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Tag:Non-BCS
Posted on: December 17, 2011 9:43 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Ohio 24, Utah State 23

Posted by Adam Jacobi

OHIO WON. Tyler Tettleton led the Ohio Bobcats on a 9-play, 60-yard drive in under two minutes and capped it with a desperation scramble into the end zone with 13 seconds left to give Ohio its first ever bowl victory, 24-23, over Utah State. Tettleton connected with LaVon Brazill, Ohio's all-time leading receiver, eight times for 106 yards and one touchdown in the winning effort.

WHY OHIO WON: It's hard to point to much good on the defensive front when a team gives up almost 350 yards of rushing and still wins the game, but the fact is it's a testament to Ohio's defense inside its own 30 yard line that Utah State's offense only scored 21 points (the last two came on a safety -- after Ohio stuffed Robert Turbin at the one-yard-line on USU's opening possession). Moreover, even though Utah State completed 13 of its 20 passes as a team, the production in those plays was so anemic -- under 5.0 yards per attempt -- that Utah State basically couldn't take advantage of Ohio's one-dimensional defensive scheming. Still, this was a one-point victory spread over 60 minutes, and to point to one factor as the defining factor would be to overstate its importance and understate the rest.

WHEN OHIO WON: Utah State had been in nine one-possession games this season, and Ohio seven of its own, so the fact that this one came down to the last minute was actually truer to form than if this had been an uncompetitive game for either team. As such, nobody can be surprised that Ohio's winning score came with 13 seconds left, or that Matt Weller's PAT on the TD gave Ohio its first lead of the entire game. That's just the way these two teams roll. Ohio had one last desperation attempt to score from its own 25, but the ensuing series of ineffectual laterals and general stand-aroundery (new word alert) from the Bobcats made it clear that a career in rugby was in nobody's future there. 

WHAT OHIO WON: For Ohio, the win has no shortage of historical meaning. It's the Bobcats' first bowl victory ever. It's their first 10-win season since a 10-1 campaign in 1968. It's Frank Solich's first bowl victory since winning the Alamo Bowl with Nebraska over Northwestern in 2000. And above all that, it's a great way to go into the offseason for the junior-to-be QB Tettleton and the rest of his teammates.

WHAT UTAH STATE LOST: It must be hard for Utah State not to feel some pangs of painful déjà vu after the series of last-minute September losses it endured to Auburn, Colorado State, and BYU. But the Aggies return their top two quarterbacks (Chuckie Keeton and Adam Kennedy) and most of their offense, head coach Gary Andersen just signed an extension and got a Utah State tattoo to commemorate the season, and now the team has this loss as a motivating factor going into next year. Think there won't be a recommitment to being the best-conditioned team in the 4th quarter after this year? These are the types of losses that push teams to higher levels of dedication in practice, and that's the type of work that pays off during the season.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Here is a full accounting of the 4th and 6 play that put Ohio on the 6-inch line with 40 seconds left: Tyler Tettleton throws to LaVon Brazill, who stretches out and lands the ball near the goal line, at which point he drops the ball and then recovers it on the goal line. The officials signal a touchdown. Head referee Penn Wagers then announces that Brazill recovered his own fumble and was down short of the goal line, but that the play is under further review. The play is reviewed for a couple minutes. Wagers announces that the ruling is confirmed. The officials reconvene. Wagers announces that Brazill fumbled the ball, then recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. The officials reconvene. Wagers announces that Brazill was down short of the goal line, and that the ball should be placed on the 6-inch line, and so it was.

The thing of it is, the correct ruling was obvious after just one viewing of the replay. Brazill lost the ball when he stretched and hit the ground with it, but his knee and hip were both down well before that. Additionall, the ball didn't cross the goal line until after he recovered his own fumble. How there could be such a breakdown in communication to lead to that series of misstatements is astonishing; this should have been a 30-second review. At the very least, though, the final ruling on the field was the correct one, and that's what's most important. 

FINAL GRADE: A. We wanted a close game, and this, like so many of each team's previous games this season, went down to the wire. Not a bad bowl game for the first day of the FBS postseason. May all bowls be as enjoyable as the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:31 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2011 5:32 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Temple 37, Wyoming 15



Posted by Chip Patterson


TEMPLE WON. The Owls jumped out a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter and never looked back, relying on their constricting defense and bruising rushing attack to wear down Wyoming for a 37-15 victory in the New Mexico Bowl.

HOW TEMPLE WON: Temple established the tone on the very first drive of the game. Running back Bernard Pierce carried the ball eight times on a 13 play touchdown drive that totaled 90 yards and lasted nearly half of the opening quarter. Pierce continued to be the focal point of the Owls offense, rushing 25 times for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Temple's defense also lived up to their national ranking, holding Wyoming to 267 yards of total offense (most of that late in the game) and picking off MWC Freshman of the Year Brett Smith three times.

WHEN TEMPLE WON: With time winding down in the second quarter, Smith led Wyoming on an impressive touchdown drive to cut Temple's lead to 21-7 with just 37 seconds left before halftime. The Cowboys were set to receive the opening kickoff in the third quarter, and momentum appeared to be swinging back in their direction. But the Owls delivered a swift and punishing answer as wide receiver Rod Streater slipped behind the secondary for a 61 yard catch-and-run touchdown. Wyoming entered halftime deflated, and the Cowboys never regained control of the game.

WHAT TEMPLE WON: After three crushing four-point losses, Temple delivered one last time on the big stage to cap a strong first season for head coach Steve Addazio. The Owls 9-win season matches their best finish since joining the MAC, a credit to Addazio's staff for keeping this talented bunch on track after Al Golden's departure. It was also the second bowl win in program history, the first since 1979.

WHAT WYOMING LOST: Dave Christensen did agree in principle to a contract extension before the game, so Saturday's loss wasn't ALL bad for the Cowboys. It was a rough performance for Brett Smith, who will likely try to use this game as motivation as he returns to lead Wyoming next season.

BOWL GRADE: C-minus. It was football, and we were happy to be watching.  But the sleepy second half and Brett Smith's inability to create the big play eliminated much of the intrigue in this matchup.  Props to the Owls for the W, but this one won't make anyone's Top 10 list at the end of the postseason. 

THAT WAS CRAZY: The ESPN cameras caught a Wyoming fan wearing very little but a barrel. Thanks to help from Adam Kramer, of Kegs 'N Eggs, we discovered the backstory behind this passionate Cowboys fan.




How many experts picked the Owls to take care of business on Saturday? Check out the entire slate of selections at the Expert's Bowl Picks.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 17, 2011 5:07 pm
 

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Adam Jacobi

A look at the key matchup that could decide the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Robert Turbin, RB, Utah State vs. Noah Keller, LB, Ohio

If there's one thing to be gleaned from the seasons of Utah State and Ohio, who have combined for 16 games decided by seven points or less this season (half of which, incredibly, were decided in the final minute or overtime), it's that today's Famous Idaho Potato Bowl will probably be close, and a full 60-minute affair. If that's to be the case, then this game could easily come down to the heart and soul of the Aggie offense against the heart and soul of the Bobcat defense.

For Utah State, the Aggies' rushing attack (ranked sixth in the nation in yards per game) is led by senior tailback Robert Turbin, who has 1416 rushing yards and 23 total touchdowns to his name. Utah State will likely put the ball in Turbin's hands about 25 times in this game, and the only reason it might not be more is because Michael Smith and Kerwynn Williams are also talented ballcarriers -- to say nothing of quarterback Adam Kennedy, who has emerged as a dual threat in the Aggie offense here in the last half of the season. Still, Turbin is the start of the show, and when the Aggies need to keep a drive alive in the 4th quarter, Turbin's going to be the man with the ball.

Thus, Noah Keller, a second-team All-MAC linebacker and the three-time captain of the Ohio defense, is going to have his hands full in this game. Keller wasn't even supposed to be on this team's squad, but early in his senior season in 2010 -- a season that saw him on the Nagurski Watch list and a handful of preseason All-America teams -- Keller tore a ligament in his foot, ending his year in Week 3. He took a medical redshirt year, having played as a true freshman, and has come back to lead the Bobcats in tackling for the third time in his career. And while lingering foot and shoulder maladies have hampered his production this year, there's no doubt that he's ready for one last shot at giving Ohio a bowl victory, and going through Turbin to make it happen. It's not often that the best two players on each team are directly matched up with each other like this, so fans and viewers of the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl are, well, in for a real treat.

For a look at the keys to the game for both schools, click here, and check out the rest of CBSSports.com's coverage at the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Pregame.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview 
Posted on: December 17, 2011 3:19 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

OHIO WILL WIN IF: Donte Harden gets the most touches of anybody on either team. Utah State RB Robert Turbin is a workhorse, but Ohio has its own dynamo in Harden, who leads the team in rushing and also excels in receiving and kick returns. Harden has only found the end zone four times all season, but his ability to move with the ball in the open field and showcase his speed has led to plenty of big plays all season long. Harden's the playmaker in this offense, so the more Ohio gives him the ball, the better a chance he has of at the very least flipping the field and giving the Bobcats an opportunity to put points on the board. 

Meanwhile, Utah State's going to be feeding the ball to Robert Turbin early and often, and why not? He's just outside the Top 10 in rushing nationally, and he's the featured back in one of the nation's most prolific running games. So while Ohio can't directly affect the frequency with which Ohio gives Turbin the ball without injuring him -- and let's hope it doesn't come to that, obviously -- it can exert its best effort to limit Turbin's effectiveness and USU's time of possession. That'll be key, because if that Aggie ground game starts grinding early, the Bobcat defense is in for a long day.

UTAH STATE WILL WIN IF: Adam Kennedy continues to excel at quarterback. Kennedy wasn't really part of Utah State's plans at quarterback this year; freshman Chuckie Keeton was firmly entrenched as the Aggies' starting QB for this year and the future, but a frightening neck injury sustained against Hawaii took him out of the game and, effectively, the season (he is fine now, by the way). Kennedy took over and USU hasn't lost since -- more on that in a bit. The junior quarterback has passed for 10 touchdowns and four picks in his five games of action, and he's rushing for almost 0.5 more yards per carry than Keeton on the year.

That combination of rushing ability and passing efficiency (Kennedy's 180.8 rating would be third in the nation if he qualified) is downright Russell Wilson-ian -- right down to the fact that he's not the primary option on offense -- and like with Wisconsin, it can and does punish defenses that stack the box. Kennedy's sample size is still pretty small, though, and if he finally has a game where he struggles on offense for whatever reason, the Aggie offense could turn one-dimensional in a hurry, and that's any defensive coordinator's dream.

X-FACTOR: The endgame. Utah State was one of the most fascinating teams in college football this year, with its first three losses coming in heartbreaking fashion: Auburn scored two touchdowns in the game's final three minutes thanks to an onside kick recovery and stunned the Aggies 38-35, Colorado State scored a touchdown and two-point conversion with under 30 seconds left to force overtime, then stuffed Utah State on the Aggies' own two-point conversion in OT to win 35-34, and BYU drove 96 yards in under three minutes to score a TD with 11 seconds left and beat USU, 27-24. All of that... in September.

The Aggies ripped off a 5-0 November under Kennedy to get to this point, however, and in a remarkable reversal of their September misfortunes, they usually did so with their own last-minute heroics. Utah State needed overtime to put away Idaho, 49-42, and used a fumble recovery with 5:40 left on its own 11-yard-line to seal a victory against Nevada, 21-17. Those were the two least exciting games of USU's November. The aforementioned trip to Hawaii to start the month's slate, where Kennedy first took over at QB for Keeton, saw the Aggies score with 14 seconds left to complete a 21-0 spree and beat the Warriors, 35-31. The Aggies also scored the game-winning touchdown in the last minute of their 34-33 comeback victory against San Jose State, and USU capped its season with a 13-play, 83-yard drive culminating in a game-winning touchdown pass from Kennedy to Matt Austin with 35 seconds left, beating New Mexico State 24-21.

So Utah State is clearly no stranger to the whims and vagaries of last-minute fate, and while Ohio played in seven one-possession games of its own this season (including a 23-20 loss to Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship where the Bobcats led 20-0 at the half, 20-7 going into the fourth quarter, and 20-13 with three minutes left), USU's the team that has won its last five such games. If there's one team to trust in the final minutes of this game, it's probably going to be Utah State -- and that statement would have sounded either cruelly sarcastic or downright insane after September. Such is college football.

Posted on: December 16, 2011 6:11 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 6:15 pm
 

Hawaii Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Chip Patterson


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Hawaii Bowl

Austin Davis, QB, Southern Miss vs. Brett Roy, DT, Nevada

Austin Davis entered the Southern Miss football program as a walk-on, but when his career as a Golden Eagle finishes on Christmas Eve in the Hawaii Bowl he will have more career passing records than Brett Favre. During his four years in Hattiesburg, Davis has matured from a talented "scrawny" kid (Larry Fedora's words), into a smart and efficient gunslinger with the ability to scramble from the pocket to create a play. Davis threw for 250+ yards in nine different games this season, and finished with 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, while adding four touchdowns and 332 yards on the ground.

But on the other side of Davis will be an equally decorated star: senior defensive tackle Brett Roy. Roy led the WAC in sacks and tackles for loss in 2011, and has made his way to numerous end-of-season award lists - arguably the most impressive being SI's All-American First Team. Roy's dominating presence in the trenches helps anchor a Wolf Pack defense that finished second in the WAC in scoring and total defense.

Both of these teams have Top 15 offenses, and if recent history tells us anything you will need to put up points to win this game. Since 2002, the winning team in the Hawaii Bowl has averaged 48.4 points per game. Both teams have surpassed that mark on several occasions this season, and the number one goal of both defensive units will be to avoid that kind of shootout. Roy is arguably the most talented defensive player on either team, and the senior will be looking to finish an impressive career with a bowl victory.

Check out all the latest updates on Southern Miss and Nevada right up until kickoff at the Hawaii Bowl Pregame

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 16, 2011 5:08 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 6:29 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Hawaii Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

SOUTHERN MISS WILL WIN IF: The Golden Eagles back up their talk about this game meaning something. When Larry Fedora accepted the North Carolina head coaching job, his players were disappointed but understanding. Some players have even said they are happy for their head coach, and the opportunity he'll get moving forward. But even in accepting the job, Fedora wants to coach the Conference USA champions in the Hawaii Bowl for a chance to make program history. In over 100 years of Southern Miss football, no team has ever won 12 games in a season. A win over the Wolf Pack on Christmas Eve would give the 11-2 Golden Eagles a historic finish to the Fedora era in Hattiesburg. But how much of the upbeat "let's make history" motivation is running through the entire roster?

Star quarterback Austin Davis should have plenty of motivation, but the underclassmen are staring down a long flight to an early bowl to play for a coach on his way out the door. Both offenses are ranked in the Top 15 nationally in scoring, and coming out flat would be a fast way to let the game get out of hand. Since 2002, the winning team in the Hawaii Bowl has averaged 48.4 points per game. We know both teams are capable of putting up those kinds of numbers, so Southern Miss will need to play fast and energetic for all 60 minutes to claim that historic 12th win.

NEVADA WILL WIN IF: The Wolf Pack can limit turnovers and establish the running game. Before their arguably effortless blowout victory against Idaho to close the season, Nevada's offense struggled in back-to-back four-point losses to Louisiana Tech and Utah State. In both games Nevada failed to turn successful drives into touchdowns, settling for field goals that in total could have changed the outcome of the game. Also prevalent in both losses, as well as throughout the season, were costly turnovers that kept the Wolf Pack from the end zone. With WAC Freshman of the Year Cody Fajardo returning from his sprained ankle and senior Lampford Mark looking to continue his streak of five-straight 100+ yard games on the ground, there should be plenty of offensive potential as long as Nevada does not shoot themselves in the foot.

X-FACTOR: Cody Fajardo's injured ankle. Fajardo sprained his ankle in Nevada's 21-17 loss at Utah State on Nov. 26, but all signs point to the the WAC's Freshman of the Year returning to start against Southern Miss in the bowl game. Fajardo was just the quarterback head coach Chris Ault needed to replace Colin Kapernick, now with the San Francisco 49ers. The freshman phenom finished the season with six passing touchdowns and 11 rushing touchdowns - the latter being good enough for seventh nationally among quarterbacks. With Mark's aforementioned explosion in the second half of the season, the Wolf Pack rushing attack can be as potent as it was a year ago with Kapernick at the helm. But if Fajardo is tentative or otherwise not 100 percent on his legs, it could play a huge roll in Southern Miss being able to make plays in the backfield.

Check out all the latest updates on Southern Miss and Nevada right up until kickoff at the Hawaii Bowl Pregame

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 15, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 9:28 pm
 

Keys to the game: Poinsettia Bowl

Posted by Bryan Fischer

TCU WILL WIN IF: How's a trip to San Diego before Christmas for a Mountain West swan song sound? The Horned Frogs dominated conference play for the final time, including a memorable upset of Boise State, and will head to one of just four bowls matching up conference champions. Motivation would normally be a factor for some teams coming from two straight BCS bowls but not for one coached by Gary Patterson - as intense and well-prepared a coach as you will find.

"I think the key is, the team that wins bowl games is the team that wants it the most," Patterson said. "What I’ve found is that you usually find out in the first five minutes of the ballgame how that’s all going to go down, with the intensity level and how they do it. I think this is going to be one of the games people talk about, one of the better ball games in the bowl season."

A win in the bowl game would also give TCU 11 wins for the seventh time in a decade. Though they've taken a few lumps, this team is built on defense and linebacker Tank Carder is looking to cap off a great career by slowing down Louisiana Tech's high-powered offense with help from the secondary. The offense is pretty good too, rounding into form as the season progressed. The Horned Frogs have scored at least 27 straight in every game this year and if quarterback Casey Pachall and the offense - sans coordinator Justin Fuente - keep turnovers to a minimum, they should be riding off to the Big 12 with a bowl game win.

"This ball game is a challenge for us," added Patterson. "Not only is it a challenge at the end of the season but it’s a challenge to go into next season, to teach our kids what it’s about to play at a high level. There are no two ways about it."

LOUISIANA TECH WILL WIN IF: The Bulldogs certainly can score some points, averaging almost 450 yards of offense and 35 points per game ever since Colby Cameron took over at quarterback and started throwing the ball around. The offense gets most of the attention but the defense isn't too shabby either with 20 interceptions on the year - good for third in the nation.

"This will be a bit of a measuring stick for our program and where we are headed," head coach Sonny Dykes said. "This has been a great team to coach, we’ve had a fun ride."

A sound game plan that mixes up a few runs as Cameron finds top wide receiver Quinton Patton should be able to move the chains and find the end zone. If the defense can make some plays and slow down the TCU offense, special teams will come into play and the team has a great weapon in Ryan Allen, who won the Ray Guy Award as the nation's best punter and can help flip the field position battle in favor of LaTech.

"Our guy Ryan Allen had plenty of punts," said Dykes. "We won ball games because of him, especially when we were trying to find an identity offensively early. We were making a quarterback switch and trying to find which direction we were going. Our defense was playing pretty consistent football and our punter was giving us a chance to win. He is a weapon."

"This is the biggest bowl game for us, probably in school history, so we have to see this as an opportunity."

THE X-FACTOR: As always, turnovers. Pachall has been pretty good in not throwing interceptions or fumbling the ball but he has to keep that up in this game. Give Louisiana Tech extra chances to score and things might get interesting. Spread offenses - Baylor, SMU - have hurt TCU already this year and the WAC champions know how to beat teams if the game is close.


Posted on: December 15, 2011 2:21 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 2:22 pm
 

Military Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Tom Fornelli


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Military Bowl

Toledo defense vs. Air Force option attack

I couldn't single out a single player on Toledo's defense for this matchup because when it comes to stopping an option offense like Air Force employs, it's not on one single player. It's a team effort. Everyone must stick to their assignment and execute consistently to be successful.

Something that isn't easy to do when you don't see a lot of option attacks. If it was then Air Force wouldn't have finished second in the nation in rushing yards this season with 320.3 yards per game (shockingly, the top four rushing attacks in the country are Army, Air Force, Georgia Tech and Navy). Unfortunately for Toledo, it's not accustomed to facing such an attack, and to do so will be quite an adjustment.

The best rushing attack Toledo faced this season was Temple, and in that game the Rockets held the Owls to only 145 yards on the ground, a full 111.5 yards below what Temple averaged on the season. More good news for Toledo is that it's 28th in the nation in overall run defense and 48th in the country on defense in yards per carry. So the Rockets can and have stopped the run this year.

That being said, stopping Temple's rushing attack is a lot different than Air Force's. Toledo's defensive line will have to focus more on maintaining their gaps rather than penetration into the backfield to force the ball outside. Once there it will be up to the Toledo linebackers to keep to their assignments.

Don't follow the ball, follow your assignment.

It's impossible to stop Air Force's offense on every play, and they will break through for some big gains, but if Toledo can stick to their assignments it could keep Air Force from being able to sustain long drives without turning to its passing game. And if you force Air Force to pass more than it wants to then you're at the advantage.

If Toledo isn't able to adapt to facing such an offense, then Air Force is going to control the ball and keep Toledo's offense on the sideline. Which would easily tilt this game in the Falcons' favor.

You can read our complete Military Bowl preview here. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com