Todd Collins threw for two touchdowns and Tyrone Wheatley ran for another as the No. 20 Michigan Wolverines benefited from excellent field position to overwhelm No. 10 Colorado State 24-14 Friday night in the Holiday Bowl.
Michigan (8-4) had to drive only 17 yards for each of its final two touchdowns, a 16-yard pass from Collins to Mercury Hayes and a 3-yard run by Wheatley.The Wolverines, playing in a bowl game for a 20th straight year, extended their postseason winning streak to three and evened their all-time bowl record at 13-13. Michigan's only other Holiday Bowl appearance was 10 years ago when it lost 24-17 to national champion Brigham Young.
Western Athletic Conference champion Colorado State, playing in only the third bowl in school history, finished at 10-2.
With 1:49 left before halftime, Chris Howard blocked Matt McDougal's punt and the Wolverines got the ball at the CSU 17. Two plays later, Collins hit Hayes in the left corner of the end zone for a 17-7 lead.
On the first drive of the second half, Woodrow Hawkins sacked CSU's Anthoney Hill and stripped him of the ball, with Jarrett Irons recovering at the 17. Wheatley carried four straight times, finishing with a 3-yard scoring run for a 24-7 lead.
The Rams had fourth-and-goal from the 4 late in the third quarter, but Ty Law broke up a pass from Hill to Leonice Brown. Law intercepted Hill late in the second quarter, one of CSU's four turnovers.
Hill threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Burkett with 1:18 left in the game. The Wolverines recovered the ensuing onside kick.
Wheatley, a senior tailback who bruised a foot on Michigan's first drive, gained 80 yards on 16 carries. Tim Biakabutuka gained 70 yards on nine carries, all in the first half.
Wheatley had gained 427 yards on 42 carries in three previous bowls, an average of 10.2 yards per carry.
Tennessee 45, No. 17 Va. Tech 23
At Gainesville, Fla., James Stewart ran for three touchdowns and threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Kendrick Jones as Tennessee rolled to a Gator Bowl victory Friday night over turnover-plagued Virginia Tech.
Both teams finished the season with 8-4 records, but the unranked Vols won their last five games - scoring 162 points in their last three wins - while No. 17 Tech lost three of its last four. The 68 points scored by the two teams was a Gator Bowl record.
Peyton Manning's near-perfect passing and an 76-yard run by Jones sparked the Vols to a 21-0 advantage in the first 17 minutes.
Manning, son of former Mississippi and NFL great Archie Manning, led the Vols to seven wins in their last eight games after taking over as the starting quarterback following season-ending injuries to Jerry Colquitt and Todd Helton.
Texas 35, No. 19 N. Carolina 31
At El Paso, Texas, Priest Holmes scored his fourth touchdown of the day on a somersaulting 5-yard run late in the fourth quarter, lifting Texas to victory over No. 19 North Carolina in the Sun Bowl.
Holmes, the game's MVP, turned in his best performance of the year with 161 yards on 27 carries against a team that had given up an average of 115.2 yards rushing.
With less than two minutes remaining and the Longhorns facing first and goal at the 5, Holmes took the ball and sped around the right end. Faced with a wall of defenders, he launched into the air at about the 4, was hit once and tumbled head over heels into the end zone for the winning score.
Holmes' running eclipsed a passing attack that had accounted for most of Texas' success this year. The Longhorns (8-4) racked up 229 yards on the ground, and James Brown threw for 196 yards on 15-of-31 passing with an interception and no TDs.
The Tar Heels (8-4), meantime, managed 180 ground yards, down from their average of 226.9, but amassed 298 yards through the air.
S. Carolina St. 31, Grambling 27
At Atlanta, Marvin Marshall accounted for four touchdowns as South Carolina State ended the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's Heritage Bowl frustration with a comeback victory over Grambling.
It was the eighth victory in a row for the Bulldogs (10-2), who handed Grambling (9-3) its third consecutive loss in a season the Tigers hoped to use to get its celebrated coach, Eddie Robinson, his 400th victory.
Robinson, 75, will return for his 53rd season at Grambling next year three shy of the milestone.