Miami — Brandon Doughty’s final game at Western Kentucky perfectly epitomized his career with the Hilltoppers, with a slow start followed by a record-setting finish.
Doughty threw for 461 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 25 Western Kentucky overcame an early 14-point deficit to beat South Florida, 45-35, in the Miami Beach Bowl on Monday.
Doughty finished the season with 5,055 yards for the Hilltoppers (12-2), the 14th time in FBS history that a quarterback has reached the 5,000 mark. His six-year career at the school — it took him three to become the starter — ended with these numbers: 1,026 completions, 12,855 yards and 111 touchdowns.
“It’s been a heck of a run,” Doughty said just before hoisting the bowl trophy. “That’s why you love this game.”
He was probably even better than Willie Taggart thought he would be when he signed him in 2010. Taggart was Doughty’s coach for his first game and the opposing coach for his last, and his Bulls (8-5) nearly stole the show from Doughty with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns that got them to 38-35.
But Anthony Wales’ second touchdown of the day, a 42-yard scamper with 5:05 left, helped seal it for the Hilltoppers. Nicholas Norris hauled in touchdown passes of 69 and 55 yards in the third quarter for Western Kentucky, and Jared Dangerfield made a highlight-caliber 26-yard TD catch over three defenders to cap a 28-point third quarter for the Hilltoppers.
Quinton Flowers rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another for USF (8-5). The Bulls were in a bowl for the first time since 2010 and rewarded Taggart with a three-year extension through 2020 earlier in the day.
“I believe in Coach T,” Flowers said. “He believes in me and he believes in this team.”
Down 14-0 early before finally getting on the scoreboard on Wales’ touchdown run, the Hilltoppers seemed poised to tie the game in the second quarter after driving to the South Florida 6, but had to punt after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a couple sacks pushed them back to the 38.
Another year, another oddity in a bowl game for Western Kentucky. Last year, the Hilltoppers won the Bahamas Bowl despite giving up five straight touchdowns to Central Michigan, escaping with a 49-48 win only after the Chippewas’ 2-point conversion try failed.
Swinney coach of the year
Clemson’s Dabo Swinney is The Associated Press college football coach of the year after leading the Tigers to an unbeaten regular season and the longest run as the No. 1 team in the country in school history.
Swinney received 35 of 60 votes from the AP Top 25 media panel. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz was second with 10. Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio and Houston’s Tom Herman each received five votes. Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops received three votes and Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly and Florida’s Jim McElwain each had one.
Two days after suspended quarterback Will Grier left Florida, the Gators have more players on the move.
Coach Jim McElwain said running back Kelvin Taylor, receiver Demarcus Robinson and defensive end Alex McCalister have decided to forgo their senior seasons and enter the NFL draft. They join All-America cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, who declared his intentions earlier this month.
Taylor, Robinson and Hargreaves will stick around for the bowl game against No. 17 Michigan (9-3) in the Citrus Bowl. McCalister is dealing with a foot injury and won’t play.
... Linebacker Tim Kimbrough, Georgia’s third-leading tackler, will miss the TaxSlayer Bowl against Penn State due to a suspension.
... Arizona announced that cornerbacks coach David Lockwood won’t be returning next season and that football analyst Jahmile Addae has been promoted to replace him.
Akron (7-5) vs. Utah State (6-6)
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
Line: Utah State by 6
Series record: First meeting.
Key matchup: Utah State’s run game vs. Akron’s run defense. The Zips were third in the country at stopping the run, giving up 89.8 yards per game. Utah State’s run game wasn’t overpowering, but did average nearly 170 yards per game.
Players to watch: Akron — LB Jatavis Brown was the MAC defensive player of the year after finishing the year with 108 tackles, 171/2 tackles for loss, 101/2 sacks and three forced fumbles. The 101/2 sacks are a school record. Utah State — QB Chuckie Keeton is one of two FBS quarterbacks to start five season openers in his career and is the schools’ all-time leader in touchdown passes.
No. 24 Temple (10-3) vs. Toledo (9-2)
Kickoff: 7 p.m., FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Fla.
Line: Temple by 2
Series record: Toledo leads 7-3
Key matchup: Temple’s front seven vs. Toledo’s four-pronged rushing attack. The Owls allowed just 126.3 rushing yards per game, while Toledo pounded the ball on the ground for an average of 213.2.
Players to watch: Temple — QB P.J. Walker gained 325 rushing yards on 71 attempts, including scrambles, and completed 222 of 390 passes for 2,736 yards and 19 TDs with seven interceptions. Toledo — WR Alonzo Russell is a four-time All-MAC selection and became only the third receiver in school history to surpass 3,000 receiving yards (3,044).