FLORIDA STATE 31, N. ILLINOIS 10
MIAMI — Florida State stuffed Northern Illinois all-purpose threat Jordan Lynch for most of the night Tuesday and won the Orange Bowl 31-10.
Senior fullback Lonnie Pryor, voted the game's outstanding player, ran for a career-high 134 yards and two scores in only five carries for Florida State. Senior EJ Manuel threw for 291 yards.
The victory was a consolation prize for the No. 13 Seminoles (12-2), who began the season with national championship hopes. They've won five consecutive bowl games, but the victory was their first in a BCS bowl since 2000, when they beat Virginia Tech for the national championship.
For the No. 16 Huskies (12-2), playing in a BCS bowl for the first time, the defeat snapped a 12-game winning streak. They fell to 5-28 against top 25 teams.
SOUTH CAROLINA 33, MICHIGAN 28
TAMPA — In the waning seconds of the Outback Bowl, the nation’s second-best passing defense got burned.
Not just burned, but torched in an unlikely fashion. With 11 seconds left in regulation, little-used wide receiver Bruce Ellington caught the go-ahead touchdown pass to lift No. 11 South Carolina to a 33-28 win over No. 19 Michigan in the Outback Bowl.
“I just had to get open on my man,” said Ellington, who also plays basketball for the Gamecocks. “Dylan [Thompson] did a great job placing the ball where I could make a move on the safety and get into the end zone.”
Ellington snagged Thompson’s second-and-10 pass from the Wolverines 32-yard-line, then shifted in the opposite direction past three Michigan defenders and into the end zone for the decisive tally.
“I knew that it was man-coverage, and I knew we’d have to get it off quick,” said Thompson, who rotated with Connor Shaw at quarterback for the Gamecocks. “It was just, take our steps and throw the ball. I liked the matchup of having Bruce on the safety, and I just threw it out there. He made a heck of a play.”
Ellington, who up to that point had only one catch for four yards, completed the Gamecocks’ exploitation of the Wolverines’ secondary. Michigan’s defense entered the New Year’s Day game at Raymond James Stadium allowing an average of 155.2 yards passing, and while the Wolverines (8-5) limited the Gamecocks (11-2) on the ground, Michigan’s defense surrendered a season-high 341 passing yards, including 92 yards and two touchdown receptions to Ace Sanders. Read more...
STANDFORD 20, WISCONSIN 14
PASADENA, Calif. — Although Stanford didn't score many style points in the 99th Rose Bowl, the Cardinal could celebrate because they didn't let Wisconsin score any points at all after halftime.
Stepfan Taylor rushed for 89 yards and an early touchdown, Kevin Hogan passed for 123 yards, and No. 8 Stanford won its first Rose Bowl since 1972, beating the Badgers 20-14 on Tuesday night.
Usua Amanam made the decisive interception near midfield with 2:30 to play as the Pac-12 champion Cardinal (12-2) ended their four-decade drought in the Granddaddy of Them All with arguably the biggest bowl win yet during the long-struggling program's recent renaissance.
"We knew this was going to be a battle, and we wouldn't expect it any other way," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "We know it's going to be tight, it's going to be close, and we're going to find a way to win. That's the way it's been all year."
CAPITAL ONE BOWL
GEORGIA 45, NEBRASKA 31
ORLANDO, Fla. — Aaron Murray wanted nothing more this week than to send Georgia's senior class out with a game to remember.
The junior quarterback provided a record-setting performance to make it a reality. Murray threw five touchdown passes to set a Georgia bowl record, including two in the fourth quarter, as the sixth-ranked Bulldogs beat No. 23 Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday.
Murray shook off a pair of first-half interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and passed for 427 yards — also a Bulldogs' bowl record — against the nation's top-ranked passing defense. He was the game's most valuable player on the way to earning his first bowl victory at Georgia. Georgia (12-2) also reached 12 wins for the third time in school history.
Nebraska (10-4) lost its third consecutive bowl game, and finished the season with two straight woeful defensive performances. The Cornhuskers lost the Big Ten championship game 70-31. The Cornhuskers led 24-23 at the half, but committed two of their three turnovers in the final 30 minutes. Taylor Martinez had two interceptions and two touchdown passes for Nebraska and Rex Burkhead rushed 140 yards in his final college game.
But Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said the efficiency of Murray and Georgia on third down (finished 12 for 17) was too much to overcome. Nebraska drops to 12-7 against SEC opponents in bowl games.
Trailed by questions about his team's focus following its narrow loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game, Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday was also about a team that finished 5 yards shy of a BCS title game-berth finding closure.
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL
OKLA. STATE 58, PURDUE 14
DALLAS — So much for the idea that Oklahoma State didn't care about playing in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Clint Chelf threw three of his team's five touchdown passes and the Cowboys shook off a tough Big 12 finish by rolling up 524 yards and forcing five Purdue turnovers in a dominating 58-14 victory on Tuesday.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy didn't hide the disappointment of sliding down the bowl priority list with an overtime loss to Oklahoma when the rival Sooners scored in the final seconds of regulation, followed by another narrow defeat at Baylor to finish the regular season.
The Cowboys (8-5), a year removed from finishing the best season in school history with a win in the Fiesta Bowl, sure didn't seem to lack motivation. They put together the biggest bowl win for Oklahoma State since Gundy was the quarterback in a 62-14 rout of Wyoming in the 1988 Holiday Bowl.
"Some of the seniors, those guys, would like to have been in a better bowl," said Chelf, who was 17 of 22 for 197 yards with no interceptions. "We're a highly motivated group. I think everybody wanted to go out there and prove people wrong, show them we could win a game like this."
NORTHWESTERN 34, MISS. STATE 20
JACKSONVILLE — The stuffed monkey spent the last year in storage, out of sight but still in everyone's mind.
Coach Pat Fitzgerald dusted it off for the Gator Bowl and even had it on the sideline Tuesday as a reminder of Northwestern's decades-long, bowl losing streak — the ol' monkey on their backs.
Now, it's in pieces.
Behind huge interceptions early and late, No. 21 Northwestern beat Mississippi State 34-20 and snapped college football's longest postseason losing streak. The Wildcats (10-3) hadn't won a bowl game since 1949, a nine-game skid that was tied with Notre Dame for the longest in NCAA history.
It's history now. And as a reward, Fitzgerald let his players rip the monkey to shreds in the locker room. "We've never been here before, but now we're here and here to stay with a new streak you can talk about in a positive fashion," Fitzgerald said.
Quentin Williams returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the game and Nick VanHoose set up another touchdown with a 39-yard interception return in the fourth. Those plays were the difference in a back-and-forth game that featured more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six).
In between, Northwestern's two-quarterback system kept the Bulldogs (8-5) off balance most of the day. Scrambler Kain Colter ran for 71 yards, making up for his two interceptions. Backup Trevor Siemian threw for 120 yards and an interception, and also ran for a score.
Even with the turnovers, they were more efficient than Mississippi State's Tyler Russell. Russell completed 12 of 28 passes for 106 yards, with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He had only thrown six picks in the first 11 games this season.