The SEC continued to own the upper hand this postseason, while the Big 12 suffered a loss in its bowl debut this season. Texas A&M (8-5) quarterback Kyle Allen threw four touchdowns and rushed for one to help the Aggies pulled away and held off West Virginia (7-6) in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee on Monday afternoon. Texas A&M celebrated a 45-37 victory.
The Liberty Bowl had just about everything but defense. It even included one Texas A&M student assistant being left in the locker room for the second half after throwing an elbow and a punch at two different West Virginia players in the first half. The game was a back-and-forth affair in the first half, but it was Texas A&M that came out and took control in the second half. The Aggies outscored West Virginia 17-3 in the third quarter to turn what was a one-point lead into a 15-point advantage entering the fourth quarter. Trey Williams had an 18-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter to pad the lead for the Aggies and Allen tossed his fourth touchdown of the game into the hands of Malcome Kennedy 22 seconds before the end of the third quarter for a 45-30 lead.
By this point in the game the West Virginia offense had become frustrated and unable to keep the pressure on. The difference in the game may have been the production inside the red zone. West Virginia was forced to settle for a pair of field goals on its two red zone trips in the game. Meanwhile, Texas A&M scored four touchdowns inside the West Virginia 20-yard line.
West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard showed some good promise in the first half, but he was off the mark in the second half on his way to completing 19 of 42 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns. Kevin White was the big target for the Mountaineers, leading the way with 129 receiving yards and a touchdown in the losing effort.
The SEC is now 2-0 this bowl season, which got started with South Carolina’s victory over Miami in the Independence Bowl on Saturday. The SEC owns wins against the ACC and Big 12 right out of the gate. Arkansas will take on Texas Monday night in the Texas Bowl.
Texas will hope to pick up the first win for the Big 12 this bowl season, which would even the record after West Virginia took the loss in the first bowl game involving the Big 12.