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Football Tabs Jerry Neuheisel to Guide Wide Receivers

LOS ANGELES – Jerry Neuheisel has been promoted to the position of wide receivers coach, UCLA football head coach Chip Kelly announced Wednesday. Neuheisel, who has spent seven of the past nine seasons in the program as a student-athlete or graduate-assistant coach, has seen the offense achieve numerous milestones during his three seasons on staff.

The 2020 team ranked atop the Pac-12 in receiving touchdowns (18), total offensive touchdowns (31) and first downs per game (24.6) during the shortened season. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson posted the best passing efficiency rating by a Bruin signal caller (156.3) since Drew Olson in 2005. The squad’s total-offense output of 455.0 yards per game was second in the conference and marked an improvement of nearly 50 yards per game from 2019.

Five different UCLA wide receivers logged touchdown catches in 2020. For the second year in a row, Kyle Philips led the team in receptions. His 60 grabs in 2019 represent a program freshman record and place him 11th on the single-season list. Philips became the 27th Bruin to reach the 100-catch plateau, doing so in just 23 games. In 2018, receiver Theo Howard joined the 100 receptions-1,000 receiving yards club at UCLA.

Neuheisel started his coaching career at Texas A&M, where he served as an offensive quality control coach under head coach Kevin Sumlin in 2017. Alongside offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, Neuheisel helped develop then-freshmen quarterbacks Kellen Mond and Nick Starkel. In just his third-career game, Mond became the first true freshman in program history to throw for 300 yards in a contest when he accomplished the feat in a home win over Louisiana. Starkel would go on to shatter the Aggies’ freshman records for completions (42), passing attempts (63) and passing yards (499) in a Belk Bowl shootout with Wake Forest. His 499 passing yards are the second-highest total in program history.

A graduate of Loyola HS in Los Angeles, Neuheisel earned UCLA’s Charles Pike Memorial Award for Outstanding Scout Team Player (offense) at the conclusion of the 2012 season, his first in the program. He registered his initial game experience in 2013 as the Bruins’ backup quarterback and holder.

On Sept. 13, 2014, in relief of injured starter Brett Hundley, Neuheisel led UCLA to a comeback 20-17 win over Texas at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Neuheisel completed 23 of 30 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns, including the 33-yard game winner to Jordan Payton with 3 minutes left, against the Longhorns. Neuheisel was named the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week for his performance.

Neuheisel, a nine-time UCLA Athletic Director’s Honor Roll member and four-year Pac-12 All-Academic honoree, continued his football career abroad. He led the Obic Seagulls of the Japanese X League to the Japan X Bowl in 2016, completing 67.5% of his passing attempts for 1,456 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Neuheisel was married to his wife, Nicole, this past summer. He was born to UCLA graduates Susan and Rick at UCLA Medical Center. Rick Neuheisel played quarterback for the Bruins from 1981-83 before embarking on a coaching career at his alma mater in 1986. Stints as a graduate assistant, quarterbacks coach and wide receivers coach preceded his first head-coaching job at Colorado, where he guided the Buffaloes from 1995-98. He also served at the helm of the University of Washington football program (1999-2002) before returning to UCLA as head coach from 2008-2011.

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. to Celebrate 107 Years

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. to Celebrate 107 Years on January 9, 2021 with a Virtual Global Celebration and Live Conversation from the International Space Station with NASA Astronaut Victor J. Glover, Jr.

WASHINGTON, DC – Micheal E. Cristal, International President of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., announces 107th Anniversary Virtual Global founders’ Day Celebration. The event will take place Saturday
January 9, 2021 at 12:00 Noon EST and will be LIVE streamed simultaneously to the Phi Beta Sigma Official Website, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter platforms.

One of the highlights of this special celebration will be a LIVE conversation from the International Space Station with Phi Beta Sigma Brother Victor J. Glover, Jr. who is a Commander in the U.S. Navy and a NASA
Astronaut. He will take questions from young men in our Sigma Beta Club, an organization dedicated to the development of young men.

The celebration will also include a special tribute to the late Congressman Brother John Lewis, with presentations from Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (D)-California and Congresswoman Nikema Williams (D) – 5th Congressional District Georgia.

We will also have appearances by Actor, Brother Blair Underwood; NFL Arizona Cardinal, Brother Corey Peters; Grand Basileus of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., Ms. Valerie Hollingsworth-Baker; Actor, Dancer and Singer,
Brother Ben Vereen; Affriachian Poet, Writer and Former Kentucky Poet Laureate, Frank X Walker, and many more. Musical appearances include Grammy-winning Gospel Artist, Brother Kurt Carr.

Sigmas around the world will be hosting chapter watch parties on January 9th. The public is invited to join the celebration. More information available at PhiBetaSigma1914.org. Official hashtag: #Sigma107.

What: Virtual Global Founders’ Day Celebration
When: Saturday, January 9, 2021 12 Noon EST
Where: Online at Facebook.com/pbs1914; Twitter.com/pbs_1914; and Instagram.com/pbs_1914; Phi Beta Sigma on YouTube and at PhiBetaSigma1914.org

Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity was founded at Howard University in Washington, D.C., by three African American male students on the principles of Brotherhood, Scholarship, and Service. The Founders conceived Phi Beta Sigma as a mechanism to deliver services to the general community. This deep conviction is reflected in the Fraternity’s motto, ‘Culture for Service and Service for Humanity.’ Today, Sigma has blossomed into a global organization of leaders, with more than 800 chapters chartered across the United States and Canada, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Europe. The Fraternity delivers transformative experiences through its programs of Community Engagement and Economic Development, Social Action and Advocacy, Education and youth development through its Sigma Beta Club, as well as collaborations with strategic partners.


Photo Credits: Heisman Trophy Trust/Kent Gidley

Tuscaloosa, Alabama – On a special day for College Football, history was made for a small-town country kid under the bright lights accept the Heisman Trophy. DeVonta Smith of Alabama was selected as the 86th winner of the Heisman Memorial Trophy as the Outstanding College Football Player in the United States for 2020.

Smith was the first receiver since 1991 to hold this honor of being named the Heisman. With the great football tradition of Alabama football, he becomes only the third player from the Tide to hold this title.

Smith now joins Wide Receiver Desmond Howard (1991), Johnny Rodgers (1972) and Tim Brown (1987) as the only receiver hold this honor.

“It’s just unbelievable, just coming from a small place (Amite, LA) like that. You just really have to work day in and day out and just believe in yourself, and if don’t nobody else believe you, you just have to believe in yourself and just prove everybody wrong.” said Smith.

How much do your credit give this program who has 3 of the top 5 vote getters playing on the same team, the No. 1 team in the country who will be on display on Monday January 11th in the National Championship.

Photo Credits: Heisman Trophy Trust/Kent Gidley

“The two main reason I came back was to get my degree and win a second national champion,” said Smith.

Smith polled 1,856 points to capture the award over Trevor Lawrence of Clemson (1,187 points), Mac Jones (1,130 points) also of Alabama and Kyle Trask (737 points) of Florida.

Smith took time to speak to the youth and inspire them to go after their dreams no matter what obstacles may lie ahead or at their feet right now.

“….to all the young kids out there that’s not the biggest, not the strongest, just keep pushing because I’m not the biggest. I’ve been doubted a lot just because of my size, and really it just comes down to you put your mind to it, you can do it,” said Smith.

Photo Credits: Heisman Trophy Trust/Kent Gidley

Stats- caught 105 passes for 1,641 yards and 20 touchdowns including a tremendous performance in the College Football Playoff Semi-Final catching 7 passes for 130 yards and 3 touchdowns. His career receiving yards of 3,260 is highest in Alabama history. Smith also holds the SEC career record for receiving touchdowns with 40, passing the previous mark of 31 held by Amari Cooper and Chris Doering. He also owns a four- and five-touchdown game making him the only receiver in SEC history with multiple career games totaling four or more receiving touchdowns. Smith was awarded the Associated Press college football player of the year.


George W. Carver was an agricultural scientist and inventor who developed hundreds of products using peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans. Born an African American slave a year before slavery was outlawed, Carver left home at a young age to pursue education and would eventually earn a master’s degree in agricultural science from Iowa State University. He would go on to teach and conduct research at Tuskegee University for decades, and soon after his death his childhood home would be named a national monument — the first of its kind to honor an African American.

In 1894, Carver became the first African American to earn a Bachelor of Science degree. Impressed by Carver’s research on the fungal infections of soybean plants, his professors asked him to stay on for graduate studies.

In 1896, Carver earned his Master of Agriculture degree and immediately received several offers, the most attractive of which came from Booker T. Washington (whose last name George would later add to his own) of Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in Alabama.

Washington convinced the university’s trustees to establish an agricultural school, which could only be run by Carver if Tuskegee was to keep its all-black faculty. Carver accepted the offer and would work at Tuskegee Institute for the rest of his life

In 1921, Carver appeared before the Ways and Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on behalf of the peanut industry, which was seeking tariff protection. Though his testimony did not begin well, he described the wide range of products that could be made from peanuts, which not only earned him a standing ovation but also convinced the committee to approve a high protected tariff for the common legume.

He then became known as “The Peanut Man.”

Turnovers and Mistakes prove costly for Oregon in Fiesta Bowl loss

GLENDALE, AZ – In yet another exciting New Year’s Six Bowl Game, turnovers proved costly for the No. 25 Oregon Ducks (4-3, 3-2), as the No. 10 Iowa State Cyclones (9-3, 8-1) came away with the 34-17 win.

Just a couple of weeks after beating USC in the Pac-12 Title game, Oregon had a quick turnaround to face a talented Iowa State team all the way in the Southwest.

Unfortunately for Oregon, it was not a day to remember for the Pac-12 Champions. The typical high-flying Ducks finished their day with just 312 yards, 17 points, and even worse, five turnovers (including one kick-off recovery) in their 34-17 loss.

Overall, it was just a sloppy performance for the Ducks. “We obviously didn’t play up to our standard,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal said. “It’s a game of execution, and in critical situations we didn’t coach well enough or execute well enough. We take losses as a team, we don’t point fingers, that’s it.”

However, Oregon quarterback Anthony Brown was one of the few bright spots for the Ducks. Despite Tyler Slough got the start, both quarterbacks played in rotation, and it was Brown who was trying to will his team to victory.

Unfortunately, his 12-19 passing for 147 yards and four rushes for 36 yards and two touchdowns was not enough.

“I thought Anthony [Brown] did some good stuff as well. We played both of them, because we felt that they can both give us a chance to win the game,” Cristobal said.

But the real story was the Cyclones’ dominance in one of their programs’ biggest wins in history.

“What occurred here is the greatest thing in the history of the school,” Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell said.

Certainly, hard to argue, as Iowa State has historically been an average-at-best program. In the center of their success has been star quarterback, Brock Purdy. The junior signal-caller finished his day 20-29 passing for 156 yards and a touchdown passing, to go along with 39 yards rushing and a touchdown on nine carries.

“There’s not enough words to talk about Brock,” Campbell said. “With Brock Purdy, there is no Fiesta Bowl. We are who we are because of his character.”

However, on Saturday evening, it was the dominating play of running back Breece Hall who stole the show, finishing his day with 136 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 34 carries.

“Offensively we got off to a great start in the first half,” Campbell said. ” Defensively, we were elite in the second half. That was as complete as we’ve played all season.”

And Campbell is right! With the win, the Cyclones picked up their ninth win of the season, tying a program-best in a season (2000 and 1906). At a program like Iowa State, “it just doesn’t happen overnight,” Campbell said. Since taking over the program, he has turned this program around, and they are heading in the right direction.

As for Oregon, there is a lot to take away in an abbreviated season. “Being the youngest team in the country, we still were able to win the conference and get to a New Year’s Six game,” Cristobal said. “But young or not, again, it is still going to be about winning it, so a lot of good lessons learned. A lot to be excited about, and a lot of fuel that we can use in the off-season to get better.”

Ohio State Buckeyes will play on the 11th

New Orleans, LA – Ohio State Buckeyes now will be playing in the College Football Championship after defeating Clemson Tigers in the Sugar Bowl 49-28 in New Year’s night cap. Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields set a new Sugar Bowl & CFP record throwing 6 touchdowns for 385 yards to lead his team.

The College Football Playoff game is no stranger to these two teams, they matched up just last year in the Fiesta Bowl for CFP semifinal. Clemson was able to sneak past Ohio State in the end to earn the right to play in the Championship game.

The victory over Clemson had to feel so sweet after beating them last year in the stats but not on the scoreboard. Now when the lights were even brighter Ohio State let NCAA know this team is real.

“I think that loss fueled us all off-season and this season,”  said  Fields “We were just glad to have this opportunity.”

On Clemson opening drive Heisman Trophy candidate Trevor Lawrence #16 caps off an 82-yard opening drive touchdown on 8 plays. Lawrence used his legs diving for the pylon and quick 7-0 lead over Ohio State 12:10 in 1Q.

After the first quarter Clemson spotted Ohio State to much of a lead. Lawrence who will be the next NFL No. 1 pick in the draft if he leaves the college ranks. He only passed for 2 touchdowns 400 yards, an interception and a fumble.

Fields early was finding his tight ends getting lost in secondary. Ohio State took their first lead with 17-yard touchdown pass to Jeremey Ruckkert 21-14  4:16 2Q.

Ohio State Trey Sermon #8 busted done the seam for a 32-yard touchdown run, catching Clemson ‘s defense flatfooted and out of position.  Midway through the first quarter tying the game 7-7 with 7:59 1Q.

Fields took a big hit scrambling down the field by linebacker James Skalski #47 stopping him short of a first down. They stopped the play and took look at the play for targeting, and it was confirmed. Now the secondary for Clemson was already missing their quarterback with Skalski being ejected took the vocal leader who calls the defense for the front seven.

 Just two plays after the ejection Fields threw a dart for the endzone and two touchdown lead before going into the half with 28-14 5:12 2Q.

“I’m just blessed,” said Fields “That hit really took a toll on me…. What pulled me through was my love for my brothers!”

In the second quarter Ohio State just had all the answers with their offense dominating on the ground grinding up yards with Sermon legs. They swag spilled over to their defense that seemed a step faster then Clemson keeping them scoreless in the quarter.

Ohio State felt good going into the half with a 35-14 after being told they shouldn’t be playing in the College Football Playoff.

Fields bounced back after throwing an interception in the endzone to start the second half with a deep 56-yard touchdown bomb to Chris Olave #2 42-21 4:55 3Q.

The ground game was a great balance for Ohio State, they finished with 254 yards as a team. Sermon carried the load with 193 yards on 31 carries.

We know that Ohio State and the Big Ten Conference are as good as their rankings.

“To win and have a chance to play against Clemson and win the way we did it’s unbelievable ,“ said coach Ryan Day “We are a great program and we have a lot of pride – Ohio State Buckeyes means something.”

Now Ohio State will get ready to gameplan for No. 1 Alabama Tide for the crown on January 11, 2021 in Miami.

The Beat Goes On: Alabama Thrives, Notre Dame Cowers In Spotlight at 2021 Rose Bowl

The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish meet in Arlington, TX for the 2021 Rose Bowl Game. Photo by McGillen

ARLINGTON, Tx- In a Rose Bowl like no other, the result looked pretty familiar for Alabama.

After the game was moved from its traditional Pasadena home to allow for a limited number of fans in attendance, the No. 1 ranked Crimson Tide rolled to a win over No. 4 Notre Dame to clinch a spot in its fifth national championship game in the past six seasons.

There’s a stark contrast between the direction and caliber of these two heavyweights- and that was on full display in Friday’s 31-14 romp.

Alabama entered the game as a heavy favorite, and for good reason. The Crimson Tide ranked at No. 1 every week since Clemson’s Nov. 3 loss to Notre Dame., and won the Southeastern Conference in dominant fashion, including a six-point win over No. 7 Florida in the Championship Game.  Notre Dame got the controversial playoff nod over No. 5 Texas A&M despite a lackluster loss in an encore performance against Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.

The mismatch was clear early. Alabama raced out to a 14-0 first quarter lead behind two of quarterback Mac Jones’ four passing touchdowns on the day, including one to Heisman hopeful Devonta Smith- one of four finalists for college football’s most prestigious award to be awarded Tuesday night.

“(Smitty) has done as much for our team as any other player who has won the Heisman,” Alabama head coach Nick Saban said on the possibility postgame. “I don’t like to make predictions, but it’d be great to see another one of our players win one.”

The loss marks another chapter in a series of concerning results in BCS or College Football Playoff Games for Notre Dame. After an undefeated 2012 regular season, Alabama whitewashed the Fighting Irish in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, 42-14. Notre Dame also lost its only other prior playoff appearance to eventual 2019 CFP champion Clemson, 30-3. In BCS and Playoff games dating back to 2000, Notre Dame has lost every time and been outscored by a margin of 161 points including Friday.

Some were quick to criticize the College Football Playoff Committee’s decision to include Notre Dame over Texas A&M, but despite another let down, head coach Brian Kelly defended his team’s selection.

“We felt like we were as good as any other team on any given day in the country,” head coach Brian Kelly said postgame.

As for Alabama, the ebbs and flows of the coronavirus-shortened 2020 season have been proving grounds for one of its most dominant groups ever. Quarterback Mac Jones, a Heisman finalist along with Smith, recorded another fantastic game on par with a fantastic season.

Alabama got strong performances from its background performers as well. Wide recover John Metchie and “Swiss Army Knife” tight end Jahleel Billingsleycombined for 93 receiving yards on the big stage, while defensive back Christian Harris recorded an interception of Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book, which all but squashed any momentum the Irish built after forcing consecutive Alabama punts.

Nonetheless, Smith was the clear standout- together perhaps his strongest performance yet, recording three touchdown catches on 100-plus receiving yards, marking the seventh time in 2020 he’s broken the century mark. His 20th touchdown catch also tied an SEC single-season record.

Alabama’s Patrick Surtain was named defensive MVP of the game.

“We ask our corners to do a lot,” Saban said. “It’s good to see him get recognized tonight.”

Kyren Williams scored Notre Dame’s only touchdown prior to Ian Book’s late sneak into the end zone. Notre Dame’s offense was held completely in check by Alabama’s vaunted defense, recording just 139 rushing yards and punting four times. Book also left the final game of his storied Notre Dame career in the third quarter due to an injury.

Notre Dame finishes its season at 10-2, while Alabama moves on to play the winner of No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State in the 2021 CFP National Championship Game Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

“Alabama made more plays at the end of the day,” Kelly said. “We’re going to keep getting back here. We’re going to keep winning games, and we’re going to break through.”

A Rose By Any Other Name

January 1, 2018 Pasadena CA, Rose Bowl stadium full for the NCAA College Football at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Ca. on January 1, 2018. Jevone Moore

Pasadena, CA – In the insanity of 2020 College Football has emerged as the sport most accurately depicting the fear, division and uncertainty of the United States. In the wake of California’s statewide policy of not allowing any fans at any sporting events due to the COVID-19 Pandemic; the College Football Playoff(CFP) was forced to make the monumental decision to relocate the 2021 Rose Bowl from Pasadena to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game will take place on January 1, 2021 and will be broadcast by ESPN.

Rose Bowl Pre-Game Art at the Rose Bowl game, Pasadena, CA. on January 1, 2016. Photo by Jevone Moore fi360 News

In a matchup of arguably the two most iconic programs in College Football number one ranked Alabama Crimson Tide will face the number four ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the first semi-final of the College Football Playoff. It is not yet determined if the CFP semifinal in Arlington will be called the CFP Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Capital One. The name is a part of the Master License Agreement and is co-owned by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses and the City of Pasadena. 

“We know that the decision was not an easy one to make,” said David Eads, Tournament of Roses CEO and Executive Director. “While we remain confident that a game could have been played at the Rose Bowl Stadium, as evident in the other collegiate and professional games taking place in the region, the projection of COVID-19 cases in the region has continued on an upward trend.”

“We are very grateful to Rose Bowl officials and the City of Pasadena. They have worked hard to listen to the concerns of the CFP, the teams that might have played there, and their state and government officials,” said Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff. 

The Tournament of Roses received word late this week that the State of California would not make a special exception for player guests at the game. Additionally, with significant strain on medical resources throughout Los Angeles County, the Tournament of Roses recognizes that the well-being of the student-athlete needs to come first and that continues to be our top priority.

Florida State vs Oregon Ducks at the Rose Bowl in College Football Playoff - Coach Press Conferences
Florida State vs Oregon Ducks at the Rose Bowl in College Football Playoff – Heisman Trophy Winners

Since March, all sporting events played in California have been unable to host spectators and participant families. The Pasadena Tournament of Roses made its first appeal for a special exception at the Rose Bowl Game in November and made a second request to the state in December. Both requests were denied.

 There was a tense atmosphere in the room as the distinguished College Football Commitee panel determined not only the fate of the games locale, but also the difficulty of selecting the four teams. Texas A & M, Cincinnati and the Oklahoma Sooners were left on the outside looking in.

While the Pasadena Tournament of Roses is extremely disappointed that this year’s game will not take place at the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, the decision to move the game is based on the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Southern California along with the inability to host player and coach guests at any game in California.The last time the Rose Bowl game was played outside Pasadena, California, was 1942. The game between Oregon State and Duke was played in Durham, North Carolina, because the West Coast was deemed unsafe after the attacks on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly — expressed doubts about playing in the Rose Bowl if players’ families couldn’t be in attendance. 

Clemson Tigers wide receiver Tee Higgins #5 making a touchdown catch in the second half of the National Championship Bay Area 2019 between Alabama vs Clemson game at Levis Stadium on Monday January 07, 2019 (Photo by Jevone Moore)

Why would we play if you can’t have families at the game?” Kelly said. If you can’t have families at bowl games, why would you go to a game where your families can’t be part of it? What’s the sense of playing a game in an area of the country where nobody can be part of it?”

The Fighting Irish and Crimson Tide have a bowl game history.  In the 2012 BCS Title game the Crimson Tide won 42–14. 

 In the other semi-final, the ACC champs Clemson Tigers will face the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on January, 1st. 

 Big 10 champion Ohio State, akin to Notre Dame, is also a controversial pick, since the Buckeyes only played six games. The winners of each semi-final will meet in the College Football National Championship game, in Miami, Florida on January 11th.

Postgame brawl bookends narrow Mississippi State win in Armed Forces Bowl

FORT WORTH, TX – Lideatrick Griffin recorded 155 all-purpose yards and added a touchdown catch as Mississippi State outlasted No. 24 Tulsa in the 2020 Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, 28-26.

However, Immediately after the game concluded, both teams engaged in a full-on brawl following postgame handshakes. This came as a response of words exchanged in pregame warmups.

According to footage aired on ESPN, a member of the Tulsa staff threw punches at a Mississippi State player when the two teams met at midfield. Mississippi State’s Malik Heath appeared to kick several Tulsa players in response.

Tulsa head coach Phillip Montgomery said he didn’t see what started the brawl, but thought safety Kendarin Ray might have suffered a concussion as a result of the melee.

“Family’s going to take care of family,” Montgomery said in his postgame press conference.

AFB Postgame Notes

“I’m curious what happened,” Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach said afterward. “We haven’t had any problems with that this season. It seemed like problems arose from the handshakes.”

In a response to wintry mix and steady downpour in unseasonably cold North Texas temperatures, Mississippi State blended an extremely balanced offensive attack that recorded 148 yards in the air and 123 on the ground.

Even so, it was the Bulldogs’ play on defense and special teams that separated them from the American Conference runner-up Tulsa. Griffin recorded 121 yards on four kick returns, consistently giving freshman quarterback Will Rogers short fields. All of Mississippi State’s touchdowns on the day came from first-year players.

AFB Postgame Quotes - Mississippi State

“We’ve got some young guys that are enthusiastic and developing into gritty guys,” Leach said.

That included one from defensive back Emmanuel Forbes, who changed the game with an interception return for a touchdown- his third of the season- in the third quarter. The 90-yard pick six set a record for the longest in program history.

Tulsa quarterback Zach Smith, who started his collegiate career at Baylor, struggled in his return to the Lone Star state, completing 26 of 46 passes with a touchdown and two interceptions.

AFB Postgame Quotes - Tulsa

Mississippi State took advantage of the NCAA waiving its normal six-wins required to clinch a bowl bid due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After starting its conference-only slate 2-7, the win marked consecutive victories for the first time under head coach Mike Leach.

Tulsa, on the other hand, ends a successful campaign with consecutive narrow postseason losses. Head coach Phillip Montgomery pioneered a marked improvement in the coronavirus-shortened 2020 seasons after 3-9 and 4-8 campaigns in 2018 and 2019.

“From start to finish this group has had a belief about them,” Montgomery said. “We’ve got to continue to get better.”

The win marked Mississippi State’s first bowl triumph since the 2017 TaxSlayer Bowl. Tulsa’s bowl win drought continues into a fourth season.

Oklahoma stampedes a short-handed Florida during the 85th Cotton Bowl Classic

Arlington Tx, – Ask any coach, high school, college, or professional. When you have seventeen of your players unavailable, it creates mismatches automatically and the task to take down a top ten team becomes insurmountable. That’s what the Florida Gators dealt with Wednesday evening during the 2020 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Out of the seventeen unavailable, four were the school’s top receivers, including AP All American tight end Kyle Pitts. Florida Gators’ coach Dan Mullen didn’t view Wednesday night’s game as a chore, but as a great learning experience for his younger players.

“Our young guys, I was really excited,” Mullen said after the game. “They wanted to go play in that game. They wanted to get the experience. They wanted to be on that stage.”

All of that said, the game wasn’t out of the realm of taking for Florida. After Oklahoma’s Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled, the Gators added a field goal and crawled within four halfway in the second quarter. However, the top-ranked Big 12 offense didn’t mess around after the turnover. The Sooners marched down the field in four plays capped off by a Theo Wease touchdown catch by Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler. The Oklahoma defense would string together seven straight scoreless drives, and after the Gators’ field goal, the Sooners outscored Florida 38-7. It was only the second time since 2012 that the Oklahoma Sooners allowed twenty or fewer points in a bowl game (2016 Sugar Bowl vs. Auburn).

The nation’s leading passer, Kyle Trask, entered Wednesday evening throwing only twelve interceptions in his college career at Florida. The first three drives for Florida each ended in a pick, including a pick six by Tre Norwood on Trask’s second throw of the game. Trask finished the night 16 for 28 with 158 yards and those three interceptions. It was the fewest passing yards for Trask since September 14, 2019, against Kentucky, where he only had eight completions on thirteen attempts for 126 yards (21 games in between). Emory Jones took over and completed 8 of 16 passes for 86 yards but didn’t turn the ball over.

“Yeah, obviously, it’s difficult because this isn’t the way you want to go out,” Trask said after the game. “But at the same time, you’ve got to look at the big picture,” Trask announced he would enter the upcoming NFL Draft in 2021.

On the Oklahoma offensive side, it was a fine day for Spencer Rattler. Rattler completed 14 of 23 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns. The fourteen completions went to nine different targets. The real start for the Sooners was their running attack. Oklahoma averaged just under eleven yards a carry on the night and rushed for 435 total yards. It’s an Oklahoma rushing attack that only averages 179.7 yards a game and a Florida rush defense that allowed 1,611 total rushing yards all season, entering Wednesday’s game. “We ran through tackles,” Sooner head coach Lincoln Riley said after the game. “Those were some tackles that at different times this year, we were ending up on the ground. Our guys ran aggressively. I thought the line really made them confident.”

The Oklahoma Sooners end the 2020 college football season on an eight-game winning after starting the year 1-2 and 0-2 in the Big 12. Meanwhile, a positive for Florida is that the Gators got a glimpse of their future. “For the program, I’m excited. I think the future’s really bright.” Dan Mullen said.

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