Austin Davis, Marcus McGraw
Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis stiff arms Houston linebacker Marcus McGraw on a scramble in the first quarter Saturday at Robertson Stadium. (Thomas Campbell / US Presswire)

HOUSTON -- Austin Davis passed for four touchdowns and No. 24 Southern Miss blocked a punt for another score to upset No. 6 Houston, 49-28, in the Conference USA championship game.

The host Cougars (12-1) failed in their bid to become the first C-USA team to reach a BCS bowl game.

Southern Miss (11-2) jumped to a 14-0 lead and led 21-14 at the half. Furious Bradley came in untouched to block a punt early in the third quarter, scooping it up for an 11-yard touchdown return.

Davis' 61-yard strike to Tracy Lampley pushed the lead to 42-21 late in the third quarter.

Houston's Case Keenum, the NCAA career leader in passing yards, ouchdown passes and total offense, was had two passes intercepted after entering the game with only three interceptions. He went 41 of 67 for 373 yards and two touchdowns.

The Golden Eagles won their first conference title since 2003, having lost in their previous championship game appearance in 2006.

A 5-9, 168-pounder, Lampley was the best player on the field. The junior ran for 71 yards and caught six passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Cincinnati 35, Connecticut 27

CINCINNATI -- Munchie Legaux threw a career-high three touchdown passes and the Bearcats' defense got two scores to set up the victory and a three-way share of the Big East title.

Although the Bearcats (9-3, 5-2) got their third title in four years, they likely will miss out on the league's BCS bid. No. 22 West Virginia (9-3, 5-2) will get it if, as expected, the Mountaineers are the highest-ranked Big East team in the final BCS standings.

Louisville (7-5, 5-2) also shared the title and would have gotten the bid if the Bearcats had lost on Saturday. The Huskies (5-7, 3-4) didn't have another upset in them.

Lineman Walter Stewart plucked the ball from UConn quarterback Johnny McEntee's passing hand in the end zone for Cincinnati's first touchdown, and Drew Frey returned an interception 15 yards for a 14-0 lead.

Pittsburgh 33, Syracuse 20

PITTSBURGH -- Antwuan Reed returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown with less than 3 minutes remaining to lift the Panthers to the victory.

The Panthers (6-6, 4-3 Big East) became bowl eligible for the fourth straight year with the victory. Tino Sunseri threw for 259 yards and a score and Kevin Harper drilled four field goals while the Pitt defense forced the reeling Orange (5-7, 1-6) into six turnovers.

Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib threw his 22nd touchdown pass of the season to tie a school record but also tossed two interceptions and fumbled twice as the Orange dropped their fifth straight.

The game may have been the final Big East contest for both schools, who announced in September they're heading to the ACC by 2014.