Nashville, Tenn, Virginia had a distracting December with four coaches departing for new jobs. Marques Hagans and his fellow Cavaliers got their focus back in the Music City Bowl.
Connor Hughes kicked a 39-yard field goal with 1:08 left, and Hagans threw for a career-high 358 yards in helping Virginia overcome a 14-point deficit to beat Minnesota, 34-31, Friday.
Defensive coordinator Al Golden left to coach Temple, taking special teams and linebackers coach Mark D'Onofrio with him as his coordinator, leaving head coach Al Groh to lead the defense. Offensive coordinator Ron Prince took over Kansas State, and associate head coach Danny Rocco went to Liberty.
"It's good those coaches got promoted to the jobs they did ..." Hagans said. "I think the team rallied together, and everyone assumed individual responsibility, and the win is good. It's gratifying."
The Gophers (7-5) might have been distracted themselves in what could be coach Glen Mason's final game at Minnesota. He has a year left, but school officials want to make a decision by tonight when they must either terminate his assistants' contracts or see them roll over to 2006.
"I haven't been very emotional about this thing," said Mason, former coach at Kansas University. "The emotional side of coaching is dealing with the kids. I've been a college coach for 34 years. I understand the business side. I might not like the decision that they make, but that is their prerogative."
Minnesota had every opportunity to blow the Cavaliers out and win this bowl for the third time in four years, but the nation's fifth-best offense bogged down after taking a 31-24 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Gophers had one last chance to pull out their fourth straight bowl victory, but Marcus Hamilton intercepted Bryan Cupito's ill-advised pass into double coverage in the end zone with 36 seconds remaining to seal the outcome. It was the Cavaliers' first bowl victory since the 2003 Continental Tire Bowl over Pittsburgh.
Virginia (7-5) already had forced the Gophers to punt twice, and Hagans overcame an interception in the fourth quarter to rally the Cavaliers with 10 straight points to end the game.
The Cavs outgained Minnesota 468-461 in total offense with its best performance of the season.
No. 17 UCLA 50, Northwestern 38
El Paso, Texas - Brandon Breazell returned two onside kicks for touchdowns, and Drew Olson recovered from an awful first quarter by throwing three TD passes, leading UCLA past Northwestern.
With star tailback Maurice Drew limited to punt returns after a first-half shoulder injury, Chris Markey finished with 150 yards rushing, and Kahlil Bell added 136 yards. The Bruins (10-2) gave coach Karl Dorrell his first bowl victory in three tries.
The Wildcats (7-5) pulled within 36-31 with 2:29 to play when Brett Basanez threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Mark Philmore, but Breazell - a receiver lined up to make sure the Bruins kept the ball - returned the ensuing onside kick 43 yards.
After Basanez added a five-yard TD pass to Shaun Herbert with 23 seconds remaining, Breazell struck again by taking the next onside kick for a 41-yard score, punctuating the highest-scoring Sun Bowl ever.
It figured to be a wild afternoon, as both teams came in ranked among the national leaders in offense but among the nation's worst defenses.
The Wildcats set a Sun Bowl record with 584 total yards, and the teams combined for another record with 1,037 yards.
No. 10 LSU 40, No. 9 Miami 3
Atlanta - Matt Flynn did so well in his first start, the Peach Bowl turned into 60 minutes of fun for LSU.
What happened after the game wasn't nearly so nice.
Flynn threw two touchdown passes, Joseph Addai rushed for 130 yards, and the Tigers humbled Miami, even running a couple of fake kicks that marked the Hurricanes' most-lopsided bowl loss ever.
There were shoves and punches thrown between players immediately after the game as both teams left the field into the same tunnel. Georgia State Patrol officers intervened, and Miami's Andrew Bain, apparently dazed, was escorted by officers back out of the tunnel.
Miami coach Larry Coker said Bain and Miami's Khalil Jones were knocked unconscious. Coker said no players were detained by police. No players were hospitalized.
Flynn, a sophomore filling in for injured starter JaMarcus Russell, completed 13 of 22 passes for 196 yards with no interceptions. He also rushed for 39 yards and was named the offensive MVP.