Wednesday, December 27, 2017
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL
Utah 30, West Virginia 14
Zach Moss ran for 150 yards with a career-long 58-yard run for a touchdown, Tyler Huntley scored twice on 2-yard keepers and Utah got its fifth consecutive bowl victory, a win over West Virginia. On a drizzly and chilly day in Cotton Bowl Stadium, the Utes (7-6) led for good after Moss took a third-and-1 handoff, quickly burst into the open field and went all the way to the end zone to cap their opening drive.Utah improved to 11-1 in bowl games under Kyle Whittingham, the former defensive coordinator whose debut as head coach was a Fiesta Bowl win at the end of the 2004 season. He co-coached that game with Urban Meyer, who had taken the Florida job three weeks earlier but returned to be part of Utah’s postseason win over Pittsburgh after Whittingham had been promoted to head coach. With the win, Whittingham tied Alabama’s Nick Saban for most bowl wins by an active coach. West Virginia (7-6) finished the season with its third straight loss. The Mountaineers had only 153 total yards without junior quarterback Will Grier, who broke a finger Nov. 18, and 1,000-yard rusher Justin Crawford, a senior who bypassed the bowl game in advance of the NFL draft.
Utah: Both of Huntley’s TDs came after West Virginia miscues. The first came after a muffed punt return set Utah up at the Mountaineers 13, and the second came after an offside penalty on a short punt gave the Utes a second chance on fourth down. Huntley then completed a 25-yard pass completion on the fourth-and-3 play before scoring on another short run.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers missed Grier, who broke the middle finger on his throwing hand early in a loss against Texas. They also lost their regular-season finale without him. Grier, whose 34 TD passes were the second most in a season for West Virginia, already has said he will return next year for his senior season.
Utah: Huntley and Moss will both be back, and their junior seasons will begin at home on Aug. 30 against Weber State. For the start of what will be Whittingham’s 14th full season, the Utes could have back 14 of their starters from the bowl game (eight on offense, six on defense).
West Virginia: Grier can be back in the lineup for the 2018 season opener Sept. 1 against Tennessee in Charlotte. It will be the third time in five years the Mountaineers will open a season against another Power Five opponent in an NFL stadium.
QUICK LANE BOWL
Duke 36, Northern Illinois 14
Daniel Jones threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Duke beat Northern Illinois. Jones finished with 338 yards of offense, while Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown added touchdowns for Duke (7-6). Marcus Childers threw for 234 yards and a score for Northern Illinois (8-5).The Blue Devils took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, sandwiching rushing touchdowns around a failed Northern Illinois fake punt on 4th-and-18 from their own 11. The Huskies had two first downs and 46 yards in the quarter, but tied the game with two scores in the first 2:38 of the second. Duke, though, moved back into a 26-14 lead with two touchdowns before halftime. Jones fumbled on the first possession of the second half, but Northern Illinois turned the ball back over after a failed fake field goal.
Duke: Other than the start of the second quarter, where they lost defensive focus on back-to-back possessions, the Blue Devils were in complete control.
Northern Illinois: The Huskies recovered from the disastrous first-quarter fake punt to get back into the game, but couldn’t stay with Duke on either side of the ball.
Duke: By winning their final three games, including David Cutcliffe’s second bowl victory in 10 seasons at Duke, the Blue Devils take some momentum into the offseason. At 4-6 after a loss to Army on Nov. 11, they were in danger of missing out on a bowl for the second year in a row, but they beat Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Northern Illinois.
Northern Illinois: After winning at Nebraska, the Huskies thought they were on the verge of another big season. However, conference losses to Toledo and Central Michigan knocked them out of MAC title contention and they were overmatched against Duke.