1996 Liberty Bowl

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1996 St. Jude Liberty Bowl
1234 Total
Houston 7703 17
Syracuse 79014 30
DateDecember 27, 1996
StadiumLiberty Bowl Memorial Stadium
LocationMemphis, Tennessee
MVPMalcolm Thomas, Syracuse RB
United States TV coverage
Liberty Bowl
 < 1995  1997

The 1996 Liberty Bowl was a college football bowl game between the Houston Cougars and the Syracuse Orangemen.


Syracuse, who had finished as co-champion of the Big East Conference (alongside Virginia Tech and Miami, who went to the Carquest and Orange Bowl, respectively), was invited to play in the Liberty Bowl, their first Liberty Bowl since 1961. This was their fifth bowl game in the decade, and 8th in the past 10 seasons.[1] As for Houston, they had finished as co-champion of Conference USA (along with Southern Miss) in the inaugural year of the conference. This was their first bowl game since 1988.

Game summary[edit]

The game found two future first rounders and Super Bowl participants: Syracuse's Donovan McNabb and Houston's Antowain Smith. Although only completing four of ten pass attempts, McNabb rushed for 49 yards and two touchdowns. Smith rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown, as well as receiving for 44 yards and a touchdown. Orangemen running back Malcolm Thomas ran for 201 yards and a touchdown earning MVP honors.[2][3]

Scoring summary[edit]

  • Syracuse - Donovan McNabb 1 yard touchdown run (Trout kick) – 13:16 remaining in the 1st quarter
  • Houston - Justin Davis 21 yard touchdown pass from Chuck Clements (Villarreal kick) – 11:48 remaining in the 1st quarter
  • Syracuse - Rob Konrad 2 yard touchdown run (Trout kick) – 9:02 remaining in the 2nd quarter
  • Syracuse - Team safety (snap sailed over the head of punter Ignacio Sauceda, landing in the end zone) – 3:58 remaining in the 2nd quarter
  • Houston - Justin Davis 3 yard touchdown run (Villarreal kick) – 0:30 remaining in the 2nd quarter
  • Syracuse - Donovan McNabb 2 yard touchdown run (Trout kick) – 13:52 remaining in the 4th quarter
  • Houston - Sebastian Villarreal 23 yard field goal – 10:50 remaining in the 4th quarter
  • Syracuse - Malcolm Thomas 6 yard touchdown run (Trout kick) – 5:29 remaining in the 4th quarter


Statistics Syracuse Houston
First Downs 25 13
Rushing Yards 396 124
Passing Yards 76 217
Passing (C-A-I) 4-10-0 14-28-1
Total Offense 472 341
Return Yards 80 148
Punts-Average 4-42.5 3-35.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 0-0
Third Down Conversions 9-15 3-11
Penalties-Yards 5-41 5-30
Time of Possession 38:01 21:59


  1. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1996/12/04/sports/syracuse-takes-liberty-bowl.html
  2. ^ "History: Bowl Recaps". 2010 Houston Cougars Football Media Almanac (PDF). Houston, Texas: University of Houston Department of Athletics. 2010. p. 92. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  3. ^ http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/mioh/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2015-16/prospectus/prospectus.pdf