Tag:Pac-12
Posted on: December 31, 2011 6:32 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 7:19 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Utah 30, Georgia Tech 27 (OT)



Posted by Chip Patterson


UTAH WON. Utah trailed 24-10 in the fourth quarter, but Jon Hays orchestrated two late drives that ended in touchdown passes to bring the Utes back into the game and force overtime. After the defense held Georgia Tech to a field goal on the first possession of overtime, running back John White IV capped off his record-setting season with an eight yard touchdown run to win 30-27.

HOW UTAH WON: Georgia Tech jumped out to a 24-10 lead after scoring touchdowns on a 31 yard pass from Tevin Washington to Stephen Hill and a Quayshawn Nealy pick-six all in a 26 second span late in the third quarter. Utah's defensive line stepped up in the fourth quarter, forcing Georgia Tech into quick punting situations and keeping them from using up the clock. Hays' first touchdown drive was methodical - 10 plays, 71 yards, just over four minutes of game clock.

A Griff McNabb punt return after Georgia Tech's next possession set up Hays at the Yellow Jackets' 24 yard line with 2:21 to go. After missing DeVonte Christopher in the end zone on third down, Hays went right back to the junior wide receiver on 4th and 14 for the game-tying touchdown. Tevin Washington was able to set up backup kicker David Scully with a 48-yard attempt to win the game at the end of regulation, but the kick sailed wide right. The Utes stout run defense continued in overtime, forcing Georgia Tech to settle for a field goal and allowing John White IV to win the game.

WHEN UTAH WON: The game wasn't sealed until White crossed the goal line on 3rd and Goal on the second possession of overtime.

WHAT UTAH WON: A strong finish to an up-and-down first season in the Pac-12. The Utes have had to overcome a 0-4 start in conference play, injury to Jordan Wynn, and a last-minute early season loss to USC on the way to their 8-5 finish. Battling back in the second half was nothing new for this squad, who has been doing it all season. John White IV picked up 115 yards on 26 carries in the win, enough to break the all-time school record for single season rushing. White finishes the 2011 season with 1,520 yards and 15 touchdowns.

WHAT GEORGIA TECH LOST: Their seventh straight bowl game. The Yellow Jackets spent a good amount of time this week talking about ending the six-game bowl slide, and they nearly had reversed their postseason fortunes before giving up the two scoring drives that forced overtime. Paul Johnson has taken the Yellow Jackets to four straight bowl games, but come away empty handed every time.

BOWL GRADE: A-minus. Did not have the highest expectations for this game when it was announced, but both teams brought great effort to one of the few historic bowl games left on the schedule. Despite a frustrating finish to the regular season and the numerous personnel setbacks, Georgia Tech was flying on the field and executing on their option plays. On the other side of the ball, Utah never quit after the two quick scores in the third quarter. Both teams' "want" was at a high level in this game, and it showed on the field. As Hays led the final drives in regulation, you could feel the momentum swinging in the game. All in all, very entertaining football game in El Paso.

GAME HIGLIGHTS



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Posted on: December 30, 2011 5:08 pm
 

Rose Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Rose Bowl. 

Chip Kelly vs. time to prepare

In addition to being a great matchup on the field, the Rose Bowl this season pits two head coaches who have experienced plenty of success early on in their careers as the men calling the shots. Both Bret Bielema and Chip Kelly have taken over for their respective mentors and taken their programs to new heights. Wisconsin is making a return trip to the granddaddy of them all while this is Kelly's third straight BCS game with an appearance in the national championship game to boot.

For Kelly though, this game presents yet another challenge to rise to the occasion and finally put Oregon over the top. He's lost just six games in three years running the team but, outside of a loss to USC this year, has found success fleeting against teams with weeks to prepare for the fast-paced offense that he signals in from the sidelines and is the biggest reason why they've been dominating Pac-12 conference play. Last season, Oregon was averaging 49 points per game but against Auburn's bend-but-don't-break defense they rushed for less than 100 yards and managed just 22 points. Boise State, Ohio State, LSU, the story seems to be a constant one. As much success as Kelly has had, it just hasn't come against teams with time to prepare.

When asked about that after the Pac-12 Championship game, Kelly noted that they were all pretty good teams Oregon faced. So is Wisconsin, with Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball and a top 10 defense. The Badgers won a down Big Ten this year but still will be a stiff test for the Ducks in Pasadena. They're big and physical and though it seems like the speed of the Oregon offense should be effective, history suggests that's no sure thing.

Kelly has plenty of weapons to use this game, with running backs LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner able to score from anywhere on the field and freshman De'Anthony Thomas a dynamic playmaker in space. Darron Thomas has had to throw it more than Kelly probably likes but he can get the ball into the hands of his playmakers. For some reason, the head coach hasn't been able to figure out the adjustments opponents have made against what he does game-in and game-out. There's been plenty of success and big games with this program and it's up to Kelly to finally get them over the hump, regardless what Bielema and the Wisconsin defense throws at him.

Posted on: December 30, 2011 4:30 pm
 

Keys to the game: Rose Bowl

Posted by Bryan Fischer

WISCONSIN WILL WIN IF: The Badgers make their way to Pasadena with a solid, experienced defense - sixth in the country in scoring, allowing just 17 points per game - but they haven't seen anything like the Ducks' fast-paced attack that has been putting up points and yards quicker than you can say "quack." The team played in the Rose Bowl last year against a good team that had some speed but Oregon certainly runs a different style and will mix in plenty of zone-read with between the tackles running. While the big front seven will have to be in shape and prepared to fill their gaps, the secondary will also have to be on alert - not just for LaMichael James or De'Anthony Thomas breaking a big run but for quarterback Darron Thomas, who has been passing the ball more than last year.

On offense, Russell Wilson and Montee Ball have put up some eye-popping numbers and will need to continue their efficient play in the Rose Bowl. Oregon's defense isn't anything to write home about but is very opportunistic. Nick Aliotti is a very good coordinator and has shut down plenty of high powered offenses before as well. The size difference between the lines will be something everybody will point to but the real thing to keep an eye on is if the Wisconsin o-line can have success blocking at the second level to spring Ball for some big gains. This should be a great match up with a team set on coming home with the trophy this year.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: The Ducks come into this game looking to prove that they're an elite team by winning, for a change, a BCS game. The only way they do that is to limit turnovers and, most importantly, convert on third downs. Oregon has had issues with drops and penalties when trying to convert and pick up a first down and has to come out sharp or they'll get a repeat of other games where they've had plenty of time off but came up flat. Getting James, Kenjon Barner or Thomas in space is the priority and hopefully Chip Kelly will have a better game plan than he has had in the past two BCS games. The wide receiver corps has to come through with a good game and avoid the drops that they've had all season long too.

Defensively, this team has faced similarly built teams during the regular season such as Stanford and USC. They won against the Cardinal by forcing turnovers and came back against the Trojans in a similar manner. If they can create penetration and put some pressure on Wilson, the iffy secondary should do just fine against the Wisconsin receivers. There's no doubt the unit will take a pounding but still should be fine. Special teams is one area that the layoff could lend improvement too. The kick return unit has taken a few back but the punt returns definitely need work. Bottom line, if Oregon wants to win the Rose Bowl, it all comes down to execution and the Ducks have to do a better job at the little things than they have in the past.

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X-FACTOR: Both teams are coming off wins in their respective conferences' first ever championship game. While the defenses have done well, it's the offenses that are the reason Oregon and Wisconsin are in Pasadena and will likely determine the winner as well. With the Ducks' offense, Wisconsin will likely try to hold onto the ball but that likely won't matter given how quickly they can score. On the flip side, the Badgers can set up play action passes that could be very effective. Oregon will have to focus on sustaining drives and creating big plays while trying to be aggressive but sound on defense. Should be a fun game that might end up coming down to who can give their offense the best field position on special teams.



Posted on: December 30, 2011 1:26 am
Edited on: December 30, 2011 1:27 am
 

QUICK HITS: Baylor 67 Washington 56



Posted by Tom Fornelli


BAYLOR WON. Well, Baylor did win the game, but in reality anybody who watched the Alamo Bowl on Thursday night won. Except for defensive coordinators around the country who no doubt found themselves curled up in the fetal position mumbling something about open-field tackling while drooling on themselves by the time this one was over. This is not an easy game to recap because so much happened. It's kind of like the night you went out to celebrate your 21st birthday. You know you had a good time doing it, but you don't remember most of it.

Still, I shall try.

There were 17 touchdowns scored in this game. That's one touchdown for every 3 minutes and 31 seconds of game time. Baylor and Washington combined for 123 points (2.05 points per minute) and 1,397 yards of total offense. Robert Griffin had 350 total yards and 2 touchdowns and he wasn't even the best quarterback in San Antonio as Washington's Keith Price went for 477 total yards and 7 touchdowns. And his team lost! Then there was Baylor's Terrance Ganaway, who rushed for 200 yards and 5 touchdowns (as a team Baylor rushed for 482 yards). Of the 17 touchdown drives in this game, 11 took less than 3 minutes off of the clock.

I'm not sure who the leading tackler was, but if he had more than 3 tackles I'll be shocked because I'm not sure there were 3 tackles in this entire game. It was insane, it was never-ending, and it was one of the greatest things that ever happened.

WHY BAYLOR WON. There's really no one thing that happened in this game that you can pinpoint as the reason that Baylor won, but if you had to give one of the "defenses" credit, I'd guess it would have to be Baylors. Not only did they hold Washington under 60, but the Bears outscored the Huskies 43-21 in the second half.

WHEN BAYLOR WON. The game came to an end when Washington faced a 4th and 8 in the final minutes while down 60-56 and couldn't convert. Though when Ganaway broke loose for a 43-yard touchdown a few plays later to make the score 67-56 with 2:28 left in the game, you legitimately wondered if Baylor had left too much time on the clock.

WHAT BAYLOR WON. Baylor won it's tenth game of the season, which is a huge milestone for the program. It also helped showcase just how insanely good a year Heisman winner Robert Griffin had. I mean, Griffin played on a Baylor team that allowed 35.7 points per game coming into this game, and gave up 56 points on the night, and the Bears still won 10 games. Wrap your head around that one. 

WHAT WASHINGTON LOST. Well, each player on Washington probably lost about 15 pounds in this game from running up and down the field for 60 minutes. Other than that, I'm not sure you can say the Huskies lost all that much. We saw the same Huskies tonight that we've seen all season: a team that is very capable of putting 50 points on the board but just as capable of allowing 60. Much like the team they played. Yes, this is a loss that stings as all losses do, but it won't be long before everyone on this Washington team looks back on this game and can do nothing but laugh at the insanity of it all.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Have you read this recap? This entire game was crazy.

FINAL GRADE: A++++++++. I'd give it more pluses but you probably get the point. No, this game was not the type of game that defensive-minded football fans would enjoy, but it was 60 minutes of pure entertainment. There is not a single doubt in my mind that anybody who watched will forever remember this Alamo Bowl.
Posted on: December 29, 2011 6:04 pm
 

Sun Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Chip Patterson


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

Tevin Washington, QB, and Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech vs. Utah secondary

Utah's rushing defense ranks No. 8 nationally, giving up just 98.25 yards per game on the ground. Their front seven is solid, and they get great play from their defensive tackles. If they can get a push on the line and disrupt Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington with his reads, fakes, and pitches; the Utes can hope to force Washington to move the ball through the air.

The Yellow Jackets' sophomore quarterback completed just 46.7 percent of his passes on the season, and only threw for more than 100 yards once in his final six games. After throwing nine touchdowns in his first five games, Washington has failed to reach the end zone through the air since Oct. 1. There has been no single event to describe the drop-off - Washington has still performed well running the ball and the offense - just head-scratching passing plays where Washington simply misses the open man.

More often than not, that open man is 6-foot-5 wide receiver Stephen Hill. Hill led the Yellow Jackets in receiving this season with 785 yards on only 26 receptions. He has the frame and athletic ability to sneak downfield and make plays on jump balls. When a defense commits too many men to the run, Hill is able to beat the coverage and find open space downfield. Washington just struggled to hit him at times down the stretch of the regular season.

Utah would probably prefer the Sun Bowl be a low scoring game, giving John White IV enough carries to wear down Georgia Tech's defense. The Utes' defense has been among the best in the Pac-12 in limiting the big play, and their 17 passing touchdowns allowed is tied for second in the league. Utah has picked off opposing quarterbacks 19 times this season, fourth best among FBS teams, and could have plenty of opportunities with Washington under center. However if the secondary sleeps on Hill, the Utes could give up the big play they can't afford against a ball control team like Georgia Tech.

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 5:56 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Sun Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

GEORGIA TECH WILL WIN IF: They can score early and force Utah to play catch-up. The Yellow Jackets will face one of their toughest challenges of the season in Utah's defense, which ranks ninth nationally against the run. The Utes have a strong front seven that has played well against Air Force in recent years, a team that runs an option scheme similar to Georgia Tech. But the Yellow Jackets' best weapon all season has been the big play. If Georgia Tech can break a couple big yardage plays early in the game and get an early lead, they will force Utah out of their comfort zone offensively. The Utes would love to play Georgia Tech in a low-scoring affair, with both teams grinding out hard yards on the ground. But the Yellow Jackets scored more than 20 points in 10 of their 12 contests this season, and could force Utah into turning to their shaky passing game for offense.

UTAH WILL WIN IF: The can establish a dominant rushing attack to match Georgia Tech's pace. The good news for Utah's defense is that offensive coordinator Norm Chow will likely expect running back John White IV to carry 30+ times against the Yellow Jackets. White was the Pac-12's second-leading rusher this season with 1,405 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has been highly effective when healthy, and the junior college transfer is expected to be ready to play after injuring his ankle early in the season finale loss to Colorado. The offensive line has struggled at times with pass rush, and Al Groh's 3-4 scheme has given quarterbacks fits with their multiple blitz packages. If Utah can allow the run to set up the pass, they will take a lot of responsibility out of the hands of quarterback Jon Hays.

X-FACTOR: Preparation time. Two of the four teams that defeated Georgia Tech this season had at least 10 days to prepare for Paul Johnson's offense. Players from those games admitted to benefiting from the extra time to study the different reads and fakes involved in the complex option scheme. Players are given time off after the bowl match ups are announced, but there is definitely an advantage to having 27 days to prepare for a team as unique as Georgia Tech. Johnson's Yellow Jackets have beaten plenty of teams with extra time to prepare, but the long break does seem to favor the Utes in this situation.

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 12:19 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 12:20 pm
 

Georgia Tech starting OL suspended for bowl game

Posted by Chip Patterson

One of the most important aspects to finding success in Georgia Tech's flexbone offense is strong play along the offensive line. That unit took a hit this week with Phil Smith's suspension from participating with the Yellow Jackets in the Sun Bowl.

Head coach Paul Johnson announced Wednesday the starting left tackle was suspended for violating team rules. Johnson did not elaborate on what rule Smith broke, but the 6-foot-5 292 pound redshirt junior was sent home from El Paso.

The Yellow Jackets will face Utah in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31, and Georgia Tech's offensive line must be prepared to face a seasoned front seven that has had plenty of time to prepare. Two of the Yellow Jackets' three conference losses this season came against teams that had at least 10 days to prepare for Paul Johnson's complex scheme.

Not only do the Utes have 24 days to prepare for Georgia Tech, but they also have faced a similar scheme from Air Force in the seasons prior to joining the Pac-12. Utah did not face the Falcons this season, but won their final three regular season meetings before leaving the Mountain West Conference.

Smith is the second discipline-related casualty for the Georgia Tech starting lineup. Starting cornerback Louis Young did not make the trip with the team for undisclosed disciplinary reasons. Smith started in eight games this season, and will likely be replaced by a combination of Ray Beno and Tyler Kidney.

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Posted on: December 28, 2011 11:52 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Texas 21, California 10



Posted by Bryan Fischer


TEXAS WON. It wasn't pretty, and they still didn't see much out of the offense, but it was a win for the Longhorns. If you're a Texas fan, you had to be impressed with what coordinator Manny Diaz has done all season long with the defense and the Holiday Bowl served as a great way to finish out the year. After neither team went to a bowl game last year, it was interesting to see how they respond to the layoff and it appeared to be not well. Cal turned the ball over five times and quarterback Zach Maynard was sacked six times - largely the difference in a game that was pretty close for three quarters.

WHY TEXAS WON. Don't look at the offense, which struggled most of the night. Quarterback David Ash was given the start and despite having issues moving the ball through the air early, got the ball in the hands of his playmakers. The reason the Longhorns will be able to enjoy their trip back to Austin however, is because of Diaz' defense. The front seven was particularly active and put plenty of pressure on Maynard. They also bottled up running back Isi Sofele, who showed some flashes but was limited after scoring a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. Underclassmen Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks were particularly active with two sacks each.

WHEN TEXAS WON. Cal had threatened several times throughout the game but always seemed to shoot themselves in the foot. In great field position following a punt return, the offense just started to go backward and then Adrian Phillips sacked Maynard, who committed the fourth turnover of the night by fumbling. Reggie Wilson recovered and on the next play, Marquise Goodwin ran it 36 yards to set the Longhorns up inside the 10. On the first play of the 4th quarter, Cody Johnson punched it in from the four-yard line to push the lead to 21-10.

WHAT TEXAS WON. It was a disappointing season by the Longhorns' high standards but plenty of programs would be happy with a bowl win and eight wins. With such a young team, Mack Brown hopes this win can be a building block for next season. Sticking with Ash despite his early struggles seemed to indicate that he would be the guy going into 2012. The halftime adjustments were really good and both sides of the ball came alive in the second half. It's not the bowl win Texas wanted but a win is a win.

WHAT CALIFORNIA LOST. The ball for one. The Bears fumbled four times against Texas after only coming into the game with eight. The offense had issues up front all night and Sofele finished with just 58 yards rushing. The lone bright spot might be the kickers and that's not something to be proud of. The defense had its moments but couldn't stop a couple of big plays after bailing out the offense several times. This game was billed as a revenge match because of what happened a few years ago with the BCS but Cal didn't exactly fight like they wanted to win the game.

FINAL GRADE: This game was the definition of ugly for the entire first half. It wasn't as though the defenses were great - they were solid - but the offenses never could get anything going. Were it not for a few big plays out of Goodwin, there wouldn't be much to write home about on this one. The storyline coming into the game was about Cal's BCS snub in favor of Texas a few years ago but after watching this one, it would have been ok if the Holiday Bowl selection committee had snubbed both of these teams based on the way they played. At least Bevo enjoyed the San Diego weather and went home happy. GRADE: C

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com