College football bowls: LSU wraps up season with national championship win over Clemson

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Bowl season boiled down to Monday night's College Football National Championship, with No. 1 LSU topping No. 3 Clemson 42-25 for the national title.

Here's a one-stop look back at analysis, predictions, spreads, big plays and moments from college football's postseason.

College Football Playoff National Championship

LSU 42, Clemson 25

Top-ranked LSU trailed early, but Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow rallied the Tigers with five touchdown passes and a rushing score to complete a 15-0 season. Burrow finished the game 31-of-49 passing for 463 yards and five touchdowns, a CFP National Championship Game record.

Bowl season MVP

LSU QB Joe Burrow. Who else? All the Heisman Trophy-winning signal-caller did was throw for five touchdowns and run for another in No. 1 LSU's 42-25 national championship win over No. 3 Clemson. Burrow's night broke the NCAA FBS single-season records for touchdown passes (60) and touchdowns responsible for (65). Burrow finished 31-of 49 for 463 yards and had no interceptions. He also ran for 58 yards and a score on 14 carries.

Play of the day

Joe Burrow's fifth touchdown pass of the game, a 24-yarder to Terrace Marshall Jr., gave the LSU quarterback an NCAA-record 60 TDs for the season as the Tigers beat No. 3 Clemson.

The best of bowl season

College Football Playoff semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

No. 1 LSU 63, No. 4 Oklahoma 28

After the game, as chaos and confetti enveloped the field, LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson was asked if he could have possibly envisioned this outcome -- a dominant offensive explosion over Oklahoma that advanced the Tigers to the national championship game. Of course, he said: "It was just a bigger and better situation." Offer any explanation for the LSU offense's continued dismantling of every defense it has faced and Jefferson's point is likely the most accurate. This team is just bigger and better. And with Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow playing at peak levels -- accounting for a staggering eight TDs, including seven through the air, and more than 500 yards of offense -- it is hard to paint a scenario in which anyone can slow down the Tigers. This was an LSU team playing with banged-up running backClyde Edwards-Helaireand looking to keep pace with an Oklahoma offense that had been college football's gold standard.LSU is going home with one game left to prove something that its players already seem to know: that the Tigers are the biggest and the best.-- David M. Hale

College Football Playoff semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

No. 3 Clemson 29, No. 2 Ohio State 23

It had been a while since Clemson even had to break a sweat. The Tigers, who won their final eight games of the regular season by a combined total of 337 points, sweated plenty against Ohio State. But just like they've done for 29 straight games now, theTigers found another way to win, mounting an electric, 94-yard, four-play scoring drive in the final minutes to rally past Ohio State. Even with that clutch drive, the Tigers needed a game-sealing interception in the end zone by Nolan Turner in the final seconds. They now get a shot at their second straight national championship when they take on LSU in the title game. -- Chris Low

LendingTree Bowl

Louisiana 27, Miami (Ohio) 17

Louisiana won its 11th game of the season and its first bowl game outside of the state of Louisiana since 1944 on Monday night with a 27-17 victory over Miami (Ohio) in the LendingTree Bowl. The Ragin' Cajuns had been a juggernaut all season offensively, but relied on a stingy defense to close the season with their seventh victory in their final eight outings, the only loss in that stretch coming to Appalachian State in the Sun Belt conference championship game. The key play for Louisiana on defense was a forced fumble by Percy Butler with 7:25 to play and then a goal-line stand inside the final four minutes after the RedHawks had a first-and-goal at the 2, which culminated with a bad snap on fourth down.

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

Tulane 30, Southern Mississippi 13

Tulane, which had lost three straight games to end the regular season, trailed 13-0 midway through the first quarter and entered halftime down 13-6. But Justin McMillan took over in the second half, throwing three touchdown passes in the third quarter, including a 52-yard pass to Jalen McCleskey. The Green Wave won back-to-back bowl games for the first time in program history.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Ohio 30, Nevada 21

It's a third consecutive bowl victory for the Bobcats, and senior quarterback Nathan Rourke capped off a productive career with a solid day, throwing for 144 yards and rushing for 87 yards and a score. His rushing touchdown marks 49 for his career; he had no fewer than 13 in each of his three seasons as a starter. Ohio controlled the game for much of the day, leading 30-9 at one point; Nevada came within striking distance of making it a one-score game late but squandered two red zone opportunities. -- Sam Khan Jr.

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl

Cincinnati 38, Boston College 6

It looked like one of the bowl season's bigger mismatches on paper -- a 6-6 ACC team that had fired its coach against a program that was in contention for a New Year's Six bowl bid very late in the season. Indeed, following a lengthy weather delay, Cincinnati imposed its will, scoring the game's first 24 points, giving up only 164 total yards, and cruising to a victory, its 32nd in the past three seasons. -- Bill Connelly

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

Tennessee 23, Indiana 22

Tennessee's season looked like a lost cause two games into 2019, and the Volunteers looked equally lost for much of the game Thursday night before putting together a frantic fourth-quarter rally to beat Indiana 23-22 in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. The comeback win put a bow on one of the more improbable comeback stories in college football this season. The Vols lost their first two games at home to Georgia State and BYU before regrouping and winning seven of their final eight. They trailed 22-9 before scoring a pair of touchdowns in the final 4 minutes, 21 seconds, and the key play was an onside kick recovered by Eric Gray, leading to Gray's 16-yard touchdown run to put Tennessee ahead to stay. -- Chris Low

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Georgia 26, Baylor 14

It's clear after watching Georgia this season that the offense needs serious improvements. But wide receiver George Pickens is not the problem. The true freshman was a bright spot all along, and he continued that progress into 2020 when he essentially carried the passing game to a 26-14 win over Baylor in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. He had more yards than Baylor's entire offense in the first half, and wound up finishing the game with 12 catches, 175 yards and a touchdown. While coach Kirby Smart needs to find weapons to compliment Pickens in the passing game, at least he knows he has a centerpiece around whom to build. -- Alex Scarborough

Vrbo Citrus Bowl

Alabama 35, Michigan 16

In the run-up to the Citrus Bowl, the big question was how Alabama would perform in a non-playoff/national championship New Year's Six game for the first time since 2011. We got our answer on the first Alabama play of the game, when Mac Jones hit Jerry Jeudy in stride for an 85-yard touchdown. It wasn't all that easy for the Crimson Tide, as Michigan held the ball longer and ran far more plays. But the maligned Alabama defense held strong nearly every time Michigan crossed midfield, and that was one of the big keys to the game. It's impossible to trade field goals for touchdowns to beat Alabama (or anyone else, for that matter). But the biggest key was the play of Jeudy, who had over 200 yards receiving in what could be his final game for the Tide. Jeudy and his fellow draft-eligible receivers decided to play in the game and it was apparent from the start that the Wolverines would have no answers for him. Now, Alabama is left to wait and see how many draft-eligible players it will lose, starting with injured quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who has been noncommittal about what he will do. -- Andrea Adelson

Outback Bowl

Minnesota 31,Auburn 24

Minnesota capped a season of milestones with another one, upsetting Auburn to reach 11 wins for the first time since 1904. P.J. Fleck and his coaching staff produced an elite game plan, especially first-time offensive playcaller Matt Simon, who aced his audition for the coordinator job. The Golden Gophers piled up 494 yards against Derrick Brown and a talented Auburn defense, outgaining the Tigers by 262 yards. Wide receiver Tyler Johnson ended his Minnesota career with a record performance (12 catches, 204 receiving yards, two touchdowns). This seems like a program-shifting season for Fleck, who is backing up his unique philosophy with exceptional results. -- Adam Rittenberg

Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual

Oregon 28, Wisconsin 27

A decisive Oregon edge in the turnover battle and three rushing touchdowns from quarterback Justin Herbert proved crucial in a sloppy edition of "The Granddaddy of Them All." Coming into the game, Herbert had only three rushing touchdowns over the previous two seasons, but with the Ducks struggling to find any offensive rhythm -- through the air or on the ground -- it was the potential first-round pick's legs that came to the rescue. The Ducks won the turnover battle 4-1 and used that advantage to score 21 points in a game in which they were able to sustain only one drive of more than six plays. -- Kyle Bonagura

Belk Bowl

Kentucky 37, Virginia Tech 30

Lynn Bowden Jr. was a receiver forced into action at quarterback this season, but what a fit it turned out to be. Bowden ended a spectacular season with another epic performance, fittingly providing the dagger to Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl with a passing touchdown with 15 seconds to play. Bowden engineered an 18-play TD drive that erased a Hokies lead and felled legendary defensive coordinator Bud Foster on the final drive of his career. For the Wildcats, it was a thrilling finish to a season that appeared on the brink of disaster before Bowden's emergence midway through. For the Hokies, an offseason awaits where there's hope for the future with QB Hendon Hooker, but a sour taste after losses to Virginia and Kentucky in the final two games of 2019. -- David M. Hale

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl

Arizona State 20, Florida State 14

Congrats to Arizona State for winning this season's version of the Cheez-It Bowl (eight combined turnovers). The Sun Devils picked off four James Blackman passes, recovered two fumbles and converted for 14 points, including the winning pick-six by safety Willie Harts. ASU has a strong foundation on defense, and must continue to build after losing coordinator Danny Gonzales to New Mexico. The growth of a young offensive line and a young quarterback (Jayden Daniels) under a new coordinator (Zak Hill) will be key to start contending in the Pac-12 South. New Florida State coach Mike Norvell has a lot of work ahead, especially with a mistake-ridden offense that outgained ASU 470-282 but couldn't hold onto the ball, score in the red zone or prevent negative-yardage plays. -- Adam Rittenberg

AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Navy 20, Kansas State 17

It was easily one of the best turnarounds in college football history, and Navy managed to do it in dramatic fashion. After losing 10 games last season and breaking a string of six consecutive bowl appearances, Navy stormed back this season to win 11 games, capped by a thrilling victory win over Kansas State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. Bijan Nichols' 23-yard field goal with two seconds to play won it for the Midshipmen, who got 213 yards rushing from record-setting quarterback Malcolm Perry. -- Chris Low

NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl

Wyoming 38, Georgia State 17

It wasn't too long ago that freshman quarterback Levi Williams was on the Wyoming scout team, but the postseason stage wasn't too big for him in his first career start. In other words, it looks as if the Cowboys have found their future at quarterback. Williams threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score in leading Wyoming to victory. Williams didn't play in the first 10 games this season and then served as a backup to Tyler Vander Waal, who took over after starter Sean Chambers went down because of a season-ending knee injury. But for the bowl game, Wyoming coach Craig Bohl decided to go with Williams, who immediately provided a spark for a passing attack that entered the game ranked 124th nationally out of 130 FBS teams. -- Chris Low

Valero Alamo Bowl

Texas 38, Utah 10

Texas fans are probably wondering where these Longhorns were in the season's second half. The defense, led by Joseph Ossai, was lights out, swarming the ball with regularity en route to holding Utah to only 10 points. The running game was strong, compiling 231 yards, led by QB Sam Ehlinger and RB Keaontay Ingram. If the Longhorns can play this way with consistency, Tom Herman's new coordinators have something to work with in 2020. -- Sam Khan Jr.

Capital One Orange Bowl

Florida 36, Virginia 28

The Gators entered the game as a two-touchdown favorite, and many figured they would make easy work of Virginia. But they had their hands full nearly the entire way, unable to find separation in the passing game while allowing one big play after the next on defense. Kyle Trask was largely inconsistent, but big plays on the ground made the difference. That is surprising, considering Florida entered the game as one of the worst rushing teams in the country. Despite the sloppy effort, the Gators finish with consecutive wins in New Year's Six games and as an 11-win team for the first time since 2012. Florida loses nearly all its receivers, plus running back Lamical Perine, but given the way this team has performed in two years under Dan Mullen, expect the Gators to be a preseason-top-10 team again. -- Andrea Adelson

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

Western Kentucky 23, Western Michigan 20

Tyson Helton's first season at Western Kentucky was capped off by a last-second win over Western Michigan in the First Responder Bowl. It was an eventful finish, with Western Michigan bypassing a go-ahead field goal opportunity in the final minute to unsuccessfully go for it on fourth down. WKU QB Ty Storey threw an incomplete pass on an end-of-game Hail Mary attempt, but a 12-men-on-the-field infraction on WMU gave true freshman kicker Cory Munson a chance to win it on an untimed down, which he did with a 52-yard field goal. The six-win improvement from for the Hilltoppers is an impressive start to the Helton era. -- Sam Khan Jr.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Louisville 38, Mississippi State 28

Louisville coach Scott Satterfield punctuated a season of remarkable turnaround, but he couldn't have done it without the star power of quarterback Micale Cunningham (360 total yards) and receiver Tutu Atwell. Atwell, who played quarterback at Miami Northwestern High School (the same high school as former Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater), threw his first-career touchdown pass, caught nine passes for 147 yards and ran once for a 9-yard gain. He also set a school record for the most receiving yards in a single season (1,276), passing Harry Douglas' 2007 mark of 1,265 yards. Cunningham ran for 81 yards and threw for 279 with two touchdowns and no interceptions. -- Heather Dinich

Redbox Bowl

California 35, Illinois 20

Few players in the country were as valuable to their team this season as Cal sophomore quarterback Chase Garbers. In the seven games he started and finished, the Bears were undefeated. If he didn't play or if he started and left due to injury, they were 1-5. Against Illinois, Garbers completed 22 of 31 passes for 272 yards with four touchdown passes. Cal's 35 points were the most it scored in a game all season. Evan Weaver finished with nine tackles, which takes his season total to 181, the third-highest single-season total in FBS since the NCAA started tracking defensive stats in 2000. -- Kyle Bonagura

Camping World Bowl

Notre Dame 33, Iowa State 9

Notre Dame completed the quietest 11-win season in its storied history with a dominant bowl performance, while Iowa State ended a disappointing season on a sour note. The Cyclones failed to reach the end zone and twice fumbled, as Clark Lea's Fighting Irish defense ended the season in style. Notre Dame quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees made his playcalling debut and the offense scored 33 points behind star wideout Chase Claypool, although the unit struggled on third down (3-for-13). The Irish expect to contend for the Playoff in 2020, although line play and finding more explosive players on offense to surround quarterback Ian Book will be key questions. -- Adam Rittenberg

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

Penn State 53, Memphis 39

Penn State's victory sealed its third 11-win season in four years, a run that includes two New Year's Six bowl wins. Though this game was dominated by offense (1,000-plus combined yards and a Cotton Bowl-record 92 points), Nittany Lions linebacker Micah Parsons was the star, with 14 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Parsons also forced Memphis into a throw that resulted in a key pick-six for Penn State. Start the 2020 Heisman Trophy chatter now: If Parsons plays like this, he has a shot at a trip to New York City for the awards presentation next year. -- Sam Khan Jr.

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman

North Carolina 55, Temple 13

After eking out bowl eligibility with two late wins, North Carolina took full advantage of the opportunity. Temple struggled with special-teams mistakes early, and then it succumbed to pretty much everything the Tar Heels wanted to do during a 31-0 mid-game run that turned this one into a laugher. Coach Mack Brown moves to 14-8 all time in bowl games, while Temple's Rod Carey falls to a jarring 0-7, with six losses by 21-plus points. -- Bill Connelly

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Michigan State 27, Wake Forest 21

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio took plenty of heat throughout the season for the way the Spartans underperformed on offense -- and deservedly so. That is why its win over Wake Forest felt a little different. Though the Spartans survived a late Wake Forest comeback attempt and made their fair share of mistakes, they were able to move the ball and make just enough big plays on offense, allowing them to avoid a losing season. Though the year probably qualifies as a disappointment given preseason expectations, the fact Michigan State ends 2019 with three straight wins certainly puts a more positive spin on the season. And university president Samuel Stanley gave his endorsement of Dantonio and the direction of the program before the game began. -- Andrea Adelson

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl

Texas A&M 24, Oklahoma State 21

What was an ugly start for Texas A&M turned into a promising finish. The Aggies showed some growth in coming back from a 14-point deficit to win; they had lost 12 straight games when trailing by such a margin, including four times this season, per ESPN Stats & Information data. And with a schedule full of either top-ranked teams or sub-.500 ones, this win serves as a solid one for the Aggies and suggests Jimbo Fisher's group was stout, if unspectacular this season.-- Sam Khan Jr.

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

Iowa 49, USC 24

The score itself is noteworthy because during the regular season, Iowa managed at least 30 points in a game just once all season against Power 5 teams -- and that was exactly 30 against Rutgers, one of the worst teams in the country, in the first week of September. For the Hawkeyes to hang nearly 50 on USC just weeks after new athletic director Mike Bohn announced he was retaining embattled coach Clay Helton was just about a worst-case scenario for the Trojans. The game amplified everything that has been wrong with the team all season: poor special teams (except a well-executed onside kick), unprepared defense and issues with turnovers. QB Kedon Slovis is a star in the making and the Trojans could be very good next season, but major changes are needed. -- Kyle Bonagura

Cheez-It Bowl

Air Force 31, Washington State 21

In the ultimate contrast of styles, Air Force's option offense outlasted Washington State's Air Raid. The Falcons rushed 69 times for 371 yards and scored on five of eight possessions (not including the final kneel-down) while holding the ball for a suffocating 43 minutes and 24 seconds. Washington State moved the ball well, too -- QB Anthony Gordon threw for 351 yards on just eight possessions -- but a pair of scoreless red zone trips proved costly. Air Force's 11 wins this season are the third most in school history.-- Kyle Bonagura

Quick Lane Bowl

Pittsburgh 34, Eastern Michigan 30

The Quick Lane Bowl had a little bit of everything, with fumbles, interceptions, 96-yard touchdowns and a back-and-forth game that led to a 34-30 victory for Pitt. It all started, of course, with Eastern Michigan breaking a cinder block wall by swinging a sledgehammer before entering the field. The game ended, however, with Eagles quarterback Mike Glass III swinging and hitting two Panthers players and accidentally hitting an official. Glass broke the school's single-season completion record and threw for 311 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for 83 yards and another score. Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett threw for 361 yards and three touchdowns to help give Pat Narduzzi his first bowl win as coach. -- Tom VanHaaren

Walk-On's Independence Bowl

Louisiana Tech 14, Miami 0

The law of averages states that with so many bowl games, you're guaranteed to get a lot of great ones. But you'll get a lot of ... others, too. Louisiana Tech averaged just 4.4 yards per play but still won comfortably over a Miami team that brought only its defense. Bulldogs coach Skip Holtz has won seven straight bowls, and a season of offensive nightmares for the Hurricanes just finished with the biggest one yet. -- Bill Connelly

Miami fires offensive coordinator Dan Enos

SoFi Hawai'i Bowl

Hawai'i 38, BYU 34

Hawai'i capped off a wild Hawai'i Bowl thanks to its MVP, quarterback Cole McDonald, who threw for a career-high 493 yards to lead a comeback win over BYU. That is the most in a bowl game by a Hawai'i quarterback since Colt Brennan threw for 559 yards against Arizona State in the 2006 Hawai'i Bowl. It was a bit of redemption for McDonald, who threw for only 85 yards in last season's Hawai'i Bowl loss to Louisiana Tech. After a first half in which the teams combined for 55 points, Hawai'i went scoreless in the second half until 1:17 remained in the fourth quarter. That is when McDonald fired the winning 24-yard touchdown pass to Nick Mardner. Hawai'i won a 10th game for the first time since 2010. -- Andrea Adelson

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl

UCF 48, Marshall 25

For the first time in three seasons, UCF was not in a New Year's Six game. But if anybody questioned whether this team would be motivated, they got their answer from the start on a sloppy, chippy day. Despite playing without four starters who opted to sit out, the Knights dominated from start to finish. Marshall contributed, with four turnovers before halftime, including a pick-six and a scoop-and-score. UCF has won 10 or more games in three straight seasons, and its 40 wins since 2016 mark the winningest stretch in school history. Marshall had the longest bowl win streak in the nation entering the Gasparilla Bowl (seven), but the Thundering Herd made far too many mistakes to give themselves a chance to win. -- Andrea Adelson

Celebration Bowl

North Carolina A&T 64, Alcorn State 44

Despite a sluggish start, North Carolina A&T and Alcorn State combined for 108 points and 1,034 yards in a wild game. Wild or not, though, the result was the same as ever: an A&T victory. Kylil Carter threw for 364 yards and six scores, and the Aggies were up double digits the entire second half. A&T has won four historically black colleges and universities national championships the past five seasons. This is an all-out dynasty now.-- Bill Connelly

New Mexico Bowl

San Diego State 48, Central Michigan 11

Central Michigan's big turnaround season ended in a loss to San Diego State in the New Mexico Bowl. Quarterback Quinten Dormady has been excellent for the Chippewas all season but started this game with an interception on the opening drive, resulting in an Aztecs touchdown. Central Michigan's next six possessions resulted in a field goal, four punts and another interception. San Diego State capitalized, going up 20-3 by the end of the first half. As much as Dormady struggled, Aztecs quarterback Ryan Agnew threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns, leading San Diego State to a win.-- Tom VanHaaren

FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl

Liberty 23, Georgia Southern 16

Coach Hugh Freeze helped get Liberty to the first bowl game in program history, and the Flames have the first bowl win in program history after beating Georgia Southern. Georgia Southern had trouble getting anything started on offense early in the game, and the Eagles had only 28 passing yards with six minutes left in the third quarter. Despite a late run by Georgia Southern to pull within seven points, Liberty was able to come out on top. Quarterback Stephen Calvert had 270 yards passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions, and Frankie Hickson had 120 rushing yards on 22 carries to lead the Flames. -- Tom VanHaaren

Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl

Florida Atlantic 52, SMU 28

Despite missing several players and having an interim coach (Glenn Spencer), Florida Atlantic turned in a heckuva performance to knock off a 10-win team from the American Athletic Conference. The Owls' defense was huge, coming up with two takeaways that translated to 14 points and holding the Mustangs to just two touchdowns until the fourth quarter, at which point the game was well in hand. FAU quarterback Chris Robison was outstanding, slicing up the SMU defense while throwing for 305 yards and two touchdowns. -- Sam Khan Jr.

Camellia Bowl

Arkansas State 34, Florida International 26

Arkansas State receiver Omar Bayless -- who entered the game trailing only Biletnikoff Award winner Ja'Marr Chase in receiving yards nationally -- was stellar, catching nine passes for 180 yards and a touchdown in the Red Wolves' win over the Panthers. During a key scoring drive late in the fourth quarter, he hauled in a 65-yard catch-and-run that was partially negated by a penalty, then came back on the next play with a 52-yard reception to set up Arkansas State's final score of the night. Quarterback Layne Hatcher (393 passing yards, four touchdowns) was excellent as well. -- Sam Khan Jr.

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl

Washington 38, Boise State 7

It wasn't literally a passing of the torch as Huskies coach Chris Petersen called his successor, Jimmy Lake, on stage for the presentation of the Mitsubishi Las Vegas Bowl trophy, but it was awfully close. Before Petersen could hoist the trophy, he gave Lake a chance to take the microphone and join him in celebrating the victory. The moment was symbolic, as it marked Petersen's final game as Washington's head coach before he is replaced by Lake, the team's defensive coordinator. Fittingly, Lake's defense delivered a dominant performance in the Huskies' 38-7 win over Boise State, forcing three turnovers and holding Boise State, which entered the game 12-1, to 266 yards of offense. Yet try as he might, Petersen couldn't avoid center stage on a night when fans of both teams wanted to celebrate his career split between the two universities that produced wins nearly 80% of the time. After moving to 4-0 in the Las Vegas Bowl, Petersen jokingly suggested that with free time now on his hands, he might try his chances at a different kind of Vegas competition: "I need to take some of that luck to the tables tonight and see how I do," he said before quickly adding, "probably not." -- Kevin Pelton

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

Appalachian State 31, UAB 17

The win cements a special place in history for Appalachian State. After coming into the game ranked No. 20 in the AP poll, the Mountaineers are virtual locks to become the first team in Sun Belt history to finish a season ranked in the AP Top 25. Assuming they move up at least one spot, they'll also break the record they currently hold for highest ranking among Sun Belt teams. On top of that, the victory moves Appalachian State to 5-0 in bowl games and gives the program its first 13-win season since it moved to the FBS level in 2014. -- Kyle Bonagura

Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl

Buffalo 31, Charlotte 9

Charlotte's first bowl trip didn't end well, but the game marked a turning point for the program. First-year coach Will Healy has created some buzz at a program that had virtually none before this season, and the bowl showcase is another opportunity to build. For Buffalo, Friday's victory offered a strong ending to a rocky season in which the Bulls added impressive wins against Temple and Central Michigan as well as head-scratching losses to Liberty and Kent State. The Bulls' tandem of 1,000-yard backs -- Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks -- is set to return for 2020, however, and after a strong day in the Bahamas (Patterson had 173 yards and two touchdowns), it could be the Group of 5's best backfield next season. -- David M. Hale

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl

Kent State 51, Utah State 41

Kent State's 100-year wait for a postseason win is over. Let that sink in. The program played its first game in 1920, and before Friday's exciting victory against Utah State -- and NFL draft-bound QB Jordan Love -- the Golden Flashes had never won a postseason game. That's no lower-level playoff wins, no conference title wins and no bowl wins in three previous appearances. It caps a remarkable turnaround for the Golden Flashes, who won just two games in each of the previous two seasons and started this season 3-6 before winning their final four games to finish 7-6 under second-year coach Sean Lewis.-- Kyle Bonagura

Class act

This gesture by the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl was personal for Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson, whose wife, Wendy, died from breast cancer in August. Anderson's team went on to beat Florida International 34-26 in the Camellia Bowl.

Popping off

Pat McAfee got in on SMU's turnover celebration at the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl.

The most wonderful time of the year

Barry Switzer be your compass.

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