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No. 19 Texas A&M closes Year 1 of Jimbo era by blasting NC State in Gator Bowl

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Jimbo Fisher is still finding his way in the big, bad SEC, but he’s still got this ACC thing figure out. His 19th-ranked Aggies scored the final 45 points to race past NC State 52-13 in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl in Jacksonville on Monday night.

Texas A&M opened the game with a 2-play, 71-yard drive that was all Kellen Mond. Texas A&M’s first snap was a 9-yard pass from Mond to Kendrick Rogers, and its second a 62-yard Mond touchdown run.

NC State (9-4) responded with a 13-0 run, aided greatly by a Mond interception inside A&M territory. His tip passed landed in the arms of Wolfpack defensive lineman Eurndraus Bryant at the Aggies’ 27-yard line, setting up a 9-yard Ryan Finley pass to CJ Riley. Two Christopher Dunn field goals, from 43 and 49 yards, put NC State up front 13-7 at the 10:45 mark of the second quarter, but Texas A&M seized the lead back with a run of its own.

A 28-yard strike to tight end Jace Sternberger and a 30-yard rush by Trayveon Williams put the ball at the NC State 2, leading to Williams’ 2-yard plunge to put the Aggies back in front.

After an NC State three-and-out, Texas A&M went 72 yards in 11 plays, closing on a third-and-goal 6-yard strike to Rogers with 32 seconds left in the first half. Mond led all players in passing and rushing, connecting on 13-of-23 passes for 142 yards with a touchdown and a pick while rushing for 82 yards and another score on four carries.

Finley tried to serve up more points to the Aggies by tossing a late interception, but Seth Small‘s 52-yard field goal on the final play of the first half sailed wide right.

That theme continued in the second half, when Finley was picked by A&M linebacker Tyrel Dodson, who took the ball 78 yards for a touchdown.

Williams put the game away for good by posting consecutive touchdown runs on A&M’s next two possessions, a 17-yarder and then a 93-yard that put the Aggies up 42-13 at the 13:56 mark of the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 19 carries for 236 yards and three touchdowns.

After a 35-yard Small field goal, the Aggies closed the game with a rushing touchdown by 12th man Cullen Gillaspia with 22 seconds left in the game.

Texas A&M out-rushed NC State 401-134, while Finley finished his college career hitting 19 of 32 passes for just 139 yards with a touchdown and two picks.

Fisher’s 9-4 debut matches the second-best showing by Texas A&M in seven seasons of SEC membership. The Gator Bowl’s Dec. 31 kickoff was perhaps fitting for the maroon and white, as they close 2018 with a sign that 2019 will become the Year of Jimbo.

Late surge puts No. 19 Texas A&M ahead of NC State in Gator Bowl

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Kellen Mond bookended the first half with touchdowns to give Texas A&M a 21-13 halftime lead over NC State at the Gator Bowl.

The Aggies opened the game with a 2-play, 71-yard drive that was all Mond. Texas A&M’s first snap was a 9-yard pass from Mond to Kendrick Rogers, and its second a 62-yard Mond touchdown run.

NC State responded with a 13-0 run, aided greatly by a Mond interception inside A&M territory. His tip passed landed in the arms of Wolfpack defensive lineman Eurndraus Bryant at the Aggies’ 27-yard line, setting up a 9-yard Ryan Finley pass to CJ Riley. Two Christopher Dunn field goals, from 43 and 49 yards, put NC State up front 13-7 at the 10:45 mark of the second quarter, but Texas A&M seized the lead back with a run of its own.

A 28-yard strike to tight end Jace Sternberger and a 30-yard rush by Trayveon Williams put the ball at the NC State 2, leading to Williams’ 2-yard plunge to put the Aggies back in front.

After an NC State three-and-out, Texas A&M went 72 yards in 11 plays, closing on a third-and-goal 6-yard strike to Rogers with 32 seconds left in the first half. Mond led all players in passing and rushing, connecting on 13-of-23 passes for 142 yards with a touchdown and a pick while rushing for 82 yards and another score on four carries.

Finley tried to serve up more points to the Aggies by tossing a late interception, but Seth Small‘s 52-yard field goal on the final play of the first half sailed wide right.

NC State will take the ball to open the second half.

Eric Dungey leads Syracuse to Camping World Bowl victory over old foe West Virginia

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The Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy isn’t leaving upstate New York anytime soon.

Syracuse notched victory No. 10 for the first time since 2001 and beat their old regional rivals West Virginia 34-18 in the process, turning what was supposed to be a shootout into much more of a good old-fashioned slugfest down at the Camping World Bowl in Orlando.

Leading the way for the 20th-ranked Orange was not surprisingly quarterback Eric Dungey. Though it was far from his best performance between the lines, the senior stood in the pocket and delivered a number of big throws, ending the night with 303 yards, one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Those final numbers, though off his normal pace, were still good enough for Dungey to become the school’s all-time leading passer, moving past Ryan Nassib in the record books and also securing the program’s first postseason victory since 2013.

Syracuse didn’t have much offense outside of Dungey scrambling around making plays, though tailback Abdul Adams added a pair of short touchdown runs near the goal line and Moe Neal finished with a team-high 42 yards on the ground. Lou Groza Award winner Andre Szmyt chipped in with a pair of field goals from 39 and 34 yards out too.

Playing without their starting quarterback, best offensive lineman and several others, No. 16 West Virginia predictably struggled to move the ball consistently. Starting quarterback Jack Allison showed a few flashes of what’s to come for the Mountaineers in the future but also had his share of struggles in throwing for 277 yards and an interception. Top target David Sillsdid play in the game but had a fairly quiet outing by his standards with four catches for 90 yards and only one really big gain.

Tailback Martell Pettaway was bottled up to the tune of 61 yards and Kennedy McCoy was the only one to find the end zone, doing most of his damage early as a wildcat quarterback.

The end result and overall slide to the year (losing their final three games) no doubt puts a bit of a hamper on 2018 overall for WVU but it was still a pretty stellar campaign in the grand scheme of things as Grier put up big numbers and the team flirted with College Football Playoff and Big 12 title contention for most of the season.

They’ll still had to sit back and see their old rivals get the last laugh on Friday night though as Syracuse capped off head coach Dino Babers’ impressive turnaround upstate with a big bowl win.

Kyler Murray leads AP All-American team; Tagovailoa named to second team

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Associated Press Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray of Oklahoma was named First-Team All-American by the AP on Monday. Murray was one of 10 players from a College Football Playoff team named an All-American player by the AP, including Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, Clemson defensive linemen Clelin Ferrell and Christian Wilkins, and Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love.

Alabama led all teams with six players named to either the first, second or third team All-American rosters by the AP, four of which being named to the first team to also lead all schools. Clemson and Oklahoma each landed four All-Americans and Oklahoma had two players named to an All-American team by the AP.

Below is the full list of first, second and third All-American teams released by the AP for the 2018 season:

FIRST TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Kyler Murray, junior, Oklahoma

Running backs — Jonathan Taylor, sophomore, Wisconsin; Darrell Henderson, junior, Memphis

Tackles — Jonah Williams, junior, Alabama; Mitch Hyatt, senior, Clemson

Guards — Beau Benzschawel, senior, Wisconsin; Bunchy Stallings, senior, Kentucky

Center — Garrett Bradbury, senior, North Carolina State

Tight end — Jace Sternberger, junior, Texas A&M

Wide receivers — Jerry Jeudy, sophomore, Alabama; Marquise Brown, junior, Oklahoma

All-purpose player — Rondale Moore, freshman, Purdue

Kicker — Andre Szmyt, freshman, Syracuse

DEFENSE

Ends — Clelin Ferrell, junior, Clemson; Sutton Smith, junior, Northern Illinois

Tackles — Quinnen Williams, junior, Alabama; Christian Wilkins, senior, Clemson

Linebackers — Josh Allen, senior, Kentucky; Devin White, junior, LSU; Ben Burr-Kirven, senior, Washington

Cornerbacks — Deandre Baker, senior, Georgia; Julian Love, junior, Notre Dame

Safeties — Grant Delpit, sophomore, LSU; Deionte Thompson, junior, Alabama

Punter — Braden Mann, junior, Texas A&M

SECOND TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterback — Tua Tagovailoa, sophomore, Alabama

Running backs — Travis Etienne, sophomore, Clemson; Trayveon Williams, junior, Texas A&M

Tackles — Dalton Risner, senior, Kansas State; Andrew Thomas, sophomore, Georgia

Guards — Dru Samia, senior, Oklahoma; Michael Dieter, senior, Wisconsin

Center — Ross Pierschbacher, senior, Alabama

Tight end — T.J, Hockenson, sophomore, Iowa

Wide receivers — Tylan Wallace, sophomore, Oklahoma State; Andy Isabella, senior, Massachusetts

All-purpose player — Greg Dortch, sophomore, Wake Forest

Kicker — Cole Tracy, senior, LSU

DEFENSE

Ends — Montez Sweat, senior, Mississippi State; Jachai Polite, junior, Florida

Tackles — Jerry Tillery, senior, Notre Dame; Gerald Willis III, senior, Miami

Linebackers — Devin Bush, junior, Michigan; David Long Jr., junior, West Virginia; Joe Dineen, senior, Kansas

Cornerbacks — Greedy Williams, sophomore, LSU; Byron Murphy, sophomore, Washington

Safeties — Taylor Rapp, junior, Washington; Amani Hooker, junior, Iowa

Punter — Mitch Wishnowsky, senior, Utah

THIRD TEAM

OFFENSE

Quarterbacks — Dwayne Haskins, sophomore, Ohio State

Running backs — Benny Snell, junior, Kentucky; Eno Benjamin, sophomore, Arizona State

Tackles — Andre Dillard, senior, Washington State; Cody Ford, junior, Oklahoma

Guards — Terrone Prescod, senior, North Carolina State; Chris Lindstrom, senior, Boston College

Center — Michael Jordan, junior, Ohio State

Tight end — Noah Fant, junior, Iowa

Wide Receivers — A.J. Brown, junior, Mississippi; David Sills V, senior, West Virginia

All-purpose player — J.J. Taylor, sophomore, Arizona

Kicker — Matt Gay, senior, Utah

DEFENSE

Ends — Chase Winovich, senior, Michigan; Jaylon Ferguson, senior, Louisiana Tech

Tackles — Jeffery Simmons, junior, Mississippi State; Ed Oliver, junior, Houston

Linebackers — Paddy Fisher, sophomore, Northwestern; David Woodward, sophomore, Utah State; Te’Von Coney, senior, Notre Dame

Cornerbacks — Hamp Cheevers, junior, Boston College; Lavert Hill, junior, Michigan

Safeties — Andre Cisco, freshman, Syracuse; Jonathan Abram, senior, Mississippi State

Punter — Jason Smith, sophomore, Cincinnati

West Virginia OT Yodny Cajuste to skip bowl game to focus on NFL draft

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West Virginia offensive tackle Yodny Cajuste has played his last downs as a Mountaineer. That is because Cajuste has stated he will pass on playing in West Virginia’s bowl game this season so he can begin focusing on the NFL draft process. Cajuste announced his decision with a message on Twitter.

Cajuste is coming off a year that saw him named All-Big 12 First Team as a lineman for one of the top offenses in the country at West Virginia. Cajuste choosing to not play in the bowl game is not the least bit expected given his potential draft stock and being a senior. This is, after all, the growing trend in college football during the bowl season, and now West Virginia awaits to learn if quarterback Will Grier will make a similar decision or choose to play in the bowl game.

As noted by Smoking Musket, decisions from wide receivers David Sills V and Gary Jennings are also looming in Morgantown. Sills did previously state he had a desire to play in the bowl game, although it remains to be seen if that will still be the case with West Virginia missing out on a Naw Years Six bowl game.

West Virginia is scheduled to play Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl in Orlando, Florida on Dec. 28. The old Big East rivals will play in a Big 12 vs. ACC matchup. It will be the second time the two schools have faced each other since West Virginia left the Big East for the Big 12, but the first since Syracuse left the Big East for the ACC. Syracuse beat West Virginia in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl, 38-14.