The 2022 bowl season is over for Group of Five teams and there were many classics in what a great overall season for the bowls, whether it was G5 or P5.
Here is a look at the most exciting bowl games involving at least one G5 team.
1. Cotton Bowl – Tulane 46, USC 45
USC’s defense cost the Trojans a chance at the College Football Playoff and was a major reason why Tulane ended its dream season with a 12-2 record a year after going 2-10. Tulane, of course, deserves a lot of credit, but here’s a suggestion to USC coach Lincoln Riley – devote more effort into building a defense. Even an offense with a Heisman Trophy-winning QB isn’t always enough.
Enough about USC, this is about Tulane.
The Green Wave trailed 45-30 when USC made a field goal with 4:30 left. Tulane then got a 4-yard touchdown run by Tyjae Spears (17 carries, 205 yards, 4 TDs), a safety, and then the winning 6-yard scoring pass from Michael Pratt to Alex Bauman (and the conversion kick by Valentino Ambrosio) with nine seconds left. That was Tulane’s only lead of the game.
Spears was the offensive player of the game and linebacker Dorian Williams, who made 17 tackles, was the defensive MVP. USC Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams was 37 of 52 for 452 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception.
2. Bahamas Bowl – UAB 24, Miami (Ohio) 20
This one wasn’t decided until UAB’s Reynard Ellis tackled Jalen Walker at the 1-yard line on the final play of the game. Trailing 20-17, UAB took a 24-20 lead on Jermaine Brown Jr.’s 12-yard touchdown run with 1:33 left.
UAB Receiver Trea Shropshire was named offensive MVP with six receptions for 183 yards and a touchdown. Teammate Michael Fairbanks II was the defensive MVP with seven tackles, including 1.5 TFL, half a sack, and a blocked extra point. What was more impressive is that UAB played with standout running back DeWayne McBride, who opted out after declaring for the NFL draft.
3. New Mexico Bowl – BYU 24, SMU 23
SMU got to within 24-23 when Tanner Mordecai threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Kerley with eight seconds left. The Mustangs then went for two and Mordecai was stopped by Jakob Robinson well short on the run.
It was the last play that SMU fans would see Mordecai in a Mustangs uniform. Mordecai, who began his career at Oklahoma, has announced that the is transferring to Wisconsin. He threw 72 career touchdown passes for the Mustangs.
BYU played without QB Jaren Hall, who had an ankle injury, but the D came up big. Leading the way was Ben Bywater, who returned an interception 75 yards for a score and also added 11 tackles. After 12 years as an independent, BYU will become a member of the Big 12 next season.
4. Arizona Bowl – Ohio 30, Wyoming 27 OT
Trailing 24-21, Ohio sent the game into overtime on a 56-yard field goal by Nathanial Vakos with four seconds left in regulation and then won it with a 10-yard scoring pass from CJ Harris to Tyler Foster in overtime. Vakos also had field goals of 43 and 45 yards. Harris completed 20 of 33 for 184 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also rushed for 52 yards on 10 carries. Teammate Sieh Bangura rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.
5. Frisco Bowl – Boise State 35, North Texas 32
North Texas cut the lead to 35-32 on an Ikaika Ragsdale 5-yard run with 8:32 left but it would be the final scoring of the game.
You like a good rushing attack? Boise State set a Frisco Bowl record with 318 rushing yards and freshman Ashton Jeanty’s 178 yards was a Frisco Bowl and Boise State bowl record. Quarterback Taylen Green, who was named the offensive MVP, rushed for 119 yards on 12 carries, in addition to completing 13 of 22 for 173 yards. Sixth-year linebacker Ezekiel Noa was the defensive MVP with six tackles and a 52-yard interception return that set up a TD.
6. Hawaii Bowl – Middle Tennessee State 25, San Diego State 23
This was not an artistic gem, but it was a tight game, although it didn’t appear it would be when MTSU trailed 14-0 after the first quarter. Zeke Rankin’s 37-yard field goal with 2:05 left gave MTSU the 25-23 lead for good. Earlier in the game, Rankin set a Hawaii Bowl record with a 49-yard field goal. That record lasted less than two hours when SDSU’s Jack Browning hit a 52-yard field goal that gave the Aztecs a 23-22 lead with 5:43 left
7. Boca Raton Bowl – Toledo 21, Liberty 19
Toledo increased its lead to 21-7 on Dequan Finn’s 1-yard TD run with 10:35 left, but Liberty then scored two touchdowns, the second on a CJ Daniels to Bentley Hanshaw 67-yard scoring pass with 3:40 left to cut the lead to 21-19. Toledo then stopped the two-point conversion pass to preserve the win. Finn was the offensive MVP, completing 16 of 24 for 133 yards, one TD, and no interceptions. He also rushed for 23 yards and a score.
8. Camellia Bowl – Buffalo 23, Georgia Southern 21
Georgia Southern cut the lead to 23-21 with 3:38 left, but never got the ball back as Buffalo ran out the clock. Buffalo receiver Justin Marshall was named MVP after grabbing 11 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown. It was the third bowl win in Buffalo history, but the second Camellia Bowl triumph in three seasons.
9. Cure Bowl – Troy 18, UTSA 12
Like a little defense? Troy overcame a 12-0 second-quarter deficit to score the final 18 points in winning its fifth straight bowl game.
The Trojans pulled ahead for good, 15-12, on Gunnar Watson’s 12-yard scoring pass to RaJae’ Johnson with 2:43 left in the third quarter. Trailing 18-12, UTSA had a first and goal from the Troy 5-yard line near the midway point of the fourth quarter. A first down run gained two yards and then UTSA threw three incomplete passes. Troy forced five turnovers. The game MVP was KJ Robertson, who had nine tackles and an interception that he returned 61 yards to set up a score.