NC State 56

(8-5, 2-4 away)

Kansas 26

(6-7, 5-3 home)

Coverage: ABC

6:30 PM ET, December 22, 2003

University Stadium (NM), Albuquerque, NM

1 2 3 4 T
NCST 21 7 14 1456
KU 7 3 10 626

Rivers passes for Tangerine record 5 TDs

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Philip Rivers kept throwing and throwing and throwing, leading North Carolina State to another victory.

Now, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year will take his act to the NFL.

"He's going to make somebody a winner, because he is a winner," coach Chuck Amato said after the Wolfpack routed Kansas 56-26 in the Tangerine Bowl on Monday night. "He's been that way since the day he showed up to our campus."

Rivers threw for Tangerine Bowl records of 475 yards and five touchdowns, and T.A. McLendon scored three touchdowns to help the Wolfpack (8-5) rebound from a two-game losing streak that cost them a trip to a bigger bowl.

The Wolfpack amassed 653 yards, including 30 plays of at least 10 yards.

"You never do know if you're going to blow the doors wide open and just be hitting on everything," Rivers said. "But we felt coming in there were going to be some opportunities for big plays. We felt there were a lot of holes right behind the linebackers. That's where we attacked, and it got us rolling."

North Carolina State marched 64, 68 and 97 yards on its first three possessions to build a 21-7 lead. Rivers led an 88-yard drive in the third quarter, then broke the game open by taking advantage of a blocked punt to put the Wolfpack up 42-17.

Richard Washington scored on receptions of 45 and 14 yards, and Jerricho Cotchery had 13 catches for 171 yards and one TD. McLendon got into the end zone three times, scoring on a 3-yard reception and runs of 1 and 26 yards.

Amato didn't remove Rivers until midway through the fourth quarter after his final completion gave him the Tangerine Bowl yardage record.

Kansas coach Mark Mangino didn't feel the Wolfpack showed up the Jayhawks be continuing to throw with a 30-point lead.

"I'm of the school of thought that you never run it up," Mangino said. "If you can't stop them, too bad."

Rivers, the ACC's career passing and total offense leader, was 21-of-24 for 268 yards and three TDs in the first half alone. He finished 37-of-45 for his fifth 400-yard game this season, and seventh overall.

The 6-foot-5, 236-pound senior has been the starting quarterback for every game the Wolfpack have played under Amato, the former Florida State assistant who has taken his team to a bowl game in each of his four seasons.

"Nobody will replace Philip," Amato said. "It took 40 years to replace Roman Gabriel. I hope it doesn't take 40 to replace Philip. But it might when you put his total package into it." Kansas (6-7) fell short in its bid to finish with its first winning record since 1995, the last time the Jayhawks appeared in a bowl game.

Kansas' Bill Whittemore completed 20 of 41 passes for 243 yards and touchdowns of 23 yards to Charles Gordon and 11 yards to Clark Green.

The senior quarterback -- who led the Jayhawks to a 5-2 start before missing nearly four games, all Kansas losses -- also scored on a 9-yard run early in the fourth quarter.

The game was billed as a potential offensive shootout, and Rivers and Whittemore didn't disappoint bowl sponsors who savored the matchup of teams with explosive attacks and defenses that struggled to contain opponents all season.

Kansas, which allowed an average of 392.6 yards and 28.3 points this year, yielded more 40 points for the fifth time.

North Carolina State had a typical night on defense, too, giving up 463 yards after allowing gave up 417.5 yards and just under 30 points per game during the regular season.