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BYU Football Players Honored As AP All-Bowl Selections

Jan 5, 2023, 3:26 PM | Updated: 3:27 pm
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BYU linebacker Ben Bywater (Courtesy of BYU Photo)
(Courtesy of BYU Photo)

PROVO, Utah – The son of one of the NFL’s most prolific running backs made quite a name for himself this bowl season.

Southern Mississippi’s Frank Gore Jr. rushed for 329 yards – the most in any bowl game ever – to lead the Golden Eagles to a 38-24 LendingTree Bowl victory over Rice. The record had been held by Appalachian State’s Camerun Peoples, who rushed for 317 yards against North Texas in the 2020 Myrtle Beach Bowl.

Gore’s father, also named Frank Gore, ran for 16,000 yards from 2005-2020 to rank third on the NFL’s all-time career list, behind only Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726).

The younger Gore rushed for two touchdowns while averaging 15.7 yards per carry against Rice. He also 2 of 3 through the air for 19 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown.

Gore’s huge performance made him an easy selection as the all-purpose player on the Associated Press all-bowl team. Here’s a look at the team we’ve put together now that all the postseason games other than the College Football Playoff championship have been played. Rankings are from the AP Top 25 poll presented by Regions Bank.

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Bryce Young, Alabama ( Sugar ): The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner capped his college career by going 15 of 21 for 321 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions as No. 5 Alabama beat No. 11 Kansas State, 45-20.

Running back

Emari Demercado, TCU ( Fiesta): Kendre Miller’s knee injury forced No. 3 TCU to rely on Demercado more and more as the game wore on. Demercado responded by rushing for a career-high 150 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries in the Horned Frogs’ 51-45 semifinal upset of No. 2 Michigan. This was just his second career 100-yard game.

Tyjae Spears, Tulane ( Cotton ): Spears rushed for 205 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries as No. 14 Tulane rallied for a 46-45 victory over No. 8 Southern California.

Wide receiver

Malik Nabers, LSU ( Citrus ): Nabers caught nine passes for 163 yards – including a 75-yard touchdown – as No. 16 LSU rolled past Purdue 63-7.

Brenden Rice, Southern California (Cotton): Rice had six receptions for 174 yards and two touchdowns against Tulane. Another receiver to have a big bowl game for a losing team was Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., who had five catches for 106 yards against Georgia before getting injured.

Johnny Wilson, Florida State ( Cheez-It ): Wilson had eight catches for 202 yards to help No. 13 Florida State beat Oklahoma, 35-32.

Tight end

Alex Bauman, Tulane (Cotton): Bauman caught a 6-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds left to complete Tulane’s dramatic comeback. He also had a 24-yard catch on a fourth-and-10 play earlier in the winning drive.

Line

Graham Barton, Duke ( Military ): Barton anchored a line that didn’t allow any sacks in Duke’s 30-13 victory over UCF. Barton had a pass-blocking grade of 88.9, according to Pro Football Focus.

Hampton Ergle, East Carolina ( Birmingham ): Ergle played center for East Carolina in his first career start and helped the Pirates gain 486 yards in a 53-29 victory over Coastal Carolina.

Xavier Truss, Georgia ( Peach ): Truss had four knockdown blocks and two pancakes while allowing no pressures as No. 1 Georgia won its semifinal 42-41 over No. 4 Ohio State.

Dalton Wagner, Arkansas ( Liberty ): In the right tackle’s 40th career start, Wagner helped Arkansas gain 681 yards in a 55-53 triple-overtime victory over Kansas.

Darnell Wright, Tennessee ( Orange ): Wright, a right tackle, didn’t allow a sack all season in 895 offensive snaps. That streak continued when No. 6 Tennessee beat No. 10 Clemson, 31-14.

All-purpose

Frank Gore Jr., Southern Mississippi (LendingTree): Gore’s record-breaking performance included touchdown runs of 64 and 55 yards.

DEFENSE

Line

Devo Bridges, Fresno State ( LA Bowl ): Bridges had eight tackles and two sacks as Fresno State defeated Washington State 29-6 and limited the Cougars to 182 total yards.

Jordan Ferguson, Middle Tennessee ( Hawaii ): Ferguson had five tackles – one for loss – to go along with an interception and a pass breakup in Middle Tennessee’s 25-23 victory over San Diego State. He also caught an 8-yard touchdown pass on offense.

Dylan Horton, TCU (Fiesta): Horton delivered four sacks, forced a fumble and broke up a pass. Horton produced the highest single-game total for a TCU player since Mat Boesen had 5 ½ against Baylor in 2017. Horton increased his season sack total to 10 ½.

Richard Jibunor, Troy ( Cure ): Jibunor had a 13-yard interception return, forced and recovered a fumble and delivered a sack as No. 23 Troy won 18-12 over No. 22 UTSA.

Linebacker

Aaron Beasley, Tennessee (Orange): Beasley had 12 tackles – four for loss – plus two sacks and a pass breakup.

Ben Bywater, BYU ( New Mexico ): Bywater scored on a 76-yard interception return and also had a team-high 11 tackles as BYU edged SMU, 24-23.

Kyrei Fisher-Morris, Oregon State ( Las Vegas ): Fisher-Morris had 11 tackles – three for loss – and one sack as the 17th-ranked Beavers dominated Florida, 30-3.

Daylen Gill, Southern Miss (LendingTree); Gill had a team-high 11 tackles and collected three sacks against Rice.

Secondary

Brian Branch, Alabama (Sugar): Branch had 12 tackles – four for loss plus an interception and a sack against Kansas State. Eleven of his 12 tackles were solos.

Ji’Ayir Brown, Penn State ( Rose ): Brown had a 22-yard interception return, eight tackles and 1 ½ sacks as No. 9 Penn State beat No. 7 Utah, 35-21.

Coleman Bryson, Minnesota ( Pinstripe ): Bryson scored on a 70-yard interception return and also had seven solo tackles as Minnesota beat Syracuse, 28-20.

Cooper DeJean, Iowa ( Music City ): DeJean scored on a 14-yard interception return, delivered seven tackles and also had three punt returns for 42 yards – including a 34-yarder – in Iowa’s 21-0 rout of Kentucky.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

Ben Sauls, Pittsburgh ( Sun ): His 47-yard field goal with four seconds left gave Pitt a 37-35 triumph over No. 18 UCLA. Sauls was 5 of 5 in the game and also connected from 22, 27, 31 and 49 yards out. The fact Sauls kicked a game-winner gave him the edge over Michigan’s Jake Moody, who made a 59-yarder in the Fiesta Bowl.

Punter

Ryan Rehkow, BYU (New Mexico): Rehkow averaged 58.8 yards on his four punts, including a 65-yarder and a 67-yarder. Three of his punts were downed inside the 20-yard line.

Returner

Ta’ron Keith, Bowling Green ( Quick Lane ): Keith scored on a 75-yard kickoff return in Bowling Green’s 24-19 loss to New Mexico State. He also caught three passes for 69 yards.

  • BYU Cougars Scoreboard

  • BYU Cougars Team Leaders

  • BYU Cougars Standings

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BYU Football Players Honored As AP All-Bowl Selections