Bowl quarterbacks on UA schedule


LITTLE ROCK — Notes and observations from the drawn-out bowl season:

Arkansas’ 2014 opponents who played in recent bowl games were 6-4 and four winning quarterbacks will be back. Also returning are two other quarterbacks who played better than the stats indicate.

Based strictly on the bowl games and knowing there is a difference between the Florida State defense and the Rice defense, one person’s ranking of the quarterbacks who will play against the Razorbacks in the fall:

1. Davis Webb, Texas Tech, completed 28 of 41 for 403 yards and tied a Holiday Bowl record with four TD passes as the Red Raiders beat heavily favored Arizona. Webb missed the last 2 1/2 games of the season, but Baker Mayfield, the starter at the end of the season, has transferred to Oklahoma.

2. Dak Prescott, Mississippi State, accounted for a Liberty Bowl record five touchdowns in a rout of Rice. Prescott, who did not play when the Bulldogs won in Little Rock, threw for 228 yards in the first half as MSU opened a 20-point lead. He wound up 17-of-28 for 283 yards and ran 14 times for 78.

3. Bo Wallace, Ole Miss, threw for 256 yards and one touchdown and ran for 86 yards and two TDs in a 25-17 over Georgia Tech. Next year, he will no longer share the job with Barry Brunetti.

4. Nick Marshall, Auburn, barely hit 50 percent of his 27 passes in the BCS title game and ran 16 times for 45 yards. His 50-yard touchdown pass was made easy by a FSU breakdown and his interception when Auburn was leading in the second half was right there with the Seminoles’ fake punt, and 100-yard kickoff return as big moments in the game.

5. Hutson Mason, Georgia, completed 21 of 39 for 320 yards in a loss to Nebraska. The Bulldogs had two excellent chances to take the lead, but Rantavious Wooten and Arthur Lynch dropped fourth-down passes with less than 5 minutes to play. “If I run that play 49 more times, I make that catch,” Lynch said.

5. Maty Mauk, Missouri, played sparingly in the Cotton Bowl, but had runs of 34 and 35 yards in a six-play, 80-yard drive that ended with his short TD pass for a 14-7 lead over Oklahoma State. The Tigers’ transition from James Franklin to Mauk will be seamless.

7. Anthony Jennings, LSU, can you say game manager? He did a lot of handing off to Jeremy Hill, who ran for 216 yards vs. Iowa, and did not throw a pass when the Tigers scored on their opening drive. For the game, he was 7 of 19.

Heroics worthy of a Heisman Trophy winner, destruction of Auburn’s destiny designation, a 100-yard kickoff return, and a fake punt leave little room for other big plays and what-ifs in the kicking game.

For starters, FSU was 2 of 2 on field goals and Auburn was 1 of 2.

Auburn fumbled two punts and one kickoff and, somehow, recovered all three.

On three meaningful possessions, Florida State started inside its 10 after punts. Ultimately, that poor field position resulted in only one Auburn score. Jameis Winston salvaged one possession with four completions in a drive for a field goal and Nick Marshall short-circuited another with an interception.

Adept at the not-so-subtle digs, Steve Spurrier was on the receiving end of the best one delivered during bowl season.

“We are the first team from South Carolina to ever win a BCS game,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said after his Tigers beat Ohio State in the Orange Bowl.

Spurrier, the coach at Clemson’s bitter in-state rival South Carolina, used to say, “You can’t spell citrus without U-T,” when he was at Florida and the Gators were beating up on Tennessee.

Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His email address is hking@arkansasnews.com.