2015 Bowl Mania: Day 11, 12 and 13 Recep

January 5, 2015

Naturally, I ran out of steam as the bowl season wound down.

This is sort of a sad time of year for me. Instead of heading back to school this year, today was the first day back at work. But more than the end of the holidays is the fact that it’s the end of the bowl season with the exception of the national title game. These past three weeks are my favorite time of year other than March Madness, so it’s always bittersweet to write one of my final college football articles of the season.

This is my second consecutive post covering three days of bowl action. But I’m just happy with myself for sticking to my promise of recapping each day.

Also, a shout out is in order to the champion of the Von Hugendong Year 8 Bowl Mania group. My friend Connor has already wrapped up the victory with his entry H1tlerDidNothingWrong. I guess all I can do it raise my hand and say “Heil!”

Let’s take a second look at the final three days of the bowl season.

Game Analysis

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl – Jan. 2

Result: Houston 35, Pittsburgh 34

Talk about an unbelievable fourth quarter. The Cougars overcame a 21 point deficit with about a little over six minutes left in the game thanks to three passing touchdowns by quarterback Greg Ward Jr. (a former wide receiver), two onside kicks and a two-point conversion after the final touchdown to take the lead. The furious comeback was the biggest of the 2014-2015 season and the third largest ever in a bowl game. Houston managed to score all three touchdowns in a matter of four minutes and 19 seconds.

Incoming coaches Tom Herman (Houston) and Pat Narduzzi (Pittsburgh) are likely on opposite sides of the spectrum with regards to excitement for next season after this one.

TaxSlayer Bowl – Jan. 2

Result: Tennessee 45, Iowa 28

The Volunteers continued the string of impressive performances for the SEC East, building a 45-14 lead on the Hawkeyes and essentially coasting to the finish. Tennessee came out ready to play in this game and thanks to a combination of superior speed and trick plays, this one was almost over by the end of the first quarter. Running back Jalen Hurd led the way for with 122 yards and two rushing touchdowns, but it was a complete effort by Butch Davis’s team.

The Volunteers are the youngest squad in college football and have a top ten recruiting class incoming, so this win could serve as a launching pad for a terrific 2015 season.

Valero Alamo Bowl – Jan. 2

Result: UCLA 40, Kansas State 35

In what felt like a basketball game because of the runs made by each team, the Bruins were able to do just enough on offense behind the rushing efforts by Paul Perkins and Brett Hundley. Only TCU had rushed more than the 331 yards UCLA put on the Wildcats in this one, led by the 194 and two touchdowns of Perkins. Despite having one last shot to impress the NFL scouts, Hundley’s performance was not the type to wow those at the next level. There is no way the senior will be able to use his legs with such effectiveness in the NFL, but it did the job in this one.

Kansas State was actually the better team for three quarters, but a 17-0 hole was too much for Bill Synder’s team to overcome in the dome.

TicketCity Cactus Bowl – Jan. 2

Result: Oklahoma State 30, Washington 22

This one was a tale of two halves. After building a seemingly insurmountable 24-0 halftime lead over the offensively challenged Huskies, Oklahoma State had to fight to hold onto an eventual 30-22 victory. After all the craziness that has ensued throughout bowl season, this shouldn’t be a shock that Washington was able to claw its way back. Additionally, the Cowboys began to play like the young squad they are in the second half.

Oklahoma State may have found its quarterback of the future in this game, as freshman Mason Rudolph led the way with 299 yards passing and an impressive 65.4 percent completion rate.

Birmingham Bowl – Jan. 3

Result: Florida 28, East Carolina 20

Even at 6-5 the Gators proved to the nation that defense still wins championships, as the nation’s No. 15 overall defense managed to shut down the nation’s No. 5 overall offense. It wasn’t always pretty for Florida, which scored its first touchdown via the defense, but the front four played tough against the Pirates and made up for 427 yards allowed through the air. Senior Shane Carden played well for East Carolina, but two interceptions were costly in this tight game.

Incoming head coach Jim McElwain had to be happy with the performance of the defense, but he has his work cut out for him on offense. It’s a good thing his background is on that side of the ball.

GoDaddy Bowl – Jan. 4

Result: Toledo 63, Arkansas State 44

It seems fitting that the final bowl game of the season was the most insane. The first play set the tone, as a Fredi Knighten fumble resulted in a defensive touchdown for the Rockets. But from that point on, both defenses took a backseat to offense. Knighten rebounded from his early mistake and threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough to down Toledo. Thanks to 271 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground alone from Kareem Hunt, the Rockets simply outscored the Red Wolves.

Not surprisingly, this was the highest scoring game of the bowl season.

Conference Trends


The Pac-12 was on its way up until Washington was unable to take care of a .500 Oklahoma State squad from the Big 12. In reality, there weren’t very many evident trends from day-to-day over the past few weeks. Every time a conference would look like it was heading in one direction, a couple of teams would come along and prove that notion incorrect.

Frankly, this is how college football should be. No dominant conference, no clear laggard. Just good, competitive football.

Top Individual Performances

Paul Perkins, UCLA running back

The spotlight was on Brett Hundley coming into the Alamo Bowl, but Perkins stole the show. Not the biggest or the fastest back, Perkins hit the holes hard and found a way to stay on his feet against a generally disciplined Kansas State defense. His 194 yards on the ground was a season best performance and put him at the top of the Pac-12 in terms of yards on the season.

Without Hundley the Bruins will need to find answers on the offensive end, but with Perkins UCLA likely already has one.

Dante Fowler, Jr., Florida defensive end

Florida’s defense was the reason that the Gators won on Saturday at Legion Field for the first time since 1993 and Fowler was the leader of that unit. The stats speak for themselves: three sacks, three tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries. But in addition to what gets put on paper, there is also something to be said for the way he put fear into Carden and forced a number of other bad decisions in this game.

Jim McElwain is likely upset that he won’t be able to benefit from Fowler, but the junior is ready to play in the NFL.

Kareem Hunt, Toledo running back

Hunt may have had one of the best performances of the year, let alone the best of the past week. There was no answer from Arkansas State’s defense for the bruising sophomore, who came into the game as the focal point of the Toledo offense and still managed to have his way with the opponent.

There are several reasons Hunt won’t receive more credit for his effort, but for those that watched the GoDaddy Bowl last night, Hunt provided more than enough entertainment in what was already a crazy game.

– K. Becks

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