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Wild Finishes, Record-Breaking Performances Highlight Wild Bowl Week

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

While the New Year’s Six bowls turned out to be clunkers, the second week of bowl season brought us some of the wildest games of the year. Here are some of the highlights.

(You can see full recaps of each of the New Year’s Six games here.)

Foster Farms Bowl

Nebraska 37, UCLA 29

UCLA had no answer for the Cornhuskers’ pounding running game as Nebraska rolled up a season-high 326 rushing yards and a team bowl record 31 first downs. UCLA actually jumped out to a 21-7 lead in the first quarter before Nebraska erupted for 30 unanswered points for the largest bowl game deficit overcome in school history.

St. Petersburg Bowl

Marshall 16, UConn 10

Marshall quarterback Chase Litton threw for 218 yards and a score to lead the Thundering Herd to its fifth straight bowl win. Marshall is the only “Group of Five” team to win ten games in each of the last three seasons.

Hyundai Sun Bowl

Washington State 20, Miami (FL) 14

Washington State forced two red-zone turnovers in the final five minutes to secure the Cougars’ first bowl win in 12 years and give Miami its sixth straight bowl loss

Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl

Washington 44, Southern Miss 31

Freshman running back Myles Gaskin rushed for 181 yards and four touchdowns (both career highs) as the Huskies recorded their first bowl win under coach Christian Petersen.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Duke 44, Indiana 41 (OT)

Duke needed overtime and a controversial finish to secure its first bowl win since 1961. After the Blue Devils went up by three in overtime, Indiana attempted a field goal to tie the game. Although the kick looked good on replay, officials ruled the ball went over the top of the goal post, making it no good–and not reviewable.

Camping World Independence Bowl

Virginia Tech 55, Tulsa 52

Michael Brewer threw for 344 yards and the Hokie defense held off a late Tulsa rally to send coach Frank Beamer out with a victory in the final game of his Hall of Fame career. The 107 total points were the most in Independence Bowl history and Virigina Tech receiver Isaiah Ford set another bowl record with 227 receiving yards.

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman

Navy 44, Pitt 28

Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds rushed for three scores and threw for another to give him an FBS-record 88 career touchdowns as the Midshipmen capped off their first 11-win season in the 135-year history of the program.

Quick Lane Bowl

Minnesota 21, Central Michigan 14

Quarterback Mitch Leidner threw one touchdown and ran for another to lead Minnesota to its first bowl win since 2004.

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

California 55, Air Force 36

If this was Jared Goff’s last game, the junior quarterback went out on a high note, throwing for a school-record 467 yards and six touchdowns to guide the Bears to their first bowl win in seven years.

Russell Athletic Bowl

No. 17 Baylor 49, No. 10 North Carolina 38

Playing without its top two quarterbacks, Baylor’s game plan consisted of running the ball, running the ball and running the ball some more. Even without their top running back, it proved to be a good call as the Bears pounded out 645 rushing yards in the win, breaking the previous record for a bowl game (524 by Nebraska in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl).

Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Nevada 28, Colorado State 23

Despite being outgained by nearly 200 yards, Nevada earned its first bowl win since 2010 when running back James Butler punched in his second touchdown of the game with 1:06 left.

Advocare V100 Texas Bowl

No. 20 LSU 56, Texas Tech 27

Texas Tech ranks next-to-last in rush defense and it showed as LSU’s Leonard Fournette rushed for 212 yards and four touchdowns in the Tiger’s second bowl win in three years. Fournette also added a receiving touchdown to tie an NCAA record for most total touchdowns in a bowl game.

Birmingham Bowl

Auburn 31, Memphis 10

An Auburn defense that struggled much of the year and was playing without a defensive coordinator saved their best game for last, limiting Memphis to a season-low 205 yards.

Belk Bowl

Mississippi State 51, North Carolina State 28

Bulldog quarterback Dak Prescott put an explanation point on the end of his record-setting career, throwing for four touchdowns and a Belk Bowl-record 380 yards.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Louisville 27, Texas A&M 21

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson rushed for 226 yards, racked up 453 total yards (both Music City Bowl records) and scored four touchdowns to lead the Cardinals to their third bowl win in four tries. Aggie wide receiver Josh Reynolds set Music City Bowl records with 11 catches for 177 yards in the loss.

National Funding Holiday Bowl

Wisconsin 23, No. 25 USC 21

Wisconsin’s defense bottled up USC all night, holding the Trojans to a season-low 286 yards and badgering (pun intended) Cody Kessler into three sacks and an interception.

Outback Bowl

No. 23 Tennessee 45, No. 13 Northwestern 6

Northwestern came into this game with the No. 7 defense in the country. Instead, it was the Tennessee defense that stole the show, holding the Wildcats to just 261 yards and forcing four turnovers, including an interception returned 100 yards for a touchdown.

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl

No. 14 Michigan 41, No. 19 Florida 7

Wolverine quarterback Jake Rudock threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns and the Michigan defense dominated throughout to lead the rout. Michigan finished with 503 total yards against a Gator unit that came into the game ranked sixth in the country in total defense.

Taxslayer Bowl

Georgia 24, Penn State 17

Freshman receiver Terry Godwin threw one touchdown and caught another to help the Bulldogs jump out to a 24-3 lead. Penn State tried to rally with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, but a Hail Mary to tie the game was knocked away at the goal line as time expired.

Autozone Liberty Bowl

Arkansas 45, Kansas State 23

Junior running back Alex Collins rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Razorbacks to their third consecutive bowl victory. The Wildcats are 1-7 in bowl games going back to 2003.

Valero Alamo Bowl

No. 11 TCU 47, No. 15 Oregon 41 (3OT)

Down 31-0 at halftime, TCU rallied to force overtime and held off the Ducks in the third extra frame. The 31-point comeback ties the NCAA record for largest margin overcome in a bowl victory (previously done by Texas Tech in the 2006 Insight Bowl). Playing in place of the suspended Trevone Boykin, TCU backup quarterback Bram Kohlhausen threw for 351 yards and two touchdowns while also running for two scores in the wild win. After starting quarterback Vernon Adams, Jr. went down with an injury, Oregon managed just 18 total yards in the second half.

Motel 6 Cactus Bowl

West Virginia 43, Arizona State 42

Although West Virginia is typically a running team (14th nationally in rushing), the Mountaineers took to the air against a porous Arizona State secondary. WVU quarterback Skyler Howard threw for a Cactus Bowl-record 532 yards and five touchdowns in the school’s first bowl win since 2011. The two teams combined for 950 passing yards and 1,196 total yards, also bowl records.

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