Vandy breaks through, 16-14
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt used to be called the worst team in the Southeastern Conference. Cellar dwellers. The private school that just didn't belong in a power football league.
The Commodores won a bowl game for the first time in exactly 53 years, with Bryant Hahnfeldt kicking a 45-yard field goal with 3:26 left yesterday for a 16-14 win over Boston College in the Music City Bowl.
Vandy hadn't even played in a bowl since 1982 — the SEC's longest drought. The victory gave the Commodores (7-6) their first winning season since that season.
"I guess everybody can figure out we're pretty happy," Vandy coach Bobby Johnson said. "We're thrilled to win the Music City Bowl right here in Nashville in our hometown. ... We kept our composure and made some big plays when we had to."
This is just the fourth time in the past 50 years that Vanderbilt has won seven games in a season. So maybe it was only appropriate that Hahnfeldt, a Nashville native who grew up only a few miles away from LP Field where this game was played, provided the winning margin.
"It's fantastic for Nashville," said Hahnfeldt, who tied his career-high with three field goals.
Boston College (9-5) had won eight straight bowl games, the nation's longest active streak.
"Congratulations to Bobby for the bowl win," Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski said.
The Eagles got the ball twice after Hahnfeldt's third field goal. They had to punt the first time, then Myron Lewis picked off Dominique Davis with 1:36 left.
OREGON STATE 3, PITTSBURGH 0
EL PASO, Texas — Three points, 20 punts and 10 sacks. Go ahead and say it was unsightly, but Oregon State coach Mike Riley saw nothing short of a masterpiece.
In the lowest-scoring major bowl game in a half-century, the 24th-ranked Beavers (9-4) shut down No. 18 Pittsburgh (9-4) in the Sun Bowl on Justin Kahut's 44-yard field goal.
"That's the game we were in," Riley said. "We played that game. We ended up winning it. Some people will call it ugly, but I can't."
The defensive struggle went on all day. Pitt kicker Connor Lee tried a 58-yard field goal in the closing minutes but the ball, helped by a steady wind, dropped just short of the crossbar.
"I had more confidence in a 58-yard field goal try than going for it on fourth-and-8," Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said. "I wanted to give our team a chance. I really thought he could kick it."
Not since Air Force and TCU played to 0-0 standoff in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1959, had a bowl produced so few points.
ARMED FORCES BOWL
HOUSTON 34, AIR FORCE 28
FORT WORTH, Texas — Kevin Sumlin inherited the nearly three-decade postseason winless drought when he became Houston's coach after last season.
"That bugged me. I made a big deal of it to the seniors," Sumlin said. "For them not getting to the (Conference USA) championship game, losing the last regular season game, this was important for them to be remembered for something."
Such as giving the Cougars (8-5) their first bowl victory since 1980, beating the Falcons (8-5) to end an eight-game postseason losing streak.
Sophomore quarterback Case Kennum ran for two touchdowns, threw for another and became only the second Houston quarterback to pass for more than 5,000 yards in a season. Bryce Beall, a freshman, ran for 135 yards and a score.
KANSAS 42, MINNESOTA 21
TEMPE, Ariz. — As night fell in the desert, the haunting Rock Chalk Chant filled Sun Devil Stadium.
It was the perfect way for Kansas (8-5) to celebrate a decisive victory over Minnesota (7-6) in the Insight Bowl.
"Our program is a work in progress, and every day it seems to get better and better," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said.
The Jayhawks sliced up the Golden Gophers with a precision passing attack directed by quarterback Todd Reesing, who threw for four scores.
Reesing's favorite target was Dezmon Briscoe, who caught a game-record 14 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns on his way to game MVP honors.
"See, here's what happens: they call a play, and Briscoe gets open, and if I can throw it to him, then it works out," said Reesing, who finished 27-of-35 for 313 yards. "And it seemed to work out a whole lot of times. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?"
Eric Decker caught eight passes for 149 yards and a touchdown for the Golden Gophers.
Bowden returns: Former Auburn football Terry Bowden returned to coaching yesterday at Division II North Alabama.
Bowden, who was working as a TV analyst, replaces Mark Hudspeth, who left to become an assistant coach at Mississippi State.