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Tag:ACC
Posted on: December 29, 2011 9:18 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 9:21 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Florida State 18 Notre Dame 14

Posted by Tom Fornelli

FLORIDA STATE WON. For the first 30 minutes of this game, Florida State looked pretty hopeless. An offensive line featuring four freshmen was being overwhelmed by Notre Dame's front seven leaving E.J. Manuel running for his life. The Seminoles were only able to manage a field goal in the first half, but even that was set up by a great kick return that only saw the 'Noles move backward and have to settle for 3 points. Then the second half came.

The offensive line figured things out at halftime, with some help from a lack of blitzes by the Irish, and Florida State owned the final thirty minutes, outscoring the Irish 15-0. It was not a pretty effort by any means, as Florida State managed only 290 yards of offense and was 3-of-14 on third down in the game, but the 'Noles got the job done thanks to some big throws by Manuel and some great grabs by Rashad Green. That and a defense that smothered Notre Dame for most of the night.

WHY FLORIDA STATE WON. Florida State won this game because it did the best thing a team can do when facing Notre Dame: let Notre Dame beat itself. The Irish turned the ball over 3 times in this one, including 2 turnovers in the red zone by quarterback Tommy Rees who twice tried to force a touchdown pass that just wasn't there. That and a strong defensive effort on a whole -- Notre Dame only scored one of its touchdowns on offense -- is why the Seminoles are leaving Orlando with a win.

WHEN FLORIDA STATE WON. With less than three minutes to go and Notre Dame trailing by 4 points inside Florida State territory, Tommy Rees launched an ill-advised pass into double coverage that was picked off by Terrence Brooks in the end zone. The Seminoles then ran out most of what remained on the clock.

WHAT FLORIDA STATE WON. Well, you can joke and say that by winning this game, Florida State has now earned the right to be the one of these two programs that is grossly overrated heading into the 2012 season. You know, kind of like both schools were going into 2011. Still, in reality, this is a nice win for Florida State and sends them into the offseason with some momentum. Florida State isn't a perfect team by any means, but it was also a better squad than what we saw in 2011.

WHAT NOTRE DAME LOST. A chance to end the season on a positive note. Instead this bowl game served as a 60-minute microcosm of the entire Notre Dame season in 2011. Terrible turnovers by an inconsistent offense combined with a defense that played well, but just couldn't play well enough to make up for the offense. So now, heading into 2012, the Irish face the same exact questions they had coming into 2011. Namely, who is going to be this team's quarterback?

THAT WAS CRAZY. Michael Floyd played his last game for Notre Dame, and also became the first receiver in school history to catch 100 passes in a season. Unfortunately he wasn't able to finish the game after suffering an undisclosed injury,but before leaving he made this ridiculous touchdown grab and saved Tommy Rees from a third red zone turnover in the process.



GRADE: C+. I gave this game the "+" because at the very least it was close. However, other than that, there wasn't really much to enjoy here save for some spectacular grabs by guys like Michael Floyd and Rashad Green. If those two had just put on a trick catch competition instead of the actual game, the grade likely would have been a lot higher.
Posted on: December 29, 2011 6:27 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2011 4:48 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Chick-Fil-A Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

AUBURN WILL WIN IF: Gene Chizik still has some of that old defensive coordinating magic tucked away somewhere. With the exception of a handful of games during his team's 2010 national title run, Chizik -- a Broyles Award winner as a DC with a long and exemplary track record at both Auburn and Texas -- has never been able to translate that acumen to his defenses as a head coach, either at Iowa State or Auburn. That continued this year, as the Tigers slumped to a 79th-place finish in total defense, their formerly stout rush defense (which led the SEC in 2010) plummeting to 98th nationally.

With the Auburn offense an out-and-out shambles by season's end (the Tigers failed to score more than 17 points against any SEC team outside the state of Mississippi) and Gus Malzahn unlikely to fix it while splitting time with his new head coaching duties at Arkansas State, Chizik's winning formula will have to be the same as it was in his team's midseason upset of South Carolina and defeat of Florida: a stifling defensive effort paired with just enough points to get by. In up-and-coming defensive end Corey Lemonier and fiery senior linebacker Eltoro Freeman, Chizik has some of the pieces necessary to reprise those game-winning performances from earlier in the year. With Ted Roof out of the picture and the Dec. 31 date giving him plenty of time to work with his defense, this is Chizik's chance to prove he can still make a difference on the defensive side of the ball; if he's not up to it, it's highly doubtful his team will be up to winning the game, either.

VIRGINIA WILL WIN IF: they take advantage of their opportunities. There aren't many teams with a wider gap between their FBS rank in total offense and scoring offense than the Cavaliers, who finished a respectable 48th in yards but managed to come in 88th in points. The culprit's an easy one to spot: Virginia converted just 21 of its 42 red zone possessions into touchdowns, a 50 percent mark that placed them 105th nationally. Starting running back Perry Jones (883 yards) and sophomore quarterback Michael Rocco (2,359 passing yards, 7.3 an attempt) have been capable when it comes to moving the chains, but aren't much for the big play; Jones has only five touchdowns on 176 attempts, Rocco 11 TD throws (to 11 interceptions) on 325 passes.

Given Auburn's defensive frailties, Rocco, Jones and the Cavs are likely to move the ball and add a few more red zone possessions to their total of opportunities. But if they don't cash in, the game could devolve into the kind of diown-to-the-wire white-knuckler in which Chizik's teams have had so much success.

THE X-FACTOR: A major reason Auburn won those slugfests with the Gamecocks and Gators, or its season-opening shootout with Utah State? Its special teams, which feature Ray Guy award finalist Steven Clark at punter, dangerous kick returners Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason (who each have a return for a score this season), and touchback machine Cody Parkey handling kickoffs. According to Phil Steele's special teams ratings, Auburn finished the year eighth in the kicking game and Virginia 91st. If those numbers prove accurate, the Cavs could have a hard time overcoming what might be a decisive Tiger advantage in field position.

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 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.

Keep up with all the latest on Georgia Tech and Utah at the Sun Bowl Pregame

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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.

Keep up with all the latest on Georgia Tech and Utah at the Sun 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 29, 2011 2:47 pm
 

Music City Bowl Key Matchup

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A look at the key matchup that could decide the Music City Bowl. 



Mississippi State CB Johnthan Banks vs. Wake Forest WR Chris Givens.

As we pointed out in our Keys to the Game for the Music City Bowl, the Demon Deacons don't have much to hang their hat on from a statistical perspective; they rank in the bottom half of the FBS in scoring, rush and total offense and as well as rush, pass, total and scoring defense. They aren't even particularly good on special teams, where Phil Steele's ratings place them 71st despite a 16-of-20 performance from placekicker Jimmy Newman.

But there is one thing Wake does well, and at times has done spectacularly: get the ball from quarterback Tanner Price to wide receiver Chris Givens. The two have hooked up 74 times this season for 1,276 yards and 9 touchdowns, earning the 6'0" junior from Texas first-team All-ACC honors. The most remarkable thing about Givens' 2011 performance was its consistency; he caught at least four passes in all 12 games (though never more than eight) and hauled in at least one touchdown in eight (though never more than two). As Givens' overall production went, though, so went the Deacons. In the eight games in which he finished with 80 receiving yards or more, Wake went 6-2; in the four in which he didn't (all of which came in the final five games of the season), they went 0-4.

Here's the bad news for Givens, and the Deacons: much like season finale opponent Vanderbilt and Casey Hayward -- who held Givens to four quiet receptions for 69 yards and no TDs -- Mississippi State has a lockdown corner to throw at Wake's best (and arguably only) offensive weapon. Junior Johnthan Banks isn't a household name and didn't even make the coaches' first- or second-team All-SEC thanks to the glut of premier corners in the conference, but Banks was the No. 1 reason why State finished 23rd nationally in pass defense and 11th in opponent's yards-per-pass attempt. Both rugged and quick, Banks has the skills to keep Givens every bit as quiet as the Commodores did.

But that doesn't mean he'll actually do it, not when Givens has the kind of talent he does and a veteran quarterback in Price who knows how to get him the ball. If Givens can't get the better of Banks, though, it shapes up as a difficult evening for the Deacons.

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 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.

Get all the latest updates from Georgia Tech and Utah right up until kickoff at the Sun 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 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.

Get all the latest updates from Georgia Tech and Utah right up until kickoff at the Sun 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 28, 2011 1:36 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Pac-12, Big Ten enter schedule agreement

Posted by Jerry Hinnen and Adam Jacobi

College basketball's ACC-Big Ten Challenge? It's nice and all, but so 2007 (or so). So leave it to Larry Scott and Jim Delany to engineer the 2017 version -- and do it on the gridiron.

Scott's Pac-12 and Delany's Big Ten announced Wednesday that they have reached a formal nonconference scheduling agreement across all sports, with the football version starting five seasons from now in 2017. All 12 teams in each league will play one team in the other as part of their nonconference schedule.

"This makes a lot of sense," Scott told the USA Today, "in terms of continuing to broaden our exposure and improving programming and improving the caliber of our schools' matchups."

“As other conferences continue to grow through expansion, we believe there is great merit in deepening the historic relationship between the Big Ten and Pac-12,” said Delany. “We believe that both conferences can preserve that sense of collegiality and still grow nationally by leveraging our commonalities in a way that benefits student-athletes, fans and alumni. This collaboration can and will touch many institutional undertakings, and will complement our academic and athletic missions.”

The leagues have yet to reach a consensus on some issues of arrangement, from what the series will be called to how the teams will be paired up (and sites assigned) to where the games will be televised. But the "Pac-12-Big Ten Challenge" nonetheless promises to make an immediate, seismic impact on the nonconference profile of both leagues, and should provide plenty of high-stakes, must-see viewing for both leagues' respective TV networks. 

That doesn't mean there won't be drawbacks. The Rose Bowl will now run the small but tangible risk of repeating a regular-season matchup, for one. For another, with both conferences committed to nine-game league schedules, another fixed non-conference matchup will leave schools with annual non-league rivalries (think Michigan or USC, and their series with Notre Dame) with just one open "breather" date to fill on their schedules.

To that end, Scott has stated that the Pac-12 will remain committed to its nine-game schedule, but Delany told USA Today the Big Ten will "likely rethink the move," and if that sounds like a polite way of saying "it's out," it should be no surprise that Pete Thamel reports the Big Ten will stick with its eight-game schedule now instead.

Speaking as college football fans, the lack of juicy non-conference games has been a creeping menace to the quality of college football seasons -- just look at the dreck that fills SEC non-conference schedules every September (and mid-November) -- and Scott and Delany deserve major commendations for their part in fighting that problem head-on.

"This will add a tough, high-quality opponent," Scott said. "Certainly, it creates a tougher path (to the national championship game). But the benefits, we think, outweigh the fact it's far more challenging."

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