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Does defense really win championships in the NFL?

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 back to pass at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, Ca on November 19, 2018. Jevone Moore
Rams defense line at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, Ca on December 30 2018. Jevone Moore

They always say DEFENSE wins championships, but the NFL rules have started to swing the pendulum too great offense.

Once you take a dive into the numbers they paint a different picture then most would assume.

Looking at the 2018 Playoff Teams first, AFC No 1 seed Chiefs (12-4) have the 31st defense in the NFL. For the NFC No 1 seed Saints (13-3) have the 14th defense in the NFL.

AFC No 3 seed Ravens with the No 1 defense overall who battles in a Wildcard game with No 5 Chargers whose defense ranked 9th in the League. The No 2 defense overall in the NFL Bills who didn’t even make the playoffs didn’t have to offense to help.

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Cory Littleton celebrates a turnover at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, Ca on November 19, 2018. Photo by Jevone Moore

The NFC greatest show earlier in the season was the Rams with 19th defense and an explosive running game.

With the league being pass happy you would expect playoff teams to have some balance on defense. But 4 of last 5 teams in defending the pass are playoffs teams No 28 Texans, No 29 Saints, No 30 Eagles, No 31 Chiefs.

Then 8 of the top 10 teams stopping the run all made the playoffs with Bears hold No 1 spot only allowing 80 yards a game. The Chiefs are the worst at No 27 allowing 132.1 yards a game, followed by Rams No 23 allowing 122 yards a game.

The No 1 Chiefs, No 2 Rams in net total yards in NFL has allowed them to overcome mediocre defense to make the playoffs.  6 of the top offense have made the playoffs this season.

Buccaneers and the Steelers who both were not on the playoffs guest list  led the NFL with best passing offense, Chiefs is best passing team in the playoffs with No 3 passing offense.

Rams Running Back Todd Gurley. Photo by Jevone Moore / Full Image 360

A good running game seems to be a big key with 8 of top 10 teams in the playoffs. The No 1 rushing team was Seahawks with 160 yards a game. Over the years based on salary and rookie contracts most teams don’t value running backs.

The Steelers this year let Le’Veon Bell sit the season out because that didn’t value him enough to pay him.  Now the Giants are one of few teams that said I want a running back picking Saquon Barkley with the No 2 pick overall.

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald soars over Russell Wilson at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, Ca on November 11, 2018. Jevone Moore

In the end numbers are cute, but matchups and having a healthy team with a few breaks will earn you a Lombardi Trophy.

USC opens conference play with win over Cal

CAL Bears vs USC Trojans at Galen Center on January 3, 2019. (Photo by Jevone Moore / Full Image 360)

Los Angeles, CA – USC junior Nick Rakocevic went on a tear to begin the second half, scoring 10 straight points and 14 of the Trojans first 18 of the half.

 

The 6-11 forward scored a career-high 27 points to help the Trojans to a 82-73 win over Cal in the conference opener Thursday night at the Galen Center.

 

“I owe my teammates all the credit,” Rakocevic said. “They were looking for me and made my job easier. I just had to make layups.”

 

The Trojans improved to 8-6 and won its third straight game. Rakocevic made 12-of-14 from the field while Bennie Boatwright added 19 points. USC junior guard Derryck Thornton recorded his first career double-double, scoring 13 points while dishing out 12 assists.

 

“We made adjustments at halftime and Nick was able to get behind the defense,” USC head coach Andy Enfield said. “He did a great job of finding the open area. He played efficiently and extremely well in the second half.”

 

USC led by as many as 11 in the first half and 15 in the second half but Cal made went on a 17-6 run to trim the lead, 71-67, with 2:45 left in the game. Shaqquan Aaron drained a three and Boatwright knocked down a pair of free throws to extend the lead.

 

“Shaqquan’s three (late) was huge,” Boatwright said. “It stopped their run. It was a big-time shot by a big-time player. And Nick had a heck of a game.”

 

With only seven scholarship players and two walk-ons available for the game, USC managed to lead the majority of the game and finished with 21 assists. The Trojans are averaging 20.5 assists this season.

 

CAL Bears vs USC Trojans at Galen Center on January 3, 2019. (Photo by Jevone Moore / Full Image 360)

“Assists are key for us,” Enfield said. “We need to share the basketball and take uncontested shots. I’m proud of our guys, we’re leading the Pac-12 again in assists.”

 

Freshman guard Elijah Weaver re-aggravated his left ankle sprain during shootaround today and is listed as day-to-day. Sophomore guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. is still out recovering from left pinky surgery and freshman guard Kevin Porter Jr. is still out recovering from a right quadriceps contusion.

 

“We played hard with a short bench,” Enfield said. “We shared the basketball. I’m proud of their effort. We had 7 scholarship players tonight. It’s very challenging. It’s hard to get in a rhythm, it’s hard to practice. We need guys to get healthy.”

 

CAL Bears vs USC Trojans at Galen Center on January 3, 2019. (Photo by Jevone Moore / Full Image 360)

USC will stay home to host Stanford Sunday at 5 p.m.

Mike Yurcich Named Passing Game Coordinator/QB Coach

January 01, 2019 Pasadena CA, Washington Huskies vs Ohio State Buckeyes at the 105th Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Ca. on January 01, 2019 (Photo by Jevone Moore)

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State head football coach Ryan Day has named Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich as the Buckeyes passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Yurcich will receive a two-year contract worth 950,000 annually.

 

Yurcich, who is 43, is officially the second coach hired by Day to be on his Ohio State staff. Wide receiver coach Brian Hartline was promoted to permanent status in December after coaching the 2018 Buckeye receivers to a record-breaking campaign as a group in 2018.

 

“I am really excited to announce that Mike is joining the Ohio State staff,” said Day on officially Day 1 of his tenure as the 25th head coach in Ohio State’s storied history. “Mike is not only an Ohioan coming home, but he is also an extremely talented coach who has enjoyed success throughout his career. His Oklahoma State offenses have been among the most proficient in college football and I look forward to welcoming and introducing Mike and his family to our staff, players and community.”

 

Yurcich, who is originally from Euclid, Ohio, has spent 20 years coaching at the collegiate level within a variety of divisions. His Oklahoma State tenure, six seasons between 2013 and 2018, is most impressive and includes two nominations for the Broyles Award as the nation’s outstanding assistant coach.

 

January 01, 2019 Pasadena CA,
Washington Huskies vs Ohio State Buckeyes at the 105th Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Ca. on January 01, 2019 (Photo by Jevone Moore)

Oklahoma State experienced one of its great offensive eras under Yurcich, with the program averaging 38.0 points per game and 478.3 yards per game throughout his six-year run. The Cowboys scored 40 or more points 35 times (in 76 games) and put up 50 or more points 15 times.

 

Oklahoma State produced four of the school’s top 10 seasons in total offense under Yurcich. As a result: the Cowboys were 52-24 during this time with four 10-win seasons and four bowl game victories. Twice the Cowboys appeared in a New Year’s Six game: the 2016 Sugar Bowl and the 2014 Cotton Bowl.

 

Entering the 2018 bowl season, Oklahoma State’s offense ranked in the top 15 nationally in scoring, total offense, passing offense and first downs. The Cowboys also ranked second in the Big 12 in rushing offense, rushing touchdowns and yards per carry. Leading the way was walk-on quarterback Taylor Cornelius, who Yurcich developed into a top-10 ranked player nationally in passing yards, touchdowns, total offense and points responsible for.

 

The 2017 Oklahoma State offense was arguably the best in school history, featuring a 4,000-yard passer (Mason Rudolph), two 1,000-yard receivers (James Washington and Marcell Ateman) and a 1,000-yard rusher (Justice Hill). The Cowboy offense led the nation in passing (389.2 yards per game), was second in total offense (568.9) and ranked fourth in scoring (45.0). Rudolph was the winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as college football’s best quarterback and Washington won the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s outstanding receiver.

 

Over Yurcich’s six years at Oklahoma State, the program ranked fifth nationally in passing yards per game (315.9), 11th in touchdown passes (179), seventh in total yards (478.6) and sixth in scoring (38.0).

 

Yurcich was hired at Oklahoma State after two seasons (2011-12) as offensive coordinator at Shippensburg University. His first Shippensburg team set numerous school records, including points scored, touchdowns and total offense. His second led the NCAA Division II in total offense (529.2) and was second in scoring (46.9) and passing (387.7) during an 11-2 campaign. Quarterback Zach Zulli was one of his most decorated players, winning the 2012 Harlon Hill Trophy as the top player in Division II.

 

Yurcich coached six seasons at Edinboro University from 2005-10, handling quarterbacks and wide receivers in 2005 and adding offensive coordinator duties to his title for the five seasons between 2006 and 2010.

 

A four-year stay (1999-2002) at Saint Francis (Ind.) coaching running backs, quarterbacks and ultimately serving as offensive coordinator in 2002 was Yurcich’s introduction into the coaching profession. He then moved on to an offensive graduate assistant position at Indiana University for the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Yurcich is a 1999 graduate of California University in Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Julie, who is from Youngstown, Ohio and was an All-America cross country runner at Edinboro, have three children: sons Jack and Clay, and a daughter, Maria.

 

#GoBucks

Ohio State wins Urban Meyer last game

Pasadena, CA - JANUARY 01: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Myer after the Rose Bowl game between the Ohio State Buckeyes vs Washington Huskies on January 01, 2019 at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/fi360news)
Pasadena, CA – JANUARY 01: Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins (7) runs out of the pocket during the Rose Bowl game between the Ohio State Buckeyes vs Washington Huskies on January 01, 2019 at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/fi360 News)

Pasadena, CA -Urban Meyer ends his coaching career at Ohio State with a win in the Rose Bowl. This is the first time Meyer has won the Granddaddy of them all.

 

The No.6 Buckeyes held on to defeat No. 9 Washington, 28-23, in the Rose Bowl on Tuesday in Pasadena. Meyer retires with a career record of 187-32 in 17 seasons at four schools and 12-3 in bowl games.

 

“This has always been a bucket list,” Meyer said. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about as long as I’ve been watching Ohio State football, which is as long as I’ve been around. And it was everything and more. So thank you to the Rose Bowl people.”

 

Pasadena, CA – JANUARY 01: Washington Huskies running back Myles Gaskin (9) runs the ball during the Rose Bowl game between the Ohio State Buckeyes vs Washington Huskies on January 01, 2019 at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/fi360 News)

Meyer’s coaching career includes three national championships and an .854 winning percentage, third best in FBS history.

 

“I’ve been blessed,” Meyer said. “I know this is relatively young, but I started young. 17 years as a head coach, 33 years doing this. And just very fortunate, and I do believe I’m done.”

 

Ohio State dominated the Huskies for three quarters, leading 28-3, but Washington mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter scoring three touchdowns.

 

Washington tailback Myles Gaskins threw a jump-pass touchdown to Drew Sample and scored from a yard out with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter to cut the lead, 28-17.

 

Pasadena, CA – JANUARY 01: Washington Huskies running back Myles Gaskin (9) catches the ball out of the back field during the Rose Bowl game between the Ohio State Buckeyes vs Washington Huskies on January 01, 2019 at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/fi360 News)

Gaskin’s scored on a 2-yard run with 42 seconds left in the game. The Huskies went for two points but Jake Browning’s pass was intercepted.

 

“Very frustrating when you start the first half like we started,” Washington head coach Doug Peterson said. “I had no idea why. It’s on me. It’s not these kids. They practiced hard.”

 

Dwayne Haskins got Ohio State on the board first with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Parris Campbell Jr. Washington’s only score of the first half was a 38-yard field goal by Peyton Henry.

 

Johnnie Dixon caught a 19-yard touchdown and tight end Rashod Berry hauled in another score in the second quarter to give Ohio State a 21-3 lead heading into halftime.

 

Pasadena, CA – JANUARY 01: Washington Huskies Jake Browning (3) runs out of the pocket while Ohio State Buckeyes defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones (86) applies the pressure during the Rose Bowl game between the Ohio State Buckeyes vs Washington Huskies on January 01, 2019 at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/fi360 News)

“We did a great job picking up some blitzes today, and we had to be efficient,” Haskins said. “But right now I’m excited to get this win. Excited to leave Coach with this victory for myself and the rest of the teammates. It’s a blessed situation right now.”

 

The Huskies’ offense couldn’t stay on the field in the first half as Ohio State forced quick three-and-outs and held Washington to 151 yards in the first half.

 

Ohio State took a 28-3 lead in the third quarter on a 3-yard touchdown run by J.K. Dobbins.

 

Haskins passed for 251 yards and three touchdowns. Parris Campbell Jr. finished with 11 receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown.

 

Pasadena, CA – JANUARY 01: Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer during the Rose Bowl game between the Ohio State Buckeyes vs Washington Huskies on January 01, 2019 at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/fi360 News)

“I have a school that I love dearly,” Meyer said. “I feel very welcome in Buckeye Nation and here and I’m an Ohioan. So my job as we move forward is to make Coach Day, who is an elite coach, make this program even stronger, and that’s all our focus.”

LSU snapped UCF 25-game streak in the Fiesta Bowl

2019 Fiesta Bowl LSU vs UCF in Glendale, AZ on January 01, 2019. Photo by John Hays / fi360 News
2019 Fiesta Bowl LSU vs UCF in Glendale, AZ on January 01, 2019. Photo by John Hays / fi360 News

GLENDALE, AZ – With a 25-game win streak on the line, the UCF Golden Knights met a motivated LSU Tigers team on Tuesday afternoon at State Farm Stadium for the 48th annual Fiesta Bowl.

LSU Joel Burrow put together a dominant performance, completing 21 of 34 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns to just one interception, as the Tigers upset No. 8 UCF 40-32 final score.

UCF head coach Josh Heupel felt that they [UCF] “weren’t good enough to find a way to win the ball game. Love the way they competed for four quarters, continued to fight with everything that they had. Believed. Played as a group, just weren’t good enough at the end.”

2019 Fiesta Bowl LSU vs UCF in Glendale, AZ on January 01, 2019. Photo by John Hays / fi360 News

The game started out a bit testy, as a depleted and hungry LSU team was looking to avenge their seven-overtime loss to Texas A&M over a month ago and possibly snap the winning streak held by UCF.

Still feeling a bit slighted for not getting to the college football playoff for the second-straight year, things were in store for an epic showdown in the desert

UCF jumped out to an early, 14-3 first quarter lead when Golden Knights defensive back Brandon Moore intercepted an errant pass by Burrow, returning it 93 yards for the score. During the touchdown return, Burrow got leveled on the play in which LSU head coach Ed Orgeron thought should have been a targeting call.

Luckily, Burrow wasn’t down for long and was able to pop back up after the hit. Following the game, the junior quarterback felt “the only reason I didn’t get up in one second, was because I got the wind knocked out of me, and I would have got up immediately if that didn’t happen” as he smirked.

2019 Fiesta Bowl LSU vs UCF in Glendale, AZ on January 01, 2019. Photo by John Hays / fi360 News

However, the Tigers grit was clearly on display as they came storming back, scoring 21 unanswered points to take a commanding 24-14 led with just over five minutes to play in the half. Burrow’s mentality was to continue to “score touchdowns, complete passes” he said.

When the team needed toughness, they responded. Burrow cited that to the teams’ leadership being founded on exuding toughness, and “it doesn’t start in the season, it starts in the weight room and the off-season”.

UCF would respond, scoring late in the second quarter on a touchdown from Darriel Mack, Jr. to Gabriel Davis to make it 24-21 just before the half.

However, that’s as close as it would get from here on out. The overall physicality and dominance of the SEC clearly on display for all to see.

2019 Fiesta Bowl LSU vs UCF in Glendale, AZ on January 01, 2019. Photo by John Hays / fi360 News

LSU Rashard Lawrence turned in a dominant performance, finishing the game with five tackles (four for loss) and two sacks. “They [UCF] were a big speed team. They got to the edge a couple of times on us. Earlier in the game they did try to go inside a couple of times and we kind of shut them down” he said, “we got some of the best athletes in the country on our side.”

LSU would hold UCF to just 250 yards of offense, en route to the 40-32 win. Following the victory, LSU improves to 10-3 with plenty of talent returning for next year.

As for UCF, they will look to get back to next season, hopeful to begin another long streak and continuing to build on their success.

2019 Fiesta Bowl LSU vs UCF in Glendale, AZ on January 01, 2019. Photo by John Hays / fi360 News

“These guys haven’t lost a game since 2016” said UCF senior defensive end Titus Davis, “obviously just looking at where we came from and how far we’ve come and how far we have to go. I mean, this is just one steppingstone, and I feel like next year these guys are going to come back even stronger.”

Kentucky runs to their 10th win in the Citrus Bowl over Penn State

Citrus Bowl 2019: Kentucky vs Penn State Bowl game in Orlando, FL on Tuesday January 01, 2019. Photo by Laura Domingue / fi360 News
Citrus Bowl 2019: Benny Snell breaking away during the Kentucky vs Penn State Bowl game in Orlando, FL on Tuesday January 01, 2019. Photo by Laura Domingue / fi360 News

Orlando, FL -Kentucky Wildcats running back Benny Snell Jr.  finished off the game with 8 straight carries to run down the clock before giving it back to Penn State with only .01 second on clock.

It was fitting that his coach put the ball in Snell’s hands to close the deal on 27-24 victory over Penn State in Citrus Bowl on New Year Day.

Snell broke the Kentucky school rushing record for all time yards in the win and earned the offensive MVP. He finished the day with 26 carries for 144 yards two touchdowns.

Kentucky running back Benny Snell after breaking school all time rushing record taking in the moment during the 2019 Citrus Bowl between Kentucky vs Penn State Bowl game in Orlando, FL on Tuesday January 01, 2019. Photo by Laura Domingue / fi360 News

“I had no words for it when I entered in the end zone, I knew I only needed 3 or 4 yards,” said Snell, “I have had the best offensive line for the last three years.”

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley gutted out good game on a possible broken foot throwing for 246 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He led his team with 75 yards rushing and a touchdown.

Josh Allen was chasing McSorley all game right from the start of the game finishing with 3 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss and a blocked a field goal.

Citrus Bowl 2019: Trace McSorely being rushed to release a pass during the Kentucky vs Penn State Bowl game in Orlando, FL on Tuesday January 01, 2019. Photo by Laura Domingue / fi360 News

“This team is amazing, I said it all week that is was very important that we finished off  this season,” said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops “It feels so good.”

This 10th win for Kentucky was their first 10 win season since 1976, so yes this was a great win to cap off a great year in the Citrus Bowl.

“We came into this season unranked,” said Snell, “We proved a lot of people wrong this season.

Citrus Bowl 2019: Kentucky vs Penn State Bowl game in Orlando, FL on Tuesday January 01, 2019. Photo by Laura Domingue / fi360 News

The Wildcats almost broke letting Penn State score 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter before burning up clock with Snell’s legs.

“We are legends, all in our special way”, said Snell.

Citrus Bowl 2019: Kentucky vs Penn State Bowl game in Orlando, FL on Tuesday January 01, 2019. Photo by Laura Domingue / fi360 News

Northwestern score 28 unanswered points to win Holiday Bowl

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 31: Holiday Bowl game between the Northwestern Wildcats vs Utah Utes on December 31, 2018 at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/fi360 News)
SAN DIEGO, CA – DECEMBER 31: Holiday Bowl game between the Northwestern Wildcats vs Utah Utes on December 31, 2018 at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/fi360 News)

SAN DIEGO, CA — No. 22 Northwestern (9-5, 8-1 Big Ten) scored 28 unanswered points in the third quarter of the Holiday Bowl to win their third straight bowl game under head coach Pat Fitzgerald on Monday night.

 

The team faced off with No. 17 Utah (9-5, 6-3 Pac-12) in the 41st annual San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl in SDCCU Stadium on New Years Eve and struggled early on.

 

Utah outscored Northwestern 14-0 in the first quarter and limited them to only 63 yards of total offense opposed to their 141 yards.

 

With Utah moving the chains effectively and forcing stops on defense they were able to easily take a 20-3 halftime lead behind redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Shelley.

 

Shelly completed 13 of 20 passes for 155 yards and threw two touchdowns. One to wide receiver Jaylen Dixon who caught a pass for 27 yards and the other to tight end Jake Jackson who caught his fourth touchdown pass this season.

 

SAN DIEGO, CA – DECEMBER 31: Holiday Bowl game between the Northwestern Wildcats vs Utah Utes on December 31, 2018 at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/fi360 News)

Utah who is ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12 (No. 10 nationally) in red zone offense capitalized on every opportunity given to them in the first half scoring 3 out of 3 times in the red zone.

 

The Utes offense was not the only thing applying pressure onto the Northwestern football team.

 

Their defense also made some noise by sacking Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson twice and forcing the Northwestern offense to have minus-6 rushing yards in the first half.

 

 “Some things that didn’t go very well early,” Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. “We tried to get it corrected.”

 All it took was a little momentum for Northwestern to get things rolling. Utah’s mistakes turning the ball over led to a horrible second half for the Utes.

SAN DIEGO, CA – DECEMBER 31: Holiday Bowl game between the Northwestern Wildcats vs Utah Utes on December 31, 2018 at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/fi360 News)

Utah began the second half with the ball hoping to pick up where they left off and continue adding to their comfortable lead.

However, Utah quarterback Jason Shelly threw an interception to Northwestern’s Blake Gallagher on their opening drive. This led to a Northwestern touchdown from Clayton Thorson’s 52-yard pass to Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman that set up his 4-yard scoring toss to Riley Lees.

 

The Utes returned on offense and began to drive down the field and had the ball first-and-goal at the 6 when Shelley rolled right, was hit from behind by defensive end Joe Gaziano and fumbled. Then linebacker Jared McGee picked the ball up and took it down the sideline untouched for an 82-yard touchdown that pulled the scoring gap closer 20-17.

 

Utah quarterback, Jason Shelley completed a 20-yard pass to Jaylen Dixon on the Northwestern 40-yard line, but then fumbled on the play from a strip caused by Trae Williams. It was recovered by JR Pace and returned for 34 yards.

On the ensuing drive, Northwestern took a 24-20 lead when Thorson threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior offensive lineman Trey Klock, a key player in goal line and short-yardage situations.

“We really talked at halftime just about going out and playing Wildcat football, fix our mistakes,” Fitzgerald said, “We’ve been here before, let’s go out and get a stop, get a score, get momentum.”

SAN DIEGO, CA – DECEMBER 31: Holiday Bowl game between the Northwestern Wildcats vs Utah Utes on December 31, 2018 at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/fi360 News)

Utah had an 11-point differential to make up to begin the fourth quarter off of 28 unanswered points by Northwestern but continued to struggle offensively and gave the ball away.

“We just lacked ball security the third quarter. We had way too many turnovers. Pretty much cost us the game,” Utah quarterback Jason Shelley said.

 

Utah had six turnovers, four fumbles lost and two interceptions were thrown.

 

 “It was a shame when we were going out there,” Senior Linebacker Cody Barton said. “We weren’t making plays either.”

 

Utah has now lost for just the second time in their last 16 bowl games.

Northwestern earn their 3rd straight bowl victory setting a program-best streak, mark the 5th season with at least 9 wins under head coach Pat Fitzgerald, Set a new program record for wins in a five year span with 41.

 

When asked about what does a win like this do for the off-season, quarterback Clayton Thorson and wide receiver Riley Lees thinks it put positive light onto the Northwestern football program and allow the Wildcats to continue making noise in the Big Ten conference moving forward.

“I think it really helps going into the off-season. I think guys see what it takes to win a game like this, how it comes down to little things,” Thorson said. “I see so many young guys who weren’t playing who are going to be really good players.”

 

The Senior just became the all-time leading passer for Northwestern, completing 21 of 30 passes for 241 yards for 10,731 career yards. He also made his 53rd straight start for the Wildcats, the most by a quarterback in Big Ten history and is the program’s all-time winningest quarterback at 36-17.

 

“Ending the season with a win like this, it motivates everybody on a high note. It makes us want more,” Riley Lees said. “We won the West, but that’s the bar now, and we got to keep going with that.”

 

SAN DIEGO, CA – DECEMBER 31: Holiday Bowl game between the Northwestern Wildcats vs Utah Utes on December 31, 2018 at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego, CA.(Photo by Jordon Kelly/fi360 News)

The Wildcats will now go into the off-season with a win and can celebrate. They will also have to replace Thorson, who left his mark on the program in a major way. The Wildcats will be back on the West Coast to open the 2019 season at Stanford on Aug. 31.

As for Utah, they will begin preparing to make another run at a league championship. They will have some key players returning to the team with Britain Covey, their leading receiver staying in the lineup and there might be some quarterback competition between Tyler Huntley, who did not  play in the Holiday Bowl due to a broken collarbone, and Jason Shelley.

 

The Utes will begin their 2019 season with their rivalry game against BYU on Aug. 29.

 

Herbert’s touchdown pass is enough for Oregon in the RedBox Bowl

2018 RedBox Bowl; Oregon Vs Michigan State at Levi's Stadium , Santa Clara, Calif, USA on 12/31/18. Photo Credit: Jorge Birelas/fi360 News
2018 RedBox Bowl; Oregon vs Michigan State at Levi’s Stadium , Santa Clara, Calif, USA on 12/31/18. Photo Credit: Jorge Birelas/fi360 News

Santa Clara, Ca – With 1:43 left on the clock  trailing by a point Michigan St attempted a 50 yard field goal but a bad snap dashed their chances to take the lead. The Oregon Ducks sole touchdown was enough for the 7-6 victory to win the REDBOX Bowl on New Year Eve.

There was one last shot of desperation for Michigan State fans on 4th&12 :39 seconds when quarterback Brian Lewerke threw incomplete pass. Then the Ducks just took a knee to run out the clock.

Oregon touchdown came on a Justin Herbert pass for 28 yards in the 4th quarter after trailing for the whole game till that point.

2018 RedBox Bowl; Oregon vs Michigan State Michigan State Quarterback Brian Lewerke(14) hands of to LJ Scott(3) at Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif, USA on 12/31/18. Photo Credit: Jorge Birelas/fi360 News

“I don’t think we were doing necessarily anything different, I think we kind of shot ourselves in the foot the first few drives,” said Herbert, “I think guys kind of settled down and fit their role and made some plays and fortunately it went our way this year.”

Herbert announced he will come back next season and not leave early for the NFL draft which will should help Oregon get back on track. He throw for 166 yards and no interceptions.

“To send out the seniors out on a positive note like that is huge.” said Herbet

2018 RedBox Bowl; Oregon vs Michigan State, Oregon Running Back Travis Dye(26) runs the ball at Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif, USA on 12/31/18. Photo Credit: Jorge Birelas/fi360 News

The Oregon defense rose to the challenge by only bending against Michigan State. They went 0/3 went they went for it on fourth down. Spartans had 331 yards and had to settle for two third quarter field goals.

“Games like this, typically have not gone our way over the last few years,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “This culture has changed, it’s changed the program.”

This RedBox Bowl will be remember by as a defensive stalemate.

Oregon Safety Jevon Holland (8) won the Defensive MVP and Oregon Wide Receiver Dilon Mitchel (13) won the Offensive MVP.

Nevada uses overtime to defeat Arkansas State in Arizona Bowl

Nova Arizona Bowl: Arkansas State vs Nevada in Tucson, AZ on Saturday December 29, 2018. Photo by Eric Townsend / fi360 News
Nova Arizona Bowl: Arkansas State vs Nevada in Tucson, AZ on Saturday December 29, 2018. Photo by Eric Townsend / fi360 News

TUCSON, AZ – On a cold crisp day in the Southwest, the Arkansas State Red Wolves (8-5) took on the Nevada Wolfpack (8-5) at the annual Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl.

It was a low-scoring affair, but Ty Gangi’s 11-yard pass to Reagan Roberson gave Nevada a 16-13 victory in overtime over Arkansas State on Saturday at Arizona Stadium.

The Wolfpack became the first team to win two, Arizona bowl trophies, as Nevada also won in 2015, during the bowl games’ inception.

Nova Arizona Bowl: Arkansas State vs Nevada in Tucson, AZ on Saturday December 29, 2018. Photo by Eric Townsend / fi360 News

Sloppy, is how I would describe this one. A game that saw 29 total points, 784 yards, and five interceptions, it really was a battle until the end.

The Red Wolves had numerous opportunities but ultimately came up short. “They [Nevada] made the plays they needed to and we didn’t”, said ASU Head Coach Blake Anderson.

Despite out gaining Nevada by over 200 yards, mistakes in the red zone doomed Arkansas State.

Nova Arizona Bowl: Arkansas State vs Nevada in Tucson, AZ on Saturday December 29, 2018. Photo by Eric Townsend / fi360 News

Arkansas State started off with the ball in this one, but like Nevada, both teams played field position through much of the first half.

Finally, the 0-0 tie was broken with a little over five minutes to go in the second quarter, when Nevada kicker Ramiz Ahmed connected on a 36-yard attempt to make it 3-0.

On the ensuing drive, Arkansas State would go 75 yards on six plays to regain the lead at 7-3, when running back Marcel Murray would find the end zone from two-yards out!

That would take us to the halftime, where ASU would lead 7-3.

Nova Arizona Bowl: Arkansas State vs Nevada in Tucson, AZ on Saturday December 29, 2018. Photo by Eric Townsend / fi360 News

Hoping to carry that momentum, the third quarter was where the game turned sour for Arkansas State.

The Red Wolves got inside Nevada’s 10-yard line twice and couldn’t score. In that quarter, Arkansas State had a missed field goal, a turnover on downs and an interception.

Nevada Head Coach Jay Norvell really credited the effort of his team in their win.

“They really just would not be denied,” said Novell, “we talked today about playing four quarters and I guess we played five today.”

And fight they did coach! After taking a late lead in the fourth quarter, Nevada gave up a field goal as time expired that sent the game into overtime. His team would respond by winning the game in epic fashion.

As for Anderson, he really took the blame in this one, citing the teams woes in not scoring when it mattered. Anderson wanted to get win number nine for his seniors, but said “we’ll go back to work in January and try and build from scratch.”

Both teams will get to the off-season and try to build on their success from this season.

Michigan gets chased out of Atlanta by Mullens’ Florida Gators

Kadarius Toney #4 diving for the end zone during the Peach Bowl between Florida Gators vs Michigan Wolverines at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on, December 29, 2018. (photo by Andre Hollis / fi360 News)
Jordan Scarlett #25 with a mean stiff arm during the Peach Bowl between Florida Gators vs Michigan Wolverines at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on, December 29, 2018. (photo by Andre Hollis / fi360 News)

ATLANTA — The Florida Gators capitalized where Michigan couldn’t; in the endzone. Quarterback Feleipe Franks led his offense with two touchdowns in the 41-15 win over the University of Michigan.

 

The two teams (No. 7 Mich., 10-3, No. 10 Florida, 10-3) fought to end the 2018 season with a win at the Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl in downtown Atlanta.

 

Franks alone scored twice, rushed for 74 yards and threw for 173. Michigan had two touchdowns taken back by review, 77 rushing yards and 249 in the air.

Three Florida Gators, including Franks, running back Lamical Perine and defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson made monumental impacts in the game.

 

Van Jefferson #12 reach for the end zone in the first quarter of the Peach Bowl between Florida Gators vs Michigan Wolverines at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on, December 29, 2018. (photo by Andre Hollis / fi360 News)

Perine carried the ball six times for 76 yards, one being a 53 yard trip past the goal line, as well as a reception from Franks in the endzone.

 

Gardner-Johnson, the recipient of the Defensive MVP award, got two interceptions, one being 30 yard pick six from Michigan’s Shea Patterson late in the game to cement his team’s dominance over the Wolverines.

 

Franks, the offensive MVP, held nothing back in the post game interview, where he sat with coach Dan Mullen, Perine and Gardner-Johnson.

 

Florida Gators showing off their championship signs after the Peach Bowl between Florida Gators vs Michigan Wolverines at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on, December 29, 2018. (photo by Andre Hollis / fi360 News)

“Just filled with emotion and just on how much I felt like I’ve improved from last season under Coach Mullen and Coach Johnson, and how much this team’s improved from last season as well. So it’s just a great feeling, tears of joy, that I’ve always wanted to be in the middle of confetti falling down on me, winning championships. Coach Mullen’s bringing that back to Florida.”

 

Shea Patterson, the Wolverines quarterback, did complete 22 of his 36 passses, but at the cost of two game-changing interceptions and five sacks. Key wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones pulled down Michigan’s lone touchdown to score in the first quarter.

 

That team up North had a scoring rush taken back on the first possession of the game and would continue to struggle at finishing in the endzone. Aside from the 75 yard drive for six points in the first quarter, Michigan would be held to field goals and a safety.

 

Michigan, running from right to left, started the first drive of the game with a successful sneak by Quarterback Shea Patterson. On 2-9 at Florida’s 46 yard line, Christian Turner broke out along the sideline for a 46 yard rushing touchdown; the six didn’t stay on the scoreboard long as review showed Turner out at the 38. The Gators then stopped a fourth down conversion to get their offense on the turf, ending the possession with a 21 yard field goal from Evan McPherson.

 

Patterson found Peoples-Jones for a nine yard TD, then Jake Moody sent a PAT through the goal posts to go up 3-7 over their SEC rival.

 

Moody then sent a ball 48 yards for three more points and would end the game with nine points. McPherson was the only Gator to score, his second came from 26 yards, out until Franks ran in the team’s first TD at the end of the half. The second half began with Florida up 13-10, and Michigan would never catch up.

 

“I don’t know a lot of teams that would be lining up to play us right now,” Mullens said with a smile. “… that’s part of playing in the Southeastern Conference. Week in, week out, you don’t have an off week. You got to show up and play your A-game every week. You’re prepared to play, and play big games like the one we played in today. That’s what kind of playing in a league does for you.”

 

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson #23 coming up big with a interception during the Peach Bowl between Florida Gators vs Michigan Wolverines at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on, December 29, 2018. (photo by Andre Hollis / fi360 News)

In the second half Perine would score twice. Jordan Scarlett punched through the Wolverine D for a one yard score. Gardner-Johnson scored on the interception. Michigan earned another field goal and then a safety to add up to 15.

 

Throughout the press conference, the Gators were down right bubbly.  When asked about Franks’ level of play, Mullens turned to his QB “He’s still a young player, right? You’re a redshirt sophomore?”

 

In his first year at Florida, Mullins improved the team’s record of 4-7 in 2017. “Turned up” is how Perine and Gardner-Johnson expect Gainesville and the Swamp to be when they bring the trophy home. Mullens didn’t disagree, but was concerned about the trophy itself.

 

“ I hope we got the trophy. Did we get the trophy?”

 

“I know what it will be like,” Mullens continued. “On January 7th, 2019 starts. We’ll enjoy this until then, and we’ll get back to work. It’s going to be the hardest off-season anybody’s been through. We’ve got to take it to another step this off-season. Another level.”

 

“I don’t know what you’re laughing about right there,” Mullens then said to Perine.  “You better turn it up too. Life don’t get any easier for you.”

 

Michigan coach Harbaugh during the Peach Bowl between Florida Gators vs Michigan Wolverines at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on, December 29, 2018. (photo by Andre Hollis / fi360 News)

Jim Harbaugh spent roughly five minutes with the press, clearly upset about his team’s performance. “We didn’t get the run game going effectively enough. Or the passing game, the protection, and the rhythm in that area to make it — we got outplayed on that side of the ball. Defensively, it was really the same story. We didn’t play as well.”

 

“It was a very good season. It would have been a great season had we won this game. Didn’t get that done.”

 

NOTES:

In Michigan’s first-ever trip to the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, the team suffered its first loss to the Florida Gators, falling to 4-1 all-time in the series.

 

Linebacker Khaleke Hudson had U-M’s second blocked kick of the game at the 4:58 mark of

the fourth quarter that resulted in a safety. He also had six total tackles, and one tackle for loss.

 

Franks joins Tim Tebow as the only other Gator since the start of the 2000 season to record a passing and rushing touchdown in a bowl game.

Coach Mullens getting the Gatorade bath during the Peach Bowl between Florida Gators vs Michigan Wolverines at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on, December 29, 2018. (photo by Andre Hollis / fi360 News)

FINAL NUMBERS

BY QUARTER

F: 3 10 14 14 – 41

M: 7 3 0 5 – 15

First Downs Rushing   Passing  Total Yards Sacks  Tackles

F: 15           40-257   170        64- 427        5         62

M: 18          30-77      249       67- 326        3         60

 

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