JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Joshua Dobbs accounted for three touchdowns, Jalen Hurd ran for two scores and Tennessee beat Iowa 45-28 on Friday in the TaxSlayer Bowl for its first postseason victory since the Phillip Fulmer era.
The Volunteers (7-6) scored on their first four possessions, leading 28-0 before Iowa (7-6) managed 70 yards.
Hurd, Dobbs and a bit of trickery helped Tennessee build the big lead.
Hurd broke tackles on nearly every run, capping Tennessee’s first possession with a 3-yard score and adding a 29-yard touchdown scamper on the next drive.
Tennessee made it 21-0 late in the first quarter when Dobbs threw a lateral to running back Marlin Lane in the right flat. Lane, a senior from nearby Daytona Beach, turned and hit Vic Wharton in stride down the sideline.
It was a nice send-off for Lane, one of just a handful of Tennessee’s seniors.
But the victory, which was Tennessee’s first in the postseason since beating Wisconsin in the 2008 Outback Bowl, was more about the future. The Vols closed the season with four wins in their final five games, showing plenty of potential for one of the youngest teams in college football.
Second-year coach Butch Jones delivered the program’s first winning season since 2009.
Hurd, a freshman, had his fourth 100-yard game. He finished with 122 yards on 16 carries, the most yards rushing for any Tennessee player in a bowl game since Travis Henry ran for 180 against Kansas State in the 2001 Cotton Bowl.
Armed Forces Bowl
HOUSTON 35, PITTSBURGH 34: In Fort Worth, Texas, Greg Ward threw three touchdowns in the final 3:41 — two after Houston recovered onside kicks — and completed a game-winning 2-point conversion as the Cougars beat Pittsburgh with an improbable comeback.
Pitt (6-7) led 31-6 when ACC offensive player of the year James Conner had his second touchdown run with 14 minutes left in the game.
Houston (8-5) went on to the biggest comeback in an FBS game this season, and matched the third-largest ever in a bowl game.
Ward had an 8-yard TD pass to Deontay Greenberry before the Cougars recovered their first onside kick. That led to a 29-yard catch by Demarcus Ayers on a fourth-and-13 play with 1:58 left, and Houston tried another onside kick.
While the second one didn’t go 10 yards on the rain-slickened field, the ball was touched by the same Pitt defender who couldn’t handle the first one before Houston running back Kenneth Farrow jumped on it at the Cougars 43. Greenberry started the drive with a 38-yard catch, then on third-and-16 had a 25-yard TD with 59 seconds left.
Interim coach David Gibbs opted for a win-or-lose 2-point conversion try, and Greenberry made a leaping catch in the back corner of the end zone.
The Cougars’ new coach is Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman, who still has one more game with the Buckeyes after they upset top-ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to advance to the national championship game Jan. 12.
UCLA 40, KANSAS STATE 35: In San Antonio, quarterback Brett Hundley led No. 14 UCLA to a 31-6 halftime lead and the Bruins held off No. 11 Kansas State.
Kansas State (9-4) scored 22 of the first 25 points in the second half, cutting it to 34-28 on quarterback Jake Waters’ 1-yard run with 4:54 left.
Paul Perkins countered for UCLA (10-3) with a 67-yard run with 2:20 to go. Waters threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett with 1:21 left, but UCLA recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Perkins ran for 194 yards on 20 carries.
Lockett had 13 catches for 164 yards for Kansas State.
Waters was 31 of 48 for 338 yards, but was sacked seven times — twice by Butkus Award winner Eric Kendricks — and threw two interceptions and lost a fumble.
Hundley ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries and passed for 136 yards.