Johnson, Utes earn sweet win

No. 7 Utah knocks off No. 4 Alabama in Sugar Bowl

Mississippi wins

College Football Bowl Roundup

January 03, 2009|By From Sun news services

Utah is the best of the BCS busters.

Brian Johnson threw for 336 yards and three touchdowns, and the No. 7 Utes upset fourth-ranked Alabama, 31-17, in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans last night to finish 13-0.

With the victory, Utah became the first team from a non-Bowl Championship Series conference to win two BCS bowls. The Utes beat Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl.

Johnson's pinpoint passing led Utah to a 21-0 first-quarter lead, and the Utes refused to wilt when Alabama pulled to 21-17 early in the second half.

Utah's defense was equally impressive, intercepting John Parker Wilson twice and sacking him eight times, with the seventh sack forcing a fumble that sent crimson-clad Alabama fans streaming for the exits with just more than five minutes to go.

After surging to No. 1 in the rankings with a 12-0 regular season, Alabama closed the season with two consecutive losses, the first against Florida in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

The Tide's normally powerful running game was shut down. Glen Coffee was held to 36 yards on 13 carries, while Mark Ingram rushed eight times for 26 yards.

The Utes' array of stunts and blitzes appeared to upset Wilson's rhythm. He overthrew a couple of open receivers downfield and finished 18-for-30 for 177 yards and a touchdown

Johnson was 27-for-41 and was not intercepted. His touchdowns went for 7 yards to Brent Casteel, 18 yards to Bradon Godfrey and 28 yards to David Reed. Matt Asiata ran for a 2-yard touchdown, a score set up by Reed's leaping catch at the 2.

No. 20 Mississippi 47, No. 8 Texas Tech 34: : Behind Jevan Snead's passing, Dexter McCluster's squirming runs and some big returns by Marshay Green, the Rebels overcame an early deficit and beat the Red Raiders in the final Cotton Bowl played in the Dallas stadium of the same name.

Texas Tech (11-2) converted a pair of early turnovers into a 14-0 lead, but Snead led the Rebels to touchdowns on their next three drives. Once Green returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown early in the third quarter, Ole Miss (9-4) was well on its way to capping coach Houston Nutt's first season in grand style.

Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell set the record for most career touchdowns in major college football (134) and became the first player with two 5,000-yard passing seasons. He was 36-of-58 for a Cotton Bowl-record 364 yards.

Kentucky 25, East Carolina 19: : Ventrell Jenkins scooped up a fumble and barreled his 285-pound frame 56 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, helping the Wildcats (7-6) win a program-best third straight bowl game with a victory over the Pirates (9-5) in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn.

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