As part of the 2021 Bowl Season, the G5 Gurus will provide a running summary of games played. Be sure to check back as games are completed.
Freshman Nick Vattiato was one of four different quarterbacks to start a game for Middle Tennessee State in 2021. He put an emphasis on his fourth start by passing for 270 yards and two TDs to lead the Blue Raiders to a 31-24 upset over Toledo in the Bahamas Bowl. Jarrin Pierce caught 4 passes for 114 yards and a 59 yard TD for the Blue Raiders.
DeQuan Fin led the Rockets with 212 yards passing with 2 TD passes and added 83 yards rushing with another TD. Toledo came into the bowl on a three-game winning streak but hurt itself with 116 yards in penalties. Both teams close the season at 7-6.
We thought this might be a shootout and we were right. The Chanticleers and Huskies put on a show in the Cure Bowl. Coastal hung on for the win when Huskie receiver Miles Joiner was ruled down inbounds on the Coastal 4 with 2 seconds left and time expired before the Huskies could get off another play.
Grayson McCall passed for 315 yards and 4 TDs to pace Coastal. Jay Ducker had 146 yards pacing a Huskie rushing attack that totaled 335 yards. The 47-41 win is the Chanticleers first in school history. Coastal finishes 11-2, while Northern Illinois closes the season at 9-5.
Boca Raton Bowl
Wow. The only words to describe the performance by Bailey Zappe and the Hilltoppers. Zappe passed for 422 yards and 6 touchdowns leading Western Kentucky to an emphatic 59-38 win over Appalachian State. Zappe’s performance capped an amazing season that saw him eclipse the FBS single season records for passing yardage and touchdown passes. Jerrith Stearns, who was leading FBS in receiving entering the game was also dynamic with 13 catches for 184 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The loss was the first in a bowl game for the Mountaineers who had won their first six bowl games in their first six years of eligibility. Chase Brice led the Mountaineers with 317 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. The Mountaineer’s defense struggled to find a way to slow down the Hilltoppers. The 59 points is the most given up by the Mountaineers in over a decade.
Western Kentucky closes the season at 9-5, winning 8 of their last 9 games. App State finishes at 10-4, losing its final two games in the season for the first time since 1982.
New Mexico Bowl
Jordan Mims accounted for 236 yards from scrimmage and 3 touchdowns in leading Fresno State over a very game UTEP 31-24. Mims finished with 165 yards rushing with 2 TDs and 71 yards receiving with a TD. Bulldog QB Jake Haener closed an outstanding 2021 season by passing for 286 yards and a touchdown.
Gavin Hardison paced the Miners with 252 yards passing and a TD. Hardison fumbled after a 10-yard run at the Fresno 42 with 3:55 to go and the Bulldogs ran out the clock to secure the win. The Miners were in their first bowl since 2014 and went toe-to-toe with the heavily favored Bulldogs, closing the 26-24 early in the fourth. Fresno State completes a 10-3 season that may see them creeping back into the rankings. The Miners finish their second winning season since 2005 at 7-6.
In a showdown between two of the better running backs in FBS, DeWayne McBride and UAB held on to upset #12 BYU and Tyler Allgeier 31-28 in the Independence Bowl. McBride rushed for 183 yards and a touchdown to support Dylan Hopkins 3 touchdown passes to pace the Blazers. After recovering a fumble at the UAB 28 with 3:18 to go, the Blazers ran 9 plays to run out the clock and seal the victory.
The loss was a bitter one for the Cougars who came in on a 5-game winning streak that included 3 wins over Power 5 opponents. Allgeier rushed for 192 yards and 3 touchdowns, but it was not enough to prevent the Cougars from dropping their third game of the season. The Cougars close the season at 10-3 and will likely remain in the top 25 rankings. The Blazers finish at 9-4.
Lending Tree Bowl
The second half of the 2021 season had not been kind to Malik Willis and the Liberty Flames. After a hot start to the season, the Flames had stumbled down the stretch losing three straight heading into the Lending Tree Bowl. During the 3-game skid Willis threw 6 interceptions. However, the Flames looked like a different team against Eastern Michigan. Behind Willis’ 3 TD passes and 2 TD runs, the Flames thumped the Eagles 56-20.
Despite controlling the ball for 15 more minutes than the Flames, the Eagles simply couldn’t keep up on the scoreboard. Down 33-10 at half, the Flames put the game away with 16 points in the third to take a 49-10 lead into the 4th quarter. Ben Bryant paced the Eagles with 200 yards passing. The Flames finish the season 8-5, the Eagles close at 7-6.
Kimmel LA Bowl
Utah State was already one of the best stories of 2021 heading into the Kimmel LA Bowl. After an ugly 2020 season, new coach Blake Anderson was expected to struggle in his first season at the helm of the Aggies. The Aggies responded with a worst-to-first run, winning the MWC championship. The bowl game against Oregon State was a microcosm of their season. Down 7-0 in the second quarter, the Aggies saw star QB Logan Bonner go down with a leg injury. Enter Cooper Legas. Legas threw a 62 yard TD pass on his first throw and the Aggies turned around the slow start to beat the Oregon State Beavers 24-13. Legas threw for 171 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead the Aggies. Calvin Tyler Jr. provide the ground support with 120 yards and a touchdown.
The Beavers were led by QB Chase Nolan, who threw for 263 yards. However, the Beavers struggled to score against a stingy Aggie defense. The Beavers scored their first and only TD on a 3-play drive to start the game and didn’t find the end zone again. With the win the Aggies finish 11-3 and will likely end the season in the AP Top 25. The Beavers close at 7-6.
New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana entered the New Orleans bowl on a 12 game winning streak, but missing their head coach, Bill Napier who left to take the had job at Florida. However, the Rajin’ Cajuns didn’t miss a beat, handling Marshall 36-21, providing new coach Michael Desormeaux’s a win in his first game leading the program. Levi Lewis completed a stellar career with 270 yards passing and a TD and added another TD on the ground to pace the Cajuns.
The Thundering Herd didn’t make it easy for Louisiana. Rasheen Ali rushed for 160 yards and 3 TDs, including one late in the third quarter to given the Herd the lead heading to the fourth quarter. However, Lewis led three TD drives, two capped with Emani Bailey TD runs to rally the Cajuns to the win. With the win Louisiana finishes with a school record 13 wins against a single loss in their season opener. The Herd closed the season 7-6.
Myrtle Beach Bowl
The second Myrtle Beach Bowl started with a bang. Old Dominion’s Lamareon James returned the opening kickoff 100 yards to stake the Monarchs a 7-0 lead. However, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane responded with back-to-back TD drives to seize control and coast to a 30-17 win. Davis Brin paced the Golden Hurricane with 285 yards passing and 2 TDs, 129 yards of the total going to receiver Josh Johnson. Shamari Brooks chipped in 107 yards rushing and a score for Tulsa.
For ODU, it was a tough ending to a season that saw the Monarchs win their last 5 games to reach bowl eligibility. The Monarchs struggled to move the ball, gaining only 247 yards. QB Hayden Wolff threw for 176 yards to lead ODU. With the win, the Golden Hurricane finishes the year at 7-6, while the Monarchs fall to 6-7 with the loss.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Wyoming’s Jekyll and Hyde offense was all Jekyll in the Famous Idaho Bowl. The Cowboys rolled to a 52-38 win over Kent State, behind the passing and running of QB Levi Williams. Coming into the Bowl, the Cowboys offense was 1-5 when scoring fewer than 20 points and 5-1 when scoring 20 or more. However, that statistic doesn’t even tell the full story. In the six games below 20, the Cowboys averaged 10 points per contest. In the other 6, the average was nearly 36 points per game. Williams rushed for a career high 200 yards and 4 touchdowns, while completing 82% of his passes for another touchdown. Xazavian Valladay and Trey Smith added 150 yards and two touchdowns as the Cowboys enjoyed their most points of the 2021 season at the right time.
For Kent State, Dustin Crum led the Golden Flashes in his last game as QB. Crum threw for 316 yards and 4 touchdowns. Bryan Bradford added 109 on the ground, but it wasn’t enough for the Golden Flashes to keep pace with the Cowboys. After Kent State closed to 42-31 early in the fourth, Wyoming ran off 10 straight points to put the game out of reach.
Wyoming finishes the year at 7-6, while Kent State falls to 6-7.
In a matchup of two of the top G5 teams in 2021, the fireworks came from an unexpected source. Lucas Johnson, the transfer QB from Georgia Tech, had a career day with 333 yards passing with 3 touchdowns to lead San Diego State to a 38-24 win over UT San Antonio. Johnson appeared in 11 games in the regular season, rotating with Jordon Brookshire. He had not eclipsed 200 yards in a game prior to the bowl. Greg Bell added 101 yards on the ground and a touchdown as the Aztecs eclipsed 35 points for only the third time in the season and recorded their highest offensive output for the season with 489 total yards.
UTSA was missing leading rusher Sincere McCormick, who opted out of the bowl, and relied heavily on QB Frank Harris. Harris responded with 271 yards passing and 2 touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough against the stout Aztec defense. The 24 points represented the second lowest scoring total of the year for the Roadrunners.
Both teams end the season at 12-2. The twelve wins are school records for wins in a season for both the Aztecs as well as the Roadrunners.
Armed Forces Bowl
In one of the most exciting finishes of the bowl season so far, Cole Talley hit a 41 yard field goal on the last play of the game to rally the Army Black Knights to an improbable 24-22 win over Missouri. Down to their third string QB due to injuries, the Black Knights trailed 22-21 after a Tiger touchdown. Jabari Laws, the third string QB, was the Army starter in 2019 before an injury ended his season and kept him out for all of 2020. Laws completed two passes for 21 yards on the final drive, leading to Talley’s winning FG.
Missouri had taken the lead on a Brady Cook TD pass. Cook finished with 238 yards passing and 53 yards rushing to lead the Tiger attack. The Tigers rushed for 195 yards in total, keeping pace with the Black Knights for much of the game. Army finishes the year 9-4 with their first win over a Power 5 school in 7 years. Missouri falls to 6-7 on the year.
Frisco Bowl Classic
In a bowl made for this year, the Miami RedHawks squared off against the North Texas Mean Green in Frisco, Tx. North Texas came in red hot, but the RedHawk defense made a Brett Gabbert TD pass to Kevin Davis before halftime standup by shutting out the Mean Green in the second half. Brett Gabbert had a strong game, finishing with 228 yards passing and two touchdowns to pace the RedHawk offense. However, the story of the game was the RedHawk defense which held the Mean Green to only 89 yards rushing, by far their lowest output of the year.
The Mean Green came into the game with 5 consecutive wins, averaging over 280 yards rushing in those wins. They could never get the run game going against Miami. Austin Aune passed for 228 yards to keep the Mean Green within striking distance, but ultimately was undone by two interceptions.
Miami closes the season at 7-6, while North Texas falls to 6-7 for the year.
In only their third meeting, the UCF Knights pulled away in the second half and gained their first win over the Florida Gators in the Gasparilla Bowl. Ryan O’Keefe fueled the Knights with big plays, ending with 110 yards rushing and 85 yards receiving. Isiah Bowser powered his way to 155 yards rushing and two touchdowns as the Knights out-gained the Gators 436 to 376. After losses by a combined 73 points in their first two meetings, the Knights had the Gators number in the first postseason game between the two teams.
The Gators moved the ball well on the ground, gaining 205 yards. However, as they played from behind, QB Emory Jones struggled, completing only 39% of his passes. The loss was the SEC’s second to G5 teams in as many meetings this postseason.
The Knights close the season at 9-4, while the Gators end with a losing record for only the third time in the last 41 years at 6-7.
In our predictions we talked about how hot the Georgia State Panthers were coming into the Camellia Bowl. The Panthers didn’t disappoint. Behind 325 yards of total offense from QB Darren Grainger, the Panthers dominated Ball State 51-20. Grainger passed for 203 yards and 3 touchdowns, while running for 122 yards and another touchdown to lead the scoring for the Panthers. Tight end Aubry Paine caught two of the touchdown passes and ended with 8 receptions and 109 yards.
Drew Plitt passed for 293 yards and a touchdown to pace the Cardinals. Jayshon Jackson caught 12 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown to lead Cardinal receivers. The Cardinals were limited to 74 yards rushing and were hurt by two turnovers. the game was tight at half with Georgia State up only 20-13. However, behind Grainger, the Panthers would score the next 31 points to take an insurmountable 51-13 lead.
The Panthers close the season with a school record 8 wins against 5 losses. Ball State ends the season at 6-7 following their 2020 MAC Championship run.
Quick Lane Bowl
Nevada opened the Quick Lane with a ten play drive ending in a Brandon Talton FG and a 3-0 lead. Little did the Wolfpack know, that lead would only hold up for 13 seconds. That was all the time it took for Julian Diaz to return the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to spark the Western Michigan Broncos to a thorough beatdown of Nevada 52-24. Kalen Eleby passed for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns to back a dominant rushing attack lead by Sean Tyler (146 yards) and Jaxson Kincaide (105 yards and 2 touchdowns).
Nevada, playing without star QB and receiver combo, Carson Strong and Romeo Doubs, both who opted to miss the game to prepare for the NFL draft, never found its groove on either side of the ball. Nate Cox, filling in for Strong, passed for 158 yards and a touchdown, but the Wolfpack could only muster 242 yards of offense, well below their season average of 440 yards.
The Broncos finish the season at 8-5 with their first bowl win since 2015, while the Wolfpack slides to 8-5 to close their 2021 season.
Houston entered the Birmingham Bowl as one of the hottest teams in the FBS. The Cougars had won 11 of 12, the only loss coming to Cincinnati in the AAC Championship. Facing Auburn in its own backyard was a challenge, but the Cougars, behind QB Clayton Tune, responded with a 17-13 victory to cap a twelve win season. Tune passed for 283 yards and two touchdowns to pace the Cougar’s offense. Nathaniel Dell caught 10 of Tune’s passes for 150 yards to lead all receivers.
Auburn was lead by TJ Finley, who passed for 227 yards and a touchdown. The Cougar defense did a respectable job limiting the Tiger attack to 352 yards, well off their average of over 400 yards a game. After Houston took the lead with just over 3 minutes remaining, the Houston defense held Auburn on 4 plays to take the win.
With the victory Houston finishes 12-2, marking their third season in program history with 12 or more wins. Auburn ends the season with 5 consecutive losses to fall to 6-7.
First Responder Bowl
Air Force finally lived up to its namesake in the First responder Bowl. After leading the FBS in rushing yards and forsaking the air game most of the season, the Falcons came out throwing against a Louisville defense bent on stopping the run. The result was a season high 252 yards passing and a 31-28 win. More impressively, the 252 yards came on only 9 completions (in ten attempts) by QB Haaziq Daniels. Daniels threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more to lead the Falcon attack. Brandon Lewis caught 5 passes for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns of 61 and 64 yards.
Louisville rallied behind QB Malik Cunningham. After a slow start, Cunningham threw for 207 yards and a touchdown and ran for 63 yards and another score to lead the Cardinals. Cunningham scored on a 22 yard run with 2:57 left to cut the Falcon lead to 3 points. However, Air Force recovered the on-side kick and ran out the clock to seal the win.
Air Force closes the season at 10-3. Their fourth season with 10 or more wins in the last 8. Louisville falls to 6-7 with consecutive losing seasons for the first time since 2008-2009.
With the win, the Group of Five moves to 5-0 against the Power Five in the 2021 Bowl Season, guaranteeing a winning record with only two bowl games remaining (after cancellations).
Central Michigan’s bowl journey began with an anticipated matchup against Boise State in the Arizona Bowl and ended with the Chippewas playing the Washington State Cougars in the Sun Bowl after COVID-19 forced Boise State and Miami to withdraw. The Chippewas made the most of the opportunity, jumping out to a 21-0 lead and holding on for a 24-21 upset win. Lew Nichols added to his FBS-leading rushing totals with 120 yards and a touchdown to lead the Chippewas. Daniel Richardson passed for 193 yards and a touchdown as Central Michigan out gained the Cougars 338-243.
Washington State was paced by QB Victor Gabalis who passed for 180 yards and two touchdowns. However, the Cougars were limited to a season low 18 yards rushing on 23 attempts. The Central Michigan win was their first bowl win since 2012 and their first against a Power 5 opponent. The win also snapped the Chippewas’ 5 game bowl losing streak.
Central Michigan finishes at 9-4 with 5 consecutive wins to close the season. Washington State falls to 7-6 with the loss. The win by Central Michigan brings the G5 record against the P5 in the 2021 bowl season to 6-0.
In the most anticipated game in history for the Group-of-five, Cincinnati battled the Power 5 juggernaut Alabama in the CFP semifinals. Unfortunately, the Bearcats fell in much the same manner as Alabama’s previous 4 opponents dropping a 27-6 decision. The Bearcats succeeded in putting pressure on Heisman winner Bryce Young to disrupt the powerful Bama passing attack. However, the Bearcats struggled to stop the Alabama ground attack. Offensively, the Bearcats struggled to move the ball against the Tide. Desmond Ridder was sacked 6 times as the Tide defensive front overpowered the Bearcats. Jerome Ford added 77 yards on the ground, but overall the Bearcats were limited to 218 yards, their lowest output of the year.
For the Tide, Brian Robinson was the story. Robison rushed for 198 yards and enabled Alabama to dictate the tempo of the game. Bryce Young passed for 181 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the scoring for the Tide. the 181 passing yards was a season low for the Bama offense, but was offset by their season-best 301 yards rushing.
The Bearcats fought hard, but couldn’t take advantage of opportunities, being held to FGs on trips into the red zone and failing to take advantage of a rare Bryce Young interception. However, they more than proved they “belonged” in the game.
The Bearcats close a second consecutive sterling season with a loss in a bowl to finish at 13-1. Their 44-7 record over the past 4 seasons trails only Alabama, Ohio State, and Clemson in the FBS. Alabama moves to 13-1 and moves on to face Georgia in the National Championship Game.