CI Week 18 Highlights

The CI Family capped 2017 with one of its best weeks of the year. At the college level, five CI coaches have won bowl games in the past seven days. In addition to the three coaches highlighted below, NC State Asst. Head Coach/CB George Barlow (@CoachGBarlow) and Purdue Defensive/Special Teams Analyst Kevin Wolthausen (@kwolthausen) picked up wins in the Sun Bowl and Foster Farms Bowl, respectively. Three more CI coaches will look to keep that momentum rolling today when UCF Assoc. Head Coach/SpecTeams/LB Jovan Dewitt (@Coach_Dewitt) and the Golden Knights shoot for a perfect season when they take on Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at 12:30 PM. Later today, Georgia Special Teams Analyst Scott Fountain (@CoachSFountain) and Defensive Assistant Will Windham (@CoachWindham) square off against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl for the right to compete in the National Championship Game. In the NFL, CI coaches combined to post a 5-2 record with one of the losses coming from the Los Angeles Rams and RB Coach Skip Peete who opted to rest several starters after having already locked up the NFC West crown. Among the winners, Buffalo WR Coach Phil McGeoghan (@PhilMcGeoghan) and the Bills knocked off the Dolphins, 22-16, to keep their hopes alive for a playoff bid. Approximately three hours later, the Bills got the help they were looking for when Cincinnati DL Coach Jacob Burney and the Bengals rallied to stun the Ravens in the final minute, 31-27. Joining McGeoghan in the playoffs will be Atlanta Assistant Special Teams Coach Eric Sutulovich and the Falcons who punched their ticket by knocking off the Panthers, 22-10. Finally, Los Angeles RB Coach Alfredo Roberts and the Chargers didn't get the help they needed but nevertheless ended their season in winning fashion with a 30-10 victory over the Raiders. Please find more highlights from Week 18 below.

Winston throws late TD pass, Buccaneers beat Saints 31-24
Last week, the Buccaneers announced that Head Coach Dirk Koetter would return to lead the team again in 2018. On Sunday, the team validated that decision with an impressive win over the Saints. New Orleans entered the game still battling for the NFC South title, but it was Tampa Bay that started strong, jumping out to a 7-0 lead on RB Peyton Barber's one-yard scoring run midway through the first quarter. The Saints responded with two touchdowns of their own in a game that featured five lead changes. In the end, though, it was the Buccaneers who demonstrated the most resolve when QB Jameis Winston connected with WR Chris Godwin for a 39-yard scoring strike with just nine seconds left in the fourth quarter to win the game. Defensively, Tampa Bay LB Kwon Alexander led all players with 11 tackles while fellow LB Lavonte David finished with six tackles including one tackle-for-loss. Alexander and David were both named Pro Bowl alternates in their second year working under the direction of LB Coach Mark Duffner. Congratulations to Duffner on the win and and strong performances of Alexander and David!

Michigan State rolls past Washington State in Holiday Bowl
The Spartans capped off their bounce-back season with a dominant performance over the Cougars in the Holiday Bowl. Washington State struck first with a field goal to take a 3-0 lead, but Michigan State responded with five straight touchdowns to take a commanding 35-3 lead en route to a 42-17 final. Redshirt sophomore QB Brian Lewerke led a balanced offensive attack for MSU as he completed 13-of-21 passes for 213 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, RB LJ Scott rushed for 110 yards and two scores to mark his third 100-yard rushing performance of the season. As a team, the Spartans outgained the Cougars 440-296. With the win, Michigan State concludes its year with at least 10 wins for the fourth time in five years. Congratulations to Co-Offensive Coordinator/TE Jim Bollman (@CoachJimBollman) on the bowl win and stellar season!

No. 23 Mississippi State beats Louisville in TaxSlayer Bowl
Entering Saturday's TaxSlayer Bowl, teams who had undergone head coaching changes since the end of the regular season were 1-5 in bowl games. Aside from the emotional toll that such transitions can have on players and coaches, there are also the challenges that come with the shuffling of responsibilities and undermanned staffs. For Mississippi State, its obstacles also included an injury to QB Nick Fitzgerald who had started every game during the regular season. Despite it all, the Bulldogs rallied from a 24-17 deficit in the fourth quarter to end their season on a high note. Filling in for Fitzgerald, true freshman QB Keytaon Thompson completed 11-of-20 passes for 127 yards and rushed 27 times for 147 yards with three touchdowns. On defense, Bulldog safety Mark McLaurin was named the TaxSlayer Bowl MVP after recording three interceptions while DL Montez Sweat was a disruptive force in the Cardinals' backfield as he finished with three tackles-for-loss. Sweat's performance concluded an impressive campaign in which he and fellow DL Jeffery Simmons both earned First Team All-SEC honors. Congratulations to Mississippi State DL Coach Brian Baker (@MSUCoachBaker) on the win and recognition for his defensive linemen!

Moss, Utah run past West Virginia 30-14
When Utah gets to a bowl game, they generally win it. The Utes have the best winning percentage in bowl games of any Power 5 team and improved to 11-1 under Head Coach Kyle Whittingham with their win over West Virginia in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. WR Coach Guy Holliday (@eagle88me) hasn't been there for all of Utah's bowl wins, but he's helped ensure the winning streak has continued in his two seasons with the program. Against the Mountaineers, the outcome was never truly in doubt as the Utes scored on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead and held a 17-3 lead by halftime. RB Zack Moss stole the show offensively as he rushed 20 times for 150 yards and one touchdown. Moss' output combined with a dominant defense meant the Utes didn't need to take to the air often; however, they had success when they did. Wide receivers Darren Carrington II and Raelon Singleton combined to catch six passes for 114 yards in the win. Congratulations to Holliday on his second bowl win with the Utes!

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