Tag:Wac
Posted on: December 23, 2010 1:53 am
 

Bowl Grades: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Boise State overcame a sluggish first half to shut down the Utah Utes, 26-3.

Boise State

Offense: The Broncos committed an uncharacteristic four turnovers tonight, and that doesn't count the blocked field goal or the dropped pass on a fake punt. And yet, Kellen Moore still threw for well over 300 yards and got over 200 yards on the ground from his running backs. Moore and Austin Pettis combined for 11 completions, 145 yards, and a score -- all of which were bigger numbers than the Utah passing game accomplished altogether (Pettis also threw a two-yard completion to himself, which was as silly as it sounds). And while Boise didn't convert 10 of its 18 3rd downs, only one resulted in a punt, and that was a masterful 47-yard directional punt out of bounds. Still, the low point total could have been disastrous. Grade: B-

Defense: Utah quarterback Terrence Cain struggled all day long against the Boise defense. While some of those struggles were exacerbated by mental mistakes by his receivers -- more on that in a bit -- he also faced constant pressure from the Broncos' front four, often forcing sacks or quick and errant throws. Utah would only manage eight first downs on the entire day, and even the Utes' short-field drives (five of which started past the Utah 40) were by and large fruitless. Grade: A

Coaching: At times, Chris Peterson was a little too cute with his playcalling, and it led to potential problems for the Broncos. Most notably, we're talking about Peterson's fake punt reverse pass that ended up being thrown to punter/placekicker/scapegoat Kyle Brotzman , who was open on the play but displayed zero receiving acumen as he tried to catch the pass with his stomach. There's a reason not to throw these guys the ball, y'know. But even after that dropped pass and all the groaning by people reminiscing about Brotzman's awful night against Nevada last month, Peterson never hesitated calling his kicker's number, and that's commendable. Grade: B+

Utah

Offense: It's hard not to fall into the familiar "A's for winners, F's for losers" model of game grading, especially when dealing with a starting quarterback who's seen limited action this year like Terrence Cain. Cain started in place of injured Jordan Wynn and underwhelmed, as his final numbers bear out: 10/24, 93 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT; 14 rushes, 19 yards, 0 TD, one fumble lost. And yet, Cain had several good throws come up empty; the announcers estimated that six of Utah's 14 incompletions were on dropped passes (some of which were unconscionable), a pass to inside the 5-yard-line was called back on a dubious illegal downfield receiver, and a touchdown pass was waved off after an easy holding call. Cain could have done better; his supporting cast didn't give him much help, though, and that's clearly a problem when facing a defense like Boise's. Grade: D+

Defense: Give the Utah D some credit; by and large, it held the Boise rushing attack in check. If it weren't for that 84-yard run by Doug Martin to open up the Broncos' scoring, Utah would have given up just 118 yard on 36 carries, a 3.3-yard average. That's ordinarily very good! It's just, Martin's run did happen, and it changed the momentum of the game. Boise State's 26-second touchdown drive to cap the first half didn't help Utah much either. But other than those two quick strikes, the Utes largely held the Broncos in check. Boise's 26 points, in fact, were the least it had scored in any game this year. Not a bad performance, and that doesn't include the turnovers forced. Grade: B-

Coaching: It's tough to hang too much of the blame for Utah's struggles on Kyle Whittingham tonight; after all, he wasn't the one out there committing penalties or dropping passes. Still, though, his playcalling left a little to be desired; too often, Cain would drop back on first down, something the Boise State pass rush and linebackers were routinely ready for. Matt Asiata , Eddie Wide III , and Shaky Smithson each had a rush for over 20 yards on the day, yet the three players combined for only the same amount of carries (14) as Cain had on the day. That's not putting the offense in position to make plays. Grade: C

Final Grade

This could have been a good game, but Utah spent so, so much time blowing opportunities in new and exciting ways (fumbling in Boise territory, committing backbreaking penalties, making Cain face over 10 yars on all but a couple of his third downs, etc.) that once Boise State was up 16-3, the game just felt over. That's a departure from Boise State's usual bowl play, which routinely features 60-minute, one-possession contests, but c'mon; the Broncos even tried handing the Utes a big lead in the first half and Utah couldn't capitalize. It's too bad such a high-profile game turned into such a snoozer (I have literally fallen asleep three times since starting this article), but Boise State is a very good team, and this is what very good teams do to sloppy teams. Grade: C-


Posted on: December 21, 2010 12:34 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Las Vegas Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Why to Watch: This is a no-brainer. We've got a Top-20 matchup between two teams that had spent time in the Top 5 late in the season, both of whom can put points up in bunches. Boise State has a lot to prove after seeing its BCS dreams fly wide of the uprights at Nevada, and what would be a better sendoff for Utah as it heads to the Pac-10 than to knock off a powerhouse like Boise?

Keys to victory for Boise State: It seems like this game would be a cakewalk for Boise State, and it might well be one at the end of the day, but one of the uncomfortable truths about the Broncos is that they don't exactly show up for bowl games on a consistent basis. They're 6-4 in bowl games, and those losses have come against some unspectacular competition: 11-1 Louisville , 9-3 Boston College , 8-5 East Carolina , and 11-2 TCU. Oh sure, Boise has also taken out an undefeated TCU and a loaded Oklahoma squad in that unforgettable 2007 Fiesta Bowl, but by and large the overall resume isn't that impressive -- especially when Boise's not playing on the home Smurf Turf in the Humanitarian Bowl. In fact, every bowl the Broncos have ever played away from Boise has been decided by seven points or less.

So with a feisty Utah squad facing it, Boise State needs to jump out early and bury the Utes. Kellen Moore has no shortage of weapons to make that happen, of course; Titus Young and Austin Pettis have been making cornerbacks look silly all season long, and Boise's troika of tailbacks gives the Broncos the ability to grind out touchdowns or take a simple halfback counter to the house.

Keys to victory for Utah: Everything that happened against TCU and Notre Dame? Yeah, Utah's going to need the opposite of that. Utah's two losses on the season were both disastrous blowouts, dropping a 47-7 home game to the Horned Frogs, then following it up with a 28-3 drubbing in South Bend that didn't even seem all that close. That's the type of collapse that can send a team reeling, but the Utes managed to win their last two games against bowl teams San Diego State and BYU -- both games where the Utes mounted double-digit fourth quarter comebacks. Which is to say, the fight's still there, and Utah's going to need it yet again in this bowl.

If the Utes want to stay in position to compete for all 60 minutes, they won't be able to do it by winning a shooting match with the Broncos. Boise's defense is too good for that, and Jordan Wynn isn't a good enough quarterback to hang 30 points on the Broncos yet. Therefore, Utah's going to need to at least slow down the Bronco attack, which is a lot easier said than done. Young and Pettis should be early deep targets, and Kellen Moore's deadly accuracy off play action means that simply staying with a seven-man front isn't going to be enough to neutralize the Boise passing game. Still, Utah's rush defense has been solid all season long, and if the Utes commit to taking away the pass (as best as one team can against Moore, anyway), the score should stay low enough that Utah could potentially make a game of it. Boise State's aforementioned habit of keeping bowl games close ought to work in Utah's favor. Or maybe Boise State's just overdue for a blowout. Time to see.

The Las Vegas Bowl is like: Vegas, baby. An entertaining, high-powered bowl with elite performers in the middle of the first week of bowl season is about as likely as an entertaining, high-powered city with elite performers in the middle of the desert in the Southwest. Of course, Las Vegas features gambling and we'd rather you didn't gamble on this bowl game -- just let the kids play ball, y'know? -- but there's no such thing as a perfect analogy so let's just let that detail slide and enjoy the game for what it is: the best December bowl of the season.

Posted on: December 15, 2010 3:01 pm
 

Fresno State suspends 3 players for bowl game

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It looks like Fresno State will be short three players this weekend when it heads to Boise to take on Northern Illinois in the Humanitarian Bowl this Saturday.  The school announced on Wednesday that it had suspended three players, being kind enough to wait until after I'd written and published my Humanitarian Bowl preview.

Of the three suspensions, only linebacker Kyle Knox is a starter for the Bulldogs. The other two players are wide receiver Matt Lindsey and backup linebacker Daniel Salinas.

"Our student-athletes know and understand our rules and regulations," said Fresno State head coach Pat Hill said in a news release. "And those who don't abide by the rules will not be permitted to participate."

What those rules were, as is usually the case, were not released by the school.  

As for how these suspensions will impact Fresno, Knox's loss will likely be felt.  The junior has started all three seasons he's been at the school, and was second on the team in tackles this season with 74.  Considering that the Bulldogs have already been pretty soft against the run this season, not having Knox around against a read option team like Northern Illinois could cause even more problems.
Posted on: December 15, 2010 11:13 am
Edited on: December 15, 2010 12:03 pm
 

Bowl Bonanza: Humanitarian Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Why You Should Watch: Honestly, unless you're a fan of either Northern Illinois or Fresno State, you probably don't think there is a reason to watch this game. It's understandable, but believe us when we tell you there are a few reasons to watch.  First of all, it's been a few weeks since you've had any college football to watch, so it's time to take care of your fix.  Second, while these two teams may not be headliners, the matchup promises to be interesting.

Keys to Victory for Northern Illinois: Obviously things will be a bit different for Northern Illinois during the bowl game.  The Huskies are coming off of a loss to Miami (OH) in the MAC Championship game, and they've also lost their head coach Jerry Kill to Minnesota since then.  Still, with or without their head coach, what Northern Illinois needs to do to win this game is obvious.

Northern has the 7th ranked rushing offense in the country this season behind running back Chad Spann and quarterback Chandler Harnish.  Fresno State hasn't been very stellar against the run defense this season, particularly against spread option attacks like the one that Northern Illinois runs.  So for the Huskies to pick up the 11th win of the season -- which would be a school record -- they're going to need to keep the ball on the ground, and when the moment presents itself, attack the Fresno secondary deep.  Harnish has always been more of a runner, but his passing has improved quite a bit this season, so the Huskies should take advantage of it when they can.

Keys to Victory for Fresno State: The key for Fresno State in Boise will be the men in the trenches.  On defense, the line is going to have to remain disciplined, and maintain its assignments to stop the Huskies ground game.  It's easier said than done, as Fresno's front four has had problems doing this all season.  Still, while Northern can throw a bit, if you take away its run game and force it to throw more than it wants to, you can stop the Huskies offense.

On the other side of the ball, the offensive line will have to protect QB Ryan Colburn.  Colburn has a good arm and is a solid quarterback, but he has a tendency to make bad decisions when he's being pressured in the pocket.  He tends to force passes when he feels pressure, and against an opportunistic Huskies secondary, this won't work well for the Bulldogs.

The good news for Fresno is that the last few weeks off have given RB Robbie Rouse time to heal from rib and hand injuries he suffered towards the end of the season.  What could help Colburn and the offensive line more than anything would be for the team's workhorse to carry the load once again on offense.

The Humanitarian Bowl Is Like: It's like that kid back in grade school that nobody seems to like.  He usually sits alone at lunch time, and the other kids think he's weird and nobody ever pays any attention to him.  Hell, they don't even make fun of him.  Then one day the kid shows up at your house because both your moms go to the same salon and set up some kind of play date, and after you spend they day hanging out with him you realize "Hey, this kid isn't so bad.  In fact, he's kind of cool."  Of course, you never tell anyone at school about this.  You do have a reputation to uphold.
Posted on: December 12, 2010 1:51 am
Edited on: December 12, 2010 2:18 am
 

Heisman voting breakdown, region-by-region

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here are the final Heisman voting numbers for this year's balloting.

NORTHEAST

  • 1. Cam Newton , 379
  • 2. Andrew Luck , 168
  • 3. LaMichael James , 162
  • 4. Kellen Moore , 113

MID-ATLANTIC

  • 1. Cam Newton, 379
  • 2. Andrew Luck, 187
  • 3. LaMichael James, 143
  • 4. Kellen Moore, 108

SOUTH

  • 1. Cam Newton, 418
  • 2. Andrew Luck, 158
  • 3. LaMichael James, 152
  • 4. Kellen Moore, 81

SOUTHWEST

  • 1. Cam Newton, 384
  • 2. Andrew Luck, 176
  • 3. LaMichael James, 158
  • 4. Kellen Moore, 103

MIDWEST

  • 1. Cam Newton, 356
  • 2. Andrew Luck, 192
  • 3. LaMichael James, 145
  • 4. Kellen Moore, 95

FAR WEST

  • 1. Cam Newton, 347
  • 2. Andrew Luck, 198
  • 3. LaMichael James, 156
  • 4. Kellen Moore, 135

The complete lack of a regional bias is, to say the least, astonishing; not only was this Cam Newton's award the entire way, but Andrew Luck is now the prohibitive favorite for the 2011 Heisman. Take that observation for the little amount it's worth -- Mark Ingram was a sophomore Heisman winner just last year, and he was hardly a factor in this year's voting, after all -- but if Luck returns for his junior year or James comes back for his senior campaign, Oregon - Stanford will clearly be the most anticipation-worthy game on 2011's schedule all of a sudden.

It's also pretty amazing that this universal consensus of Heisman voters didn't appear to affect the Football Writers' Association of America, who didn't find it necessary to vote Newton onto any of their All-American teams that were released today. It would be interesting to see the overlap of Heisman voters and FWAA voters; after all, there's much more language about off-field behavior built into the Heisman Trophy's stipulations than into thoe of the All-American teams, and yet Newton was clearly punished far more on All-America voting than on Heisman voting. Why?


Posted on: December 9, 2010 2:15 am
Edited on: December 9, 2010 2:20 am
 

Utah player guarantees win over Boise State

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Are you excited about the Las Vegas Bowl? You should be! Boise State and Utah are squaring off, and even though Boise's heavily favored and Utah got blasted 47-7 by TCU in Week 10, we should see plenty of offensive fireworks. Oh, and Utah's going to pull the upset.

What? Don't believe that we're seriously calling this one for the Utes right now? Well!  We happen to be working with inside information -- namely, the testimony of Utah DE Christian Cox. Here's what he told Utah basketball fans Tuesday night, according to the Deseret News:

Head coach Kyle Whittingham , center Zane Taylor and defensive end Christian Cox spoke to the crowd, thanked them for their support and encouraged them to make it to MAACO Bowl Las Vegas [sic].

Cox, however, delivered the biggest statement.

"I promise a victory against Boise State in Las Vegas," he said. "You better be there."

Now, here's the thing: Utah probably will not beat Boise State. It probably won't even be close. Crazy things do happen in bowl games all the time, though. Boise State has a fantastic track record of showing up big in big bowl games, but it's also a team that dropped a bowl game to an 8-3 Boston College in 2005 and a 7-5 East Carolina (the Chris Johnson coming-out party, if you'll recall) in 2007. If the Broncos are still bummed about getting bounced from the BCS on two horrifying missed chip shots and don't take this game seriously, Utah is still good enough to give them fits.

And should Cox's guarantee come to pass, the one team that will be howling with dismay is TCU, whose national standing suffered after a "lackluster" 40-35 win over San Diego State that was never really that close. Sure, Wisconsin will probably beat TCU, but if the Horned Frogs can go 12-0 in the regular season with a 40-point win against a Utah team that can beat Boise State and still have no shot at the national title (to the point where many wondered aloud if Auburn losing the SEC Championship to South Carolina would actually be enough to drop the Tigers to No. 3 if TCU's waiting there), then there's really no reason for the non-AQ conference teams to participate in the BCS bowl system, is there?

So yes, there could be some wide-ranging ramifications to the Boise State-Utah matchup in the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl. And they'll all come to pass, because Utah's definitely going to win! Christian Cox even said so, you guys!


Posted on: December 7, 2010 5:27 pm
 

Boise State president not thrilled with BCS error

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As pointed out by CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm yesterday, the final BCS rankings contained a serious error in one of the computer rankings, one that directly affected the standings. Dennis Dodd correctly noted that it was pretty much luck that A: this error didn't affect a BCS bowl pairing itself (or, heaven forbid, the BCS Championship Game itself), and that B: the error was even caught in the first place, since the other five computer rankings don't release their calculations to anybody.

Those are viewpoints shared by Boise State president Bob Kustra, who has been critical of the BCS system's existence for years, and who saw his team directly affected by this error. Here's a letter Kustra sent to various school presidents and college athletics administrators today expressing further dissatisfaction with the BCS, published by the Idaho Statesman :

I trust that you have heard about the news from CBS sports analyst Jerry Palm that the BCS rankings erroneously ranked the positions of four teams in the final BCS rankings of the season.

The BCS has corrected for it and Bill Hancock has apologized, but it still leaves open the question of transparency. There are five other computer models used to determine the rankings each week that are hidden from public view, unlike the approach used by Wes Colley who allows the light of day to shine on his work.  Thankfully, in this case an astute third party caught the error and brought it to the attention of the BCS.  I’m sure that you can imagine numerous “what if” scenarios where this type of mistake could have had significant repercussions.

How many times have we heard calls for transparency on our campuses and how many times have we shared our governance and communicated with our faculties and other constituencies in a transparent fashion?  Yet, in intercollegiate athletics, with the NCAA standing silently on the sidelines, we allow the BCS to work its magic with no idea of how accurate its rankings are on a week to week basis.  

It's egregious enough to see teams with mediocre seasons climb into the BCS bowl games because they happen to be in privileged conferences, while others with better records are written off as second-class citizens.   When we cannot see how these decisions are made, it becomes an affront to the concepts of integrity and fair play that we claim to value. 

When C. Wright Mills wrote of the "power elite", I doubt he was speaking of universities and intercollegiate athletics.  If he were still around, there could be a great second edition, this time focused on where elitism really runs rampant and takes Division 1 football players from some conferences and restrains their ability to compete.  I hope you noticed my choice of the word, "restrain".  I trust we will all be hearing more about "restraint" unless presidents step up and do the right thing.

C. Wright Mills? Now there's a reference that should get people firing up Wikipedia. But Kustra is right: the near-complete lack of transparency on the part of the NCAA and BCS on this matter means that there is no assurance that non-AQ schools will ever be on the same level playing field as BCS-conference schools when it comes to playing for a national championship ... or for the $17 million that comes from one BCS bowl berth these days.

Whether Kustra will find allies in automatic qualifier conferences to help take up his cause is debatable; it's not exactly in those schools' best interests to give up any portion of the concentrated monetary power they currently enjoy, after all, and the institutionalized disadvantages Boise State and its fellow non-AQ schools face ensure that barring a sea change, those BCS-conference schools will never be forced to cede that power. "Sorry," they'll say, "but we're just more qualified for the postseason than you schools are. And we've got the computer rankings to prove it."

Posted on: December 1, 2010 7:17 pm
 

Utah headed to Las Vegas Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The bowl dominoes have continue to fall this afternoon as the Salt Lake Tribune has reported that Utah has accepted a bid to the Las Vegas Bowl (or, to be precise, the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas ). Despite the game's longtime affiliation with the Mountain West , this will be the Utes' first postseason visit to Sin City since 2001, when they defeated USC 10-6.

As recently as yesterday, Utah appeared to be on the fence about accepting their invitation to Vegas, but changed their minds for reasons Lya Wodraska explains via Twitter :





Though you can't imagine playing Boise State being overly excited about a Mountain West team for a third consecutive season, it would likely beat playing a .500 at-large team to be determined (our bowl projections slot in Georgia Tech ) in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl .

If Boise bites, the Las Vegas Bowl has a smashing must-see matchup between the lightning-rod Broncos and a ranked Ute team that despite its back-to-back flops vs. TCU and Notre Dame  still finished a robust 10-2 on the year.If you'll pardon the Vegas pun, the game appears to halfway home to hitting the jackpot.

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