Tag:Bowl Bonanza
Posted on: December 16, 2010 10:49 am
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Why You Should Watch: The easy answer is that if you want to wash down your day-after-Christmas leftovers with college football, the Golden Panthers of FIU and Rockets of Toledo are your only option. So you'll watch them in front of a three-quarters empty Ford Field and like it, buster. But given the dramatic steps forward taken by these two programs under their current coaches -- Mario Cristobal, in his fourth year and first bowl game at FIU, and Tim Beckman, in his second year in Toledo -- this is also a chance to say you saw them before they got hired away by some wealthier school.

Also: electric FIU receiver/returner/jack-of-all-trade
s T.Y. Hilton is, to use the technical term, totally sweet.

Keys to Victory for FIU: Statistically, the Panthers are one of those teams that do just about everything well rather than any one thing really well. They did finish first in the Sun Belt in rushing, total and scoring defense, though (and second in pass defense), boasting a senior first-team all-conference performer in the line (end Jarvis Wilson, team leader in both sacks and tackles-for-loss), linebackers (Toronto Smith) and secondary (corner Anthony Gaitor). And still, for all of that, it was the Panther offense that led the way to the Sun Belt title. Behind conference Player of the Year Hilton and his 1,094 yards-from-scrimmage, and the tailback tandem of Darriet Perry and Darrian Mallary (1,376 combined yards, Mallary 5.67 yards per-carry), FIU scored an average of 37.5 points in their six conference wins.

In a game that looks as even on paper as this one, big plays could prove the difference, and n players like Hilton, Mallary, and Wilson, they have the athletes that can make them. If they do, and quarterback Wesley Carroll can avoid making big plays for Toledo (he threw 13 interceptions this season), FIU should have the edge.

Keys to Victory for Toledo: Unlike the Panthers, there's no question on which side of the ball the Rockets' bread is buttered; there's a solid linebacking tandem here in senior Archie Donald and sophomore Dan Molls (267 combined tackles), but when you've finished seventh in the MAC in total defense, even with nonconference games factored out , defense is not your strength.

What is the Rockets' strength is a balanced offense that doesn't beat itself. With original starter Austin Dantin out with a separated shoulder (whether he'll be available for the bowl is unclear), freshman Terrance Owens took over down the stretch and led the Rockets to a 3-1 record with an 11-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Taking handoffs will be second-team All-MAC tailback Adonis Thomas, who totaled 905 yards and averaged an impressive 5.99 yards per attempt. But the unquestioned star of the Rocket attack is receiver Eric Page, named first team all-conference after racking up 1,081 yards and eight scores.

Page was also named the MAC Special Teams Player of the Year after returning three kickoffs for touchdowns. (Between Page and Hilton, you'll really want to watch kickoffs in this game.) His good work and the sticky fingers of the Rocket defense (their 19 interceptions tied for fifth in the country) could tilt the field position battle in Toledo's favor, and if they do, the Owens-Thomas-Page triplets are good enough to take advantage. They'll have to, to keep up with the yards and points the defense will likely concede.

The Little Caesar's Bowl is like: a fireworks show. Maybe Toledo vs. FIU looks about as interesting as a blank black sky, but with guys like Hilton and Page around and a defense as boom-or-bust as the turnover-dependent Rockets involved, if you watch long enough you're sure to see some thrilling explosions.


Posted on: December 15, 2010 3:03 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Poinsettia Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Why You Should Watch: Because one half of the matchup is Navy, the team that continues to defy its service academy constraints with big wins, bowl berths, and the nation's most reliable year-in-year-out running game ... and their opponent might be even more interesting for the diehard college football fan. San Diego State has long been regarded as the sleeping giant of the Mountain West, a program with the resources and metro recruiting base to challenge for league titles if they ever got the right coach in place. Brady Hoke looks like he might be that coach, and after a huge step forward this season, a Poinsettia win would stamp the Aztecs as the up-and-comer in the new-look MWC.

Plus, this is the last chance to watch Navy's indefatigable Ricky Dobbs, arguably the best triple-option quarterback of college football's past decade. His swan song alone makes the game worth the look.

Keys to Victory for Navy: Things have mostly gone well for the Midshipmen this season, as they enter the bowl with their second straight nine-win campaign already under their belt. But when they've gone wrong, there have been two main culprits. One of them has been the pass defense, which ranks 66th despite playing two games against fellow option teams Air Force and Army . Even with the presence of senior star safety Wyatt Middleton couldn't keep the Midshipmen from giving up an incredible 28 completions in 30 attempts (for 314 yards) in a 34-31 loss to Duke, 413 passing yards and 5 touchdowns in the wild win over East Carolina, and 394 yards and 3 scores to Central Michigan in a 38-37 escape from the 3-9 Chippewas ... all without an interception. If a few leaks aren't plugged, SDSU's Ryan Lindley, the Mountain West's leading passer , will have a field day.

The other issue? Red zone execution. Though their numbers for the year aren't bad, the Midshipmen might have tipped 10 or 11 wins if not for zero points on five different red zone trips against Maryland and just six on three trips against Air Force. If Dobbs continues to throw the way he did down the stretch (including a career high 186 yards against Army) and Navy executes in their usual fashion, the Midshipmen will get their yards. The question is whether they'll turn those into points, and if they do, whether those points will be enough if the pass defense collapses.

Keys to Victory for San Diego State: Most schools would cringe at the thought of having to prepare for Navy's option shenanigans, but the Aztecs have to be quietly confident about the matchup. SDSU has already faced and defeated one option school this season, downing Air Force 27-25 while holding the Falcons to 12 points through the first 52 minutes. Defensive coordinator Rocky Long has years of experience with defending the option from his time as New Mexico's head coach, and he's been better at it than most. Between Long's expertise, the extra time to prepare, and the Aztecs' prior encounter with the option, they should be as ready as anyone to deal with Dobbs and Co. Though it's always easier said than done against the Midshipmen, they'll just have to execute. (It'll also help to have players like Miles Burris around; the first-team all-conference junior linebacker led the Mountain West in tackles-for-loss with 17.)

Offensively, if Lindley is on his game, it's hard to see the Midshipmen doing much to slow down the Aztecs. First-team all-MWC senior wideouts Vincent Brown and Demarco Sampson combined for 2,362 receiving yards and present major matchup problems with Sampson's size and Brown's speed. Navy also won't be able to commit extra bodies to pass defense, thanks to the presence of MWC Freshman of the Year Ronnie Hillman, a tough, explosive runner who finished 12th in the nation with 1,304 yards on the ground and averaged a sterling 5.6 yards per-carry. Lindley put up some huge numbers at times, but he also struggled with interceptions, his total of 14 tying for the second-highest in the country. If he can find Brown and Sampson more often than he finds Middleton and the rest of the Navy secondary, the Midshipmen could be in for a long day.

The Poinsettia Bowl is like: a forgotten pulp comic from the 1960s, in which a heroic naval commander, at the end of a long journey, has one final battle to fight when his division is ambushed in San Diego bay by ... a horde of bloodthirsty Aztecs?!?! Like the imaginary tussle out of those comic pages, this one promises to be hard-fought, action-packed (with these two offenses? You bet), and in doubt right up until the final frames.

Posted on: December 15, 2010 11:13 am
Edited on: December 15, 2010 12:03 pm
 

Bowl Bonanza: Humanitarian Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Why You Should Watch: Honestly, unless you're a fan of either Northern Illinois or Fresno State, you probably don't think there is a reason to watch this game. It's understandable, but believe us when we tell you there are a few reasons to watch.  First of all, it's been a few weeks since you've had any college football to watch, so it's time to take care of your fix.  Second, while these two teams may not be headliners, the matchup promises to be interesting.

Keys to Victory for Northern Illinois: Obviously things will be a bit different for Northern Illinois during the bowl game.  The Huskies are coming off of a loss to Miami (OH) in the MAC Championship game, and they've also lost their head coach Jerry Kill to Minnesota since then.  Still, with or without their head coach, what Northern Illinois needs to do to win this game is obvious.

Northern has the 7th ranked rushing offense in the country this season behind running back Chad Spann and quarterback Chandler Harnish.  Fresno State hasn't been very stellar against the run defense this season, particularly against spread option attacks like the one that Northern Illinois runs.  So for the Huskies to pick up the 11th win of the season -- which would be a school record -- they're going to need to keep the ball on the ground, and when the moment presents itself, attack the Fresno secondary deep.  Harnish has always been more of a runner, but his passing has improved quite a bit this season, so the Huskies should take advantage of it when they can.

Keys to Victory for Fresno State: The key for Fresno State in Boise will be the men in the trenches.  On defense, the line is going to have to remain disciplined, and maintain its assignments to stop the Huskies ground game.  It's easier said than done, as Fresno's front four has had problems doing this all season.  Still, while Northern can throw a bit, if you take away its run game and force it to throw more than it wants to, you can stop the Huskies offense.

On the other side of the ball, the offensive line will have to protect QB Ryan Colburn.  Colburn has a good arm and is a solid quarterback, but he has a tendency to make bad decisions when he's being pressured in the pocket.  He tends to force passes when he feels pressure, and against an opportunistic Huskies secondary, this won't work well for the Bulldogs.

The good news for Fresno is that the last few weeks off have given RB Robbie Rouse time to heal from rib and hand injuries he suffered towards the end of the season.  What could help Colburn and the offensive line more than anything would be for the team's workhorse to carry the load once again on offense.

The Humanitarian Bowl Is Like: It's like that kid back in grade school that nobody seems to like.  He usually sits alone at lunch time, and the other kids think he's weird and nobody ever pays any attention to him.  Hell, they don't even make fun of him.  Then one day the kid shows up at your house because both your moms go to the same salon and set up some kind of play date, and after you spend they day hanging out with him you realize "Hey, this kid isn't so bad.  In fact, he's kind of cool."  Of course, you never tell anyone at school about this.  You do have a reputation to uphold.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com