Dec 28, 2023; San Antonio, TX, USA;  Arizona Wildcats quarterback Noah Fifita (11) throws a pass in the first half against the Oklahoma Sooners at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 Arizona overtakes No. 12 Oklahoma to win Alamo Bowl

No. 14 Arizona forced six turnovers and got the go-ahead touchdown on a 57-yard pass to Jacob Cowing, stunning No. 12 Oklahoma with a 38-24 comeback victory in the Alamo Bowl on Thursday in San Antonio.

Wildcats safety Gunner Maldonado intercepted a pass and recovered two fumbles, the second of which he returned 87 yards for a game-changing score late in the third quarter.

That touchdown with two seconds left in the third quarter and subsequent two-point conversion pass from Noah Fifita to Montana Lemonious-Craig cut Oklahoma’s lead to 24-21 — just as it seemed the Sooners were about to add to an 11-point edge.

Fifita passed for 354 yards for Arizona (10-3), which won its seventh consecutive game, its longest streak since the 1998 season. The Wildcats reached 10 wins in a season for the fourth time in school history.

Oklahoma true freshman quarterback Jackson Arnold, making his first start in the wake of Dillon Gabriel’s transfer, passed for 361 yards and two touchdowns. However, he was intercepted three times and lost a late fumble on a sack after the Wildcats took a 31-24 lead with 5:28 left on Cowing’s touchdown.

Arizona then added a 19-yard touchdown run by DJ Williams, ending the game by scoring 25 unanswered points in the final 15:02.

Oklahoma had roared back from a 13-0, first-half deficit and was up 24-13 when momentum changed quickly.

Dalton Johnson popped the ball out of the hands of receiver Jalil Farooq, and Maldonado grabbed it and raced down the left sideline for his 87-yard fumble return.

Martell Irby intercepted Arnold on the next play from scrimmage, setting up Arizona at the Oklahoma 11. The Sooners defense stiffened, though, forcing the Wildcats into a game-tying, 37-yard field goal.

When the Wildcats got the ball back after a punt, they drove 95 yards, capped by Fifita’s scramble and TD pass to Cowing. Cowing caught seven passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Teammate Tetairoa McMillan made 10 receptions for 160 yards.

Arnold completed 26 of 45 passes. Oklahoma outgained Arizona 562-383 but was undone by the six turnovers, which led to 28 points.

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma   s Jackson Arnold (10) warms up before an NCAA football game between University of Oklahoma (OU) and Iowa State at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.

Alamo Bowl: No. 12 Oklahoma, with freshman QB, takes on hot No. 14 Arizona

No. 12 Oklahoma will begin a new era at quarterback while No. 14 Arizona will be trying to match its longest winning streak in 25 years when the teams meet Thursday in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

The Sooners (10-2) narrowly missed playing in a New Year’s Six bowl matchup, while the Wildcats (9-3) come in as one of the nation’s biggest surprises, having won six consecutive games.

“They play with incredible passion and energy,” Oklahoma coach Brent Venables said of Arizona. “They play with great confidence. They know what they’re doing. You’re going to have to earn everything that you get.”

Nationally, the storyline is Oklahoma true freshman quarterback Jackson Arnold, a consensus 2023 five-star recruit who will step in for Dillon Gabriel, who is transferring to Oregon for his final season.

Arnold, a dual threat who will be leading the Sooners from the Big 12 into the Southeastern Conference next season, has appeared in six games as a backup, completing 18 of 24 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns.

Arnold will have ample weapons, including wide receivers Drake Stoops (78 catches, 880 yards, 10 TDs), Nic Anderson (31, 725, nine) and Jalil Farooq (41, 637, two), among others, as well as running back Gawin Sawchuk (610 yards, 5.8 per carry).

One question will be the offensive line. Left guard Cayden Green ransferred to Missouri, while center Andrew Raym and right tackle Tyler Guyton declared for the NFL draft.

“We’re going to practice what we saw on the film,” Arizona defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen said. “I don’t think they’re going to install a brand-new offense in three weeks. They still have great players.”

On defense, the Sooners lost safety Key Lawrence (transferring to Ole Miss) but return star junior linebacker Danny Stutsman (99 tackles, 16 for loss).

Arizona, playing its final game as a member of the Pac-12, is mostly intact, losing only senior left tackle Jordan Morgan (preparing for NFL draft) and has a young team that could very well be the preseason Big 12 favorite in 2024.

That starts with quarterback Noah Fifita. Taking over in the fourth quarter of the fourth game of the season, the redshirt freshman is eighth nationally in passing efficiency, completing 217 of 295 passes for 2,515 yards with 23 touchdowns and five interceptions.

His former Servite High School teammate in Anaheim, Calif., sophomore receiver Tetairoa McMillan, has caught 80 passes for 1,242 yards and 10 touchdowns. At 6-foot-5, he’s a matchup problem with the look of a future first-rounder.

Each team has big-time offense — Oklahoma averages 502.4 yards per game (fifth in FBS); Arizona is at 453.4 (17th) — but the Wildcats’ defense has made big strides this season. Arizona has improved to 37th nationally in total defense (340.9 yards per game) after ranking 124th last season (467.7).

Undersized but active linebacker Jacob Manu (108 tackles, 9.5 for loss) is one to watch.

After coach Jedd Fisch took over in 2021, Arizona’s losing streak reached 20 games during that season. Now, just over two years later, the Wildcats are trying to win seven games in a row for the first time since 1998 and post double-digit victories in a season for just the fourth time.

Oklahoma is making its 25th consecutive bowl appearance. This is Arizona’s first bowl game since 2017, a 38-35 loss to Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif.

“We want to make sure that our players understand it is a privilege to play in a bowl game,” Fisch said. “It is a celebration of a job well done.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2022; San Antonio, Texas, USA;  Washington Huskies running back Wayne Taulapapa (21) cuts back in front of Texas Longhorns defensive back Jahdae Barron during the first half in the 2022 Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Washington hangs on to beat No. 20 Texas in Alamo Bowl

Michael Penix Jr. passed for 287 yards and two second-half touchdowns and No. 12 Washington dominated the line of scrimmage throughout on the way to a 27-20 win over short-handed No. 20 Texas on Thursday in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

The Huskies (11-2) posted their first 11-plus-win season since 2016 and just the fifth in program history. Washington, which finished 4-8 in 2021, played in its first bowl game since 2019.

Wayne Taulapapa rushed for 108 yards, including a 42-yard first-quarter touchdown, on 14 carries for the Huskies.

Quinn Ewers passed for 369 yards and one touchdown for Texas (8-5). Casey Cain had four catches for 106 yards and Xavier Worthy had seven catches for 84 yards but dropped two deep balls in the third quarter.

Bert Auburn booted a 26-yard field goal with 1:40 to play to bring Texas to within one score, after which the Huskies recovered the ensuing onside kick. The Longhorns got the ball back with 31 seconds remaining but could not muster any magic.

The Longhorns played without their top two running backs, All-American and Doak Walker Award winner Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson, both of whom opted out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft.

The Huskies struck first Thursday, utilizing a short field provided by a blocked punt by Edefuan Ulofoshio to produce a 46-yard field goal by Peyton Henry with 11:44 to play in the opening quarter. Texas answered on a 30-yard field goal from Auburn that tied the game four minutes later.

Taulapapa ripped off his long scoring run on Washington’s next possession to cap a 10-play, 88-yard march. The score remained unchanged until a 24-yard field goal by Henry on the final play of a surprisingly defensive first half that ended with the Huskies up 13-3.

The Longhorns got back in the game on their first possession of the third quarter when Jonathon Brooks caught a screen pass from Ewers and sprinted 34 yards for a touchdown to make it 13-10.

Penix put Washington back in front by 10 points with a 6-yard scoring pass to Taj Davis with 6:44 to play in the third. He then engineered a 14-play, 90-yard drive that was capped off by an 8-yard TD pass to Jalen McMillan (who made an amazing shoestring catch) to push the Huskies’ lead to 27-10 with 13:08 remaining.

Texas responded with a 3-yard touchdown run by Brooks to cap an 11-play, 74-yard march to get back to within 27-17.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) reacts after running in to the end zone for touchdown during the first half against the Baylor Bears at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Washington, No. 20 Texas ready to light up Alamo Bowl

No. 12 Washington and No. 20 Texas look to move closer to a return to national prominence when they square off Thursday in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

The contest pits two of the nation’s best offenses, although the Longhorns will be depleted on that side of the ball. Two of their top running backs — consensus All-American and Doak Walker Award winner Bijan Robinson and key backup Roschon Johnson — have both opted out.

Texas (8-4) won three of its last four games, including a 38-27 home win over Baylor in its regular-season finale on Nov. 25. The only loss in that stretch was 17-10 against College Football Playoff participant TCU on Nov. 12.

After missing the postseason in 2021 in coach Steve Sarkisian’s first year with the Longhorns, Texas had a bounce-back season. The Longhorns’ four losses this year were by a combined 18 points.

“We didn’t get to go to a bowl game last year, we didn’t earn it,” Sarkisian said. “It’s great that the team gets this experience against a really good opponent. You’re always looking for ways to continue to develop your players. It’s a win-win for us.”

Texas still has plenty of firepower, with freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers triggering the attack and All-Big 12 honorees Xavier Worthy and Ja’Tavion Sanders his primary targets.

The 2022 Alamo Bowl marks the 58th all-time bowl appearance for the Longhorns, the third-most in the country behind only Alabama and Georgia. Texas owns a bowl record of 31-24-2.

The Huskies (10-2) are riding a six-game winning streak, including a 51-33 Apple Cup victory at Washington State on Nov. 26 to close out the regular season. Washington is making its first bowl appearance since the 2019 Las Vegas Bowl.

Head coach Kalen DeBoer led the Huskies back to the postseason and an improvement of six wins in his first year in Seattle. Washington’s 10 wins were the most ever at the school under a first-year head coach.

“We’re at the point now with this year’s team where we feel that we can play with anyone. We really do,” DeBoer said. “We feel like we’re that championship-caliber football team, without a doubt. We respect all and fear none. That’s really been something that’s resonated with our guys, and the belief we have that we are that team and we are capable of that.”

The Huskies are led by quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who finished eighth in this year’s Heisman balloting. Penix has had a remarkable campaign, going the second half of this season as the nation’s top passer and finishing with 4,354 yards through the air. He heads into the Alamo Bowl just 104 yards shy of the Washington single-season passing yards record.

The Alamo Bowl will be the Huskies’ 41st bowl appearance.

Texas and Washington have played four times, with the Longhorns owning a 3-1 all-time record. The programs last met in 2001 at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, where Texas overcame a 19-point deficit en route to a 47-43 victory.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson (5) runs the ball during the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Texas RB Bijan Robinson to skip bowl, enter draft

Texas running back Bijan Robinson announced Monday he is skipping the Alamo Bowl and entering the NFL draft.

Robinson won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back in 2022 after rushing for 1,580 yards and 18 touchdowns in 12 games. He averaged 6.1 yards per carry and added 19 catches for 314 yards and two TDs.

“I’ve done everything that I tried to do in God’s plan for me while I’ve been here,” Robinson told reporters Monday. “It’s time to start the new journey. I’m just excited to figure out another part of my life, just like I tried to figure it out here.”

Robinson ranks fourth in Longhorns history with 3,410 career rushing yards, trailing Ricky Williams, Cedric Benson and Earl Campbell.

The 6-foot, 220-pound junior from Tucson, Ariz., was ranked last week as the No. 1 running back in the 2023 draft class by ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

No. 20 Texas (8-4) faces No. 12 Washington (10-2) in the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl at San Antonio.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Anthony Brown (13) throws the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners in the first half of the 2021 Alamo Bowl at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No. 16 Oklahoma runs over No. 14 Oregon in Alamo Bowl

Kennedy Brooks ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns, leading No. 16 Oklahoma to a 47-32 win over No. 14 Oregon in the Alamo Bowl on Wednesday at San Antonio.

It was a fitting sendoff for Sooners interim coach Bob Stoops, who returned to coach Oklahoma for the game after Lincoln Riley departed for the University of Southern California.

Stoops was greeted by a drawn-out chant of his last name by Sooners fans when he came out onto the field before the game. The chant occurred again in the second quarter when his son, Drake Stoops, hauled in a 6-yard touchdown pass to put Oklahoma up 16-3.

While the Sooners (11-2) looked headed toward a blowout win when they were up 30-3 at halftime, Oregon didn’t go away.

The Ducks, decimated by opt-outs, injuries, transfers and players missing for academic reasons, especially defensively, closed the gap somewhat with 22 third-quarter points.

Oregon (10-4) couldn’t keep the Sooners out of the end zone in the second half, though, until holding them to a field goal on a seven-minute drive that ended with less than nine minutes to go in the contest.

The Ducks finally forced an Oklahoma punt late in the fourth quarter, getting the ball back with 3:46 to play, down by 15. However, the Sooners’ defense came up with a stop, and Oklahoma ran out the clock to put the game away.

The Sooners struck first, on Brooks’ 16-yard touchdown run in the first quarter after Justin Broiles intercepted Oregon’s Anthony Brown.

Oklahoma put up 24 second-quarter points thanks to Stoops’ touchdown, a 55-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Williams to Marvin Mims and a 29-yard TD run by Brooks.

The Sooners outgained the Ducks 233-102 in the second quarter, holding Oregon to just 17 yards on the ground.

Brown threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns for the Ducks. He was intercepted once. Oregon’s Travis Dye added 153 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

Williams, Oklahoma’s freshman quarterback, completed 21 of 27 passes for 242 yards and three scores. Brooks averaged 10.1 yards on his 14 carries.

The Sooners outgained Oregon 560 yards to 497, including 318-191 on the ground.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2020; San Antonio, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson (5) tries to stay in bounds as he records a first down against the Colorado Buffaloes defense in the first quarter at the Valero Alamo Bowl at the Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Ricardo B. Brazziell /American-Statesman-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Texas blows out Colorado in Alamo Bowl

Bijan Robinson ran for 183 yards and a score and caught two touchdown passes to help No. 20 Texas to a dominating 55-23 win over Colorado on Tuesday in the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

The win was marred by a right shoulder injury that forced Longhorns record-setting quarterback Sam Ehlinger out of the game for the second half. Ehlinger, a senior, passed for 160 yards and a touchdown in what is likely his final appearance for Texas.

Casey Thompson, Texas’ backup quarterback, threw four scoring passes — two to Joshua Moore, covering 13 and 25 yards in the third quarter, and a 23-yard strike to Robinson and a 73-yard bomb to Kelvontay Dixon in the fourth.

Thompson, who had four completions all season, ended up 8 for 10 for 170 yards before being lifted with 10 minutes to play. His four touchdown passes tied an Alamo Bowl record for a game.

The Longhorns, who outgained Colorado 638-378, have won bowl games in all four of coach Tom Herman’s years at the helm.

Texas (7-3) ended the year with victories in five of its final six games after losing to TCU and eventual Big 12 Conference champion Oklahoma in back-to-back weeks in early October. The Longhorns’ three losses in the pandemic-influenced 2020 season were by a combined 13 points.

Colorado (4-2) was led by backup quarterback Brendon Lewis’ 168 total yards (95 passing and 73 and a touchdown on the ground) and Jarek Broussard’s 82 yards and two scores rushing.

The Buffaloes, the surprise team of the Pacific 12 Conference, lost their final two games.

Texas got an 8-yard touchdown run from Robinson to cap its first possession. Robinson added to the lead with a 14-yard screen pass touchdown from Ehlinger at the 5:28 mark of the first quarter, after his 50-yard run set the table two plays earlier.

Colorado pulled to within seven points via a determined fourth-down run for a 2-yard score by Broussard with 6:58 to play in the second quarter.

Cameron Dicker booted an Alamo Bowl record 53-yard field goal for the Longhorns with 2:07 remaining in the second quarter. The Buffaloes’ Evan Price responded with 40-yard field goal with 43 seconds left in the half.

Dicker added a 35-yard field goal with 3:33 to play in the third quarter, just before Broussard’s 3-yard touchdown run.

–Field Level Media

Dec 5, 2020; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) passes the ball during a game against the Kansas State Wildcats at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 Texas, Colorado renew rivalry in Alamo Bowl

Upstart Colorado and No. 20 Texas, two teams with different expectations entering the 2020 season, will look to end the COVID-19-influenced campaign in style when they square off in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 in San Antonio.

The Longhorns will play in the Alamo Bowl for the fifth time and second straight year, while Colorado will appear in the postseason game for the third time and first since losing to Oklahoma State in 2016.

Texas (6-3, 5-3 in Big 12 play) came into the season with an experienced and talented team that was expected to challenge for the Big 12 Conference title. But the Longhorns were derailed by early-season losses to TCU and Oklahoma and dropped a crucial game to Iowa State on the day after Thanksgiving that kept them out of the Big 12 championship game.

Still, Texas won four of its last five contests, including a 69-31 road win over Kansas State on Dec. 5 in its most recent outing. That stretch also included a road win over then-No. 6 Oklahoma State, which marked Texas’ first road victory over a top-10 opponent since 2010.

The Longhorns were supposed to play a rescheduled game at Kansas on Dec. 12 but the game was canceled because of positive COVID tests in the Texas program.

“Obviously, for us, it’s a return trip, and I know our kids will be excited, regardless of the circumstances that 2020 has thrown everyone’s way,” Texas coach Tom Herman said. “We are honored and proud to be a part of it, and I know we will definitely have our hands full.”

The Alamo Bowl marks the 57th all-time bowl appearance for the Longhorns, the second-most in the country behind only Alabama. It is the fourth-straight year Texas has appeared in a bowl game under Herman, with the Longhorns winning each of the first three.

“It will be bittersweet, but I’m going to savor every last practice, every last minute I have with this great group of seniors,” Herman said. “Most of them came in when we took this program over and have been great models of leadership for our team and our university.”

The Buffaloes were the surprise team of the Pac-12 this season and made the most out of their limited opportunities, finishing the regular season with a 4-1 mark, and 3-1 in league play for a second-place finish in the South Division.

With a roster that sports only a handful of seniors and a long list of underclassmen who earned valuable playing time, the bowl bid serves as another validation of what coach Karl Dorrell, who was not hired until February, is building in Boulder.

“We feel like our program’s on the rise,” Dorrell said. “We’re trying to get better week after week and keep improving the depth of our team with our freshmen and sophomores that are playing. This has really been an extra bonus year for us to build a foundation in our program. It was just another step.”

The Buffaloes head to San Antonio after losing their final game of the regular season 38-21 at home to Utah on Dec. 12. Colorado was set to play Oregon on Dec. 19 but that game was cancelled after the Ducks were elevated into the league’s championship after COVID issues kept Washington from playing in the title game.

Once conference foes in the Big 12, Texas and Colorado will face off for the 19th time in school history and for the first time since 2009. The Longhorns will be the first ranked opponent the Buffaloes will play in 2020.

“We’re looking forward to extending the fruits of our labor from what we’ve done so far this year,” Dorrell said. “To be able to play this game and celebrate the game of football and particularly postseason — it’s fun to be a part of that. We’re very, very thankful for the opportunity to play.”

–Field Level Media