Thursday's bowl roundup: Purdue, Wisconsin notch victories for Big Ten
Nashville, Tenn. — Mitchell Fineran kicked a 39-yard field goal in overtime and Purdue finished off its best season since 2003 by overcoming a 14-point deficit and beating Tennessee 48-45 on Thursday in a record-setting Music City Bowl.
Purdue (9-4) tied for the second-most wins in program history as only the 12th team in the Boilermakers' 134-year history to win nine games. They also won their fifth game away from home, something they hadn't done since 1943.
Tennessee (7-6) missed a chance to make Josh Heupel the first Vols coach to cap his debut season with a bowl win since Bill Battle won the 1971 Sugar Bowl. The Vols also snapped a four-game bowl victory streak with a loss that dropped the Southeastern Conference to 1-5 this bowl season.
This high-scoring game featured a flurry of big plays and points in the final five minutes only to see Purdue's defense make the deciding play.
On the first possession of overtime, Jamar Brown and Kieren Douglas stopped Vols running back Jaylen Wright short on fourth-and-goal at the 1. The stop was upheld on review for Wright’s forward progress being stopped despite Wright reaching the ball over the goal line before the whistle without a knee touching the ground while laying on top of Douglas.
After Purdue ran three plays, Fineran sealed the victory with his fourth field goal of the game, sending the Boilermakers running down the field in celebration.
The end of regulation featured Purdue quarterback Aidan O’Connell throwing two of his five TD passes, starting with a pass Payne Durham took 62 yards after breaking a tackle in front of the Purdue bench.
Hendon Hooker threw two of his five TDs tying it up at 38 with a 13-yarder to Cedric Tillman on fourth-and-goal from the Purdue 13, then again at 45. The Vols had a final chance to win in regulation, but Chase McGrath’s 56 yard field goal fell well short.
More: Here is a look at the 2021-22 college bowl schedule, results
Tennessee finished with 639 yards total offense and Purdue had 623 in regulation — both bowl records before overtime. O’Connell easily set the mark with 534 yards passing, well above the 383 Mike Glennon had with N.C. State.
Purdue came in without All-America wide receiver David Bell, who’s prepping for the NFL draft, and a receiving corps further thinned by injuries. Broc Thompson filled in with seven catches for a game-high 217 yards and two TDs.
The Boilermakers had a chance to keep this finish from being quite so exciting. But they settled for three field goals in the second quarter and only led 23-21 at halftime.
Hooker finished with 378 yards passing. Tillman had three touchdowns on seven receptions for 150 yards, and Jabari Small ran for 180 yards.
More Thursday games
► South Carolina 38, North Carolina 21, Dukes Mayo Bowl: South Carolina coach Shane Beamer anticipated getting a bucket of mayonnaise dumped over his head would be awful.
And yet, it was worse than he could have imagined.
Beamer got hit in the back of the head by the cooler before 4½ gallons of mayo cascaded over his face and down his shirt, capping the Gamecocks’ celebration after their 38-21 victory over North Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Thursday.
“I got hammered in the back of the head from the cooler – and then came the mayo,” Beamer said. “I may have a concussion. It was awful.”
He changed his shirt for the postgame news conference, but joked, “I still have mayo in my pockets.”
But, for Beamer, it was all worth it to cap the season with a bowl win.
Jaheim Bell had five catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns for South Carolina (7-6), which rebounded nicely after it lost 30-0 to Clemson in its regular-season finale on Nov. 27. Kevin Harris added 169 yards rushing and a score.
Bell, a sophomore tight end, got free for a 69-yard touchdown reception from converted wide receiver Dakereon Joyner and hauled in a 66-yard TD catch from former graduate assistant coach Zeb Noland on South Carolina’s first two possessions. Juju McDowell added a 35-yard TD run in the second quarter as South Carolina averaged 11.6 yards per play while opening a 25-13 halftime lead.
“Everyone on offense was locked in and keyed into the details,” Bell said.
Sam Howell threw for 205 yards and a touchdown, and reserve running back British Brooks had a bowl record 63-yard touchdown run for the Tar Heels (6-7).
South Carolina rushed for 301 yards, despite Tar Heels coach Mack Brown saying North Carolina’s game plan was to stop the run.
“You’re not going to win football games like that,” Brown said. “They ran it, we didn’t.”
► Wisconsin 20, Arizona State 13, Las Vegas Bowl: Braelon Allen ran for 159 yards and Wisconsin drained the final 9:57 off the clock with an 18-play drive that sealed the victory.
Allen, the 17-year-old true freshman from Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin, had 101 yards by halftime for his eighth 100-yard game of the season.
Graham Mertz finished 11 of 15 for 137 yards and a touchdown to senior tight end Jake Ferguson, who caught three passes for 33 yards in his final game for Wisconsin (9-4).
The Badgers started 1-3 with Big Ten losses to ranked opponents Penn State and Michigan but answered with a seven-game winning streak to earn a 20th consecutive bowl bid.
Clinging to a seven-point lead, they took over at their own 3 with just under 10 minutes remaining and drove 90 yards to run out the clock in the first bowl game at Allegiant Stadium, home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders.
Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels accounted for 199 total yards and threw an interception for the Sun Devils (8-5), who are 3-6 in bowls since 2011.