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Oklahoma State and Northwestern close out seasons with wins in Orlando

Florida Citrus Sports closed out 2020 with the Cheez-It Bowl on Dec. 29, then kicked off 2021 with the Vrbo Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day! Both games hosted a limited capacity crowd at Camping World Stadium.

It’s no small feat hosting two major bowl games in four days, particularly in times like these, and Florida Citrus Sports is grateful to the many partners who helped make it happen — plus the countless members who continued to support the FCS mission on game day and throughout this unprecedented year.

Congratulations to our 2020 Cheez-It Bowl champions, the Oklahoma State Cowboys, and our 2021 Vrbo Citrus Bowl champions, the Northwestern Wildcats. To read more about the incredible action on the field, continue below:

Cheez-It Bowl

Sophomore quarterback Spencer Sanders tied a career-high with four passing touchdowns as the No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys defeated the No. 18 Miami Hurricanes 37-34 in the 2020 Cheez-It Bowl on Tuesday night at Camping World Stadium.

“This win might be as satisfying and gratifying a win for me, personally, selfishly, as any that I’ve had in my career.” Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy said. “Just seeing the exhilaration and enjoyment on the players’ faces after the game — this was a really, really good college football game, and we beat a good football team.”

Three of Sanders’ touchdowns went to freshman wide receiver Brennan Sanders. That duo hooked up twice in the first quarter to help Oklahoma State build a 21-0 lead.

Miami began a comeback effort early in the second quarter with a 10-yard strike from senior quarterback D’Eriq King to junior tight end Brevin Jordan. However, King was forced out of action when he suffered a right knee injury at the end of a 5-yard rush with about five minutes remaining in the first half.

The Hurricanes’ backup quarterback, junior N’Kosi Perry, went 19-for-34 for 228 passing yards and two touchdowns in place of King. He led three touchdown drives in the second half to keep drawing Miami back to within one score. But the Hurricanes came up empty on their final two drives in the waning minutes.

“At no point did I think we would lose that game, and I don’t think our team did either until [the clock] hit triple zeros,” Hurricanes head coach Manny Diaz said.

Each team concluded its 2020 season with an 8-3 record. Read more

Vrbo Citrus Bowl

Quarterback Peyton Ramsey accounted for four touchdowns as the No. 14 Northwestern Wildcats bested the Auburn Tigers 35-19 in the 2021 Vrbo Citrus Bowl from Orlando on Friday.

Ramsey completed 24 of 35 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He gained 50 yards and another touchdown on the ground en route to earning Vrbo Citrus Bowl MVP honors.

“I thought our guys came down here to play physical, Big Ten football, and I think we put our brand of football on display for the entire country and made a pretty strong statement against a team that was ranked in the Top-10 earlier in the year,” Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said.

The Wildcats’ offense got off to a fast start with Ramsey throwing touchdowns on two of his team’s first three possessions. Auburn had to settle for a pair of Anders Carlson field goals before halftime, but got the scoring started in the third quarter when quarterback Bo Nix found wide receiver Elijah Canion for a 57-yard touchdown, the game’s longest play from scrimmage.

Canion racked up a game-high 80 receiving yards. Nix went 25-for-42 for 292 yards and that one touchdown for the Tigers.

Canion’s score cut the Wildcats’ lead to 14-13, but Northwestern would score the next 21 points to effectively put the game out of reach. The stretch was highlighted by a six-play drive that saw Northwestern running back Cam Porter carry the ball on every play, gain 50 yards and finish with a direct-snap touchdown run from one yard out. Porter recorded 98 rushing yards on a career-high 33 carries.

“They are a really, really smart football team,” Auburn interim head coach Kevin Steele said of the Wildcats. “They have talent, but they are well, well-coached, and hats off to them.”

With a fourth consecutive bowl victory, Northwestern finished its season at 7-2. Auburn wrapped up with a 6-5 record. Read more

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