For all you passionate fans, you big-time stats guys, you BTSG's. Here are some notes, nuggets and tidbits of all things from the Atlantic Coast Conference bowl games. Impress your friends it's time to kickoff!
The Clemson Tigers forced four second-half turnovers and picked off star quarterback Braxton Miller twice as they defeated Ohio State 40-35 in the Orange Bowl. It was the first win in a BCS bowl for Clemson and it gave the Tigers 11 wins on the season for the second consecutive season (the first time Clemson has done that). It was also the second straight season where Clemson trailed at halftime in the bowl game and won. Last season they trailed 14-13 at halftime to LSU and this season it was 22-20 at the break.
Sammy Watkins had a field day in his last collegiate game, catching an Orange Bowl record 16 balls for 227 yards. He also had two scores. He got the MVP for the game, so I will focus on the other main star for Clemson. Quarterback Tajh Boyd had five touchdown passes and added a touchdown run. The run went for 48 yards which was the longest of his career.
He now has 34 touchdown passes and became the first quarterback in ACC history to have three 30 touchdown seasons. It was also his 32nd win as a starter, which tied former Tiger Rodney Williams for most in school history.
Back to the scores; he is one of three quarterbacks since 2000 that have had at least five touchdown passes and at least one touchdown rush in a bowl game. The last time it happened was in the Orange Bowl as well, but that time Clemson was on the other end of the feat. Here are those three quarterbacks:
- 2014 Orange Bowl – Tajh Boyd (Clemson vs. Ohio State)
- 2012 Orange Bowl – Geno Smith (West Virginia vs. Clemson)
- 2008 GMAC Bowl – Paul Smith (Tulsa vs. Bowling Green)
Early in the third quarter, freshman Ryan Switzer did his thing. He did what he has done over and over this season. Switzer caught a punt at the 14-yard line with opponents in his face and he broke free and made some cuts and struck pay dirt as North Carolina defeated Cincinnati 39-17 in the Belk Bowl. It was the fifth touchdown on a punt return this season for Switzer (he also has three touchdown receptions and even threw a touchdown pass). Switzer also had five return scores in the last five games. The five tied a record held by five others in all levels of college football. Here are all the players:
- Ryan Switzer (North Carolina in 2013)
- LeRoy Vann (Florida A&M in 2009)
- Chad Owens (Hawaii in 2004)
- Curtis DeLoatch (North Carolina A&T in 2001)
- Chris McKinney (Guilford in 2001)
- James Rooths (Shepherd in 1998)
Rooths has the career record with 10 and Wes Welker and Antonio Perkins have the FBS career record with eight. Switzer has a long career ahead of him, but will teams punt to him?
Quarterback Terrel Hunt scored from 12 yards out with just over a minute left to put the Orange up for good as Syracuse defeated Minnesota 21-17 in the Texas Bowl. Syracuse has now won three straight bowl games and 15 overall. In this game, Hunt scored two touchdowns in the game, both in the second half and had 74 rushing yards. That total matched teammate Jerome Smith’s total who also scored a touchdown.
Hunt was also 19-for-29 passing in the game. He has completed 61.2 percent of his passes this season including 66 percent in his last three games. The 61.2 percent is the seventh highest by a Syracuse player in a season with a minimum with 100 passing attempts. Here are the six best in school history:
- Greg Paulus (2009): 67.7 percent
- Bill Scharr (1989): 63.3 percent
- Donovan McNabb (1998): 62.5 percent
- Ryan Nassib (2011): 62.4 percent
- Ryan Nassib (2012): 62.4 percent
- Donovan McNabb (1995): 61.8 percent
- Terrel Hunt (2013): 61.2 percent
Syracuse, one of the new ACC teams won its bowl game, what about the other one? Yes, Pittsburgh won its bowl game as well. Freshman running back James Conner ran for a Panthers bowl record 229 yards in the 30-27 win over Bowling Green in the Little Caesar’s Bowl. The old record was set by Tony Dorsett when he had 202 rushing yards. Conner also had a touchdown in the first quarter of the game. The 229 rushing yards was also the highest by any freshman in any game this season. The next closest won was 42 yards away. Here are the top five (Conner also is tied for eighth highest):
- James Conner (Pittsburgh): 229 rushing yards
- Jarrod Lawson (San Jose State): 187 rushing yards
- Shock Linwood (Baylor): 187 rushing yards
- Kareem Hunt (Toledo): 186 rushing yards
- Aaron Jones (UTEP): 186 rushing yards
Last but not least, the Florida State Seminoles, your 2013 BCS Champions. FSU won one of the most amazing games by defeating Auburn 34-31 after a Jameis Winston touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left to go in the game. It was the sixth straight bowl win for the Seminoles, but more importantly Florida State has now won three national championships (1993, 1999 and 2013).
Winston was not “Winston-like” early on, but a strong second half added to his legacy. His second-half line was 14-of-20 passing for 175 yards and two touchdowns. His final numbers were 20-of-35 with 237 yards and two touchdown passes which gave him 4,077 passing yards this season with 40 touchdown passes. He became the first FBS freshman to have 4,000 passing yards and 40 touchdown passes.
His passing yard total is second in school history to Chris Weinke’s 4,167 in 2000. Here is a breakdown on this season by quarters and in the situation of games. He generally doesn’t play a lot in the fourth quarter nor does he play a lot when trailing. He did both in the past game and his season stats show we should not have been surprised.
- 1st Quarter: 66.7 comp pct – 9.69 passing yards/attempt
- 2nd Quarter: 64.9 comp pct – 10.36 passing yards/attempt
- 3rd Quarter: 66.3 comp pct – 11.57 passing yards/attempt
- 4th Quarter: 77.8 comp pct – 11.69 passing yards/attempt
- When winning: 65.0 comp pct – 30 TD passes, 9 interceptions
- When tied: 71.9 comp pct – 4 TD passes, 1 interception
- When losing: 71.7 comp pct – 6 TD passes, 0 interceptions