Bowl season takeaways: What we learned from each game

Will Rogers celebrates bowl win by waving flag in memory of Mike Leach (0:35)

Following Mississippi State's bowl win, Will Rogers waves the "Mike" flag in memory of late coach Mike Leach. (0:35)

Bowl season is in full swing, and our reporters are breaking down the best of the games from notable performances, breakout players and so much more.

Full schedule | Results

Jan. 2

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Prudential: Penn State 35, Utah 21

It was an unfortunate end to another strong season for Kyle Whittingham's Utah squad as they saw their starting quarterback Cam Rising go down with an injury in a loss for the second straight Rose Bowl. While last year's game was a high-scoring affair against Ohio State that went down to the wire, Penn State dominated most of the 35-21 final thanks to a signature performance from senior quarterback Sean Clifford and big plays by some of its underclassmen skill players. Nick Singleton had the play of the day as he broke off an 87-yard touchdown run that prompted the dominant Nittany Lions victory. Penn State outgained Utah by nearly 150 yards and created two turnovers. Clifford's 88-yard touchdown pass to KeAndre Lambert-Smith was the longest in Rose Bowl history. James Franklin's squad may not return a quarterback next season, but the talent on both sides of the ball that remains may set Penn State up for a season that could be successful beyond just a bowl game victory. -- Paolo Uggetti

Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: Tulane 46, USC 45

From 2-10 to 12-2, Tulane is now in sole possession of the FBS record for biggest single-season turnaround. And it took an incredible fourth-quarter comeback to make it happen. When USC took a 45-30 lead with 4:30 left, the Trojans appeared on their way to finishing off a game in which they were comfortably in control for most of the contest. Not so fast. Two plays later: touchdown Tulane. Two more plays from scrimmage: Safety. On the winning drive, Tulane converted twice on fourth down before Michael Pratt's touchdown (which was initially ruled incomplete) with 9 seconds left. It was a memorable way to cap one of the best seasons in school history, taking down Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams in the process. Williams, to his credit, was brilliant, throwing for 462 yards and a Cotton Bowl-record five touchdowns, but without the W, it represented a bitterly disappointing end to coach Lincoln Riley's first season. After coming a win away from reaching the College Football Playoff, USC will almost assuredly finish outside the AP top 10 and heads into a offseason in which major questions will be asked about its defense. -- Kyle Bonagura

Cheez-It Citrus Bowl: LSU 63, Purdue 7

Maybe it's fitting that LSU finished off the Boilermakers on Quad Wilson's 99-yard interception return for a touchdown with 40 seconds left in the game. The game was a blowout from the start, with the Tigers leading 49-0 after three quarters. LSU, which had 594 yards of offense, won 10 games in a season for the first time since 2019, when it won the national championship. -- ESPN staff

ReliaQuest Bowl: Mississippi State 19, Illinois 10

When it was over, Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers and his teammates were waving a giant "Mike" flag to the cheering Bulldogs' fans. There hasn't been much to cheer about in Starkville over the past month after Mike Leach's sudden passing on Dec. 12, but Mississippi State summoned just enough offense when it counted Monday to win one for its late coach. The Bulldogs (9-4) won nine games for the first time since 2017 and rallied from a 10-3 deficit in the third quarter. Rogers led two clutch fourth-quarter scoring drives to rally Mississippi State, which didn't score its first touchdown until the first play of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 10-10. The Bulldogs and Rogers set sail on another 68-yard drive in the final minutes, culminating in Massimo Biscardi's 27-yard field goal with four seconds remaining for a 13-10 lead. An emotional Rogers said afterward that Leach probably wouldn't have been happy with the way Mississippi State played offensively, but it was the Bulldogs' toughness that was the difference -- and toughness was one of the hallmarks of Leach's teams. The game ended on a wild kickoff return by Illinois that featured several laterals, but Mississippi State's Marcus Banks picked up the final lateral on the bounce and returned it 60 yards the other way for a touchdown and the 19-10 win. -- Chris Low

Dec. 31

Allstate Sugar Bowl: Alabama 45, Kansas State 20

Max Duggan focused on CFP title game after TCU's win vs. Michigan

TCU QB Max Duggan describes his emotions after his team's big win over Michigan in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl.

When Alabama quarterback Bryce Young announced he would play in the Sugar Bowl, alongside other Crimson Tide stars, Kansas State's upset chances dimmed. K-State's only chance was to start strong and stay aggressive. The Wildcats did both, building a 10-0 lead after Deuce Vaughn's 88-yard touchdown run, the longest ever allowed by a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team. Then, down 14-10, they converted two fourth downs on an 18-play drive that reached Alabama's 2-yard line. But on fourth-and-goal, quarterback Will Howard missed Ben Sinnott in the end zone. Young capitalized with a 98-yard drive in 51 seconds, and Alabama scored 66 seconds into the second half on an incredible throw from Young to Ja'Corey Brooks to pull away for good. Alabama scored touchdowns on five consecutive drives for the first time all season. The Tide fell short of the CFP because they too often didn't look like they did in New Orleans, but they showed their talent and capability in dominating the Big 12 champions. -- Adam Rittenberg

TransPerfect Music City Bowl: Iowa 21, Kentucky 0

Points were actually scored in Nashville and they all came from Iowa, in the most Iowa fashion possible. The Hawkeyes recorded the first bowl shutout since 2019 and the first for a Big Ten team since 1999. After the Hawkeyes capitalized on a short field for their first touchdown, they received pick-sixes from Xavier Nwankpa and Cooper DeJean to take a 21-0 halftime lead, which held as the final score. Iowa became just the second team in the past three seasons to score two defensive touchdowns without allowing a point in a half in a bowl matchup. An often-mocked Hawkeyes offense failed to convert a single third down, but avoided mistakes and let the superb defense carry the load. Quarterback Joe Labas completed 14 of 24 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown in his first career start. Nwankpa, linebacker Jack Campbell, safety Sebastian Castro and others led an Iowa defense that flustered Kentucky freshman quarterback Destin Wade and overwhelmed UK's offensive line. The Wildcats' defense deserved better as Kentucky ended a season that began with great promise on a low note. -- Adam Rittenberg

Dec. 30

Capital One Orange Bowl: Tennessee 31, Clemson 14

Bryce Young drops a dime to Ja'Corey Brooks for a 32-yard TD

Bryce Young launches an absolute beauty to Ja'Corey Brooks to extend the Crimson Tide's lead.

Quarterback Joe Milton III, filling in for his injured friend and roommate Hendon Hooker, threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes, and Tennessee's defense made one key stop and one key play after another to steer the Vols to their first 11-win season since 2001. The Tigers ran a staggering 101 plays on offense and moved the ball (484 total yards) with true freshman quarterback Cade Klubnik making his first career start, but they missed three field goal attempts in the first half and couldn't finish drives. Clemson also failed on a fake field goal and was stopped on fourth-and-short late in the third quarter. Linebacker Aaron Beasley spearheaded a spirited Tennessee defensive effort, as the Vols held the ACC champion Tigers to just one touchdown. Josh Heupel, in his second season at Tennessee, said the best is yet to come for the Vols, who beat six ranked teams this season. -- Chris Low

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl: Ohio 30, Wyoming 27 (OT)

Tight end Tyler Foster's only catch of the game, a 10-yard touchdown, gave Ohio the overtime victory over Wyoming. The Bobcats' fourth straight bowl victory was bolstered by a running game that churned out 201 yards. Sieh Bangura (138 yards, one TD) recorded his fourth career 100-yard rushing game for Ohio. CJ Harris completed 20 of 33 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns for the Bobcats, while Nathanial Vakos converted three field goals -- two in the fourth quarter, highlighted by a career-long 56-yarder with four seconds left in regulation -- to help send it to overtime. -- Blake Baumgartner

Taxslayer Gator Bowl: Notre Dame 45, South Carolina 38

With Sam Hartman possibly on the way to Notre Dame from Wake Forest, Tyler Buchner isn't going down without a fight. The sophomore quarterback accounted for 335 total yards (274 passing) and five total touchdowns (three passing) during a wild 45-38 victory over South Carolina, capping head coach Marcus Freeman's first year on a high note. Paced by Audric Estime (95 yards) and Logan Diggs (89 yards), the Fighting Irish rushed for 264 yards (210 yards in the second half) as they battled back from a pair of 14-point deficits (21-7 and 24-10) and a pair of pick-sixes from Buchner to put last January's Fiesta Bowl collapse against Oklahoma State in the rearview mirror. -- Blake Baumgartner

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl: Pitt 37, UCLA 35

Mike Locksley gets mayo bath after Maryland's win

Mike Locksley gets drained in mayo as a reward for Maryland's victory over NC State.

This bowl game was like a late exchange of holiday presents, with both Pitt and UCLA giving each other gift after gift ... after gift. They traded mistakes. They traded leads. And with four seconds remaining, Pitt won on a 47-yard field goal by Ben Sauls, who made a career-high five field goals. UCLA finished with five turnovers, including two interceptions in the red zone and a fumble on a kickoff return, but still had an improbable 35-34 lead with 30 seconds left in the game. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who entered the game averaging 508 total yards, was injured early in the fourth quarter and didn't return. Backup quarterback Ethan Garbers gave the Bruins a chance, but Pitt never quit. It was the Panthers' first bowl win over a Power 5 opponent since 2010. -- Heather Dinich

Duke's Mayo Bowl: Maryland 16, NC State 12

Joe Milton's stellar performance helps Tennessee win the Orange Bowl

Tennessee QB Joe Milton III tosses for 251 yards and three touchdowns as the Volunteers defeat Clemson in the Capital One Orange Bowl.

The defenses were stifling, but all eyes were on Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa as speculation swirls about whether the program's top passer will enter the NFL draft, a decision he said he would make after the Terrapins' bowl game. Tagovailoa, the younger brother of Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, threw two interceptions but made enough plays to lead the Terps to a bowl win for the second straight season, a first for Maryland since 2003. It was also Maryland's first eight-win season since 2010. Taulia threw the only touchdown pass of the game -- a 19-yard completion to Octavian Smith Jr. in the second quarter -- but NC State's defense gave him fits, forcing an interception in the end zone in the first half. NC State entered the game leading the ACC with 17 interceptions, but Maryland's Jakorian Bennett snagged the game-sealing interception with 2:07 remaining. -- Dinich

Dec. 29

Valero Alamo Bowl: Washington 27, Texas 20

Kalen DeBoer's brilliant debut season in Seattle is complete with a comprehensive 27-20 win against Texas and former Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian. After winning just four games last year, Washington finished 11-2, representing the most impressive turnaround in college football this season. With QB Michael Penix. returning next season, the Huskies are set to be a preseason Top-10 team and will begin the season in the College Football Playoff conversation. Penix was well below his season average (362.8) for passing yards against Texas -- he completed 32 of 54 passes for 287 yards with two touchdowns and an interception -- but was still effective enough to put Washington in position to win. -- Kyle Bonagura

Cheez-It Bowl: Florida State 35, Oklahoma 32

Florida State kicker Ryan Fitzgerald's 32-yard field goal with 55 seconds left gave the Seminoles their first 10-win season since 2016 and ensured they will finish ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since that same season. For Oklahoma, the 35-32 loss in the Cheez-It Bowl means the Sooners finish with a losing record for the first time since 1998 -- the year before Bob Stoops took over. FSU receiver Johnny Wilson was the standout performer, catching eight passes for 202 yards from QB Jordan Travis. Travis completed 27 of 38 passes for a season-high 418 yards with a pair of touchdowns. After losing seasons the last four years, the win caps off an important resurgence from Florida State, which won its final six games of the season. -- Bonagura

Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl: Minnesota 28, Syracuse 20

​​Despite throwing the ball only 16 times for 11 completions and 138 yards, Minnesota came away with the win. Tanner Morgan completed 4 of 7 passes for 48 yards and two touchdowns after replacing an injured Athan Kaliakmanis. Running back Mo Ibrahim ran for 71 yards and a touchdown and became Minnesota's all-time leading rusher in the win. The Gophers defense also chipped in with an interception returned for a touchdown, and it was able to fend off Syracuse from making a fourth-quarter comeback. -- Tom VanHaaren

Dec. 28

TaxAct Texas Bowl: Texas Tech 42, Ole Miss 25

In this era of college football, bowl games can often resemble more of an exhibition than a meaningful contest. For Texas Tech, the Taxact Texas Bowl didn't give off those vibes. This is a team that sat at 4-5 last month and, following the 42-25 win against Ole Miss, has since doubled that win total to finish 8-5. It's the first time the Red Raiders have reached the eight-win mark since 2013 and just the fourth time since Mike Leach was fired in 2009 (Texas Tech won at least eight games in Leach's final eight seasons in Lubbock). QB Tyler Shough passed for 242 yards with a touchdown and an interception but was even better on the ground, rushing for 111 yards on 25 carries with two touchdowns. -- Bonagura

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl: Oregon 28, North Carolina 27

Pittsburgh takes home Sun Bowl after late FG

UCLA takes the late lead on a touchdown with 34 seconds left, but Pittsburgh is able to get down the field quickly for a game-winning field goal.

After the Holiday Bowl was canceled the past two seasons, it was just good to have what has traditionally been one of the most entertaining bowl games back in our lives. And other than the terrible grass at Petco Park (the game should be played at San Diego State's new SnapDragon Stadium), the game didn't disappoint. Few games this bowl season will have as intriguing a quarterback matchup as North Carolina's Drake Maye vs. Oregon's Bo Nix, both of whom showed flashes of brilliance in the game. For Nix, it came in the form of a 79-yard game-winning touchdown drive during which he completed 5 of 7 passes for 71 yards in less than two minutes. Maye showed why he'll eventually be a first-round NFL draft pick in the first half, passing for three touchdowns, but the depleted Ducks defense made the adjustments necessary in the second half. -- Bonagura

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Arkansas 55, Kansas 53 3OT

Jayhawks somehow tie the game vs. Razorbacks with 2-point conversion

Jayhawks somehow tie the game vs. Razorbacks with 2-point conversion

Give Kansas credit: This was the most magical 6-7 season in college football history. The Jayhawks' wild 2022 came to an end with a pass that sailed high in triple overtime against Arkansas, but that will hardly be what's remembered of this year. After a decade of misery, the Jayhawks got off to a 5-0 start, hosted "College GameDay" and played in one thriller after another. That culminated with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, where they erased a 15-point deficit in less than three minutes, and made one huge play after another to take Arkansas to the brink. Jalon Daniels threw for 544 yards and five touchdowns in an absolutely epic performance. And yet, it still ended with a loss. The Razorbacks, once a top-10 team, managed to secure a winning record -- barely -- thanks to KJ Jefferson's own heroics. He threw for 287 yards, ran for 130 more and accounted for four touchdowns in the win. The game was the highest scoring in Liberty Bowl history. -- David Hale

Military Bowl Presented by Peraton: Duke 30, UCF 13

Mike Elko capped his miraculous rebuilding job at Duke with an emphatic 30-13 win over UCF in the Military Bowl, giving the Blue Devils nine wins in a season for just the third time since 1942. Duke had gone three straight years without making a bowl game -- winning just one ACC game in the past two seasons -- but Elko made immediate improvements, starting with finding an emerging star at QB in Riley Leonard, who accounted for 236 yards and two touchdowns in the win over UCF. Duke's defense was exceptional, too, racking up a Military Bowl record six sacks in the game and forcing two turnovers. The Knights' once-promising season ended with a third loss in its final four games, and head coach Gus Malzahn will go into the offseason looking for answers in the passing game. That won't be a concern for Duke, which has their QB situation set, and the future looks awfully bright for both Leonard and the Blue Devils. -- Hale

Dec. 27

Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Wisconsin 24, Oklahoma State 17

Braelon Allen cashes in on 20-yard Wisconsin TD run

Braelon Allen cashes in on 20-yard Wisconsin TD run

Luke Fickell's first game as Wisconsin head coach couldn't have gone much better. While interim coach Jim Leonhard finished off the season, Fickell looked on as the Badgers controlled most of the game and used the running game to outlast an Oklahoma State team that was ranked as high as No. 7 this season. Fueled by Braelon Allen's 116 yards on the ground, Wisconsin stuck to its brand and finished with 258 rushing yards to OSU's 52. Badgers quarterback Chase Wolf only had to throw for 116 yards and Fickell's team didn't even have to score in the fourth quarter thanks to a defense that held the Cowboys under 300 total offensive yards in the win. Wisconsin has now won three straight bowl games. -- Paolo Uggetti

TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl: East Carolina 53, Coastal Carolina 29

When East Carolina found its rhythm, it was all over. One moment, Coastal Carolina was ahead by four points midway through the second quarter. But then East Carolina scored three unanswered touchdowns and went on to win the game, 53-29. Already the program record-holder for completions, yards and touchdowns, Holton Ahlers capped his senior season by throwing for 300 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. And for good measure, he rushed for another touchdown. For coach Mike Houston, it was a chance to get his first bowl win in four seasons at ECU after last season's Military Bowl was canceled. The last time the Pirates reached eight wins was in 2013. -- Alex Scarborough

Servpro First Responder Bowl: Memphis 38, Utah State 10

With Memphis and Utah State having just completed underwhelming, six-win regular seasons, neither went into the Servpro First Responder Bowl with much in the way of momentum or motivation. The result -- a 38-10 Memphis win -- felt like the product of a game devoid of meaningful stakes as the Tigers put the game to bed early. Memphis scored touchdowns on three straight second-quarter drives, and after the Tigers led 24-3 lead into halftime, Utah State never seriously threatened. It was a strong final performance of the season for Memphis QB Seth Henigan, who completed 20 of 29 passes for 284 yards with three touchdowns as Memphis outgained Utah State, 436-261. -- Bonagura

Camellia Bowl: Buffalo 23, Georgia Southern 21

The first bowl game of the day started off slowly, with Buffalo taking a 14-6 lead into the half. Former Buffalo-turned-Georgia Southern quarterback Kyle Vantrease opened up the second half with a 79-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Thompson and tied the game with a two-point conversion, but those sparks never quite came back. Buffalo had a trio of drives that ended in field goals, and never relinquished the lead. Vantrease finished the game with 352 yards passing, two touchdowns and an interception against his former team, while Buffalo's Cole Snyder finished with 265 yards and a touchdown with many of the completed passes to wideout Justin Marshall, who had 11 receptions for 127 yards. -- Harry Lyles Jr.

Dec. 26

Quick Lane Bowl: New Mexico State 24, Bowling Green 19

Ahmonte Watkins takes off for New Mexico State's 3rd TD

New Mexico State scores its third touchdown of the day on Ahmonte Watkins' 45-yard run.

Jerry Kill, whose previous coaching stops include Minnesota and Northern Illinois, earned his first career bowl win as an FBS head coach. Led by TCU transfer Ahmonte Watkins (76 yards), the Aggies collectively rushed for 240 yards and ended the year having won seven of their final nine games. Watkins' 45-yard touchdown run up the middle of the Falcons' defense gave the Aggies a 24-7 lead in the third quarter. New Mexico State quarterback Diego Pavia had 232 total yards (167 passing) with two touchdowns and an interception while connecting with eight different receivers and helping the team convert 11 of 17 third downs. New Mexico State, appearing in a bowl game for the first time since 2017, improved its all-time record in bowl games to 4-0-1, making it the only active FBS team to have played in a bowl without sustaining a loss. -- Blake Baumgartner

Dec. 24

EasyPost Hawai'i Bowl: Middle Tennessee 25, San Diego State 23

Middle Tennessee ended its season on quite a roll, coming from behind to beat San Diego State 25-23 in the EasyPost Hawai'i Bowl. The Blue Raiders needed to pull off the improbable to get to bowl eligibility, winning three straight to end the regular season, so it makes sense that their bowl game was filled with the improbable. Middle Tennessee trailed 14-0 early, but found a way back into the game thanks to four San Diego State turnovers (the Aztecs finished with five). Jordan Ferguson became the second player this season to have an interception and a receiving touchdown in a bowl game. His interception led the Blue Raiders to take their first lead of the game in the fourth quarter. But after San Diego State went ahead, Zeke Rankin made what turned out to be the game-winning 37-yard field goal with 2:05 remaining -- his career\-high fourth of the game. But perhaps most improbable of all ... Middle Tennessee finished with minus-66 yards rushing, the fewest by any team (win or lose) in a bowl game in FBS history. It is also the fewest yards by the winning team in any game (regular-season or bowl) over the past 25 seasons. -- Andrea Adelson

Dec. 23

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl: Wake Forest 27, Missouri 17

If this was Sam Hartman's last game as Wake Forest's quarterback, as rumored, he went out with a bang. He threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns, two to Taylor Morin, and his Demon Deacons beat Missouri 27-17 in the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl. After falling behind early in the second half, they scored the final two touchdowns to pull away. Missouri's offense picked up steam following a slow start but went just 2-for-5 on fourth downs and fell short. It's a fitting potential send-off for Hartman, who has thrown for 12,967 yards and 110 touchdowns in a Wake uniform. He led the Deacs to a 19-8 record over the last two seasons, plus an ACC Coastal title in 2021. The win was also Dave Clawson's fourth bowl victory in the last seven years at Wake; they had won just six bowls in their history before his 2014 arrival. -- Bill Connelly

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl: Houston 23, Louisiana 16

Houston has been playing with fire all season long with seven games decided by one score or less and three games that went into overtime. So it's no wonder things would come down to the wire against Louisiana, clawing out of a 13-0 hole in the first half to make it a tie game with under 3 minutes to play. Then senior quarterback Clayton Tune went to work, starting off the drive with a 33-yard run. A few moments later, after a 41-yard pass and a 15-yard run, Tune connected with Nathaniel Dell for a 12-yard game-winning touchdown. Tune tied the FBS lead in passing touchdowns this season with 40 and set an AAC record with 119 career touchdowns responsible for. The win gives Houston eight-plus wins in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2016. Louisiana finishes with its first losing season since 2017. -- Scarborough

Dec. 22

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force 30, Baylor 15

The Falcons dominated the Bears, rushing for 276 yards to finish 10-3 with their fifth straight victory, polishing off back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since 1997-98. Brad Roberts was the workhorse as usual, rushing 37 times for 116 yards and two TDs for his 11th 100-yard game of the season. Baylor, the preseason pick to win the Big 12 for the first time in school history, finished 6-7, suffering the indignity of a blowout loss in rival TCU's stadium in the bitter cold with wind chill in the negative digits. The Baylor offense struggled mightily, finishing 0-for-11 on third downs, with Blake Shapen completing just 11 of 23 passes for 188 yards and two scores. Freshman running back Richard Reese came into the game needing 38 yards for a 1,000-yard season but was held to 10 yards on eight carries. -- Dave Wilson

Dec. 21

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: Western Kentucky 44, South Alabama 23

Senior quarterback Austin Reed made things look easy in the Big Easy as Western Kentucky blitzed South Alabama for 677 total yards. Reed, second in the FBS in passing yards to Washington's Michael Penix Jr. coming into the contest, completed 36 of 55 passes for a career-high 497 yards and four touchdowns in what was his ninth 300-yard passing game of the year. Seven different receivers caught passes from Reed, with Dalvin Smith (145 yards, one TD), Jaylen Hall (138 yards, one TD) and Malachi Corley (114 yards, two TDs) combining for 26 receptions and Smith adding a 25-yard scoring pass. The Hilltoppers, who racked up 434 total yards in the first half, tallied the game's first 24 points and led by 28 points at halftime after Reed threw for 329 yards and three scores. -- Baumgartner

Dec. 20

Boca Raton Bowl: Toledo Rockets 21, Liberty Flames 19

Liberty's defensive front dominated in the Boca Bowl. Everything else, not so much. The Flames racked up 12 tackles for loss and four sacks, but they gained just 253 total yards and fell 21-19. Toledo scored on three straight second-half drives to take control, and the Rockets, fresh off of their first MAC title in five years, won all three of the game's pivotal two-point conversions -- they converted one and stopped two. After going just 24-20 from 2018 to '21, Toledo's Jason Candle engineered a 9-5 campaign this fall, their best since going 11-3 in 2017. -- Connelly

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Eastern Michigan 41, San Jose State 27

Chris Creighton gets french fry bath after EMU's Potato Bowl victory

Chris Creighton gets a bucketful of french fries as Eastern Michigan defeats San Jose State 41-27 to win the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

It took 35 years, but Eastern Michigan did it again. The Eagles' win against San Jose State was the program's second bowl win -- ever -- and its first since 1987 against ... San Jose State. After starting the season 2-2, the Eagles earned their first nine-win season since finishing 10-2 in 1987. San Jose State had lost the ball just six times all season, tied with USC for the fewest turnovers among all FBS teams, but finished with three against Eastern Michigan. Two turnovers in the first half led to a 30-13 deficit the Spartans couldn't overcome, and quarterback Chevan Cordeiro's interception with less than two minutes remaining sealed the win for Eastern Michigan. Eastern Michigan's 41 points set a school record single-game point total in an FBS bowl. -- Heather Dinich

Dec. 19

Myrtle Beach Bowl: Marshall Thundering Herd 28, UConn Huskies 14

Rasheen Ali and Khalan Laborn combined to rush for 182 yards and a touchdown and the Marshall defense forced four takeaways to lead the Thundering Herd to their first bowl win since 2018. Still, it was a worthy performance for a UConn team that was a major surprise to even make a bowl. The Huskies still haven't won a bowl since 2009, but they outgained Marshall and staged a second-half comeback that fell short largely on the back of a couple of failed fourth down tries. -- Hale

Dec. 17

Frisco Bowl: Boise State Broncos 35, North Texas Mean Green 32

In his first season at Boise State, freshman running back Ashton Jeanty had only crossed the 100-yard threshold in a game one time. Against North Texas, Jeanty exploded through that mark for 178 yards on the ground, 6.4 yards per carry and one touchdown. Jeanty's performance, as well as two interceptions forced by the defense, keyed Boise State's win over North Texas, after the Broncos were down 10-3 early. The victory gives the Broncos a 10-win campaign as well as a glimpse of what their offense could look like next season with Jeanty in the backfield as the team's primary ball carrier. -- Uggetti

New Mexico Bowl: BYU Cougars 24, SMU Mustangs 23

Cornerback Jakob Robinson saved the night for BYU by denying SMU quarterback Tanner Mordecai's potential game-winning 2-point conversion with eight seconds left in regulation, preserving a 1-point victory. The Cougars built a 14-point lead in the third quarter on a 76-yard pick-six from linebacker Ben Bywater and running back Christopher Brooks' 22-yard scoring run, only to see the Mustangs come back with 13 fourth-quarter points. The Cougars, buoyed by the efforts from Robinson and Bywater, won despite the Mustangs holding a 389-256 edge in total yards. Quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava-Peters and Brooks combined to run for 184 yards and two scores as BYU ran for at least 200 yards for the fourth time in its past five games (209) while ending the season with a fourth straight victory. -- Baumgartner

Lending Tree Bowl: Southern Miss 38, Rice 24

Frank Gore Jr.'s dominant performance fuels Southern Miss to victory

Southern Miss takes home a LendingTree bowl victory thanks to Frank Gore Jr.'s 329 rushing yards and 3 total touchdowns.

Frank Gore Jr. not only rewrote Southern Miss' bowl and school record books, he broke the NCAA bowl game record with 329 rushing yards in a 14-point victory. Gore ended his sophomore season with a bang by running for two touchdowns and throwing for another as he also broke Camerun Peoples' bowl rushing record. Spurred on by Gore, Southern Miss churned out a season-high 361 rushing yards and won its first bowl game since 2016. Senior linebacker Daylen Gill recorded three of Southern Miss' five sacks. Rice freshman quarterback AJ Padgett (295 passing yards) threw three touchdown passes -- two to senior wide receiver Isaiah Esdale -- in the third quarter as the Owls erased a 14-point halftime deficit, taking a short-lived 7-point lead. -- Baumgartner

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel: Fresno State 29, Washington State 6

A 1-4 start to the season now feels like a lifetime ago. Fresno State hasn't lost since then, beating Washington State to finish the year with a 10-4 record. Quarterback Jake Haener was sharp, completing 24 of 36 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. And Jordan Mims went off for the Bulldogs, rushing for a career-high 210 yards and two touchdowns on only 18 carries. But don't forget the Fresno State defense, which limited quarterback Cameron Ward and Washington State to the Cougars' lowest total of the season. Fresno State picked off Ward -- a 3,000-yard passer on the season -- and held him to only 137 yards passing on 32 attempts. -- Scarborough

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl: No. 14 Oregon State Beavers 30, Florida Gators 3

Silas Bolden channels his inner Superman and lays out for an amazing grab

Silas Bolden puts on his cape and dives to make an incredible snag for a Beavers first down.

A week after signing a six-year deal worth $30.6 million, Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith led his team to a dominating triumph over Florida, securing the Beavers' first 10-win season in 16 years and their first-ever victory against an SEC opponent. It was a balanced, all-round effort for Oregon State, which threw for 189 yards and rushed for 164 yards -- 107 of which came from junior running back Deshaun Fenwick. The defense allowed only 1.2 yards per rush. A 40-yard field goal by Adam Mihalek with less than a minute remaining avoided the shutout and extended the Gators' streak of scoring in games to 436. -- Scarborough

Cricket Celebration Bowl: NC Central Eagles 41, Jackson State Tigers 34 OT

In his final game as coach at Jackson State, Deion Sanders failed to complete an undefeated season as NC Central upset the Tigers 41-34 in a wild overtime finish. Shedeur Sanders threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Travis Hunter with no time left to send the game to overtime. But it was NC Central's Davius Richard who did the scoring in the extra period. NC Central reached 10 wins, the third team in program history to reach double-digit wins in a season. NC Central had 276 yards rushing. Richard had 177 passing yards, 97 rushing yards and 3 total touchdowns. But all eyes were on Jackson State and what would happen as Deion Sanders exits for Colorado. It was a back-and-forth game throughout. Shedeur Sanders finishes the season with 46 total touchdowns. With one chance left to send the game into a second overtime, he threw an incompletion to end the game. Jackson State finishes 12-1, the most wins in a season in program history. -- Adelson

Wasabi Fenway Bowl: Louisville 24, Cincinnati 7

Louisville claimed the Keg of Nails trophy in the renewal of its rivalry with the Bearcats, using a dominant defense and run game to win 24-7 -- its first bowl victory since 2019. The game featured two interim coaches -- Kerry Coombs at Cincinnati for Luke Fickell (who left for Wisconsin) and Deion Branch for Louisville, after Scott Satterfield left to replace Fickell. Satterfield was not at the game, instead hosting recruits in Cincinnati. But his former team played hard without him, and its aggressive defense -- No. 2 in the nation in sacks -- made play after play, making it a long day for Cincinnati quarterback Evan Prater. Louisville, playing without quarterback Malik Cunningham (opt out) was far from perfect on offense but had a season-high 287 yards on the ground -- getting 100-yard rushing performances each from reserve running backs Maurice Turner and Jawhar Jordan. -- Adelson

Dec. 16

Hometown Lenders Bahamas Bowl: UAB 24, Miami (Ohio) 20

UAB's defense makes the stop at the 2-yard line to seal win vs. Miami (OH)

UAB LB Reynard Ellis makes the game-saving tackle at the 2-yard line to secure the victory for the Blazers in a 24-20 thriller vs. the RedHawks.

Junior running back Jermaine Brown Jr.'s big day led the way as UAB secured a 24-20 victory over Miami (Ohio), giving incoming head coach Trent Dilfer some momentum to build off heading into 2023. Brown ran 24 times for 116 yards and two touchdowns to help the Blazers win without the services of FBS-leading rusher DeWayne McBride, who opted out of the game. Brown's fourth-down touchdown run with 1:33 left in the game put UAB in front to stay -- the game's fourth lead change in the second half. Despite losing the turnover battle (3-0), UAB pulled out the victory with the help of six players combining for four sacks. -- Baumgartner

Duluth Trading Cure Bowl: No. 24 Troy 18, No. 25 UTSA 12

What a finish for Troy first-year head coach Jon Sumrall, closing out a 12-2 season by scoring 18 unanswered points to beat UTSA for the Trojans' 11th straight win. Troy had just 153 total yards and did not cross midfield in the first half, but five takeaways -- including two interceptions and a forced fumble on UTSA quarterback Frank Harris, who was sixth in the FBS in passing coming into the game -- was too much 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. -- Wilson