Jacksonville, Fla. — Tennessee sure knows how to get out of a huge hole.
The Volunteers scored twice in a 30-second span late, using an onside kick to help escape a 13-point deficit, and then held on to stun Indiana 23-22 in the Gator Bowl on Thursday night.
The rally was indicative of Tennessee's season, which started 1-4 and ended with six consecutive wins.
"Everybody in the country had given up on these guys," second-year coach Jeremy Pruitt said.
Pruitt was talking about the season. He could have been talking about the game.
The Hoosiers (8-5) looked to be in control in the second half after scoring two touchdowns in a 1:03 span, the second one coming on Jamar Johnson's 63-yard interception return, and later adding a pair of field goals.
Indiana was up 22-9 before Tennessee (8-5) shocked most of the nearly 62,000 fans on hand.
Quavaris Crouch scored on a 1-yard plunge and then fellow running back Eric Gray recovered a surprise onside kick that barely went the mandatory 10 yards. Gray scored from 16 yards out a few plays later to put the Vols on top for good.
"Obviously, very disappointing to have a fourth-quarter lead and let it slip away," said Indiana coach Tom Allen, whose team was seeking its first nine-win season since 1967. "I'm not going to sit here and point fingers and blame. At the end of the day, it's my responsibility for us to find a way to win the game. We didn't do that."
Gray was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
"It's amazing," he said. "When adversity hits, you got to put on more steam."
Logan Justus missed an extra point in the third quarter that turned out to be costly and was wide right on a 52-yard field goal attempt with 2:12 remaining. Justus' kick had the distance but sailed just outside the right upright.
Tennessee punted with 1:02 remaining, but Indiana failed to get back into field goal range.
Indiana played its second consecutive game without leading rusher Stevie Scott. Scott warmed up with teammates, but did not play.
Cincinnati 38, Boston College 6: Desmond Ridder ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns and threw a scoring pass to lead No. 23 Cincinnati.
It was a cathartic win for a team coming off back-to-back losses to No. 15 Memphis, including in the American Athletic Conference championship game.
“I don’t know if you guys ever lost a conference championship, but that’s not a good taste,” said Ridder, who missed the regular-season finale with a sore throwing shoulder. “If we had lost today, three losses in the end, that’s not a good taste for anyone.”
They didn’t have to worry about that possibility for long, dominating after a lightning delay of about 1 1/2 hours midway through the first quarter.
The Bearcats (11-3) reached 11 wins for the second straight season and fourth in program history.
“There was a bad taste in our mouth,” Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell said. “And kind of the way the night went with the weather and things like that, and the delay. There was some talk about, ‘Hey, this thing might not get off.’
“There was no way that I was going to leave Birmingham without those seniors and those guys in that locker room having an opportunity to go out there and put their hard work on display for one another. If we had to stay here ‘til midnight, we would have stayed here ‘til midnight because those guys deserved that.”
The Eagles (6-7) were outgained 459-164 in total yards to finish a turbulent postseason. Coach Steve Addazio was fired after seven seasons and star tailback A.J. Dillon declared for the NFL draft and skipped the bowl game.