Behind huge interceptions early and late, No. 21 Northwestern beat Mississippi State 34-20 in the Gator Bowl on Tuesday in Jacksonville, Fla., snapping college football’s longest postseason losing streak.
The Wildcats (10-3) earned their first bowl win since the 1949 Rose Bowl, ending a nine-game losing skid that was tied for the longest in NCAA history. They also celebrated double-digit victories for the first time since the 1995 Rose Bowl season.
Quentin Williams returned an interception 29 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the game, and Nick Vanhoose set up a late touchdown with a 39-yard interception return. Those plays were the difference in a back-and-forth game that featured more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six).
Starting quarterback Kain Colter ran for 71 yards, making up for his two interceptions. Backup Trevor Siemian threw for 120 yards and an interception, and also ran for a score.
Mississippi State QB Tyler Russell completed 12 of 28 passes for 106 yards, with two TDs and four interceptions; he had thrown only six picks coming into the game.
Capital One Bowl
No. 6 Georgia 45, No. 23 Nebraska 31: In Orlando, Fla., Aaron Murray threw for 427 yards and five touchdowns to set Georgia bowl records.
Murray, who had two TD tosses in the fourth quarter, was named the game’s MVP after shaking off a pair of first-half interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, against the nation’s top-ranked passing defense. Georgia reached 12 wins for the third time in school history.
The Cornhuskers (10-4), who lost their third consecutive bowl game, led 24-23 at the half, but committed two of their three turnovers after the break. Taylor Martinez had two interceptions and two TD passes, and Rex Burkhead rushed for 140 yards in his final game.
No. 11 S. Carolina 33, No. 19 Michigan 28: Connor Shaw led the Gamecocks to the brink of victory, and Dylan Thompson carried them over the hump in Tampa, Fla.
Thompson came off the bench to throw a 32-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds left to send South Carolina to a school record-tying 11th win. Thompson (117 yards passing, 2 TDs) replaced Shaw (227 yards passing, 2 TDs) during the winning drive, covering the final 43 yards after Shaw began the march from his own 30.
Ace Sanders caught TD passes of 4 yards from Thompson and 31 yards from Shaw. He had nine catches for 92 yards and also scored on a 63-yard punt return – one of four plays over 50 yards for South Carolina.
Devin Gardner threw for 214 yards in his fifth start for Michigan (8-5) since Denard Robinson injured his right elbow late in the season, and his third TD pass gave Michigan a 28-27 lead with 3:29 to play.
Robinson took some snaps at quarterback and attempted his first passes since Oct. 27, but lined up mostly at running back and rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries.
Heart of Dallas Bowl
Oklahoma St. 58, Purdue 14: Clint Chelf threw three touchdown passes, J.W. Walsh passed for two more scores, and the Cowboys shook off a disappointing Big 12 finish with a dominating performance in Dallas.
The Cowboys (8-5) forced five turnovers and had another short TD drive after a 64-yard punt return from Josh Stewart. Their 58 points were the most ever in a bowl game at Cotton Bowl Stadium.
Boilermakers QB Robert Marve didn’t get to 100 yards passing until Oklahoma State led 45-0 as Purdue (6-7) fell to 0-4 on New Year’s Day.