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THERE'S JUST NO SUNSHINE FOR VIRGINIA IN FLORIDA

Virginia is still 0 for Florida. Better make that woe for Florida.

Quarterback Kurt Kittner ran for a score, threw two touchdown passes and caught another one as Illinois crushed the Cavaliers, 63-21, Thursday night in the Micronpc.com Bowl.

The loss was Virginia's fifth in five bowl games in Florida.

Illinois capped a remarkable turnaround under third-year coach Ron Turner. The Illini went 0-11 two years ago, finished 3-8 last season and went 8-4 this year. After the game, several Illini players jumped into the stands to celebrate with their fans.

"I told the guys it's not the end, it's the beginning," Turner said.

Illinois scored nine touchdowns on 13 possessions. The defense held Virginia's Thomas Jones, the nation's No. 3 rusher, to 110 yards on the ground. And on special teams, the Illini blocked two punts that set up touchdowns.

"I have no explanation," said Virginia coach George Welsh, whose team finished 7-5. "I'm embarrassed by that performance; I'm absolutely bewildered. We got whacked on defense, then it was a snowball running downhill.

"I'd like to burn the tape, but I'm going to make them watch it in January. Maybe it will be incentive for the winter program. This was bad. It takes a lot away from the season when you end up like that."

Virginia, which had a three-game winning streak snapped, continued its futility in Florida bowl games. In addition to Thursday's loss, the Cavaliers have lost twice in the Carquest Bowl (1994 and 1996), once in the Gator Bowl (1991) and once in the Citrus Bowl (1990).

"They're not as good as we made them look tonight," Jones said.

Defense wins for Bulldogs

ATLANTA -- No. 15 Mississippi State used its smothering defense and just enough offense to push past Clemson, 17-7, in the Peach Bowl.

The Bulldogs (10-2) had only gotten a 39-yard field goal by Scott Westerfield when quarterback Wayne Madkin bounced in for a 2-yard touchdown run with 11:40 to go.

And the defense, which held Clemson (6-6) to its lowest point total this season, made it hold up the rest of the way with five interceptions and a fumble as Mississippi State finished with 10 victories for the second time in school history.

Madkin finished 17 of 38 for 176 yards.

Victory before home folks

BOISE, Idaho -- Boise State defeated Louisville, 34-31, in the Humanitarian Bowl, giving the Broncos a victory in their first Division I-A bowl game.

Brock Forsey rushed for 152 yards and Bart Hendricks threw for 335 yards and a score for the Broncos (10-3), who are in just their fourth season in college football's top division. Boise State rolled up 533 yards of offense, while Louisville had 403.

"I didn't expect to have this good of a game," Forsey said. "I knew I'd do a good job running the ball, but I have to give a lot of credit to the offensive line. They opened a lot of holes for me."

Frank Moreau ran for 111 yards and one touchdown for Louisville (7-5). Record-setting quarterback Chris Redman completed 26 of 47 passes for 314 yards and a pair of touchdowns and three interceptions in his final game. Kareem Williams intercepted Redman's pass with 46 seconds to play to sew up the victory for Boise State.

"You can't judge your career on one throw," Redman said. "There are other things in life bigger and better."

The Cards limited their chances by committing 14 penalties for 120 yards.

"We just needed to do things better," coach John L. Smith said. "We made coaching mistakes. That's a lot of it, but offensively, we turned it over and that hurt us. Defensively, we were not able to stop them when we needed to."

Pac-10 hoping Sun shines

The Pacific-10 Conference, which went 1-5 in bowl games last season, is 0-3 in 1999. Oregon (8-3) gets a chance to break that streak today against No. 12 Minnesota (8-3) in the Sun Bowl at El Paso, Texas (2:15 p.m., Ch. 4).

Pac-10 teams lost twice on Christmas Day (Arizona State to Wake Forest in the Aloha and Oregon State to Hawaii in the Oahu), and Washington fell against Kansas State in Wednesday night's Holiday Bowl. After today, the Pac-10's last chance is Stanford in Saturday's Rose Bowl against Wisconsin.

The high-flying Ducks, who average 35.1 points per game, are playing in their fifth bowl game in the last six years. It's Minnesota's first postseason appearance since 1986, its best season in 32 years and its highest ranking in 37 seasons.

Three other games are on today's bowl menu:

In Tucson, Ariz., No. 25 Boston College (8-3) faces Colorado (6-5) in the Insight.com Bowl (1:30 p.m., ESPN). The Eagles rose from mediocrity this season after going 4-7 in each of coach Tom O'Brien's first two years in Boston.

The Buffaloes won three of their last five games this season but ended the campaign with a 33-30 overtime loss to No. 3 Nebraska, which Colorado was poised to defeat until Jeremy Aldrich, the most accurate kicker in school history, missed a 34-yard field goal.

No. 16 Southern Mississippi (8-3) wants to erase a bad memory in today's Liberty Bowl against Colorado State (8-3) in Memphis (5 p.m., ESPN).

The Golden Eagles, playing in their second straight bowl game, went to Boise, Idaho, last year and wound up losing, 42-35, to underdog Idaho in the Humanitarian Bowl.

Oklahoma (7-4) will play in its first bowl game since 1994 when it meets Mississippi (7-4) in the Independence Bowl at Shreveport, La. (8:30 p.m., ESPN).

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