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Driskel’s 457 yards, Dixon’s four TDs power LaTech to dominating New Orleans Bowl win

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If you’re a Florida fan, and you’ve watched Louisiana Tech at all this season, you’ve probably wondered “where the hell was that?” when it came to Jeff Driskel‘s play. If you watched the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, you were probably in that very same choir singing from a strikingly similar hymnal.

Thanks to a heaping helping of Driskel — and a healthy dose of the record-setting Kenneth Dixon for good measure — Tech was able to pull away from Arkansas State in a dominant second half and secure a 47-28 win in the 15th R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. The Bulldogs also won the Heart of Dallas Bowl last year, giving Tech back-to-back bowl wins for the first time in the program’s history.

It also served as an exorcising of demons of sorts for Driskel, whose last trip to the Superdome was a two-pick performance in a 10-point loss to Louisville in the Sugar Bowl following the 2012 season. This time around, Driskel, as he has been for most of this season, was superb, completing 26-of-37 passes for a career-high 457 yards and three touchdowns. Most impressively, especially considering the Red Wolves’ defense came into the game leading the country in interceptions, Driskel was turnover-free.

Driskel, a graduate transfer in his first year with the Bulldogs, salvaged not only his collegiate career in Ruston but also set himself up for a shot at being a mid-round NFL draft pick next April with his performance this season. In 13 games in 2015, Driskel threw for 300-plus yards eight times; in 29 career games with the Gators, he never hit that mark.

Not to be outdone, Driskel’s teammate left a record-setting mark in what has been a phenomenal and prolific under-the-radar career.

Dixon, a senior running back, accounted for four touchdowns on the day, two each rushing and receiving. That gives the Arkansas native 87 career touchdowns rushing and receiving, giving him — for the moment — the all-time FBS record. Whether that remains the all-time FBS record, though, is to be determined as Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds will enter the Midshipmen’s bowl game with 85 total touchdowns (all on the ground).

All told, Dixon accounted for 203 all-purpose yards — 112 receiving, 91 rushing.  That effort was a part of a Tech offensive explosion that gave the Bulldogs a whopping 673-323 advantage in total yards.

Both Tech and ASU finish their respective seasons at 9-4.  The Bulldogs have now won nine games in back-to-back seasons under Skip Holtz, while the Red Wolves have won 16 games in two seasons with Blake Anderson at the helm.

Arkansas fires Bret Bielema after season-ending loss to Missouri

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It may only be a matter of days now before Arkansas pulls the plug on the Bret Bielema era with the Razorbacks, but at least Arkansas went down fighting. Arkansas (4-8, 1-7 SEC) came up just short at home against Missouri (7-5, 4-4 SEC) in the regular season finale as a late go-ahead field goal lifted the Tigers to a 48-45 victory.

The win clinched a winning season for Missouri, which is an incredible feat given how this season started out. The Tigers were really struggling in the first half of the season after suffering blowout losses at home to South Carolina, Purdue, and Auburn and on the road against Georgia. During that rough stretch, head coach Barry Odom came off sounding like he was under extreme pressure when he passionately defending himself as being the right coach for the job. Turns out, he was right. Missouri ended the season on a six-game winning streak as they now prepare to go to a bowl game few would have seen coming back in October.

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock passed for 448 yards and five touchdowns in the game as the Tigers managed to dig out of an early hole and then come up with just a few more plays than the Razorbacks. Missouri racked up 696 yards of offense and 35 first downs. And it didn’t hurt when Bielema made some bizarre coaching decisions in the fourth quarter.

As Missouri goes on to prepare for whatever bowl game may be coming their way, Arkansas has some work to do with its football program. By most accounts, Bielema will be replaced as head coach as Arkansas reshapes the leadership for the program, including with a new athletics director still to be named.

This is the second losing season under Bielema for Arkansas, with the first being in his first season on the job since leaving Wisconsin and the Big Ten. In five seasons at Arkansas, Bielema is 29-34.

San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny becomes 22nd 2,000-yard rusher in FBS history

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San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny became the 22nd player in FBS history to rush for at least 2,000 yards in a single season when he rattled off a 51-yard touchdown in the third quarter of a game against New Mexico.

Penny eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark a season after former Aztecs running back Donnel Pumphrey accomplished the same feat. That also made some history, with San Diego State becoming the first school in FBS history to have two different players run for 2,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.

We may not be quite done with the 2,000-yard rushers this season either. Stanford running back Bryce Love begins the week with 1,723 rushing yards this season. This week, Stanford faces a Notre Dame team that has allowed 200+ rushing yards each of the past three weeks. There is also the possibility Love gets to play in the Pac-12 Championship Game for another opportunity to tack on the yardage. Wisconsin freshman Jonathan Taylor is also in striking distance with 1,657 yards this season, and he is guaranteed a chance in the Big Ten championship game.

Penny had been on the Heisman Trophy radar earlier in the season, and some will argue he is worthy of a trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation as much as any other players who may be heading there. Penny was not named a finalist for the Doak Walker Award, given to the nation’s top running back. Love, Taylor and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley were named finalists for the award earlier this week.

Toledo punches ticket to MAC Championship Game to face Akron

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The preseason favorite to win the MAC is now one step closer to coming through on that expectation. Toledo (10-2, 7-1 MAC) clinched the MAC West Division on Friday afternoon by defeating the defending MAC champ, Western Michigan (6-6, 4-4 MAC), by a score of 37-10.

Toledo will play Akron, the East Division champion, in the MAC Championship Game on Dec. 2 at Ford Field in Detroit. Toledo will be playing in the MAC Championship Game for the fifth time, but this will be their first trip since 2004. Akron is also ending a championship game drought by making their second appearance and their first since 2005. The two schools have not faced each other in the MAC Championship Game until this season.

Western Michigan represented the MAC in the New Years Six bowl lineup a year ago after going undefeated in the regular season and being the highest-ranked conference champion among the Group of Five conferences. The stakes will not be that high this season for Toledo or Akron. With two ranked teams in the American Athletic Conference expected to play for the AAC championship (UCF and Memphis are currently ranked, but USF would likely be ranked with a win over UCF), and Boise state floating in the bottom of the top 25 from the selection committee, even a Toledo blowout of the Zips would not likely be enough to make a push in the final week.

Toledo quarterback Logan Woodside passed for 200 yards and two touchdowns in the win. The Rockets were 7-of-14 on third down conversions in the game. The Rockets are expected to be a sizable favorite against Akron next week.

At 6-6, Western Michigan is bowl eligible.

USF WR Tyre McCants sets school receiving record in first half, but UCF leads by one

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With the stakes as high as they could possibly be in the War on I-4, No. 15 UCF is holding on to the narrowest of leads after getting off to a fast start against rival USF. UCF is leading the Bulls 21-20 at the half as USF has battled back from an early hole.

USF opened the scoring on the first possession of the game with Quinton Flowers completing the first of many passes to Tyre McCants, who managed to drag a defender on his way to the endzone on a 47-yard touchdown pass. UCF answered with quarterback McKenzie Milton running in from three yards out for a score, and UCF would score two more touchdowns while USF missed a field goal in the first half to help build a 21-7 lead.

USF battled back in the second quarter with a couple of touchdowns, and the Bulls had a chance to get to halftime with a lead before Quinton Flowers had a pass picked off in the final minute of the half.

If there has been thing that has been working incredibly well for USF, it is McCants, who has been finding all of the available open space in the first half and helping to bail out Flowers time and time again, setting a new school record in the process.

McCants actually ended the first half with 210 receiving yards. And we still have a half to play.

The winner of this game takes on Memphis in the AAC Championship Game next week. UCF would clinch home field advantage with a win.