MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Cecil Sapp rushed for a career-high 160 yards and a touchdown as No. 22 Colorado State completed its first 10-win season since 1997 with a 22-17 triumph over No. 23 Louisville in the 42nd Liberty Bowl.
Sapp, who finished the season with 1,001 yards and 11 TDs, was named the game's Most Valuable Player. He surpassed his previous career high of 158 yards against Air Force November 11.
C.W. Hurst kicked three field goals for Colorado State (10-2), which erased memories of last year's visit to Memphis, a 23-17 loss to Southern Mississippi at the Liberty Bowl.
The Rams, who won the Mountain West Conference, posted 10 wins in a season for the first time since going 11-2 in 1997 and third overall under coach Sonny Lubick.
Louisville's Dave Ragone completed 24-of-36 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns, but was stopped short on a fourth-down run with 54 seconds to play, sealing the victory for th Rams.
Louisville (9-3), the Conference USA champion, had its four-game winning streak stopped and suffered its third straight loss in a bowl game.
The Cardinals capitalized on a fumble by Colorado State quarterback Matt Newton to cut the Rams' lead to 19-17 early in the fourth quarter. Deion Branch, who caught 10 passes for 170 yards, reeled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Ragone as Louisville got within two with 13:35 left.
Hurst booted his third field goal of the game from 32 yards out with 7:17 remaining as the Rams extended their lead to 22-17.
Louisville had a final chance for a game-winning drive as it forced Colorado to punt with 1:03 remaining. Starting from their own 37, the Cardinals faced 4th-and-3, but Ragone was tackled by Rams cornerback Josh Howell after a one-yard gain, and Colorado State ran out the clock.
Colorado State was successful on three fourth-down conversions in the first half as it grabbed a 16-10 advantage. Wide receiver and holder Pete Rebstock executed a fake field goal as he ran for six yards on 4th-and-6 to the Louisville 13. The Rams still had to settle for a field goal as Hurst was successful from 24 yards out with 5:09 left in the first quarter.
The Cardinals went ahead, 7-3, less than two minutes later as Ragone connected with Damien Dorsey on a 58-yard TD pass. They extended their lead to seven early in the second quarter on a 24-yard field goal by Erin Smith.
On the ensuing drive, Colorado State faced 4th-and-2 on the Louisville 5, but Sapp rushed for three yards to set up 1st-and-goal. Sapp went in on the next play as the Rams knotted the game at 10.
But Colorado State got the ball back shortly thereafter as Louisville tight end Ronnie Ghent fumbled on 1st-and-10 on his own 34. The Rams faced 4th-and-8 on the Louisville 32, but they again converted as Newton completed a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Joey Cuppari.
Two plays later, Frank Rice ran off right tackle for a 16-yard score as the Rams grabbed a 16-10 advantage with 2:37 remaining in the first half.
A 21-yard field goal by Hurst in the third quarter extended the Rams' lead to 19-10.
Newton, who holds the Colorado State record with 41 TD passes, completed 13-of-28 for 158 yards. The Rams were outgained, 397-315, but held the advantage in first downs, 22-17.