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Tag:Bowl Games
Posted on: January 6, 2012 1:04 pm
Edited on: January 6, 2012 1:05 pm
 

VIDEO: Darwin Cook finds out Obie was female

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Wednesday night's Orange Bowl was memorable for the offensive display that West Virginia put on by scoring 70 points against Clemson, but if there was one play that stuck out amongst all the scores, it was Darwin Cook's 99-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

The play was surprising on its own in that seemingly everyone on the field and those watching in the stands thought that Clemson had scored a touchdown only to see Cook racing down the field with the ball in his hands. Once Cook finished his journey to the end zone, the play got even funnier when he tackled Obie, the Orange Bowl mascot, in the back of the end zone.

Well, Darwin got a surprise of his own after the game.



A true gentleman always apologizes to the ladies.
Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:50 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 12:51 pm
 

GoDaddy.com Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Tom Fornelli


A look at the key matchup that could determine the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State defense

Northern Illinois' offense is averaging 481.8 yards per game in 2011, good enough to place the unit ninth in the nation. Quarterback Chandler Harnish finished the season eighth in the country in total offense, averaging 332.6 yards of total offense per game. All of which means Harnish was accountable for 69% of the Huskies offense this season.

So, as you can see, as Harnish goes, so go the Huskies.

Harnish did all of this with both his arm and his legs, averaging 245 yards through the air and 115 yards on the ground per game. With a dual threat like that at quarterback, to stop him it will be up to the entire Arkansas State defense, not just its defenslve line, linebackers or secondary. Not an easy task, but one that Arkansas State's defense seems up to. This unit, which finished 14th in the nation in total defense, is easily the best defense statistically that Harnish will face this season.

The best way for Arkansas State to do this would be to make Harnish one-dimensional. Whether that be by forcing him to throw to beat them, or taking away the passing game, that's up to the Red Wolves. This defense is strong in both areas. What matters is that they execute their game plan and force Harnish to be predictable because Northern Illinois' defense -- which gave up 31.1 points per game -- is going to give up a lot of points. So if Arkansas State can slow Harnish down and keep the Huskies from putting up a ton of points, then Arkansas State should win this game rather comfortably.

Check out all the latest updates on Northern Illinois and Arkansas State right up until kickoff at the GoDaddy.com Bowl Pregame 

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Posted on: January 4, 2012 1:12 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:59 am
 

This Sugar Bowl was a bit sour



Posted by Tom Fornelli

NEW ORLEANS -- Before you read this column on the Sugar Bowl, I must implore you to watch this video, for you cannot understand what this Sugar Bowl was without seeing it.

Did you see the way that puppy fell down the stairs? It made you laugh, sure, but at the same time it was something adorable that failed. The puppy just wasn't big enough for the stage it was on, and although it got to the bottom of the stairs as it intended to, it didn't do so in the prettiest of ways.

That was the 2012 Sugar Bowl.

Two teams that probably weren't ready to tread down this flight of stairs did so anyway, with the rest of us waiting to see which team tumbled to the bottom first. Turns out it was Michigan, even if you were sure the Wolverines had broken 30 bones on the way down, there they stood at the end celebrating.

From the second this matchup was announced there were people complaining about the selection of both Michigan and Virginia Tech. There were teams more deserving of this chance, teams like Boise State and Kansas State. Unfortunately for those two schools, they don't carry the same national cache or brand that Michigan and Virginia Tech do. So this is what we were stuck with, and judging by all the empty seats at the Superdome on Tuesday night, that commercial appeal didn't do much to sell tickets.

There were also the stories about how each team was going to prove that it belonged in New Orleans and in a BCS bowl game. Virginia Tech would show us all, as would the Wolverines. Instead what we saw were two teams that ingested a bit too much sugar and suffered some kind of diabetic seizure on the field.

Lofting up wounded ducks that turned into 45-yard touchdowns, or running fake field goals that were botched entirely yet still somehow managed to work.

The Michigan Wolverines won this game despite being outgained by Virginia Tech nearly two to one. The Hokies had 377 yards of total offense in this game compared to Michigan's 184, yet it was the Wolverines who emerged victorious. While the Hokies routinely fell down to the bottom step and were on the precipice of winning this contest, they continually decided to take a step back every time victory was in reach. Meanwhile Michigan threw all caution to the wind and just flung itself down the stairs headfirst.

Had this game been an iPhone app, it would have been called Fiesta Bowl Lite and been available to download for free. Think about it, Virginia Tech jumped out to an early lead with two scores, but instead of touchdowns like Stanford had against Oklahoma State, the Hokies had to settle for field goals.

Then there was the second quarter comeback for the Wolverines just when you thought they had no chance.

In the end, much like Stanford before it, Virginia Tech managed to lose a game in which it seemingly dominated its opponent for most of the night, and on a missed field goal in overtime to boot. Of course, this was the lite version of the Fiesta Bowl, so Virginia Tech missed only one field goal, not two. Then, like Oklahoma State, Michigan rode a couple of touchdown catches by a wide receiver in Junior Hemingway and took advantage of Virginia Tech's overtime failure to win the game on a field goal.

The only difference was that the Fiesta Bowl was entertaining because it was an excellent story written with deep characters portrayed by great actors like Andrew Luck and Justin Blackmon.

The Sugar Bowl was essentially the movie "New Year's Eve." You assemble a big name cast and then hurriedly write a mediocre script and wing it while on the set. Then you hope enough people show up to see it before the word gets out about how terrible it is.

And in the end, the only thing either team convinced me of on Tuesday night was that this movie would have been a hell of a lot more entertaining had it starred Boise State and Kansas State.
Posted on: January 4, 2012 12:27 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 12:27 am
 

QUICK HITS: Michigan 23 Virginia Tech 20 OT



Posted by Tom Fornelli


MICHIGAN WON. I'm not sure how they did it even though I saw it with my own eyes, but the Michigan Wolverines won the Sugar Bowl 23-20 over Virginia Tech in overtime on Tuesday night. The Wolverines seemed lifeless for the first 29 minutes of the game, but the Hokies were only able to put 6 points on the board in that time despite outgaining the Wolverines 181 yards to 81 yards until that point. But then Denard Robinson unleashed a pass down the right sideline that seemed destined for the hands of a Hokie, yet Junior Hemingway pulled it in for a 45-yard touchdown pass -- one of Hemingway's two touchdown catches on the evening.

Then the silly began. Virginia Tech fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, and a few plays later Michigan tried one of the worst fake field goals that ever worked in the history of organized football, as holder Drew Dileo's pass was deflected before landing in the arms of offensive lineman Jareth Glanda for a first down. After that the Wolverines tacked on a field goal to take a 10-6 lead into the locker room even though they'd been completely out played for 29 minutes and 11 seconds.

Virginia Tech would continue to outplay Michigan in the second half, battling back to tie the game in the closing seconds on a Justin Myer field goal -- Myer being the Hokies third-string kicker -- to send the game into overtime. Unfortunately for the Hokies, after making his first four kicks of the night, Myer would miss on his fifth attempt in overtime.

A few plays later Brendan Gibbons' 37-yard field goal went through the uprights to give Michigan the win.

HOW MICHIGAN WON. This is not an easy question to answer. The Wolverines were outgained by the Hokies 377 to 184. Denard Robinson completed only 9 of 21 passes for 117 yards and rushed for 13 yards on 13 carries, the lowest rushing output of his career. But if there was a reason for Michigan to win this game, it was because Virginia Tech didn't take full advantage of its early chances.

Yes, the Hokies dominated the first half, but even then Tech could only manage 2 field goals and a 6-0 lead. Then there was the ill-advised fake punt out of a timeout in the fourth quarter that set Michigan up with great field position for a field goal that gave them a 20-17 lead at the time. 

There were also 3 Virginia Tech turnovers. Perhaps none bigger than the fumble following Michigan's first score of the game, as it seemed to completely shift the momentum to Michigan's sideline.

WHEN MICHIGAN WON. Not until Gibbons' 37-yard field goal split the uprights in the overtime.

WHAT MICHIGAN WON. A BCS bowl game, which, given the direction Michigan fans had seen this program going in the last few years under Rich Rodriguez, has to feel like somewhat of a minor miracle. The turnaround in this team, particularly on defense, was quicker than any reasonable expectation, and the Wolverines have their first BCS win since the 2000 Orange Bowl. Brady Hoke, Al Borges and Greg Mattison deserve a lot of credit in Ann Arbor.

WHAT VIRGINIA TECH LOST. There were plenty of people who said that Virginia Tech didn't deserve to play in this game ahead of some programs like Kansas State or Boise State. It's certainly reasonable to agree with that assessment, but not because of the way the Hokies played on Tuesday night. Virginia Tech outplayed the Wolverines everywhere but on the scoreboard. That said, it's the Hokies fifth consecutive loss in a BCS bowl game, not picking up a victory since winning the Sugar Bowl in 1995.

THAT WAS CRAZY. The fake field goal that shouldn't have worked yet worked to set up the Michigan field goal at the end of the first half was just hard to explain. So much went wrong on that play for it to work out so well for the Wolverines, but anytime an offensive lineman can get a big reception, I'm all for it.

GRADE: C+. Much like the Rose Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl, the Sugar Bowl was a close game that came down to the last few moments. Unlike those other two bowl games, it wasn't because two teams were playing to the best of their abilities and matching up well with one another. This game was only close because neither team was capable of taking control of it, despite numerous opportunities to do so. So while it may have been close it wasn't great.
Posted on: December 31, 2011 7:13 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 7:13 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Illinois 20 UCLA 14



Posted by Tom Fornelli


ILLINOIS WON. There was not a lot of offense in this game, nor were there a lot of spectacular plays, but Illinois rode the strength of an outstanding defense to put an end to its six-game losing streak. With running back Jason Ford missing the game for Illinois, the Illini put the ball in Nathan Scheelhaase's hands and relied on him to do all the work on the offensive side of the ball. 

Scheelhaase finished the day with 249 yards of total offense and hit A.J. Jenkins for a 60-yard score in the fourth quarter to ice it. Still, the true star of the day was the Illinois defense, particularly defensive end Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus lived up to his name, terrorizing Kevin Prince and the UCLA offense all day as the Bruins only managed 220 yards of offense in the game, with 38 of those yards coming on a touchdown pass in the final minute of the game after this one was essentially over.

WHY ILLINOIS WON. Defense, defense, defense, a little more defense, and then some defense. Illinois' offense only managed one touchdown and two field goals in the game, as cornerback Terry Hawthorne provided the other 7 Illini points with a pick-six in the third quarter that turned the tide of this game.

WHEN ILLINOIS WON. When Scheelhaase hit Jenkins for the 60-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter with 5:36 left on the clock to make it 20-7, there wasn't much reason to believe UCLA could overcome a two-score deficit given how this game was going.

WHAT ILLINOIS WON. For the first time in school history, Illinois won consecutive bowl games in back-to-back seasons. Which is about as much as the Illini could hope for considering how the season started and the firing of head coach Ron Zook.

WHAT UCLA LOST. UCLA lost a game, but it also won the end of a 2011 season that did not feature a lot of highlights and saw Rick Neuheisel get fired. The Bruins can now move forward to what they hope will be a much brighter 2012.

BOWL GRADE: F. I'm sorry, I went into this game with the absolute lowest of expectations. Both teams were under interim coaching staffs that won't be returning next season, and neither team had a winning record coming in. Illinois had lost six straight and UCLA was just as big of a mess. You would think those low expectations would only leave me pleasantly surprised by what took place in this game, but I wasn't. It was exactly what I expected it to be, and it was incredibly boring. It may as well have been called the Fight Narcolepsy Bowl. That said, I have to give the players credit. They may not have played well, but they showed up and played. Nobody was just going through the motions, but that being said, this was still a very boring game.
Posted on: December 31, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 3:40 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Texas A&M 33 Northwestern 22



Posted by Tom Fornelli


TEXAS A&M WON. There were two factors at play in this game. There was Texas A&M's ability to blow a double-digit lead, and then there was Northwestern's tendency to come back late in bowl games only to come up just short. So, in a sense, Northwestern won this game?

Maybe?

No, Texas A&M finished its season with a victory, but not before making things a lot more interesting than they had to be.

The Aggies went into the fourth quarter with a 30-7 lead, so of course this one came down to the final seconds as Northwestern mounted a comeback. Still, the Aggies made some key plays when they had to in the fourth quarter, and Ryan Tannehilll threw for 392 yards and a touchdown. Jeff Fuller and Ryan Swope were his favorite targets, as Fuller finished the day with 7 grabs for 119 yards -- including a huge grab on A&M's final drive for a pivotal first down -- and Swope had 8 catches for 105 yards.

WHY TEXAS A&M WON. The Aggies built a lead that not even they could blow. Well, that and the fact that for the first 45 minutes of this game the Texas A&M defense just proved to be too much for Northwestern's offense. The Wildcats only managed 278 yards of offense on the day, and 147 of those yards came in the final quarter.

WHEN TEXAS A&M WON. The Aggies finally had the drive they needed so many times during the regular season to put an opponent away late in this one. After getting the ball back with 5:22 left and an 8-point lead, the Aggies put together a 12-play 68-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal to make it a two-score game with 30 seconds left to play.

WHAT TEXAS A&M WON. After a season that was full of mostly disappointment for the Aggies, this one had to feel good. The Aggies were able to pick up a seventh victory and finish the year with a winning record before moving on to the SEC under Kevin Sumlin.

WHAT NORTHWESTERN LOST. Northwestern came into 2011 with higher hopes than a 6-7 season, but that's exactly what the Wildcats got with this loss. Making matters worse, this bowl loss marks the school's ninth consecutive bowl loss, tying the mark previously set by Notre Dame. Pat Fitzgerald has done a great job in Evanston, but this team just can't get over the postseason hump.

THAT WAS CRAZY. Texas A&M had a double-digit lead at halftime and didn't lose the game!

GRADE: B-. This was not a great game. In fact, for the first three quarters, it was pretty damn boring. The Wildcats couldn't do anything on offense, and A&M looked like it was going to blow them out. Thankfully the fourth quarter happened, allowing all of us to wonder if the Aggies could do it one more time. So since it was interesting in the final frame, I'm giving this game a B, but the minus is there to remind us how average the rest of it was.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 1:26 am
Edited on: December 30, 2011 1:27 am
 

QUICK HITS: Baylor 67 Washington 56



Posted by Tom Fornelli


BAYLOR WON. Well, Baylor did win the game, but in reality anybody who watched the Alamo Bowl on Thursday night won. Except for defensive coordinators around the country who no doubt found themselves curled up in the fetal position mumbling something about open-field tackling while drooling on themselves by the time this one was over. This is not an easy game to recap because so much happened. It's kind of like the night you went out to celebrate your 21st birthday. You know you had a good time doing it, but you don't remember most of it.

Still, I shall try.

There were 17 touchdowns scored in this game. That's one touchdown for every 3 minutes and 31 seconds of game time. Baylor and Washington combined for 123 points (2.05 points per minute) and 1,397 yards of total offense. Robert Griffin had 350 total yards and 2 touchdowns and he wasn't even the best quarterback in San Antonio as Washington's Keith Price went for 477 total yards and 7 touchdowns. And his team lost! Then there was Baylor's Terrance Ganaway, who rushed for 200 yards and 5 touchdowns (as a team Baylor rushed for 482 yards). Of the 17 touchdown drives in this game, 11 took less than 3 minutes off of the clock.

I'm not sure who the leading tackler was, but if he had more than 3 tackles I'll be shocked because I'm not sure there were 3 tackles in this entire game. It was insane, it was never-ending, and it was one of the greatest things that ever happened.

WHY BAYLOR WON. There's really no one thing that happened in this game that you can pinpoint as the reason that Baylor won, but if you had to give one of the "defenses" credit, I'd guess it would have to be Baylors. Not only did they hold Washington under 60, but the Bears outscored the Huskies 43-21 in the second half.

WHEN BAYLOR WON. The game came to an end when Washington faced a 4th and 8 in the final minutes while down 60-56 and couldn't convert. Though when Ganaway broke loose for a 43-yard touchdown a few plays later to make the score 67-56 with 2:28 left in the game, you legitimately wondered if Baylor had left too much time on the clock.

WHAT BAYLOR WON. Baylor won it's tenth game of the season, which is a huge milestone for the program. It also helped showcase just how insanely good a year Heisman winner Robert Griffin had. I mean, Griffin played on a Baylor team that allowed 35.7 points per game coming into this game, and gave up 56 points on the night, and the Bears still won 10 games. Wrap your head around that one. 

WHAT WASHINGTON LOST. Well, each player on Washington probably lost about 15 pounds in this game from running up and down the field for 60 minutes. Other than that, I'm not sure you can say the Huskies lost all that much. We saw the same Huskies tonight that we've seen all season: a team that is very capable of putting 50 points on the board but just as capable of allowing 60. Much like the team they played. Yes, this is a loss that stings as all losses do, but it won't be long before everyone on this Washington team looks back on this game and can do nothing but laugh at the insanity of it all.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Have you read this recap? This entire game was crazy.

FINAL GRADE: A++++++++. I'd give it more pluses but you probably get the point. No, this game was not the type of game that defensive-minded football fans would enjoy, but it was 60 minutes of pure entertainment. There is not a single doubt in my mind that anybody who watched will forever remember this Alamo Bowl.
Posted on: December 29, 2011 9:18 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 9:21 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Florida State 18 Notre Dame 14

Posted by Tom Fornelli

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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