Louisiana State can trace the beginning of its 2005 resurrection to a first-time starting quarterback who turned a possible nightmare into a fairy tale, leading the Tigers to a 40-3 victory Friday in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Wright ran the stuffed bootleg in search of that yard without looking up at Greg Olsen, LSU quarterback Matt Flynn took over with 14:39 left in the second quarter and the Tigers scored 37 consecutive points to put a dagger through Miami's heart.
Immediately after the game, as UM and LSU converged near the tunnel leading to their locker rooms, a fight ensued between a few UM and LSU players, resulting in Miami offensive lineman Andrew Bain and wide receiver Khalil Jones being knocked unconscious, according to a contrite UM coach Larry Coker.
The crowd, which was waiting for the on-field trophy ceremony, booed heartily. Miami police escorts were seen flanking Bain and briskly walking him away from the scene.
"I don't know all the details of what happened after the game but certainly we don't condone activities such as that," UM coach Larry Coker said after officials had closed the usually open UM locker room. "That certainly detracts from a great bowl game and what the spirit of college football is all about."
Athletic director Paul Dee said regardless of the cause of the altercation, he was sorry on behalf of UM and called it "Inappropriate. We're sorry and apologize to the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl for anything that happened."
What happened to UM on the field was equally depressing to its fans.
At one point, the Hurricanes went 40 minutes without getting a first down, and generated 2 yards of offense in the second half - 153 yards in all.
The loss, witnessed by 65,620 spectators garbed mostly in purple and gold, was Miami's worst in a bowl game and worst in any game since a 66-13 loss at Syracuse on November 28, 1998. It was the largest margin of victory for a Peach Bowl, which dates back to 1968.
Miami fell to 9-3, while ninth-ranked LSU finished 11-2.
"I'm the head football coach of the University of Miami and I want to certainly take responsibility for the poor play this evening," Coker said. "LSU did an outstanding job and met their part of the bargain. They showed up. We didn't respond."
LSU played its best game of the season with a sophomore mop-up quarterback who was thrust into the starting role because talented starter JaMarcus Russell was injured December 3 and never made the trip. UM disintegrated.
UM's fearsome defense, ranked No. 1 most of this season and No. 3 going into the Peach Bowl, was missing in action. The Hurricanes gave up 198 yards in the fateful second quarter, and 468 yards in total - 196 through Flynn's passing (13 of 22 and two touchdowns) and 272 on the ground.
The Tigers' Joseph Addai ran for 130 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, and teammate Craig Davis caught five passes for 99 yards and a touchdown. Miami Norland High graduate Dwayne Bowe added three catches for 51 yards.
"I'm thrilled for this football team," LSU coach Les Miles said. "They come into the final game of the season with a new quarterback, a very capable, confident young man. And they controlled the line of scrimmage for him and played dominant defense."
Virginia 34, Minnesota 31
Connor Hughes kicked a 39-yard field goal with 1:08 left, and quarterback Marques Hagans helped Virginia overcome a 14-point deficit to beat Minnesota 34-31 Friday in the Music City Bowl.
Minnesota (7-5) appeared on the verge of dominating the Cavaliers and winning this bowl for the third time in four years, but the nation's fifth-best college gridiron football 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 game for Virginia. It was the Cavaliers' first bowl win since the 2003 Continental Tire Bowl over Pittsburgh.
No. 17 UCLA 50, Northwestern 38
In 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 No. 17 UCLA to a 50-38 win over Northwestern in the Sun Bowl.
With 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.
Missouri 38, South Carolina 31
In Shreveport, Louisiana, Brad Smith ran for three touchdowns - including a 1-yarder in the final minutes - and passed for another to rally the Missouri Tigers for a 38-31 victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Independence Bowl.
Smith, who rushed for 1,151 yards and passed for 2,022 this season, accounted for 431 yards of Missouri's 504 yards as the Tigers staged their biggest comeback victory of the year.
Missouri (7-5) trailed 21-0 after the first quarter as Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks dominated the first half. South Carolina (7-5) outgained Missouri 312 yards to 174 in the first half and held the football almost 11 minutes longer (20:02-9:58)
Smith completed 21 of 37 passes for 282 yards, with one touchdown and an interception. He passed for 200 or more yards for the 18th time. He also ran for 150 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries.