Bowl wrap-up: A&M 33-22 over Northwestern

Quarterback Ryan Tannehill OF THE Texas A&M Aggies rolls out looking for a receiver against Northwestern Wildcats at Reliant Stadium on December 31, 2011 in Houston, Texas.
Bob Levey/Getty Images

HOUSTON — Ryan Tannehill threw for 329 yards and a touchdown and Ben Malena ran for two more scores to lead Texas A&M to a 33-22 win over Northwestern on Saturday in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Northwestern led 7-3 early in the second quarter before A&M reeled off 27 straight points to take a decisive lead and then fight off a late rally to capture its first bowl victory since 2001.

Texas A&M broke a five-game bowl losing streak in a win the team dedicated to fired coach Mike Sherman and offensive lineman Joseph Villavisencio, who was killed in a car accident last week.

Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game since the 1949 Rose Bowl, a span of nine losses.

LIBERTY BOWL: Cincinnati 31, Vanderbilt 24

At Memphis, Tennessee, Isaiah Pead ran for 149 yards and a touchdown, while Ralph David Abernathy IV's 90-yard kickoff return early in the fourth quarter put Cincinnati ahead to stay.

The Bearcats (10-3) capped the season with their third straight victory.

But the co-Big East Conference champs had to work to put away Vanderbilt (6-7), a team that tied for fourth in the Southeastern Conference, despite forcing three turnovers and coming up with two sacks. The Commodores led 21-17 when Abernathy became the first Cincinnati player to return a kickoff for a TD in the program's 13 bowl appearances.

SUN BOWL: Utah 30, Georgia Tech 27, OT

At El Paso, Texas, John White plowed into the end zone from 8 yards out to give Utah a victory over Georgia Tech.

Justin Moore kicked a 34-yard field goal in Georgia Tech's overtime possession to take a three-point lead, but White finished a 115-yard rushing day with the game-winning score on his 26th carry.

The Utes (8-5) tied it in regulation when Jon Hays hit DeVonte Christopher with a 28-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-14 with 1:32 left in the fourth quarter.

Hays went 15 for 31 for 193 yards.


At San Francisco, Terry Hawthorne returned an interception 39 yards for Illinois' first touchdown late in the third quarter as Illini snapped a six-game losing streak.

Nathan Scheelhaase added a 60-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Jenkins midway through the fourth quarter to seal the first victory for Illinois (7-6) since beating Indiana 12 weeks ago.

The game between two six-win teams who have already fired their head coaches matched the underwhelming expectations as there was little excitement before Hawthorne's third-quarter touchdown that gave Illinois its first lead.

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL: Auburn 43, Virginia 24

At Atlanta, Onterio McCalebb scored on a 3-yard run and 25-yard pass while subbing for suspended star running back Mike Dyer as Auburn beat Virginia in its highest scoring game of the season.

Auburn won despite losing quarterback Clint Moseley to an ankle injury early in the first quarter.

Auburn (8-5) also had big plays on special teams, blocking two punts and recovering an onside kick.

Kris Burd caught two touchdown passes for Virginia (8-5).

One year after winning the national championship — and losing Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton — Auburn absorbed lopsided losses to LSU, Georgia and Alabama in the second half of the regular season.