For North Carolina, the crazy finish to the Music City Bowl was just another twist in a trying season that ended on a high note.
Tennessee had a much different viewpoint, and an all-too-familiar feeling.
Casey Barth kicked a 23-yard field goal in the second overtime to send North Carolina past Tennessee, 30-27, in Nashville, Tenn., in a game that will be remembered much more for the crazy finish of regulation than how it ended Thursday night.
The Vols thought they had capped coach Derek Dooley’s first season in Knoxville, Tenn., with a dramatic victory when the officials told them to return to the sideline and gave the Tar Heels one last chance to tie it in the fourth quarter.
“I’ve been involved in coaching for 37 years,” North Carolina coach Butch Davis said. “And when you stand on the sidelines, you get an opportunity to see an awful lot of bizarre things happen in a coaching career. This is going to have to be one of those games that I think ESPN Classic will probably be showing this 100 years from now.”
Barth kicked a 39-yard field goal after officials reviewed what had been the final play of the game and decided to penalize the Tar Heels (8-5) for having “more than 11 men” on the field. The Big Ten officiating crew also announced T.J. Yates had spiked the ball with 1 second left.
That allowed Barth to run out and kick the field goal that tied it at 20.
Barth’s winning kick completed a season marred by an NCAA investigation into agent-related benefits and academic misconduct that eventually forced 14 Tar Heels to miss at least one game. Seven missed the entire season.
Tennessee (6-7) was stunned at the sudden switch in the final seconds. Tyler Bray threw a 25-yard TD in the first overtime, but Quan Sturdivant picked him off to end the Vols’ last chance in the second OT.
Syracuse 36, Kansas St. 34
Delone Carter ran for 198 yards and two touchdowns, Marcus Sales caught three long TD passes and the Orange got some help from a celebration penalty on the Wildcats in the first Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
Adrian Hilburn slipped a tackle and raced to a 30-yard touchdown catch with 1:13 remaining to pull Kansas State within two. Hilburn saluted the crowd behind the visitor’s dugout and was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, which pushed the 2-point conversion attempt back to the 17-yard line.
Carson Coffman overthrew Aubrey Quarles in the end zone, and when Kansas State (7-6) couldn’t come up with the onside kick, Syracuse (8-5) won a bowl game for the first time since 2001.
Armed Forces Bowl
Army 16, SMU 14
Josh McNary scooped up a fumble and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, and the Black Knights held on to beat the Mustangs in Dallas for their first winning season since 1996.
Army (7-6) had a 16-0 halftime lead on SMU’s home field, then ran out the final 4 minutes after Matt Szymanski was wide left on a 47-yard field goal attempt that would have put the Mustangs ahead.
SMU (7-7) still hasn’t had consecutive winning seasons since resuming play in 1989.
TODAY’s BOWL GAMES
Meineke BOWL: Clemson (6-6) vs. South Florida (8-4)
WHEN: 9 a.m., ESPN. where: Charlotte, N.C.
the buzz: A matchup of two stout defenses and two mediocre offenses. Clemson has allowed just eight offensive TDs in its past seven games. USF closed the regular season with a win at Miami, which won by nine at Clemson.
the line: Clemson by 41/2. the pick: Clemson, 20-10.
SUN BOWL: Miami (7-5) vs. Notre Dame (7-5)
WHEN: 11 a.m., Ch. 7. where: El Paso, Texas.
the buzz: Miami will be led by interim coach Jeff Stoutland, who took over in that role when Randy Shannon was fired. The Irish overcame a 1-3 start and enter on a three-game winning streak. These teams last met in 1990.
the line: Miami by 3. the pick: Miami, 27-21.
LIBERTY BOWL: Georgia (6-6) vs. Central Florida (10-3)
WHEN: 12:30 p.m., ESPN. where: Memphis, Tenn.
the buzz: UCF, which has won eight of its past nine, rode a stout defense and a better-than-expected offense to the Conference USA title. Georgia has won five of its past seven and beat Georgia Tech in the regular-season finale to become bowl-eligible.
the line: Georgia by 61/2. the pick: Georgia, 24-20.
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL: Florida State (9-3) vs. South Carolina (9-4)
WHEN: 4:30 p.m., ESPN. where: Atlanta.
the buzz: Steve Spurrier goes against his old nemesis, but it won’t be the same without Bobby Bowden on FSU’s sideline. Both teams lost their league title games, FSU to Virginia Tech in the ACC and South Carolina to Auburn in the SEC. That SEC game also was in the Georgia Dome, meaning the Gamecocks will be playing back-to-back games at that stadium.
the line: South Carolina by 3. the pick: South Carolina, 28-20.