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Alabama takes 27-0 lead, then holds on for dear life

SHREVEPORT, La. - Alabama bolted out to a 27-0 lead, but was forced to fight for its life in the fourth quarter before posting a 30-24 win last night over Colorado in the Independence Bowl.

SHREVEPORT, La. - Alabama bolted out to a 27-0 lead, but was forced to fight for its life in the fourth quarter before posting a 30-24 win last night over Colorado in the Independence Bowl.

Nick Saban's Crimson Tide squad jumped out to its big edge on two Leigh Tiffin field goals, followed by three touchdown passes by John Parker Wilson,

who completed 13 of his first 15 passes for 185 yards. (He finished with 256.)

The fifth score came with 12 minutes, 20 seconds left in the second quarter, with the Buffaloes seemingly already on vacation.

Colorado slowly got back into the game, getting two TD passes from Cody Hawkins before half, then adding a field goal in the third quarter and one more Hawkins TD pass in the final frame.

Colorado's attempt at a multi-lateral play as time expired collapsed shy of midfield.

Hawkins finished 24 of 39 for 322 yards with three TDs and two interceptions.

Alabama, which snapped a four-game losing streak, finished 7-6. Colorado finished 6-7 under first-year coach Dan Hawkins, the quarterback's father.

An official working his final game before retirement left the game after injuring his left rotator cuff. Mike Rhoades, an umpire from the Western Athletic Conference, left early in the second quarter. It wasn't immediately known how Rhoades was injured.

Today's games

Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Cullen Harper threw a school-record 27 touchdown passes and helped No. 15 Clemson (9-3) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring this season.

But Harper knows he will face a challenge in this bowl game in Atlanta: No. 22 Auburn (8-4) ranks among the nation's top 10 defenses in points allowed, as does Clemson.

Tommy Bowden says his Clemson team "turned a corner" and moved closer to championship contention this season. Clemson hopes the bowl game provides momentum for bigger success in 2008.


ESPN, 7:30 p.m.

Music City Bowl.

Bobby Bowden will coach Florida State in its 26th consecutive bowl game, against Kentucky in Nashville. The Seminoles and Wildcats are both 7-5.


ESPN, 4 p.m.

Sun Bowl.

Oregon and South Florida were among the seven schools to be ranked No. 2 in the country one week and lose the next. Three-game losing streaks ended the BCS hopes of both the Ducks and Bulls.

But all things considered, the Ducks (8-4) and Bulls (9-3) say they are thrilled to play in El Paso, Texas.

South Florida was 6-0 and ranked No. 2 when it lost, 30-27, at Rutgers on Oct. 18.

Oregon skidded, too, losing three straight once Heisman Trophy hopeful Dennis Dixon saw his season end when he aggravated a knee injury in a 34-24 loss at Arizona on Nov. 15.


CBS3, 2 p.m.

Humanitarian Bowl.

Jon Tenuta, the Yellow Jackets' defensive coordinator, will serve as interim head coach when Georgia Tech (7-5) tackles Fresno State (8-4) in Boise, Idaho.

Former Navy coach Paul Johnson will fully take over Tech's program Wednesday. Chan Gailey was fired Nov. 26 despite going 44-32 in his six seasons with the Yellow Jackets.


ESPN2, 2 p.m.

Insight Bowl.

Under new coach Bill Lynch, the Indiana Hoosiers (7-5) earned their first bowl appearance since 1993. Lynch took over for coach Terry Hoeppner, who died of brain cancer in June.

The Hoosiers will take on Oklahoma State (6-6) in Tempe, Ariz.


NFL Network, 6 p.m.

Armed Forces Bowl.

Receiver DeSean Jackson can be electrifying on returns for California (6-6), which will face Air Force (9-3) in Fort Worth, Texas. California started the season 5-0 and climbed as high as No. 2 in the polls.


ESPN, 12:30 p.m.