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Fledgling FAU football program beats Memphis to win New Orleans Bowl

Fledgling FAU football program beats Memphis to win New Orleans Bowl

Rusty Smith threw for 336 yards and a New Orleans Bowl-record five touchdowns to lead Florida Atlantic to a 44-27 win over Memphis in college football Friday.
It was the first bowl game for FAU, which has had a football team for only seven seasons and didn't join the collegiate NCAA's Bowl Subdivision until 2005.
The game also marked another meaningful step for the young Sun Belt Conference. The league champion has now won three of seven New Orleans Bowls, including the past two by convincing margins, with Troy beating Rice 41-17 last year.
It wasn't the highest-profile bowl victory for FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger, who led Miami to the 1983 national championship with an Orange Bowl triumph over Nebraska.
He is now 5-0 in bowl games over his 23 seasons as a head coach. He won the 1980 Peach Bowl with Miami and two bowl games with Louisville.
Still, this one was special, given that he built FAU's football program from nothing, and is the only head coach the Owls have ever known. As the final minute ticked away, the 73-year-old was drenched by a bucket of ice water his players dumped over him in celebration _ but he didn't flinch.
Florida Atlantic started fast and never trailed. Smith had 102 yards passing and a pair of touchdown tosses in the first 10 minutes. His second gave FAU a 17-7 lead.
Memphis quarterback Martin Hankins helped the Tigers keep the game competitive into the second half, throwing for 283 yards and three touchdowns. The Tigers got as close as 30-27, but he left the game late in the third quarter with a right leg injury after getting tangled in players after releasing a pass.
College football's historical bowl system is used in lieu of a structured playoff series.
The Bowl Championship Series National Championship match is the most lucrative and designed to decide a national champion. This year's match will be between Ohio State and Lousiana State on Jan. 7.


Updated : 2020-11-30 04:40 GMT+08:00