Spartans save Big Ten reputation in Rose Bowl
Orange Bowl – Jan. 3
(8) Clemson 40 – (12) Ohio State 35
Clemson used an opportunistic interception with a little more than a minute left to play to power past Ohio State in a 40-35 shootout. The interception came two plays after Buckeye C.J. Barnett picked off Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, which gave OSU the ball in Clemson territory down five points with a barely a minute left. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins enjoyed a record day, notching career-highs in receptions (16) and receiving yards (227). Watkins also caught two touchdowns from Boyd, the latter being the 27th touchdown of his Clemson career — all thrown by Boyd. The two are expected to be early-round picks in the NFL Draft this April along with Buckeye running back Carlos Hyde. Hyde posted 113 yards and a touchdown on the ground in the Orange Bowl, adding a touchdown catch as well. Despite missing the first three games of the season, Hyde put up freakish numbers over 11 games this season, totaling 1,521 rush yards and 15 touchdowns. The win in the Orange Bowl gave the Tigers something to celebrate, with head coach Dabo Swinney proudly proclaiming that they were the only South Carolina team to win a BCS bowl. This was Clemson’s first game since losing to South Carolina 31-17.
Rose Bowl – Jan. 1
(3) Michigan State 24 – (11) Stanford 20
Connor Cook overcame a pick-six thrown in the second quarter to turn in his best day as a Michigan State quarterback, throwing for a career-high 332 yards and two touchdowns. Cook’s lone turnover went 40 yards in the opposite direction to give Stanford a 17-7 lead with only a couple of minutes left in the first half. The defensive score would be the last time the Cardinal got on the board until a Jordan Williamson field goal brought them within four with just 4:15 left to play. MSU’s junior quarterback responded by engineering a 75-yard drive to bring the Spartans within three points before halftime. A 25-yard touchdown strike from Cook to Tony Lippett put Michigan State up for good, crowning the Big Ten champions as the victors of the 100th annual Rose Bowl Game. Michigan State’s BCS bowl win against a physical Stanford team may have salvaged the Big Ten’s bowl season. The conference limped into the game with a measly 1-4 record in bowl games this season. The Pac-12 fared better, going 6-3, although this was the only BCS game that featured a Pac-12 team.
Fiesta Bowl – Jan. 1
(10) Central Florida 52 – (13) Baylor 42
Naysayers scoffed, and Gamecock fans scrambled to defend their team’s performance on Sept. 28 earlier this season when Central Florida took South Carolina down to the wire in Orlando, Fla. Now, with the Knights’ 52-42 victory over Baylor in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, the Gamecocks’ win looks as impressive as ever. Junior quarterback Blake Bortles carved up the Baylor defense, passing for more than 300 yards and rushing for 93, a career high. Despite the loss, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty had arguably a better game, statistically. Against Central Florida, Petty accounted for all but one of the Bears’ touchdowns, with two coming through the air and three on the ground. In his first year at the helm, Petty threw for 4,200 yards, along with 32 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. Petty will lose two of his top offensive weapons next year when he returns for his senior season. Wide receiver Tevin Reese and running back Lache Seastrunk will both be playing on Sundays next year. At the end of the season, UCF’s three-point loss to South Carolina remains the only blemish on an otherwise impressive 12-1 campaign. South Carolina will not play Central Florida next year, as Missouri will fill its SEC opponent slot.
Alamo Bowl – Dec. 30
(9) Oregon 30 – Texas 7
After a head-coaching debacle that included rumors of Nick Saban heading to Texas, Mack Brown announced that the Valero Alamo
Bowl would be his last stand as Texas head coach. Taking over in 1998, Mack Brown ran a Texas program that went 10-5 in bowl games during his tenure, including a 41-38 victory over Southern California to claim the 2005 BCS National Championship. Memories of that game never felt further away on Dec. 30, as the Oregon Ducks railed the Longhorns, 30-7. Texas’s opening drive resulted in a pick-six after Avery Patterson ran back a Case McCoy pass intended for Jaxon Shipley. After an Oregon field goal, Texas answered with a touchdown of its own, as McCoy scored from one yard out. However, Oregon would go on to score 20 unanswered points in a 30-7 rout of the Longhorns. Preseason Heisman darling Marcus Mariota completed 18 passes for 253 yards — 17 more yards than Texas’s offense mustered all night. The sophomore from Hawaii also accounted for 133 yards on the ground, the second-highest rushing total of his career, behind only a 135-yard rushing performance last year against Arizona State.
Holiday Bowl – Dec 30
Texas Tech 37 – (21) Arizona State 23
After winning its first seven games of the season, Texas Tech may have had different expectations for their postseason play. As it turned out, the Red Raiders dropped five consecutive games to conference opponents, which landed them in the National University Holiday Bowl against Arizona State. Freshman quarterback Davis Webb earned the start after giving way to freshman Baker Mayfield in the final three games of the regular season. Webb rewarded coach Kliff Kingsbury’s decision by scorching the Arizona State defense for 403 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-23 toppling of the Sun Devils. The four touchdowns thrown by Webb tied a Holiday Bowl record set by BYU’s Jim McMahon in 1980. Texas Tech suffocated Sun Devil quarterback Taylor Kelly all night, only allowing 125 yards through the air, a far cry from Kelly’s 270 yard season average. Red Raider tight end Jace Amaro finished the season with 1,352 receiving yards, which is an FBS record for his position. The junior will forgo his senior season and enter the 2014 NFL Draft.