College football notebook: Bowling Green falls in bowl
San Jose State receiver Chandler Jones dives past defensive back Darrell Hunter on an 18-yard touchdown reception.
So what if San Jose State lost its coach before the Military Bowl. Junior David Fales still was the quarterback, and that was plenty enough.
Fales started strong and finished stronger in the wind and cold yesterday in Washington. Fales, who led the nation in completion percentage during the regular season, completed 33 of 43 passes for 395 yards and two touchdowns in the 24th-ranked Spartans’ 29-20 victory over Bowling Green.
Fales led the drive that set up Austin Lopez’s go-ahead 27-yard field goal with 4:43 remaining, and De’Leon Eskridge’s 1-yard run with 2:34 left provided the insurance.
San Jose State (11-2), in the national rankings for the first time since 1975, capped the year with a seven-game winning streak for its first 11-victory season since 1940 — a remarkable turnaround for a program that was 1-12 just two years ago in Mike MacIntyre’s first season as coach.
But MacIntyre left earlier this month for a bigger payday at Colorado, leaving defensive coordinator Kent Baer in charge for the bowl. The school then hired San Diego’s Ron Caragher to replace MacIntyre. Caragher attended the game as an observer.
Bowling Green (8-5) had a similar turnaround under coach Dave Clawson, winning two games in 2010 and five in 2011.
“We found a way to get from five to eight (wins this season),” Clawson said. “Now we have to find a way to get from eight to 11.”
Bowling Green’s defense had allowed an average of 15.8 points a game in the regular season — ninth best among Football Bowl Subdivision schools — and did a decent job against a San Jose State team that was averaging 35.3 points.
But give Fales enough chances and he will find a way to put points on the scoreboard. He went above 4,000 yards passing for the season, hitting Kyle Nunn for a 33-yard score to give the Spartans a first-quarter lead and finding Chandler Jones for an 18-yard reception that put San Jose State back in front 19-13 in the third quarter.
Bowling Green retook the lead in the fourth on John Pettigrew’s 1-yard run with 10:26 remaining, but Fales went 7 of 10 on a 68-yard drive that got well within range for Lopez, who made all 17 of his field-goal attempts this season.
The Military Bowl was supposed to pit Army against an Atlantic Coast Conference team, but Army wasn’t bowl-eligible and the ACC didn’t have enough bowl-eligible schools to fulfill its obligation. As a result, there was little excitement for the Mid-American Conference-Western Athletic Conference matchup in the nation’s capital. The upper deck of RFK Stadium was virtually empty during the second half, and the attendance was announced as 17,835.
Barkley won’t play in bowl
Senior 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 that Barkley won’t play in the Sun Bowl on Monday against Georgia Tech because of an injured right shoulder. Instead, redshirt freshman Max Wittek will make his second 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 in the loss to the Fighting Irish, which dropped the Trojans to 7-5 on the season.
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, passing yards, completions and total offense.
But so much more was expected from him and the Trojans this season when Barkley announced last January that he would return for his senior year.
USC started the season ranked No. 1, and Barkley was the Heisman Trophy favorite and an almost certain high first-round NFL draft pick.
He passed for 3,273 yards and 36 touchdowns but also was intercepted 15 times, the most since his freshman season.