The nightcap of a long day of bowl games ended in a close one that had a pair of clutch field goals and a hint of honey BBQ sauce.
The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl between TCU and Michigan State didn’t start out particularly interesting when the Horned Frogs jumped out to a 13-0 lead over Sparty, but Michigan State scored 17 points in the second half, including a 47-yard field goal with one minute remaining, to come away with a 17-16 win. A muffed punt by TCU’s Skye Dawson put MSU in a position to take a 14-13 lead in the fourth.
Leading the way for the Spartans was running back Le’Veon Bell, who finished with 145 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries. As an example of MSU’s woeful offensive production, Bell was also the team’s second-leading passer with one completion on a trick play for 29 yards. Bell finishes the year with almost 1,800 yards rushing on 382 carries. Here’s betting this was Bell’s final game with the Spartans.
For TCU, however, there’s plenty of young talent coming back in 2013. Perhaps among those will be quarterback Casey Pachall, who left the program mid-season because of a drug problem. Trevone Boykin has done an admiral job filling in for Pachall, but the Horned Frogs would have a better player at their disposal if Pachall returns.
Texas showed earlier this evening against Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl that it’s a team to keep an eye on as a possible Big 12 championship contender in 2013. I would add TCU to that list as well.
Michigan State will have some questions to address at quarterback — starter Andrew Maxwell was swapped in favor of Connor Cook — with the possibility of Bell leaving and taking his load of offensive production with him.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah