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 BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -Ben Mauk and No. 20 Cincinnati spoiled Jeff Bower's farewell.
Mauk passed for 334 yards and four touchdowns, and DeAngelo Smith intercepted three passes Saturday, leading the Bearcats to a 31-21 victory over Southern Miss and its outgoing coach in the Papajohns.com Bowl.
The victory gave Cincinnati (10-3) its second 10-win season and first since 1951, while virtually assuring a spot in the final rankings for the first time.
Mauk completed 30 of 52 passes and overcame three interceptions to become only the third Bearcats player to have a 3,000-yard passing season. It was a nice finish for the former Wake Forest starter and for first-year Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly, but a difficult one for Southern Miss (7-6) and Bower.
It was the final game for Bower after 17 seasons at his alma mater, a stay that ranks behind only that of Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden and Frank Beamer among current coaches. Bower was forced to resign after a disappointing regular season, leading to the hiring of Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Larry Fedora.
Damion Fletcher provided most of the offense for Southern Miss. He ran 29 times for 155 yards against a defense that came in allowing just 106 yards on the ground. He also caught seven passes for 50 yards.
New Mexico Bowl
New Mexico 23, Nevada 0
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Paul Baker ran for 167 yards in his first start, and Donovan Porterie threw for career-high 354 yards and two touchdowns to help New Mexico end a 46-year skid without a postseason victory.
The Lobos (9-4) also gave 10th-year coach Rocky Long his first bowl win in five tries. It was New Mexico's first bowl victory since beating Western Michigan 28-12 in the 1961 Aviation Bowl at Dayton, Ohio. The Lobos also notched a nine-win season for just the fourth time in school history.
New Mexico's defense also delivered just the second shutout loss for Nevada's Hall of Fame coach, Chris Ault. The Wolf Pack (6-7) hadn't gone scoreless since losing 10-0 to Weber State on Sept. 27, 1980, a span of 329 games - the longest current streak in college football and the second longest in history.
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