Bowl Roundup: Spartans beat Stanford 24-20 in Pasadena

Jan. 02, 2014 @ 08:19 PM

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Connor Cook passed for a career-high 332 yards and hit Tony Lippett with a tiebreaking 25-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, leading No. 4 Michigan State to a 24-20 victory over No. 5 Stanford on Wednesday night in the 100th Rose Bowl.

Cook also threw a TD pass to Trevon Pendleton, and Jeremy Langford rushed for 84 yards and a score in the first Rose Bowl victory in 26 years for the Big Ten champion Spartans (13-1), who finished the season with 10 straight wins.

Michigan State's defense capped its dominant season with one more old-school, smash-mouth performance during the centennial celebration of the Granddaddy of Them All.

"It's a special time for all Spartans, and we came here in force," coach Mark Dantonio said. "I'm very happy for our football team, the resilience we showed all season long."

The nation's best defense ended it by stopping the Pac-12 champion Cardinal (11-3) on fourth-and-1 with 1:46 to play, utterly stuffing a run play up the middle. Kyler Elsworth, who started in place of suspended senior leader Max Bullough, hurdled the pile to deliver an electrifying, head-on hit to fullback Ryan Hewitt.

"When I saw their offensive linemen's stance, I knew the way to make a play was to go over the top," said Elsworth, selected the game's defensive MVP.

Tyler Gaffney ran for 91 yards and an early TD for Stanford, and linebacker Kevin Anderson returned an interception 40 yards for a score late in the first half. But the Cardinal couldn't follow up last season's victory in Pasadena with back-to-back Rose Bowl wins, managing just three points from their offense after the first quarter.

The Spartans have long labored in the shadow of Michigan and Ohio State, but coach Dantonio's seven-year rebuilding project in East Lansing has put them on top of the Midwest this season with an unbeaten run through conference play.

After knocking off the unbeaten Buckeyes in the league title game, Michigan State earned only the Big Ten's second Rose Bowl win since 2000, even rallying from its first double-digit deficit of the entire season to do it.

FIESTA BOWL

No. 15 UCF 52,  No. 6 BAYLOR 42

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Baylor's first BCS bowl appearance was a big-time bust.

The sixth-ranked Bears, a 17-point favorite in the Fiesta Bowl at kickoff, never led against No. 15 Central Florida in a stinging 52-42 loss Wednesday night.

This was supposed to be the most one-sided of all the BCS bowls this year, but UCF, not Baylor, had the unstoppable offense. The Bears did roll up 550 yards, but UCF had 556 and fewer mistakes.

The Knights (12-1) scored touchdowns on their first two possessions. Baylor (11-2) tied it at 28 with 10:18 left in the third quarter, but UCF outscored the Bears 24-14 from there in the highest-scoring Fiesta Bowl and second-highest BCS bowl ever.

The Bears were penalized 17 times for 135 yards to UCF's four for 40 yards.

Bryce Petty completed 30 of 46 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns with one costly interception for Baylor. The Bears' Lache Seastruck rushed for 117 yards on 17 carries.

UCF's Blake Bortles was 20 of 31 for 301 yards and three TDs with two interceptions. He ran for a career-high 93 yards on just eight carries, including a touchdown. Storm Johnson gained 124 yards in 20 attempts for the Knights.

Petty's 50-yard touchdown pass to Jay Lee set up the quarterback's 1-yard TD run to cut the lead to 28-26 with 10:18 to play, then Petty ran up the middle for the 2-point conversion that tied it.

GATOR BOWL

NEBRASKA 24, NO. 23 GEORGIA 19

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Tommy Armstrong Jr. connected with Quincy Enunwa for two touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in the third quarter, and Nebraska held on to beat No. 23 Georgia 24-19 in the rain-soaked Gator Bowl on Wednesday.

Playing in their 50th bowl, the Cornhuskers (9-4) ended a four-game losing streak against teams from the Southeastern Conference. The streak included a 45-31 loss to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl last season.

The rematch was much different.

Nebraska did a solid job against running back Todd Gurley, who ran for 125 yards and a touchdown last year. Gurley finished with 86 yards on the ground.

Gurley was more effective in the passing game, catching seven passes for 97 yards and a score. His 25-yard scoring receptions on the first play of the fourth quarter cut Nebraska's lead to 24-19.

But the Huskers stopped Georgia (8-5) twice on fourth down in the closing minutes. Rantavious Wooten and Arthur Lynch dropped fourth-down passes that ended drives in the red zone.

Georgia had a chance late.

Wooten dropped a fourth-and-2 pass at the 10-yard line with 4:42 remaining. Georgia got the ball back with 3:18 to play and marched toward the end zone. But Lynch couldn't haul in a fourth-and-3 pass that would have moved the chains with about 25 seconds remaining.

CAPITAL ONE BOWL

NO. 8 SOUTH CAROLINA 34, NO. 19 WISCONSIN 24

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Connor Shaw was responsible for five touchdowns, including three passing, and South Carolina outlasted Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.

The senior was selected the game MVP after picking apart the Badgers' defense, completing 22 of 25 passes for 312 yards. Shaw also had rushing and receiving scores.

The game also turned out to be the final college contest for South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who said afterward that he would forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

South Carolina (11-2) won its third straight bowl game to cap its third straight 11-win season.

Bruce Ellington caught six passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

The Badgers (9-4) lost their fourth straight bowl game, failing to capitalize on 100-yard rushing games from both Melvin Gordon and James White, and struggling after quarterback Joel Stave left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. Backup Curt Phillips threw two interceptions.

OUTBACK BOWL

NO. 14 LSU 21, IOWA 14

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jeremy Hill ran for 216 yards and two touchdowns, helping LSU and inexperienced quarterback Anthony Jennings hold off Iowa in the Outback Bowl.

Craig Loston's fourth-quarter interception stopped a potential tying drive, giving Hill a chance to put the game out of reach by carrying four times for 87 yards on a 92-yard march that gave LSU (10-3) a 21-7 lead.

Iowa (8-5) pulled within a touchdown after Jordan Cotton returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tigers 4.

Jennings rushed for one touchdown, but the freshman threw for only 82 yards and was intercepted once and sacked four times while standing in for the injured Zach Mettenberger in his first college start.

C.J. Beathard replaced Jake Rudock at quarterback for Iowa on the first play of the fourth quarter. His fourth-down interception stopped one promising drive, but he also tossed a 4-yard TD pass to Kevonte Martin-Manley that cut it 21-14 with 1:42 remaining.

Safety John Lowdermilk set up Iowa's other TD — Mark Weisman's 2-yard run in the third quarter — with an interception and 71-yard return to the 1. Officials initially ruled Lowdermilk, who was untouched on the return, scored. But the TD was reversed when a replay review determined the Iowa defender dropped the ball before crossing the goal line.

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL

NORTH TEXAS 36, UNLV 14

DALLAS (AP) — Derek Thompson threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns, Brelan Chancellor scored twice and North Texas dominated the second half to beat UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Both of Chancellor's touchdown runs came in the fourth quarter after he keyed the go-ahead scoring drive in the third with some nifty footwork on a first-down catch. He had 121 yards combined rushing and receiving.

The Mean Green (9-4) were making their first postseason appearance since a 2004 New Orleans Bowl loss to Southern Miss and won a bowl for the first sice New Orleans in 2002.

UNLV (7-6) drove 95 yards for a touchdown on its opening possession but didn't score again until the Mean Green were up 28-7 in the fourth quarter.