The Memphis Tigers lost their first and only New Year's Six appearance in their program's history against the Penn State Nittany Lions.
The Tigers fell short of their first 13-win season with a 53-39 loss after a record-breaking finish in the Cotton Bowl. Coach Ryan Silverfield said he was not happy with the outcome and every Memphis player and coach will never be satisfied with losses.
"They gave it every single thing they had every play for the entire 60 minutes," Coach Silverfield said. "They fought and I am proud of that."
The Tigers' offense produced 63 rushing yards and 479 passing yards for m a combined 542 yards. Memphis still lost in a closely matched 14-point loss. The Tigers held two leads early in the game and had to play from behind for the rest of the game.
Quarterback Brady White said the team prides themselves on responding to success and adversity properly.
"No matter what, whether we are up 50 or down we are always going to be battling," White said. "Everyone cares about every single play, and that's the mentality that we have."
There were only four lead changes throughout the entire game. Penn State never lost the lead after their first score in the second quarter that put them up 7-3.
The Nittany Lions entered halftime after scoring four touchdowns in the second quarter alone. Three different Penn State players rushed for a touchdown and combined for five rushing touchdowns. The Nittany Lions rushed for 396 yards and accumulated 524 total yards.
During the second half the Tigers were trailing by one possession in five instances. White was pressured and turned the ball over to a Penn State defender and returned for a defensive touchdown with 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter. White's first turnover gave Penn State a nine-point lead and Memphis struggled to recover.
Riley Patterson kicked a field goal to cut the deficit to six and it would be the last points from the Tigers. The Nittany Lions would score one final touchdown and convert a two-point conversion to set the final score 53-39.
Patterson had a record day after he completed all six field goals and three extra points and earned 21 points. Patterson set the all-time NCAA bowl record with his six field goals.
Coach Silverfield said he was proud of Patterson's efforts, but when a team must kick field goals instead of scoring touchdowns a team has no chance.
Both offenses scored a combined for 92 points to break the record for most points scored in the Cotton Bowl game's history.
Penn State running back Journey Brown rushed for 202 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns, and was named the Outstanding Offensive Player after the game concluded.
Memphishave now failed to win a bowl game for the fifth consecutive season. The Tigers extended their bowl game streak to six straight seasons, but their last bowl win was the 2014 Miami Beach Bowl against BYU. There have two head coaching changes since then, however Memphis continued to retain their winning season ways.
The Nittany Lions finished their 50th bowl game in their program's history and the win raised their bowl game record to 30-18-2. Penn State also extended their consecutive bowl streak appearances to six, identical to Memphis. Penn State University has celebrated bowl game appearances in 13 of the last 15 seasons.
Coach Silverfield said the team will hopefully return to bowl games of similar caliber in the future. He also said when the team returns they will share one mindset of improving every single day.
"I can promise you guys I will have this Memphis football team ready from here on out every single football game as long as I am the head coach here."