Too Busy Unwrapping Gifts This Holiday Season? Hungover on New Year's Day? Here's the Bowl Recap.

Stephen HennesseyCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2008

San Diego County Credit Union Pointsetta Bowl:  Utah 35 - Navy 32

The first bowl game of the year was definitely one of the most exciting, that is, if anybody was even watching it.  Coming off a year which resulted in the ending of their 41 game losing streak to Notre Dame, Navy was unable to capitalize on an onside kick recovery in the final minute.  After scoring with 57 seconds left to bring the lead to three points, Navy (8-5) looked golden until an interception on Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada's pass two plays into the drive.  Utah (9-4) continued its dominance in postseason play, winning its seventh consecutive bowl game. If you ask me, I would have to consider Utah coach Kyle Whittingham as a potential head coach candidate at a bigger school. 

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Florida Atlantic 44 - Memphis 27

If you're Florida Atlantic, you could not have scripted the first seven years of their existence as a program any better.  In 2000, FAU (8-5) did not have a football team to speak of.  Yet two years since joining the NCAA Bowl Subdivision, the Owls have already won a bowl game, quite remarkable.  Coach Howard Schnellenberger has been great for FAU; he scheduled four games this year against top major teams (Florida, Kentucky, South Florida, Oklahoma State) that gave them the experience necessary to take care of business in the Sun Belt Conference. Sophomore quarterback Rusty Smith capped off a successful season (32 TD's, 3,688 yards, 9 INT's) with a flawless game - 336 yards and five touchdowns.  FAU must go down as one of the best stories of the season. Bowl:  Cincinnati 31 - Southern Miss 21

After 17 years at Southern Miss, coach Jeff Bower ended his tenure on a sour note as his Golden Eagles (7-6) dropped a tough game to a very successful Cincinnati team.  Cincinnati (10-3) had its most successful year in over 50 years as they cracked the top 25 frequently during the season and will likely end the season among the rankings for the first time in school history. First-year coach Brian Kelly (previously at Central Michigan) has certainly made his mark on his new program.  The Bearcats' season shows they are a force to be reckoned with in the future of the Big East.

Pioneer New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico 27 - Nevada 0

No surprise here, New Mexico wins the New Mexico Bowl.  I'm going to admit I didn't really watch any of this game, but I did pick Nevada in my bowl pool so this game got me pretty po'd. Nevada (6-7) ends the season sub-.500 in an ehhh conference and having lost five games by less than 10 points. For New Mexico (9-4), the game was pretty important for their history, as they won their first postseason game in a 46 year span.  For the longest current streak without winning a bowl game, check out Northwestern, who has not won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl! 

Las Vegas Bowl:  Brigham Young 17 - UCLA 16

Another game that came down to the wire, this one ending on a blocked field goal to thwart UCLA's improbable comeback.  The Bruins (6-7) had driven the length of the field with less than two minutes left to set up kicker Kai Forbath for a 28-yarder to win, but was blocked by BYU (11-2) to preserve their very impressive season.  The Cougars ended the year on a 10 game win streak and with a revenge victory against a Bruins team that had beat them earlier in the year.  That's another victory for a non-BCS conference (WAC) vs. a major conference (PAC-10).

Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl:  East Carolina 41 - Boise State 38

Chris Johnson stole the show for East Carolina as they knocked off Boise State in another thrilling game filled with a lot of offense.  ECU's kicker Ben Hartman kicked a 34 yard game winner as time expired to give the Pirates (8-5) the upset.  Johnson set a bowl record with 408 all purpose yards (223 rushing, 32 receiving, 153 returning) in the victory.  Boise State (10-3) did not end its season like last year's Broncos team did in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. This season has to be considered a disappointment for Boise St, which had star running back Ian Johnson come back for his senior year, but lost to conference foe Hawai'i for a chance at the WAC Championship.

Motor City Bowl:  Purdue 51 - Central Michigan 48

Curtis Painter, Curtis Painter, Curtis Painter.  The guy went off for Purdue: 546 passing yards with 5 touchdowns to lead his Boilermakers (8-5) to victory.  His stats are good for fourth best all-time in bowl history. Yet, even though one could call it a one-man show, without Chris Summers' 40 yard field goal as time expired, Painter's performance might have gone for a losing effort.  This was definitely one the more exciting games of the bowl season; combining for the second most points in a regulation bowl game ever.  Central Michigan (8-5) showed great determination, fighting back from a 34-13 deficit to tie the game at 41-41.  However, Purdue pulled the game out in the final seconds to cap off their season.

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl:  Texas 52 - Arizona State 34

Arizona State could not overcome 21 first quarter points by Texas and ended one of the schools' most successful seasons in recent memory.  This game will likely be remembered most by a very bizarre play where Chris Jessie, a member of the Texas coaching staff and actually head coach Mack Brown's stepson, appeared to touch the ball on a fumble near the Longhorns sideline.  Texas was handed a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty on the play for interference, and the Sun Devils were able to capitalize on the ensuing play.  Luckily for Jessie and Longhorn nation, the play did not end up affecting the outcome of the game.  Texas (10-3) dominated on both sides of the ball, holding ASU (10-3) to only 22 rushing yards in the game.  Although both teams fell a bit short of their expectations, Texas and Arizona State both can hold their heads up eye after their seasons.

Champs Sports Bowl:  Boston College 24 - Michigan State 21

A trend in college football all season long has been programs that have arisen from mediocrity this year.  It seems as if every other school has had a historical year, and Boston College is definitely one of those schools.  The hard-fought win against Michigan State gave the Eagles (11-3) 11 wins for the first time since 1940.  Quarterback Matt Ryan led B.C. all year long and even had them ranked #2 at one point in the season.  Senior Ryan showcased the leadership he provided for Boston College all year long as he threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns.  Michigan State (7-6) finished the season with an average year, looking good at times - losing to Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin by less than seven points, yet lost to Northwestern at home.  The Champs Sports Bowl was overall a very good game and Ryan will go out on top.

Texas Bowl:  TCU 20 - Houston 13

In a total Texan-type game, TCU edged out Houston in a game in which offense was not so impressive, as the two leading rushers for both teams did even add up to 80 yards.  Houston (8-5) could not snap its long bowl game losing streak, which moves up to eight straight appearances without a loss, something that would be more reported on if it weren't for Notre Dame's current nine game streak.  The Cougars running back and seventh leading rusher in the nation, Anthony Alridge, was held to only 30 yards by a strong TCU defense.  The Horned Frogs (8-5) won the battle despite having less passing yards, first downs, and committing 11 penalties.

Emerald Bowl:  Oregon State 21 - Maryland 14

Tied 14-14 in the third quarter, Oregon State's running back Yvenson Bernard fumbled the ball on a two yard run, but the Beavers were bailed out by freshman James Rodgers as he recovered the ball in the endzone to put them ahead for good.  Oregon State (9-4) held Maryland's rushing attack to only two total yards in the first three quarters, behind the nation's second rushing defense.  The game was played at Pac Bell Park, the San Francisco Giants' stadium, so conditions were not ideal with rain coming down for most of the game.  Maryland (6-7) continued their disappointing performance that characterized its season this year and added to the sub-par performance of the ACC.

Meineke Car Care Bowl:  Wake Forest 24 - UConn 10

The first half was controlled by UConn; at halftime it was 10-0 Huskies.  But the Huskies didn't show up for the second half, as Wake Forest piled on 24 unanswered points behind a resurgent second half offense.  Wide receiver Kenneth Moore had 11 catches for 112 yards for the Demon Deacons (9-4), adding to his single season ACC record for receptions in a season.  Wake Forest continues its program's turnaround, following up last year's 11 win season and BCS game appearance.  For UConn, their dream season ends on a sour note, yet it was a season to remember for a team who was picked to finish seventh in an eight team conference.  The Huskies (9-4) were another one of those teams to have a historical year; they became the first team in school history to be ranked in the top 25 and also were crowned co-conference champions.  Their season will be remembered by what is likely their biggest win in school history, as they knocked off then No. 10 South Florida in late October.  Successful years for two teams on the rise in their respective conferences.

Autozone Liberty Bowl:  Mississippi State 10 - Central Florida 3

Viewers probably tuned in to this game hoping to see one of the nation's most exciting players, but they did not get to see much of his explosiveness.  Mississippi State's defense held UCF's star running back Kevin Smith to 119 yards on the ground (he averaged 188.3 rushing yards during the season) to win a hard fought game.  A tough SEC schedule was experience enough to take care of business in this game.  The Bulldogs (8-5) scored on a game-winning touchdown with two minutes left to take the Liberty Bowl and shatter Central Florida's successful season.  Smith finished 61 yards shy of breaking Barry Sanders' single-season rushing record, but he will likely return for his senior year next year.

Valero Alamo Bowl:  Penn State 24 - Texas A&M 17

Dropping behind to an early 14-0 deficit, Penn State looked as if its final game would be a summary of a disappointing season of underachievment.  However, the Nittany Lions (9-4) rallied behind 270 rushing yards from senior Rodney Kinlaw and freshman Evan Royster.  Royster broke a 38-yard run at the end of the third quarter to break the 17-17 tie and give Penn State's legendary coach Joe Paterno another bowl win in his 500th game as head coach of PSU.  The win was also Paterno's record 23rd bowl win; another highlight in a Hall of Fame career.  Penn State showed its physical, fast and talented team, leaving fans with a taste of what this season could have been if a couple of plays went its way.  For Texas A&M (7-6), a sub-par defense was its pitfall as they gave up 470 total yards to the Nittany Lion offense.  Although they came out with a great offensive gameplan, scoring 14 quick points, their offense was stiffled by one of the nation's top defenses.  The season did have some very high points, however, as they knocked off No. 13 Texas in the last regular season game of the year.

Petrosun Independence Bowl:  Alabama 30 - Colorado 24

20 first quarter points is pretty hard to come back from, but Colorado stayed determined despite falling behind 27 points in the second quarter.  Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson led the Crimson Tide (7-6) to victory with his three touchdowns.  Alabama coach Nick Saban, one of the masterminds in football, noticed a weakness in Colorado's defense as they pushed the ball relentlessly in the first half.  Although 'Bama did not have the most successful of seasons, they were competitive in all of their tough SEC games, and look to be a force for next year with a young core of players.  Colorado (6-7) had a decent season, but its high point came against No. 3 Oklahoma as they knocked them off in one of the huge upsets of this crazy season.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl:  California 42 - Air Force 36It looked like a service academy was fittingly going to win the Armed Forces bowl, but a late surge by a Cal team that had high expectations earlier in the year showed their talent, completing a comeback to take this early New Year's Eve bowl.  The same Cal (7-6) team that was ranked No. 2 early in the season saw itself losing again in the beginning of this contest, down 21-0 early to Air Force.  However, the exciting Golden Bears offense was lacking two of its best wide receivers (DeSean Jackson and Robert Jordan), and promptly scored on the next drive.  Along with knocking Air Force senior quarterback Shaun Carney out of the game in the second quarter, Cal made the plays it had to make down the stretch to secure a win over the Falcons (9-4). 

Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl:  Fresno State 40 - Georgia Tech 28

The ACC bit the dust again, as 27 straight points rode Fresno State to victory against the Yellow Jackets.  The Yellow Jackets (7-6) put together quite a comeback, orchestrating scoring drives with its reserves in the game to pull within six points in the fourth quarter.  However, Fresno State (9-4) stood tough and withstood the Georgia Tech onslaught to secure a win.  The win is a perfect way to end the season for a team that finished 4-8 last season.  Some young talented players also return for the Bulldogs, which may allow them to make a run at the WAC championship next year against Boise State and Hawai'i.  Georgia Tech looked very sloppy in the second quarter, after its defense was one of the best in its conference all year long.  Today, however, Fresno State found the flaws in the unit, picking it apart for a 571 total yards en route to victory.

Sun Bowl:  Oregon 56 - South Florida 21

For two teams that had been ranked No. 2 at one point during the season, the Sun Bowl wasn’t exactly the game either team thought they would end up playing in.  Yet, it was what it was: Oregon without its Heisman trophy candidate quarterback and South Florida three straight tough Big East games led to an after-thought of a New Year’s Eve game. After such a disappointing end to its season, it would have been easy for the Ducks to not show up for this game.  However, they came out strong for 28 straight third quarter points to roll past South Florida.  The Bulls (9-4) had one of the Big East’s best defenses all year long, but Oregon exploited holes in its run defense as junior running back Jonathan Stewart ran for a Sun Bowl record 256 yards.  Redshirt freshman quarterback Justin Roper also threw for 4 touchdowns in the defeat of South Florida to give the Ducks (9-4) its first postseason victory since 2001.

Gaylord Music City Bowl:  Kentucky 35 – Florida State 28

Andre Woodson was a Heisman candidate in the beginning of this season, and showed the country why in the Music City Bowl as he threw for 358 yards and 4 touchdowns for a Kentucky victory.  The win gives Kentucky two consecutive bowl victories; you have to go all the way back to 1951-52, under coach Bear Bryant, when Wildcat football could brag about that.  The Wildcats (8-5) end the season with a strange similarity to last season - beating a Bowden coached ACC team in the Music City Bowl.  Their season was one of the best in the school history, knocking off eventual national champ LSU in a three overtime thriller back in October.  This Music City Bowl was a defensive struggle, as both offenses combined for 981 total yards.  Florida State (7-6) was without 36 of its players whom were banned for academic violations. The season was pretty ‘bleh’ for the Seminoles in general, pretty much beating who they were supposed to and losing to its challenging opponents.  Seminole head coach Bobby Bowden still remains the all-time wins champion, one win ahead of Penn State’s Joe Paterno.

Insight Bowl:  Oklahoma State 49 – Indiana 33

Zac Robinson did not need his head coach to defend him after his performance in his season finale, as he led Oklahoma State to victory while contributing five total touchdowns in a very impressive performance.  The Cowboys (7-6) scored 28 straight points after an early Indiana field goal to put the game out of reach.  The win gives Oklahoma State a highpoint in its season, one probably most remembered for head coach Mike Gundy’s ridiculous press conference rant defending his quarterback after an article surfaced in a local newspaper questioning Robinson’s toughness.  For Indiana (7-6), its season was quite successful as it was competitive with all of its Big Ten opponents.  The season was tough for the university as they lost its coach, Terry Hoepnerr, to a brain tumor in the offseason.  Indiana has a nice, young team who will be competitive again next season.

Chick-fil-A Bowl:  Auburn 23 – Clemson 20 (OT)

In the only overtime game of the bowl season, Auburn squeaked past Clemson in a well-played, evenly matched game.  Auburn (9-4) utilized a combination of veteran experience and young, athletic quarterback play to win this battle.  Senior Brandon Cox shared the quarterback duties with freshman Kodi Burns, as Burns was mostly used in Auburn’s newly implemented spread offense successfully.  Burns scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime to lead them past Clemson.   Clemson (9-4) kicked a 25-yard field goal as time expired to send the game into overtime, but finished the season with a loss to an SEC opponent for the second straight year.  C.J. Spiller ran for an 82-yard touchdown in the second quarter, basically the only exciting point of Clemson’s game.  

Outback Bowl: Tennessee 21 – Wisconsin 17

The Tennessee Volunteers won a meticulous, hard-fought game on New Year’s afternoon, winning its rebuttal at the Outback Bowl.  Last season, Tennessee lost in the same exact bowl to another Big Ten team, Penn State.  Yet, the Volunteers (10-4) were able to settle the score and knock of Wisconsin.  Senior quarterback Erik Ainge went out on a high note for his team, throwing for 365 yards and two touchdowns.  The season was quite a success for Tennessee, winning 10 games for the first time since 2004 and winning the SEC East title despite competing against very talented teams.  Wisconsin (9-4) had quite an up-and-down season, looking very good at times yet awful at other times.  The good: beating then No. 12 Michigan by 16 at home.  The bad:  getting stomped by Penn State 38-7.  

Cotton Bowl:  Missouri 38 – Arkansas 7

Who knew that with two of the nation’s most talented running backs on the Arkansas sideline that Missouri’s running back Tony Temple would steal the show with a record-setting performance?  Temple ran all over Arkansas, finishing with 281 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.  The yardage is the second highest total in bowl history for most yards in a single bowl.  Despite not making it to a BCS bowl when it looked like they had a legit shot at the national championship game, Missouri (12-2) did not appear deflated as they took care of business in Texas.  Arkansas’s high point was defeated eventual national champion LSU in an awesome three overtime game in the last regular season game of the year.  Darren McFadden’s future in college football is up in the air, as he is likely to decide to give up his final year of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft.

Capital One Bowl:  Michigan 41 – Florida 35

In perhaps the biggest upset of the postseason, Michigan topped Florida to even the SEC vs. Big Ten score at 1-1 (until the National Championship game).  This game was arguably the most exciting game to watch, as both teams exchanged blows until the last play. Michigan (9-4) sent off head coach Lloyd Carr in fashion behind senior quarterback Chad Henne‘s 373-yard, three touchdown performance.  Despite losing to D-1AA Appalachian State (I know you can hear App State’s radio announcer right now in your head, we’ve all heard it about 100 times on ESPN), Michigan redirected its season and sent Carr out with fond memories.  Urban Meyer’s Florida (9-4) squad did not follow up last year’s national title with much success, falling in a couple of pivotal games during the season.  Sophomore Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow contributed four total touchdowns for the Gators, while playing with broken bones in his right hand.

Gator Bowl:  Texas Tech 31 – Virginia 28

Texas Tech continued its comeback ways in bowls from last year when they came back from down 38-7 to Minnesota in the Insight Bowl to win 41-38.  This time around, the Red Raiders (9-4) scored 17 points with 3:34 left in the fourth quarter, culminating with a game-winning 41-yard field goal by Alex Trlica to give them the victory.  Junior quarterback Graham Harrell led the drives late for Texas Tech and finished the contest with 407 yards passing and three touchdowns.  Virginia (9-4) scored five straight times to go out to a 21-7 lead at halftime, but the Cavaliers could not stop the Tech aerial attack that decided to show up in the fourth quarter, when it counted most. 

Rose Bowl:  USC 49 – Illinois 17

This game settled every storyline except the question: is Southern Cal the best team in college football?  Well, they didn’t get to prove it, but they did beat Illinois into the ground.  With a ferocious, hard-hitting defense and a high-powered offense that led them to be ranked first in the preseason polls, USC (11-2) only solidified some expert’s arguments that they should be able to get a shot at the national championship despite two slip-ups during the season (yea, LSU had two of them too).  We’ll never know, but it is agreed that they dominated this game against an unlucky Illinois (9-4) squad that happened to get paired up against them.  In its own right, the Illini had an awesome year, defeating three then-ranked Big-Ten opponents (Penn State, Wisconsin and #1 Ohio State) to take home the Big Ten title behind JUICE Williams.

Allstate Sugar Bowl:  Georgia 41 – Hawai’i 10

Georgia was playing at the Superdome one week two early, but took care of business anyway as they showcased its talent in a beat down of Hawai’i and Colt Brennan.  Pretty much Georgia’s defense stymied one of the best college quarterbacks of all time, while making it look easy.  Georgia (11-2) will settle for finishing third in the final AP poll, a definite success.  For Hawai’i (12-1), you didn’t prove your point that you could have competed with LSU, USC, or Ohio State in a national championship game, but yeah you definitely should have the chance.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl:  West Virginia 48 – Oklahoma 28

Pat White and the West Virginia spread offense made moving the ball look easy against one of the nation’s best defenses as they boomed the Sooners.  Interim coach Bill Stewart won the approval of his entire team, and evidently the entire university, as they gave him the head coach job the day after the Mountaineers (11-2) victory.  Freshman Noel Devine showed the country that he will be one of the best running backs in the country next year, showing off his elusive, agile style running and scoring two touchdowns after star senior Steve Slaton had to leave the game with injuries early in the game. 

Fedex Orange Bowl:  Kansas 24 – Virginia Tech 21

Kansas coach Mark Mangino capped off the most successful season in Kansas football history, as the Jayhawks defeated Va Tech in the Orange Bowl to capture the school’s first BCS game victory. Kansas scored 17 straight points to open the game, too much for a Virginia Tech team that dealt with bittersweet emotions all season long.  The campus rose together and cheered them on as they took the field for the first time against East Carolina in early September, showing that the school had gotten back to normal after the tragedy that had struck last April.

International Bowl:  Rutgers 52 – Ball State 30

RU RU yea yea.  Ray Rice is amazing, which we knew.  Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t come back for his senior season and departs to the NFL.  Coming off a 280-yard, four touchdown performance, it’s hard to have a higher draft stock than what Rice will likely have this year. Ball State won the MAC.  Congrats to you guys.  Next year, I hope you don’t get stuck in a bowl game in Canada.  Football, eh?

GMAC Bowl:  Tulsa 63 – Bowling Green 7

Haha.. I’m sorry if you sat through this whole game and watched it in its entirety.  Tulsa owned every aspect of the game at Land-Pebbles Stadium (intimidating).  Tulsa’s quarterback Paul Smith is awesome.  He had 312 yards passing and five touchdowns.

National Championship Game:  LSU 38 – Ohio State 24

We all saw this coming:  LSU fights through the rigorous playoff field to be crowned national champions!  Oh wait, no they didn’t.  But they are national champions.  And I don’t think there is any dispute that they earned this title; their only losses both came in triple overtime.  I’m sure you all watched this game so I won’t bore you with the details, but man, is it really fair LSU got to play the national championship game in the Superdome, in the same state.  It’s not “Death Valley”, but can I get a neutral site!?!  


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