NEW ORLEANS — Ohio State players facing five-game suspensions next season would not have traveled with the team to the Sugar Bowl if they had not pledged to return in 2011, coach Jim Tressel said Thursday.
The five players, including quarterback Terrelle Pryor, have been punished by the NCAA for selling championship rings and memorabilia and taking discounts from a tattoo parlor.
Tressel said he wanted to make sure that the players wouldn't "skirt the consequences" by playing in the Sugar Bowl then declaring for the NFL draft.
"We told them they would have to make the decision on the NFL prior to leaving for the bowl game," Tressel said at his first Sugar Bowl news conference. "It wouldn't be fair to not face the consequences down the road."
Tressel says their playing time will hinge only on how they practice and fit into the game plan.
The other players are tailback Dan Herron, offensive tackle Mike Adams, receiver DeVier Posey and defensive end Solomon Thomas. Tressel said he told them not to speak about the NCAA "issue" during Sugar Bowl week because of their pending appeal of the sanctions.
UNC cashes in review, tops Tennessee in OT
NASHVILLE — Casey Barth's 23-yard field goal in the second overtime sent North Carolina past Tennessee 30-27 in a Music City Bowl that will be remembered for the crazy finish of regulation.
Barth, whose brother Connor kicks for the Bucs, made a 39-yard field goal after officials reviewed what the Vols believed was the final play of regulation. They decided to penalize the Tar Heels (8-5) for having "more than 11 men" on the field (as they ran the field goal unit on then off the field). They also determined T.J. Yates spiked the ball with one second left.
The ball moved from the 18 to the 23, but Barth made the kick that tied it at 20. Angry fans tossed bottles and other trash onto the field.
Tyler Bray threw a 25-yard touchdown in the first overtime for the Vols. But Quan Sturdivant picked him off in the second, setting up Barth's winner.
On Oct. 2, Tennessee (6-7) was called for too many on the field in the final seconds. That gave LSU a second chance, and it scored to win 16-14.
Said Vols coach Derek Dooley "It was chaos again."
Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse got help from a celebration penalty to beat Kansas State 36-34 at Yankee Stadium in New York.
Down 36-28, the Wildcats' Adrian Hilburn caught a pass, slipped a tackle and raced 30 yards for a score with 1:13 left. He dropped the ball, saluted the crowd and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, pushing the two-point conversion to the 17.
Carson Coffman overthrew Aubrey Quarles in the end zone, and when Kansas State (7-6) couldn't come up with an onside kick, Syracuse (8-5) won a bowl game for the first time since 2001.
Referee Todd Geerlings said Hilburn's celebration was delayed, excessive and choreographed.
"These kind of excessive celebrations have been a priority in the rule book for the last several years," he said.
Hilburn said an official told him, "Wrong choice, buddy."
"That kind of crushes it for me," Hilburn said. "I don't feel like it's a great game to end that way."
Armed Forces Bowl: Josh McNary returned a fumble 55 yards for a score in Army's 16-14 win over SMU, ensuring its first winning season since 1996. The Knights (7-6) led 16-0 at halftime on SMU's homefield then ran out the final four minutes after Matt Szymanski missed a 47-yard go-ahead field goal for SMU (7-7). "They've brought something back to West Point that has been absent," Army coach Rich Ellerson said of his 25 seniors. "It will flourish there because of the culture these guys have created."
Late Wednesday: Justin Blackmon had nine catches for 117 yards, including a 71-yard score he prolonged by trotting along the goal line, as No. 16 Oklahoma State (11-2) ripped Arizona (7-6) 36-10 in the Alamo Bowl at San Antonio, Texas. "I just wanted to have a little fun," said Blackmon, who set an NCAA record with 12th straight games with 100 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Michigan: Backup quarterback Tate Forcier was declared ineligible for the Gator Bowl for not meeting university standards, the school announced, without going into specifics. Forcier told the Detroit Free Press he has struggled academically
Mississippi St.: Coach Dan Mullen, a former Florida offensive coordinator who is 13-11 in two seasons, agreed to a new contract that will pay him $10.6 million over the next four years.
Oregon: Heisman finalist LaMichael James, I-A's leading rusher this season as a sophomore, said he will return next season.