Tag:Montee Ball
Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:29 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 12:22 pm
 

1-to-35: Ranking the 2011 bowl games



Posted by Jerry Hinnen


Each December, there's plenty of rankings out there as to how good each bowl should be. But if that's the "before," what about the "after"? Here's the Eye on CFB's (highly subjective) ranking of all 35 bowls from the 2011-2012 college football postseason, best game to worst.

1. Rose. Unlike certain other bowls we could name (who happen to rhyme with "Schmalamo"), the Rose's outburst of offense came despite the presence of legitimate championship-level defenses--making the punch and counter-punch between Russell Wilson and Montee Ball on one side and LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas on the other like haymakers in a heavyweight prizefight. Add in college football's greatest venue, a down-to-the-wire ending, and even the aesthetic battle between the Badgers' understated uniforms and the Ducks' glitter factory helmets, and you've got the best bowl-watching experience of the year.

2. Fiesta. Andrew Luck vs. Justin Blackmon at the top of their powers -- at the top of the powers of anyone at their positions in college football -- would be worth a top-five placement alone. Luck vs. Blackmon and 79 points and overtime drama? That's worth top-two.

3. Alamo Bowl. To call the defenses in this game abominably porous would be an insult to pores (and abominations). But the Alamo is a random weeknight bowl game--just as no one wants to watch an Oscar-baiting 17th-century literary adaptation on their Guys' Night Out, so no one tuned into the Alamo for rugged defense and awesome punting. Thankfully, what Baylor and Washington gave us was the college football equivalent of four hours of Jason Statham shooting explosions.

4. Outback. Come for Kirk Cousins leading the most unlikely comeback this side of the whooping crane, stay for Mark Richt nominating himself for the (dis)honor of "World's Fraidiest-Cat Football Coach." Oh, and triple overtime.

5. New Orleans. We'd ask if you could remember this thriller between Louisiana-Lafayette and San Diego State from the bowl season's opening night, but we don't think anyone who watched could forget Ragin' Cajun kicker Brett Baer deliriously celebrating his last-second game-winner if they tried.

6. Military. One word: #MACtion. And two numbers: 42-41. And, all right, eight more words to help do this game justice: last-minute do-or-die failed fake extra point holder-kicker option.

7. Sun. We're suckers for any game featuring the triple-option (see the Air Force game ranked one spot above), and Utah's 4th-and-14 touchdown conversion to send the game into OT was one of the more dramatic single plays of the entire bowl season. That 3-0 anti-classic between Pitt and Oregon State was a particularly distant memory in El Paso this year.

8. Belk. A matchup of Utterly Average ACC team vs. Utterly Average Big East team -- in a bowl sponsored by a department store that thinks Macy's is way too wild and edgy -- should have been one of the snoozers of the year. Instead, Mike Glennon caught fire, Louisville mounted a spirited comeback, and this wound up one of the better games of the postseason.

9. Little Caesars. The quality of play in this game at times was like ... well, have you ever actually eaten the pizza of the sponsor? But Western Michigan receiver Jordan White put on a spectacular show (13 catches, 249 yards), the teams combined for 69 points, and the Boilers special teams pulled off two onsides kicks and a kick return for TD. Tasty!

10. Famous Idaho Potato. OK, OK: we're giving this game (which was less-than-must-see-viewing for much of the first 55 minutes) a slight bonus for its killer logo. But we're giving it a much bigger bonus for the pulse-pounding final drive from quarterback Tyler Tettleton and the Bobcats for the first bowl win in program history.

11. Armed Forces. If you're going to be a sorta-dull game between two sorta-unmemorable teams, better come up with a memorable play and/or a big finish. Riley Nelson's game-winning fake spike touchdown to become college football's answer to Dan Marino just about did the trick.

12. Sugar. Another for the "ugly game, fascinating ending" file, but this was Michigan doing their damnedest to be Michigan again and Virginia Tech doing their damnedest to avoid the rabbit's feet and horseshoes and four-leaf clovers falling out of the Wolverines' pockets -- Danny Coale most especially -- and it was in New Orleans. You didn't quit watching, did you?

13. Poinsettia. Not a classic, but three-and-a-half back-and-forth hours with a feisty Louisiana Tech team and an underrated TCU squad most definitely qualified as "serviceable." Think of this year's Poinsettia as the quality burger-and-fries plate from the local joint down the street--not mind-blowing, but spend a few weeks in Peru, where they don't have burgers or college football, and you'll crave a Poinsettia Bowl so badly you could scream.

14. Orange. In the space of about an hour, Dana Holgorsen's evisceration of Clemson went from thrilling to discomfiting to boring to morbidly fascinating to -- once we all realized the Mountaineers weren't going to hit triple digits -- back to boring again. Not every game that hits 100 points is one for the DVD vaults, as it turns out.

15. Liberty. Give me Cincinnati defeating Vanderbilt in surprisingly convincing, mildly entertaining fashion or give me death! (Actually, we've got that first thing already, so no need to worry about providing the second, thanks.)

16. Chick-Fil-A. For 2.5 quarters, this was a delightful shootout with all the requisite trickery you'd hope for from a game involving Gus Malzahn. Then Virginia remembered that it was not only Virginia, but proud ACC member Virginia, and the fun was over.

17. Meineke Car Care. Seriously, Texas A&M, we didn't tune in to see you only flirt with blowing a huge lead against a team that hasn't won a bowl game since approximately the Grover Cleveland administration.

18. Capital One. This game featured an abundance of must-watch plays -- Alshon Jeffery catching a  bomb, Alshon Jeffery hauling in a half-ending Hail Mary, Alshon Jeffery getting ejected for fighting -- but aside from, well, Alshon Jeffery, there wasn't much to it.

19. Cotton Bowl. The 15 seconds of Joe Adams' punt return, the 10 seconds of Jarius Wright's touchdown, and the 5 minutes when it looked like Kansas State might mount yet another smashing comeback were riveting stuff. The other 54:35? Not so much.

20. BCS National Championship. A great game, if you're the sort of fan who enjoys watching nature shows where a pride of lions tear a wildebeest to pieces because the wildebeest can't complete a downfield pass to save its life.

21. TicketCity. If he'd stuggled, he'd have been called a fraud; because he ripped Penn State's D into tiny shreds, no one paid attention. Which is why we're working on a sitcom pilot right now called Case Keenum Can't Win.

22. Gator. When one team's special teams scores just one fewer touchdown than the two offenses combined (as Florida's did), it's safe to say you're not watching a classic.

23. GoDaddy.com. Thanks to a 31-0 run from Northern Illinois, what was expected to be a nailbiting shootout ended up the biggest disappointment since that "unrated web content" we checked out.

24. Champs Sports. It wasn't pretty, but at least the Seminoles and Irish were trying their best ... to make us wish they'd just aired a repeat of the 1993 meeting instead.

25. Las Vegas. College football produces a lot of emotions, but from the neutral perspective, it's rare that one of them is outright legitimate anger. Seeing Kellen Moore forced to end his career slumming it against an Arizona State team that checked out in early November sure turned the trick, though.

26. Independence. The Tar Heels came out so flat, and were finished off so quickly, that we're pretty sure the only lovely parting gift they walked away with was "Independence Bowl: the Board Game."

27. Music City. Mississippi State turned the ball over four times, and Wake Forest averaged 2.9 yards per-play. If Hank Williams or some other old-time country artist had come to Nashville to write a sad song about a sad bowl game, this is the game they'd use for inspiration.

28. Insight. Sadly, the only "insight" we got from this game was that Vegas oddsmakers -- who had the Sooners installed as the biggest favorite of the entire bowl season -- know what they're talking about. And who didn't know that already?

29. Holiday. It wasn't that long ago when Jeff Tedford's Cal and Mack Brown's Texas squaring off would have been appointment television. This game was, too, though in the sense that it was the sort of game you made an appointment somewhere else to avoid viewing.

30. Hawaii. Nevada and Southern Mississippi were collectively as sharp as your average butter knife, but let's see you spend a week chilling in Hawaii and then play a quality football game. The best players the NFL has to offer try it every single year and haven't succeeded yet.

31. Pinstripe. The only thing we remember from this game was our wish to travel back to, say, 1998, and explain to a random college football fan that in 2011, Rutgers would win a bowl game in Yankee Stadium that would give them the nation's longest postseason winning streak. (We're still not sure it's actually happening.)

32. Beef 'O' Brady's. Newton's Second Law of Bowl Aesthetics: Whensoever a Game Produces Fewer Offensive Touchdowns Than the Game Has Apostrophes in its Title, That Game Shall Be, Verily, Entirely Terrible.

33. New Mexico. We'd waited so long to be able to sit down and watch a college bowl game, and by halftime we were sort of wishing we'd gotten to wait a little bit longer.

34. BBVA Compass. For two straight years, Pitt has been forced to play in Legion Field on a January weekday afternoon in front of no one under an interim coach against a nondescript opponent. Vs. SMU the Panthers looked like they'd much rather be off somewhere doing something much more fun, like peeling potatoes with their teeth--and we don't blame them a bit.

35. Kraft Fight Hunger. Comedian Patton Oswalt once called a certain famous KFC product a "failure pile in a sadness bowl." Capitalize that B, and we can't think of a better way to describe 2011 Illinois "battling" 2011 UCLA.

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. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.
Posted on: January 10, 2012 2:18 pm
 

Bielema staying busy at coaches convention

Posted by Bryan Fischer

SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Normally the coaches convention is a time where head coaches can let lose the top button, smooze a little bit and pick up a new wrinkle or two in terms of X's and O's. Legendary former Florida State defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews told several younger assistant coaches that the one thing you had to do every convention is just learn one thing.

For Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema, he would love to be able to relax a little bit and pick up just one thing from the nearly 1,000 coaches in town. Instead of going to clinics or chatting up others however, he's one of the busiest around. With the departure of Badgers offensive coordinator Paul Chryst to become head coach at Pittsburgh, Bielema has a rather big hire to make in the next week or two and with Signing Day approaching, things have been even more hectic than usual for the seventh year head coach.

"This is a fun time," Bielema said. "We got done with the bowl the game on Monday, flew back on Tuesday. I interviewed an OC on Tuesday and Wednesday, had a recruiting visit Wednesday night, went to San Francisco Thursday, Seattle on Friday then took a red-eye back to Madison. I got in at 9 a.m. and flew here at 4:30."

In addition to finding a replacement for Chryst, Bielema also is looking to replace run game coordinator Bob Bostad and tight ends coach Joe Rudolph and linebackers coach Dave Huxtable. While it may seem like a lot, it's nothing for Bielema.

"My first year, I came out here and interviewed almost 25 guys, he said. "In three days, I talked to 22. I just held up in my room and talked and talked and basically ended up making three of my nine hires from down here."

Staff continuity has been something few coaches have had but generally Wisconsin has been about average when it comes to losing coaches. The opening this year are just part of the process that top programs have to go through after the season is over.

"Last year I hired three new guys," Bielema said. "When I hire these guys out, it will be my 21st hire in six years. We have had continuity and the ability to keep some guys there but mainly it's being able to get the right kind of guys because we've been so successful."

When hiring an offensive coordinator at some point in the next week or two, the fiery Badgers head coach also has a pretty good bargaining chip that others hiring do not with running back and Heisman finalist Montee Ball returning for another year and another run for the roses.

"That's huge," Bielema said. "A, he's a great kid. B, I think it's the right thing for him. He clearly made a big jump this year and has a chance to grow and continue to move forward. I know he's got a great relationship with coach (Tom) Hammock so that's something that is going to be working moving forward."

Just as Bielema has to do this week with his staff.

Posted on: January 6, 2012 12:13 pm
 

PODCAST: The NFL Draft, PSU and BCS Bowls

Posted by Tom Fornelli

There have been many announcements in the last few days from players saying that they were either leaving or staying in school for another year, and on today's episode of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst discuss the decisions made by players like Montee Ball, Landry Jones, Jerel Worthy and others.

Aizer and Darst also take some time to talk about Penn State's hiring of Bill O'Brien and discuss what we can take away from the BCS bowl games we saw this year.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.


You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:03 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 4:05 pm
 

Montee Ball is making a mistake

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Thursday Wisconsin running back Montee Ball made the announcement that he would be coming back to Wisconsin for his senior season. A commendable decision by Ball considering the season he just had in Madison, finishing the year with 2,229 yards and 39 touchdowns, and going to New York as a Heisman finalist.

That being said, I don't think this is the right decision for Ball to make.

At the moment Ball is ranked as the sixth best 2012 NFL draft prospect amongst running backs by Rob Rang and 80th overall, and he'd likely be a middle round pick. Yes, it's possible that his draft stock will improve after staying at Wisconsin for another season, but that doesn't mean staying in school will help him have a longer, more successful pro career. In fact, it could seriously hinder his chances.

While there are some positions like quarterback where players are better served to stay in college and get another year of experience under their belts, running back is generally not one of those positions. This is due to the wear and tear that running backs endure during a season of football, on both the college and pro levels, and there aren't many programs that can wear down a back like Wisconsin.

A running back's legs only have so many miles on them. Sure, there are exceptions to this rule as we've seen in the past from guys like Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton, but backs like those two don't come around very often. For a glimpse of what does happen more frequently, Ball need not look past his own program and some of the great rushers in the school's history.

For example, there's Heisman Trophy winner and the NCAA's all-time leading rusher Ron Dayne. In his four seasons at Wisconsin Dayne carried the ball 1,220 times for 7,125 yards. In his seven NFL seasons after being a first round draft pick of the New York Giants in 2000, Dayne carried the ball 983 times for 3,722 yards. Dayne never had the success in the NFL that he had while at Wisconsin, and while that's partially due to his build -- Ron was never the slimmest guy around -- you can easly look at those 1,220 carries in college as a factor as well. There weren't many miles left on those legs by the time he joined the Giants.

More recently there was Ball's former teammate John Clay. Clay only played three seasons with the Badgers and had half as many carries as Dayne in his career with 629 rushes, but his legs began breaking down before he even left for the NFL. Clay went undrafted last April before signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a free agent. So far in his rookie season with the Steelers, Clay has carried the ball only 10 times. Yes, the jury is still out on his NFL career, but given that he wasn't even drafted and only saw time in Pittsburgh's backfield due to injuries, it's reasonable to think that Clay won't end up in Canton one day.

The good news for Ball is that while he carried the ball 307 times in 2011 -- more than Clay ever had in any season, and more than Dayne had in two seasons at Wisconsin -- he only had 261 rushes in his first two seasons in Madison. So there's plenty of tread left on the tires, but given that Russell Wilson will not be back in 2012, there's enough reason to believe that Ball's workload will only increase next year. Which would not be good news for his longevity.

The other bonus for Ball is that he's a lot smaller than both Dayne and Clay ever were, slimming down to 210 pounds for his junior season for the sole purpose of saving some wear and tear.

Still, given the history of some of Wisconsin's greatest running backs, it's pretty clear that if Ball is hoping to have a long and successful pro career, he should make the move sooner rather than later. Playing football is not a profession with a long shelf-life, especially for running backs, and if Ball wants to have a long professional career, he'd be better off starting it in 2012 rather than 2013.

Check out where Ball, and all the 2012 draft prospects rank on the CBSSports.com draft board, and follow all the news on early entrants here. 

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. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:02 pm
 

Montee Ball returning to Wisconsin

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It wasn't the world's best kept secret, but a day after word began leaking out that Wisconsin running back Montee Ball was planning on returning to Madison for his senior season, the running back made it official on Thursday.

Montee Ball will be a Wisconsin Badger in 2012.

This is great news for Wisconsin, obviously, as Ball was the key component of Wisconsin's offense in 2011, more so than quarterback Russell Wilson. Ball rushed for 1,923 yards and 33 touchdowns for Wisconsin this season, while catching another 24 passes for 306 yards and 6 more scores. His 39 touchdowns accounted for 234 of the 618 points the Badgers scored in their 2011 season, which ended earlier this week with a second consecutive Rose Bowl loss.

Ball could be even more important for the Badgers next season in their quest to get back to Pasadena for the third straight season, as Russell Wilson won't be back and a new quarterback will be under center. A new quarterback that would be well-served to turn around and hand the ball off to the 2011 Heisman finalist as many times as possible.

Had Ball decided to enter the NFL Draft, he would have gone in as the sixth-best running back according to CBSSports.com's Rob Rang, and 80th best prospect overall. Instead he'll be scoring more touchdowns and jumping around in Camp Randall for another season. 

Check out where all the 2012 draft prospects rank on the CBSSports.com draft board, and follow all the news on early entrants here. 

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. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.

Posted on: January 4, 2012 6:45 pm
 

Montee Ball still undecided on NFL status

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Montee Ball, the standout Wisconsin tailback who tied Barry Sanders' season mark for most total touchdowns this year with 39, may not be off to the NFL quite yet. Ball, who finished fourth in Heisman voting this year, has not announced his plans for next season, and although he's got a touchdown streak of 20 straight games and rushed for 6.4 yards per carry this season, he's not a lock to go pro.

On Wednesday, Ball took to Twitter to (somewhat) clear the air about his status. "Lots of speculation out there, leaning one way but just not ready to make an announcement yet, appreciate everyone's patience," tweeted Ball.

That's a departure from Ball's earlier plans. Even as of late Tuesday night, Ball had told Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal that his announcement date would be Wednesday.

Ball [NFL draft profile] is currently the sixth-rated running back prospect on CBSSports.com draft analyst Rob Rang's Big Board, and the 80th-best prospect overall. That would theoretically place Ball in the middle of the third round of the 2012 NFL draft, but individual NFL teams' valuations of prospects begin to vary widely past the first round, so Ball could end up considerably higher -- or lower -- if he were to declare for the draft.

If Bell were to stay, his monster 2011 season leaves him in prime position to challenge for several NCAA records. He would need 19 total touchdowns to break former Miami University standout Travis Prentice's career recrd of 78 total TDs, and Ball would need 20 rushing touchdowns to top Prentice's mark of 73 career rushing touchdowns. Ball is 11 games with one TD away from breaking Prentice's record of 35 games with scores, and seven multi-score games away from breaking Prentice's mark of 25 games with at least two touchdowns. Yes, Travis Prentice holds basically every major scoring record for running backs in FBS history.

At the same time, the shelf life of tailbacks at the highest levels of football is generally short, and it may not be in Bell's best interests to stay in college and not get an NFL salary while he subjects himself to the wear and tear of being the focal point of a rushing offense for another year. So this is a tough, tough decision on his part, and it's not hard to see why the final call is taking Ball longer than he anticipated.

Will Ball stay or go? Keep up on the latest developments for him and the rest of the Badgers at CBSSports.com's Wisconsin RapidReports page, and check out the rest of the news on early NFL draft entrants here.

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: January 2, 2012 9:01 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 11:25 pm
 

Oregon wins the Rose Bowl 45-38 over Wisconsin


Posted by Bryan Fischer

PASADENA, Calif. -- Wisconsin's run for the roses quickly turned into a track meet that they just couldn't keep up with.

The second half of the granddaddy of them all opened much like the first: offense, offense and - a strange concept to the SEC - more offense as Oregon finally broke through and won a BCS game under Chip Kelly 45-38 in front of 91,245 at the 98th edition of the Rose Bowl.

The Ducks, receiving the kickoff to open the second frame, needed just three plays and 48 seconds to find the end zone - with most of the work done by De'Anthony Thomas on a 64-yard touchdown run along the sideline (complete with an escort blocker). At that point, the speedy freshman was averaging 78 yards per carry and, as colleague Bruce Feldman tweeted, the only thing slow about him Monday evening was the apostrophe in his name.

A big run on the ensuing kick return by Jared Abbrederis for 60 yards setup Wisconsin in Oregon territory but they just couldn't capitalize. Running back Montee Ball did end up hurdling two defenders to pick up a first down on the drive but paid the price with a shot to the, um, sensitive area. Phillip Welch booted a 29-yard field goal to pull the Badgers to within 35-31.

The defense held Oregon to just their second three-and-out of the day with a big stop of Kenjon Barner on third down to force a punt.

Russell Wilson led the Badgers down the field with his arms and the legs on the next possession, picking up a big first down to sustain the drive with his legs on a 17-yard run. A few plays later he found Nick Toon in the end zone for an 18-yard strike that gave Wisconsin the lead back at 38-35.

A promising drive started out with Darron Thomas hitting Lavasier Tuinei for big 35-yard gain over the middle of the field and over a defender to push into Wisconsin territory. The drive stalled however after a sack and holding penalty pushed the Ducks back. Thomas dropped back on 3rd-and-18 but his pass across the middle was tipped by De'Anthony Thomas and into the hands of Aaron Henry to give the defense another stop and much-needed momentum late in the 3rd quarter.

The offense took over from there but Wilson gave it right back, throwing a pass low intended for a receiver that was picked off by linebacker Kiko Alonso. Thomas made up for his interception by finding Tuinei once again as Oregon took a 42-38 lead to open the 4th quarter. The defense once again stepped up and forced a three-and-out as momentum was planted firmly on the side that had chrome helmets and fans clad in lightning yellow.

Thomas found Tuinei almost immediately upon taking over, hitting him on a 41-yard completion that caught the Wisconsin defenders out of position. After a holding call that wiped out a beautiful throw (and 30-yard gain) from Thomas to Thomas, the Ducks eventually ended up going for it on 4th down with Tuinei once again making a play and picking up a first down.

Oregon ended up kicking a field goal after being stopped on the next third down, with Alejandro Maldonado's 30-yarder pushing their lead to 45-38 with 6:50 remaining.

Russell Wilson and the offense was moving right along trying to answer on the next drive. Abbrederis was wide open just past midfield and Wilson hit him in stride but he fumbled the ball along the sidelines and Oregon recovered the ball inbounds. The Ducks, for a change, actually slowed things down and picked up first down after first down to milk the rest of the time remaining off the clock.

Wisconsin had a chance late but, with two seconds remaining, spiked the ball with no time left on the clock.

OREGON WON. The Ducks picked up the school's first win in the Rose Bowl since 1917 thanks to a strong second half in a game that was all about offense but saw the defense make a few plays late to win the game. After back-to-back defeats in BCS games, Kelly finally got the program over the hump to capture his first bowl win in an exciting game that was paced just how he liked it.

HOW OREGON WON: Known mostly for running the ball, the offense was going up and down the field thanks largely to the arm of quarterback Darron Thomas, who finished 17-of-23 for 268 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Freshman De'Anthony Thomas returned to Southern California and put on a show in his first bowl game, collecting 315 all-purpose yards by speeding past Badger defenders.

WHEN OREGON WON: Up 42-38, it felt like the last team to have the ball would win the game the way both defenses were playing - especially as they got tired late. After two penalties pushed the Ducks back, Chip Kelly opted to go for it on 4th-and-6 and Thomas found Tuinei on a slant to convert. Later in the drive Maldonado kicked a field goal to extend the lead one final time and, thanks to an Abbrederis fumbling the ball for Wisconsin, essentially give Oregon the win.

WHAT OREGON WON: The school's first Rose Bowl since 1917 for one but more than that, it marked the culmination of an impressive run under Kelly that was lacking a postseason win of note. From the national title game last year to LSU and USC this year, there were more signature losses than signature wins for the program. Now, with trophy in hand and plenty of celebrating Duck fans in the stands, Oregon has finally reached the elite level in college football.

WHAT WISCONSIN LOST: The second straight Rose Bowl loss by the Badgers will sting just as much as the first. Legitimately two hail mary's from playing in New Orleans for the national title, Wisconsin had high hopes at taking the trophy home to Madison and helping restore the Big Ten's reputation. Alas, it was not meant to be despite a great game and they end up on the receiving end of a Pac-12 victory in Pasadena.

THAT WAS CRAZY: The two teams combined to set Rose Bowl records for points scored in the 1st quarter, first half and the 83 at the final buzzer set a game record. De'Anthony Thomas' 91-yard was the longest in the game's history and both squads racked up 1,128 yards of total offense.

FINAL GRADE: A. Do you like offense? Do you like great games? Then toss in the greatest postseason game in college football and that's what happened Monday afternoon. There was plenty of offense - 7.8 yards per - and points to make things entertaining and even the defensive plays that were made excited the crowd. All-in-all, a great way to open college football in 2012 and close out the 2011 season for Oregon and Wisconsin.

Posted on: January 2, 2012 6:55 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 7:31 pm
 

1st half at the Rose Bowl has plenty of offense



Posted by Bryan Fischer


PASADENA, Calif. -- Granddaddy of them all? Try granddaddy of all the offense.

Oregon and Wisconsin traded touchdowns so quickly at the Rose Bowl Monday afternoon that even Baylor and Washington were a little impressed, setting a host of bowl records in the first half.

Amid the pageantry and picturesque setting you expect in Pasadena at the start of a new year, Wisconsin won the toss and made the unusual move to take the ball to open the game. The Badgers had a gashing first drive, with Montee Ball close to breaking several long runs. Quarterback Russell Wilson effectively used the play action to roll out and hit a streaking Abbrederis for a 38-yard touchdown on an impressive opening drive.

Oregon answered right back, as Darron Thomas, with a Badger defender in his face, threw off his back foot to hit Lavasier Tuieni for a big gain to the one-yard line on the Ducks' opening drive. LaMichael James punched it in for a touchdown up the middle on the next play and it was away… we… go...

A big run by Ball was the answer for Wisconsin on their next drive, capped by a spin move that netted him a few extra yards that moved the Badgers into scoring position. Wilson did the rest near the goal line, running in a touchdown unopposed off of a bootleg to get Wisconsin a 14-7 lead with over five minutes left in the 1st quarter.

Electrifying freshman De'Anthony Thomas ended the 1st quarter on a high note, taking an inside handoff 91-yards for a touchdown by showing off his speed and pulling away from the Wisconsin defense. It was a Rose Bowl record run, breaking the 88-yarder Michigan's Tyrone Wheatley had in 1993. It also gave the two teams a new record for combined points in the 1st quarter of the bowl.

That wasn't the only record to fall in Pasadena on a hot Southern California day (the 82 degrees at kickoff was the sixth-highest in the game's history). Ball took a handoff off to the left side for a three-yard touchdown run to tie Barry Sanders' FBS-record for touchdowns in a season with 39.

Sanders immediately congratulated Ball on Twitter right after the play, "Congrats @M_Ball28 - I love that it was a go-ahead TD."

De'Anthony Thomas took the kickoff back to midfield and, on the very next play, Darron Thomas found Kenjon Barner on a wheel route for a 54-yard touchdown pass to tie things up again at 21. At that point, Oregon was averaging over 14 yards per play.

Wisconsin took over and Ball was stuffed for no gain on a 3rd and short at the 17. Head coach Bret Bielema opted to keep the offense on the field to go for it and Wilson dropped back off a play-action fake but pressure forced him to be flushed from the pocket before Kiko Alonso ultimately sacked him near the sideline for one of the few early defensive plays of the game.

The Wisconsin defense stepped up on the next series though. On third down, Darron Thomas was sacked and fumbled the ball, which Louis Nzegwu scooped and scored a 33-yard touchdown to put the Badgers ahead 28-21.

Thomas and the Ducks responded with an impressive drive that featured several sharp pass plays to get into the red zone. Then the signal-caller faked a short run on third and goal following a timeout and found Tuinei in the end zone for a three-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left in the half.

The 56 combined points was a new Rose Bowl record and the two teams had 631 yards of total offense - good for 8.8 yards per play.

Like I said, granddaddy of all the offense.

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