Troy Smith turns in MVP performance

COLLEGE BOWL GAMES: The Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback completed 19 of 28 passes for a career-high 342 yards and ran for another 66 in 13 attempts

AP , TEMPE, ARIZONA

Wed, Jan 04, 2006 - Page 19

Troy Smith outplayed Brady Quinn and Jim Tressel outfoxed Charlie Weis.

Smith threw touchdown passes of 56 and 85 years and fourth-ranked Ohio State beat No. 5 Notre Dame 34-20 Monday in the Fiesta Bowl.

It was eighth consecutive bowl loss for the Fighting Irish.

The Ohio State quarterback, the offensive MVP, completed 19 of 28 passes for a career-high 342 yards and ran for another 66 in 13 attempts.

The junior capped his performance with a pair of third-and-long completions on the Buckeyes' final scoring drive. Antonio Pittman, who rushed for 136 yards in 21 carries, broke free on a 60-yard touchdown run to seal the victory with 1:46 to play.

Quinn, a third-team all-American behind Matt Leinart and Vince Young of Texas, completed 29-of-45 for 286 yards but no touchdowns. Running back Darius Walker gained 90 yards in 16 attempts, with three touchdowns.

This was the first of four Bowl Championship Series games, which culminates with No. 1 USC facing No. 2 Texas in the Rose Bowl today.

No. 21 Wisconsin 24,

No. 7 Auburn 10

In Orlando, Florida, Brian Calhoun rushed for 213 yards, John Stocco passed for 301 and Brandon Williams had 173 yards receiving, lifting 21st-ranked Wisconsin over No. 7 Auburn in the Capital One Bowl.

It was a fitting farewell for coach Barry Alvarez, who led Wisconsin to eight bowl wins in 16 seasons. The Badgers (10-3) were 1-5 all-time in the postseason before his arrival and sent him off with his fourth 10-win season.

They were 10 1/2-point underdogs entering the game but dominated the Tigers (9-3) throughout, amassing 311 yards and a 17-0 lead in the first half.

Calhoun rushed 30 times and scored on a 33-yard run in the fourth quarter. Stocco was 15-of-27 with two touchdown passes, a 30-yarder to Williams and a 13-yarder to Owen Daniels.

Calhoun became only the second player in Division I history to post 1,500 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving in the same season. Pacific's Ryan Benjamin did it in 1991.

No. 11 West Virginia 38,

No. 8 Georgia 35

In Atlanta, Steve Slaton rushed for a record 204 yards and three touchdowns to lead the No. 11 Mountaineers to a 38-35 victory over eighth-ranked Georgia, which couldn't take advantage of the home-field edge in the first Sugar Bowl ever played outside of New Orleans.

West Virginia (11-1) stunned all those red-clad fans at the Georgia Dome by jumping to a 28-0 lead by the opening minute of the second quarter. The Bulldogs (10-3) rallied, twice closing within a field goal in the second half, but they couldn't finish one of the greatest comebacks in bowl history.

Slaton eclipsed the previous Sugar Bowl rushing record, a 202-yard performance by Pitt's Tony Dorsett in a national championship-clinching victory over Georgia in 1977.

No. 12 Virginia Tech 35,

No. 15 Louisville 24

At Jacksonville, Florida, Marcus Vick threw two touchdown passes and 12th-ranked Virginia Tech rallied to beat No. 15 Louisville 35-24 in the Gator Bowl.

Virginia Tech overcame numerous penalties, the absence of a key offensive lineman, and the ejection of defensive leader Jimmy Williams for bumping an official to rebound from a surprising loss to Florida State on the same field in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game a month ago.

The Hokies (11-2) scored on three consecutive possessions in the second half, turning a 17-10 deficit into a 28-24 lead. James Anderson sealed the victory when he intercepted Hunter Cantwell's pass and returned it 39 yards for a touchdown with 5:04 to play.

Vick played a major role in directing the comeback, which snapped a five-game winning streak for Louisville (9-3).

No. 13 Alabama 13,

No. 18 Texas Tech 10

At Dallas, Jamie Christensen barely made a low, spinning kick from a career-best 45 yards for No. 13 Alabama to edge No. 18 Texas Tech 13-10 in the last seconds of the Cotton Bowl.

Christensen had earlier missed from 39 yards, and was blocked from 38 but when it mattered most he booted over the winner.

Playing its record-stretching 53rd bowl game, Alabama added to another mark by winning for the 30th time. This one made the Crimson Tide 10-2 for the season, marking the 28th time they've hit double digits, extending yet another record.

Texas Tech (9-3) came in with the nation's top passing game at 403.6 per game, but was held to a season-low 226 yards against a speedy Alabama defense that was allowing a national-best 10.7 points per game.

Brodie Croyle, the leading passer in Tide history, was 19-of-31 for 275 yards (compared to 15-of-32 for 196 yards by Cody Hodges) and, most importantly, kept the ball for 38 minutes, 58 seconds, keeping his defense fresh and the Tech offense on the sideline.

No. 16 Florida 31, No. 25 Iowa 24

At Tampa, Florida, Chris Leak threw for 277 yards and two touchdowns to lead 16th-ranked Florida in a 31-24 victory over No. 25 Iowa in the Outback Bowl.

Dallas Baker scored on receptions of 24 and 38 yards and finished with 10 catches for 147 yards for the Gators (9-3) as Urban Meyer matched Ray Graves (1960) and Steve Spurrier (1990) for most victories for a coach in his first season at Florida.

Drew Tate completed 32 of 55 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns. He rallied Iowa in the fourth quarter with TD throws of 4 and 14 yards to Ed Hinkel.