SAN DIEGO (AP) — Adoree’ Jackson scored on a 98-yard kickoff return and a 71-yard pass from Cody Kessler, and No. 24 Southern California blew most of an 18-point, third-quarter lead before beating No. 25 Nebraska 45-42 in the Holiday Bowl on Saturday night.
Kessler completed 23 of 39 yards for 321 yards and three touchdowns for USC (9-4), which was playing Nebraska (9-4) in a bowl game for the first time.
The Trojans took a 45-27 lead after Kessler threw a 20-yard scoring pass to Bryce Dixon with 2:03 left in the third quarter.
Armstrong brought the Huskers back with a 65-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Westerkamp with 24 seconds left in the third quarter and then a 15-yard keeper with 6:52 left in the game. His 2-point conversion pass to Kenny Bell pulled Nebraska to 45-42.
USC held De’Mornay Pierson to a 1-yard gain on a pass from Armstrong on fourth-and-3 from the USC 31 with 2 1/2 minutes left.
Armstrong completed 32 of 51 passes for 381 yards and three TDs, with one interception.
USC had 515 yards of total offense and Nebraska finished with 525.
Kessler tied the USC single-season record of 39 touchdown passes set by Matt Barkley in 2011.
Barney Cotton coached Nebraska, which fired Bo Pelini on Nov. 30. New coach Mike Riley watched from a skybox.
USC’s Javorius Allen gained 152 yards on 26 carries and scored on runs of 2 and 44 yards.
After Nebraska’s Drew Brown kicked a 34-yard field goal early in the first quarter, Jackson caught the kickoff at the 2 and ran it up the right sideline for the longest kickoff return in Holiday Bowl history.
His 71-yard TD on a catch-and-run came on the first play from scrimmage after Nebraska punted on its first possession of the second half. He caught a short pass from Kessler and weaved through defenders to give USC a 31-17 lead.
PENN STATE 31, BOSTON COLLEGE 30, OT
NEW YORK (AP) — Christian Hackenberg threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Carter in overtime and Penn State kicked the extra point that Boston College could not, lifting the Nittany Lions past the Eagles in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
The Nittany Lions (7-6) played in a bowl game for the first time since January 2012 after the NCAA lifted the most severe sanctions levied against the program in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
Penn State’s Sam Ficken used retired New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter’s locker and some of his clutch postseason play appeared to rub off on the kicker. He sent it to overtime with a 45-yard field goal with 20 seconds left in regulation and won it with his extra point.
Tyler Murphy hit David Dudeck with a 21-yard touchdown pass on Boston College’s drive to open overtime. Mike Knoll shanked the extra point for the Eagles (7-6) and that was the opening Penn State needed to complete its comeback from a 21-7 deficit late in the third quarter.
NO. 15 ARIZONA STATE 36, DUKE 31
EL PASO, Texas (AP) — Kalen Ballage returned a kickoff 96 yards to set up the winning score Arizona State’s victory over Duke in the Sun Bowl.
Ballage’s big return came after Duke (9-4) took a 31-30 lead on receiver Jamison Crowder’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Blakeney with 5:03 left.
On the kickoff, Ballage took the ball near the goal line and went straight up the right hash for about 15 yards before picking up a block and cutting to his right. He was pushed out of bounds at the 4.
On the next play, Demario Richard took a shovel pass from Taylor Kelly and bulled his way over the left side and into the end zone. Kelly was stopped on the 2-point conversion try.
Duke drove to 14 on its final drive, but Anthony Boone’s third-and-10 pass was intercepted by Kweishi Brown in the end zone with 45 seconds left.
Richard had four touchdowns for Arizona State (10-3) to tie the Sun Bowl record with 24 points.
SOUTH CAROLINA 24, MIAMI 21
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — Dylan Thompson threw for 294 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score in South Carolina’s victory over Miami in the Independence Bowl.
Pharoh Cooper was Thompson’s favorite target, catching nine passes for 170 yards, including a spectacular 25-yard grab on the decisive drive late in the fourth quarter.
Thompson completed 22 of 34 passes.
South Carolina (7-6) has won a school-record four straight bowl games. Miami (6-7) ended the season on a four-game losing streak and hasn’t won in the postseason since 2006.
Miami’s Duke Johnson ran for 132 yards and caught five passes for 51 yards, but his costly fumble with a little more than 5 minutes remaining set up South Carolina’s winning drive.
Miami’s Brad Kaaya threw for 236 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
VIRGINIA TECH 33, CINCINNATI 17
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — J.C. Coleman ran for 157 yards and a touchdown, and Virginia Tech harassed and ultimately injured Cincinnati quarterback Gunner Kiel in the Military Bowl.
Virginia Tech (7-6) knocked Kiel out of the game in the third quarter during a play that virtually assured the Hokies a 22nd consecutive winning season.
Deon Clarke sacked Kiel and forced a fumble at the Cincinnati 43. Nigel Williams picked up the ball and fumbled at the 12, where Greg Stroman scooped it up and took it into the end zone for a 27-10 lead.
Kiel remained down for several minutes and was helped off the field and taken to the locker room. The 6-foot-4 sophomore did not return, and without him Cincinnati (9-4) had little chance to mount a comeback.
Kiel finished 14 for 26 for 244 yards.
Michael Brewer went 14 for 24 for 94 yards and a touchdown for the Hokies. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer worked in the upstairs coaching box to avoid the risk of infection during his recovery from throat surgery.