Bryce Young throws for 5 TDs, Alabama tops Kansas State in Sugar Bowl

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Andrew Wevers/USA TODAY Sports
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NEW ORLEANS — Bryce Young‘s decision to opt in to the Sugar Bowl only enhanced his chances of cashing in as a pro.

Young passed for 321 yards and five touchdowns in a game that other top NFL prospects might have skipped, and No. 5 Alabama responded to an early two-score deficit with 35 straight points to defeat 11th-ranked Kansas State 45-20 on Saturday.

“For me it was just about doing everything I can to help the team,” Young said. “We had pride in how we played and how we prepared – us wanting to finish, us wanting to push ourselves and hold each other accountable.”

While a number of pro-bound college stars sat out bowl games that were not part of the College Football Playoff, the Crimson Tide and Wildcats had their best prospects on the field for the Sugar Bowl and they made a number of memorable plays – from Young’s pivotal passes to Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn‘s 88-yard touchdown run to interceptions by Alabama’s Jordan Battle and Brian Branch.

“These guys sent a message to everybody that you create value for yourself by playing football,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “It speaks volumes of your character when you choose to be a part of your team and you can be counted on to be part of your team, regardless of the circumstances.”

With the game in hand in the fourth quarter, Young was ceremoniously substituted out, raising his right hand to Alabama fans who loudly rose to their feet as the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner trotted to the sideline.

Kansas State coach Chris Klieman asked a member of Alabama’s staff to thank Young for playing.

“That’s what college football is about. I was happy Bryce played,” Klieman said. “That was really good for college football and really good for kids to see.”

Jermaine Burton caught three passes for 87 yards and a touchdown for Alabama (11-2). Tide running back Jahmyr Gibbs had 142 yards from scrimmage – 76 rushing and 66 receiving. Young’s other touchdowns went to Isaiah Bond (6 yards), Cameron Latu (1 yard), Ja’Corey Brooks (32 yards) and Kobe Prentice (47 yards). Jase McClelland added a 17-yard scoring run.

“We had a little bit of a taste in our mouth that if we had a dominant performance, it would show people that we probably did deserve to do a little better than we did in terms of the playoff picture,” Saban said. “But I’m most proud that there was a team out there that cared.”

Kansas State (10-4) entered its first Sugar Bowl on a four-game winning streak and was riding high after knocking off No. 3 TCU – a CFP team – in the Big 12 title game.

Although Battle’s leaping interception of Will Howard ended K-State’s opening drive on the Alabama 21, the Wildcats scored the Sugar Bowl’s first 10 points, surging in front on Ty Zentner’s 41-yard field goal and Vaughn’s long run.

Alabama was on the brink of punting a third time when Young, on third and 10, stepped up in a collapsing pocket and flicked a short pass to Gibbs, who was cutting across the middle and turned up field for 60 yards. Young stepped up similarly to avoid pressure on his touchdown pass to Bond soon after.

Young threw over the top to Burton for 47 yards to setup his scoring pass to Latu that put Alabama in front for good.

Kansas State drove to the Alabama 2 late in the first half – converting two fourth-downs along the way – only to fail on fourth-and-goal when Howard threw out of reach of tight end Ben Sinnott, who was breaking open after Will Anderson fell while trying to cover him.

“I would have done it again,” Klieman said. “I’m never going to second-guess myself.”

Young needed just 51 seconds to produce another touchdown, completing passes of 12, 28 and 22 yards before hitting Burton from 12 yards out to make it 21-10 at halftime.

“That was a huge swing in the game,” Saban said.

Kansas State paid for another risk when its onside kick to open the second half was recovered by Alabama, which scored shortly after on Young’s strike to Ja’Corey Brooks in the corner of the end zone.

“We came here to win, man,” Klieman said. “We didn’t come here to try to keep this thing close.”

THE TAKEAWAY

Kansas State: Howard finished 18-of-35 passing for 210 yards. Vaughn rushed for 133 yards on 22 carries. Jordan Schippers had a late 1-yard TD run.

Alabama: The Tide upended the narrative that it doesn’t get up for low-stakes bowl games, having lost by two touchdowns in each of its previous two Sugar Bowls that were not part of the BCS or CFP. Alabama has now won 10 Sugar Bowls in 17 appearances.

UP NEXT

Kansas State: Opens its 2023 campaign at home against Southeast Missouri on Sept. 2.

Alabama: Hosts Middle Tennessee on Sept. 2 to begin its 2023 season.

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.