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Saturday's bowl roundup: Oklahoma State beats Notre Dame in Fiesta Bowl

Associated Press

Glendale, Ariz. — Spencer Sanders accounted for 496 yards and threw three of his four touchdown passes to Tay Martin, and No. 9 Oklahoma State overcame a 21-point deficit to beat No. 5 Notre Dame 37-35 in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday.

Oklahoma State (12-2, No. 9 CFP) came up inches short of securing a College Football Playoff spot in a loss to No. 6 Baylor at the Big 12 title game and fell into 21-point, first-half hole against Notre Dame (11-2, No. 5 CFP).

Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) scrambles against Notre Dame during the second half of the Fiesta Bowl.

Jack Coan led Notre Dame's early charge while throwing for a Fiesta Bowl-record 509 yards and five touchdowns.

Sanders and Martin brought the Cowboys back.

Sanders, who had a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jaden Bray in the first quarter, cut Notre Dame’s lead to 28-14 with a 9-yard scoring pass to Martin with 37 seconds left in the first half. The pair connected for two more touchdowns, from 5 and 8 yards, to tie the game, and the Cowboys went up 34-28 on three field goals by Tanner Brown.

Coan threw a 25-yard TD pass to Austin with 1:05 left to pull Notre Dame within two, but Oklahoma State recovered the onside kick to keep the Irish winless in major bowl games since the 1993 Cotton Bowl under Lou Holtz.

Sanders threw for 371 yards on 34-of-51 passing and ran for 125 yards.

The Irish appeared to be headed toward a rousing start to the Marcus Freeman era, building a 28-7 lead behind Coan. Notre Dame's senior quarterback threw for 342 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, including two to tight end Michael Mayer.

But the Irish looked like they were floundering in the desert sand throughout the second half.

Oklahoma State ramped up the pressure on Coan and shut down Notre Dame’s offense while its offense was revving up.

Notre Dame finally got something going midway through the fourth quarter, but Malcolm Rodriguez stepped in front of Kevin Austin for an interception at the Cowboys’ 18-yard line.

Coan finished 38 for 68.

More Bowl Results

No. 25 Kentucky 20,  No. 17 Iowa 17, Citrus Bowl: Chris Rodriguez ran for a 6-yard touchdown with 1:48 to play, and No. 25 Kentucky rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat No. 17 Iowa 20-17 in the Citrus Bowl on Saturday.

Kentucky was forced to rally after blowing a 10-point lead in the second half. Wan’Dale Robinson set up the winning score when he caught a 52-yard pass from Will Levis to get the Wildcats to the 1-yard line. Robinson, the game’s MVP, finished with 10 catches for 170 yards, while Levis completed 17 of 28 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown.

Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. (24), right, scores on a  5-yard touchdown pass play as tight end Justin Rigg (83) and Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner (28) watch during the Citrus Bowl.

DeAndre Square intercepted Iowa's Spencer Petras with 48 seconds to play to clinch the victory. Kentucky (10-3) won a fourth straight bowl game for the first time in school history and became the fourth Wildcats team to win at least 10 games.

Iowa (10-4), which rose to as high as No. 2 in the AP Top 25, saw its bowl win streak end at three games. The Hawkeyes stormed back from a 13-3 halftime deficit and led 17-13 after Petras' 36-yard touchdown pass to Sam LaPorta with 10:54 to play.

The Hawkeyes came in with the nation’s 123rd-ranked offense (297.5 yards per game) and having scored two offensive touchdowns in their previous three games. But Iowa eventually came alive behind Petras, who finished 19 of 30 for 211 yards. Gavin Williams ran for 98 yards on 16 carries, while Arlen Bruce IV gave Iowa its first touchdown of the day on a 20-yard sweep with 3:21 left in the third quarter. LaPorta, the latest in a long line of elite tight ends at Iowa, caught five passes for 98 yards.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz refused to name a starting quarterback in the days leading up the game, but the Hawkeyes went with Petras, the starter most of the season despite injuries that knocked him out of 3 1/2 games. 

No. 22 Arkansas 24, Penn State 10, Outback Bowl: KJ Jefferson picked up 104 of his 110 rushing yards in the second half and threw for 90 more to lead No. 22 Arkansas past Penn State 24-10 in the Outback Bowl on Saturday.

Raheim Sanders had 79 yards and two touchdowns on 13 rushing attempts and Dominique Johnson added 85 yards on 11 carries as the Razorbacks finished with 361 rushing yards.

Arkansas (9-4), coming off four consecutive seasons of four or fewer wins, got its first nine-win year since going 11-2 in 2011. The Razorbacks also played in their first bowl game since the 2016 Belk Bowl.

Sean Clifford went 14 of 32 or 195 yards for Penn State (7-6). He gained 47 yards on the ground on 11 attempts.

Jefferson ran 20 times while completing 14 of 19 passes. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound sophomore was sacked five times and limited to 6 yards rushing on 11 carries during the first half.

Jefferson and Sanders had TD runs, and Cam Little made a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter to put Arkansas up 24-10.

No. 6 Baylor 21, No. 8 Mississippi Mississippi 7: At New Orleans, Al Walcott set a Sugar Bowl record with a 96-yard interception return, Monaray Baldwin raced 48 yards for the go-ahead score on an end around, and injured Rebels quarterback Matt Corral watched from the sideline on crutches.

Abram Smith ran for 172 yards to finish with a single-season record 1,601 yards rushing for Big 12 champion Baylor (12-2), which won 12 games in a season for the first time. The defense did the rest, finishing with 10 sacks – two by game MVP Terrel Bernard – and three interceptions.

Corral, a dual-threat star QB and projected high-round NFL draft choice, became one of the big stories of the Sugar Bowl because of his decision to play, rather than opt out and minimize injury risks in advance of turning pro.

Corral had accounted for 3,936 total yards and 31 touchdowns during the regular season. But his hopes of going out with a flourish in a New Year’s Day bowl faded on Ole Miss’ third series, when he was sacked from behind by Cole Maxwell amid a cluster of players. When he was helped up and off the field, Corral didn’t put weight on his right foot.

He was carted to the locker room for X-rays before returning to the sideline wearing his red undershirt and using two black crutches.

Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin then put his offense in the hands of freshman Luke Altmyer, who led Ole Miss to the Baylor 12-yard line on his first series, only to have his pass to the left flat tipped and then intercepted by Walcott, who raced down the right sideline for the only points of the first half. The interception return was the longest in the Sugar Bowl’s 88-game history.

But the Rebels’ defense managed to hold Baylor’s offense scoreless through three quarters, allowing Ole Miss to tie it on Altmyer’s 37-yard timing pass down the right sideline to Braylon Sanders.

Ole Miss was poised to take the lead when Cole Nation lined up for a 35-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, but his kick sailed just wide right.

Baylor responded with Baldwin’s first collegiate touchdown on a season-long run for the seldom-used freshman, who entered the game with five rushes and one catch.

Altmyer’s second interception, picked off by safety J.T. Woods on a pass over the middle, set up Gerry Bohanon’s 2-yard scoring pass to Tyquan Thornton for the game’s final score.