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Texas clamps down on No. 11 Utah to end 2019 with an Alamo Bowl win

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It’s been a meandering decade for Texas football but at least the program ended it on a high note.

The Longhorns pulled out their best defensive performance of the year despite a rash of injuries and a huge amount of staff turnover to rout No. 11 Utah on Tuesday night, ending 2019 with a 38-10 Alamo Bowl win.

While UT’s offense has typically carried the team this year, it was the other side of the ball that rose up to deliver a standout performance when most counted them out of the game well before kickoff. Playing just down the road from the 40 Acres, sophomore linebacker Joseph Ossai was borderline unblockable in the game with nine tackles (six for loss) and three sacks in a career outing. Defensive ends Malcolm Roach and Ta’Quon Graham also got in on the action with a sack each to go with an impressive night coming off the edge.

Their ability to keep the Utes from moving the ball much took the pressure off Sam Ehlinger and company for once — not that it mattered much as the ‘Horns were their usual self in making big plays. The quarterback wound up with yet another big stat line by throwing for 201 yards and three touchdowns (one interception) while chipping in with 73 yards on the ground and another score.

Hauling in most of Ehlinger’s passes was none other than top wideout Devin Duvernay, who closed out his time in burnt orange with a terrific all-around effort. He completed a pass for six yards, ran a reverse and caught three passes for an ever efficient 92 yards and a touchdown. Tailback Keaontay Ingram topped the century mark on the ground and scored a touchdown to really twist the knife in the result.

While everything came up Texas in the game, the same could not be said of the folks from out West. Despite coming within a game of making the College Football Playoff, the Utes were throughly whipped from start to finish. The senior backfield duo of QB Tyler Huntley (126 yards, 1 TD) and RB Zach Moss (57 yards rushing) were bottled up completely and end their career on a sour note with two straight blowout losses to end the season.

What really made things tough is that head coach Kyle Whittingham had sported one of the best bowl winning percentages of anybody but instead saw his team barely show up. They also keep a rather unfathomable streak alive as the Pac-12 title game loser (dating back to 2011) has never won their bowl game after falling in the conference championship game. It was still a very good 11 win season for Utah but the ending definitely spoiled the campaign a bit.

That’s not the case for Tom Herman, who was once again money as an underdog. The staff shuffling and numerous injuries had many worrying that a once promising 2019 would end on a thud after such an up-and-down season but that wasn’t the case in San Antonio. Texas may not be back as they proclaimed last year in the Sugar Bowl but they will certainly remember the Alamo (Bowl) as they head into 2020 with some momentum following a big win right down the road from campus.

Texas pitching a first half shutout against No. 11 Utah in the Alamo Bowl

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The Texas defense has been maligned throughout 2019 but on the final day of the year, the team is apparently saving the best for last.

The Longhorns looked plenty motivated to play just down the road from the 40 Acres in taking a 10-0 shutout into halftime of the Alamo Bowl against No. 11 Utah.

UT was able to look as stout as they have all year despite a handful of injuries in the back seven and a number of other young players missing in action to begin with. They held normally productive Utes tailback Zach Moss to just 48 yards on eight carries and harassed senior quarterback Tyler Huntley to the tune of two sacks and just 80 yards passing.

To make matters worse for the Pac-12 South champs, they also gave up a long Texas punt return and were a goal line, 4th down stand away from being down three scores at the break. If there was one positive for the Western visitors to San Antonio, it was at least that consensus All-American Bradlee Anae took over the top spot in the school record book with a first half sack.

Longhorns QB Sam Ehlingher won’t be proclaiming anybody’s back after this one but did throw for 113 yards and a touchdown. He also tossed an interception… but that actually worked out for his team given that it came on 4th down and resulted in the ball on the one yard line.

The Alamo Bowl has staged some classics in the past and despite the way things played out early, we could certainly get another on the final day of the year. Kyle Whittingham’s bowl record is one of the best in the sport and opposite number Tom Herman has been phenomenal in the postseason and as an underdog too, so things could get mighty interesting down the stretch of this one.

College Football All-Decade Team — CFT’s selections

College Football All-Decade Team
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Hey, look, it’s a College Football All-Decade Football Team, so let the whining commence in earnest as there’s little doubt that we hate (insert name of your favorite player from your favorite team here).

While it might be hard for some to believe, we have come to the end of yet another decade. As such, we — Zach Barnett, Bryan Fischer, Kevin McGuire and myself — decided to cobble together a list of players who have been the best of the best in college football over the past 10 years. And, yes, we’ve done so fully aware of the verbal slings and written arrows that are sure to follow.

(Writer’s note: Speaking of the esteemed panel and verbal slings/written arrows, their personal Twitter accounts can be found HERE, HERE and HERE. Fire away at will.)

This was truly an impossible task — with a small handful of exceptions. Justin Blackmon as one of the wide receivers? Zero doubt. Luke Kuechly manning one of the linebacker spots? No-brainer. Aaron Donald in the middle of the defensive line? Obviously.

Outside of those three, plus a couple of more? Good luck.

Let’s also be clear: This team is based on what the players did at the collegiate level.  What they did or didn’t do in the NFL has no — zero, none, zip, zilch, nada — bearing whatsoever in this endeavor.

One final note before we get on to the festivities: Players needed to have spent more than half of their collegiate careers in this decade to be included. Thus, players such as Alabama’s Mark Barron, Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles, Alabama’s Julio Jones, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh and Texas’ Early Thomas were ineligible.

With that all out of the way, let’s get it on.  Or something.

OFFENSE

QB: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
A three-time Heisman finalist, the former two-time walk-on finally claimed the trophy in 2017.  Twice Mayfield helped lead the Sooners into the College Football Playoffs as well as breaking the FBS pass-efficiency rating each of his last two seasons in Norman.  This was arguably the hardest selection as I wouldn’t argue one bit if someone were to put the special mention in this spot.
(Special Mention: Deshaun Watson, Clemson)
(Honorable mention: Lamar Jackson, Louisville; Robert Griffin III, Baylor)

RB: Derrick Henry, Alabama; Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin 
The only reason this position was “easier” to select than quarterback is the fact that there are two players instead of one.  Taylor is a two-time Doak Walker Award winner who this season, in breaking Herschel Walker‘s record, became the only player in FBS history with more than 6,000 yards rushing his first three seasons.  As part of the Crimson Tide’s 2015 title team, Henry won the Heisman Trophy after rushing for more than 2,200 yards and 28 touchdowns.  He was the only running back to win the Heisman this decade.
(Special mention: Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State; Christian McCaffrey, Stanford)
(Honorable mention: Any other Wisconsin running back; Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona)

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State*; Amari Cooper, Alabama*
As noted earlier, Blackmon was one of the no-brainers.  In 2010 and 2011, Blackmon caught 233 passes for 3,304 yards and 38 touchdowns.  He’s one of just two receivers to win back-to-back Biletnikoff Awards, the other being Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree. Cooper put up two 1,000-yard seasons during his three years in Tuscaloosa, winning the Biletnikoff following the 2014 season.  He was a unanimous All-American that year as well.
(Special mention: Corey Davis, Western Michigan)
(Honorable mention: Justin Hardy, East Carolina; Marquie Lee, USC; James Washington, Oklahoma State)

TE: Mark Andrews, Oklahoma
Andrews totaled 22 touchdowns during his three seasons with the Sooners, coinciding with Baker Mayfield‘s time in Norman.  He was named the winner of the Mackey Award after catching 62 passes for 958 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017.
(Honorable mention: Jake Butts, Michigan; Evan Ingram, Ole Miss; Nick O’Leary, Florida State)

OT: Barrett Jones, Alabama*; Brandon Scherff, Iowa*
Jones was a four-year starter at Alabama.  He was a Freshman All-American at guard, won the 2011 Outland Trophy at tackle and claimed the 2012 Rimington Trophy at center.  Those last two seasons, he was a consensus All-American.  Scherff started at both guard and tackle at Iowa, and was a consensus All-American and Outland Trophy winner for the 2014 season.
(Special mention: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M; Cam Robinson, Alabama)
(Honorable mention: Spencer Drango, Baylor; Jake Matthews, Texas A&M; David Yankey, Stanford)

G: Quinton Nelson, Notre Dame*; David DeCastro, Stanford
Nelson was a three-year starter for the Fighting Irish.  He earned unanimous All-American honors in 2017.  A two-time first-team All-Pac-12 selection, DeCastro was a unanimous All-American in 2011.
(Honorable mention: Chance Warmack, Alabama)

C: Pat Elflein, Ohio State
Elflein began his career as a guard, where he was twice named All-Big Ten.  After moving to center, he was named as the 2016 winner of the Rimington Trophy.
(Special mention: Ryan Kelly, Alabama; Billy Price, Ohio State)

DEFENSE

DE: Joey Bosa, Ohio State*; Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
On the defensive side of the ball, this might’ve been the toughest group to select.  His last two seasons in Columbus, Bosa was a unanimous All-American one year and a consensus All-American the other.  In three seasons, he totaled 51 tackles for loss and 26 sacks. Garrett was a two-time All-American who had 31 sacks his last two seasons with the Aggies.
(Special mention: Derek Barnett, Tennessee; Chase Young, Ohio State)
(Honorable mention: Vic Beasley, Clemson, Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina; Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois)

DT: Ed Oliver, Houston; Aaron Donald, Pitt*
I think people tend to forget just how dominating Donald was at the collegiate level.  His last three seasons, Donald was credited with 63 tackles for loss (63!!!).  A two-time unanimous All-American, Donald won Outland, Lombardi, Bednarik and Nagurski Awards in the same season.  In just 32 career games, Oliver accumulated 53 tackles for loss.  In 2017, he became the first sophomore to win the Outland Trophy.
(Special mention: Christian Wilkins, Clemson)

LB: Luke Kuechly, Boston College*; Jarvis Jones, Georgia; C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Kuechly, who finished his three seasons at BC with more than 530 tackles, was a two-time consensus All-American and the winner of the 2011 Butkus, Lombardi, Lott IMPACT and Nagurski Awards.  Like Kuechly, Mosley was a two-time consensus All-American and a Butkus Award winner.  Jones, who began his collegiate career at USC, was a two-time consensus All-American as well.
(Special mention: Khalil Mack, Buffalo)
(Honorable mention: Dont’a Hightower, Alabama; Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame; Roquan Smith, Georgia; Manti Te’o, Notre Dame)

CB: Morris Claiborne, LSU; Desmond King, Iowa*; Jalen Ramsey, Florida State*
Ramsey played multiple positions in the secondary during his time with the Seminoles, earning All-American accolades his last two seasons.  King was a two-time All-American as well who started all four seasons for the Hawkeyes.  His junior season, he was named winner of the Jim Thorpe Award.  Claiborne won the Thorpe Award in 2011.
(Special mention: Vernon Hargreaves, Florida)
(Honorable mention: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State; Adoree’ Jackson, USC)

S: Tyrann Mathieu, LSU*; Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama*
One of the most exciting players in the sport this past decade, Mathieu was a finalist for the 2011 Heisman after a season in which, among other things, he returned two fumbles and two punts for touchdowns.  The Honey Badger won the Bednarik Award that season as well.  A two-time consensus All-American and winner of both the Bednarik and Thorpe Awards in 2017, Fitzpatrick was the greatest defensive back produced by a Tide program known for cranking out quality secondary personnel.
(Honorable mention: Landon Collins, Alabama; Grant Delpit, LSU)

SPECIALISTS

K: Roberto Aguayo, Florida State*
Twice a first-team All-American, Aguayo is the third-most accurate kicker in college football history on field goals and never missed an extra point.  Following the 2013 regular season,  he was named as the winner of the Lou Groza Award.
(Honorable mention: Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State)

P: Tom Hackett, Utah
Hackett was the second punter to win back-to-back Ray Guy Awards.  As a senior, he averages exactly 48 yards per punt. For his career, he placed nearly 44 percent of his 242 punts inside the 20-yard line.
(Special mention: Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech; Michael Dickson, Texas)

RS: Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
Penny finished his collegiate career tied for the most career kick return-touchdowns (7) and combined kick-/punt-return touchdowns (8) in FBS history.  Four of those seven kick returns went for 100 yards, one shy of the FBS record.
(Special mention: Adoree’ Jackson, USC)

AP: Christian McCaffrey, Stanford*
In 2015, McCaffrey shattered Barry Sanderssingle-season all-purpose yardage record, finishing that season with 3,864 yards (Sanders’ old record was 3,250).  McCaffrey finished his time with the Cardinal with (take a deep breath) 3,922 yards rushing and 21 rushing touchdowns; 1,206 yards and 10 touchdowns on 99 receptions; a 26.4-yard average and one touchdown on 56 kick returns; an 11.2-yard average and a touchdown on 34 punt returns; two passing touchdowns; and seven tackles.
(Special mention: Saquon Barkley, Penn State; Jabrill Peppers, Michigan)

(*Denotes unanimous selection)

College Football Bowl Preview: Your Dec. 31 Viewer’s Guide

College Football Bowl Preview
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Your trusty and semi-daily college football bowl preview that today takes a quick-hit look at the Dec. 31 bowl menu, one that features two teams each from the ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12.

WHO: Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. Kentucky (7-5)
WHAT: The 18th Belk Bowl
WHERE: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
THE LINE: Kentucky, +3
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Florida State (6-6) vs. Arizona State (7-5)
WHAT: The 82nd Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
WHERE: Sun Bowl Stadium, El Paso, Texas
WHEN: 2 p.m. ET on CBS
THE LINE: Florida State, +4½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Navy (10-2) vs. Kansas State (8-4)
WHAT: The 61st AutoZone Liberty Bowl
WHERE: Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, Tennessee
WHEN: 3:45 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE LINE: Kansas State, +2½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Wyoming (7-5) vs. Georgia State (7-5)
WHAT: The 5th NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
WHERE: Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
WHEN: 4:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network
BUY TICKETS: Click Here

THE SKINNY: A member of the Mountain West Conference has won three of the first four playings of this bowl, with the lone loss coming in overtime. … As 26-point underdogs, Georgia State began the 2019 season with a stunning win over Tennessee in Knoxville. That same weekend, Wyoming upset UT’s SEC East compatriots, Missouri. … Both teams enter the postseason, though, having lost three of their last four games. … Four of the Cowboys’ five losses this season have come by five or fewer points.  Four of the Eagles’ five losses this season have come by 14 or more points. … If the passing game is your thing, look elsewhere.  Georgia State is 93rd nationally in passing at 201.8 yards per game.  That’s a veritable aerial circus compared to Wyoming, which is 125th (out of 130 schools) at 128 ypg. … The two teams have combined for 29 passes touchdowns; an even dozen individual quarterbacks have thrown for more scores than that this season. … The Eagles average 245.2 yards rushing per game, while the Cowboys give up less than a hundred per contest.  Their 99.4 yards per game is sixth-fewest in the country. … NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl fun fact: The past two games have gone into overtime, while the first was decided by just five points.  We won’t mention Air Force’s 24-point drubbing of South Alabama in 2016.
THE LINE: Georgia State, +7
THE PREDICTION: Wyoming 14, Georgia State 13

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WHO: Utah (11-2) vs. Texas (7-5)
WHAT: The 27th Valero Alamo Bowl
WHERE: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
THE LINE: Texas, +7
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

No. 16 Iowa breaks out offensively to thump No. 22 USC in the Holiday Bowl

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Ihmir Smith-Marsette, meet the wider college football world. World, meet Ihmir Smith-Marsette.

The Iowa wide receiver almost single-handedly beat No. 22 USC on Friday night, as his No. 16 Hawkeyes did pretty much what they wanted in all three phases of the game to lock up a convincing 49-24 win in the Holiday Bowl.

Smith-Marsette had his hand in just about everything, attempting a pass, returning a kickoff return for a 98 yard touchdown, rushing for a score and hauling in two catches for 46 yards and another touchdown. It was as an impressive performance as you’ll find so far this bowl season and just more of the same for the budding star plenty capable of reminding folks about a thing called B1G speed.

Not to be overshadowed, signal-caller Nate Stanley was fantastic as well in closing out his career with 213 yards and two touchdowns. Perhaps more memorable for Iowa fans however were his big QB sneaks in the second half (including three straight in the red zone for a total of 10 yards) that later setup Tyler Goodson’s short plunge across the goal line. All those numbers would have been even more impressive had the team not had several short fields or had the game in hand well before the fourth quarter.

As good as things went for the Midwest visitors though, things went equally bad for the nominal home team from Southern California. Clay Helton ensured he’ll have the hottest seat of anybody once again in 2020 with a complete nosedive of a performance after what was initially a solid first quarter.

QB Kedon Slovis threw for 260 yards and a pair of touchdowns but was knocked out with a shoulder/elbow injury in the second half while backup Matt Fink was far from the player who led the upset of Utah in relief, contributing a key fumble tossing a pick-six late. The Trojans defense failed to stop much of anything either with their undisciplined play either way as they forced just four punts and looked out place throughout.

If there was any silver lining at all for the cardinal and gold, at least they were able to take part in Iowa’s great tradition of waving at children from local hospitals (in both San Diego and Iowa City via video) prior to the start of the second quarter. Other than that though, USC fans that were hoping for a coaching change earlier this month were only reinforced in their belief about the state of the program not being what it historically has been up in Los Angeles.

The flip side was that the outing was a perfect way for Iowa to close out a 2019 campaign with 10 wins and celebrate their late, legendary head coach Hayden Fry with a performance befitting of his status in the game’s lore.