If this is Bryce Young’s last collegiate game, he’s gone out with a bang.
After a slow start, Young and Alabama exploded for 35 unanswered points en route to a decisive 45-20 victory over Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl.
K-State, the Big 12 champions, jumped out to a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter thanks in part to an 88-yard touchdown run by Deuce Vaughn. If it seemed like the Crimson Tide was on edge, that feeling didn’t last long.
Alabama responded with consecutive touchdown strikes and then stopped Kansas State on the goal line before halftime. Kansas State drove 73 yards on an 18-play drive that took over 10 minutes off the clock before stopping at the 2-yard line.
Then Alabama scored again in a flash, driving 98 yards in less than a minute to take a 21-10 halftime lead.
The second half was more of the same. Young continued to ignite the Wildcats’ defense, connecting on touchdown passes of 32, 17, and 47 yards in the third quarter alone.
The 32-yard kick to Ja’Corey Brooks was Young’s old-fashioned ball that slotted perfectly into the corner of the end zone.
As the third quarter came to a close, Alabama’s lead had grown from 21-10 at halftime to 42-13. It was an avalanche that Kansas State couldn’t stop.
By the time the dust settled, Young had completed 15 of 21 throws for 321 yards and five touchdowns in a landslide victory for the Crimson Tide. Meanwhile, the defense kept Kansas State out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach.
Vaughn finished with 133 rushing yards on the day. Aside from his 88-yard touchdown, he could only muster 45 yards on his other 21 carries.
Kansas State QB Will Howard struggled mightily, completing 18 of 35 throws for 210 yards with two costly interceptions. He also missed Fatah Ben Sinnott on fourth down and goal from the 2-yard line with just over a minute left in the first half.
Had Howard connected with Sinnott, K-State would have led 17-14 going into the half. Instead, K-State’s chance to regain the lead slipped away. Alabama took advantage of the misstep — and then some. The Wildcats wouldn’t advance deep into Alabama territory until the final minutes of regulation.
By that point, the game was in hand, and Young had taken an echo to signal the end of his amazing college career.
With the win, Alabama finished the year with an 11-2 record. After losing the College Football Playoff National Championship to Georgia last fall, it wasn’t what was expected of a Nick Saban program with everlasting title aspirations.
But last-second losses to Tennessee and LSU during the regular season sealed the Alabama CFP’s fate. No losing team reached the four-team playoff and Alabama ended up in fifth place in the CFP Selection Committee’s final rankings.
Despite losing the playoff, Young decided to fit in one last time rather than sit out for his health before the NFL Draft. He capped off his run with another phenomenal performance.
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