 consecutive games in which it has received the opening kickoff.

Bowl recaps

(With BCS rankings)

1. New Mexico: Colorado State 48, Washington State 45. Colorado State scored 11 points off two Cougars fumbles in the final 1:51 to complete a comeback from a 22-point deficit.

2. Las Vegas: Southern Cal 45, Fresno State 20. USC opened a 35-6 halftime lead and cruised behind Cody Kessler’s career-high 344 yards and four touchdowns passing.

3. Famous Idaho Potato: San Diego State 49, Buffalo 24. Adam Muema rushed for 229 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Aztecs, who scored 35 points in the second and third quarters.

4. New Orleans: Louisiana-Lafayette 24, Tulane 21. The Ragin’ Cajuns blew a 21-0 lead but won when Tulane missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt with :09 left.

5. Beef ‘O’Brady’s: East Carolina 37, Ohio 20. Vintavious Cooper’s bowl-record 198 rushing yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns helped the Pirates score the final 20 points.

6. Hawaii: Oregon State 38, Boise State 23. The Beavers put the Broncos away early, opening a 38-6 lead behind two defensive touchdowns.

7. Little Caesars Pizza: Pittsburgh 30, Bowling Green 27. The Panthers were led by freshmen James Conner (229 rushing yards) and Tyler Boyd (173 receiving yards).

8. Poinsettia: Utah State 21, Northern Illinois 14. Utah State limited Huskies quarterback and Heisman finalist Jordan Lynch to 39 yards rushing and one touchdown pass.

9. Military: Marshall 31, Maryland 20. Rakeem Cato’s 337 yards and three touchdowns passing helped Marshall win after trailing 20-17 in the fourth quarter.

10. Texas: Syracuse 21, Minnesota 17. The Orange blew a 14-3 lead, then won on quarterback Terrel Hunt’s 12-yard scramble with 1:14 to play.

11. Kraft Fight Hunger: Washington 31, BYU 16. Washington limited BYU to a field goal on four of the Cougars’ five trips inside the Huskies’ 30.

12. Pinstripe: Notre Dame 29, Rutgers 16. The Fighting Irish led by a field goal before pulling away with 10 points in the final 3:38.

13. Belk: North Carolina 39, Cincinnati 17. The Tar Heels scored the first 16 points and opened a 29-3 lead in the third quarter, then cruised from there.

14. Russell Athletic: Louisville 36, Miami 9. Miami native Teddy Bridgewater passed for a career-high 447 yards and accounted for four touchdowns as The ’Ville dominated The U.

15. Buffalo Wild Wings: Kansas State 31, Michigan 14. Jake Waters threw touchdown passes to Tyler Lockett to cap Kansas State’s first three possessions and break the Wildcats’ five-game bowl losing streak.

16. Armed Forces: Navy 24, Middle Tennessee 6. Navy’s Keenan Reynolds scored on two runs, extending to 31 his FBS single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.

17. Music City: Ole Miss 25, Georgia Tech 17. Quarterback Bo Wallace ran for two touchdowns and passed for a third in the Rebels’ sixth consecutive bowl victory.

18. Alamo: No. 10 Oregon 30, Texas 7. Texas held Oregon’s offense to one touchdown, but the Ducks returned two interceptions for touchdowns in coach Mack Brown’s final game.

19. Holiday: Texas Tech 37, No. 14 Arizona State 23. Freshman Davis Webb passed for 403 yards and four touchdowns for the Red Raiders, who scored on four of their first five possessions.

20. AdvoCare V100: Arizona 42, Boston College 19. The Wildcats turned a 7-6 lead in the second quarter into a runaway by scoring 35 consecutive points.

21. Sun: No. 17 UCLA 42, Virginia Tech 12. Quarterback Brett Hundley sparked the Bruins with his arm (226 yards passing, 2 TDs) and legs (161 yards rushing, 2 TDs).

22. Liberty: Mississippi State 44, Rice 7. Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott accounted for five touchdowns in the biggest blowout in the bowl’s 55-year history.

23. Chick-fil-A: No. 21 Texas A&M 52, No. 24 Duke 48. Johnny Manziel had 382 yards and four touchdowns passing and ran for a score as the Aggies rallied from a 38-17 halftime deficit.

24. Gator: Nebraska 24, No. 22 Georgia 19. The Cornhuskers held Georgia without points on two drives inside the Nebraska 20 in the final five minutes.

25. Heart of Dallas: North Texas 36, UNLV 14. The Mean Green held UNLV to 66 yards rushing — 115 below the Rebels’ average — and rolled behind 22 fourth-quarter points to its first bowl victory in nine years.

26. Capital One: No. 9 South Carolina 34, No. 19 Wisconsin 24. Connor Shaw passed for three touchdowns, rushed for one and had another one on a reception, leading the Gamecocks to their third consecutive 11-win season.

27. Outback: No. 16 LSU 21, Iowa 14. Jeremy Hill rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-clincher with 2:02 to play.

28. Rose: No. 4 Michigan State 24, No. 5 Stanford 20. The Spartans clinched their first Rose Bowl win since 1988 by stopping Stanford on fourth-and-1 near midfield with 1:46 remaining.

29. Fiesta: No. 15 UCF 52, No. 6 Baylor 42. The Knights, 17-point underdogs, scored on four consecutive possessions after Baylor tied the score at 28.

30. Sugar: No. 11 Oklahoma 45, No. 3 Alabama 31. The Sooners, who scored 31 points in the first half, forced five turnovers and converted them into 28 points.

31. Cotton: No. 8 Missouri 41, No. 13 Oklahoma State 31. Henry Josey’s third touchdown run gave Missouri the lead with 3:08 to play, then Shane Ray put the game away with a 73-yard fumble return.

32. Orange: No. 12 Clemson 40, No. 7 Ohio State 35. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd passed for 378 yards and five touchdowns, and Sammy Watkins had 227 yards receiving with two touchdowns.

33. BBVA Compass: Vanderbilt 41, Houston 24. Houston overcame a 24-0 halftime deficit, but the Commodores scored the game’s final 17 points.

34. GoDaddy: Arkansas State 23, Ball State 20. The Red Wolves took the lead on a touchdown pass with 32 seconds remaining, then blocked a field-goal attempt on the final play.

35. BCS National Championship: No. 1 Florida State 34, No. 2 Auburn 31. A fake punt sparked Florida State’s comeback from a 21-3 deficit late in the first half, and the Seminoles capped a 14-0 season with Jameis Winston’s game-winning touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds to play.

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