Cody Kessler threw for a career-high 344 yards and four touchdowns as No. 25 USC (10-4) defeated No. 20 Fresno State (11-2), 45-20, in the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday.
It was USC’s first bowl win since 2009. The Trojans also grabbed their first 10-win season since 2011.
All of Kessler’s touchdowns came in the first half as the Trojans jumped out to a 35-6 lead. Nelson Agholor and Marqise Lee each scored twice, with Lee notching a season-high 118 receiving yards on seven catches.
Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr came into the game leading the nation in total offense at 415 yards per game, but USC held him to just 217 passing yards on 29 of 54 passing. Carr did throw two touchdown passes to become the fourth player in NCAA history to top 5,000 yards and 50 touchdown passes in a season.
The Trojans dominated the stat sheet, holding the ball for over 41 minutes and piling up 499 yards to FSU’s 254.
It was a disappointing ending to a once-promising season for the Bulldogs. After starting out 10-0 to move into contention for a BCS bowl bid, FSU dropped two of its last three. Still, the 11-2 record was the best season by the Bulldogs since 1989.
As for USC, it was a fine ending to a tumultuous season. Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron and Clay Helton all coached the Trojans to wins and now Steve Sarkisian takes over as the new head man.
If Sarkisian is going to last longer than Kiffin, he better hope he’s not back in the Vegas bowl any time soon.
As if this day wasn’t busy enough, Ole Miss announced late Monday evening star-crossed offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil‘s suspension has been capped at seven games, meaning he’ll miss Saturday’s trip to Memphis but return in time for Texas A&M visit to The Grove on Oct. 24.
From the university:
The University initially withheld Tunsil from competition at the start of the season as both the NCAA and the University examined several alleged improper benefits. During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle. In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles. He later corrected his account and since apologized.
As part of his reinstatement conditions, the NCAA imposed a seven-game suspension, ordered Tunsil to pay the value of the extra benefits to a charity, perform community service, and he will also make the vehicle down payment.
Said Tunsil: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire Ole Miss family for how my choices affected our program. This was a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field with my team and redeeming myself. The last 10 months have been a physical and mental battle for me, but I love playing this game more than anything else. I want to be here for my teammates who are depending on me to finish what we started together.”
The news is, obviously, great for Tunsil and head coach Hugh Freeze personally, as well as the entire Ole Miss football program. It’s also a nice plus for NFL scouts, as it means Tunsil’s first live action of 2015 will come against possible future No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett.
Hope he’s been practicing.
Say it ain’t so, Steve.
According to a report from Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated Monday evening, Steve Spurrier is set to retire.
Spurrier, 70, is a legend the likes college football has never seen before and never will again.
He was a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback at Florida, then returned to his alma mater and turned the program into a juggernaut, leading the Gators to 122-27-1 record from 1990-01 and a national championship in 1996. After a stint with the NFL’s Washington Redskins, Spurrier landed at South Carolina, where since 2005 he’s racked up a school record 86 wins.
But those wins slowed down of late. After an SEC East championship in 2010 and three straight 11-2 seasons from 2011-13, the Gamecocks fell to 7-6 in 2014, and are off to a 2-4 mark this fall. With the possibility of losses to nemeses old and new like Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Clemson ahead, Spurrier, it appears, would rather fade away quietly to the putting green.
Perhaps no two sentences summarize Spurrier, then and now, more precisely than this:
Combined with his three years at Duke, Spurrier closes up shop with a 228-89-2 mark, and a bust in the coaches’ wing of the Hall of Fame waiting for him.