The Daily Sports Staff breaks down all 29 bowl games that have been played so far this season, besides the Gator Bowl defeat that Michigan suffered on Saturday. Find out which players have been most valuable to their teams and which plays had the biggest impact on the outcome of each game.
Rose Bowl: TCU 21, Wisconsin 19
In the program’s first trip to Pasadena, Calif., TCU capped off an unbeaten season with a 21-19 victory over No. 5 Wisconsin. The third-ranked Horned Frogs became the first team from a non-automatic qualifying conference to even participate in the Rose Bowl since the advent of the BCS.
Any chance of Wisconsin ruining the perfect season with a comeback was thwarted when linebacker Tank Carder swatted away a two-point conversion attempt after the Badgers scored with two minutes remaining in the game. Carder made six tackles, a sack and three tackles for a loss to take home defensive MVP honors.
— STEPHEN J. NESBITT
Sugar Bowl: Ohio State 31, Arkansas 26
It was over when… Soloman Thomas intercepted Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet with about a minute left. After Arkansas’ Ben Buchanan, better known to the people as home as “that No. 90 guy who had the sweet blocked punt,” jumped over two Buckeyes to block Ohio State’s punt at their own 38-yard line, Mallett had the game in his hands. After driving down to the Buckeyes’ 19, Mallett threw the ball into double coverage and hit Thomas squarely in chest literally forcing the defensive lineman to catch the ball. The Buckeyes never trailed in the game and sent quarterback Terrell Pryor, one of five Ohio State players suspended for the first five games of next season due to receiving improper benefits, with a nice send off before their time on the bench. At least he paid for his tattoos.
— MICHAEL FLOREK
Orange Bowl: Stanford vs. Virginia Tech
MVP: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford… The Heisman runner-up and projected No. 1 pick in the NFL draft lit up Virginia Tech, completing 18-of-23 passes for 287 yards and four touchdowns in a 40-12 rout. Luck showed the talent and intelligence that has everyone singing his praises, completing several difficult throws and running Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh’s offense to perfection.
Despite the lopsided final score, Stanford only had a 13-12 lead at halftime before running off the game’s final 27 points. Tight end Coby Fleener also had a tremendous performance, catching six passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns, and the Stanford defense shut out star quarterback Tyrod Taylor and the explosive Hokie offense in the second half.
— ANDREW HADDAD
Fiesta Bowl: No. 7 Oklahoma 48, Connecticut 20
MVP: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma… Jones racked up 429 passing yards, three touchdowns and an interception. His proficient 34-of-49 passing against the porous Connecticut defense led to his third 400-plus yard performance of the season. In a nearly mistake-free night, Jones led the Sooner offense to their most points in a bowl game in the Bob Stoops-era. Oklahoma wasn’t flagged for a penalty the entire game, and its only offensive hiccup came in the first half — Jones threw an ill-advised pass over the middle that was picked off and returned for the first Connecticut touchdown.
— LUKE PASCH
Capital One Bowl: Alabama 49, Michigan State 7
I didn’t change the channel because… Of my love of watching a trainwreck unfold before my eyes. The Spartans were absolutely overmatched and throttled by the Crimson Tide and Mark Ingram showed exactly why he was a Heisman winner last year — the guy’s pretty darn good. Michigan State’s run game, which steamrolled the Wolverines in October, finished with what has to have been one of the worst rushing performances in the history of college football. -48 yards. Who knew that was even possible? Either way, the Spartans magical season ended with a very, very abrupt stop.
— RYAN KARTJE
Outback Bowl: Florida 37, Penn State 24
It was Florida coach Urban Meyer’s last game as headman for the Gators. Ironically, it was the 46-year-old retiring after the game and not Penn State coach Joe Paterno — Meyer’s 84-year-old counterpart.
The Gators certainly wanted to send their coach out with a win, and they did so, topping the Nittany Lions 37-24. The two teams traded blows for most of the game, though both had combined for just 629 yards and seven turnovers in what was an ugly affair.
A key point in the game was when… Down six points, Penn State got the ball back on its own 21-yard line with 3:04 remaining with a chance to win the game. But quarterback Matt McGloin threw his fourth of five interceptions on the afternoon, and Florida’s Ahmad Black returned it for a touchdown to seal the game. Paterno still plans on returning to coach his 46th season next year, while we have apparently seen the last of Meyer patrolling the sidelines.
— BEN ESTES
Insight Bowl: Iowa 27, Missouri 24
On a third down with 53 seconds remaining up by 3 points, Iowa’s Ricki Stanzi faked the run and threw a pass to tight end Allen Reisner all the way down to the Missouri 1-yard line, giving Iowa the first down with just under 50 seconds left. Missouri, who was surely expecting another Marcus Coker run, had almost everyone in the box hoping to get the ball back with some time.
Thanks to Coker’s career highs of 33 carriers, 219 yards, and 2 touchdowns, Missouri was tricked into thinking he would carry the ball yet again. But it was not the case, as Stanzi’s pass propelled Iowa over Missouri, giving the Big Ten its first bowl victory.
— ALEX STEINHOFF
Sun Bowl: Notre Dame 33, Miami (Fla.) 17
Quirkiest stat of the game… The most receptions from Miami quarterback Jacory Harris in the first half was by Notre Dame senior safety Harrison Smith. Smith had three picks in the second quarter, two of which came off the arm of Harris. The Fighting Irish had four interceptions on the night, as they handed the Hurricanes their third-straight bowl loss.
The most surprising thing from the game was… the performance of Notre Dame freshman quarterback Tommy Rees. After Rees struggled in the Fighting Irish’s season-ending victory against USC, he responded in a big way, completing 15 of 29 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. The victory for the young Rees was the first time a first-year quarterback won a bowl game for the Fighting Irish.
— MARK BURNS
Champs Sports Bowl: North Carolina State 23, West Virginia 7
MVP: Russell Wilson, QB, NC State… At times this season, the strong-armed Wolfpack quarterback looked like one of the best gunslingers in the country. But if you’ve watched NC State at all this season, you know he’s been anything but consistent. Streaky quarterbacks often make for big plays on both sides of the ball, but Wilson kept it together against the Mountaineers. It may all be for naught though as far as next season goes. Wilson is probably off to play baseball for the Rockies. Hey, I guess he went out swinging (pun intended).
— RYAN KARTJE
Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State 36, Arizona 14
MVP: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State… The best receiver in the country turned in another spectacular game, leading his No. 14 Oklahoma State Cowboys to a 36-10 dismantling of the Arizona Wildcats. He caught nine passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns, including a wide-open 71-yard grab in the first quarter that gave the Cowboys a lead they never relinquished.
Blackmon set an NCAA record with 12 straight games with at least 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. He also notched the Oklahoma State records for touchdown receptions, receiving yards and receptions in a single season. No matter what they tried, Wildcat defenders simply could not stop the future NFL first-round draft pick.
— EVERETT COOK
MAACO Bowl: Boise State 26, Utah 3
Craziest play of the game… Lined up to punt in the first quarter, Boise State ran a direct snap reverse pass to kicker/punter Kyle Brotzman, who dropped the ball with a chance for a first down and a big gain. It was yet another disappointment for Brotzman, who missed two field goals against Nevada in November to cost the Broncos a BCS berth.
The most surprising thing from the game… was the smackdown the Bronco defense gave the 23rd-ranked Utah offense. Utes quarterback Terence Cain was held to only 93 yards passing and was sacked four times.
— BRIAN MECHANICK
Texas Bowl: Illinois 34, Baylor 14
MVP: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois… The junior running back was unstoppable in Houston, Texas, running for 184 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries. He also had two receptions for 21 yards. Leshoure’s performance earned him school records for single-season rushing yards (1,697), scoring (122 points), touchdowns (20), 100-yard rushing games (nine) and consecutive 100-yard rushing games (five). Baylor’s defense was overmatched from the get-go, falling behind 24-0 before finally answering back.
And while Baylor sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin III recorded 350 total yards with no interceptions, his two first half fumbles put the Bears in too big of a hole to dig themselves out of. The victory was Illinois’ first bowl win since 1999 and coach Ron Zook’s first.
— MATT RUDNITSKY
Independence Bowl: Air Force 14, Georgia Tech 7
Quirkiest moment of the game… Before the opening kickoff, the Air Force mascot, a live falcon, was let loose to do a lap around the stadium. The falcon took off when released as planned, but it never came back. Luckily the bird was found hours later in downtown Shreveport, La.
You knew it was over when… Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington was picked off by Air Force defensive back Jon Davis with 14 seconds left to play.
MVP: Zack Bell, kicker, Air Force… Bell, the Falcons’ backup who had not seen any game action in his four-year career leading up to this bowl game, attempted and converted his first two field goals of the game, both from 40-plus yards.
— KEVIN RAFTERY
Chick-fil-A Bowl: Florida State 26, South Carolina 17
Coaching against his old arch-nemesis, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier faced a ball-hungry defense that was all-too familiar. Florida State’s defense forced five Gamecock turnovers en route to a 26-17 victory.
This game seemed over when… Seminole quarterback Christian Ponder left the game in the second quarter with a concussion, but it was poise — not panic — that was displayed on the faces of his teammates. E.J. Manuel took the surprise call and ran with it — literally.
The dual-threat sophomore averaged over six yards per carry, assuring the Florida State faithful that its offense is in good hands. However, Manuel’s best demonstration was on a late drive when he completed all seven of his passes, dooming the South Carolina side that earlier this season knocked off then-No. 1 Alabama. Seminole head coach Jimbo Fisher became the first in the history of the storied program to win his first bowl outing at the reigns.
— MATT SLOVIN
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl: Louisville 31, Southern Mississippi 28
After the two teams scored a combined eight touchdowns, including a reverse play by Southern Mississippi that resulted in a touchdown pass to quarterback Austin Davis, it was a field goal that won the game for Louisville. The Cardinals trailed by 14 points twice. But the solid play of the Louisville special teams forced the Golden Eagles to make mistakes. The Cardinals forced a fumble on a Southern Mississippi punt, blocked a field goal attempt and tied the score 28-28 with a 95-yard punt return by running back Jeremy Wright in the fourth quarter.
— CAITLIN SMITH
Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State 35, Navy 14
Since the end of the San Diego Chargers’ disappointing season, the only resemblance of postseason football in San Diego was the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl. But in the day proceeding game, only one question seemed to matter to San Diego State and Navy fans alike — would the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl be played?
After days of rain, Qualcomm Field had become a swamp covered with inches of water. But a hard-working grounds crew ensured that the game was ultimately played as scheduled.
The Aztecs’ Ronnie Hillman lead San Diego State to a 35-14 victory with 228 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns, breaking the Poinsettia Bowl record.
The Navy defense simply had no answer for him on the ground or through the air. But the game was not as one-sided as it might seem from simply looking at the final score. The score was 21-14 going into the fourth quarter. In the fourth, however, San Diego State came alive with a score from Hillman on the first play.
— JOHN EPPLER
TicketCity Bowl: Texas Tech 45, Northwestern 38
It was a rough start to the New Year for the Big Ten after starting 2-0 in bowl games. The conference posted an embarrassing 0-5 record on January 1st. The TicketCity Bowl contributed to the mockery on New Year’s Day, as the Big 12’s Texas Tech topped Northwestern 45-38.
After an 86-yard touchdown run by Texas Tech’s Eric Stephens the Red Raiders a 31-9 lead early in the third quarter, things looked bad for the Wildcats. However, Northwestern stormed back with help from a questionable failed onside kick attempt from Texas Tech when they were already up 21. With just over five minutes remaining, Northwestern’s Jordan Mabin picked off Texas Tech’s Taylor Potts’ pass and returned it for a touchdown, pulling Northwestern to within a touchdown.
But the score would stay that way, as it would take more than one big defensive play to make up for Northwestern’s abysmal defensive showing. Potts was worth the ticket price, shredding the Wildcats for 396 yards and four touchdowns in the air and one rushing touchdown.
— CHARLES LILLY
Liberty Bowl: UCF 10, Georgia 6
The 2010 Autozone Liberty Bowl pitted Central Florida against Georgia. The 25th-ranked Knights defeated the unranked Bulldogs in a battle of attrition.
MVP: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia… Green — an NFL prospect projected as a top-10 pick and possibly the first wide receiver drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft — finished the Liberty Bowl with eight receptions for 77 yards. In just nine games, Green finished his junior season with 57 receptions for 848 yards and nine touchdowns. Despite being suspended for the first four games of the college football season after selling his 2010 Independence Bowl jersey to an alleged player agent, Green has excited pro scouts with his all-around skills.
— ANDREW SHAPIRO
Meineke Bowl: South Florida 31, Clemson 26
You knew it was over when… On the first snap of the fourth quarter, South Florida (3-4 Big East, 8-5 overall) returned a Clemson interception 48 yards to the five-yard line.
MVP: B.J. Daniels, QB, South Florida… Daniels finished that drive with a rushing touchdown to add to his performance of 189 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Down 31-13 with two minutes remaining, Clemson scored a touchdown but failed on the two-point conversion. The Tigers recovered the ensuing onside kick, which led to a touchdown that put them within five. Looking for another miracle touchdown drive with 42 seconds remaining, Clemson recovered the onside kick. Penalty flags flew as Clemson touched the ball half a yard short of the 10-yard line that it needed to reach to continue the drive.
— EVAN KARPUS
Military Bowl: Maryland 51, East Carolina 20
Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen cried at the end of the Military Bowl. After Friedgen’s Terrapins dominated East Carolina 51-20, the coach teared up realizing that this was his last game with Maryland.
MVP: Da’Rel Scott, RB, Maryland… Scott tallied 200 yards and two touchdowns in just 13 attempts. In fact, Maryland dominated the entire ground game. The Terrapins rushed for 297 yards compared to just the 32 yards that East Carolina was able to gather on the ground.
In the end, Friedgen coached his last game for Maryland and ex-Connecticut coach Randy Edsall will take over next season.
— ZAK PYZIK
Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse 36, Kansas State 34
You knew the game was over when… Kansas State wide receiver Adrian Hilburn was penalized for excessive celebration after saluting the Yankee Stadium crowd following a 30-yard touchdown catch, which pulled Kansas State within two points of Syracuse with 1:13 remaining. The seemingly harmless gesture resulted in the Wildcats’ two-point try being pushed back to the 18-yard line. Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman overthrew receiver Aubrey Quarles on the attempt to preserve the 36-34 Orange victory.
Quirkiest stat of the game… Also surprising is the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl’s resemblance to the previous bowl game held in New York City. The 1962 Gotham Bowl, played at the original Yankee Stadium, was also a thrilling back-and-forth affair which came down to the final minutes. Nebraska toppled Miami (Fla.) by a familiar score — 36-34.
— NEAL ROTHSCHILD
Music City Bowl: North Carolina 30, Tennessee 27
Quirkiest play of the game… What rarely happens to most teams once happened to the Tennessee football team twice — the Volunteers found themselves doomed by a last-second penalty to lose to North Carolina, 30-27. This time, however, they did not even make the mistake. The officials decided to penalize the Tar Heels on the last play of regulation for having too many men on the field, leaving one second on the game clock and allowing kicker Casey Barth to send the game into overtime with a 39-yard field goal. He then kicked a 23-yarder in double overtime to seal the win.
— JACOB KOFFSKY
Holiday Bowl: Washington 19, Nebraska 7
While it’s said that revenge is a dish best served cold, it’s safe to say that the Washington Huskies were ready to serve it cold, warm, hot or anywhere in between. Washington avenged its 35-point regular season loss to Nebraska by defeating the No. 18 Cornhuskers 19-7 in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30.
Most experts regard Washington quarterback Jake Locker as a sure first-round pick in April’s NFL Draft, and it was clear that the senior wanted to make a statement in the final game of his collegiate career. On Washington’s first play on offense, Locker tossed it to running back Jesse Callier who then threw it back to Locker for a 16-yard gain.
After being downed at the Cornhuskers’ two-yard line, the Huskies punched it in for six two plays later. Washington owned the momentum from that point on and was able to collect its first bowl win since 2000.
— MATT KRASNOFF
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Florida International 34, Toledo 32
Play of the game… After Toledo converted on a two-point conversion to take a 32-31 lead with 1:14 left in the fourth quarter, FIU still had a chance to win the game with a field goal. On fourth-and-17 on its own 41-yard line, Jacob Younger caught a pass near midfield and flipped it to fellow Golden Panther wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. Hilton sprinted past the first-down marker and tiptoed out of bounds to keep his team’s chances alive. It won’t be nearly as memorable as Boise State’s hook-and-ladder play in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. But the play did ultimately pave the way for a game-winning 34-yard field as time expired, which secured the victory for FIU in the program’s first bowl game.
— NICK SPAR
Armed Forces Bowl: Army 16, Southern Methodist 14
You knew the game was over when… Just 55 seconds into the first quarter, Army defensive end Josh McNary picked up a fumble on SMU’s opening drive and scurried 55 yards down the field for a touchdown. This was the first of three turnovers in the first half by the Mustangs.
The most surprising things from the game… were two missed field goal attempts by Mustang kicker Matt Szymanski, which gave the Black Knights their first winning season since 1996. SMU finished 7-7, still without two consecutive winning seasons since it resumed play in 1989.
— EMILY BONCHI
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Tulsa 62, Hawaii 35
The most surprising part of the game… was the inability of Hawaii to capitalize at home. Most bowl games are played at a neutral location, but the Warriors were able to play in their home state. That didn’t stop Tulsa, as it put up 21 points in the third quarter to ensure the victory. Not only did the Golden Hurricane score 62 points, but it also went on to amount 531 total yards of offense. Even with home field advantage, Hawaii couldn’t stop the tenacious Tulsa offense.
— MIKE LAURILA
New Orleans Bowl: Troy 48, Ohio 21
The first meeting between Troy and Ohio was one to forget for the Bobcats. After the Bobcats were intercepted on the second play of the game, the Trojans’ Jerrel Jernigan, the Sun Belt Conference’s all-time leading receiver, scored as a wildcat quarterback on Troy’s first possession of the game. After being down 38-7 at the half, Ohio managed a touchdown midway through the third quarter before its comeback attempt was halted.
MVP: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy… He threw for 387 yards and four touchdowns en route to helping the Trojans to a New Orleans Bowl-record 602 yards of offense.
I didn’t change the channel because… of Troy wide receiver Tiberius Gill and his New Orleans Bowl-record three touchdowns, which included a fantastic catch with two minutes left in the first quarter that blew the gates wide open.
— STEVEN KELLNER
Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois 40, Fresno State 17
MVP: Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois… Harnish finished the game 17-for-26 for 300 yards through the air along with 72 yards rushing. Not to mention the redshirt junior accounted for three touchdowns as the Huskies routed the Bulldogs on Boise State’s blue turf.
It was over… after the Huskies’ first drive. Following an unsuccessful opening-drive fourth down attempt on Fresno State’s 31-yard line, Northern Illinois scored on its next seven possessions. Coming out of halftime with a 23-10 lead, the Huskies tallied a 51-yard field goal and completed an 89-yard drive with an 18-yard scamper by senior running back Chad Spann to put the Huskies in cruise control for the rest of the night.
— MARK BURNS
New Mexico Bowl: Brigham Young 52, University of Texas El Paso 24
MVP: Jake Heaps, QB, BYU… Heaps threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns while completing 73 percent of his passes in the rout. Three of those touchdown passes came early on, as the Cougars took a commanding 31-3 lead midway in the second quarter. The freshman had an impressive campaign as a whole, especially in the latter stages of the season. He threw 10 touchdown passes and just two interceptions in the team’s final five regular season games, four of which were wins. That late-season surge clearly continued in the bowl game — just ask the Miners’ defense.
— NICK SPAR