Bowl Season Takeaways – What We Learned From Each Game
Bowl season is finally here! Our reporters break down the best games from notable performances, breakout players and more.
Full Schedule | Results
Saturday December 17th
Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel: Fresno State Bulldogs 29, Washington State Cougars 6
A 4-1 start to the season now feels like ages ago. Fresno State has not lost since, beating Washington State 29-6 in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel to end the year with a 10-4 record. Quarterback Jake Haener was sharp, completing 24 of 36 passes for 283 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. And Jordan Mims walked away, rushing for a career-high 210 yards and two touchdowns with just 18 carries. But don’t forget the Bulldog defense, which held quarterback Cameron Ward to just six points, the Cougars’ lowest total of the season. Fresno State, a 3,000-yard passer, picked off Ward and held him for just 137 yards on 32 attempts. – Alex Scarborough
SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl: #14 Oregon State Beavers 30, Florida Gators 3
Silas Bolden pulls on his cloak and dives to make an incredible hook for a beaver that’s down first.
A week after handing Jonathan Smith a new six-year deal worth $30.6 million, the Oregon State coach went wild and led his team to a dominating 30-3 win over Florida at the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and secured their first 10th winning season in 16 years and their first win against an SEC opponent. It was an even all-around performance for Oregon State, who threw for 189 yards and ran for 164 yards — 107 of which came from Junior Deshaun Fenwick. The defense only allowed 1.2 yards per rush. A 40-yard field goal by Adam Mihalek with less than a minute left prevented the shutout and extended the Gators’ scoring streak to 436 games. — Scarborough
Cricket Celebration Bowl: NC Central Eagles 41, Jackson State Tigers 34 OT
In his last game as coach at Jackson State, coach Deion Sanders failed to end an unbeaten season as NC Central upset the Tigers 41-34 in a wild end of overtime. Shedeur Sanders threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Travis Hunter without allowing time to send the game into overtime. But it was NC Central’s Davius Richard who scored in overtime. NC Central had 10 wins, becoming the third team in program history to have double-digit wins in a single season. NC Central rushed for 276 yards. Richard had 177 passing yards, 97 rushing yards and 3 total touchdowns. But all eyes were on Jackson State and what would happen when Deion Sanders left for Colorado. It was a back and forth game the whole time. Shedeur Sanders ended the season with a total of 46 touchdowns. With a chance remaining to send the game into a second overtime, he threw a miss to end the game. Jackson State finishes 12-1, the most single-season wins in program history. – Andrea Adelson
Wasabi Fenway Bowl: Louisville Cardinals 24, Cincinnati Bearcats 7
Louisville scooped up the Keg of Nails trophy in renewing its rivalry with the Bearcats, winning on a dominant defense and running game 24-7 – his first bowl win since 2019. The game featured two interim coaches – Kerry Coombs in Cincinnati for Luke Fickell (who went to Wisconsin) and Deion Branch to Louisville after Scott Satterfield left to replace Fickell. Satterfield was not at the game but was hosting recruits in Cincinnati. But his former team played hard without him, and his aggressive defense — No. 2 in the nation in sacks — made game after game, making it a long day for Cincinnati quarterback Evan Prater. Louisville, who played without quarterback Malik Cunningham (folded out), was far from perfect on offense but had a season-high 287 yards on ground — and grabbed 100-yard rushing performances each from reserve running backs Maurice Turner and Jawhar Jordan. – Adelson
Friday December 16th
Hometown Lenders Bahamas Bowl: UAB 24, Miami (Ohio) 20
UAB LB Reynard Ellis makes the game-saving tackle at the 2-yard line to secure victory for the Blazers in a 24-20 thriller against the RedHawks.
Junior running back Jermaine Brown Jr.’s big day was landmark as UAB secured a 24-20 win over Miami, Ohio, giving new head coach Trent Dilfer some momentum to build heading into 2023. Brown rushed 24 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns to help the Blazers without gaining the services of FBS lead rusher DeWayne McBride, who has retired from the game. Brown’s fourth touchdown run with 1:33 in the game gave UAB the lead to stay — the game’s fourth lead change of the second half. Despite losing the turnover bout (3-0), UAB clinched the win with the help of six players who combined for four sacks.
– Blake Baumgartner
Duluth Trading Cure Bowl: #24 Troy 18, #25 UTSA 12
What a result for first-year Troy head coach Jon Sumrall, who wrapped up a 12-2 season with 18 unanswered points and defeated UTSA on Friday to earn the Trojans’ 11th straight win. Troy had just 153 total yards and didn’t cross midfield in the first half, but five takeaways — including two interceptions and a forced fumble on UTSA quarterback Frank Harris, who came into the game sixth in FBS — were also plenty to overcome for the roadrunners. The Trojans became the first team to win a bowl game with less than 175 yards of offense since UCLA in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl against New Mexico. – Dave Wilson