Behind speedy receiver Kenneth Moore and a swarming defense full of big plays, Wake Forest rallied to beat fellow upstart Connecticut, 24-10, in the Meineke Bowl yesterday in Charlotte, N.C.
Often called "Weak Forest" for a long history of ineptitude, the Demon Deacons (9-4) secured the second-most wins in school history, behind only last year's improbable 11-3 mark that included an Atlantic Coast Conference title and an Orange Bowl berth.
Wake Forest reeled off 24 unanswered points after falling behind 10-0 at halftime against the Huskies, who were playing in only their second bowl game.
Moore, a senior playing in his hometown in his final game, caught 11 passes for 112 yards and was voted MVP. Riley Skinner completed 29 of 38 passes for 268 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and ACC rookie of the year Josh Adams rushed for 81 yards and a score.
Micah Andrews put it away with a 9-yard touchdown run with 29 seconds left for Wake Forest, which was playing in bowls in consecutive seasons for the first time and displayed an opportunistic defense.
Linebacker Stanley Arnoux highlighted a series of big plays for Wake Forest with an interception and two fourth-down stops.
Tyler Lorenzen was just 13 of 26 for 98 yards and was sacked twice, and Donald Brown rushed for 78 yards for the Huskies (9-4), whose poor second half ended their hopes of being ranked at the end of the season for the first time.
Mississippi State 10, Central Florida 3 -
Anthony Dixon scored on a 1-yard run with 1 minute, 54 seconds remaining, Derek Pegues had two interceptions and the Bulldogs (8-5) kept the Knights' (10-4) Kevin Smith from breaking the NCAA single-season rushing record in Memphis.
In a game featuring anemic offenses and 17 punts, Mississippi State kept Central Florida out of the end zone and held Smith to 119 yards. The junior finished 61 yards shy of Barry Sanders' single-season record of 2,628 yards set for Oklahoma State in 1988.
It was the lowest-scoring Liberty Bowl since Penn State beat Tulane, 9-6, in 1979.
Dixon finished with 86 yards and won the game with a 1-yard dive after Kyle Israel threw his third interception.
The Bulldogs held the Knights to 219 yards and forced four turnovers.
Colorado is glad to be at the Independence Bowl, or in any postseason game, after winning its final game to become bowl-eligible. Alabama couldn't be faulted for dreaming of much brighter lights until dropping its last four games of the season.
Both teams enter today's game in Shreveport, La., at 6-6. When the contest ends, either the Buffaloes will have consecutive losing seasons for the first time in 22 years or the Tide will have suffered the same fate for the first time since 1957.
Alabama's offense must find the form that led it to an average of 35 points per game in the first nine games of the season. Over the last three games, which included a loss to Louisiana-Monroe, the Tide averaged 12 points.
Colorado rebounded from a 2-10 record in 2006 and beat Nebraska to become eligible for a bowl game.
In Colorado's six victories, it averaged 40 points a game and had just six turnovers.