Keeping Score

C-USA Top 5: Louisville-Boise State thriller leads list of top bowl wins

Conference USA recently had its tie-in with the Liberty Bowl come to a close, but the league had a good run with the Memphis-based game.

C-USA came painfully close to breaking through with a BCS bowl bid on several occasions, but the Liberty Bowl provided a nice prize for the league's champion.

The best bowl victory in C-USA history also happens to be one of the most exciting bowl games in recent memory, the 2004 Liberty Bowl between Louisville and Boise State.

Louisville ended the Broncos' 22-game win streak with a 44-40 victory at Liberty Bowl Stadium.

Here are the top five bowl victories in C-USA history:

1. 2004 Liberty Bowl – Louisville 44, Boise State 40: This game pitted the C-USA champion against a Boise State team that entered the contest with a 11-0 record out of the WAC. In a game that set offensive records for the Liberty Bowl, it was an interception by Louisville safety Kerry Rhodes that put the game way. Louisville went 11-1 that season, its final in C-USA before making the move to the Big East.

2. 2001 Liberty Bowl – Louisville 28, Brigham Young 10: The Cougars started that season 12-0 and were ranked in the top 10 for much of November before falling to Hawaii in the final regular season contest. Louisville put on a dominant defensive performance, holding BYU to 276 yards, 300 short of its season average. Quarterback Dave Ragone threw for three scores as Louisville capped the season with an 11-2 record.

3. 2000 Mobile Alabama Bowl – Southern Miss 28, TCU 21: The season before TCU started its four-year stint in C-USA, the Horned Frogs found out how tough their new league would be. Southern Miss quarterback Jeff Kelly threw a touchdown to Kenny Johnson with 8 seconds left to pull off the upset a TCU team that entered the contest with a 10-1 record and ranked 13th. The Eagles did a good job of containing TCU running back LaDanian Tomlinson and carved up the nation's best defense. USM finished 8-4.

4. 1998 Liberty Bowl – Tulane 41, Brigham Young 27: The Green Wave completed its 12-0 season by beating a good Brigham Young squad that finished 9-5. The victory over BYU capped off a season that's likely the best in program history since it was a member of the SEC from 1932-66. Quarterback Shaun King was named the game's MVP.

5. 1997 Liberty Bowl – Southern Miss 41, Pittsburgh 7: This game makes the list because of the dominating performance against a quality opponent. Pittsburgh entered the game just 6-5, but it had impressive wins over West Virginia, Miami and Virginia Tech. Against USM that day in Memphis, Pittsburgh had no answer for the Golden Eagles. USM quarterback Lee Roberts threw three touchdowns to game MVP Sherrod Gideon and the Eagles had three defensive touchdowns by Perry Phenix, Terrance Parrish and Adalius Thomas.