Tag:2011 Bowls
Posted on: December 31, 2011 2:11 am
 

QUICK HITS: Oklahoma 31, Iowa 14



Posted by Adam Jacobi

OKLAHOMA WON. It took longer to put away than the Sooners would have expected, but Oklahoma topped Iowa, 31-14, in the 2011 Insight Bowl. Landry Jones threw for his first touchdown since All-American WR Ryan Broyles went down with a torn ACL against Texas A&M on November 5, and short-yardage specialist QB Blake Bell rushed for three touchdowns on the day to help make Oklahoma's lead insurmountable.

HOW OKLAHOMA WON: Perhaps the complexion of the game would have been different if Iowa still had starting tailback Marcus Coker, who was suspended before the game for an unspecified conduct code violation. Alas, the Hawkeyes did not, and as a result the offense sputtered as it featured true freshman Jordan Canzeri instead. With Iowa struggling to move the ball, Oklahoma took a 21-0 lead into the fourth quarter, and although the Hawkeyes rallied late to push the score to 21-14 with about seven minutes left, OU slammed the door shut late.

WHEN OKLAHOMA WON: As mentioned before, the game appeared well in hand when Oklahoma led by three scores going into the fourth quarter. Iowa QB James Vandenberg came alive with a shift in offensive strategy in the second half, though, and it took a Michael Hunnicut field goal with 2:28 left to push the lead back to 10 points and effectively silence the Iowa rally. 

WHAT OKLAHOMA WON: There was no shortage of disappointment for Oklahoma to go from legitimate national championship contenders to Insight Bowl participants in the span of about a month, and the Sooners' extremely slow start on offense (7 yards in the first quarter) seemed to reflect that. But the Sooner offense gained momentum and finished strong to leave no doubt who the better team was in this game. That's an important reassurance for the players as they head into the offseason, and with a little help from some teams higher in the ranking, OU might even be able to parlay this win into a Top 10 finish just yet.

WHAT IOWA LOST: Iowa lost this game as soon as Coker was suspended, and the fact that Canzeri managed about three yards a carry even with a pretty good performance by his offensive line should drive that fact home. OU's defensive front was ripe for giving up a big day, and that just didn't happen when Iowa didn't have a legitimate tailback to run the ball. Still, Iowa's effectiveness throwing the ball out of the spread in the fourth quarter just underscored how futile it was to give the 172-pound Canzeri over 20 rushes (including 13 in the first quarter) and left Hawkeye fans wondering why Iowa spent so much time running a conservative offense in the first three quarters.

THAT WAS CRAZY: With 2:22 left in the fourth quarter as Iowa prepared for its first play from scrimmage on its last drive, ESPN's SkyCam unexpectedly fell to the field. And while the camera itself was never in danger of hitting any players, the wires on which the camera moves through the air nearly decapitated Marvin McNutt and three other Iowa players. Watch the insane video here.

BONUS CRAZY: On the drive that would end in the aforementioned Hunnicut field goal, OU faced a key 3rd down near midfield, and gave the ball to fullback Trey Millard. Millard went off-tackle right into the path of big-hitting safety Jordan Bernstine, who went low to take out Millard's legs. The result, as seen in the picture at the top, was a beautiful hurdle from Millard and a first-down run, and OU wouldn't look back for the rest of the game.

FINAL GRADE: D+. There wasn't much drama in this game, and neither team was at full strength in its offensive skill positions. As a result, neither team gained even 300 yards -- Iowa actually outgained OU, 292-275, as a matter of fact -- and all the fireworks were limited to pregame introductions. Hard to justify staying up late for this one.

Posted on: December 29, 2011 3:06 am
 

Insight Bowl Key Matchup

Posted by Adam Jacobi



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

Jamell Fleming, CB, Oklahoma vs. Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa

Marvin McNutt
is pretty indisputably the best pure wide receiver to ever wear the Iowa uniform. He holds the Iowa season and career records in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns, he's five catches away from the team season record, and he's eight receptions away from the Iowa career record -- all in just three seasons of work as a regular contributor at WR. Not bad for a converted three-star QB out of St. Louis. The 6'4", 215 lb. wideout excels in making catches on the run -- often difficult or even one-handed grabs -- and he and QB James Vandenberg have been lethal on fade routes this season (see above). Iowa is 7-2 when McNutt gets the ball six or more times, and 0-3 when he doesn't meet that mark, so shutting McNutt down is a high priority for OU.

Where McNutt is not particularly effective, however, is route precision. McNutt's stride is long enough that while it's not necessarily a negative on long-developing plays or other routes where he gets a free release, it does affect his agility and ability to shake a cornerback who just needs to play press coverage for three or four seconds, like on hooks, short outs, and other single-move timing routes. And lo and behold, that's two-time first team All-Big 12 cornerback Jamell Fleming's specialty.

Fleming gives up plenty to McNutt in terms of physicality at 5'11" and 191, as most corners do, but his agility and ball skills are advanced enough that he's going to be able to play within five yards of the line of scrimmage with confidence -- especially if OU's pass rush is as effective as expected. Fleming excels in shuttle agility and should be able to make a play on most quick throws that go McNutt's way. Now, if McNutt makes a catch, he's strong enough that Fleming isn't guaranteed to make the tackle, which could spring a big gain or two on slants or any route that ends with Fleming tailing McNutt, but OU's going to be primarily concerned with disrupting Iowa's timing to the extent that those plays are minimized from the start. 

Keep up with all the latest on Oklahoma and Iowa at the Insight Bowl Pregame.

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 2:22 am
 

Keys to the Game: Insight Bowl, Iowa vs. Oklahoma

Posted by Adam Jacobi

IOWA WILL WIN IF: Oklahoma feels like loaning the Hawkeyes a few starters, especially one at RB. Iowa faced long, long odds in this game even with its backfield at full strength. Now, starting RB Marcus Coker -- second only to Montee Ball among Big Ten RBs in rushing yards and touchdowns -- has been suspended and will not join the team at the Insight Bowl, and top backup Mika'il McCall was also suspended before the Nebraska game and will also not join the team. Iowa had a chance to pull an upset here with a running game to fall back on; now, QB James Vandenberg's going to have to basically carry the offense, and that's not a recipe for success.

OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: The pass rush on the edge continues its dominance. Oklahoma is seventh nationally in sacks per game at just over three per, and defensive ends Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis are a big part of that; the two players lead the Sooners in sacks and have combined for 14 on the year, but the beauty of Oklahoma's pass rush is its ability to get production out of its blitzers. 15 out of the 37 sacks racked up by the Sooners this year have come from the back seven, often from the edge, and that's precisely where Iowa has faced its most difficulty picking up blitzes when they've come from outside rather than up the middle. So being that Iowa's not going to keep OU on its heels with an effective running game, the Sooners should be prepared to pin their heels back on the outside and tee off with the pass rush.

THE X-FACTOR: Motivation. Oklahoma spent most of the season as a legitimate national championship contender, so to slide this far and end up in a December bowl against a 7-5 opponent like Iowa is probably going to have a deleterious effect on Oklahoma's ability to get motivated for this game. Additionally, Iowa just slodged through its most mediocre season since 2007 and already played in the Insight Bowl last year. So between those two factors, it's easy to envision that players on both sides might have a tougher time than usual getting up for this game. As such, whichever team blocks out the distractions and puts together good, honest hard work in preparation for this game is probably going to have an early edge. Bowl teams from BCS conferences are generally good enough to beat any opponent that isn't adequately prepared or motivated for the game, but there's really no telling who holds the edge here.

Keep up with all the latest on Oklahoma and Iowa at the Insight 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 19, 2011 8:45 pm
 

Beef O'Brady's Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Adam Jacobi

Key matchup: Kedrick Rhodes, RB, FIU vs. Omar Brown, FS, Marshall

Ordinarily, having a free safety lead a team in tackles by a substantial margin is usually a portender of doom: if ball-carriers are getting to the second level with such regularity that the defense's centerfielder is being required to make a plurality of the tackles, after all, that normally means that the linebackers are having such a rough go of it that forcing third and fourth downs is basically out of the question. And yet, there's Marshall FS Omar Brown, leading the Thundering Herd by a 16-tackle margin over the next leading tackler (LB George Carpenter), and Marshall's defense is still... well, it's not good, but it's okay!

Brown's going to have to spend plenty of time in run support on Tuesday, because FIU's probably going to give the ball to sophomore tailback Kedrick Rhodes at least 20 times -- and perhaps closer to 30 -- in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl. Rhodes broke the FIU record for most rushing yards in a year with 1164 yards this season, topping the mark of 1133 set by Rashod Smith in 2004, and Rhodes was named a 2nd team All-Sun Belt RB as a result. Rhodes isn't exactly a bruiser, but he's hardly a wisp either at 5'11", 190.

It's going to be easier for FIU to open up the game and create space for T.Y. Hilton to work his magic if the Marshall defense is preoccupied with stopping the run, and that's only going to happen if FIU can gain significant yardage on the ground to force 2nd and short or 3rd and short. And the extent to which Marshall utilizes Brown -- again, a defensive back, although one who's a tackle machine -- to do so should be a fascinating chess match to watch during the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.



Check out all the latest updates on FIU and Marshall right up until kickoff at the Beef O'Brady's 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 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.

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