CAPITAL ONE BOWL
No. 8 South Carolina 34, No. 19 Wisconsin 24
South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw’s career has been marked by a mix of special moments and others he’d like to forget.
He made sure his final game was one he’ll be able to savor.
Shaw was responsible for five touchdowns, including three passing, and South Carolina outlasted Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Wednesday afternoon.
The Gamecocks’ senior was named the game’s MVP after picking apart the Badgers defense, completing 22-of-25 passes for 312 yards. Shaw also had scores rushing and receiving. South Carolina (11-2) won its third consecutive bowl game to cap its third consecutive 11-win season.
After untimely injuries and losses culminated in the Gamecocks missing a spot in the BCS, Shaw said this performance offered some redemption.
“I told the team before the game that we’ve faced every possible scenario we could possibly face this season and that Wisconsin would be no different,” Shaw said. “I’m so glad the way we battled throughout the game and our defense came and played.
“I couldn’t be more proud.”
Bruce Ellington caught six passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Shaw Roland also hauled in six catches for 112 yards.
“The guys, we came together as a team today and Connor did a great job of leading us,” Ellington said. “We just came out and played.”
Shaw’s receivers caught balls in traffic and in the open field, gashing a Wisconsin defense that surrendered 438 yards for the game. The Badgers also allowed two fourth-down conversions, one which set up a 22-yard touchdown pass from Shaw to Ellington that put the Gamecocks up for good late in the third quarter.
Wisconsin (9-4) lost its fourth consecutive 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 was intercepted twice.
While the Gamecocks couldn’t contain the Badgers’ rushing attack for most of the game, Shaw and his receivers did plenty to keep South Carolina productive on offense.
Trailing 17-13 in the third quarter, Ellington reeled in a juggling reception near the sideline on a fourth-and-7 play. Two plays later Shaw found Ellington for the 22-yard touchdown strike to put the Gamecocks up by three.
The Badgers lost Stave on the next series, and with Phillips taking over were stopped short on a fourth-down run inside the Gamecocks 30.
South Carolina took advantage, and needed just six plays for Shaw to find Jerrell Adams for a 3-yard touchdown that made it 27-17 with 11:05 to play in the game.
“You kind of walk a fine line between being aggressive, getting after the quarterback and containing him,” Badgers coach Gary Andersen said. “Our plan was to be aggressive. At times we didn’t get the pressure we should have and at times he was able to extend plays.”
Wisconsin wasn’t done. Kenzel Doe took the ensuing kickoff and ran it back 91 yards for a score to get the Badgers back within a field goal.
But Shaw went back to work.
Pinned inside his own 15 to start the drive, he used a combination of runs and passes to set up his 1-yard touchdown plunge to cap a nine-play, 81-yard drive that made it 34-24.
Wisconsin appeared to be done after Phillips was intercepted by Kaiwan Lewis with less than five minutes to play, but the Gamecocks gave it right back on Brandon Wilds’ fumble on the next series.
The Badgers picked up a few first downs, but then Phillips was intercepted again by Skai Moore with 3:14 left to end the threat.
“We were very good defensively in the fourth quarter. It was a fourth-quarter game,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said.
Nebraska 24, No. 23 Georgia 19
Facing third-and-14 at the 1, Nebraska had a choice: Sneak the ball in hopes of getting a little extra room to punt or take a shot deep.
The Cornhuskers chose to throw — and boy did they wing it.
Tommy Armstrong Jr. connected with Quincy Enunwa for a 99-yard touchdown strike — the longest play in school history — and Nebraska held on to beat Georgia in the rain-soaked Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla., on Wednesday.
“I know one thing: There will never be a longer play in the history of college football than that one,” Cornhuskers coach Bo Pelini said. “That was a big play for us.”
Equally big were Georgia’s failures down the stretch. The Bulldogs (8-5) dropped two fourth-down passes in the closing minutes, helping Nebraska (9-4) close out its first bowl victory since 2009.
Nebraska, playing in its 50th bowl, also 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. His 25-yard scoring reception to open the fourth quarter cut Nebraska’s lead to 24-19.
The Bulldogs had two really good chances to take the lead, but Rantavious Wooten and Arthur Lynch dropped fourth-down passes in the red zone.
“I think I turned my head at the last second and was thinking end zone,” Lynch said. “It’s one of those situations. It’s not so much I dropped the pass. It’s that I let my team down. At the end of the day, it’s one of those things that you can never forget, brush off your shoulders.
“It’s a win or a loss, and we lost. But I will never able to forget this one. If I run that play 49 more times, I make the catch.”
The drops capped Georgia’s woes. The Bulldogs moved inside the 21 seven times, but settled for four field goals.
The final two were costly.
Wooten dropped a fourth-and-2 pass around the 10 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.
“That (stinks),” Gurley said. “To go all the way down there like that and on fourth down you just give it to them, that’s a bad feeling right there.”
Nebraska ran out the clock from there and then celebrated wildly all over the field.
Enunwa was named the game’s Most Valuable Player — and for good reason.
He recorded the longest play in Nebraska and Gator Bowl history.
After a timeout to discuss options on third and long, Armstrong dropped back and heaved the ball as far as he could to Enunwa, who was streaking wide open down the left sideline. Georgia cornerback Shaq Wiggins let Enunwa go, but got no safety help. Quincy Mauger had a chance to tackle Enunwa, but bounced off him just past midfield.
Enunwa coasted the rest of the way.
No. 14 LSU 21, Iowa 14
What Anthony Jennings lacked in experience, LSU more than compensated for with a talented supporting cast in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.
Jennings made plenty of freshman mistakes, however they weren’t nearly as costly as they could have been for the 14th-ranked Tigers with Jeremy Hill rushing for 216 yards and two touchdowns.
The second quarterback in school history to make his first college start in a bowl game, Jennings fretted over an interception that helped Iowa (8-5) get back in the game.
But with the outcome on the line, he simply turned and handed the ball to Hill, who made sure LSU (10-3) would not lose.
“Anthony in his first start was tight,” coach Les Miles said, adding that Jennings learned some lessons and that will be beneficial moving forward with his career.
“He wasn’t perfect by any stretch,” Miles said. “But he did what he had to do.”
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 six-play, 92-yard march that gave LSU (10-3) a 21-7 lead.
Iowa (8-5) pulled within a touchdown for the second time in 4 minutes after Jordan Cotton returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tigers 4.
Jennings ran for a first-quarter touchdown, but the true freshman struggled to hit open receivers while completing 7-of-19 passes for 82 yards. In addition to throwing an interception that Iowa’s John Lowdermilk returned 71 yards, he was sacked four times while standing in for the injured Zach Mettenberger.
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 trimmed Iowa’s deficit to 21-14 with 1:42 remaining.
Lowdermilk set up Iowa’s other TD — Mark Weisman’s 2-yard run in the third quarter — with his interception return to the LSU 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.
“It was just an embarrassing play, and that’s not Iowa Hawkeye football. ... I really regret it and I apologize,” Lowdermilk said. “It was just a sickening feeling all around. I was just so happy Mark scored. It was a bonehead play on my part.”
The victory enabled LSU to finish with at least 10 wins for a school-record fourth consecutive season. The loss ended Iowa’s three-game winning streak.
North Texas 36, UNLV 14
Derek Thompson threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns, Brelan Chancellor scored twice and North Texas dominated the second half to beat UNLV in Dallas. This was the Mean Green’s first postseason appearance in nine years.
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.
North Texas (9-4) pulled away from a 7-7 halftime tie for its first bowl win since New Orleans in 2002. The Rebels lost in the postseason for the first time in the school’s fourth bowl game and first since 2000.
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.
With the score 7-7 at halftime, the Mean Green went ahead for good at 14-7 in the third quarter on Thompson’s 7-yard scoring pass to Drew Miller.