Alex Brandon, Associated Press
Florida Atlantic running back Charles Pierre, left, and teammate Kyle Watkins celebrate Watkins' touchdown in the first half Friday.

NEW ORLEANS — Howard Schnellenberger is still undefeated in bowl games, and now so is the fledgling college football program he built from nothing.

Rusty Smith threw for 336 yards and a New Orleans Bowl record five touchdowns to lead Florida Atlantic to a 44-27 victory over Memphis on Friday night.

It was the first bowl game for FAU, which has had a football team for only seven seasons and didn't join the NCAA's Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) until 2005.

The game also marked another meaningful step for the young Sun Belt Conference. The league champion has now won three of seven New Orleans Bowls, including the past two by convincing margins, with Troy beating Rice 41-17 last year.

It certainly wasn't the highest-profile bowl victory for Schnellenberger, who led Miami to the 1983 national championship with an Orange Bowl triumph over Nebraska. He is now 5-0 in bowl games over his 23 seasons as a head coach. He won the 1980 Peach Bowl with Miami and two bowl games with Louisville, the 1990 Fiesta Bowl and the 1993 Liberty Bowl.

Still, this one had to be special, given that he is the father of FAU's program and the only head coach the Owls have ever known. As the final minute ticked away, the 73-year-old's head of white hair and blue blazer were left drenched by a bucket of ice water his players dumped over him in celebration. But the old coach didn't even flinch.