The final two days of calendar year 2013 in the college bowl season saw Mack Brown coach his final game, and Johnny Manziel play what most believe will be his final game at Texas A&M. Mack didn’t get a fitting exit, but Johnny Football went out in style, leading a dramatic comeback. These two games lead up our review of December 30-31…
Texas A&M 52 Duke 48: The Blue Devils led this game 38-17 at halftime and the view that Manziel and the Aggies wouldn’t be fired up for Duke was decidedly holding sway. But Johnny completed 30/38 for 382 yards and A&M never turned the ball over despite being in a shootout. Duke turned it over twice and the final one was the killer blow—a pick-6 that the Aggies’ Toney Hurd took to the house with 3:33 left to complete the comeback.
Oregon 30 Texas 7: Oregon didn’t let Texas get anything in the passing game, as Case McCoy was held to 8/17 for 48 yards and threw two interceptions, the most inept passing display we’ve seen thus far in the bowl season. Both teams ran the ball pretty well, but you aren’t going to compete with anyone with those passing numbers. The Ducks had a pick-6 early in the fourth quarter to seal it.
The Texas A&M win over Duke was part of a 3-0 start to the bowl season for the SEC. The Duke defeat was part of a 0-4 sequence for the ACC, that included getting another loss to the SEC and then back-to-back blowouts at the hands of the Pac-12 that started New Year’s Eve day. Here’s the review of those four games…
Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17: I thought Georgia Tech hung in pretty well here and had a chance to win before an Ole Miss safety finally sealed it. The Rebel defense was able to contain the Yellow Jackets’ triple option, as Georgia Tech averaged barely more than three yards a pop on the ground.
Mississippi State 44 Rice 7: As the score indicates, this was an obliteration every which way. Dak Prescott was brilliant and the play of the Mississippi State quarterback makes you wonder what this otherwise bland offensive team might have done if Prescott had played more this season. He was 17/28 for 283 yards, and also led the team in rushing with 78 yards. The 10th-best team in the SEC handles the champion of Conference USA with ease.
Arizona 42 Boston College 19: The showdown of running backs, Arizona’s Ka’deem Carey and Boston College’s Andre Williams went all for Arizona. Carey had 175 yards, with Williams held to 75, on comparable carries. The big play came late in the second quarter when BC trailed 7-6 and was driving, but an interception went back the other way for a touchdown and the game was never the same.
UCLA 42 Virginia Tech 12: This game was close after three quarters, with UCLA leading 14-10. But VT quarterback Logan Thomas was out with an injury and UCLA counterpart Brett Hundley did everything. He ran for 161 yards, passed for 226 more and didn’t make any mistakes.
And we wrap with the other two games of the past two days…
Texas Tech 37 Arizona State 23: There’s always at least one head-scratcher game in the bowl season and this is it. The only way Arizona State loses this game is if they’re not interested in playing, something that is an indictment of the coaching staff—when your last game was a 24-point loss at home to cost you a Rose Bowl bid, how are you not at least mildly interested in getting the bad taste out of your mouth? The bad taste got worse, as Davis Webb threw for 403 yards to lead Tech’s win.
Navy 24 Middle Tennessee 6: Pretty much what you would expect. A ho-hum game where Middle Tennessee hung around for a while until the Middies finally put it away with a couple fourth quarter touchdowns, keyed by thorough controlling of the ground game.
The next segment of games is the early afternoon TV window on New Year’s Day, a time slot that has four games and three Big Ten-SEC battles. Then the major bowls start later this afternoon, as the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl go back-to-back on ESPN starting at 5 PM ET.