Meyer wins Florida fi­nale against Penn State

Ga­tors pull away for 37-24 tri­umph in Out­back Bowl

The Washington Post Sunday - - D2 -

Ur­ban Meyer walked away from Florida with a win against Joe Paterno, who in­sists Penn State’s dis­ap­point­ing sea­son won’t be his last.

Meyer closed out a highly suc­cess­ful six-year run that in­cluded a pair of na­tional cham­pi­onships by lead­ing the Ga­tors back from a sec­ond-half deficit to beat JoePa’s Nit­tany Lions, 37-24, in the Out­back Bowl on Satur­day in Tampa.

Omar­ius Hines and Mike Gil­lislee ran for touch­downs, Chas Henry kicked three sec­ond-half field goals and Ah­mad Black sealed the win with an 80-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn for a touch­down to help Florida (8-5) send Meyer out with a smile.

The 46-year-old coach re­signed last month be­cause of health con­cerns and to spend more time with his fam­ily.

Meyer and the 84-year-old Paterno met at mid­field for a postgame hand­shake that was any­thing but typ­i­cal.

“He said, ‘I love you, kid,’ ” Meyer said. “He’s the only one who calls me kid. And I love him, too.”

As for Paterno, he, his wife and Penn State of­fi­cials spent the week lead­ing up to the game re­peat­edly shoot­ing down ru­mors that the Out­back Bowl could be his last game.

He ex­pects to be back for a 46th sea­son with Penn State (7-6). At one point, he called the spec­u­la­tion about his fu­ture — in­clud­ing re­ports that he might be in poor health and had been hos­pi­tal­ized — “ridicu­lous.” He re­it­er­ated Fri­day that he has no plans to re­tire.

CAP­I­TAL ONE BOWL: Mark In­gram ran for two scores to break the Alabama ca­reer touch­down record, and the No. 15 Crim­son Tide rolled past sev­en­thMichi­gan State, 49-7, in Or­lando in the most lop­sided Cap­i­tal One Bowl in his­tory.

The 2009 Heis­man Tro­phy win­ner had 59 yards rush­ing against the team he rooted for as a child, Greg McEl­roy threw for 220 yards and one touch­down and Alabama (10-3) pulled most of its starters in the third quar­ter. In­gram moved past Shaun Alexan­der’s mark with 42 ca­reer touch­downs.

The Crim­son Tide found the end zone on its first four pos­ses­sions, held the Spar­tans (11-2) to 171 to­tal yards and sacked Kirk Cousins four times.

The mar­gin of vic­tory topped East Texas State’s 33-0 vic­tory over Ten­nessee Tech in the 1953 game, then known as the Tan­ger­ine Bowl. The bowl dates from 1947.

GATOR BOWL: Chris Relf threw three touch­down passes, Vick Bal­lard ran for three scores and No. 21Mis­sis­sippi State over­whelmed Michi­gan, 52-14, in Jack­sonville, Fla.

The 38-point drub­bing was the worst bowl loss in Michi­gan’s sto­ried his­tory and may have sealed the fate of Wolver­ines Coach Rich Ro­driguez. His three­year ten­ure has been tainted by con­sec­u­tive los­ing sea­sons, NCAA sanc­tions and late-sea­son slides.

Michi­gan (7-6) was out of this game early, done in again by a de­fense that made a mid­dle-ofthe- South­east­ern Con­fer­ence of­fense look like a jug­ger­naut.

Relf and Bal­lard posed prob­lems all day. Relf com­pleted 18 of 23 passes for 281 yards, and added 49 yards on the ground. Bal­lard ran for 77 yards. The Bull­dogs (9-4) fin­ished with 485 yards and punted twice.

De­nard Robin­son, the Big Ten’s of­fen­sive player of the year, played ev­ery snap for Michi­gan and was dy­namic as usual. He threw for 256 yards and two touch­downs, and ran for 58 yards. But he re­ceived lit­tle help.

Now, he might get a new coach.

Michi­gan Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Dave Bran­don has not of­fered any pub­lic sup­port for Ro­driguez, who fell to 15-22 at Michi­gan and 1-11 against ranked teams. Bran­don has said he will eval­u­ate Ro­driguez af­ter the game. Spec­u­la­tion has been that he will fire Ro­driguez and try to hire Stan­ford Coach and for­mer Wolver­ines quar­ter­back JimHar­baugh to lead col­lege foot­ball’s win­ningest pro­gram.

Ro­driguez’s buy­out dropped from $4 mil­lion to $2.5 mil­lion Satur­day.

TICK­ETC­ITY BOWL: Tay­lor Potts threw for 369 yards and four touch­downs and scored an­other on a trick play, and Eric Stephens ran 86 yards for a touch­down to help Texas Tech close its first post-Mike Leach sea­son at a solid 8-5 with a 45-38 win over North­west­ern in Dal­las.

Tu­berville be­came the fourth coach to win a bowl game at three schools, hav­ing also done it at Auburn and Mis­sis­sippi.

North­west­ern (7-6) lost its eighth straight bowl game, ex­tend­ing a drought that dates from 1949.

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