The Independence Bowl featured the two best running teams in the nation, and special teams proved to be the unlikely difference.
Air Force cashed in when Georgia Tech muffed a punt in the second half, getting a go-ahead touchdown run from Jared Tew in a 14-7 victory yesterday in Shreveport, La.
Backup kicker Zack Bell converted the first two field-goal attempts of his career before Tew’s 3-yard run gave the Falcons (9-4) the lead for good. Air Force’s only touchdown came four plays after Daniel McKayhan’s second muffed punt of the game.
Georgia Tech’s 327 yards rushing per game this season edged Air Force’s 317.9 average for the nation’s top spot. Both teams use a heavy dose of option, which often catches opponents off guard because it’s a relatively rare offense.
But with each defense familiar with the scheme, there were no surprises, and both teams were held under their rushing average — Georgia Tech with 279 and Air Force with 170.
Air Force’s Tim Jefferson completed 11 of 23 passes for 117 yards. Bell’s field goals came from 41 and 42 yards.
Georgia Tech’s Tevin Washington rushed for 131 yards and Anthony Allen added 91 as Georgia Tech outgained Air Force 320-287. But the Yellow Jackets (6-7) committed four turnovers — including three fumbles. They dropped their sixth consecutive bowl and posted their first losing season in 14 years.
Huskies brace for Sooners Multidimensional and multitalented, Oklahoma presents one monumental challenge for Connecticut in its first BCS bowl game, Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl.
“We know what Oklahoma is and the tradition they have, and if you matched us up for 100 years, we don’t match up with them,’’ UConn defensive coordinator Hank Hughes said. “But on this one day for three hours, we have to go out there and try to beat them in that one football game.’’
It could feel like three days if Oklahoma gets rolling.
Oklahoma ran 1,131 plays this season, an average of 87 per game and nearly 200 more than the next closest team.
Gators limp into Outback Florida will be without cornerback Janoris Jenkins and three other starters against Penn State in the Outback Bowl.
Jenkins had surgery on his right shoulder recently and will miss the New Year’s Day game. Right tackle Maurice Hurt (right knee) and defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh (right hip) and Terron Sanders (right shoulder) all had surgery after the Gators’ last regular-season game and also will miss coach Urban Meyer’s finale. None of them traveled with the team to Tampa.
Jenkins is considered the biggest loss. The junior has started 36 of 39 games, including all 11 this season. He has eight career interceptions, including three this season.
Holy Toledo: FIU wins T.Y. Hilton was ready for anything during the first bowl in Florida International’s young history. Even fourth-and-17 with time running out.
Hilton picked up a crucial first down on a desperate hook-and-ladder, and FIU stunned Toledo, 34-32, with a last-second field goal Sunday night at the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit. Jack Griffin’s 34-yard kick provided the winning points, but it was Hilton’s dramatic conversion that kept the drive alive.
The Golden Panthers (7-6) had already rallied from a 24-7 third-quarter deficit, but the game appeared to be slipping away when Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens scored on a 14-yard run with 1:14 to play. The Rockets (8-5) then went for two, and Owens found Eric Page for a 32-31 lead.
Border crossings denied Players from Notre Dame and Miami will not be allowed to cross the border into one of Mexico’s most dangerous cities during their free time before Friday’s Sun Bowl. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly took his team’s passports before the Fighting Irish flew to El Paso as a precaution. The Hurricanes didn’t bring passports, either, and met with both local law enforcement and the FBI shortly after arriving in Texas to further underscore the potential dangers of crossing the border into Cuidad Juarez, which is wrapped in a drug war. Officials say more than 3,000 people have been killed there this year alone . . . North Carolina says running back Anthony Elzy will not play in Thursday’s Music City Bowl against Tennessee. The team said in a statement that Elzy did not meet his obligations as a student-athlete.