Tag:MAC
Posted on: January 9, 2012 1:07 am
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QUICK HITS: N. Illinois 38 Arkansas State 20



Posted by Tom Fornelli


NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON. Things looked to be going Arkansas State's way early after the Red Wolves jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, but it was all Northern Illinois from that point on. The Huskies scored 31 consecutive points after that and cruised to victory in the GoDaddy.com Bowl to finish the season 11-3.

Chandler Harnish finished a strong career with the Huskies by throwing for 280 yards and 2 touchdowns, and receiver Martel Moore was easily his favorite target on the night. Moore finished the game with 8 receptions for 225 yards and a touchdown. For Arkansas State, quarterback Ryan Aplin had a tough night, throwing for 352 yards, but also throwing 3 interceptions.

WHY NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON. Simply put, after falling down 13-0 in the first quarter, the Northern Illinois defense just put the Arkansas State offense on lockdown. The Huskies outscored the Red Wolves 38-7 from then on. Mix in 3 interceptions by Ryan Aplin and 5 turnovers from Arkansas State, and you get a relatively easy victory for Northern Illinois

WHEN NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON. Arkansas State showed signs of life in the fourth quarter with a touchdown to cut NIU's lead to 31-20, but with 8:19 to play Aplin threw his third interception of the game and Dechane Durante took it 36 yards to the house to make it 38-20. Everything from that point on was just cosmetic.

WHAT NORTHERN ILLINOIS WON. The Huskies put a nice cap on a season that saw the school win its first MAC title, and also a nice end to a great career from quarterback Chandler Harnish. The Huskies also showed that they didn't lose a step under Dave Doeren took over for Jerry Kill following last season, and Northern Illinois looks like a school that will be a force in the MAC for the next few seasons.

WHAT ARKANSAS STATE LOST. This was a very good season for Arkansas State, going 8-0 in the Sun Belt to win the conference, but this wasn't the way the Red Wolves wanted the season to end. Still, with Gus Malzahn coming from Auburn to take over for Hugh Freeze -- and possibly bringing Michael Dyer with him -- the future still looks bright for the Red Wolves.

THAT WAS CRAZY. Giving your right arm for Gus Malzahn.



BOWL GRADE: C. I had high hopes for this one, as two fast-paced, high-scoring offenses were going to battle in Mobile, but there was never much doubt in the outcome. After Northern Illinois erased a 13-0 deficit with 31 straight points, even when Arkansas State got back into it in the fourth quarter, you never really got the sense that the Red Wolves would climb all the way back. So because of that lack of drama, it's hard to justify giving this one anything higher than a "C." 

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune 
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 

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 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: December 28, 2011 8:20 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 8:20 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Toledo 42 Air Force 41



Posted by Tom Fornelli


TOLEDO WON. In what was one of the more entertaining bowl games of the season so far, the Toledo Rockets just edged out Air Force 42-41 at the Military Bowl in Washington D.C. As the score in this one indicates, there wasn't a whole lot of defense being played in this contest. In fact, there wasn't a score after the first 9 minutes of the first quarter, but then both teams combined for 35 points in the final 6 minutes of the opening frame. 

Air Force actually outgained Toledo on offense, but the Rockets were able to score a touchdown in all three phases of the game: offense, defense and special teams. Toledo quarterback Terrance Owens had a great game, completing 20 of his 25 passes for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns. All three of those touchdowns were to Bernard Reedy, who had 4 receptions for 125 yards in the game. Adonis Thomas also rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown for the Rockets. Tim Jefferson led the way for the Air Force attack, with 225 total yards and 3 total touchdowns.

WHY TOLEDO WON. Honestly, there isn't really one specific area of the game that you can say Toledo outperformed Air Force. Yes, they had an interception return for a touchdown and a kick return for another score, but I'd say the deciding factor in this one was the fact that Toledo scored the first two touchdowns in this contest. After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter Air Force was playing from behind all game and never did manage to take a lead.

WHEN TOLEDO WON. It wasn't until the final moments. On a 4th and 2 at the Toledo 33-yard line, down 42-35, Air Force's Tim Jefferson found Zack Kauth wide open for a 33-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 42-41. Air Force then sent its kicking team out, but instead of kicking the extra point, the Falcons ran a fake. One that was beautiful in design, but hideous in execution. The Falcons didn't convert, and then after Toledo recovered the onside kick it was just a matter of running out the clock.

WHAT TOLEDO WON. This was a nice finish to the season for Toledo, as it finishes 2011 with a 9-4 record and a win over a pretty good football team in Air Force. More importantly for the program, the Rockets didn't seem to lose a step after losing head coach Tim Beckman to Illinois earlier this winter. Matt Campbell also gets his first win as the program's head coach in his very first try.

WHAT AIR FORCE LOST. The Falcons lost a bowl game. That's it. They didn't get embarrassed either on the scoreboard or by a bad opponent. They were in this game until the closing seconds, and while it would no doubt have been nice to end the season with a victory, there's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of here.

THAT WAS CRAZY. This is going back to Air Force's two-point conversion attempt at the end of the game. I have no problem with the decision to go for two, as it's a bowl game, and you might as well play to win it. My problem was the fact that Air Force ran a fake kick. It's one of my biggest pet peeves in football. If you're going to go for two, then send your offense out there.  Put the players that are used to running these types of plays in a position to win the game, not your kicker or holder. Kickers kick. They don't run the option.

FINAL GRADE: This game was excellent. It was a back and forth affair that didn't feature a lot of defense, but did have plenty of big plays and was a bit of a roller coaster ride. In other words, it kept you entertained for the entire three and a half hours it was played, and what more can you ask for from a bowl game in late December? GRADE: A 
Posted on: December 27, 2011 8:51 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2011 11:59 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Purdue 37, Western Michigan 32

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

PURDUE WON: 
Don't have a great answer for the opponent's offense? Don't let them use it. 

That was the solution for the Boilermakers against Western Michigan Tuesday, as a pair of surprise onsides kicks, 265 rushing yards, and 6 forced turnovers combined to give Purdue a 35:54-24:06 advantage in time-of-possession. The Broncos' patented passing attack did its usual damage, collecting 439 yards and 3 touchdowns, but quarterback Alex Carder threw four interceptions and three drives inside the Purdue 30 netted a total of just three points. Add in a 99-yard Raheem Mostert kickoff return for touchdown, and for all of the Broncos' success in the air, nearly all the plays that really mattered went the way of the Boilermakers.

That still shouldn't overshadow the incredible effort from WMU All-American wide receiver Jordan White, who hauled in 13 receptions -- many of them of the highlight-reel variety -- for 265 yards.

WHY PURDUE WON: It's hard to overstate exactly how big Carson Wiggs' two successful first-half onsides kicks were for the Boilers; by playing keep-away from Carder and the Bronco offense and  giving themselves short fields to work with, Danny Hope's aggressive calls gave Purdue a command of the game they never relinquished. The Broncos were forced to chase the game from the middle of the second quarter on, and they never did catch up to it.

But a major part of that failure was how dominant the Purdue defense was on third- and fourth-and-short. Down 24-15 late in the second quarter, Bill Cubit elected to run up the middle on 4th-and-1 from his own 44; Tevin Drake was stuffed to set up a Purdue field goal. (Remember what we said about chasing the game?) So facing a third and then fourth-and-1 at the Purdue 20 in the second half, the Broncos called for back-to-back pass plays for Carder; two incompletions later, it was Purdue ball again. Then there was the Bronco drive that reached the Purdue 4 and saw the Boilermakers commit a pair of penalties, meaning WMU had five chances to score, including three from the 2 or closer; they settled for a field goal.

Combine that kind of short-yardage futility with six turnovers and various special teams gaffes, and it's something of a wonder the Broncos came as close as they did.

WHEN PURDUE WON: Not until the Broncos' final, potentially triumphant drive was cut short on just its second play when Ryan Russell stripped Carder from behind for the sixth and final WMU turnover.

WHAT PURDUE WON: Their first winning season under Hope and their first bowl championship since 2007. A win in the Little Caesar's Bowl over MAC opposition may not sound like much to a Big Ten team, but the dual onsides kicks should tell you how much it meant to Hope and his team.

WHAT WESTERN MICHIGAN LOST: Their most recent, arguably best-ever shot to win a bowl game -- the Broncos are now 0-5 all-time, 0-4 as a D-I school -- and their final chance with talents like Carder and White that may not come around again any time soon. This one will sting.

THAT WAS CRAZY: How often do you see a team force a turnover and then turn it back over to the other team while trying to return it? Not often. How often do you see it happen twice in the same half? We don't think we ever have. But that's what WMU managed all the same, stripping Boilermaker defenders after first an interception and then a Carder fumble.

FINAL GRADE: Though not always the most cleanly executed game, the Boilers and Broncos provided a ton of big plays, momentum shifts, and even (finally) some late-game drama as WMU kept getting off the mat after having been seemingly knocked out a half-dozen times. It wasn't quite the 2010 Little Caesar's epic, but it wasn't bad at all. B+.

Posted on: December 22, 2011 11:33 am
Edited on: December 22, 2011 3:15 pm
 

Terry Bowden is Akron's new head coach

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Akron
has found its next head coach, and despite the Zips' dismal record the past two seasons, the name is one that will be immediately familiar to college football fans.

That coach is current North Alabama head coach and former Auburn head man Terry Bowden, who the Zips introduced on their official YouTube channel Thursday afternoon:



Bowden spent one season at Akron as a graduate assistant in 1986 but has not coached at the FBS level in any capacity since his forced resignation from Auburn in 1998.

The son of Florida State coaching legend Bobby Bowden (of course), Terry spent three seasons with the Division II Lions and took them to the playoffs all three times. He coached at Auburn for six seasons, compiling a 47-17-1 record and an undefeated 11-0 campaign in his probation-saddled 1993 debut season on the Plains. Between his departure from Auburn and hire at UNA, Bowden spent several years as a television analyst and online columnist.

Though Bowden's resume and instant name recognition make this a quality hire for the Zips, he inherits a program at arguably the absolute bottom of the FBS. Akron went 2-22 the past two seasons under dismissed head coach Rob Ianello -- tying New Mexico for the worst mark in the FBS in that span -- and haven't enjoyed a winning season since 2005. 
Posted on: December 21, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 7:10 pm
 

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

Posted by Eye On College Football 


Occasionally the Eye on CFB team gathers, Voltron-style, to answer a pressing question from the world of college football. Today's question is:

What changes, if any, would you make to the current bowl schedule and/or bowl eligibility requirements?


Bryan Fischer: Any time you have a team like UCLA playing in a game at 6-7, I think it underscores that there needs to be a new rule that you not only be 6-6, but 7-5 at the very minimum. I get that the bowl games are a treat for the players but shouldn't we be rewarding winners and not the mediocre? The entire bowl system seems to have turned into the college football equivalent of a participation trophy. This, of course, ties-in with the line of reasoning that there are too many bowl games. At some point we'll get to the point where there's a good number of games for good teams but right now the excess causes mediocrity. For every crazy New Orleans Bowl finish we get, there's just as many Beef O'Brady Bowl duds it seems.

Tom Fornelli: I tend to agree with Bryan in that I'm not a big fan of 6-6 teams being rewarded for mediocrity, and I usually fall in line with the "there are too many bowl games" crowd, but then a funny thing happens every year. The games start, and they feature a couple of 6-6 teams, and I love them.

Yeah, there are some duds, but there are plenty of duds every Saturday during the regular season. So I think my personal criticisms from the current bowl system come from the fact that I'd like to see some type of playoff. A plus-one being the minimum of what I'd like to see.  So while I get extremely annoyed when I see that 6-6 Florida is playing 6-6 Ohio State in the Gator Bowl, I'm sorry, the TAXSLAYER.COM (bangs head, SIGN OF THE BEAST!!!) Gator Bowl, I'll probably still watch the game. I'm just a college football junkie, there's no way around it.

Jerry Hinnen: There's an easier fix for getting the UCLA-like riffraff out of the postseason than scuttling existing bowls: re-institute the discarded NCAA mandate that bowls must take teams with winning records ahead of teams with .500 (or sub-.500, in the Bruins' case) marks. "Too many bowls" is going to be a hard sell for the folks at places like Temple -- who unfairly sat at home after going 8-4 in Al Golden's final season last year -- or Western Kentucky, who should have gotten their first-ever FBS bowl bid after 2011's second-place Sun Belt finish and 7-5 record.

Cases like Temple's and WKU's are why, personally speaking, I'm fine-n'-dandy with the Participation Trophy Bowl circuit; not every game is going to be riveting theater (and matchups like UCLA-Illinois or Louisville-N.C. State promise to be quite the opposite), but it's not like anyone's required to watch. Should the seniors on that UL-Lafayette team we saw celebrating like they'd collectively won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes Saturday night have been denied that once-in-not-even-most-people's-lifetimes experience just because a few college football diehards don't want to risk being bored?

Is the long-since-antiquated notion that bowl berths are for no one but mid-major champions and the top handful of major-conference programs worth brilliant Hilltoppers' running back Bobby Rainey ending his career without a bowl appearance? Not if you ask me--if the players want to play them, the the local organizers want to host them, it's not my place (or any fan's) to say they shouldn't. The number of bowls is fine; the way the teams are selected could just use a little pro-winning-record tweaking. Besides, give it another month and there won't be any college football at all. I'll take whatever I can get at this stage, Belk Bowl included.

(That said, it would be outstanding if the NCAA also prohibited the exorbitant ticket guarantees that have turned bowl trips into a financial sinkhole for so many smaller schools, but that's a separate issue from the scheduling/eligibility question.)

Chip Patterson: I too would like to see limping 6-6 BCS conference team taken out of the bowl equation, particularly when there are dangerous Non-BCS teams that have been left out of postseason play in recent years. One way could be to change the requirements to 7-5, but this season I thought of another wrinkle.

Instead of changing the bowl eligibility record/win total, add a stipulation that requires a team to finish .500 or better in league play. Many times, the 6-6 team that fails to show up for a bowl game has struggled down the stretch and enters the postseason with little-to-no momentum. If schools are going to benefit from conference tie-ins, make them perform in conference play to earn that right. A 6-6 team with a 3-5 conference record likely is not playing their best football at the end of the season, and might be a part of one of the dud bowl games we have seen recently.

I would also prefer to move the "gutter" bowl games back before the BCS and traditional New Years Day games. That stretch of bowls leading up to the National Championship Game is one of the places where we find unattractive matchups and lose college football excitement after the blitz of New Years Day. If those games were moved back before the New Year and the title game was pushed back to Jan 4-5, it would arguably be a better spot for college football to capitalize on the nation's interest. Not only does the average fan have to wait, but they have to be teased with games that would be better consumed in pieces during a Dec. 28 doubleheader.

Adam Jacobi: It's important to keep in mind that most of these lowest-tier bowls are media-owned entities, which were created and staged every year because from a media perspective, live televised FBS college football is more lucrative than anything else that could be aired in the middle of a December week. As such, if you want to get rid of these bowls, you had better come up with something that produces higher ratings for that network instead, otherwise, no amount of hand-wringing about the quality of the teams playing in bowls is going to result in any meaningful change. This is not a scandal or anything that should not be, mind you, because it does not negatively affect fairness of play or anything else of vital importance. It's merely the entity that stands to gain most from lowest-tier bowls being played, making sure that the lowest-tier bowls get played by owning and organizing them. That's just good business.

Moreover, if by some chance these lowest-tier bowls happen to disappear, as much as we're tired of seeing a 6-6 (3-5) BCS-conference team get into the postseason, let's not pretend that that team's going to be the first against the wall. It's going to be the also-rans of the MAC, WAC, C-USA, and every other non-AQ conference, because 90% of the time, those non-AQ schools draw lower ratings than their BCS-level counterparts. The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl between UCLA and Illinois is going to suck, but if we're being honest about what bowl organizers really want out of a team that they invite, UCLA and Illinois are going to keep getting bowl invitations over even 8-win teams like Tulsa, Toledo, or Louisiana Tech.

So if you're asking me what I would change about the bowl system, I wouldn't possibly know where or how to begin. The bowl system is a product of media desires and inequality in FBS football, so if you want the bowl system to be any different, you'd better figure out a way to fix either the media landscape or the college football landscape first, and well... good luck with that.

Tom Fornelli: What if we replace the mid-week December games with gladiator like competitions? In which players from each school battle each other to the death. The loser, obviously, dies and frees up a scholarship for the school. The winner gets extra credit in any class of his choosing!

WHO WOULDN'T WATCH?

Adam Jacobi: Well, that would certainly be heartbreaking for everyone involved.

I wouldn't mind it if the sponsors (or bowl organizers or the stadium) had a little bit of leeway in ground rules for these games. These are silly games anyway (unless I'm supposed to take something called the Beef O'Brady's Bowl completely seriously all of a sudden), so why shouldn't the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl be played with literally a giant potato for a football? Field goals in the Holiday Bowl worth 4 points if they're from more than 45 yards out? Fine by me! Special uniforms in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl designed to look like boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese? OF COURSE we should be doing that.

So yeah, as long as we're going to have ultimately trivial exhibitions end the seasons of so many teams, we might as well make said trivial exhibitions unique in ways that go beyond mere branding.

Tom Fornelli: These ideas have my full support.  Can you imagine how much better the Orange Bowl would be if they were using an orange instead of a football?

Chip Patterson: Did they change tires on car at half time of the Meineke Car Care Bowl? If not they should.  Same goes for the Belk Bowl. I think instead of a coin toss there should be a Dockers shopping spree to determine who gets the ball first.

Adam Jacobi: And if Hooters got involved, there would be... lots of wings available for attending fans to eat. And that is all.

To chime in on the bowl schedule debate, or offer your own changes; "Like" us on Facebook and let us know what you think.

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