Six things we learned from Saturday's bowl games

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It was the freshman quarterback who started hot in the Foster Farms Bowl, but it was the veteran who finished it.

Nebraska's Tommy Armstrong, Jr., accounted for two second-half touchdowns, one rushing and one passing, to lead the Cornhuskers to a 37-29 win over UCLA on Saturday. Bruins freshman Josh Rosen threw for far more yards (319 to 174), and connected on three touchdown passes to Armstrong's one. But a late Rosen interception, his second of the game, dashed UCLA's hopes of a late comeback. Armstrong wasn't spectacular, but he was steady. And when he broke a 23-yard run in the final minutes to help the Cornhuskers convert a first down to run out the clock, the Bruins' freshman phenom was denied a final chance to tie the game.

With six 300-yard games as a true freshman this year, Rosen is primed to develop into one of college football's next elite passers. However, Saturday was Armstrong's night.

It was also goodbye for Cornhuskers defensive tackle Maliek Collins, who announced he intends to apply for early NFL draft eligibility.



Here are five other things we learned on Saturday in college football:

2. Strong showing for OT prospect. Indiana offensive tackle Jason Spriggs, one of the top draft prospects playing in Saturday's bowl action, protected the left edge without a sack Saturday in a 44-41 overtime loss to Duke. Spriggs has accepted an invitation to the Reese's Senior Bowl and his performance against the Blue Devils didn't go unnoticed.

3. 'Canes snowed under. Not much went right for the Miami Hurricanes this season, right down to the snowstorm at the Sun Bowl that made Washington State feel very much at home. We'd bet the ranch that the Hurricanes felt a long way from Coral Gables. What else could go wrong? How about Miami throwing a potential game-winning touchdown pass to Stacy Coley that was called back on an illegal block late in the fourth quarter, only to be followed by a fumble inside the Cougars' 10-yard line that dashed the 'Canes' hopes. Final score: Washington State 20, Miami 14, and Mark Richt's arrival can't happen soon enough.

4. Late lineup addition. Marshall RB Devon Johnson made an unexpected return from a back injury to play in the St. Petersburg Bowl, a 16-10 win for the Thundering Herd. A power back (240 pounds) who hasn't played since October, Johnson carried 10 times for 38 yards after being declared out for the game by coach Doc Holliday earlier this month. Next stop for the senior: the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg next month, where he'll try to further prove his recovery for NFL coaches and scouts.

5. Shootout of a send-off. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer capped a 29-year run with the Hokies on a winning note Saturday. It was a forgettable night for his defense, but unforgettable otherwise.

6. Common name, uncommon season. The 'other' wide receiver named Michael Thomas, the senior at Southern Miss rather than the junior at Ohio State, did all he could Saturday in the Heart of Dallas Bowl to avoid any confusion. Thomas caught season highs of nine passes and 190 yards in a losing effort to Washington. It capped a monstrous senior year for Thomas (71-1,391-14).



Prospects to watch in Monday's bowl games

Military Bowl

*Pittsburgh vs. Navy (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) *

*Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh: *Boyd is the top prospect in action Monday, though as a junior, he has yet to announce whether he will apply for early draft eligibility. He wasn't nearly as explosive this season (10.3 yards per catch) as he was a year ago (16.2). Still, he's the Panthers' most dangerous offensive threat and adds experience in the return game to his resume.

Lafayette Pitts, CB, Pittsburgh: There isn't a more experienced cornerback in college football than Pitts, a fifth-year senior who has started since his redshirt freshman year in 2012. He broke up six passes this season.

Keenan Reynolds, QB, Navy:Can one of college football's most accomplished players make a necessary position switch to spark an NFL career? The Midshipmen triple-option quarterback will begin that transition at the East-West Shrine Game next month, but first he'll take snaps for one more game at the college level.



Quick Lane Bowl

*Central Michigan vs. Minnesota (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2) *

Briean Boddy-Calhoun, DB, Minnesota:A fifth-year senior, Boddy-Calhoun was limited to eight starts this season by a knee injury. Though undersized, he was considered a top-120 pick heading into the season. He intercepted three passes this season, tying for the team lead.

Eric Murray, DB, Minnesota: The Golden Gophers' top cornerback, a senior like Boddy-Calhoun, was selected third-team All-Big Ten after making 64 tackles, forcing three fumbles and breaking up five passes this season. NFL Media draft analyst Chad Reuter marked Murray as a top-80 draft pick prior to the season, noting his special-teams skills as a significant asset.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter *@ChaseGoodbread*.

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