Lynn Bowden

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Lynn Bowden Jr. powers Kentucky to wild Belk Bowl win over Virginia Tech

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For Virginia Tech and Bud Foster, the Belk Bowl didn’t provide the storybook ending they wanted to see.

Following a chippy first half, a last-minute touchdown pass powered Kentucky to a 37-30 win over Tech in the 18th Belk Bowl.  This will also be the final Belk Bowl as the title sponsor confirmed earlier this year that they were pulling out of the postseason game after 2019.

Lynn Bowden Jr., who began the season as a wide receiver before moving to quarterback due to injuries, connected with Josh Ali from 13 yards with 15 seconds left for the game-winning score.  It was Bowden’s sixth completion of the game and just his third touchdown pass on the season.

It was Bowden’s legs, though, that propelled UK to the win.

Bowden, who previously announced he’s leaving early for the NFL, ran for 233 yards and two touchdowns in the win.  The senior broke Johnny Manziel‘s record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a bowl game. This was the sixth-straight game Bowden, named the Hornung Award winner as the nation’s most versatile player, has rushed for at least 100 yards.  In the regular-season finale against Louisville, Bowden put up 284.

The final margin was provided by Jordan Wright‘s 28-yard fumble return for a touchdown with no time left on the clock.

In a losing effort, Tech’s Deshawn McClease ran for 126 yards on just 11 carries.  Hendon Hooker also passed for a pair of touchdowns, with both of those coming in the first half.

Tech, incidentally, became the first team to score 30 or more points on Kentucky this season.

As for Foster, it was his last game as the Hokies’ defensive coordinator after 33 seasons at the school.  The school announced in August that Foster would be stepping down.

Foster began his three decades-plus tenure with the Hokies as inside linebackers coach in 1987.  In 1995, Foster was promoted to defensive coordinator, a post he’s held for the past 24 seasons.  He also continued coaching the team’s linebackers.

With the win, Kentucky improved to 8-5 on the season.  They now have 18 wins on the season, the most in any two-year stretch since 1976-77.

Virginia Tech finished the year 8-5 as well in Justin Fuente‘s fourth season at the school.

Pregame punches thrown as Kentucky, Virginia Tech hit halftime of chippy Belk Bowl

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To say that things are a little chippy at this year’s Belk Bowl would be a bit of an understatement.

Prior to this afternoon’s matchup between Virginia Tech and Kentucky, starting UK quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr. was caught on video throwing a punch on VT defensive tackle DaShawn Crawford.  It was also reported that a punch was thrown at Bowden as well.

Myriad players had to be separated multiple times in the run-up to kickoff.  These dustups were preceded by an altercation at Charlotte Motor Speedway during an event involving both teams.  That altercation continued on social media in the days leading up to the bowl game.

Despite all of the pregame huffing and puffing and punching, there were no penalties assessed on anyone involved.

The chippiness continued on into the early portion of the game, with the Wildcats penalized 15 yards twice on the opening drive — one a personal foul, the other roughing the passer.

As far as the game goes, Tech has taken a 17-14 lead into the halftime locker room.  UK has 181 yards of offense; Bowden has accounted for 136 of those (90 rushing, 46 passing).

Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker has tossed a pair of touchdown passes the first two quarters.

CFT Previews: Belk Bowl

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WHO: Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. Kentucky (7-5)
WHAT: The 18th (and final, under this name at least) Belk Bowl
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
WHERE: Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
BUY TICKETS: Click Here

THE SKINNY: It’s the 20th meeting between these two in what should be as spirited a mid-afternoon, weekday game can get, as Virginia Tech is less than three hours from Charlotte and Kentucky is fired up to play anywhere this time of year.

In the final game of Bud Foster‘s esteemed career, he’ll have his hands full with Kentucky’s improvised offense. Behind quarterback Lynn Bowden, Jr., the Wildcats essentially run the Wishbone, just from the shotgun. Bowden has thrown for just 330 yards this season, but ran for 1,235 — almost all of them coming over the last seven games. The Hornung Award winner as the nation’s most versatile player, Bowden eviscerated Louisville to the tune of 284 yards and four touchdowns on just 22 carries en route to a 45-13 win.

Virginia Tech has struggled to contain running quarterbacks (though Bowden may more accurately be described as a throwing running back at this point; he was 1-of-2 for four yards against Louisville). In fact, the entire reason Foster’s farewell is today and not last night’s Orange Bowl was because Bryce Perkins rushed for 164 yards and two touchdowns in addition to his 266 yards and two scores through the air in Virginia’s 39-30, ACC Coastal clinching, Commonwealth Cup streak ending win on Nov. 29.

With Virginia Tech fired up to send Foster out a winner, the guess here is the Hokies corral Bowden just enough to get the win.

THE PICK: Virginia Tech 24, Kentucky 22

LSU, Ohio State headline AP All-America team

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Everyone’s got an All-America team these days. In fact, I was at Target this weekend and a cashier tried to hand me a pamphlet with their All-America team. I took it to be polite but pitched it in a trash can on my way out of the store. (I’m kidding. If Target had its own All-America team, I’m absolutely taking that flier home with me.)

There’s no shortage of All-America teams, but the gold standard will always be the Associated Press All-America team. That team was released Monday.

As should surprise no one, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country led the way, as both No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Ohio State placed three players apiece on the First Team.

LSU’s were Heisman winner Joe Burrow, Biletnikoff winner J’Marr Chase and not Thorpe Award winner Grant Delpit, but instead true freshman Derek Stingley, Jr. (Delpit made the second team.) For Ohio State, guard Wyatt Davis, defensive end Chase Young and cornerback Jeff Okudah made the first team, while backfield mates Justin Fields and JK Dobbins made the Second Team, and guard Jonah Jackson and linebacker Malik Harrison earned Third Team spots.

Elsewhere, three teams placed two players among the 25 on the First Team — Georgia, Wisconsin… and Kentucky. The 7-5 Wildcats were immortalized by punter Max Duffy and quarterback Lynn Bowden, Jr., whose 330 passing yards, 1,235 rushing yards, 348 receiving yards, 200 kick return yards and 53 punt returns yards were enough to earn him a nod as an all-purpose player.

The First Team can be found below.

OFFENSE
QB: Joe Burrow, LSU
RB: Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State; Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
WR: Ja'Marr Chase, LSU; CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
TE: Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic
OT: Penei Sewell, Oregon; Andrew Thomas, Georgia
OG: Wyatt Davis, Ohio State; Kevin Dotson, Louisiana-Lafayette
C: Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
AP: Lynn Bowden, Jr., Kentucky
K: Keith Duncan, Iowa

DEFENSE
DE: Chase Young, Ohio State; James Lynch, Baylor
DT: Derrick Brown, Auburn; Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
LB: Isaiah Simmons, Clemson; Evan Weaver, Cal; Micah Parsons, Penn State
S: Antoine Winfield, Jr., Minnesota; JR Reed, Georgia
CB: Derek Stingley, Jr., LSU; Jeff Okudah, Ohio State
P: Max Duffy, Kentucky

Kentucky’s Lynn Bowden Jr. claims 2019 Hornung Award

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It’s been quite the past 48 hours or so for Lynn Bowden Jr.

Monday, Bowden confirmed that he will be leaving his remaining eligibility on the table and making his way into the 2020 NFL Draft.  Two days later, the Louisville Sports Commission announced that the Kentucky Swiss Army knife has been named as the winner of the 2019 Paul Hornung Award, given out annually to the nation’s most versatile player.

Bowden is the first Wildcat to ever claim the honor.

Because of injuries at the position, Bowden, listed as a wide receiver to start the season, has started the last half of the 2019 campaign at quarterback for Kentucky.  In the regular-season finale against rival Louisville, Bowden set a school and SEC record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 284 in the win.

Bowden currently leads the Wildcats in rushing (1,235 yards) and receiving (30 for 348), and is third in passing yards (330). He’s accounted for 14 touchdowns this season — 11 rushing, two passing, one receiving.

In addition to Bowden, Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU), Joe Reed (Virginia) and Wan’Dale Robinson (Nebraska) were all named finalists for this year’s award.