NCAA Football News

Johnny Manziel Needs to Declare for NFL Draft After Strong Chick-fil-A Bowl

Was that Johnny Football's final act for Texas A&M?

In a span of two seasons, Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel has captivated the college football world with his high-wire act and gunslinger mentality under center. On Tuesday night, Manziel turned in a vintage Johnny Football performance while guiding Texas A&M to a wild 52-48 comeback win against Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Manziel tossed two second-half touchdown passes and rushed for another, finishing 30-of-38 for 382 yards and four scores while rushing the ball 11 times for 73 yards and a TD.

But the box score hardly does justice to the display Manziel put on in Atlanta. Throughout his career, Manziel made a habit of improvising out of bad situations and making jaw-dropping plays, and he delivered another instant classic highlight against the Blue Devils.

With his team trailing 38-17 early in the second half, Manziel turned in this gem that resulted in a 19-yard touchdown pass to Travis Labhart.

That's an incredible display of athleticism and pure instincts that you can't teach, and it's what makes Manziel so great.

As a redshirt sophomore three years removed from high school, Manziel is eligible to declare for the 2014 NFL draft. Together with others like Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Fresno State's Derek Carr and Central Florida's Blake Bortles, Manziel is considered one of the top draft-eligible prospects at quarterback.

On Wednesday, Bridgewater made news by declaring through the Cardinals' official site that he would be leaving school early to pursue an NFL career, ending months of speculation surrounding the talented signal-caller.

With Manziel's stock so high following his performance against Duke, he should follow Bridgewater's lead and declare for the draft.

Bucky Brooks of was on hand in the Georgia Dome to see Manziel's latest masterpiece and was clearly blown away:

In a glowing column about Manziel's NFL prospects, Brooks gushed about the quarterback's abilities on the big stage while also addressing some of Manziel's most pressing questions.

Does he have NFL arm strength? Can he handle the mental demands of NFL playbooks and defenses? Will his athleticism be compromised at the next level? Brooks is convinced Manziel has the right answer to all of those doubts and will thrive at the next level.

There's no way to simulate the intensity of the NFL, but Manziel got the next closest thing by playing in the SEC. The entire conference has been littered with first-round NFL defensive talent over the past two seasons, but it couldn't slow down the 2012 Heisman winner from making history:

Earlier this year, Nick Saban watched Manziel pile up 464 passing yards, 98 rushing yards and five touchdowns against his vaunted Crimson Tide defense. The respected Alabama coach told Sports Illustrated's Greg A. Bedard that Manziel is a "unique player" with an "NFL future."

I'm on board with Saban's assessment and think the time is right for Manziel to test his skills against the best.

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Vin Scully Highlights 2014 Rose Parade as Grand Marshal

If Robin Williams ever granted me three wishes, one of those would definitely be to have Vin Scully narrate my life.

The Voice of the Dodgers is terrific in almost every way imaginable, and if you needed any more proof of that, look no further than his work as Grand Marshal at the 2014 Rose Parade on Wednesday morning. 

ABC7 News in Los Angeles gives us a look at the 86-year-old kicking off the new year in style:

There's really no question that Scully was the right choice to usher in the 125th edition of the famous parade through Pasadena. To call him an icon in Los Angeles might not even do him the necessary justice. He has been working with the Dodgers for an unbelievable 65 years and perhaps has one of the most recognizable, legendary voices in all of sports. 

Someone like Scully serving as Grand Marshal for such a prestigious event is the perfect fit. Naturally, he used a baseball metaphor to help explain the honor, via Brian Bencomo at Pasadena Magazine:

Well, I think besides the overwhelming honor -– and it is overwhelming when you arrive at the Tournament House and they show you the pictures of some of the previous Grand Marshals, and the thought comes that your name will be linked with them — I guess to bring the numbers into play, it’s like a hitter in baseball hitting .300 as opposed to .299. Or a pitcher winning 20 as opposed to 19. I think the number 125 for the parade, 100 for the game, just adds a little extra luster. Although you certainly don’t need any extra luster.

Another example of Scully's legend? Check out some sports media figures, who are used to being around some of the biggest superstars in the world, showing their excitement about meeting him:

As for the actual parade, it was your typical Rose Parade, just with more Scully, which is always a good thing. 

The Dodgers' official Twitter feed and the Vin Scully fan account provide some photos of the illustrious event:

Of course, pictures don't quite do it justice in this instance. You need to hear the man with the golden voice. You can listen to him reading the "I Love a Parade" poem here, which is sure to provide some goosebumps, or here he is wishing everyone a happy new year:

Yep, 2014 is definitely off to a better start than 2013. 

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Nebraska's Win over Georgia Just the Start Bo Pelini Needed in 2014

What a difference a year makes. Better yet, what a difference one day makes.

Nebraska’s 24-19 win over No. 22 Georgia in the Gator Bowl was the start to 2014 that Bo Pelini had to have. It wasn’t perfect or pretty, and it came with a little bit of luck, but this is an enormous victory for a coach who needed it in the worst way.

Last year started with a gut punch. The Huskers lost 45-31 to the Bulldogs on New Year’s Day in the Capital One Bowl, giving up 589 yards along the way. This prompted many to question the leadership of the head coach, and the regular-season results that followed didn’t exactly settle matters.

There was the second half against UCLA back in September. The Cornhuskers, seemingly in control early on, were outscored 31-0 in the third and fourth quarters, losing 41-21.

Shortly after the UCLA loss, the now infamous Pelini audio surfaced on Deadspin. The context, which is well known by now, prompted immediate backlash at a time when the team was already down.

Along the way, Pelini also lost his starting quarterback to a foot injury. Senior Taylor Martinez missed a majority of the year—including the bowl game—forcing the coach to adjust his offense entirely.

And in the final regular-season game of the year, Nebraska was thoroughly handled by Iowa at home, losing 38-17. The blowout prompted more speculation over Pelini’s status, more doubt in the program and a postgame rant that was overblown to a degree. 

In short, momentum appeared lost.

Only one day into the New Year, however, the picture is a bit brighter. 

Despite entering the Gator Bowl as more than a seven-point underdog against Georgia, the Huskers delivered an unexpected win.

Freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. wasn’t perfect, but he did flash moments of brilliance. Operating in his own end zone, Armstrong’s 99-yard touchdown pass to Quincy Enunwa proved to be the biggest moment in the game. 

Of course, Nebraska finally got a little luck, as well. (OK, a little more luck if you’re thinking back to the game-winning Hail Mary against Northwestern.)

With Georgia driving in the final minute, reliable Bulldogs tight end Arthur Lynch dropped a pass on fourth down in the slippery conditions. This gave the Cornhuskers the ball and the win.

Following the game, Pelini shared the moment with everyone involved.

Pelini at trophy presentation: "The way we do things at Nebraska, this is a team win." Team includes administration and fans.

— Nebraska Huskers (@Huskers) January 1, 2014

For Pelini, it couldn’t come at a better time.

Athletic director Shawn Eichorst backed the head coach following the final regular-season game, which served as a bit surprise given the circumstances.

In a statement sent out by the school, Eichorst—while somewhat cryptic in his delivery—cooled the rumors.

My approach has always been to not comment publicly about our coaches until their full seasons are complete, as I strongly believe it is unfair and counter to best practices.  However, given the volume of unfounded speculation and conjecture about our head football coach, I want to reaffirm what I have said many times since I have arrived at the University of Nebraska—that I positively respect, appreciate and support our football student-athletes, coaches and staff, as we do everyone in the Husker family.  We very much look forward to our upcoming bowl game and Coach Pelini continuing to lead our program in the future.

Of course, the issues at Nebraska aren’t immediately erased with one unexpected win. Questions and concerns regarding the long-term outlook of the program remain.

Pelini has somewhat quietly won at least nine games in every season, however, and perhaps is under-appreciated to a degree.

There’s also this, which provides some perspective on his tenure at Nebraska.

They announced that Bo has now the same number of wins in his first 6 years as the legendary Tom Osborne did.

— Ben Cotton (@BenCotton81) January 1, 2014

At the very least, Pelini can take a well-deserved deep breath. 

There will be questions going forward surrounding the performance of the team, the need to spark recruiting and the other issues which have hampered the program in recent years. But for one day, the first day of 2014, Pelini can (and should) enjoy this. 

It certainly beats last year.


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Cold Hard Fact for Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Fact: The Baylor Bears have scored 57 touchdowns on drives that lasted two minutes or less—the most by any team in the past 10 seasons.

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: ESPN 

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Sugar Bowl 2013: Keys to Victory for Alabama and Oklahoma

Almost no one is expecting the No. 3-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide to have any difficulties with the 11th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners Thursday night in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

Besides the appearance that Bama simply has the superior talent, it hasn't lost a nonconference game in six years. Per, the Sooners are 16.5-point underdogs. 

What does Bob Stoops have to do to guide his team to an improbable win? What does Nick Saban need to get from the Tide to finish the season on a winning note?

Check out the keys to victory.


Slow Down Bama's Balanced Attack

Yes, AJ McCarron has proven he is capable of making plays with his arm. McCarron was big-time all season, most notably against Texas A&M and Auburn. He completed 63 percent of his passes, had seven touchdowns and no interceptions in those games.

However, the run game is still the engine for the Crimson Tide machine. Sophomore stud, T.J. Yeldon, is the leading rusher with 1,163 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.

If the Sooners are to have any prayer of upsetting Alabama, they have to contain the rushing attack. Bama only failed to dominate on the ground in two games. The Virginia Tech Hokies and Colorado State Rams—of all teams—were the only teams that held the Crimson Tide under 100 yards rushing all season.

It happened early in the campaign and both teams obviously still lost. Is the Sooners' offense better than the Hokies and Rams? Is it better suited to capitalize if the defense can contain Bama on the ground? Those points are certainly debatable.

If defensive coordinator Mike Stoops can dial up a scheme that prevents his front seven from being trampled, that's the first step towards a monumental upset.

Per Marq Burnett of the Anniston Star, Stoops knows what he and his defense are in for. He said this during a press conference in New Orleans on Sunday:

[This] will be the most physical game that we have played all year.

Offensively, they are probably the most complete or they are the most complete team we have faced. When you at the offensive line, you look at the skill, you look at the running backs, you look at the tight ends, they present challenges across board.


Whenever a team is heavily favored, the quickest way to eliminate that advantage and level the playing fields is by turning the ball over. Alabama survived two games during the season in which it lost the turnover battle, but in those games, the talent discrepancy was larger than it will be against Oklahoma.

The Tide shook off two miscues against Kentucky and won 48-7, and four giveaways when they beat Mississippi State 20-7. 

It's possible that could happen again, but it would be an example of playing with proverbial fire.

The Sooners need to play a near perfect game, and that includes limiting or completely eliminating turnovers. Bama's talent will create its own opportunities, Oklahoma will only make the hill steeper to climb by giving away the football.


Alabama Can't Take the Sooners Lightly

Perhaps the biggest potential problem Alabama might face is overconfidence. This team naturally feels as if it should be playing for a national championship. The Sugar Bowl is merely a consolation prize.

If the players are not engaged, it could open them up to a slow start. ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit thinks the Sooners may surprise some folks. Per Jon Solomon of, Herbstreit said:

I think Oklahoma definitely has a chance in this game because I think they're going to play with some urgency and with a major chip on their shoulder. I think the game will be much, much closer than what a lot of people who I'm listening to or talking to think.

Allowing Oklahoma to believe it has a chance to win will make the game tougher. The Sooners are already gearing up to shock the world. Running back Brennan Clay said this, per Alabama Sports Now:

If Bama comes out with intensity from the beginning of the game—especially on the defensive side of the ball—it should have no problems handling Oklahoma.


Follow me. Sports is what I do.


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Cold Hard Fact for Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Fact: The highest attendance for the Rose Bowl was 94,392, when Washington took on Purdue in 2001. 

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.


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Jadeveon Clowney Officially Announces He Will Enter 2014 NFL Draft

To the surprise of no one, South Carolina Gamecocks junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has declared himself eligible for the 2014 NFL draft.  

CBS' Dan Brugler broke the news:

Clowney is considered one of the premium pro prospects in the upcoming draft. If there were any lingering doubts that he would jump to the next level—even after walking out with the Gamecocks' senior class for the team's final home game—they were put to rest by Clowney's announcement on New Year's Day.

At 6'6" and 274 pounds with incredible speed, athleticism and burst, there haven't been too many defensive-end prospects like Clowney to come along.

Thanks to Clowney's size, strength and nimbleness, he can even play on the inside in some packages, as well as drop back in coverage if need be. Oh, and of course he's a nightmare to handle as a pass-rusher.

However, production was an issue for Clowney in his final season in Columbia, where he registered 35 total tackles (10.5 for loss) and three sacks in 10 games, per

That is way down from his previous campaign of 54 total tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks, but Clowney had one more chance to showcase his talents in South Carolina's Capital One Bowl clash against Wisconsin on Jan. 1.

Whether or not the decline from his sophomore to junior season—or questions about his injuries and work ethic—will hurt him remains to be seen. Chances are, though, that Clowney's draft stock won't be hampered due to his seemingly limitless upside.

In a Dec. 8 mock draft, B/R expert Matt Miller had the Houston Texans selecting Clowney with the No. 1 overall pick to place opposite reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.

That would be terrifying for any opposing offense to handle, and it certainly made B/R's Aaron Nagler shudder:

Wherever Clowney lands, he should be an immediate impact player as long as his health permits him to be. A very lucky franchise will likely be getting a franchise cornerstone who will enjoy a sensational NFL career.


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Nebraska vs. Georgia: Score, Grades and Analysis from 2014 Gator Bowl

This one's for the Big Ten.

The conference no doubt got a nice boost with Nebraska's 24-19 win over Georgia in the 2014 Gator Bowl. It's the first victory for the Big Ten this bowl season and the first loss for the SEC.

Entering the matchup, it was clear this was going to be a knock-down, drag-out affair. The Cornhuskers averaged 199.5 passing yards a game, while the Bulldogs were without Aaron Murray, who tore his ACL in November. The wet, windy conditions only served to ground both offenses.   

As a result, the winning team would be the one that established the running game more, and that ended up being the Cornhuskers.

You could certainly do worse than watching a battle of Ameer Abdullah and Todd Gurley. They were two of the best running backs during the regular season and were the bellwethers for their respective offenses on the afternoon.

Abdullah finished with 122 yards rushing and a touchdown on 27 carries.'s Dane Brugler thinks the Nebraska running back should receive more attention for his abilities.

His opposite number wasn't so lucky. You could tell Gurley wasn't 100 percent, but he still managed to carry the ball 21 times for 86 yards. He also had seven receptions for 97 yards and a touchdown.

The Nebraska offense could be encapsulated by Abdullah imploring the coaching staff on the sideline to give him the ball close to the goal line after Tommy Armstrong's sneak went nowhere. The junior running back would pound it in from a yard out to give the Cornhuskers a 17-9 lead in the third quarter.

Abdullah ran the ball so much that his jersey began resembling some sort of artistic masterpiece, according to Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer.

Whereas Abullah was always there for Nebraska, Gurley's health meant he couldn't be there for Georgia, especially late in the game. It was fitting that on the Bulldogs' final drive, Gurley looked sure to get a first down on a critical 3rd-and-10, only to come up three yards short.

The Gurley of earlier in the season would have bulldozed his way to the first down and possibly even to the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.

Of course, as much as the running game was successful for Nebraska, the Cornhuskers probably wouldn't have won had it not been for a major play in the passing game.

They had a 3rd-and-14 on their own 1-yard line. Almost everybody expected the them to go with a QB sneak or run inside in order to get out of their own end zone and then punt the ball away.

Unfortunately for Georgia, its secondary was of the same opinion.

Bo Pelini opted for the pass, with Armstrong connecting with Quincy Enunwa for the 99-yard touchdown pass. It was a great play call from Pelini, as the Bulldogs' corners and safeties bit hard on the run, and there wasn't a defender within yards of Enunwa when he caught the ball.

Free safety Quincy Mauger went for the big hit, but Enunwa instead bounced off and had nothing but green in front of him.

That gave Nebraska a 24-12 lead with a little under five minutes in the third quarter.

Gurley closed the gap early in the fourth quarter with a 25-yard touchdown reception, and the Cornhuskers looked like they were teetering on the brink with a 24-19 lead.

The Bulldogs only have themselves to blame, as they had plenty of chances to find the go-ahead score toward the end of the game.

Georgia first had a 1st-and-10 on the Nebraska 22-yard line. After he saw his team get eight yards on the first three downs, Mark Richt chose to go for it on 4th-and-2. Mason's pass to Rantavious Wooten was incomplete.

The Bulldogs had another chance late only to see another Mason pass fall incomplete at the Nebraska 16-yard line with 25 seconds to go.

From there, Nebraska took a knee, and it was game over. The Cornhuskers were deserved winners. While they were out-gained 416-307, they took chances at the right times and stifled the Georgia offense in the red zone.


Key Player Grades

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska: A

Abdullah was the tone-setter for Nebraska. If he would have had a bad game, the Cornhuskers could have gotten run out of the stadium. Armstrong only attempted 14 passes, eight of which were incompletions, so it was imperative that Nebraska could establish a steady presence on the ground.

Time and again, Abdullah was there to move the ball and eat up the clock.


Hutson Mason, Georgia: B

The conditions in Jacksonville weren't conducive for a strong passing performance, but Hutson Mason did his best to keep Georgia in it. The junior QB finished with 320 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 21-of-39 passing.

Taking into account all the circumstances, Mason arguably performed above expectations.


Todd Gurley, Georgia: B

Let's not be too tough on Gurley. He clearly wasn't healthy yet gave a strong performance. Even at 70 or 80 percent, he was a handful for the Nebraska defense. Gurley was both a threat on the ground and through the air.

Unfortunately, he wasn't able to come up with the big plays when the Bulldogs needed them the most.


What's Next?

Nebraska built some strong momentum for 2014. In addition, Bo Pelini looks much more assured as head coach. Had the Cornhuskers lost, there may have been some talk about him being on the hot set. That's not a problem anymore, though.

Perhaps that's the case for Mark Richt. Sure, Georgia was hammered by injuries, but many Bulldogs fans may look at a final record of 8-5 and expect more.  

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Rose Bowl 2014: Live Score, Highlights for Stanford vs. Michigan State

If you’re a fan of smash-mouth football, then the 2014 Rose Bowl is the game for you. Power offense and hard-hitting defense will steal the show when Michigan State battles Stanford at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN.

This is the 100th Rose Bowl, and it’s sure to end in a nail-biter. Many expect it to be a low-scoring contest, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be plenty of excitement.

Michigan State will be without its star middle linebacker Max Bullough, who was suspended, but the Spartans should still give Kevin Hogan and the Cardinal offense a hard time.

David Shaw is a hot commodity in the coaching community, as many NFL teams want to steal him away from Stanford. Could he be an even bigger name in the rumor mill after tonight’s game?

Keep it locked right here with Bleacher Report for live score updates, highlights and much more!

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LSU's Zach Mettenberger Gets Caught Picking Nose on Sideline

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger tore his ACL in the Tigers' final game of the regular season, so he is forced to watch his team take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Outback Bowl.

When players have too much time on the sideline, things like this can happen. Cameras caught the senior picking his nose and then having a snack.

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Iowa's John Lowdermilk Costs Himself Pick-6 After Dropping Ball Too Early

Iowa's John Lowdermilk made a nice play to pick off LSU quarterback Anthony Jennings and return it 71 yards. However, he cost himself a pick-six by dropping the ball before he crossed the goal line.


The blooper wasn't a complete disaster. The Hawkeyes took over at the Tigers' 1-yard line and scored a touchdown a few plays later to get on the board.

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Gator Bowl 2014: Despite Loss, Georgia QB Hutson Mason Looks Ready for the Job

Hutson Mason has been the heir apparent to Aaron Murray since the moment he signed with the Bulldogs in February 2010. He even took a redshirt as a junior in 2012 to give himself one year of separation from Aaron Murray, who was also a junior that season.

He didn't look like a superstar against Nebraska in the Gator Bowl, but he certainly looked ready for the job despite some early-game jitters.

One month after leading Georgia to a double-overtime win over Georgia Tech in place of Murray, who tore his ACL the previous week against Kentucky, Mason came out rattled in the 24-19 loss to the Cornhuskers on Wednesday afternoon—as was the case against the Jackets.

Mason again led his team back out of a hole and into a position to win. But this time, his teammates let him down.

Wide receiver Rantavious Wooten and tight end Arthur Lynch, in particular.

Statistically, Mason was on point.

The Marietta, Ga.,-native completed 21 of 40 passes for 320 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

He was rattled in the pocket early, kept his eyes on the pass rush rather than his receivers and routinely made bad decisions, like throwing a four-yard curl into double coverage on 3rd-and-5 early in the fourth quarter when Michael Bennett was wide open on a corner route.

But then it clicked.

With the Bulldogs down five in the middle of the fourth, he led them down the field and into the red zone, before Wooten dropped a 4th-and-2 pass for a first down after getting rocked by the Nebraska defender. Earlier in the drive, Lynch dropped a 2nd-and-10 pass on the Nebraska 22-yard line.

On Georgia's last drive of the game, Wooten again dropped a pass over the middle on 1st-and-15, and Lynch got stone hands on the final offensive play of the game for the Bulldogs—a 4th-and-3 from the Nebraska 16.

Lynch and Wooten—two seniors—closing out their careers in heartbreaking fashion.

CBS Sports' Tim Brando puts Lynch's drop in perspective.

Gut wrenching drop for Arthur Lynch as Senior TE for the Bulldogs. I'm so happy though for Pelini as he has endured so much this season.

— Tim Brando (@TimBrando) January 1, 2014

Don't blame the loss on Mason. 

Sure, he could have done more early on to prevent the Bulldogs from being in that position to begin with. But he was making just his second career start in sloppy conditions in Jacksonville. He's not going to step in and instantly become an Aaron Murray clone.

Now Georgia knows what his strengths are and, more importantly, what he needs to work on during the offseason. With Clemson looming in the opener and South Carolina in Week 3, that kind of knowledge is power.



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LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. Makes a One-Handed Catch vs. Iowa

Add this to the other one-handed grabs LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. has made a routine.

The athletic wide receiver stretched out for an incredible catch on the sideline during the Tigers' matchup against Iowa in the Outback Bowl. 

Here's another look at it. 


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Mickey Mouse Gets Left Hanging by Jimbo Fisher

Poor Mickey Mouse.

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher had time to pose for a picture with the cultural icon at Downtown Disney on Tuesday, but he apparently didn't have time to shake his hand after. 

Thanks to Wesley Sinor of, via, for the GIF.

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Nebraska's Quincy Enunwa Scores a 99-Yard Touchdown in the Gator Bowl

It's early in 2014, but we already have the year's longest touchdown reception. Nebraska's Quincy Enunwa caught a 99-yard pass from quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. against Georgia for a new Gator Bowl record.

The touchdown did more than just give the Badgers a comfortable lead against the Bulldogs, though. 

Quincy Enunwa 12th receiving TD of the season. That breaks the Nebraska single-season record, previously set by Johnny Rodgers in 1971.

— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 1, 2014

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