Paul Smith ran 4 yards for the winning touchdown with 2:55 remaining, and Tulsa's defense had two fourth-quarter interceptions in a 31-24 victory over Fresno State in the Liberty Bowl yesterday at Memphis.
Smith, the game's MVP, completed 18 of 27 passes for 234 yards with a 54-yard touchdown throw to Ashlan Davis, but made his biggest play on the ground when he scrambled around three Fresno State defenders and into the end zone to secure Tulsa's first bowl victory since 1991.
''I just decided I didn't want to force [a pass] in there," Smith said. ''I've done that a lot when I was younger, and it always goes 99 yards the other way. So I just wanted to tuck it down and try to make a play."
Fresno State had a final chance to force overtime, and Paul Pinegar drove the Bulldogs to the Tulsa 42 before his pass toward the sideline was picked off by linebacker Nelson Coleman.
The Golden Hurricane (9-4) then ran out the clock and celebrated their first bowl victory since they beat San Diego State in the Freedom Bowl in 1991.
Pinegar finished 19 of 30 for 213 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, while Wendell Mathis had 117 yards rushing and his WAC-best 15th rushing touchdown of the season for Fresno State (8-5), which closed a once-promising year with four straight losses.
Houston Bowl -- Peter LoCoco kicked a 44-yard field goal with less than six minutes remaining to give No. 14 Texas Christian a 27-24 win over Iowa State.
The victory extended TCU's winning streak to 10 games, the third-longest in the nation behind No. 1 USC (34) and No. 2 Texas (19).
LoCoco's field goal was TCU's only score in the second half after the Horned Frogs built a 24-17 halftime lead.
Quarterback Jeff Ballard improved to 8-0 as a starter by throwing for 275 yards and a touchdown, despite being sacked six times.
Meineke Car Care Bowl -- Brian Clark caught a 9-yard touchdown pass and Andre Brown scored on a 1-yard run to lead North Carolina State to a 14-0 win over South Florida in Charlotte, N.C.
The Bulls (6-6) managed 295 total yards but failed to get Andre Hall -- the Big East's leading rusher -- into the end zone. Hall accounted for most of the offense, finishing with 118 yards rushing and two catches for 49 yards.
Credit the Wolfpack defense, particularly linebacker Stephen Tulloch, for stifling South Florida. Tulloch finished with 15 tackles -- five for a loss -- three sacks, and a recovery of his own forced fumble to earn the MVP award.