GLENDALE, Ariz. — Baylor’s first BCS bowl appearance was a big-time bust.
The sixth-ranked Bears, a 17-point favorite in the Fiesta Bowl at kickoff, never led against No. 15 Central Florida in a stinging 52-42 loss Wednesday night.
This was supposed to be the most one-sided of all the BCS bowls this year, but UCF, not Baylor, had the unstoppable offense. The Bears did roll up 550 yards, but UCF had 556 and fewer mistakes.
The Knights (12-1) scored touchdowns on their first two possessions. Baylor (11-2) tied it at 28 with 10:18 left in the third quarter, but UCF outscored the Bears 24-14 from there in the highest-scoring Fiesta Bowl and second-highest BCS bowl ever.
The Bears were penalized 17 times for 135 yards to UCF’s four for 40 yards.
Bryce Petty completed 30-of-46 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns with one costly interception for Baylor. The Bears’ Lache Seastruck rushed for 117 yards on 17 carries.
UCF’s Blake Bortles was 20-of-31 for 301 yards and three TDs with two interceptions. He ran for a career-high 93 yards on just eight carries, including a touchdown. Storm Johnson gained 124 yards in 20 attempts for the Knights.
Petty’s 50-yard touchdown pass to Jay Lee set up the quarterback’s 1-yard TD run to cut the lead to 28-26 with 10:18 to play, then Petty ran up the middle for the 2-point conversion that tied it.
But as was the case all night, the Big 12 champion Bears couldn’t hold up on defense. A third-down pass interference penalty on Ahmad Dixon kept the UCF drive going, and on the play, Bortles threw 38 yards to Jeff Godfrey to the Baylor 16. On third-and-4, Bortles threw 10 yards to Breshad Perriman for the touchdown to put the Knights back on top, 35-28.
Bortles’ 15-yard run made it 42-28, but there was still 13:37 left. The Bears got a 9-yard touchdown run from Glasco Martin to cut it to 42-35 less than 2 minutes later.
Again, though, the Bears couldn’t stop UCF.
Johnson’s 40-yard touchdown run made it a two-TD game again with 10:26 to go, then Shawn Moffitt’s 44-yard field goal put the Knights up 52-35 with 4:44 to go. Petty’s 9-yard TD pass to Clay Fuller with under 2 minutes left cut it to 52-42, then UCF recovered the onside kick attempt and ran out the clock.
The Knights had turnovers on three consecutive plays in the second quarter but Baylor only got six points out of them. Eddie Lackey intercepted Bortles’ pass at the UCF 32 and, two plays later, Petty threw 30 yards to Levi Norwood for a touchdown, but a bobbled snap on the extra point led to a failed conversion and Central Florida still led 14-13.
Capital One Bowl
No. 8 South Carolina 34, No. 19 Wisconsin 24: At Orlando, Fla., Connor Shaw was responsible for five touchdowns, including three passing, and South Carolina outlasted Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.
The senior was selected the game MVP after picking apart the Badgers’ defense, completing 22 of 25 passes for 312 yards. Shaw also had rushing and receiving scores.
The game also turned out to be the final college contest for South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who said afterward that he would forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
South Carolina (11-2) won its third straight bowl game to cap its third straight 11-win season.
Bruce Ellington caught six passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
The Badgers (9-4) lost their fourth straight bowl game, failing to capitalize on 100-yard rushing games from both Melvin Gordon and James White, and struggling after quarterback Joel Stave left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. Backup Curt Phillips threw two interceptions.
No. 14 LSU 21, Iowa 14: At Tampa, Fla., Jeremy Hill ran for 216 yards and two touchdowns, helping LSU and inexperienced quarterback Anthony Jennings hold off Iowa in the Outback Bowl.
Craig Loston’s fourth-quarter interception stopped a potential tying drive, giving Hill a chance to put the game out of reach by carrying four times for 87 yards on a 92-yard march that gave LSU (10-3) a 21-7 lead.
Iowa (8-5) pulled within a touchdown after Jordan Cotton returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tigers 4.
Jennings rushed for one touchdown, but the freshman threw for only 82 yards and was intercepted once and sacked four times while standing in for the injured Zach Mettenberger in his first college start.
C.J. Beathard replaced Jake Rudock at quarterback for Iowa on the first play of the fourth quarter. His fourth-down interception stopped one promising drive, but he also tossed a 4-yard TD pass to Kevonte Martin-Manley that cut it 21-14 with 1:42 remaining.
Safety John Lowdermilk set up Iowa’s other TD — Mark Weisman’s 2-yard run in the third quarter — with an interception and 71-yard return to the 1. Officials initially ruled Lowdermilk, who was untouched on the return, scored. But the TD was reversed when a replay review determined the Iowa defender dropped the ball before crossing the goal line.
Nebraska 24, No. 23 Georgia 19: At Jacksonville, Fla., Tommy Armstrong Jr. connected with Quincy Enunwa for two touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in the third quarter, and Nebraska held to win a rain-soaked Gator Bowl.
Playing in their 50th bowl, the Cornhuskers (9-4) ended a four-game losing streak against teams from the Southeastern Conference. The streak included a 45-31 loss to Georgia in the Capital One Bowl last season.
The rematch was much different.
Nebraska did a solid job against running back Todd Gurley, who ran for 125 yards and a touchdown last year. Gurley finished with 86 yards on the ground.
Gurley was more effective in the passing game, catching seven passes for 97 yards and a score. His 25-yard scoring receptions on the first play of the fourth quarter cut Nebraska’s lead to 24-19.
But the Huskers stopped Georgia (8-5) twice on fourth down in the closing minutes. Rantavious Wooten and Arthur Lynch dropped fourth-down passes that ended drives in the red zone.
Georgia had a chance late.
Wooten dropped a fourth-and-2 pass at the 10-yard line with 4:42 remaining. Georgia got the ball back with 3:18 to play and marched toward the end zone. But Lynch couldn’t haul in a fourth-and-3 pass that would have moved the chains with about 25 seconds remaining.
Heart of Dallas Bowl
North Texas 36, UNLV 14: At Dallas, Derek Thompson threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns, Brelan Chancellor scored twice and North Texas dominated the second half to beat UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Both of Chancellor’s touchdown runs came in the fourth quarter after he keyed the go-ahead scoring drive in the third with some nifty footwork on a first-down catch. He had 121 yards combined rushing and receiving.
The Mean Green (9-4) were making their first postseason appearance since a 2004 New Orleans Bowl loss to Southern Miss and won a bowl for the first sice New Orleans in 2002.
UNLV (7-6) drove 95 yards for a touchdown on its opening possession but didn’t score again until the Mean Green were up 28-7 in the fourth quarter.