Penn St. roars past Utah in Rose Bowl

Associated Press

PASADENA, Calif. — KeAndre Lambert-Smith had the longest touchdown reception in Rose Bowl history with an 88-yard pass from Sean Clifford, freshman Nicholas Singleton broke an 87-yard touchdown tie and took the No. 9 of Penn State rebounded at No. 7 Utah 35-21 in the 109th edition of Monday’s Granddaddy of Them All.

Clifford leapt 279 yards and two touchdowns in an impressive bye from Penn State, and Singleton rushed for 120 yards and two more points in a rainy day of spectacular big Nittany Lions plays (11-2).

Utah couldn’t recover as quarterback Cameron Rising was out through a second-half injury, and coach James Franklin’s exuberant group easily won the Rose Bowl for the second time in school history and the first since January 2, 1995.

Singleton got the Nittany Lions rolling in a well-played game when he broke through Utah’s defensive line and passed secondary for his second touchdown early in the third quarter. The 87-yard romp was the third-longest TD run in Rose Bowl history and the second-longest in Penn State bowl history.

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Shortly after it began raining in the Rose Bowl game for the first time since 1997, Lambert-Smith opened up deeply and evaded Utah defenders in the first snap of the fourth quarter to complete the longest pass in Penn State’s bowl history. Clifford’s pass also broke the Rose Bowl record of 76 yards held by Michigan’s Rick Leach against Curt Stephenson in 1978 against Washington.

Freshman Kaytron Allen added a 1-yard TD run with 10:36, and the Penn State defense was stopped on the Utes’ first six drives in the second half.

The win was a fitting finale for Clifford, the sixth grader, who in his 51st game finally added a memorable bowl performance to his streak of Penn State career records. Clifford also became the winning quarterback in school history with his 32nd win, overtaking Trace McSorley.

Franklin called a time-out with 2:30 left to allow a hero’s departure for the QB, who received a standing ovation.


TULANE 46, USC 45: Tulane tight end Alex Bauman caught a 6-yard touchdown from Michael Pratt with nine seconds to go for a frantic finish through the Green Wave at No. 14 in a win over No. 8 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams to crown in Southern California in Arlington, Texas.

Bauman’s contested catch, with linebacker Eric Gentry draped over him, was initially ruled incomplete, but a review of the replay showed the ball never touched the ground as players rolled over in the end zone.

The Green Wave scored 16 points in the final 4:07, the game-winning touchdown came after they got the ball back from a safety.

“I might have had a heart attack,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said shortly after the game ended.

Williams was a 37-for-52 pass for 462 yards and a Cotton Bowl-record five touchdowns exactly a month after the quarterback in USC’s loss to Utah in the Pac-12 championship game that stopped the Trojans from scoring the had suffered a hamstring injury to make four -team college football playoff.

Tyjae Spears rushed for 205 yards and his career-best fourth touchdown started the final points boost for American Athletic Conference champion Green Wave (12-2), who completed an FBS-record 10 wins after going 2-10 last season. They were the top-ranked group-of-five team in the New Year’s Six game.

The Green Wave played in their most significant bowl since the 1940 New Year’s Day Sugar Bowl while they were still in the Southeastern Conference, and it was their biggest bowl win since the 1935 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, where their campus is located.

After Spears’ 4-yard TD run with 4:07 left, Green Wave opted to go deep rather than attempt an onside kick. Mario Williams signaled a fair catch but fumbled the ball wide on the 1. Two games later, defensive tackle Patrick Jenkins met Austin Jones in the end zone and choked him to safety.

Pratt completed just 8 of 17 passes for 234 yards but had two 24-yard completions on the final drive.


LSU 63, PURDUE 7: LSU has brought many talents through its reception room in recent years: Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson. For most of this season it has been Kayshon Boutte.

Malik Nabers made an attempt to join that name when he threw for a touchdown, caught one and had 163 yards to land in the No. 16 Tigers’ 63-7 route from Purdue in Orlando, Fla.

“It’s kind of an LSU wide receiver coat,” Tigers coach Brian Kelly said of Nabers, who was the game’s MVP. “It’s his opportunity now and you can see he wanted to make sure he made a statement today.”

LSU never fell behind, recording 594 yards of offense and closing the goal with Quad Wilson’s 99-yard interception return for a touchdown.

The Tigers (10-4) finished with at least 10 wins for the first time since the 2019 season as Joe Burrow, Chase and Jefferson led undefeated LSU to a national title.

The Boilermakers (8-6) were led by interim head coach Brian Brohm after his brother Jeff left to take over Louisville’s head coaching job at the end of the regular season. Ryan Walters is now taking over as Purdue coach.

Nabers, LSU’s leading receiver this season, had season-high yards and catches (nine).


MISSISSIPPI ST. 19, Illinois 10: Massimo Biscardi notched a 27-yard tiebreaking field goal four seconds from time, Marcus Banks fumbled 60 yards for a touchdown on the last play of the game and the No. 24 Mississippi state rallied in Tampa, Fla Illinois to beat 19-10 in the Bulldogs’ first game since the death of coach Mike Leach.

“Obviously, Mike Leach has been leading this program for three years, and he guided us out there today,” said Zach Arnett, who was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach three days after Leach’s death. “Emotional play, obviously.”

Banks scored Illinois’ fifth fling after a completed pass after the Fighting Ilini got the ball on his own 29. At the end of the game there was a scrum on the field, but order was restored after a few minutes.

Will Rogers was 29 of 44 yards for 261 yards and a touchdown for Mississippi State (9-4). Simeon Price had 68 rushing yards.

“Football isn’t always a pretty game,” said Rogers. “I know Coach Leach would probably be a little upset about some decisions, but we fought hard and stayed together as a team. He was with us all the way. He accompanied me all the way. I really, really miss him.”

Tommy DeVito completed 23 of 34 passes for 253 yards for Illinois (8-5).

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