The Charlotte 49ers’ future Conference USA foes went 3-3 in the 2013 bowl season. Here’s a recap of each of the six bowls involving C-USA teams.
New Orleans Bowl: La.-Lafayette 24, Tulane 21
In-state rivals Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane were up first as they did battle at the Superdome, a virtual home game for the Green Wave for all intents and purposes. The Ragin’ Cajuns scored the first 21 points of the game–capped by a Corey Trim 82-yard pick-six early in the second–before three straight rushing touchdowns by Orleans Darkwa eventually got it to a 21-21 tie. But Hunter Stover’s field goal with 9:56 left in the contest following a Nick Montana interception put the Cajuns up for good as they held on to win their third straight New Orleans Bowl and hand the Green Wave a loss in their final C-USA football game before moving to The American.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl: ECU 37, Ohio 20
It was the Pirates doing battle with the Bobcats of the Mid-American Conference in ECU’s final football game before heading to The American. Ohio would take a 20-17 lead with 13:34 left, but 20 unanswered ECU points–including two Vintavious Cooper TD runs–helped them to the win and saw their C-USA tenure come to a happy ending. Cooper ran for 198 yards and found the end zone twice on 25 carries in the senior’s final game in an ECU uniform.
Military Bowl: Marshall 31, Maryland 20
Despite the Terrapins playing just a half hour away from their College Park campus, the Thundering Herd was able to come out on top in this one.
Maryland held a 20-17 lead with 14:56 left before an Essray Taliaferro seven-yard score with 12:05 left gave Marshall a 24-20 lead. A Rakeem Cato eight-yard pass to Gator Hoskins provided the game’s final score. Cato ended the day 28 for 44 with 337 yards and three touchdowns.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Navy 24, Middle Tennessee 6
The Midshipmen’s triple-option attack proved to be too much for the Blue Raiders as they were gashed for 366 yards on the ground. Three different Navy players, led by QB Keenan Reynolds’ two (part of his twenty carry, 86-yard day), recorded rushing touchdowns as the Mids used a 14-point fourth quarter to turn a 10-6 lead to a 24-6 advantage. Navy, by the way, played much of the game without senior safety Wave Ryder, ejected after a controversial targeting call in the 2nd quarter.
Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State 44, Rice 7
The Conference USA champs traveled to Memphis, Tennessee to take on the Bulldogs in the Liberty Bowl.
Rice would take an early 7-0 lead as Charles Ross ran it in from a yard out. But that was the only bright moment for the Owls as they would have absolutely no answers on either side of the ball. Mississippi State took matters from there as they racked up 533 yards of total offense, led by quarterback Dak Prescott’s 17 for 28, 283 yard, three TD day through the air. As if that wasn’t enough for the sophomore, he tacked on 78 yards and two more touchdowns on the ground on 14 carries.
Heart of Dallas Bowl: North Texas 36, UNLV 14
The Mean Green took the roughly one-hour trip down I-35E to the Cotton Bowl to take on the Rebels with a chance to put Conference USA at .500 for the 2013 bowl season. UNLV took a 7-0 lead after Caleb Herring found Marcus Sullivan for a nine-yard touchdown, but North Texas scored twenty-eight unanswered points, including two touchdown passes by Derek Thompson, to take a 28-7 lead with 6:59 left in the contest to put it away. Brelan Chancellor added the other two NT scores on the ground.