B/R's College Football Weekly Awards: Bowl Season, Part 2
Bowl season is rolling right along. The most recent week brought eight matchups around the college football landscape and included one of the wildest juxtapositions possible.
Immediately after a quarterback put together a record-setting day, he decided to transfer. Amazing, really.
Plus, at this stage of the year, we try to mostly highlight the positive developments. But an inauspicious end to Florida's once-promising season—five losses in the last seven contests, including to UCF in the Gasparilla Bowl—merits an epilogue.
Sorry 'bout your luck, Gators.
Part 1 of bowl season awards covered games on Dec. 18-19, and this edition includes the matchups from Dec. 20-25.
Team of the Week: San Diego State Aztecs
In the Mountain West Championship Game, Utah State steamrolled San Diego State 46-13. That final outing left a bitter taste despite the Aztecs' 11-2 campaign.
But we love a good bounce-back showing.
San Diego State earned a 38-24 victory over No. 24 UTSA—the 12-1 Conference USA champion—in the Frisco Bowl.
Although defense had carried the Aztecs all year, offense won the day. Lucas Johnson posted career-high totals of 333 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and wideout Jesse Matthews did the same with 11 receptions for 175 yards and two scores.
The season-ending triumph pushed San Diego State to 12-2, which set a program record for single-season wins.
Roller Coaster of the Week: Wyoming QB Levi Williams
What a 24-hour window for Levi Williams.
The sophomore guided Wyoming to a 52-38 triumph over Kent State in the Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 21. Williams became the first quarterback ever to run for 200 yards and four touchdowns in any bowl game, also completing nine of 11 passes for 127 yards and a score.
As the celebration subsided, surely fans began imagining how UW's offense might look in 2022 with Williams as the full-time starter. But those daydreams soon vanished.
Things sure can change quickly in this era of player movement, huh?
Player of the Week: Georgia State QB Darren Grainger
Led by first-year starter Darren Grainger, Georgia State capped a record-breaking season with an emphatic win.
Grainger hit 15 of 19 passes for 203 yards, rushed for a career-high 122 yards and totaled four touchdowns in a 51-20 smackdown of Ball State in the Camellia Bowl. The transfer from Furman accounted for three scores in the third quarter, during which Georgia State turned a 20-13 lead into an insurmountable 48-13 advantage.
Now, he'll be synonymous with an iconic year for the program.
While a nine-year history isn't a massive sample, the Panthers had never reached the eight-win plateau or earned back-to-back bowl victories. Both happened in 2021, and Georgia State notched a program-best six Sun Belt wins in the regular season, too.
Perhaps you think there are too many bowls, in which case you're entitled to your wrong opinion. Georgia State is a reminder of how impactful the postseason can be for players and schools.
Merciful End of the Week: Florida's Miserable Year
Sort of finished with a thud, huh?
Florida headed into the Gasparilla Bowl—not exactly the most prominent of games—with an interim coach. The offense started a quarterback who already announced he'll be transferring. The defense had already seen its coordinator fired in November.
And then, the Gators lost one final time. They completed an unceremonious fall from 3-1 and a No. 10 national ranking.
Florida gave up 288 rushing yards to UCF, which took control of the game after a slow start. Gus Malzahn's team trailed 10-9 at halftime but outscored the Gators 20-7 after the break. Emory Jones mustered just 171 passing yards on 36 attempts in the 29-17 loss.
Billy Napier's arrival has sparked Florida's recruiting and provided the optimism that most coaching hires naturally do. But the conclusion to 2021 will not be a great memory for the program.
Streak-Snapper of the Week: Army Topples the Power 5 Mountain
Four seasons ago, Army clipped ACC school Duke 21-16. Since then, however, the Cadets have repeatedly put a scare into Power Five programs but fallen agonizingly short of a win.
In 2018, Duke exacted some revenge before future Big 12 champion Oklahoma edged Army 28-21 in overtime. The next season, Michigan survived 24-21 in double overtime. West Virginia by the same score in the 2020 Liberty Bowl.
This year, Wisconsin knocked off Army 20-14. Wake Forest outlasted Jeff Monken's regiment in a 70-56 track meet.
But the Black Knights are back on the board.
Missouri nearly extended the streak in the Armed Forces Bowl, scoring a touchdown with 1:11 remaining to take a 22-21 lead. Army responded, however, when Cole Talley kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired to give the Cadets a 24-22 win.
Next season, Army travels to Wake Forest in early October. Do we hear two in a row?