The ACC came out on top this bowl season, winning seven of 10 of its non-College Football Playoff bowls. Here’s a rundown of how the league fared.
No. 19 LSU 29, No. 15 Louisville 9: Sophomore running back Derrius Guice ran for 138 yards, including a 70-yard touchdown, and caught a scoring pass to help No. 19 LSU Tigers to a 29-9 victory over No. 15 Louisville on Saturday in Orlando, Fla.
Guice stepped in for Leonard Fournette, the LSU running back who sat out of the game to get ready for the NFL draft, and consistently made explosive plays running the ball, as a receiver and a kickoff return man for the Tigers (8-4).
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His performance was eclipsed only by the overpowering performance of the Tigers defense that completely shut down Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals. The Cardinals did not score a touchdown.
Jackson was sacked eight times, including a safety for an 8-yard loss late in the second quarter. Jackson completed just 10 of 27 passes for 153 yards while leading the rushing attack with 33 yards as the Cardinals (9-4) ended their season with three straight losses.
Georgia Tech 33, Kentucky 18: Dedrick Mills ran for a career-high 169 yards and a touchdown, and Justin Thomas scored in his final collegiate game as Georgia Tech beat Kentucky on Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Yellow Jackets (9-4) also got significant contributions from their defense and special teams en route to their fourth straight win.
Playing without former Millbrook High running back Marcus Marshall, who decided to transfer after the regular-season finale, Tech turned to Mills to handle the workload. And the freshman delivered. He carried a career-high 31 times as the Yellow Jackets won back-to-back bowl games for the first time in more than a decade.
No. 10 Florida State 33, No. 6 Michigan 32: Deondre Francois threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Nyquan Murray with 36 seconds remaining, and Florida State beat Michigan on Dec. 30 at Miami Gardens, Fla.
Francois threw for two scores – both to Murray – and ran for another for the Seminoles (10-3). They got 145 yards rushing from Dalvin Cook and recovered after wasting a 12-point lead midway through the fourth.
Chris Evans had a 30-yard touchdown run and Khalid Hill an 8-yard scoring catch in the final minutes for Michigan (10-3).
No. 16 Stanford 25, North Carolina 23: Former Wake Forest High star Bryce Love took over for the absent Christian McCaffrey, who skipped the game to prepare fo the NFL draft, in the Stanford backfield, running for 119 yards and catching a 49-yard touchdown pass to help the Cardinal beat North Carolina on Dec. 29 in El Paso, Texas.
Stanford (10-3) held on after North Carolina (8-5) pulled within two with 25 seconds left on Mitch Trubisky’s 2-yard pass to Bug Howard, sacking Trubisky on the 2-point conversion try.
No. 18 Virginia Tech 35, Arkansas 24: Jerod Evans threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two scores, and Virginia Tech pulled off the largest comeback in its 124-year history, erasing a 24-point halftime deficit to beat Arkansas on Dec. 29 in Charlotte.
After being limited to 180 yards in the first half, the Hokies (10-4) took advantage of three of Austin Allen’s interceptions and scored touchdowns on five of their first seven possessions of the second half.
Evans scored on a 4-yard run and threw touchdown strikes to Sam Rogers and Chris Cunningham to cut it to 24-21 in the third quarter. Travon McMillan put the Hokies ahead for good with 12:03 left in the game when he scored on a 6-yard run. Evans sealed the win with an 8-yard touchdown scamper.
Northwestern 31, No. 22 Pittsburgh 24: Justin Jackson ran for 224 yards and three touchdowns to power Northwestern to its third bowl victory over Pittsburgh on Dec. 28 in New York.
The victory at Yankee Stadium followed wins in the 1948 Rose Bowl and 2012 Gator Bowl victories in the program’s oft-futile history.
Jackson had TD runs of 8 and 16 yards in the second quarter, then went deep on a 40-yard burst in the third that left one defender face down on the turf and gave the Wildcats (7-6) a 21-17 lead.
The Panthers (8-5) had time to spoil Northwestern’s upset bid with a late drive for the tying score. Scott Orndoff failed to hang on to backup quarterback Ben DiNucci’s strike in the end zone on third down. DiNucci had his fourth-down pass picked off by Jared McGee, who helped bust up the previous pass play.
Russell Athletic Bowl
Miami 31, No. 14 West Virginia 14: Brad Kaaya tied a career best and Miami bowl record with four touchdown passes, and the Hurricanes beat West Virginia to snap a 10-year bowl drought on Dec. 28 in Orlando, Fla.
Kaaya completed 24 of 34 passes for 282 yards for Miami (9-4), which had lost its last six bowl appearances. Kaaya already held Miami’s career record in yards and took over the school’s No. 1 spots in completions and attempts. He was the game MVP.
Wake Forest 34, Temple 26: Wake Forest attached a positive ending to a season marred by scandal, using a strong performance by quarterback John Wolford to beat heavily favored Temple 34-26 on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Md.
After throwing an interception on the first series of the game – a turnover Temple used to take a 7-0 lead – Wolford helped the Demon Deacons rattle off 31 straight points before halftime.
Wolford left with a neck strain in the third quarter with the score 31-17. Wake Forest (7-6) withstood a comeback bid by Temple (10-4) to secure its first bowl victory since 2008.
N.C. State 41, Vanderbilt 17: Jaylen Samuels caught three touchdown passes from Ryan Finley, Nyheim Hines returned a kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown and N.C. State beat Vanderbilt on Dec. 26 at Shreveport, La.
N.C. State (7-6) won three of its final four games to finish with a winning record. The Wolfpack built a 28-3 lead by midway through the third quarter – largely thanks to Samuels’ touchdown catches of 9, 55 and 17 yards – and then held off a brief Vanderbilt rally.
Samuels’ three touchdown catches were an Independence Bowl record. Finley, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 235 yards, hit Samuels six times for 104 yards.
Quick Lane Bowl
Boston College 36, Maryland 30: Patrick Towles threw two touchdown passes and caught a pass for a score in the first half, helping Boston College build a big lead in the win over Maryland on Dec. 26 in Detroit.
The Eagles (7-6) led by 16 at halftime, 23 early in the third quarter and had to force Maryland to turn the ball over on downs late in the game to seal the victory.
The Terrapins (6-7) had the ball at their 35 with 1:48 left, but didn’t gain a yard before Harold Landry helped to finish them off with a possession-ending sack.