Aside from the College Football Playoff championship game a week away, the sport’s postseason wrapped up Monday with four compelling games on the schedule.
To start the day, No. 22 Mississippi State beat Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl, its first game without late coach Mike Leach, 13-10.
A little later in the day, No. 17 LSU blew out Purdue in the Citrus Bowl, 63-7. Simultaneously, No. 16 Tulane beat No. 10 USC in a wild Cotton Bowl in the final seconds, 46-45.
Finally, we had The Granddaddy of them All as No. 11 Penn State dominated No. 8 Utah in the second half of a 35-21 Rose Bowl victory.
Here are the highlights from Monday’s bowl games.
Rose Bowl: No. 11 Penn State 35, no. 8 Utah 21
INT leads to Penn State TD
Penn State and Utah each went three-and-out to start the game, followed by another Penn State three-and-out. Utah then put the ball in Penn State territory on its next possession before quarterback Cameron Rising was intercepted by cornerback Kalen King.
Eleven plays and 82 yards later, running back Nicholas Singleton ran in a 5-yard touchdown. Penn State led 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.
On the 13th play of the ensuing series, Rising hit tight end Thomas Yassmin in the back corner of the end zone to tie the game at seven apiece.
Sean Clifford treat
The Nittany Lions got that score back in a hurry.
Clifford hit wide receivers KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Hunter Wallace for a pair of block plays that combined for 52 yards, putting the ball at the Utah 10-yard line. On the next play, Clifford hit wide receiver Mitchell Tinsley for a touchdown. Penn State led 14-7.
On third-and-10 on Utah’s next possession, Rising hit receiver Devaughn Vele for a 47-yard drive. Three plays later, running back Ja’Quinden Jackson came out of one tackle and passed for two more en route to a 19-yard touchdown run.
The game was tied at 14 at halftime.
Penn State took the lead in the third quarter when Singleton found a gap, broke through and turned on the Jets. No one was going to catch him.
Trying to get that 15 and the ball back
Utah punter Jack Bouwmeester sold contact after his final punt of the third quarter in hopes the Utes would get a 15-yard holding penalty. The refs, however, weren’t buying it.
Lambert-Smith helped Penn State get its biggest lead of the game early in the fourth quarter when he got open and made an 88-yard touchdown catch to put the Nittany Lions up 28-14.
Kaytron Allen helped pile it on for Penn State in the fourth quarter, scoring on a one-yard touchdown that put the Nittany Lions up 35-14 with just over 10 minutes left.
Utah would score a TD in garbage time for a final score of 35-21.
ReliaQuest Bowl: No. 22 Mississippi State 19, Illinois 10
Tribute to Mike Leach
Both teams honored the late Bulldogs coach to start the game. Mississippi State was called for a delay of game penalty while holding a moment of silence. Illinois declined the penalty.
Leach was known for his offense, so it’s hard to imagine him enjoying the start of this game.
Illinois gets the first goal
Illinois picked off Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers twice in the second quarter, the second leading to the first score of the game. A 10-play Illinois drive ended with quarterback Tommy Devito on a 2-yard score.
Mississippi State got a field goal before halftime. At halftime it was 7-3.
Illinois got a field goal in the third quarter, but Mississippi State tied it in the fourth.
Rogers capped a 13-play Bulldogs drive by hitting wide receiver Justin Robinson for an 8-yard touchdown.
Running to victory
Mississippi State got the ball with 1:50 left in the fourth quarter. After getting into field goal range, running back Simeon Price took it 28 yards on the ground to bring the Bulldogs to the Illini 2-yard line.
Then, after returning to the 9-yard line, kicker Massimo Biscardi made the game-winning 27-yard field goal. Mississippi State ran the Illinois punt for a touchdown.
Scene before the match
Cotton bowl: no. 16 Tulane 46, no. 10 U.S.C. 45
USC strikes first
The Trojans opened the game with a 17-play touchdown drive, when quarterback Caleb Williams hit receiver Michael Jackson for a 9-yard score.
An incredible catch
USC wide receiver Brenden Rice made a sensational 30-yard catch near the sideline, assisted by Williams who continued to buy time on the play. Three plays later, Williams hit wide receiver Terrell Bynum for the Trojans’ second touchdown.
Here comes Tulane
The Green Wave got on the board after USC’s second touchdown.
Quarterback Michael Pratt sparked the drive with a 40-yard run, then hit running back Tyjae Spears for a 14-yard gain. Spears then ran in a 3-yard touchdown, bringing Tulane within a score.
Tulane cornerback Jarius Monroe intercepted Williams and Tulane tied the score moments later.
On the second play of the drive, Pratt hit wide receiver Jha’Quan Jackson, who ran through the USC defense for an 87-yard touchdown. The game was tied at 14.
We have a good one
USC got one of those scores back on its next drive when running back Raleek Brown went for a 39-yard touchdown.
He strikes before halftime
Tulane went three-and-out after the touchdown, and then USC pulled its lead back to two points.
The Trojans got to the Green Wave 9-yard line in three plays. Soon after, Williams hit Rice in the back of the end zone for six. USC led 28-14 at halftime.
From here to there
The Green Wave opened the second half with a touchdown. A drive that started with a 47-yard run by Spears ended with a 7-yard touchdown run by the Tulane running back. USC missed a field goal on its next possession, followed by Tulane making a field goal. The green wave belonged 28-24.
This offense is not real
USC continues to add to the offensive highlight reel.
Late in the third quarter, Williams, moving to his left, completed a ridiculous 19-yard touchdown pass to Rice, who somehow got to the ball for the score.
Spears does it again
Just like he did the last time Tulane touched the ball, Spears started the drive with a huge ground grab. This one went for 62 yards. Two plays later, Spears ran in a 3-yard touchdown.
Tulane failed to convert a two-point conversion and failed to recover an onside kick.
Williams threw his fifth touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, which was followed by USC turning a Tulane fumble into a field goal. Tulane then pulled back to within one score.
On the first play of the drive, Pratt and wide receiver Deuce Watts connected for a 59-yard drive. Immediately after the big play, Spears ran in his fourth touchdown. Tulane trailed 45-37.
USC took over at their own 1-yard line after touching the ball at that yard line on the kickoff. Two plays later, defensive tackle Patrick Jenkins tackled running back Austin Jones in the end zone for the save.
TULANE WINS IT!
The Green Wave went down the field and took the lead with nine seconds left in the game. Pratt hit tight end Alex Bauman for a 6-yard score, giving Tulane a 46-45 lead.
Citrus Bowl: No. 17 LSU 63, Purdue 7
LSU and Purdue each punted on their first possessions, but Purdue found the end zone on its next drive.
Quarterback Jayden Daniels led the way, completing a trio of passes for 45 yards. Running back John Emery ended the game with a 1-yard score.
After forcing a Purdue punt, LSU mounted another touchdown drive. On the eighth play of the ball, running back Noah Cain ran for a 9-yard score.
I can’t take it
LSU forced another punt and then scored its third touchdown.
On the fifth play of the ensuing drive, Daniels completed a pass to tight end Mason Taylor, who then went through the Purdue defense for a 32-yard score.
LSU is rolling
The Tigers have half.
On the fourth play of their next drive, Daniels took off for a 37-yard drive. Cain then ran in his second touchdown of the game, giving LSU a 28-0 lead.
they don’t stop
Purdue got the ball into LSU territory for the first time, but quarterback Austin Burton was intercepted by cornerback Jarrick Bernard-Converse.
One play after LSU went on a 45-yard trick play, a pass from wide receiver Malik Nabers shown below, LSU scored its fifth touchdown. Garrett Nussmeier connected with wide receiver Brian Thomas for a 10-yard score, giving the Tigers a 35-0 halftime lead.
They are having fun
Purdue turned it over on downs to start the second half, and LSU capitalized. On the ninth play of the possession, LSU ran a trick play that saw Daniels catch a touchdown pass from Nabers.
Purdue and LSU were each picked off on their next drives, but neither turned the turnover into points. However, after Purdue punted on its next possession, LSU did more damage.
On the first down of the next possession, Nussmeier got the ball to Nabers, who ran it 75 yards for a touchdown. LSU took a 49-0 lead.
The Boilermakers got on the board early in the fourth quarter when quarterback Michael Alaimo hit wide receiver TJ Sheffield, who completed the completion for a 16-yard touchdown.
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