TAMPA, Fla. – Erik Ainge ensured No. 16 Tennessee wouldn’t leave the Outback Bowl with another disappointing loss.

Capping a roller coaster career, the Volunteers star threw for 365 yards and two touchdowns Tuesday to pace a 21-17 victory that stopped No. 18 Wisconsin from joining Michigan as the only Big Ten team to beat Southeastern Conference opponents in bowl games three consecutive seasons.

A month after having an interception returned for the winning score in a 21-14 loss to LSU in the SEC championship game, Ainge completed 25 of 43 passes without a turnover to win MVP honors and help the Vols (10-4) erase unpleasant memories of a 10-point loss to Penn State in last year’s Outback game.

Antonio Wardlow sealed Tennessee’s first 10-win season since 2004 when he intercepted Tyler Donovan’s deep throw intended for Paul Hubbard in the end zone in the final minute. The Vols also thwarted another fourth-quarter drive by stopping Wisconsin on downs at the Tennessee 10.

Receiver Gerald Jones took a direct snap from center and scored on a 3-yard run, then Ainge tossed TD passes of 29 yards to Josh Briscoe and 31 yards to Brad Cottam to help Tennessee build a 21-7 lead.

Donovan’s 4-yard TD to Andy Crooks trimmed Wisconsin’s deficit to 21-14 at the half. The Badgers (9-4) pulled within four on Taylor Mehlhaff’s 27-yard field goal in the closing seconds of the third quarter.

Donovan completed 14 of 24 passes for 155 yards. P.J. Hill returned to Wisconsin’s offense after sitting out two games and missing part of two others, running for 132 yards on 16 carries.

Gator Bowl

Texas Tech 31, No. 21 Virginia 28

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Alex Trlica kicked a 41-yard field goal with 7 seconds left to give Texas Tech a come-from-behind victory over the No. 21 Cavaliers.

Tech overcame pivotal penalties and a fumble to come back from a 28-14 fourth quarter deficit. Its aggressive pass offense couldn’t score much for three quarters, but Graham Harrell still managed to completed 44 of 69 passes for 407 yards, all records, plus three TDs.

The comeback started when Harrell found Michael Crabtree for a touchdown – despite an interference call.

Tech scored its next touchdown after knocking the ball out of backup Virginia quarterback Peter Lalich’s hands at the 4 yard line. Tech recovered and Aaron Crawford’s 4-yard run a play later tied it at 28.

The Red Raiders overcame a tremendous effort by Virginia tailback Mikell Simpson, who ran for 170 yards on 20 carries – including a NCAA bowl-record 96-yard TD run – and caught another touchdown.

Virginia’s offense wasn’t the same after losing Jameel Sewell at the start of the fourth quarter. His statistics weren’t outstanding – 14-of-23 passing for 78 yards and a TD – but he commanded the offense well.


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