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News Nuggets, 01.01.05
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Cards hang on in Liberty Bowl shootout with Broncos


12.31.04: Offensive juggernauts collide in Liberty Bowl ... Tire Bowl goes flat for North Carolina ... More...
12.30.04: Boston College tests ACC waters in Tire Bowl ... Syracuse reverses field, ousts Pasqualoni... More...
12.29.04: Petrino flirts with LSU on eve of Liberty Bowl ... Power indexes: Conference ratings... Team ratings ... More...
12.28.04: Utah carries banner of have-nots into Fiesta Bowl ... Tampa slaying perplexes victim's friends ... More...
12.27.04: Vanderbilt football star slain by gunfire in Tampa ... Tulsa coach resigns with C-USA on horizon ... More...
12.26.04: Tulane rewards Scelfo with contract extension ... Big Ten pushes for instant replay for all of I-A ... More...
12.25.04: Chang, Hawaii spoil UAB's bowl debut in shootout ... Memphis bumps West up to $800K per year ... More...
12.24.04: BCS produces sequel to 'Night of the Living Dead' ... Cincy torches Herd in frigid Ft. Worth Bowl ... UAB makes bowl debut against prolific Warriors ... More...
12.23.04: Bowling Green shakes off Memphis in GMAC Bowl ... Primetime bowl preview: Bearcats vs. Herd ... Tranghese: BCS not interested in playoff ... More...
12.22.04: Up-and-coming programs tangle in GMAC bowl ... Petrino hits jackpot with new pact at U of L ... College basketball power indexes ... More...
12.21.04: Cold, hard facts about health swayed Majerus ... Basketball panel tinkering with RPI formula ... More...
12.20.04: GMAC Bowl history sets stage for Tigers-Falcons shootout ... Memphis reinstates Banks after one game ... Mounting attrition challenges Pitino, Cards ... More...
12.19.04: Houston AD livid with Nebraska over cancellation ... Duke cans offensive coordinator Galbraith ... Majerus retreats back to TV booth ... More...
12.18.04: Wolfpack's Hodge not short on self-esteem ,,, James Madison rushes to I-AA championship ... More...
12.17.04: Nebraska icon Osborne irked with aloof AD's ... William & Mary QB captures Payton Award ... More...
12.16.04: Pirates hawking hoops tickets with a twist ... Majerus ditches TV gig to rescue Trojans ... More...
12.15.04: Bowl season kicks off with Southern Miss victory ... Marshall linebacker suspended for bowl game ... More...
12.14.04: Preview: USM, North Texas kick off bowl season ... Former ECU assistants McFarland, Brindise land jobs ... McLendon to bolt Wolfpack for NFL draft ... More...
12.13.04: Musical chairs at full tilt as coaches change jobs ... List of Division I-A coaching changes ... Heisman Trophy chronology 1935-2004 ... More...
12.12.04: Title game of the Heismans set ... All-time Heisman winners list ... Blue- Gray Classic scratched again ... More...



1959 Penn State 7, Alabama 0
1960 Penn State 41, Oregon 12
1961 Syracuse 15, Miami (FL) 14
1962 Oregon State 6, Villanova 0
1963 Mississippi State 16, N.C. State 12


1964 Utah 32, West Virginia 6

1965-2004 (AT MEMPHIS)

1965 Mississippi 13, Auburn 7
1966 Miami (Fla.) 14, Virginia Tech 7
1967 N.C. State 14, Georgia 7
1968 Mississippi 34, Virginia Tech 17
1969 Colorado 47, Alabama 33
1970 Tulane 17, Colorado 3
1971 Tennessee 14, Arkansas 13
1972 Georgia Tech 31, Iowa State 30
1973 N.C. State 31, Kansas 18
1974 Tennessee 7, Maryland 3
1975 Southern Cal 20, Texas A&M 0
1976 Alabama 36, UCLA 6
1977 Nebraska 21, North Carolina 17
1978 Missouri 20, Louisiana State 15
1979 Penn State 9, Tulane 6
1980 Purdue 28, Missouri 25
1981 Ohio State 31, Navy 28
1982 Alabama 21, Illinois 15
1983 Notre Dame 19, Boston College 18
1984 Auburn 21, Arkansas 15
1985 Baylor 21, Louisiana State 7
1986 Tennessee 21, Minnesota 14
1987 Georgia 20, Arkansas 17
1988 Indiana 34, South Carolina 10
1989 Mississippi 42, Air Force 29
1990 Air Force 23, Ohio State 11
1991 Air Force 38, Mississippi State 15
1992 Mississippi 13, Air Force 0
1993 Louisville 18, Michigan State 7
1994 Illinois 30, East Carolina 0
1995 East Carolina 19, Stanford 13
1996 Syracuse 30, Houston 17
1997 Southern Miss 41, Pittsburgh 7
1998 Tulane 41 Brigham Young 27
1999 Southern Miss 23, Col. State 17
2000 Colorado State 22, Louisville 17
2001 Louisville 28, Brigham Young 10
2002 TCU 17, Colorado State 3
2003 Utah 17, Southern Miss 0
2004 Louisville 44, Boise State 40

MEMPHIS — In the highest scoring Liberty Bowl ever, it was a defensive play by Louisville that ended Boise State's 22-game winning streak.

Louisville safety Kerry Rhodes intercepted a pass in the end zone as time expired to preserve No. 7 Louisville's 44-40 victory over 10th-ranked Boise State on Friday.

``It's a great way to end it,'' Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. ``A national audience, two teams that were supposed to score over 84 points. I think we hit it right on the top.''

Now Louisville will enter the Big East Conference in grand style after handing Boise State its first loss since September 2003 in a game that was the most important in school history for both programs.

``This was big for us,'' Boise State receiver Chris Carr said. ``We don't see ourselves as a non-BCS school or a little school. We see ourselves on the same level as any school we play.

``We wanted to come out here and prove to everybody that we're not a team in the WAC that's not very good, and we just beat up on little teams.''

Eric Shelton scored on the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard run with 6:48 left. Stefan LeFors threw two touchdowns and ran for a third as the Cardinals (11-1), who have never finished ranked higher than 13th, matched a school record for victories in a season.

The Cardinals won their third Liberty Bowl in their final appearance as a Conference USA team.

The Broncos (11-1) had one last chance to win after Art Carmody's 19-yard field goal with 1:10 left put Louisville up four.

Quarterback Jared Zabransky drove the Broncos to the Louisville 30 before his final pass into the end zone as time expired was intercepted by Rhodes. He more than atoned for his missed interception opportunity in a 41-38 loss on Oct. 14 to then-No. 3 Miami.

``God blessed me to put me in position to make the play, and I made the play,'' Rhodes said.

The win was a welcome end to a week in which the Cardinals were forced to deal with the news that Petrino had interviewed with LSU about its open coaching job. They certainly didn't seem distracted against the Broncos.

Petrino kept referring to the Cardinals as ``we,'' and asked if that would remain the same, he had a short answer.

``We certainly hope so,'' Petrino said.

LeFors said the Cardinals had no problems focusing on the task at hand with all the rumors about Petrino's future.

``We wanted to play the game between the lines and let all that other talk, just put it in the back of your minds and not even worry about it,'' LeFors said.

Everyone expected a high-scoring game in a bowl pairing the nation's top two offenses, and the teams didn't disappoint as they swapped the lead five times. The 84 combined points topped the 80 points by Colorado and Alabama in 1969 and was one of a handful of records set.

Louisville won only for the second time in seven bowls despite a season-high four turnovers. The Cardinals rolled up 564 yards, topping 500 yards for the ninth time this season.

LeFors was 18-of-26 for 193 yards and ran 12 times for 76 yards. The Cardinals rushed for 329 yards against a defense that had been the nation's fourth-best against the run.

``He, particularly running the football, killed us,'' Boise State coach Dan Hawkins said of LeFors. ``That doesn't mean he didn't make some throws because he obviously did. But I think where he made some big plays, huge plays, was running the football. On key downs and in key situations, he really sparked them.''

This was the biggest game in school history for Boise State, a program that moved up to Division I-A in 1996. The Broncos, who played their first three bowls on their home field known for its blue turf, thought they could keep up with an offense that had trailed only Louisville for most yards and points.

But the Broncos, who lost 12 starters from their 2003 squad, finished with 284 yards offense, well below their 511.6-yard average.

The teams still rewrote the Liberty Bowl record book.

They combined for the most points in the first quarter with 24, and their 52 points were the most for the first half.

Boise State kicker Tyler Jones had a record 48-yard field goal on the Broncos' first drive, and Broncos linebacker Andy Avalos had a 92-yard interception return off LeFors in the first quarter that bested the 79-yarder by Michael Jordan of Tulane in 1998.

Boise State led as much as 34-21 early in the third quarter after scoring 24 straight points.

The Cardinals settled down when LeFors drove them on an 81-play drive in eight plays, which he capped with a 14-yard TD toss to J.R. Russell. LeFors then gave Louisville the lead back at 35-34 when he ran in from a yard out with 2:17 left in the third.

Boise State last led at 40-35 when Jon Helmandollar plunged in from 2 yards with 10:51 left.

The Liberty Bowl is sponsored by AutoZone.

Utes poised to cap off perfect season in style

TEMPE — Utah used an unstoppable offense to break through the walls surrounding college football's big bowls.

Now the unbeaten Utes are expected to do more than merely win the Fiesta Bowl. They are supposed to win big over Big East champion Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

That's heady stuff for the Mountain West Conference champs, who will bring a large chunk of Salt Lake City's population with them for the game at Sun Devil Stadium.

``This has been pretty dreamlike,'' quarterback Alex Smith said. ``This has been a goal of ours since January, and to finally reach it, it's pretty surreal. I'm just trying to take it all in and not let it go by too fast.''

Coach Urban Meyer, who brought about Utah's improbable climb to national prominence, will coach his final game for the Utes, sharing duties with his successor, defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham.

After two years at Bowling Green and two at Utah, Meyer is bound for Florida. He leaves behind a Utah program that represents the hopes of every school outside the six conferences that make up the Bowl Championship Series.

The Utes (11-0) are the first non-BCS team to make it to one of the four elite bowls — automatically qualifying by finishing sixth in the BCS rankings.

They did it with an offense that averaged more than 500 yards and 45 points per game. On 60 trips inside an opponent's 20-yard line, the Utes scored touchdowns 85 percent of the time. Utah scored fewer than 40 points in a game only twice.

Meyer's explanation of his offense is simple.

``It's a personnel-based offense,'' he said. ``Spread the field, and let the good players touch the ball.''

Smith, fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting, is the best of those players.

Second in the country in passing efficiency, the junior from La Mesa, Calif., completed 66 percent of his passes this season for 2,624 yards and 28 touchdowns, with just four interceptions. He also ran for 563 yards and 10 touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

``They have an extraordinary player at quarterback,'' Pittsburgh coach Walt Harris said. ``He's not only a good runner — runs the option well — he's also an outstanding passer. I think the other quality that separates him from most quarterbacks is he's tough as nails. He's the guy that makes it go.''

Smith, who might enter the NFL draft after this season, said there is no more enjoyable offense to run than the one Meyer has developed.

``We give a ton of different looks,'' the QB said. ``It's pretty amazing when you can run the option and the spread from the same formation.''

The best hope for the Panthers (8-3) is to keep Utah's offense on the sidelines.

``I'm not real big on talking about all the things that we're going to do,'' Harris said. ``I just know that to help our defense, we've got to play the kicking game extremely well, and offensively we've got to control the ball — and score.''

That requires a good game from left-handed sophomore quarterback Tyler Palko, who finished the season strong — 16 TD passes and two interceptions in the last five games.

``We feel like we can score on anybody,'' Palko said. The Utes, he added, ``have given up a lot of points because they're so aggressive, and they make a lot of plays. They'll take those chances because their offense is so potent.''

The Panthers have endured criticism that they really don't belong in the Fiesta Bowl. Pittsburgh was just 21st in the BCS ratings but earned an automatic bid as the champions of a Big East depleted by the departures of Miami and Virginia Tech to the Atlantic Coast Conference.

``Look at the newspapers,'' Pitt running back Tim Murphy said. ``We are 16-point underdogs. People say we shouldn't be here. We did what we had to do. What's the big deal? I bet they wish there was a team with a better record than 8-3, but they set the requirements and we met them.''

Pitt, West Virginia, Boston College and Syracuse all were 4-2 in the not-so-Big East, but the Panthers had the tiebreaker to earn the first BCS invitation in Harris' eight years at the school. It also is his last year.

With Pittsburgh's administration showing little support, Harris opted to accept an offer from Stanford. Dave Wannstedt, who resigned this season as coach of the NFL's Miami Dolphins, was hired by Pitt to replace him.

Harris' departure is tinged with bitterness, so a final victory would be especially sweet.

``That would look like a pretty good indication that we had brought our program back to where you want to be,'' he said.

News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members; data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools; and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2004 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Page Updated: 02/23/2007 12:20 PM


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