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College football roundup

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 1, 2001


Air Force wins with surprising passing

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Air Force put on an air show in the first Silicon Valley Classic.

The Falcons didn't abandon the option, but they came out passing to surprise Fresno State 37-34 on Sunday in the inaugural bowl game at Spartan Stadium.

Mike Thiessen hit Scotty McKay with two touchdown passes and ran for two scores. He completed 12 of 24 passes for 204 yards.

Dave Adams added field goals of 37, 46 and 24 yards for Air Force (9-3).

David Carr threw five touchdown passes for the Bulldogs, who nearly pulled it off. With 14 seconds left, Fresno State brought in Asen Asparuhov for a 33-yard field-goal attempt to tie it.

But holder Jason Simpson pulled a fake, aiming for Giachino Chiaramonte in the end zone. The pass was incomplete.

Fresno State (7-5) appeared unprepared for the Falcons' passing game from the start.

Thiessen threw on the first play from scrimmage and hit Brian LaBasco with a season-long 35-yard pass on the same drive. Adams kicked a 37-yard field goal to cap the series.

Fresno State took over but not for long. Carr's pass was intercepted by Joel Buelow. A play later, Thiessen found McKay with a 29-yard touchdown pass to put the Falcons up 10-0.

Adams added a 46-yard field goal -- an Air Force bowl record -- to make it 13-0.

Rodney Wright's fumble on Fresno State's 14-yard line gave the ball back to the Falcons, and Thiessen hit McKay with a 13-yard scoring pass.

Late Saturday

SAN ANTONIO -- Nebraska sent a message with its 32nd straight bowl appearance.

The Cornhuskers have to wait and see if anybody heard it.

No. 9 Nebraska set a bowl record for points in a 66-17 victory over No. 18 Northwestern in the Alamo Bowl.

"People had lost a lot of respect for us during the course of the season," said Dan Alexander, who set an Alamo Bowl record with 240 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns.

"We were playing for a lot of pride. We were playing for Nebraska. We were playing for the legacy that we're going to leave behind. This is a great program, and we want to leave it better than we came."

The best the preseason No. 1 Cornhuskers (10-2) can hope for is a return to the Top 5. But they have to get there with a lopsided win in a game on the outside of the main bowl picture.

Overall, it was a disappointing finish. Again, national championship hopes turned into thinking about next year.

"There is a better way, and that is to play for a title," guard Russ Hochstein said. "Unfortunately, we did this to ourselves."

Northwestern (8-4) talked confidently all week and took a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter, but the Huskers outscored the Wildcats 59-7 the rest of the way, shutting out Northwestern in the second half.

"We say often, 'Stay close and make it a 15-round fight,' " Northwestern coach Randy Walker said. "It wasn't 15 rounds tonight."

The Cornhuskers broke the overall bowl record Texas A&M set in a 65-14 victory over BYU in the 1990 Holiday Bowl. Nebraska's highest total in 39 bowl games topped the Huskers' 62-24 victory over Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.

"We played the type of football I was used to seeing for the four years I've been here," linebacker Carlos Polk said. "That's something I'm going to cherish. We've run into some bumps this season, but we rebounded."

Nebraska can't look ahead with the same optimism it had a year ago after beating Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl.

Several key members of this season's team -- including All-America Polk, All-Big 12 Hochstein, Alexander and backup I-back Correll Buckhalter -- were seniors. All-America center Dominic Raiola has not decided whether he will be back for his senior year, and junior quarterback Eric Crouch has an injured shoulder and might need off-season surgery for the second year in a row.

Northwestern, in its fourth bowl, tied for the Big Ten championship after going 3-8 the previous year. The Wildcats also are looking ahead.

"We have 10 starters back, and we have a goal to be as good as Nebraska next year," said Zak Kustok, who completed 15 of 35 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. "We didn't make plays we should have, and the score is the only concrete evidence we have of how much better they were."

Inspiration for Huskies

PASADENA, Calif. -- The Washington Huskies will have some extra inspiration for the Rose Bowl: Paralyzed teammate Curtis Williams will be there.

"We're going to do what Curtis would want us to do," quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo said. "If Curtis was still out there with us, he'd be working his tail off."

Coach Rick Neuheisel said an effort will be made to have Williams visit the locker room.

"It will be an emotional time for all of us," he said.

Williams, a starting safety and fifth-year senior from Fresno, Calif., was paralyzed from the neck down during a game against Stanford on Oct. 28.

He is in a rehabilitation center in San Jose and was scheduled to fly to Burbank on game day. He was to be driven by ambulance to the Rose Bowl and watch in a wheelchair from a stadium suite.

The Huskies have dedicated their season to him.

"When it happens to someone close to you, it just hits you," Tuiasosopo said. "It makes you realize that football is not life. When it happened, we took a step back and said our day will come someday, so we should enjoy every minute of life."

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