Posted on: December 31, 2010 9:21 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Washington used 268 rushing yards to wear down Nebraska and win the Holiday Bowl 19-7
Offense: Jake Locker scared Washington fans (and football fans, really) when he went down for a slide and didn't come up after taking a hit from a Nebraska defender. Many thought concussion, or possibly worse. He walked off the field, and was cleared to return, but many doubted if he would maintain his reckless running style the rest of the game. Locker set the tone of offense with his toughness as he continued to pound the ball right at the Nebraska defense. Between running back Chris Polk (177 yards, 1 TD) and Locker (83 yards rushing, 1 TD) the Washington offensive line cleared the way for both talented runners to wear down the Nebraska defense. GRADE: B+
Defense: Phenomenal. The Huskies defense absolutely flew to the ball in the open field, keeping the potent Nebraska offense from breaking the big play like they did so many times in their meeting earlier this season. Mason Foster made a name for himself, picking up 12 tackles and 2 sacks in easily one of the most impressive individual defensive efforts so far this bowl season. Without Washington's efforts on defense, the offensive opportunities would not have been set up. Credit is due to head coach Steve Sarkisian and defensive coordinator Nick Holt for getting this Washington defense fired up and ready to make a statement on Thursday. GRADE: A-
Coaching: Steve Sarkisian and the Washington Huskies made a statement with their dominant victory in the rematch with Nebraska. The game was won in the trenches, with Washington dominating the offensive and defensive lines. In these bowl games, it seems that many times it comes down to who wants the win more. There was no doubt on Thursday that Sark had his boys fired up and ready to go get some revenge. GRADE: B+
Offense: With Taylor Martinez' injury/benching, Bo Pelini's conflict with the talented freshman quarterback may have hit a point of no return. After Nebraska made a very public stand regarding the involvement of Martinez' father, some began to speculate that Pelini might be driving the family away from the program. With Thursday night's unimpressive offensive outing, there will surely be some reconciling to do if Martinez plans to inherit the starting job for 2011. Martinez, along with the rest of the Nebraska rushing game, looked flat and unaggressive in comparison to the Washington defense. Some predicted that Nebraska may not "bring it" against Washington due to disinterest, and it looked like that's exactly what happened on offense. GRADE: F
Defense: One of the strongest aspects of Nebraska's defense is the secondary, and Washington chose to isolate the front seven by running the ball right at the Cornhuskers. Similar to the offensive line, the defensive line looked a step slower and a yard off the entire game. The secondary did their part, even kept Locker from completing a single pass in the first half. But when Washington moved to the running game in the second half, the clock moved and the yards were amassed. Nebraska had no answer. GRADE: C-
Coaching: I'm not blaming the offensive inefficiency on the coaching staff, but the whole team looked flat. We started to predict that Nebraska may be disinterested in the game, if for no other reason based on the off-field incidents in the weeks leading to Thursday's Holiday Bowl. Combine the off-field incidents with Pelini's conflict with the Martinez family, and I find it hard to believe that hindsight will show proper preparation for this game. GRADE: F
FINAL GRADE: The display from Nebraska was fairly disappointing, but it was good to see Jake Locker have a strong finish to his career. His decision to return for his senior year was doubted by many, and his draft stock has likely fallen from where it was a year ago. But he got to lead his team to an impressive postseason win to finish a memorable career. GRADE: B
Posted on: December 23, 2010 3:47 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen as part of the blog's Bowl Bonanza series. For tonight's Poinsettia Bowl preview, click here .
The Basics: Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Arizona (7-5), Dec. 29, 9:15 EST
Why You Should Watch: Because it's the Alamo Bowl, silly, the same game that gave us Texas Tech's stirring comeback against Michigan State last year, that saw Northwestern just miss out on their first bowl win since 19-dickety-two against Missouri in overtime, that unleashed this madness on us at the end of Michigan-Nebraska ... all in the past five years. And this year, we've got maybe the bowl season's best matchup of wide receivers in Justin Blackmon vs. Juron Criner, the carnival-worthy facial calisthenics of Mike Stoops, and one final chance to see Dana Holgorsen's flying circus at Oklahoma State before he takes his act to Morgantown. That ought to be enough.
Keys to Victory for Oklahoma State: More than maybe any school in the country other than Michigan, the Cowboys win by simply outscoring their opposition. With Holgorsen's unit ranked No. 1-with-a-bullet in the FBS total offense (and a robust third in scoring) but the Poke defense coming in 90th (and yielding a combined 98 points in their two losses), the pressure is permanently on the Cowboy attack to put points on the board. Anything less than 30-35 points, and the Cowboys will be cutting it awfully close.
The good news is that with arguably the best running back-wide receiver combo in the country in All-Americans Kendall Hunter and Blackmon (not to mention revelatory quarterback Brandon Weeden and his 32-to-13 touchdown-to-interception ratio), even the well-coached Wildcats may not be able to stop from Oklahoma State from hitting that mark. The bad news is that with as much time to prepare as Stoops and his staff will have, it seems unlikely the Cowboys will manage a 40- or 50-point explosion, either. That means the Cowboys will have to come up with at least a few stops, and that starts up front with a run defense that actually finished an impressive 27th in the country in yards-per-carry allowed at 3.57. Leading that charge was first team All-Big 12 senior linebacker Orie Lemon, who led the team in tackles and tackles-for-loss, but he was helped by an experienced (three senior starters) and deep defensive line that had four different members record at least 4 tackles-for-loss.
The front seven will have to be at its best to keep the pressure off of a secondary that ranked 115th in the country in defending the pass, but if the Cowboys can force just a handful of third-and-longs,even their defensive backs (particularly senior corner Andrew McGee) should be able to make enough plays to let Weeden, Hunter, and Blackmon win the game.
Keys to Victory for Arizona: On paper, the Wildcats don't have a whole lot going for them in this game. They come in riding a four-game losing streak that dropped them to 7-5, with the Cowboys at a stout 10-2; they have further to travel and will do so with dramatically less fan support; their last bowl "effort" was the 33-0 debacle against Nebraska in last year's Holiday Bowl.
But they do have Criner, a 6'4", 210-pound beast who quietly racked up 1,197 yards to finish as the nation's seventh-leading receiver. They also have Nick Foles, who equally quietly led the Pac-10 in passing yardage at 291 yards per-game, completed 67 percent of his passes, and finished in the national top 30 in both yards per-attempt and QB rating. And there's plenty more targets where Criner came from; eight different Wildcats finished with 20 or more receptions. Given the weakness of the Cowboy secondary, a huge night from Foles, Criner, and the rest of the 'Cat passing game could allow Arizona to keep up with an offense even as explosive as the Pokes.
And defying the West Coast stereotype, the Wildcats are also perfectly competent on defense, finishing as one of only 27 teams to allow fewer than 5 yards per-play. The triumvirate of Ricky Elmore, Brooks Reed, and Justin Washington (23.5 combined sacks, 33 tackles-for-loss) give them a dynamic defensive line that should be capable of slowing Hunter's interior running. If they can do that, a well-prepared back seven plays over their heads against Blackmon and Weeden, and Foles goes off, the Wildcats could very well pull off the upset.
The Alamo Bowl is like: the onslaught at the Alamo itself, at least when either offense is on the field; the overmatched and outmanned secondaries are going to come under a hail of football fire from their better-armed opponents, and will hope to simply survive until their compatriots on the offensive side of the ball can come to their rescue. If the quarterbacks and receivers play up to their capabilities, this year's Alamo Bowl will -- like its namesake -- definitely be something to remember.
Tags: Alamo Bowl, Andrew McGee, Arizona, Brandon Weeden, Brooks Reed, Dana Holgorsen, Holiday Bowl, Juron Criner, Justin Blackmon, Justin Washington, Kendall Hunter, Michigan, Mike Stoops, Nebraska, Nick Foles, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Orie Lemon, Pac-10, Poinsettia Bowl, Ricky Elmore, Texas Tech
Posted on: December 20, 2010 9:26 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 9:27 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Nebraska is entering their Holiday Bowl matchup with Washington as a heavy favorite to repeat the beating they put on the Huskies earlier in the season. But if the off-field incidents don't slow/stop, the game could become much closer than head coach Bo Pelini would like.
Less than two weeks after defensive lineman Baker Steinkuhler was arrested on suspicion of DUI and suspended for the bowl game, safety Rickey Thenarse was arrested for a similar set of charges - very near the exact same intersection. Early Sunday morning, Thenarse was cited for DUI, suspended license, and impeding traffic. According to reports , officers found his 1998 Oldsmobile stopped in the middle of traffic. Not the best time or place to take a quick cat nap, if you ask me.
The suspension is a tough end to a lengthy career for Thenarse, who has been with the Nebraksa program since 2006. Earlier on Saturday, the senior wrapped up his academic career in Lincoln participating in graduation. Now, his athletic career will end with one game left on the schedule. Bo Pelini expressed deep disappointment in his comments to the media, but seemed hopeful for Thensarse's future.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 9:23 am
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Posted on: December 15, 2010 5:27 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 5:30 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The headline news at TCU these days is all positive: another undefeated regular season and Mountain West title, a Rose Bowl bid, an imminent move to just-begging-to-be-dominated Big East, and even -- for once -- an offseason without rumors that Gary Patterson is due to be hired away. Everthing's coming up Horned Frog.
So it's not a surprise that TCU is starting to wide that wave of momentum in the recruiting wars, too. Traditionally an afterthought behind the state's big Big 12 programs when it comes to recruiting, Patterson scored arguably the biggest coup of his tenure when athlete LaDarius Brown of Waxahachie (Tx.) chose to stay in his home Dallas metro area and suit up for the Frogs.
A 6'2", 190-pound speedster who could fit in with Patterson's team at either wide receiver or running back, Brown has all the requisite tools to become another future weapon in TCU's plans for BCS conquest. But Patterson's found plenty of weapons before; the reason Brown's commitment is noteworthy is because of how many other programs wanted Brown for themselves, and how impressed the recruiting experts already are with Brown's potential.
On the former count, Brown claimed offers from a who's who of schools across the country: Alabama, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Nebraska. And though the state's eight hundred-pound recruiting gorilla at Texas didn't extend an offer, Brown had drawn serious interest from such in-state schools as Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Houston. In years past a recruit like Brown would have been on his way to College Station or Lubbock (if not out of state), but Patterson's success appears to be changing the game.
That's what the recruiting gurus seem to think, anyway, as Brown is arguably the most highly-regarded recruit to commit to TCU since there was such a thing as a "recruiting guru." The Dallas Morning News rated Brown the best prospect in the Dallas metro area ; Maxpreps lists him as the nation's No. 22 athlete ; ESPN rates him the No. 16 wide receiver and No. 95 prospect overall; Scout the No. 18 receiver and No. 124 player overall; and Rivals , most optimistic of all, the No. 5 athlete and the 44th-best prospect in the country. Every one of those assessments is the high-water mark (as far as this blogger can tell) for a TCU commitment at those respective sites.
While it helps that the Frogs can offer Brown the chance to play so close to home, there's also no question that a recruit with this kind of profile would not have given TCU the time of day in years past. If Patterson can convince a few more like him that the Frogs are the state's next-best-thing to the 'Horns -- and in the fertile recruiting grounds of Texas, there's no question he'll have the opportunity -- the past two years might only be the beginning of TCU's stay at the forefront of college football.
HT: Mountain West Connection .
Posted on: December 13, 2010 12:52 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2010 6:24 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
With the Big Ten adding Nebraska to the fold earlier this year, the old Big Ten logo with the subtle "11" embedded was suddenly rendered obsolete. The Big Ten's response? A Big Ten logo with a subtle "10" embedded. Here's the new logo unveiled by commissioner Jim Delany on the Big Ten Network today:
As for the division names, yes, they're "Legends" and "Leaders." The announcement was made after a five-minute presentation about alumni of each and every school doing good things, and as the image above indicates, the split is like this:
There'll be a time and place for editorializing about the new branding, but for now, here's what it all is. Reactions go in the comment section below.
Tags: Big Ten, Big Ten Division Alignment, Big Ten Division Names, Big Ten Divisions, Big Ten Logo, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Jim Delany, Leaders, Legends, Legends And Leaders, Legends Leaders Divisions, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Big Ten Logo, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin
Posted on: December 9, 2010 10:54 am
Edited on: December 9, 2010 11:00 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
As Bo Pelini's name gets tied to high-profile job openings (rumors which athletic director Tom Osborne was quick to squash), Nebraska still has the task of preparing for their last postseason bowl game as a Big 12 representative. Nebraska was given no preferential treatment with their bowl bid, falling to the Holiday Bowl December 30 in San Diego. Not only is the caliber of the game an insult to the Big 12 North division champions, but they are facing a Washington team they handily defeated 56-21 earlier this season. Oh yeah, that game was in Seattle. So if the focus is not completely there in Lincoln, it would not be a huge shock.
But there is a difference between lack of focus and lack of judgement. Sophomore defensive tackle Baker Steinkhuler received a one-game suspension from Pelini for a drunk driving arrest earlier this week. The hometown standout from Lincoln Southwest High School has started all 13 games for the Cornhuskers in 2010, and will watch the rematch with the Huskies from the sideline. His absence may not have a difference in the outcome, but you'd hate to be left with "What If's" in the situation that Jake Locker explodes and leads Washington to the upset in his final game.
Posted on: December 8, 2010 12:07 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 12:10 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The economic slump has taken its toll on ticket sales and attendance figures for any number of bowls over the past couple of seasons -- no, John Q. College Football Fan does not want to spend his hard-earned cash visiting Detroit at the end of December to watch the Little Caesar's Bowl -- but that doesn't mean that with the right matchup in the right setting, fans still won't flock to their team's postseason destination.
Exhibit A: the Sugar Bowl has already sold out . It's the Sugar Bowl, sure, but getting to New Orleans from Columbus isn't the easiest of hikes, and while no one will accuse Arkansas fans of being any less fervent in their devotion to their football team than fans at their fellow SEC schools, they also simply don't have the numbers of an Alabama, Florida, or LSU. If it's taken less than 48 hours or so to sell out the Superdome, that's not bad.
But, yes, it is still the Sugar Bowl. And yes, it's the Hogs' first trip there in ages and the Buckeyes have one of the nation's largest followings. It's not bad, but it's not impressive. What might be, though, is Exhibit B: the Sun Bowl, in El Paso, Texas, has also sold out . It's even done so in record time, exhausting its ticket supply in less than 24 hours to break last year's mark by nearly nine days, and that's despite El Paso's less-than-desirable proximity to crime-ridden Juarez hampering its image as a tourist destination. (If you can't make it in person, remember that you can always watch the Sun Bowl at 2 p.m. EST Dec. 31, exclusively on ... wait for it ... CBS!)
That's what having two name-brand teams in Miami and Notre Dame set to renew the most famous and consequential rivalry of the late 1980s will get you, we suppose. (That the Irish declined to play a bowl game of any kind last season probably helps, too.) What happens if you're not pairing the 'Canes and Irish? What happens if you're pairing, say, a 6-6 Pac-10 mediocrity with a Big 12 opponent that 1. just crushed its legions of fans with a devastating championship game defeat 2. played in that same bowl game last year 3. obliterated that same Pac-10 team in that team's stadium earlier this season?
What happens is you have the Holiday Bowl and its Nebraska-Washington matchup, and you are also not going to see all that many Husker fans there :
The Nebraska athletic ticket office still has about 5,000 tickets for sale to the public, something that probably wouldn't have been the case had the Huskers made it to another bowl against another team.In many cases, yes, the economy will be to blame for bowl struggles. But as the Holiday is proving, there's often a lot more to it than that.
HT on Holiday story: DocSat .