Wake Forest avenged an error-filled September loss to the Middies, earning its eighth win of the season. Demon Deacons QB Riley Skinner went 11-for-11 and threw the go-ahead touchdown.
2 of 34Andrew DeMattos/Icon SMI
Colorado State 40, Fresno State 35 | New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 20
The Rams rode senior running back Gartrell Johnson, who turned in one of the finest individual performances of the bowl season. Johnson rushed for 285 yards and two touchdowns on just 27 carries and also caught five passes for 90 yards.
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South Florida 41, Memphis 14 | St. Petersburg Bowl, Dec. 20
After falling apart in the second half of the regular season, the Bulls finished the season on a high note with this dismantling of Memphis. Matt Grothe passed for 236 yards and three touchdowns and ran for an additional 83 yards.
Playing in their first bowl game in a decade, the Wildcats knocked off the 10-win Cougars. QB Willie Tuitama finished off his Arizona career in style, passing for 325 yards and two touchdowns and running for a score.
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Southern Miss 30, Troy 27 (OT) | New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 21
The Golden Eagles overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime. Then in the extra period, Michael McGee blocked a 28-yard field goal attempt to clinch the win and extend Southern Miss' streak of consecutive winning seasons to 15.
In one of the best games of this bowl season, the Horned Frogs earned a comeback win over fellow mid-major power Boise State. TCU outgained the Broncos 472 yards to 250, but had trouble putting points on the board.
7 of 34Eugene Tanner/Icon SMI
Notre Dame 49, Hawaii 21 | Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24
On Christmas Eve, the Fighting Irish put together one of their most dominant performances in recent memory and snapped a nine-game losing streak. Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen completed 22 of 26 passes for 401 yards and five touchdowns.
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Florida Atlantic 24, Central Michigan 21 | Motor City Bowl, Dec. 26
FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger guided the Owls, who only began playing in the FBS in 2001, to a second consecutive bowl win. Florida Atlantic QB Rusty Smith threw for 307 yards and two second-half touchdowns.
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West Virginia 31, North Carolina 30 | Meineke Bowl, Dec. 27
Dynamic Mountaineer Pat White became the first QB ever to win four straight bowl games as a starter. He threw for a career-high 332 yards and three touchdowns. In a losing effort, North Carolina wideout Hakeem Nicks caught eight passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns.
The young Seminoles (9-4) throttled underachieving Wisconsin and finished the season with more than eight wins for the first time since 2004. Although the 'Noles offense looked explosive and the defense scored two touchdowns, the game MVP was FSU's punter, Graham Gano, who averaged 48.2 yards on five punts and had three downed inside the Wisconsin 5.
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Cal 24, Miami 17 | Emerald Bowl, Dec. 27
In a matchup between two of the younger teams in bowl season, the "home" team prevailed. Playing just 12 miles away from Memorial Stadium, Cal RB Jahvid Best truly jumpstarted his Heisman Trophy campaign for 2009 by running for 186 yards and two touchdowns on just 20 carries.
Louisiana Tech CB Weldon Brown played the game of his life (14 tackles, interception, fumble recovery) and the Bulldogs held off the Huskies for the program's first postseason win since the 1977 Independence Bowl.
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Rutgers 29, N.C. State 23 | Papajohns.com Bowl, Dec. 29
Rutgers erased an 11-point second-half deficit to finish the season with a seventh consecutive victory. Mike Teel continued to roll, passing for 319 yards and two touchdowns.
The heavily favored Tigers needed overtime to fend off a pesky Northwestern team. Although Pat Fitzgerald's Wildcats contained Mizzou's explosive offense, Northwestern fell to 1-6 in bowl games (with the lone win coming in their first bowl appearance in 1949).
After serving a 2 1/2-quarter suspension for breaking curfew, Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott ran for 174 yards and two touchdowns in the game's final 20 minutes to guide the Terps to a thrilling win. Scott's heroics overcame the effort by Nevada QB Colin Kaepernick, who threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a score.
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Rice 38, Western Michigan 14 | Texas Bowl, Dec. 30
Rice won a bowl game for the first time since the 1954 Cotton Bowl and reached 10 wins for the first time since 1949. Owls QB Chase Clement threw three touchdown passes, ran for a score and caught a TD pass from WR Jarett Dillard.
True to form, the Holiday Bowl was an offensive bonanza, with the Ducks outgaining the Pokes 565 to 469 in total yards. Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli stole the show, throwing for 258 yards and a score and running for 106 yards and three more touchdowns, including one highlight-reel scamper in which he trucked an Oklahoma State defensive back on his way to the end zone.
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Houston 34, Air Force 28 | Armed Forces Bowl, Dec. 31
Houston earned its first bowl win since 1980 (snapping an eight-game postseason losing streak) and avenged a September loss to Air Force. Cougars QB Case Keenum ran for two scores and passed for 252 yards and a touchdown.
19 of 34Chad Puerling/Icon SMI
No. 24 Oregon State 3, No. 18 Pittsburgh 0 | Sun Bowl, Dec. 31
Playing without the explosive Rodgers brothers, Oregon State held off Pittsburgh in a defensive struggle that featured 20 punts and 10 sacks. This was the lowest-scoring bowl game since Air Force and TCU played to a 0-0 tie in the 1959 Cotton Bowl.
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Vanderbilt 16, Boston College 14 | Music City Bowl, Dec. 31
Vandy won its first bowl game in 53 years, giving the Commodores their first winning season since 1982. Bryant Hahnfeldt kicked the go-ahead, 45-yard field goal with 3:26 remaining, and the 'Dores defense got the job done down the stretch.
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Kansas 42, Minnesota 21 | Insight Bowl, Dec. 31
Jayhawks QB Todd Reesing had his way with the Gophers secondary, completing 27 of 35 passes for 313 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target was Dezmon Briscoe, who hauled in 14 receptions for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
This season didn't go quite as planned for the defending national champions, but the Tigers finished it with a stunning 35-point blowout of Paul Johnson's up-and-coming Yellow Jackets. LSU RB Charles Scott led the charge on offense, rushing for three touchdowns.
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Iowa 31, South Carolina 10 | Outback Bowl, Jan. 1
As usual, Shonn Greene led the way for the Hawkeyes, rushing for 121 yards and three scores before declaring himself eligible for the NFL draft. Greene is the only player to eclipse 100 yards in every game this season.
24 of 34Bill Frakes/SI
Nebraska 26, Clemson 21 | Gator Bowl, Jan. 1
Nebraska finished Bo Pelini's first season by winning four straight games and six of its final seven. After going 5-7 in Bill Callahan's last season, the Cornhuskers improved to 9-4.
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No. 16 Georgia 24, No. 19 Michigan State 12 | Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1
In what might have been his final college game, junior quarterback Matthew Stafford enjoyed a big second half and ended up with 250 yards passing and three touchdowns. The Dawgs defense held MSU star Javon Ringer in check, yielding just 47 yards on 20 carries.
26 of 34Peter Read Miller/SI
No. 5 USC 38, No. 6 Penn State 24 | Rose Bowl, Jan. 1
Once again, the Trojans embarrassed a Big Ten opponent in the comfortable confines of the Rose Bowl. USC rampaged past Penn State, holding a 31-7 lead at the half. Trojans QB Mark Sanchez enjoyed the best game of his USC career, completing 28 of 35 passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns. Following the game, Pete Carroll repeatedly expressed one opinion: "I don't think anybody can beat the Trojans."
27 of 34Justin Dernier/Icon SMI, Doug Benc/Getty Images (inset)
The youthful Hokies earned their 10th win for the fifth straight season, stifling Cincinnati with some vintage Beamerball. The Hokies defense had four interceptions and blocked a field goal attempt, while freshman RB Darren Evans ran for153 yards and a touchdown. Virginia Tech is the first ACC team to win a BCS bowl game since Florida State won the national title in 1999.
The Rebels capped off a gratifying 9-4 season with their sixth straight win. Ole Miss racked up 515 yards of offense with great balance -- 292 through the air and 223 on the ground. QB Jevan Snead had three touchdown passes.
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Kentucky 25, East Carolina 19 | Liberty Bowl, Jan. 2
Defensive end Ventrell Jenkins returned a fumble 56 yards for the go-ahead score with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter and the Wildcats earned a third straight postseason victory -- a school record.
Utah pulled off the most stunning BCS bust of all time, easily defeating the mighty Crimson Tide. The Utes jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and scored the final 10 points of the game to bring it home. QB Brian Johnson torched 'Bama's D, passing for 336 yards and three touchdowns. Utah (13-0) finishes the season as the only undefeated team in the country.
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Connecticut 38, Buffalo 20 | International Bowl, Jan. 3
Huskies RB Donald Brown, the nation's leading rusher, rumbled for a career-best 261 yards to become the 14th player in major college football history to run for 2,000 yard. He announced in a postgame press conference that he will enter the NFL draft. UConn overcame a 10-point deficit to win its eighth game of the season.
The Buckeyes had their hearts broken again, while Texas made its closing argument on a 12-1 season. Ohio State scored 15 straight fourth-quarter points to take a 21-17 lead with just over two minutes remaining. But Colt McCoy led the Longhorns on an 11-play, 78-yard touchdown drive, culminating in a 26-yard touchdown pass to Quan Cosby. The loss dropped the Big Ten to 1-6 in bowl season.
The Golden Hurricane's explosive offense racked up 632 yards of offense, including 439 yards on the ground. Tulsa QB David Johnson threw for 193 yards and three touchdowns, while RB Tarrion Adams ran for 207 yards and three scores. Ball State (12-2) finished the season with two straight defeats.
For the second time in three years, Florida won a national title by shutting down a supposedly unstoppable offense. The young Gators defense held Oklahoma 40 points below its season average. After a rough first half in which he threw two interceptions, Tim Tebow carried Florida over the final 30 minutes, finishing with 231 yards passing and two touchdowns and 109 yards rushing. "Tebow, just call him Superman," Gators wideout Percy Harvin said. Harvin didn't have a bad game himself, running for 122 yards and a touchdown on nine carries and catching five passes for 49 yards. The Gators won the BCS title and finished atop the AP poll.
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