Joel Klatt saw his receiver streaking behind the defense, reared back and threw deep. Then, everything went blank. Klatt didn't realize what happened next until some teammates...

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HOUSTON — Joel Klatt saw his receiver streaking behind the defense, reared back and threw deep. Then, everything went blank.

Klatt didn’t realize what happened next until some teammates helped him off the turf a few seconds later.

“I couldn’t tell you happened,” Klatt said.

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The result was a winning, 39-yard touchdown pass to Evan Judge, helping Colorado to a 33-28 victory over Texas-El Paso in the Houston Bowl yesterday.

“The linemen told me (about the score),” he said, “when they picked me up.”

Klatt finished 24 of 33 for 333 yards and two touchdowns, and keyed a fourth-quarter comeback by the plodding Buffaloes (8-5), who tried to keep pace with UTEP, which is ranked eighth in the nation in scoring offense.

Colorado led 3-0 midway through the first quarter and trailed until seizing the lead late in the game.

Facing a fourth-and-three at its own 35 and trailing by two points, Colorado resorted to a bit of trickery. Punter John Torp hustled 22 yards around the left end on a fake punt for the first down.

“I guess we watched it too long because it worked,” said UTEP coach Mike Price, an Everett native and ex-Washington State head coach. “We should have maybe tackled the guy that was running.”

Two plays later, Klatt found Judge wide open for the go-ahead score with 8:43 left. Klatt was flattened by UTEP defensive end Ibok Ibok as he released the ball and didn’t see the touchdown. He got up off the turf slowly and wobbled off the field into the arms of celebrating teammates.

The Miners (8-4) still had a chance to win the game in the final minutes.

On third-and-four from the UTEP 25, Jordan Palmer completed a 15-yard pass to Johnnie Lee Higgins, keeping a late drive alive. But Palmer misfired badly on his final four passes, and the comeback try fizzled.

Colorado coach Gary Barnett was doused with Gatorade in the waning seconds, and dozens of players embraced their leader.

Colorado’s first bowl victory since the 1999 Insight.com Bowl capped an improbable turnaround for the Buffaloes, who went through an offseason of scandal and turmoil.

Barnett’s program was the target of sexual-assault claims dating to 1997, followed by an investigation that discovered sex, alcohol and drugs were used as recruiting tools, although there was no evidence that university officials sanctioned it. Then, Barnett was put on three months of administrative leave for making insensitive remarks about two accusers, including a former kicker who said she was raped by a teammate in 2000.

Barnett was reinstated May 28, and began building the foundation for a turnaround from a 5-7 record in 2003.

Colorado won its last three games of the season to earn a share of the Big 12 North title, and Barnett was voted the Big 12 coach of the year.

UTEP, which won two more games this season than in the previous three combined, has lost in all three bowl appearances since winning the 1967 Sun Bowl.

“Right to the very end, our guys were giving a big effort,” Price said. “This is a team that was picked to finish last and these guys have been browbeaten for three years. I’m very, very proud of them.”

No. 24 Ohio State drills Oklahoma State

SAN ANTONIO — Ohio State didn’t miss starting quarterback Troy Smith a bit.

Justin Zwick stepped in for the suspended Smith and threw for 189 yards and a touchdown, and Ted Ginn Jr. and Lydell Ross each scored, leading No. 24 Ohio State to a 33-7 victory over Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl.

“Justin did an excellent job and did what was asked of him,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. “I told someone that Justin was playing as best as he’s ever played.”

Ted Ginn Jr. caught six passes for 78 yards and rushed for another 51 yards and a touchdown.

Zwick completed 17 of 27 passes for 189 yards, and Ross rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries. Mike Nugent kicked four field goals for the Buckeyes (8-4).

Smith, who led Ohio State to victories in four of its last five games, was suspended by the team last week. University officials said he accepted an unspecified benefit from a team booster.

The Buckeyes took advantage of two early turnovers and never let the Cowboys (7-5) get anything going offensively.