Tag:Riley Nelson
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.

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 4:06 pm
 

QUICK HITS: BYU 24, Tulsa 21 at Armed Forces Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



BYU WON: Riley Nelson 
hasn't put up the kind of stats BYU quarterbacks have historically/traditionally put up, but after two-thirds of a season as a starter, he's already etched himself into Cougar lore as one of the clutchest signal-callers the school has seen. After a season full of late-game heroics, Nelson did it again, taking over at the Tulsa 48 and guiding his team to the game-winning touchdown with just 11 seconds to play. That score came on a two-yard throw to receiver Cody Hoffman -- his third touchdown reception of the game -- after Nelson faked a clock-stopping spike a la Dan Marino. 

The Cougars trailed 14-3 20 minutes into the game but held the high-powered Golden Hurricane to just one touchdown over the final 40, and only 268 total yards for the game overall.

WHY BYU WON: Because Tulsa just couldn't keep their boot on the Cougars' throat. BYU was just this side of gawdawful in the first half, with Nelson erratic, the defense up-and-down, and the run game ineffective. When the Cougars punted the ball back to the Golden Hurricane with less than a minute left in the first half -- their fifth punt in seven possessions, with one of the others ending in a Nelson pick -- it appeared they would head into the half down 11 and with Tulsa in firm control. But punt returner J.D. Ratliff fumbled the punt under pressure, and the Cougars cashed in with a one-play, 17-yard touchdown "drive."

Thanks to G.J. Kinne executing a clinical 58-yard TD drive of his own early in the fourth, the Golden Hurricane were again in position to put the victory securely in their grasp when a BYU running-into-the-kicker call gave them the ball with a 21-17 lead and under 6 minutes to play. Instead they went a meek three-and-out (just as they had before the penalty), the next time they got the ball bask it was with a three-point deficit and only 11 seconds left. BYU was the better team on the stat sheet (with a 343-268 total yardage advantage), but the Cougars still never would have won this game without Tulsa's willingness to help them out at exactly the moments BYU needed that help the most.

WHEN BYU WON: When Nelson's fake spike threw the Golden Hurricane defense off just enough for Hoffman to come open in the front corner of the end zone. With so little time remaining, Tulsa's only hope was a crazy last-second lateral play that didn't make it past midfield.

WHAT BYU WON: Their first bowl game as an independent, a final 10-3 record that cements the program's continued relevance without a conference affiliation, and a bundle of optimism entering Nelson's senior year. It wasn't always pretty, but Bronco Mendenhall will surely take it.

WHAT TULSA LOST: Their fifth game of the season, which isn't so bad considering the first three came to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Boise State. But if the 2011 Golden Hurricane were ever going to be anything other than just another pdecent Conference USA team, they needed to stay beat (or at least stay competitive with) Houston or win this very winnable bowl game. That they didn't do either means that it's been a nice enough debut season for Bill Blankenship, but not one anyone's going to remember as ultimately "special."

FINAL GRADE: The two teams combined for 611 yards of offense, or some 160 fewer than Baylor managed last night alone. Though the ending offered plenty of drama, the first 59 minutes offered far more in the way of punts, turnovers, and generally disorganized, sloppy offensive play. Kudos to a pair of defenses that showed up to play, but from an aesthetic standpoint -- especially in the immediate wake of the all-timer at the Alamo Bowl -- this was a snooze. C+.

Posted on: December 27, 2011 2:37 pm
 

Armed Forces Bowl Key Matchup

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A look at the key matchup that could decide the Armed Forces Bowl.

 

G.J. Kinne, QB, Tulsa vs. Brandon Ogletree, Kyle Van Noy, and Uona Kaveinga, LBs, BYU.

With all due respect to Riley Nelson, who caught fire down the stretch for the Cougars, the individual head-to-head quarterback matchup nonetheless should favor the Golden Hurricane. Kinne is a three-year senior starter with more than 9,200 career passing yards to his name, 1,300 rushing yards, and 23 career wins; by this point, it's not possible for the former Texas transfer to have any better command of Tulsa's trademark no-huddle spread scheme than he already does.

And while that's certainly translated to plenty of aerial fireworks for the Golden Hurricane during Kinne's three years under center, it's paid equally handsome dividends in the ground game. In fact, behind Tulsa's three-headed rushing monster of Kinne and tailbacks Ja'Terian Douglas and Trey Watts -- and said monster's 2,149 total rushing yards -- the 2011 edition of the Golden Hurricane get more done on the ground (23rd FBS) than in the passing game (43rd). While Douglas and Watts deserve more than their fair share of plaudits -- Douglas's eye-popping 8.2 yards-per-carry average led the nation among backs with any more than 60 attempts, and he had 110! -- the Tulsa rushing attack still starts with Kinne and his ability to execute the options and zone reads that make up the core of the Golden Hurricane's rushing philosophy.

But as smooth an operator as Kinne is, he's still going to have his hands full with Ogletree, Van Noy, and Kaveinga, three of the Cougars' top four tacklers and three-quarters of a linebacking crew that's led the Cougars to a 16th-place finish in FBS total defense. All three are both aggressive and fundamentally sound, and they'll be the defenders primarily tasked with containing Kinne and his option targets on the ground. If Ogletree, Van Noy, and Kaveinga stay on assignment, hold Douglas's home-run ability in check, hit Kinne hard enough to slow him down in both phases of the game, and generally make life on the ground as tough as possible for the Golden Hurricane, Nelson should be able to put enough points on the board vs. Tulsa's rickety pass defense to earn the victory.

But if not? If Kinne gets the Tulsa ground game humming on all cylinders, finds in turn the inevitable space opening up downfield for big plays in the air, and hangs a 40-spot on the Cougars? That's the sort of hurdle even Nelson may not be able to clear.

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Posted on: December 27, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Armed Forces Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

BYU WILL WIN IF: Riley Nelson 
is who we think he is. The Cougar junior quarterback took over with his team down late (and down big) to in-state upstart Utah State Sept. 30, engineered a dramatic last-minute comeback, and never looked back. Over BYU's final eight games Nelson threw 16 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions, averaged a sterling 9.1 yards an attempt, and added an average 5 yards per his 75 rushing attempts for good measure. The catch is that he did this against the weaker two-thirds of the Cougar schedule; only two of those eight games came against competition outside the WAC or FCS, and one of those two -- vs. TCU -- was Nelson's worst outing of the season (51.7 completion percentage, 2 picks). The good news for BYU is that on paper, Tulsa's closer to the Idahos and Hawaiis of the world than TCU. The Golden Hurricane finished 118th in the FBS in pass defense, and though some of that was a schedule that handed them games against Landry Jones, Kellen Moore, Brandon Weeden and Case Keenum, much of it was also allowing 10 yards an attempt to North Texas and more than 9 to UCF. If Nelson is the quarterback he appeared to be over the closing stretch of the season, there's going to be plenty of opportunities for the Cougars to rack up major yards -- and points -- through the air.

TULSA WILL WIN IF: they can put a metric ton of points on the board. Who has the better defense in this matchup isn't really much of a question -- BYU's D ranks 16th, Tulsa's 89th -- but the Golden Hurricane have played a much tougher schedule and still boast the better offense at 454 yards per game and 6.18 per-play. Though the Hurricane defense has had its moments in 2011 (holding SMU to a single touchdown in a 38-7 laugher, most notably), the formula for Tulsa is the same as it's been ever since Gus Malzahn dropped in in 2007--ride the no-huddle offense to 35-45 points, and dare the opposing offense to execute well enough to do the same. And solid Cougar defense or not, with quarterback G.J. Kinne (2,859 yards, 8.0 YPA, 25-to-12 TD-to-INT ratio) and the tailback tag-team of Ja'Terian Douglas and Trey Watts (1,744 combined yards), the Hurricane have the horses to make it happen. This game isn't likely to become a slugfest, and if it somehow is, it's even less likely Tulsa wins it. But the Golden Hurricane proved over the course of whipping their first seven Conference USA opponents that a shootout tilts the odds heavily in their favor instead.

THE X-FACTOR: This doesn't shape up as the sort of game that would become a field goal kicking contest, but if it does, BYU's the team more likely to suffer for it. Sophomore Justin Sorenson hit just 14 of his 24 attempts this season while Tulsa boasts one of the nation's best placekickers in senior Kevin Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick was named first-team All-C-USA after connecting on 15 of his 17 attempts, and if the game hangs one kick, seems a much better bet to pull through than Sorenson.

Posted on: December 17, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Report: Jake Heaps to visit Kansas

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It seems that Charlie Weis is looking for his own quarterback as he takes over the Kansas program. He's already had a visit from former Notre Dame quarterback and Weis recruit Dayne Crist, and now according to JayhawkSlant.com (subscription required), former BYU quarterback Jake Heaps will be making a visit to Lawrence as well.

Heaps announced that he was leaving BYU in early December. He came into the 2011 season as the team's starting quarterback but lost the job to Riley Nelson. Heaps threw for 3,768 yards and 24 touchdowns while at BYU, but it was the 17 interceptions he also threw that helped him find his way to the bench.

Now, just because Crist is considering transferring to Kansas next season, that doesn't mean the school can't bring in both Crist and Heaps if both players want to become Jayhawks. Since Crist has already graduated from Notre Dame, much like Russell Wilson did with Wisconsin this season, he could transfer to Kansas and play right away in 2012. Heaps will have to sit out the 2012 season, so it's not as if he'd lose playing time in Lawrence if Crist transferred as well.

Crist is expected to choose between Wisconsin and Kansas in the next week. As for Heaps, there's no timetable on his decision. 
Posted on: December 5, 2011 1:40 pm
 

Jake Heaps transferring from BYU

Posted by Chip Patterson

Highly touted sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps has decided to transfer from BYU, head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced on Monday.

“Jake has decided to leave the program in pursuit of a fresh start for he and his young family,” Mendenhall said in an official release. “Jake is a great young man with tremendous potential and someone I deeply care about. I am sorry to see him leave this wonderful institution yet anxious to follow his future development and success.”

Heaps started ten games as a freshman in 2010, setting school freshman passing records for yards, touchdowns, and wins. After starting the first five games in 2011, Heaps was replaced at the starting position by junior Riley Nelson. Early last month Heaps deflected questions regarding possible transfer or redshirt, committing to "give my 100 percent and commit to this team and this program throughout the rest of the season."

With the season complete, Heaps is now committed to looking for a new home. Mason Kelly, of the Seattle Times, listed Washington, Washington State, Cal and USC as possible destinations for the sophomore quarterback. Heaps leaves BYU having completed 363 of 635 passes for 3,768 yards, 24 touchdowns 17 interceptions in his brief stint with the Cougars.

BYU will face Tulsa in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30. BYU announced junior quarterback James Lark as the new backup behind Nelson. You can check out the entire bowl schedule here.

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Posted on: December 5, 2011 1:40 pm
 

Jake Heaps transferring from BYU

Posted by Chip Patterson

Highly touted sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps has decided to transfer from BYU, head coach Bronco Mendenhall announced on Monday.

“Jake has decided to leave the program in pursuit of a fresh start for he and his young family,” Mendenhall said in an official release. “Jake is a great young man with tremendous potential and someone I deeply care about. I am sorry to see him leave this wonderful institution yet anxious to follow his future development and success.”

Heaps started ten games as a freshman in 2010, setting school freshman passing records for yards, touchdowns, and wins. After starting the first five games in 2011, Heaps was replaced at the starting position by junior Riley Nelson. Early last month Heaps deflected questions regarding possible transfer or redshirt, committing to "give my 100 percent and commit to this team and this program throughout the rest of the season."

With the season complete, Heaps is now committed to looking for a new home. Mason Kelly, of the Seattle Times, listed Washington, Washington State, Cal and USC as possible destinations for the sophomore quarterback. Heaps leaves BYU having completed 363 of 635 passes for 3,768 yards, 24 touchdowns 17 interceptions in his brief stint with the Cougars.

BYU will face Tulsa in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 30. BYU announced junior quarterback James Lark as the new backup behind Nelson. You can check out the entire bowl schedule here.

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 2:36 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2011 2:37 pm
 

BYU's Jake Heaps may redshirt

Posted by Tom Fornelli

After playing in every game as a freshman in 2010, BYU quarterback Jake Heaps began his sophomore season as the team's starting quarterback in 2011, starting the first five games of the season before being replaced by junior Riley Nelson against Utah State. Since then Heaps has only seen some spot action in a blowout victory over Idaho State.

As you'd expect, there's been a lot of speculation about what the highly-recruited Heaps will do, with some wondering if he'll transfer from the school. Heaps wouldn't really address those comments, but he has been talking with head coach Bronco Mendenhall about the possibility of redshirting for a season.

"I am just not worried about it right now," Heaps told The Salt Lake Tribune. "You know, I am not worried about it, and I think everybody else should not think about whether I am going to be here or not, or whether I am going to redshirt or not, or whatever the case may be. It is taking away from this team and what we have going on for us the rest of the season. I mean, all our guys are worried about, all I am worried about, is coming to practice today, and then coming to practice tomorrow and the next day. And then we play Idaho, so really just taking this day by day. I am going to give my 100 percent and commit to this team and this program throughout the rest of the season. So that's all I am focused on." 

Redshirting next season may be an idea that makes some sense. Nelson has played very well in Heaps' place, passing for 1,048 yards, 12 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions since taking the job. By redshirting next year, it would allow Heaps another season of eligibliity while Nelson finishes out his career at BYU and allow Heaps two seasons to start.

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