WASHINGTON – David Fales completed 33 of 43 passes for 395 yards and two touchdowns Thursday as No. 24 San Jose State completed a comeback season with a 29-20 win over Bowling Green in the Military Bowl.
Fales led the drive that set up Austin Lopez’s 27-yard field goal with 4:43 remaining, and De’Leon Eskridge’s 1-yard run with 2:34 left provided the insurance.
The Spartans finished 11-2 and are in the national rankings for the first time since 1975. They capped the year with a seven-game winning streak for their first 11-win season since 1940, a remarkable turnaround for a program that was 1-12 just two years ago and led Colorado to hire away Coach Mike MacIntyre earlier this month.
Bowling Green finished 8-5.
BELK BOWL: Brendon Kay threw for 332 yards and a Belk Bowl-record four touchdowns, and Cincinnati capitalized on Duke’s inept play in the closing minutes to beat the Blue Devils 48-34 in Charlotte, N.C.
Duke appeared to have the game in hand and was driving for the go-ahead score — and its first bowl victory since 1961 — but the final 80 seconds proved disastrous. With the game tied at 34-34 and the Blue Devils positioning themselves for a winning field goal, running back Josh Snead fumbled at the Cincinnati 5-yard line with 1:20 left and Bearcats defensive lineman John Williams recovered.
Kay then connected with tight end Travis Kelce on an 83-yard touchdown strike down the middle with 44 seconds left for the go-ahead score.
Cincinnati (10-3) sealed it on the next series when Maalik Bomar came crashing into Duke quarterback Sean Renfree, forcing a deflection that Nick Temple returned 55 yards for a touchdown.
Renfree threw for 358 yards –another Belk Bowl record — for the Blue Devils (6-7).
SUN BOWL: Matt Barkley’s career at Southern California is over, a shoulder injury bringing a disappointing end to his record-breaking, four-year run as the Trojans’ quarterback.
Coach Lane Kiffin announced Thursday that the senior quarterback won’t play in the Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve against Georgia Tech because of an injured shoulder. Instead, redshirt freshman Max Wittek will make his second career start.
Barkley’s throwing shoulder was injured during USC’s second-to-last game against UCLA and he didn’t play in the season-finale against Notre Dame. Wittek started the game and the Trojans lost to the Fighting Irish to fall to 7-5 on the season. Georgia Tech is 6-7.
Barkley was a celebrated recruit when he arrived at USC and won the starting job as a freshman in 2009. He went on to rewrite the Pac-12 record book during a USC-record 47 starts over four seasons, becoming the conference leader in touchdown passes, yards passing, completions and total offense.
The Southern California native will end his career having played in the postseason just once. He led USC to a victory against Boston College in the Emerald Bowl in 2009 as a freshman.
MEINEKE BOWL: Texas Tech players say they aren’t worried that a tumultuous month which began with Tommy Tuberville leaving abruptly for Cincinnati will hurt them in Friday’s Meineke Car Care Bowl against Minnesota.
Senior quarterback Seth Doege has been in this situation before. He saw the Red Raiders come together for a win in the Alamo Bowl under an interim coach just days after coach Mike Leach was fired in the 2009 season.
The Red Raiders have hired Kliff Kingsbury to replace Tuberville, but interim coach Chris Thomsen will lead Texas Tech in the bowl game.
FLORIDA: Florida safety De’Ante Saunders and offensive tackle Matt Patchan are leaving the program.
“I think they needed a fresh start and that’s all I’ve got to say about it,” Coach Will Muschamp said after the fourth-ranked Gators landed in New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl.