New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State 48, Washington State 45
Jared Roberts made a 41-yard field goal with 3 seconds left and Colorado State overcame a 22-point deficit to beat Washington State on Saturday in the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, N.M.
It was a dramatic comeback to open the bowl season and came as both quarterbacks threw for close to 800 years combined.
Garrett Grayson threw for 369 yards and Kapri Bibbs ran for 169 yards and three touchdowns for Colorado State (8-6). The Rams overcame three early turnovers, but were helped by Washington State’s two fumbles with less than 3 minutes remaining.
Connor Halliday threw touchdown passes to six receivers and finished with 410 yards for Washington State (6-7).
Washington State scored 35 points in the first half, but had only 10 in the second. With the game winding down, a lack of a running game forced the Cougars to stay with their spread offense and prevented them for running down the clock when ahead by 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Washington State rushed for minus-10 yards total.
The match-up brought together two second-year coaches — Rams coach Jim McElwain and Cougars coach Mike Leach — working to turn around their teams’ fortunes with high-octane offenses. Both said they had hope for a bowl victory to help with recruiting.
Colorado State had not played in a postseason game since 2008. Washington State had not been in a bowl game since 2003.
Las Vegas Bowl: Southern California 45, Fresno State 20
Southern California wrapped up its rocky season by rolling over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Cody Kessler passed for 344 yards and a bowl-record four touchdowns in the Trojans’ victory over the 21st-ranked Bulldogs under Clay Helton, their third coach in less than three months.
Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor had two touchdown catches apiece, Javorius Allen rushed two more scores, and the Trojans (10-4) answered every question about their motivation by dancing on the sideline while routing a BCS contender for the storied program’s first postseason victory since 2009.
Derek Carr passed for just 217 yards and two TDs in his final game at Fresno State (11-2), which fell behind 35-6 at halftime and failed to secure the first 12-win season in school history.
From Kessler’s smooth offense to a dynamic defensive effort against Fresno State’s FBS-best passing game, USC was uniformly outstanding in its only game under Helton.
The offensive coordinator filled the one-game gap between coaches Ed Orgeron and Steve Sarkisian on the Trojans’ coaching carousel, but USC picked up right where Orgeron left off after its desultory start to the season under Lane Kiffin.
Kessler even outdid Carr, his fellow Bakersfield native and friend, setting the Las Vegas Bowl record for TD passes before halftime and finishing 22 for 30. USC scored three touchdowns in a nine-minute burst in the second quarter, and Allen clinched it with his second TD run with 4:44 to play.
Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego State 49, Buffalo 24
Adam Muema rushed for 229 yards and three touchdowns and Quinn Kaehler threw two scoring passes in San Diego State’s victory over Buffalo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
The Aztecs took control at the midway point, putting up 21 straight points during a 5-minute span in the second and third quarters. The scoring frenzy was fueled by two Buffalo turnovers, the first when safety Marcus Anderson picked off an errant pass by Joe Licata to set up Kaehler’s first touchdown toss to put the Aztecs up 28-10 at the half.
Buffalo coughed up the ball on the opening kick in the third quarter, setting up the Aztecs at the Bulls 26. Five plays later, Kaehler fired an 11-yard pass to tight end Adam Roberts at the back of the end zone to stretch the lead to 35-10.
The Aztecs (8-5, 6-2 Mountain West) won eight of their last 10 games. The victory is the first in the postseason since 2010 when they beat Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl and the first postseason victory outside San Diego city limits since 1969.
Kaehler, who took over the starting job in the third game, was 15-of-28 passing for 211 yards. His 29-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was his first rushing score of the season.
After getting off to a slow start, Muema picked things up in the second quarter, breaking off several long runs to keep Aztec drives alive. He finished with 230 yards on 28 carries, his fourth career game with more than 200 yards rushing. The Aztecs rolled up 460 total yards on offense.
For Buffalo (8-5, 6-2 Mid-American Conference), playing in its second bowl game in the team’s 100-year history, not much went right.
The offense was stagnant early and didn’t get a first-down until the 10:42 mark in the second quarter.