Giving Paul Smith and the nation's top-rated offense extra chances can lead to disaster - and a flurry of points. Just ask Bowling Green.
Smith had his NCAA-record 14th consecutive 300-yard passing game, and Tulsa converted four fumble recoveries into first-half touchdowns on the way to a 63-7 romp over the Falcons in the GMAC Bowl on Sunday night.
It was the largest margin of victory in bowl history, topping Alabama's 61-6 win over Syracuse in the 1953 Orange Bowl.
With all the help, the Golden Hurricane (10-4) ran up a 35-0 halftime lead and capped coach Todd Graham's first season by reaching 10 wins for the first time since 1991. Tulsa had never managed more than 31 points in 14 previous bowl games.
``We did exactly what we set out to do, so it was an incredible win,'' Graham said. ``I'll never forget this year. It's going to give us something to build on.''
They'll do it without the departing Smith, who passed for 312 yards and five touchdowns, the last with 3:22 left in the blowout. He broke the record of 13 300-yard efforts in a row he shared with BYU's Ty Detmer, whose streak stretched over the 1989 and 1990 seasons.
Smith and Tarrion Adams joined Houston's David Klingler and Chuck Weatherspoon as the NCAA's only 5,000-yard passing and 1,000-yard rushing tandem.
Tulsa outgained Bowling Green (8-5) 562-229 in total yards.
Adams scored touchdowns running, passing and receiving before halftime and ran for 112 yards. Trae Johnson caught two scoring passes in the most lopsided bowl game this season, with only the national championship game remaining.
Bowling Green, which had won four consecutive bowl games, lost three fumbles in its own territory in the first quarter and never recovered.
``I don't know what happened,'' Falcons coach Gregg Brandon said. ``It was just one of those nights. You can't turn the ball over (three) times in the first quarter against a great team like Tulsa and expect to win. We were out of it before we were in it.''
Taking matters from awful to worse, quarterback Tyler Sheehan was helped off the field with a sprained left ankle with 24 seconds left in the first half and didn't return. He came out of the locker room on crutches. Sheehan passed for 141 yards and ran for another 21.
For Tulsa, all that was left were the records.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Golden Hurricane became the first team in NCAA history to have a 5,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and three 1,000-yard receivers. Smith came in needing 247 yards along with 45 yards receiving from Charles Clay, who reached the milestone with several catches midway through the fourth quarter and finished with 11 for 69 yards.
``They told me a couple of numbers on the sidelines, but I don't think they wanted me thinking about it that much,'' said Smith, the seventh Division I passer to reach 5,000 yards in a season. ``But we know how special that is. We wanted that as a team and as an offense.''
Graham said he told Brandon after the game that he wasn't trying to run the score up.
``They were trying to get records, I guess,'' the Bowling Green coach said. ``I don't have any comment about that. We've got to stop whatever they do, run or pass.''
The Mid-American Conference had won five of six GMAC Bowls before the Falcons' fall.
Down 42-0, Bowling Green finally got something to cheer about. Roger Williams scored on a 78-yard kick return early in the third quarter for the Falcons' only points.
Bowling Green twice drove inside Tulsa's 10 before the half, but had the drives stall on a fumble and a failed fourth-down play.
``To go out there and shut out a team that puts up 32 points a game was absolutely incredible,'' Graham said. ``We blitzed early a lot. We created some turnovers and wreaked some havoc out there. We wanted to take the issue to them.''
The Tulsa defensive players also took umbrage at pre-game predictions of a shootout.
``We took that personally,'' linebacker Alain Karatepeyan said. ``They said it was going to be kind of like a tennis match, everybody looking back and forth.''
Tulsa's offense did its part, at least. Everything from halfback passes to reverses and fake field goals were working for the Golden Hurricane.
Tulsa's first scoring drive was kept alive by a fake field goal on fourth-and-2. Holder Paul Jurado flipped a shovel pass to Chris Chamberlain for a first down. In more trickery, Adams threw for a 4-yard touchdown to Kyle Grooms on a halfback pass a minute into the second to push it to 28-0. Smith added a 19-yarder to Adams before the half.
Smith wasn't exactly satisfied.
``I was actually disappointed at halftime that we didn't play better on offense,'' he said. ``I guess that's just being a perfectionist.''
Bowling Green defensive tackle Sean O'Drobinak said Tulsa's offense offered few surprises, not that it mattered.
``We knew everything they were going to run before they ran it,'' he said. ``It was just stopping it. We had a hard time all night stopping it.''
The game, which used to be played in mid-December, was moved two years ago in attempt to piggyback for attention on the BCS national championship the following day.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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