Winners and Losers from College Football Bowl Season

Jim Cowsert/Associated Press

Army flexing that military muscle

Unless you are a Houston fan, it’s hard not to crack a smile about the Army Black Knights’ season.

They capped a 11-2 season with their ninth consecutive victory in a rousing 70-14 win over the Cougars in the Armed Forces Bowl. This team took College Football Playoff participant Oklahoma to the brink by minimizing Sooners possessions in a 28-21 overtime loss.

Everything went right in the bowl game, as Army accumulated 507 rushing yards and eight scores on the ground in the win. 

   

Malzahn music

So much for that hot-seat talk, at least for a day.

Yes, Auburn needs to do much better in the SEC next year for coach Gus Malzahn’s seat temperature to go down, but the Tigers were magnificent in the Music City Bowl, torching the Boilermakers for 56 first-half points, which is the most points in a half of any bowl game.

The Tigers won 63-14, and it could have been much, much worse for Purdue. After offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey parted ways with the program and headed to Kansas to join Les Miles‘ staff, Malzahn took over play-calling duties, and it worked extremely well.

“When your players are executing, you can call any play,” Malzahn told the Auburn Plainsman. “That was the way it was today. We call any play and they executed.”

   

Quarterback surges

With the news that Justin Herbert is returning to Oregon for his senior season, everybody on the quarterback board slides up a spot.

That could be big news for a pair of gunslingers who used their bowl games as catapults for their resumes. Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham declared for the NFL in early December. After a brilliant bowl game, Duke’s Daniel Jones followed suit.

Everything Stidham did was brilliant in Auburn’s huge win over Purdue. He completed 15 of his 21 passes for 373 yards and five touchdowns.

In Duke’s 56-27 win over Temple in the Independence Bowl, Jones proved he can make every pass, looking like a Peyton Manning clone with a 423-yard performance that featured five touchdowns and two picks.

   

Golden Rhule

A year after a one-win total, coach Matt Rhule had Baylor back in a bowl game, and the Bears responded with a resounding 45-38 Texas Bowl win over Vanderbilt.

With so much youth and talent, Rhule’s offense hearkened back to the old Baylor offensive juggernaut days with 668 scrimmage yards. The Commodores could do nothing to stop the Bears, who were without injured leading receiver Jalen Hurd.

The Bears are loaded for 2019 and may be a Big 12 sleeper.

   

Minshew magic

Washington State won a 28-26 thriller in the Alamo Bowl to secure its 11th win of the season, the most in school history. The star, of course, was quarterback Gardner Minshew II, who threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another one.

The mustached maestro watched Iowa State cut the lead to 28-26, but the Cyclones failed on the two-point conversion, and Wazzu coach Mike Leach kept passing afterward rather than milk the clock. Minshew found Dezmon Patmon for an 18-yard gain to seal the victory.

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