Joel Klatt threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns and Mason Crosby kicked four field goals, leading Colorado to a 33-28 victory over Texas-El Paso in the Houston Bowl on Wednesday night.
Klatt keyed a fourth-quarter comeback by the plodding Buffaloes (8-5), who tried to keep pace with UTEP, which is ranked eighth in the nation in scoring offense. Colorado led 3-0 midway through the first quarter and trailed until seizing the lead late in the game.
Klatt completed 24 of 33 passes, five to Joel Klopfenstein for 134 yards. Bobby Purify rushed 80 yards on 22 carries.
The Miners (8-4) still had a chance to win the game in the final minutes.
On third-and-4 from the UTEP 25, Jordan Palmer completed a 15-yard pass to Johnnie Lee Higgins, keeping a late drive alive.
But Palmer misfired badly on his final four passes, and the comeback try fizzled.
Colorado's first bowl victory since the 1999 Insight.com Bowl capped an improbable turnaround for the Buffaloes, who went through an offseason of scandal and turmoil.
UTEP came very close to pulling off its first victory over a Big 12 opponent in 12 tries, but couldn't hold off the faster, stronger Buffs in the second half.
Palmer, the younger brother of former Heisman winner Carson Palmer of Southern California, completed his first eight passes for 120 yards as the Miners raced out to an early 14-3 lead.
But Palmer began to struggle, Klatt began to find his rhythm and UTEP began to wear down as Purify began pounding away at the Miners' smaller defensive line.
Palmer finished 22-of-42 for 328 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
UTEP, which won two more games this season than in the previous three combined, has lost in all three bowl appearances since winning the 1967 Sun Bowl.
In San Antonio, Ohio State didn't miss starting quarterback Troy Smith a bit.
Justin Zwick stepped in for the suspended Smith and threw for 189 yards and a touchdown, and Ted Ginn Jr. and Lydell Ross each scored, leading No. 24 Ohio State to a 33-7 victory over Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl on Wednesday night.
Ted Ginn Jr. caught six passes for 78 yards and rushed for another 51 yards and a touchdown.
Zwick completed 17 of 27 passes for 189 yards, and Ross rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries. Mike Nugent kicked four field goals.
Smith, who led Ohio State to victories in four of its last five games, was suspended by the team last week.
University officials said he accepted an unspecified benefit from a team booster in violation of NCAA rules.
The Buckeyes took advantage of two early turnovers by Oklahoma State, and never let the Cowboys get anything going offensively.