2014 Bowl Mania: Day 7 Recap

December 30, 2014

Monday was not a good day for one conference.

More on that in a bit.

Let’s take a second look at the games that took place on December 29th.

Game Analysis

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Result: Texas A&M 45, West Virginia 38

It was predicted to be nothing short of a shootout, and that’s exactly what fans got in Memphis. For the most part it was a back and forth game, but in the end Texas A&M was able to move the ball on the ground a bit better than the Mountaineers. Both quarterbacks played exceptionally well, with Kyle Allen throwing for 4 touchdowns and Skyler Howard adding three of his own. West Virginia played well enough to win this game, but the Aggies simply put more points on the board.

The victory was the fourth straight for Texas A&M under head coach Kevin Sumlin.

Russell Athletic Bowl

Result: Clemson 40, Oklahoma 6

Who saw this one coming? Clemson was the favorite coming into the game, but the Tigers obliterated the Sooners. Offensively, senior quarterback Cole Stoudt game out and played terrifically in his final collegiate contest. But it was the senior laden defense that really beat down Oklahoma, constantly pressuring Trevor Knight and doing a nice job containing Samaje Perine. It was so bad that Clemson had the opportunity to call a timeout and allow the fans to give a standing ovation to the seniors on both the offense and defense in the fourth quarter.

Oklahoma didn’t do the Big 12 any favors regarding its image. But the Russell Athletic Bowl was only the second chapter of a terrible day for the conference.

Advocare V100 Texas Bowl

Result: Arkansas 31, Texas 7

This is chapter three of the Big 12 horror story. The Longhorns were completely outmatched by the Razorbacks, who were admittedly one of the hotter teams in the country heading into this one. Texas amassed a paltry 59 total yards of offense in the game compared with the 351 of Arkansas. The Longhorns defense has no answer for the two-headed monster of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, allowing over 75 yards rushing to both.

Charlie Strong clearly has his work cut out for him in Austin, because his team was outclassed by a good but still 6-6 SEC squad. As for the Razorbacks, Bret Bielema should be commended for the turnaround he has conducted in Fayetteville.

Conference Trends

Stock Down – Big 12 Conference

In a word: awful. The day didn’t start out too badly, with West Virginia losing a tight ballgame to an evenly matched Texas A&M squad. But it quickly spiraled out of control for the only Power 5 conference without a championship game. Oklahoma looked as if it didn’t care to be in the Russell Athletic Bowl, rolling over for Clemson. Then Texas was flattened in its own state by Arkansas. The Longhorns looked more interested to be playing than the Sooners, but they just weren’t good enough to win.

So much for the “we should have gotten a team into the playoff” argument. When your teams are getting beaten that badly by any opposing conference, it’s a sign that the quality of football may not have been what it appeared during the regular season.

Top Individual Performances

Kyle Allen, Texas A&M quarterback

When a team scores 45 points to win, someone on the offense is going to receive individual honors. Allen was the leader in this game, matching a season high with four passing touchdowns. West Virginia was the No. 2 pass defense in the Big 12 during the regular season and was generally aggressive with regards to turnovers. But the Mountaineers didn’t have much of an answer for the freshman Allen, who sliced and diced the secondary all game.

Allen’s poise in the pocket is something that Coach Sumlin should be pleased to see. The Aggies will have quite the quarterback battle starting in the spring between Allen and Kenny Hill.

Cole Stoudt, Clemson quarterback

It was really great to see this kid go out the way that he did. Chided early this season for his poor play and eventually benched in favor of Deshaun Watson, Stoudt came out with a chip on his shoulder and took it to the Sooners. He made his three passing touchdowns and 319 yards through the air look easy, and for good measure added a rushing touchdown as well.

It’s likely that the Tigers would have won this game without Stoudt’s great performance, but the fact that he had one simply added to an already surprising night in Orlando. Bowl games often bring the best out of players ending their playing career and this was a classic case of that happening.

– K. Becks

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