Posted on: December 28, 2010 12:09 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli as part of the blog's Bowl Bonanza series.
The Basics: Army (6-6) vs. SMU (7-6), Dec. 30 Noon EST
Why You Should Watch: You should tun into the Armed Forced Bowl because you generally don't get a lot of chances to see Army and SMU in bowl games these days. This will be the first time Army has played in a bowl since 1996, and this is only the second time that SMU has been in a bowl game over the last 25 years, or since Eric Dickerson and Craig James were getting paid. If that's not enough there's also the contrast in styles of both teams, as Army runs the triple option and SMU is a run and shoot team.
Keys to Victory for Army: The strategy for Army to win this game is simple, yet won't be nearly as easy to execute. It simply needs to keep the SMU offense off the field as much as possible. While Army should be proud to be back in a bowl game, the fact of the matter is that they just don't have the talent and depth that SMU has, and can't afford to get into any kind of shootout.
Still, there's reason to believe Army can be successful. SMU's defense had a lot of trouble stopping Navy's offense earlier this season, particularly the pitch on the option as Navy rushed for 253 yards in a 28-21 victory over the Mustangs.
Trent Steelman and the Army offense will have to have a similar game and hold on to the ball to have any chance of winning in this game. They just simply don't have the depth on defense, particularly in the secondary, to keep the Mustangs passing attack in check.
Keys to Victory for SMU: Stop the option. SMU has spent a lot of time in practice trying to fix the mistakes of the Navy game and work on their defensive assignments against the option. If they can keep Army from running all over them, the Mustangs should come away with the victory.
After all, this game will be played in SMU's home stadium.
When SMU has the ball they should look to exploit any Army linebacker forced into coverage as they just don't have the agility to stay with SMU's slot receivers Darius Johnson and Cole Beasley. Another key will be to pick up the blitz, as odds are that Army will blitz a lot to make up for its secondary. Kyle Padron has had some trouble when pressured this season, so giving him time to find his open receiver will be key.
The Mustangs should also look to use the run game to slow down the blitz, as they've been more successful on the ground than you'd expect from a June Jones offense. Zach Line isn't going to break any long runs, but he is a big, bruising back that can be used to soften the Army defense and cause linebackers to hesitate on play action, therefore opening up more lanes in the secondary for receivers.
The Armed Forces Bowl is like: that old t-shirt you found in the back of the closet. You haven't worn the thing in a long time, and it's no longer in fashion, but it still fits and it's awfully comfortable.
Posted on: December 17, 2010 12:59 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Mike Haywood was officially introduced as the head coach at Pitt yesterday, and won the press conference with his promise to make the Panthers a more disciplined, more unified team.
But as for winning the Panthers' BBVA Compass Bowl game against Kentucky, Haywood didn't have much to say about that, because he's not coaching the game. Dismissed coach Dave Wannstedt is, right?
Maybe not (emphasis added):
[Athletic director Steve] Pederson made it clear that although Haywood has been hired, the Panthers are Wannstedt's team until after the BBVA Compass Bowl Jan. 8. Wannstedt, forced to resign last week, has yet to decide whether he will coach the Panthers in that game.So, just to be clear, let's review the Panthers' bowl-coaching options:
1. Dave Wannstedt. May not coach in the bowl.
2. Mike Haywood. Will not coach in the bowl.
OK, so behind door No. 3 is almost certainly one of the current Wannstedt assistants -- defensive coordinator Phil Bennett even has head coaching experience from his days at SMU -- but even for a Jan. 8 bowl, practice must start within days. If Wannstedt himself doesn't take the helm, someone has to.
If Pederson wants this blogger's nickel's worth of free advice, Wannstedt's ambivalence about remaining in charge ought to indicate -- all by itself -- that he probably shouldn't be the guy in charge. It's a well-meaning gesture on Pederson's part to let him leave the job with some kind of dignity, but if a gesture he's not interested in accepting, it's time to move on. The Panthers' disappointing season and occasionally aimless-looking coaching search has already made Pitt look bad; an uninspired, unfocused, unprepared loss to a .500 Kentucky team will only make them look worse.
HT: TSK .
Posted on: December 2, 2010 4:18 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
BYU may have wanted out, Utah may have wanted out, TCU may have wanted out, but the continuing expansion drama surrounding the Mountain West Conference has proven that there's still plenty of schools that would be happy to be in. The Honolulu Star-Advertister reported yesterday that Hawaii officials were in Colorado this week, speaking with MWC commissioner Craig Thompson and ironing out the final details of what appears to be a done deal to bring the Warriors aboard as a football-only member. (UH's other sports will join the California-based Big West. )
But the MWC may not stop there. According to this AOL Fanhouse report , Utah State officials have also been making a face-to-face plea to Thompson and Co. this week, asking for a MWC invite and a lifeline out of the lame-duck WAC . The Aggies won't bring much to the table in terms of football pedigree, but at least they've taken steps forward in recent years under coach Gary Andersen (including beating BYU this season for the first time in 10 tries) and can claim a sterling men's basketball program and solid academics.
USU's interest gives the MWC several options when it comes to expansion. Running them down:
They could stand pat at 10 teams . There seems to be little downside to bringing Hawaii aboard, especially in football alone -- the travel costs of visiting the islands are easily offset by the NCAA provision allowing teams a 13th scheduled game if they travel to Hawaii -- so it seems unlikely the MWC will suddenly stiff-arm the Warriors and stay at 10 teams. But few other immediate options will do much to raise the league's football profile, and weaker members on the gridiron could put the league's dream of a BCS automatic bid in jeopardy.
They could expand to 12 teams and start a championship game . A title game could be an excellent carrot for the MWC to dangle when they start looking to finally get out of the less-than-lucrative current television contracts that drove BYU into football independence. Utah State might be the most obvious candidate, but Conference USA member SMU would bring the highly attractive Dallas media market back into the league after TCU's defection, and under June Jones the Mustangs have made major strides on the field as well. With C-USA's chances of ever snagging a BCS bid set at "nil," the Mustangs would likely jump at the chance. The same goes for Houston , which is an even more distant geographical fit but features an even-better established football program and a similarly-lucrative market.
Other potential WAC refugees like Idaho or New Mexico State would also be options, but probably only in the event the BCS bid was already off the table and SMU and Houston had turned the league down.
They could merge with C-USA. This seems like a terrible idea from the MWC's perspective, but nonetheless the Orlando Sentinel reported today that Thompson and C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky have had prliminary discussions about "a variety of potential collaboration options." But it's hard to see what, other than potentially a push for a joint TV contract, the C-USA can offer the MWC; the latter is the stronger conference top-to-bottom, has more brand recognition (compare the profiles of Boise State and even, say, Fresno State to C-USA powers like East Carolina and Southern Miss ), and already has the BCS bid process underway. If the C-USA is looking to create a full merger, it would seem to eliminate any chance of the league being powerful enough to wrangle a BCS bid; if all they want is an end-of-year title tilt, that's likely just one more obstacle in the way of a Boise or, well, Boise and a BCS at-large berth.
Butit's on the table, along with a lot of other possibilities for the MWC. Thompson has some very big decisions to make, decisions that will help shape the future of college football in the West for years to come.
Posted on: December 2, 2010 4:02 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
On Saturday December 11, the Heisman Trophy winner will be announced and presented with the iconic statue in the heart of New York City. He will be greeted with fanfare and praise for his selection to join the ranks of college football's greatest players.
Popular belief says that player will be Auburn's Cam Newton.
Which of course means that we will follow the announcement (if he does win) with hours upon hours and pages upon pages debating whether a player tied so closely to amateur improprieties should be given the game's top award. In the post-Reggie Bush era, there is a segment of the population that would offer a resounding "NO."
No matter which side of the discussion you fall, it will be discussed. Who better to exploit on the trends of sports media than the WWL?
ESPN will broadcast the presentation of the Heisman Trophy, and following the program they will debut their newest film in the 30 for 30 documentary series. Interestingly enough, the film revolves around the Southern Methodist University football program in the 1980's.
The film, cleverly titled Pony Excess, will likely have promos flooded through the commercial breaks of the Heisman broadcast. For those that stick around and watch the film, they will quickly draw ill-timed comparisons between the new Heisman Trophy winner and the stars of the Mustang teams from that era. Cam Newton may emerge from the "pay-to-play" allegations as a Heisman Winner and National Champion, but ESPN is not doing him any favors with their choice of scheduling.
Of course this could have been booked for months, or LaMichael James could win the trophy. If he does, and ESPN does a last minute switch to a documentary on domestic violence, I'll know this is all part of their wicked scheme.
H/T: Friends of the Program
Posted on: November 30, 2010 5:24 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
These are heady times for the Army football program, and hey, why not? The Black Knights are bowl-eligible for the first time since 1996, and second-year head coach Rich Ellerson has his players going into their annual tilt with Navy on as close to equal footing with the Midshipmen as Army's been since Navy's early-decade nadir.
It's fitting, then, that Army has accepted an invitation to the Bell Helicopters Armed Forces Bowl (I mean, what are the odds, right?), which will be held December 30 in University Park, TX -- the home of Southern Methodist University. As the Dallas Morning News points out, SMU could very well join Army in that bowl if the Mustangs drop their Conference USA title matchup with Central Florida this week. If the Mustangs prevail, yes, it'll probably be UCF facing Army instead.
And no, the fact that Army's in this bowl isn't exactly an accident; while the Armed Forces Bowl's tie-ins are the Mountain West and C-USA, the automatic BCS bid that TCU will get means the Mountain West won't be able to fill all five of its bowl slots. For this exact reason, the Armed Forces Bowl had a side agreement with Army that if either conference couldn't fill its obligation, Army would take the spot. With TCU headed to a BCS bowl on account of its 12-0 record, the berth opened up, and here we are.
All that aside, does anybody else wonder why Bell Helicopters is sponsoring this bowl? Obviously, it's great that Bell is doing so, but the helicopter industry is so specialized that increasing brand awareness among the general public doesn't seem like a very prudent way to go about advertising. But it's Bell's money and not mine, so it's little more than an academic question, but still: does Bell's business change at all after the bowl?
Posted on: November 29, 2010 12:05 pm
J. Darin Darst
We still have a few regular season games left in the season that mean something, including Pac-10 teams trying to make a bowl (Arizona State and Washington), here is the schedule for the conference title games:
MAC Championship: Northern Illinois (10-2) vs. Miami (Ohio) (8-4), 7 p.m. on ESPN2: Winner most likely goes to the Little Caesars Bowl, while the loser will be in either the GoDaddy.com or Humanitarian Bowl.
C-USA Championship: UCF (9-3) vs. SMU (6-2), Noon on ESPN: Winner goes to the Liberty Bowl to most likely play either Georgia or Tennessee. If SMU loses they are probably headed to the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30. The Armed Forces Bowl is being played in SMU's Ford Stadium this year. If UCF loses, look for the Knights to play Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.
SEC Championship: Auburn (12-0) vs. South Carolina (8-3), 4 p.m. on CBS: It's easy for Auburn. Win and it plays for the BCS National Championship, lose and it will be in the Orange Bowl. A South Carolina win puts the Gamecocks in the Sugar Bowl. A South Carolina loss will most likely send it to the Outback Bowl.
ACC Championship: Virginia Tech (10-2) vs. Florida State (9-3), 7:45 p.m. on ESPN: Winner goes to the Orange Bowl, while the loser probably ends up in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. If the Chick-fil-A Bowl chooses a different team, than the Champs Sports Bowl vs. Notre Dame would be the next spot.
Big 12 Championship: Nebraska (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2), 8 p.m. on ABC: Winner goes to the Fiesta Bowl, while the loser looks headed to the Alamo Bowl. The Cotton Bowl has the next pick out of the Big 12, but appears to be taking Texas A&M, so the loser of this game falls to the Alamo Bowl.
* Big East -- Connecticut at South Florida, 8 p.m. on ESPN2: A Connecticut wins, the Huskies go to either the Orange or Fiesta Bowl for the first time in history. If South Florida wins, than West Virginia wins the Big East and most certainly will play in the Orange Bowl.
Posted on: November 10, 2010 1:35 pm
J. Darin Darst
Checking in around the nation on the latest bowl rumors.
Penn State eyeing Florida
As reported by Pennlive.com, it looks like Penn State is headed to either the Gator or Outback Bowl. They break it down this way:
After Penn State's comeback win Saturday over Northwestern, it's hard to figure out any way the Nittany Lions will fall below the Gator Bowl. The Outback Bowl remains a possibility. The Gator Bowl, new this year to the Big Ten lineup, is slated for 1:30 on New Year's Day. It holds the possibility of being Joe Paterno's last game although we certainly can't count on it. But as of the second week of December when all the bowl invitations will be made, that allure should enter into bowl reps' thinking.
Currently, I have Penn State projected to the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville taking on Florida. The Gator Bowl gets pick No. 4 or 5 from the Big Ten.
Liberty Bowl, Conference USA, SEC mess
Conference USA has sent their champion to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in every season since the league began in 1996, but there's a very real possibility that could be coming to an end. According to UCFSports.com, the 2010 C-USA Champion could be scrambling to find a new bowl, or be relegated to one of the league's lesser bowls, should the SEC not qualify enough teams to fill both their Liberty and Birmingham Bowl slots.
The Liberty Bowl's new partnership with the Big East apparently also gives first right of refusal to the SEC and they don't want to play a team from C-USA if they can help it. AutoZone Liberty Bowl Executive Director Steve Ehrhart spoke about this possibility Tuesday morning during his weekly radio segment on "Sportstime Extra with Dave Woloshin and Brett Norsworthy", which airs on 560 WHBQ in Memphis.
SMU or UTEP in Armed Forces Bowl
Looks like the Armed Forces Bowl is down to either one of those two from C-USA to play either a Mountain West school or Army in the Dec. 30 bowl. According to the El Paso Times, it looks like if SMU doesn't go to the Hawaii Bowl, the Armed Forces Bowl comes into play. It has been moved for this season only from Fort Worth to SMU's Robertson Stadium.
Air Force almost locked to Independence Bowl
It's not a done deal, but getting close, according to the Denver Post:
It doesn't take a lot of speculation to suggest that coach Troy Calhoun should contact his travel agent about making plans for the Air Force Falcons to travel to Shreveport, La., to play in the Dec. 27 Independence Bowl. Jim Hagan, chairman of the Independence Bowl selection committee, said Monday that the Falcons are more than sentimental favorites to get the call and return to the bowl for the first time since 1984. "I think you can say that if Air Force still is on the board when we pick, it's our top choice," Hagan said. "We're going to be at their game Saturday. We're looking at them real strong."
Maaco Bowl might look to Big 12
The Maaco Bowl in Las Vegas is supposed to feature a team from the Mountain West and Pac-10, but the Pac-10 might not have enough eligible teams. If not, look for the bowl to take somebody from the Big 12. According to the Las Vegas Journal, Iowa State and Texas Tech are the Big 12's most likely at-large candidates, though Texas could find itself looking for a bowl.
Greenwood to perform at Sun Bowl
Grammy Award winning artist Lee Greenwood will headline the Hyundai Halftime Show at the 77th Annual Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 at Sun Bowl Stadium. Greenwood, who is a two-time Country Music Association Male Vocalist of the Year, won a Grammy in 1984 and has charted seven No. 1 hits on the Billboard’s country chart.
Posted on: November 5, 2010 5:58 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Every week there's plenty of interesting matchups -- no, really -- that don't feature ranked teams and don't make anyone's "must-watch" list other than the team's fans. Here's three of them you should keep an eye on regardless (all times Eastern) :
UCF (6-2, 4-0) at Houston (5-3, 4-1), 8 p.m. Friday: It's less than three hours away from kickoff, but if you've got plans, change 'em: it's not every week you get a meeting between the leaders of each of Conference USA 's divisions (UCF in the East, Houston in the West). The schedule is less than kind to the Golden Knights, who already had what looked like a season-defining matchup in last week's 49-35 win over previous C-USA favorite East Carolina and now have the short week to prepare for their trip to Houston. But if they can get the same mix of Ronnie Weaver 's powerful rushing and new starting quarterback Jeff Godfrey 's efficient passing that powered them to 424 total yards last week, they'll be OK. For Houston, this is another chance to prove the three-losses-out-of-four skid following Case Keenum 's season-ending injury is truly behind them, and to put some distance between them and co-division leaders SMU .
Air Force (5-4, 3-3) at Army (5-3, n/a), 12 p.m.: It's been eight years since someone other than Navy took home the Commander in Chief's Trophy, but that could change tomorrow as a Falcons win would send the trophy back to Colorado Springs for the first time since 2002. That's not to say the stakes won't be equally high for Army; a win would make them bowl-eligible for the first time since 1996 and set up a winner-take-all showdown with the Midshipmen for the CIC Trophy. The Black Knights will be at home, but that may not be a help, since they've already dropped games to Hawaii and Temple at Michie Stadium this year and the Falcons have won six straight in West Point. With both teams well-versed in defending the other's option attack, the final result could come down to which team executes in their rare attempts to put the ball in the air.
Texas (4-4, 2-3) at Kansas State (5-3, 2-3), 8 p.m.: Admit it: it's fascinating to see how low the Longhorns can sink. And it remains possible they could sink all the way out of the postseason, with the 'Horns sitting at 4-4 and three potential losses still on the schedule in Oklahoma State , Texas A&M , and this week's date in Manhattan. If they can't contain Wildcat running back Daniel Thomas or get their 79th-ranked rushing attack going, Texas will slip below .500 for the first time in Mack Brown 's tenure in a long, long time. But there's a lot on the line for the Wildcats, too, who would secure themselves a bowl bid for the first time in Bill Snyder 's second stint at the KSU helm.