It's official. Dabo Swinney is a pain in Nick Saban's tail. Clemson reeled off the last 30 points of the contest on its way to a 44-16 rout over Alabama in Santa Clara on Monday night (January 7) to become the national champions of the 2018 season.
Clemson's A.J. Terrell took an uncharacteristic Tua Tagovailoa interception 44 yards to the house just a 1:40 into the game, and a second interception in the second quarter was converted into a 47-yard scoring drive to give the Tigers a 28-16 lead wit 4:38 to play in the half.
The game began at a stirring pace. After Terrell's pick-6 score, Tagovailoa shook off the mistake and guided Clemson to a tying touchdown in just a minute, 15 seconds. The Tigers responded 1:40 later on Etienne's 17-yard run. and the Tide bounced back 4:12 later with Hale Hentges 1-yard reception from Tagovailoa. Joseph Bulovas clanked the PAT off the upright and Alabama trailed 14-13, but would take a 16-14 lead just 32 seconds into the 2nd quarter on Bulova's 25-yard FG. Bulovas then pulled the kick-off out-of-bounds and Clemson took back the lead on that possession with an Etienne 1-yard run capping the 6-play, 65-yard drive. Alabama was driving to take back the lead, having advanced to the Clemson 44, when Tagovailoa overthrew the intended receiver and Trayvon Mullen returned the interception from his own 7 to the Tide's 47. Etienne's TD catch made it 28-16 and Alabama never recovered.
The Crimson Tide had 224 yards of offense in the first quarter. They finished with 443.
Clemson's freshman QB sensation, Trevor Lawrence, passed for 347 yards and 3 TD's. Travis Etienne ran for 86 yards and 2 scores on just 14 carries, and scored another touchdown on his only pass reception.
Clemson becomes the first team in the AP Poll era (1936-present) to complete a 15-0 season, and won its third national championship over-all. It's the second national title for Swinney over Saban in the last 3 years.
The 2018-19 bowl season came to a close on New Year's Day evening with Texas upsetting Georgia 28-21 in the Sugar Bowl, keeping head coach Tom Herman perfect in bowl games. Herman is 2-0 with Texas after going 1-0 with Houston (Major Applewhite coached a second bowl win after Herman left to take the Longhorn's job). These are two of the winningest teams in bowl history with Georgia 3rd at 31 wins and Texas tied for fourth with 29. The Lonhorns improved to 29-24-2 and Georgia fell to 31-20-3. The loss snapped the Bulldogs' 4-bowl winning streak (the loss in last season's CFP national championship game does not count as a bowl game). Texas QB Sam Ehlinger threw for 169 yards and, most importantly, scored three rushing TD's of 2 yards, 9 yards and 1 yard as he totaled 64 yards on 21 carries. The 'Horns won the turnover battle 2-0 and controlled the clock 35 minutes to 25 minutes. This was only the fourth Sugar Bowl appearance for Texas (2-2) in the 85-year history of the nation's second-oldest bowl game, and the school's first Sugar Bowl win since the 1947 season. Their last previous appearance was at the end of the 1995 season and resulted in a 28-10 loss to Virginia Tech. This was the 10th appearance for Georgia (4-6) in this game, but its first since the 2007 season
|* The SERVPRO First Responders Bowl was canceled due to severe weather. As the game was called a 'no contest', the number of conference's bowl invites was reduced by one in parenthesis.
NOTE: CFP Championship game does not count in bowl standings
Five games were played on New Year's Day and the other four bowl winners were Iowa, LSU, Kentucky and Ohio State.
Despite being held to negative 15 yards rushing as a team, Iowa ended Mississippi State's 3-bowl wining streak with a 27-22 win over the Bulldogs in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day. Nate Stanley threw for 214 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Hawkeyes won a second straight bowl game and secured their best final record (9-4) since going 12-2 in 2015. Mississippi State finished 8-5 in the first season under Joe Moorhead.
Kentucky staked out a 27-7 lead on Penn State in the Citrus Bowl, then survived a fourth quarter rally, for a 27-24 win. The victory secured Kentucky's first 10-win season (10-3) since 1977 when Fran Curci led a team on probation to a 10-1 finish. The Nittany Lions finished 9-4 after closing to within a field goal with 4:12 to play, but a heavy dose of Benny Snell, Jr. helped the Wildcats run out most of the clock before Penn State got the ball back for one ill-fated trick play attempt that quickly ended in a fumble. Snell had 144 yards rushing and 2 scores to put an exclamation point on his collegiate career after the junior had already declared for the 2019 NFL draft. This was Kentucky's first bowl win since the 2008 Liberty Bowl. The Sunshine State turned out to be friendly to Kentucky this season after the school had never before won a bowl game in Florida (0-2 previously) and hadn't beaten the Gators in Florida since 1979.
LSU ended UCF's 25-game winning streak with a 40-32 win in the Fiesta Bowl by dominating the time of possession. That the Knights even stayed in the game was amazing as UCF had the ball for only 15:29 of the 60-minute game. UCF had an early 14-3 lead after Brandon Moore's 93-yard interception return in the first quarter, but LSU then reeled of 21 unanswered points on 3 TD passes from Joe Burrow. The Tigers stretched that lead to 40-24 with 4:12 left in the game on another Burrow's 4th TD pass and 3 Cole Tracey field goals. UCF cut it to 40-32 with 2:24 left, but LSU was able to recover the onside kick and run out most of the clock. UCF still owns FBS-best streaks of conference wins (18 including AAC title games), and regular season games (22).
Washington made the final score respectable with a 20-point fourth quarter flurry, but Ohio State sent Urban Meyer out with a 28-23 Rose Bowl victory. Remarkably, it was Meyer's first Rose Bowl experience. Dwanye Haskins, the Buckeyes sophomore quarterback, was 25-of-37 for 251 yards and 3 touchdowns. Ohio State was up 28-3 before the Huskies scored their first touchdown with 12:17 to play in the game. It was Washington's third straight bowl loss in its first Rose Bowl appearance since the 2000 season. Ohio State had last played in the "Grandaddy of them All" in the 2009 season.
In the first of a half-dozen games on New Years Eve, Michael Warren ran 8 yards for a Cincinnati touchdown with 1:29 left in the game and the Bearcats knocked off Virginia Tech 35-31 in the Military Bowl. The see-saw battle had 8 lead changes in a continuous rain in Annapolis, Maryland. Under head coach Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech has steadily declined, from 10-4 in his first season to 9-4 last year, and now a 6-7 finish for the program's first losing season since 1992. Meanwhile, Luke Fickell improved Cincinnati from 4-8 last year in his first season to 11-2 this year. The Bearcats got the win despite losing starting quarterback Desmond Ridder to injury on their second possession, but backup Hayden Moore, a senior who had thrown for nearly 6,400 yards in his collegiate career, came in and threw for 120 yards and ran for 64 yards and a touchdown. Warren had 166 yards rushing and two scores for Cincinnati which notched its first bowl win since 2012 to end a 3-bowl losing streak. It was Virginia Tech's second straight bowl loss.
Stanford got past Pittsburgh 14-13 in the Sun Bowl when quarterback K.J. Costello fumbled the ball at the Pitt 23 but it bounced right into the hands of Cameron Scarlett. The whack play occurred with 11:28 left in the game, but Pitt's last drives ended on a missed 55-yard field goal and a turnover on downs. It was Pittsburgh's 4th straight bowl loss and the ACC Coastal champions finished the season 7-7 with losses in their last 3 games. The Cardinal finished 9-4.
Justin Herbert and Dillon Mitchell connected on a 28-yard pass play in the front of the endzone as Oregon scored the game's only touchdown with 11:19 left in the game, and Brian Lewerke mishandled the snap on a field goal attempt for Michigan State with a minute and-a-half remaining, as the Ducks pulled out a 7-6 RedBox Bowl win in Santa Clara. Oregon hadn't won a postseason game since the 2014 Rose Bowl semifinal victory over Florida State. For Mark Dantonio and The Spartans, it was just their second bowl loss in their last 7 tries.
Oklahoma State held off Missouri's comeback bid to get out of Memphis with a 38-33 Liberty Bowl win, preventing the Cowboys (7-6) from suffering their first losing season since Mike Gundy's first year as head coach in Stillwater in 2005. Oklahoma State stopped the Tigers on 4th-and-1 from the 9-yard live with 1:01 left to secure the win after letting almost all of a 16-poiont fourth quarter advantage slip away. Mizzou wrapped up the 2018 season at 8-5.
Northwestern used a 28-point third quarter to down Utah 31-20 in the Holiday Bowl on a rare rainy and cool game day in San Diego. Twenty-one of those points came off three Utes' turnovers, including an 82-yard fumble return. Utah had a 20-3 lead at the half. The third straight bowl win was just the fifth all-time (5-10) for the Wildcats, but their fourth since 2012. For Utah it was just their 5th bowl loss all-time (18-5) and only their second in twelve tries under Kyle Wittingham.
The sixth and final game to kick-off on New Year's Eve was the Gator Bowl where Texas A&M had its way with N.C. State, rolling to a 52-13 victory and a 9-4 final record in Jimbo Fisher's first season as head coach. In the process, the Aggies snapped a 3-bowl losing streak. The Wolfpack also finished 9-4 with their first bowl loss in their last 3 outings.
In the second of the two playoff semifinal games on Saturday (December 29), Alabama staked out a 28-0 lead in the first 17 minutes and went on to defeat Oklahoma 45-34 in the Orange Bowl. For the Sooners, it became a night of 'what might have been' had things started out a little differently. Perhaps, the Sooners should have taken the ball when they won the opening toss instead of deferring and putting their suspect defense on the field to start the game. The loss dropped Oklahoma to 0-3 in college football playoff games while Alabama (14-0) advances to the title game for the fourth straight season. Alabama QB, and Heisman runner-up, Tua Tagovailoa had more touchdown passes (4) than incomplete passes (3) as he connected on 24-of-27 throws for 318 yards to 9 different receivers. Oklahoma's Kyler Murray, the Heisman winner, was 19-of-37 for 308 yards and 2 touchdowns. Murray also ran for 109 yards and another score.
Notre Dame brought a 12-0 record to the Cotton Bowl for the semifinal battle with Clemson and, once again, left with an embarrassing 'L'. A 30-3 loss to the Tigers continues the string of futile results for the Irish in big postseason events. Notre Dame lost 42-14 to Alabama in the 2012 season BCS Championship game and was bashed 44-28 by Ohio State in the 2015 season. Over the last 25 seasons, the Irish are 0-8 in the combination of BCS title games (0-1), Alliance Bowls (0-2) and what are now called New Year's Six bowls (0-5). As for Clemson, the Tigers (14-0) now advance to their third College Football Playoff championship game with hopes of replicating their 2016 season win not the 2015 season loss. Freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence was 27-of-39 for 327 yards and 3 TD's with no INT's. Justyn Ross caught 6 balls for 148 yards and two of those scores. Travis Etienne added 109 on the ground on just 16 carries, including a 62-yard scamper for the lone score by either team after the intermission. Clemson has won 9 straight games by 20 or more points.
Alabama and Clemson will now engage in battle for the national championship for the third time in the past four seasons. The game will take place in Santa Clara, California on Monday, January 7 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Even without four of its top players in the game, Michigan was a 4-1/2 point favorite in Vegas to handle Florida. History was certainly on the side of the Maize and Blue as the Wolverines were 4-0 all-time vs. the Gators with 3 of those wins coming in bowl games, Instead, it was Florida that dominated the Peach Bowl on Saturday (December 28) in Atlanta. The Gators took home a 41-15 win that, no doubt, left many Michigan fans shaking their heads over an 0-2 finish with a pair of losses by more than 20 points to Ohio State and Florida. This was also the third straight bowl loss for the Wolverines as they fell to 3-10 in their last 13 bowls. For the season, both teams finished 10-3.
Another shocker on Saturday was Virginia's 28-0 thrashing of South Carolina in the Belk Bowl. Olamide Zaccheuas had 12 catches for 100 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Cavaliers who ended a 3-bowl losing streak with their first postseason win since 2005. The most-telling stat in this game was time of possession which went to Virginia by a margin of over 25 minutes (42:35 to 17:25).
Arkansas State should have won the Arizona Bowl in a rout, but lost 16-13 overtime to Nevada. The Red Wolves came up empty on four drives into the red zone, throwing two interceptions and turning the ball over twice on downs. They also missed a pair of field goals. Both teams finish the season 8-5.
On Friday, December 28, Auburn took a 28-0 first quarter lead over Purdue in the Music City Bowl and never looked back in a 63-14 romp. Jarrett Stidham threw 5 touchdown passes for the victors.
Syracuse downed West Virginia 34-18 in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando behind a flurry of 17 unanswered points in the 4th quarter. WVU quarterback Will Grier opted out of playing in the bowl game in advance of the 2019 NFL draft. In his place, Jack Allison was 18-of-35 for 279 yards, 0 TD's and 1 INT. The Orange extended their bowl winning streak to four in their first postseason appearance since 2013. The Mountaineers lost a third consecutive bowl game and have now come up empty on 7 of their last 9 tries.
The final Friday game saw Washington State prevent Iowa State from converting a two-point conversion with 4:02 left in the game, then running out the clock for a 28-26 win in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. The Cougars improved to 8-7 all-time in bowl games while the Cyclones fell to 4-10.
Three bowl games were played on Thursday, December 27, leading off with the Independence Bowl in Shreveport. Duke fell behind 27-14 in the second quarter and trailed 27-21 at the break, but outscored Temple 35-0 in the second half to win going away, 56-27. It was the ACC's fourth straight win in Shreveport and Duke's third consecutive bowl win. Both teams finished the season 8-5.
Next up was the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx which featured a rematch of last year's Orange Bowl between Miami and Wisconsin. The Hurricanes were hoping to avenge last season's 34-24 loss, but instead, got run over by the Badgers 35-3. Jonathan Taylor ran for 205 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries and the Wisconsin defense held to Miami to just 6 first downs and 169 total yards while the 'Canes turned the ball over 5 times on 4 interceptions and a fumble. It was Miami's 8th bowl loss in the last 9 tries and the Badgers' 5th consecutive bowl win.
The nightcap saw Baylor prevail 45-38 over Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl for the third straight postseason win for the Bears. Marques Jones hauled in a 52-yard touchdown pass from Charlie Brewer for the winning points with 1:48 to play. Brewer finished with 342 yards and 2 TD's while adding 118 yards rushing and another score. Vanderbilt running back Ke'Shawn Vaughan racked up 243 yards rushing and 2 scores of 68 and 69 yards in the first half. It was Baylor's third straight bowl win and Vanderbilt's 2nd consecutive bowl loss.
Three games were scheduled to be played on Wednesday (December 26), but the first game never made it to the finish. With Boston College leading Boise State at the 5:08 mark of the second quarter, the SERVPRO First Responders Bowl was interrupted by severe weather, and later canceled as it appeared obvious that the forecast would not be favorable for resumption of play. Officially, the game was ruled a 'no contest'. All records indicate this is the first time a Division 1 bowl game has ever been canceled. An Alex Kirshner article on SBNation.com (link) pointed out that the slogan of title sponsor of the game, SERVPRO, is "like it never even happened." Perhaps, a bad omen?
The Quick Lane Bowl had no such weather problems as it's played indoors in Detroit, but Georgia Tech couldn't muster one last victory for Paul Johnson. The Yellow Jackets' head coach of 11 seasons announced on November 28 that he would be retiring after the bowl game, and the school hired Geoff Collins away from Temple to serve as his successor. Minnesota held the nation's top rushing offense to 206 yards, 128 yards under its average, en route to a 34-10 victory. Johnson departs with a record of 82-61 at Georgia Tech, including 51-37 in ACC play and 5-8 in bowl games. The Jackets and Golden Gophers each end the season with 7-6 records. It was Minnesota's third straight bowl win and the end of a two-bowl win streak for Georgia Tech.
The last game on December 26 was the Cheez-It Bowl, dubbed the *#CheezINT Bowl", in Phoenix. It saw TCU and California combine to throw 9 interceptions (Cal 5, TCU 4) before the Horned Frogs finally won the snooze-fest 10-7 on Jonathan Song's 27-yard walk-off field goal in overtime. It was TCU's second overtime bowl win in its last four bowl appearances. The Horned Frogs defeated Oregon 47-41 in triple-overtime in the 2015 Alamo Bowl. Both teams finished the season at 7-6. This game was known as the Copper Bowl from 1989-1996, the Insight.com or Insight Bowl from 1997-2011, the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl from 2012-2013, and the Cactus Bowl from 2014-2017.
The Cheez-It Bowl even poked fun at itself with this tweet.
Louisiana Tech extended its bowl winning streak to 5 games with a 31-14 win at Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl as the nightcap game on December 22. The Bulldog's Jaylon Ferguson had 2-1/2 sacks in the game to give him 17-1/2 for the season, making him the new all-time career sacks leader in the FBS with 45. The NCAA didn't start tracking sacks as a stat until 2000 which leaves out the numbers posted by past collegiate greats such as Virginia Tech's Bruce Smith, Alabama's Derrick Thomas and others who unofficially had more than Ferguson. Terrell Suggs of Arizona State had held the official record with 44 which he amassed from 2000-2002. The Louisiana Tech victory helped Conference USA, arguably the worst conference in college football this season, finish 4-2 in bowl games.
Troy outlasted Buffalo 42-32 in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Alabama behind Sawyer Smith's 4 touchdown passes. The Bulls fell to 0-3 all-time in bowl games while Troy won its fourth straight. Buffalo ended the season with consecutive losses to NIU (MAC Championship game) and Troy, but still had its only 10-win season in school history (10-4). The Trojans (10-3) secured a third consecutive 10-win season. The Sun Belt representative has won 4 straight Dollar General Bowls and 6 of the last 7. The Mid-American Conference finished the bowl season with a 1-5 record.
Army took a 7-0 lead with 3:58 to go in the first quarter against Houston, then scored 9 more touchdowns in a 70-14 romp in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas on December 22. Army came into this game with the No. 2 rushing offense in the country and didn't disappoint against Houston's 99th-ranked run defense. Black Knights' quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, Jr. ran for 170 yards and 5 touchdowns, four of which came in a 13 minutes, 37 second span bridging the second and third quarters. Houston was without 3-time All-American Ed Oliver on defense after he declared for early entry to the NFL draft, and Houston starting QB D'Erik King was out with a knee injury. The Cougars ended the season with just 1 win in their last 5 games and dropped to 8-5 with their their third consecutive bowl loss. Meanwhile, Army's fourth straight bowl win - three of which have come in the Armed Forces Bowl - gave the USMA its first 11-win season (11-2) in history.
In the first game played on December 22, Memphis built a 28-10 lead on a 37-yard pick-six and a 97-yard kick-of return, both in the second quarter, but Wake Forest rallied for a 37-34 Birmingham Bowl victory. The Demon Deacons took their first lead with 3:49 to play in the third on a Nick Sciba's 39-yard field goal, his third of the game (49, 36) but Memphis went back on top when Patric Taylor's 9-yard run with 1:15 to go in the game made it 34-30, Tigers. On the ensuing drive, Wake Forest needed only 6 plays to go 75-yards and re-took the lead with 34 seconds left. The following squib kick-off, however, set Memphis up on its own 38 and the Tigers needed just two plays to get to Wake's 17-yard line. From there, Memphis tried one pass toward the end zone that was incomplete just outside the goal line. The Tigers opted to play for the tie and overtime, but after the first successful field goal was negated by a time-out, and a second made field goal was wiped out by an illegal motion penalty, Riley Patterson's 45-yard attempt was pushed to the outside of the right upright. Memphis fell to 8-6 on the season with its fourth straight bowl loss, while Wake Forest completed a 7-6 season with its third consecutive bowl victory. The Demon Deacons are 9-4 all-time in bowl games, while Memphis is 4-7. The 97-yard kick-off return for Memphis' was Tony Pollard's 7th, tying the FBS career record. Darrell Henderson, the nation's second-leading rusher with 1,909 yards, did not play after declaring for early entry to the 2019 NFL draft. Patrick Taylor, Jr. had 110 yards and a TD on 19 carries in Henderson's absence to finish with 1,122 yards.
Eight years later, FIU is still a pain in Toledo's neck. The underdog Golden Panthers defeated the Rockets 35-32 in the Bahamas Bowl on December 21 to move to 2-0 all-time in bowl games against Toledo. FIU's first bowl win came in the school's first bowl appearance in 2010 when the Golden Panthers also beat the Rockets by nearly the same score (34-32) in the Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl. This was the 5th Bahamas Bowls and the CUSA team has won it in every even year while the MAC has claimed victory in every odd year. FIU improved to 9-4 with the win while Toledo finished 7-6 after losing its third consecutive bowl game.
In the later game on December 21, BYU rallied from a 10-7 halftime deficit to decimate Western Michigan 49-18 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Freshman QB Zach Wilson set an all-time, all-bowls record with an 18-of-18 passing performance that accounted for 317 yards and 4 TD's. Wilson's performance surpassed Riley Skinner's 11-of-11 day for Wake Forest in the 2008 EagleBank Bowl (now known as the Military Bowl). The Cougars pocketed their second consecutive bowl victory to improve to 15-20-1, while Western Michigan dropped to 1-8 all-time in bowl games. Both teams finished the 2018 season with a record of 7-6.
Marshall scored first and never trailed in a 38-20 win in the Gasparilla Bowl, played on the Bulls' home field at Raymond Jams Stadium in Tampa in front of a sparse rain-soaked crowd of 14,135. The bowl game changed venues this year after playing in 'The Trop' in St. Petersburg since its inception in 2008. This was the Herds' 7th straight bowl win as they raised their over-all bowl record to 12-2. The loss was the Bulls' first in a bowl game in their last three tries. USF ended the season on a 6-game losing streak after a 7-0 start. Marshall finished 9-4.
Ohio improved to 4-8 all-time in bowl games by winning its second in-a-row, a 27-0 blanking of San Diego State in the Frisco Bowl - the lone bowl game on December 19. The loss was historically significant for the Aztecs who had not been shut out in a bowl game since the long-defunct Harbor Bowl (1947-1949) of 1948 saw them get pounded 53-0 by Hardin-Simmons College. Additionally, this was SDSU's first shutout loss overall since a 52-0 bruising was administered by TCU in 2006, and it was also San Diego State's first-ever loss to a MAC team (13-1-1). The Aztecs' second consecutive bowl loss lowered their overall bowl record to 5-9. Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke passed for 206 yards with 1 TD and ran for 44 yards and 2 more scores. RB A.J. Quellette had 164 yards on 29 carries to push his season total to 1,276 yards. The Aztecs entered the game with the nation's 4th-ranked rushing defense, but the Bobcat offense ranked 9th in rushing yards per game. It was the best rushing offense SDSU had faced since being torched for 214 by Air Force on October 12. This was the 11th different bowl location for Ohio out of 12 bowl appearances. The only destination the Bobcats have repeated is Mobile, Alabama where they played in 2006 when it was called the GMAC Bowl and again in 2016 when it had first become the Dollar General Bowl.
In the lone bowl game on December 18, the Boca Raton Bowl, FWAA Coach of the Year Bill Clark led UAB past Northern Illinois 37-13 for the school's first-ever bowl win and its first 11-win (11-3) season. The milestones take on an even greater, if not legendary, status when you consider that this was just the second season of the Blazers' football team returning to the field after a two-year absence. Senior receiver Xavier Ubosi caught 7 passes for 227 yards and 3 touchdowns. UAB was clinging to a 17-10 lead in the 2nd quarter when Ubosi scored his second touchdown. From there on, it was all UAB. This was only the third bowl appearance for the Blazers, which handed the Huskies a 6th straight bowl loss.
The 2018 bowl season opened on December 15 with Tulane routing Louisiana-Lafayette 41-24 in the Cure Bowl. It would likely have been much worse had the Ragin Cajuns not intercepted Tulane in the end zone in the 2nd quarter to keep the Green Wave from taking a 31-7 lead. Instead, Louisiana turned the pick into a field goal drive just before half to make it 24-10. Tulane would see its lead cut to 27-24 with 10:16 to go in the game but outscored the opposition 14-0 from that point. Tulane improved to 5-7 all-time in bowl games by avenging a 2013 New Orleans Bowl loss to the Ragin' Cajuns. This was the first bowl appearance for the Green Wave since that game, and just their third since 2002. It was also Tulane's first bowl win since 2002. For Louisiana, it was the school's first appearance in a bowl game other than the New Orleans Bowl, and the first time Mark Hudspeth wasn't the head coach as Billy Napier led the team to a division title and a 7-6 finish in his first season at the helm. The program is now 4-2 all-time in bowl games after losing its last two.
Utah State utterly destroyed North Texas in the New Mexico Bowl 52-13 it was Frank Maile serving as interim head coach. It was 38-7 at the half as QB Jordan Love threw for 359 yards and 4 TD's. The Aggies snapped a two-bowl losing streak while improving their bowl record to 5-7. The Mean Green lost a third straight bowl game and saw their bowl record drop to 2-8. Gary Andersen now takes over the Utah State program as official head coach after Matt Wells left to fill the opening at Texas Tech. This will be Andersen's second stint at Utah State where he originally served as head coach from 2009-2012 and was succeeded by Wells.
The Mountain West Conference, which went 3-3 in bowl games a year ago, began the postseason by winning both of its games. Fresno State added to Utah State's win by downing Arizona State 31-20 in the Las Vegas Bowl. It was the third straight Las Vegas Bowl victory for the MWC after Boise State beat Oregon 38-28 last year, and San Diego State thumped Houston 34-10 in 2016. The Bulldogs are 2-0 in bowl games under Jeff Tedford and the victory gave them their first ever 12-win season (12-2). It was Arizona State's 3rd straight bowl loss and the Sun Devils slipped to 7-6 on the season.
Georgia Southern edged Eastern Michigan 23-21 on a walk-off 40-yard field goal in the Camellia Bowl, preventing EMU from its first bowl win since 1987 (1-2 all-time). Instead, Georgia Southern improved to 2-0 all-time in FBS bowl games.
The final game on December 15 saw Appalachian State whip Middle Tennessee 45-13 in the New Orleans Bowl to finish 11-2 while the Blue Raiders dropped to 8-6. The Mountaineers won the game without head coach Scott Satterfeld and several key assistants who went with Satterfeld to Louisville. Assistant head coach Mark Ivey was the interim head coach for the bowl game victory that improved Appalachian State's all-time bowl record to 4-0. Wide receiver Malik Williams threw two TD passes, including one to QB Zac Thomas. The Mountaineers have played in a bowl game every year since they became eligible for postseason play after moving up to the FBS. They won last year's Dollar General Bowl over Toledo 34-0. MTSU fell to 2-6 in bowl games, all of which have been played under current head coach Rick Stockstill who became the head coach in 2006. His son, Brent, finished a 4-year college career at QB for his dad during which he broke most of the school records.
These five teams that were either eligible, or conditionally eligible, were not invited to a bowl game:
Southern Mississippi (6-5, 5-3 CUSA)
Miami, O. (6-6, 6-2 MAC)
Wyoming (6-6, 4-4 MWC)
Louisiana-Monroe (6-5, 4-4 Sun Belt)
Liberty (6-6, Independent)
With 2 wins vs. FCS games, Liberty's conditional deal with the Cure Bowl was a long shot and would've required a much smaller selection pool. CUSA simply ran out of slots to find a place for Southern Miss. In the MAC, three teams (Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Toledo) got in despite having a worse conference record than Miami, but all three of those teams had a better overall record at 7-5. By the way, all three lost their bowl game. As for UL-M, the Sun Belt only had room for five teams and four had a significantly better record than the Warhawks. Louisiana-Lafayette got in at 7-5, but one of those losses came in the first Sun Belt championship game to Appalachian State.
Of the teams that made it this year, these had the longest wait to get back to a bowl game (last season of a bowl appearance in parenthesis):
Buffalo (2013) - Lost 42-32 vs. Troy in this season's Dollar General Bowl.
Syracuse (2013) - Won 34-18 vs. West Virginia in this season's Camping World Bowl.
Tulane (2013) - Won 41-24 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette in this season's Cure Bowl.
This teams have the longest continuing current streak of bowl absence (last season of a bowl appearance in parenthesis)::
Kent State, 2012
Ball State, 2013
Oregon State, 2013
These teams have the longest continuing current streaks of bowl appearances:
Virginia Tech, 26
Florida State's streak ends at 36.
These teams have the most consecutive bowl victories (last season of a bowl loss in parenthesis. CFP Championship games are NOT bowl games.):
Marshall, 7 (2004) - Won 38-20 at USF in this season's Gasparilla Bowl
Louisiana Tech, 5 (2011) - Won 31-14 at Hawaii in this season's Hawaii Bowl
Wisconsin, 5 (2013) - Won 35-3 vs. Miami in this season's Pinstripe Bowl
San Jose State, 4 (1987) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Appalachian State, 4 (Never) - Won 45-13 vs. Middle Tennessee in this season's New Orleans Bowl
Army, 4 (1996) - Won 70-14 vs. Houston in this season's Armed Forces Bowl
Syracuse, 4 (2004) - Won 34-18 vs. West Virginia in this season's Camping World Bowl
Troy, 4 (2009) - Won 42-32 vs. Buffalo in this season's Dollar General Bowl
Baylor, 3 (2014) - Won 45-38 vs. Vanderbilt in this season's Texas Bowl.
Duke, 3 (2014) - Won 56-27 vs. Temple in this season's Independence Bowl
FAU, 3 (Never) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Kansas, 3 (2003) - Hasn't appeared in a bowl game since 2008
Minnesota, 3 (2013) - Won 33-10 vs. Georgia Tech in this season's Quick Lane Bowl.
Northwestern, 3 (2015) Won 31-20 vs. Utah in this season's Holiday Bowl
Oklahoma State, 3 (2015) - Won 38-33 vs. Missouri in this season's Liberty Bowl
Tennessee, 3 (2010) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Wake Forest, 3 (2011) - Won 37-34 vs. Memphis in this season's Birmingham Bowl
NOTE: Utah had a 5-bowl winning streak snapped with a 31-20 loss to Northwestern in this season's Holiday Bowl.
NOTE: Mississippi State had a 3-bowl winning streak snapped with a 27-22 loss vs. Iowa in this season's Outback Bowl.
NOTE: Georgia had a 4-bowl winning streak halted with a 28-21 loss to Texas in this season's Sugar Bowl. The CFP National Championship game loss last season does not count as a bowl game.
These teams have the most consecutive bowl losses (last season of a bowl win in parenthesis):
Ball State, 7 (Never) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Northern Illinois, 6 (2011) - Lost 37-13 to UAB in this season's Boca Raton Bowl
UTEP, 6 (1967) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Central Michigan, 4 (2012) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Colorado State, 4 (2013) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Indiana, 4 (1991) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Memphis, 4 (2014) - Lost 37-34 vs. Wake Forest in this in this season's Birmingham Bowl
Pittsburgh, 4 (2013) - Lost 14-13 vs. Stanford in this season's Sun Bowl
NOTE: This season, Kentucky ended a 4-bowl losing streak with a 27-24 win over Penn State for its first bowl victory since 2008.
Ball State, 0-7 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Buffalo, 0-3 - Lost 42-32 vs. Troy in this season's Dollar General Bowl
Kent State, 0-2 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
South Alabama, 0-2 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Louisiana-Monroe, 0-1 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
UTSA, 0-1 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
NOTE: This season, UAB notched its first bowl (1-2) by defeating Northern Illinois 37-13 in the Boca Raton Bowl.
(Minimum 20 appearances)
Utah, 18-5 (.783) - Lost 31-20 vs. Northwestern in this season's Holiday Bowl
Oklahoma State, 19-10 (.655) - Won 38-33 vs. Missouri in this season's Liberty Bowl
Mississippi, 24-13 (.649) - Bowl ineligible this season
USC, 35-19 (.648) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Syracuse, 16-9-1 (.635) - Won 34-18 vs. West Virginia in this season's Camping World Bowl
Florida State, 28-16-2 (.630) - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Alabama, 39-24-3 (.614) - Won 45-34 vs. Oklahoma in this season's Orange Bowl semifinal playoff game (CFP National Championship is not a bowl game)
Georgia, 31-20-3 (.602) - Lost 28-21 vs. Texas in this season's Sugar Bowl
Penn State, 29-18-2 (.612) - Lost 27-24 vs. Kentucky in this season's Citrus Bowl
Mississippi State, 13-9 (.591) - Lost 27-22 vs. Iowa in this season's Outback Bowl
Alabama, 39 - Won 45-34 vs. Oklahoma in this season's Orange Bowl semifinal playoff game (CFP National Championship is not a bowl game)
USC, 35 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Georgia, 31 - Lost 28-21 vs. Texas in this season's Sugar Bowl
Oklahoma, 29 - Lost 45-34 vs. Alabama in this season's Orange Bowl semifinal playoff game
Penn State, 29 - Lost 27-24 vs. Kentucky in this season's Citrus Bowl
Texas, 29 - Won 28-21 vs. Georgia in this season's Sugar Bowl
Florida State, 28 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Tennessee, 28 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
LSU, 26 - Won 40-32 vs. UCF in this season's Fiesta Bowl
Nebraska, 26 - Failed to qualify for the bowl season
Georgia Tech, 25 - Lost 33-10 vs. Minnesota in this season's Quick Lane Bowl
Ohio State, 24 - Won 28-23 vs. Washington in this season's Rose Bowl
Mississippi, 24 - Bowl ineligible this season
Auburn, 24 - Won 63-14 vs. Purdue in this season's Music City Bowl
Florida, 23 - Won 41-15 vs. Michigan's in this season's Peach Bowl
Clemson, 22 - Won 30-3 vs. Notre Dame in this iseason's Cotton Bowl (CFP National Championship is not a bowl game)
Michigan, 21 - Lost 41-15 vs. Florida in this season's Peach Bowl
Two games this week pit FBS teams against FCS schools and Iowa State survived Drake 27-24 while Liberty cruised to a 52-17 over Norfolk State. FBS teams finish the year with a 105-7 (.938) record vs. the FCS and are now 1,324-124 (.914) since 2003.
Here are all of the FCS victories over FBS teams, so far, in 2018:
August 30: UC Davis 44, San Jose State 31
September 1: Villanova 19, Temple 17
September 1: Northern Arizona 30, UTEP 10
September 1: Nicholls State 26, Kansas 23 (OT)
September 2: North Carolina A&T 28, East Carolina 23
September 8: Maine 31, Western Kentucky 28
September 22: Illinois State 35, Colorado State 19
UCF - Had 25-game overall win streak (was FBS longest) snapped in 40-32 loss to LSU in Fiesta Bowl on January 1. Won 18 straight conference games including consecutive AAC titles (FBS longest). Won 22 straight regular season games (FBS longest). Season completed.
Alabama - Won 26 straight home games (FBS longest). Had won 16 straight overall (FBS longest) but lost 44-16 to Clemson in the national championship game on January 7 at Santa Clara, California.
Clemson (won 15 straight over-all (FBS longest). Defeated Alabama 44-16 in the national championship game on January 7 at Santa Clara, California.
Oklahoma - Won 20 straight true road games (FBS longest). Lost 45-34 to Alabama in Orange Bowl (Final Four semifinal game) on December 29. Season completed.
Rutgers - Lost 11 straight over-all (FBS longest). Season completed.
(NOTE: Rutgers also owns FBS longest conference losing streak at 12 games).
San Jose State - Lost 13 straight road games (FBS longest). Season completed.