|Tulsa's Trae Johnson catches TD pass despite in-your-face defense by Kenny Lewis. (Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press)|
MOBILE, Ala. - Paul Smith and the nation's top-rated offense turned a little charity into a lot of history in the GMAC Bowl.
Smith had his NCAA-record 14th consecutive 300-yard passing game, and Tulsa converted four fumble recoveries into first-half touchdowns on the way to a 63-7 romp over Bowling Green last night.
With all that help, the Golden Hurricane (10-4) ran up a 35-0 halftime lead and capped coach Todd Graham's first season by reaching 10 wins for the first time since 1991. Tulsa had never managed more than 31 points in 14 previous bowl games.
Smith passed for 312 yards and five touchdowns, the last with 3:22 left in the blowout. He broke the record of 13 300-yard efforts in a row he shared with BYU's Ty Detmer, whose streak stretched over the 1989 and 1990 seasons.
He and Tarrion Adams joined Houston's David Klingler and Chuck Weatherspoon as the NCAA's only 5,000-yard passing and 1,000-yard rushing tandem.
Tulsa outgained Bowling Green, 562-229, in total yards.
Adams scored touchdowns running, passing, and receiving before halftime and ran for 112 yards. Trae Johnson caught two scoring passes in the most lopsided bowl game this season, with only the national championship game remaining.
Bowling Green (8-5), which had won four consecutive bowl games, lost three fumbles in its territory in the first quarter and never recovered.
Taking matters from awful to worse, quarterback Tyler Sheehan was helped off the field with a left ankle injury with 24 seconds left in the first half and didn't return. He came out of the locker room on crutches but the ankle was not broken, a Bowling Green spokesman said. Sheehan passed for 141 yards and ran for another 21.
For Tulsa, all that was left were the records.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Golden Hurricane became the first team in NCAA history to have a 5,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher, and three 1,000-yard receivers. Smith came in needing 247 yards along with 45 yards receiving from Charles Clay, who reached the milestone with several catches midway through the fourth quarter and finished with 11 for 69 yards.
The Mid-American Conference had won five of six GMAC Bowls before the Falcons' fall.
Down, 42-0, Bowling Green finally got something to cheer about. Roger Williams scored on a 78-yard kick return early in the third quarter for the Falcons' only points.
Bowling Green twice drove inside Tulsa's 10 before the half, but had the drives stall on a fumble and a failed fourth-down play.
Meanwhile, everything from halfback passes to reverses and fake field goals were working for the Golden Hurricane.