West Virginia won a battle of big plays, knocking off Arizona State 43-42 in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl on Saturday.
Here's how it happened.
How the game was won: After three consecutive drives without points, West Virginia's offense responded when the Mountaineers needed to rally. Arizona State took a 42-36 lead with 4:56 remaining before Howard led West Virginia on a 75-yard scoring drive -- capped off by a 15-yard touchdown pass to David Sills -- to take a 43-42 advantage with 2:19 to play. The Mountaineers defense did its part on Arizona State's next possession, forcing a turnover on downs on the Sun Devils' final drive.
Player of the game: The Sun Devils came in with the aim of making Howard beat them. And he did. The junior played the best game of his Mountaineers career, going 28-of-51 for a Cactus Bowl-record 532 yards, with five touchdowns and two interceptions. Howard's previous career high was 359 passing yards in the 2015 season opener against Georgia Southern, and Saturday marked his second straight bowl game with 300 or more (he threw for 346 versus Texas A&M in the 2014 AutoZone Liberty Bowl).
What the win means for West Virginia: This season's Mountaineers became the first Big 12 West Virginia team to win eight games. After opening Big 12 play with four consecutive losses, the Mountaineers won five of their final six contests to finish 8-5.
What the loss means for Arizona State: The Sun Devils finish the season 6-7, making them the first ASU squad with a losing record since 2011. Arizona State lost as many games this season (seven) as it did during the two previous seasons combined.