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LSU ends UCF's undefeated run in Fiesta Bowl; Kentucky, Iowa grab wins

By
Connor Grott
Louisiana State University Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron holds up the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Trophy after the Tigers defeated the University of Central Florida Knights on Tuesday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI
Louisiana State University Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron holds up the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl Trophy after the Tigers defeated the University of Central Florida Knights on Tuesday at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Photo by Art Foxall/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 1 (UPI) -- The No. 11 LSU Tigers brought the No. 7 Central Florida Knights' long run to an end Tuesday night in the Fiesta Bowl.

Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow shook off huge hits, including a massive shot from Knights defensive lineman Joey Connors, to halt UCF's 25-game winning streak with a 40-32 shootout win.

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LSU (10-3) set a school record with its fourth victory against a top-10 team this season. With the win, the Tigers also posted a 10-win season for the first time since 2013.

It was UCF's (12-1) first loss since a game on Dec. 17, 2016, against Arkansas State in the AutoNation Cure Bowl.

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Burrow was named Offensive Player of the Game after he completed 21-of-34 passes for 394 yards and four touchdowns with a pick. The four touchdowns tied the LSU bowl record set by Matt Flynn in 2007.

Knights backup quarterback Darriel Mack Jr., who was filling in for the injured McKenzie Milton, was 11-for-30 passing with 97 yards, one touchdown and an interception.

LSU kicker Cole Tracy nailed a 24-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead three minutes into the game.

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The Knights used a 25-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Greg McCrae and a 93-yard interception return from defensive back Brandon Moore to build a 14-3 advantage with 6:39 to go in the first quarter.

UCF's early 14-3 lead was the last time they would have command. LSU receiver Justin Jefferson brought down a 22-yard touchdown catch and had a 33-yard score while wideout Derrick Dillon added a 49-yard touchdown to go up 24-14.

Knights wide receiver Gabriel Davis cut into the deficit with a 32-yard score right before halftime. He finished with three catches, 59 yards and the lone score.

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LSU opened the third quarter with a 32-yard touchdown from Burrow to freshman receiver Ja'Marr Chase. Tracy and UCF kicker Matthew Wright exchanged field goals in the third frame as the Tigers took a 34-24 lead into the final quarter.

Tracy drilled two more field goals to push the lead to 40-24 with 4:12 left in the contest. With 2:24 remaining, Taj McGowan ran it in from two yards out and Mack Jr. found Otis Anderson for a successful two-point conversion, but UCF's comeback attempt fell short.

Jefferson finished with four catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Chase had a team-best six grabs for 93 yards and a score. Tigers tailback Nick Brossette had a game-high 29 carries for 117 yards.

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VRBO Citrus Bowl

Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. ran wild as the Wildcats (10-3) picked up a 27-24 win over the Penn State Nittany Lions (9-4) in the Citrus Bowl on Tuesday.

Snell compiled 144 rushing yards and two scores on the ground to help Kentucky post its best season in over four decades.

The Wildcats' 10-win season is the first in program history since 1977.

Snell contributed to that milestone with one of his own, becoming the school's career rushing leader following his final performance before he enters the 2019 NFL Draft.

Snell's 12-yard touchdown run in the third quarter broke Sonny Collins' record of 3,835 yards (1972-75).

Kentucky dominated the first half and late into the third quarter, taking a 27-7 lead into the fourth quarter.

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley attempted to lead a comeback attempt with a late fourth-quarter surge. He had a one-yard touchdown plunge and then found freshman tight end Pat Freiermuth for an 18-yard score to cut the deficit to 27-21 with nine minutes left.

Nittany Lions kicker Jake Pinegar connected on a 32-yard field goal to make it 27-24 with 4:12 remaining, but Penn State couldn't get the ball back.

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The Wildcats posted six sacks against PSU, with three of those coming from SEC Defensive Player of the Year and standout linebacker Josh Allen.

McSorley was 17-of-33 passing for 246 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He added a team-high 19 carries for 75 yards and an additional score.

Kentucky starting quarterback Terry Wilson was 9-for-15 with 121 yards.

Outback Bowl

The Iowa Hawkeyes had a non-existent running game, but managed to rally past the No. 18 Mississippi State Bulldogs 27-22 in the Outback Bowl on Tuesday.

Iowa safety Jake Gervase's interception in the end zone late in the fourth quarter helped the Hawkeyes squeeze out their second consecutive bowl victory.

Iowa's opportunistic defense turned three takeaways into 17 points and held the Bulldogs to a dismal 5-for-17 on third-down conversions.

The Hawkeyes struggled offensively, especially on the ground. Iowa ran 20 times for minus-15 yards and failed to consistently move the chains (1-for-11 on third downs) with just 199 total yards of offense.

Iowa starting quarterback Nate Stanley was 21-for-31 passing with 214 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald completed 14-of-32 passes for 152 yards with one touchdown and two picks. He added 20 carries for 103 yards and a rushing score.

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