The first weekend of the 2015 bowl season is behind us and even though there was only one Power 5 team playing, the games turned out to be pretty exciting. Here is a recap of this past weekend’s games:
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – UL-Lafayette defeated Nevada 16-3 – Heading into this first bowl game of the season, we were expecting some fireworks as the two starting quarterbacks each had superb seasons statistically. We got a defensive battle in the Big Easy instead as UL-Lafayette, who was playing a de facto home game, clamped down on the Nevada pistol attack holding the Wolf Pack to only 213 total yards of offense and only three points. The only touchdown of the game came in the first five minutes as the Ragin Cajuns kicked three field goals to improve to 4-0 in the New Orleans Bowl.
Why the Cajuns won: UL-Lafayette won the game because of their stifling defense & the efficiency of senior quarterback Terrance Broadway.
Stat of the Game: 2. These two teams combined for only two penalties for a grand total of 20 yards. There should be extra awards for football teams who play that clean and efficient.
Game Ball: Ragin’ Cajuns quarterback Terrance Broadway who went 26-of-31 for 227 yards and a touchdown.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl – Utah State defeated UTEP 21-6 – Much like the first bowl game of the season, the New Mexico Bowl turned into a bit of a defensive struggle but the Aggies of Utah State had just a little more horsepower. Utah State needed to turn to their 5th quarterback of the season in this game and got a decent performance from freshman quarterback Kent Myers who finished the game with a touchdown and 138 total yards of offense. But in the end, it was the defense who won the day as the Miners were held to just 270 yards of offense.
Why the Aggies won: Utah State won the game because their team is better with a 5th string quarterback than UTEP’s team is with their starting quarterback.
Stat of the Game: 16. Utah State brothers Zach & Nick Vigil combined for 16 tackles in the game & Nick was able to get in on offense and score on a three yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter.
Game Ball: Freshman Aggie quarterback Kent Myers earned the game ball for being the ‘next man up’ and answering the call with a bowl victory.
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl – Utah defeated Colorado State 45-10 – Last week I warned you all to stay away from teams being coached by interim coaches and Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl was a case study as to why. The Colorado State Rams were a shell of their 10 win self in the 45-10 loss to the Utes. Utah’s defense completely shut Colorado State’s rushing attack down and forced the Rams to win the game through the air while trailing big. The Rams were able to get Belitnikof Award finalist Rashard ‘Hollywood’ Haggins free on some catches (7 receptions for 110 yard) but were unable to find the end zone. We won’t have another team being coached by an interim until next Saturday (for now) so, Nebraska is on the clock.
Why the Utes won: Utah was way too good on defense for Colorado State to do anything. Colorado State was held to 278 yards of offense and their defense never left the team hotel (548 yards for Utah).
Stat of the Game: 308. Punting yards for Colorado State sophomore punter Hayden Hunt. Yep, he had more punting yards than the team had offensive yards.
Game Ball: Junior Ute quarterback Travis Wilson who found the end zone four times in the game, once through the air and the other three on the ground and also accounted for 249 yards of offense all by himself.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Air Force defeated Western Michigan 38-24 – The Broncos were looking for their first bowl win ever but the triple option attack of Air Force proved to be too much on the blue turf of Boise, Idaho, in one of the best named bowl games every year. Air Force, with a little gamesmanship, went all blue on the blue turf to the chagrin of the Western Michigan players and coaches I’m sure. Western Michigan score in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter to close the lead to only six points but a 60-yard fumble return of a touchdown all but sealed the deal.
Why the Falcons won: Air Force eventually won this game because their defense was good enough to play with a lead and their offense is deadly when their team has the lead.
Stat of the Game: 4. Four times the Falcons went for it on 4th down and four times they converted.
Game Ball: Sophomore Falcon runningback Shayne Davern was called upon to fill the role of injured team leading tailback Jacobi Owens and Davern carried the ball 12 times for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl – Bowling Green defeated South Alabama 33-28 – This one turned out to be the most bizarre of the bowls on Saturday but also the most entertaining. You had fans throwing objects and injuring officials, a team looking for their first bowl win ever as a program and a brand new bowl game still working out the kinks. The Jaguars took their first lead of the game with 80 seconds remaining and was in position to win their first bowl game. That’s when Falcon quarterback James Knapke hurled a 78-yard touchdown pass to retake the lead and eventually win the game.
Why the Falcons won: This one is easy; Bowling Green isn’t that much better than South Alabama but four turnovers will kill any team’s chances at winning. Bowling Green won because South Alabama turned the ball over.
Stat of the Game: 669. Combined punting yards for the two punters in the game on 14 kicks.
Game Ball: Sophomore Falcons quarterback James Knapke who threw for 368 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Best Uniform of the Weekend – UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns – The Cajuns have an odd style that is hit-or-miss most of the time but they got it really right Saturday morning in New Orleans with their mono red uniform set matched up with one of the best helmets in college football.
Dud Uniform of the Weekend – Western Michigan Broncos – I’m not exactly sure what Western Michigan was trying to do with their uniform in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl but it wasn’t pretty. My favorite comparison so far is that the Broncos were wearing their ‘Chicken McNugget’ uniforms.
Miami Beach Bowl – (8-4 ) BYU Cougars v. (9-3) Memphis Tigers – BYU was the darling of college football back in September but fell on hard times when their starting, do-everything quarterback went down with an injury. They will be taking their talents to South Beach to face the Memphis Tigers who shared the American Athletic Conference title after finishing 7-1 in conference play. Memphis has a chance to win 10 games for the first time since 1938 and can win seven games in a row for the first time since 1969. In the end, its cold and raining in Memphis and Provo, to both teams win with a late December trip to south Florida. In the end, Memphis head coach Justin Fuente has done, in my opinion, the single best coaching job in America this season with the Tigers who have only won 7 games in the past two years. BYU’s defense will be a tough out but Tigers quarterback Paxton Lynch have proved to be a highly productive play maker accounting for 28 touchdowns this season. Bradley’s Pick – Memphis