Posted on: January 2, 2012 6:55 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 7:31 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
PASADENA, Calif. -- Granddaddy of them all? Try granddaddy of all the offense.
Oregon and Wisconsin traded touchdowns so quickly at the Rose Bowl Monday afternoon that even Baylor and Washington were a little impressed, setting a host of bowl records in the first half.
Amid the pageantry and picturesque setting you expect in Pasadena at the start of a new year, Wisconsin won the toss and made the unusual move to take the ball to open the game. The Badgers had a gashing first drive, with Montee Ball close to breaking several long runs. Quarterback Russell Wilson effectively used the play action to roll out and hit a streaking Abbrederis for a 38-yard touchdown on an impressive opening drive.
Oregon answered right back, as Darron Thomas, with a Badger defender in his face, threw off his back foot to hit Lavasier Tuieni for a big gain to the one-yard line on the Ducks' opening drive. LaMichael James punched it in for a touchdown up the middle on the next play and it was away… we… go...
A big run by Ball was the answer for Wisconsin on their next drive, capped by a spin move that netted him a few extra yards that moved the Badgers into scoring position. Wilson did the rest near the goal line, running in a touchdown unopposed off of a bootleg to get Wisconsin a 14-7 lead with over five minutes left in the 1st quarter.
Electrifying freshman De'Anthony Thomas ended the 1st quarter on a high note, taking an inside handoff 91-yards for a touchdown by showing off his speed and pulling away from the Wisconsin defense. It was a Rose Bowl record run, breaking the 88-yarder Michigan's Tyrone Wheatley had in 1993. It also gave the two teams a new record for combined points in the 1st quarter of the bowl.
That wasn't the only record to fall in Pasadena on a hot Southern California day (the 82 degrees at kickoff was the sixth-highest in the game's history). Ball took a handoff off to the left side for a three-yard touchdown run to tie Barry Sanders' FBS-record for touchdowns in a season with 39.
Sanders immediately congratulated Ball on Twitter right after the play, "Congrats @M_Ball28 - I love that it was a go-ahead TD."
De'Anthony Thomas took the kickoff back to midfield and, on the very next play, Darron Thomas found Kenjon Barner on a wheel route for a 54-yard touchdown pass to tie things up again at 21. At that point, Oregon was averaging over 14 yards per play.
Wisconsin took over and Ball was stuffed for no gain on a 3rd and short at the 17. Head coach Bret Bielema opted to keep the offense on the field to go for it and Wilson dropped back off a play-action fake but pressure forced him to be flushed from the pocket before Kiko Alonso ultimately sacked him near the sideline for one of the few early defensive plays of the game.
The Wisconsin defense stepped up on the next series though. On third down, Darron Thomas was sacked and fumbled the ball, which Louis Nzegwu scooped and scored a 33-yard touchdown to put the Badgers ahead 28-21.
Thomas and the Ducks responded with an impressive drive that featured several sharp pass plays to get into the red zone. Then the signal-caller faked a short run on third and goal following a timeout and found Tuinei in the end zone for a three-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left in the half.
The 56 combined points was a new Rose Bowl record and the two teams had 631 yards of total offense - good for 8.8 yards per play.
Like I said, granddaddy of all the offense.
Posted on: January 2, 2012 12:16 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 12:19 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
After one of the worst defensive performances in college football history - 777 yards and 67 points allowed - in the Alamo Bowl, Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian quickly let go of his entire defensive staff, including highly paid coordinator Nick Holt.
Just as quickly as Baylor's offense was able to move down the field, Sark has found a replacement in former Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, according to ESPN.com. Volunteers linebackers coach Peter Sirmon is also making the trip to the Northwest.
Wilcox came to Knoxville after coordinating Boise State's defense for four years, including 2009 when he shut down Oregon and TCU en route to a perfect season and top 15 finish in most defensive categories. He has plenty of Pac-12 experience having played four years at Oregon along with coaching linebackers for three seasons at California. He was pursued by Texas last year before turning down Mack Brown to remain at Tennessee but with head coach Derek Dooley on shaky ground at the moment, appears to have jumped at the chance to head out of town after two seasons.
Sirmon, who was Wilcox's roommate at Oregon, is known as a terrific recruiter and will replace fired linebackers coach Mike Cox on the Huskies' staff. A Washington native, he spent seven years playing in the NFL before beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Ducks.
Tennessee finished the year ranked 28th in total defense despite a 5-7 record. The Vols showed significant improvement despite depth issues after winding up 69th in total defense in 2010.
Wilcox, who was making roughly $600,000 at Tennessee, also figures to get a nice raise. Holt was among the highest paid assistants in the country and with the Pac-12 flush with cash thanks to their new media deals, it's likely the Huskies new defensive coordinator should have plenty of cash to buy a nice house in Seattle.
Posted on: December 31, 2011 10:07 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Stanford has a problem, and it's a big one: Chris Owusu is not coming back. The senior wideout and one-time kickoff return threat has suffered through a concussion-plagued final season in Palo Alto and won't be available against the Cowboys.
Losing a target of Owusu's caliber would be a big blow for any offense, but for one with as few weapons at the wide receiving position at the Cardinal, it's even bigger. Just three Cardinal wideouts finished in double digits in receptions, and one of those -- Ty Montgomery -- was a true freshman with 17. Owusu had 35. Meaning that the only remaining legitimate, proven threat at wideout is senior Griff Whalen, who finished with 49.
The issue is that Whalen's 49 receptions covered just 664 yards -- a less-than spectacular 13.55 per-catch average -- and accounted for just four touchdowns. Without Owusu, the Cardinal wideouts don't appear to have any way to stretch the field, and Whalen didn't seem to prosper without his fellow senior around to deflect coverage; in the two games after Owusu was sidelined for good against Oregon, Whalen totaled just four catches for 23 yards.
Though Stanford's tight ends are as good as any in the country -- All-American Coby Fleener has been the team's true deep threat all season, averaging better than 20 yards a reception and racking up 10 touchdowns -- Andrew Luck is going to need something more than that from his wideouts. Unfortunately for Whalen, it's not going to be easy to have a breakout game given the Cowboys' strength in the secondary. He's likely to spend most of the game dealing with Brodrick Brown, the Pokes' outstanding junior corner, whose team-leading five interceptions helped him to first-team all-Big 12 honors.
If Whalen can make some kind of headway against Brown, he can keep the rest of the Poke secondary from locking in on the tight ends, do his part to keep some space open for the clock-milking Stanford running game, and maybe even give Montgomery some holes to work in. But against a corner the caliber of Brown, that's going to take Whalen's biggest and best performance of the season--and without it, Luck may simply not have enough targets for the Cardinals to keep pace with the likes of the Cowboys.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 5:08 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A look at the key matchup that could decide the Rose Bowl.
Chip Kelly vs. time to prepare
In addition to being a great matchup on the field, the Rose Bowl this season pits two head coaches who have experienced plenty of success early on in their careers as the men calling the shots. Both Bret Bielema and Chip Kelly have taken over for their respective mentors and taken their programs to new heights. Wisconsin is making a return trip to the granddaddy of them all while this is Kelly's third straight BCS game with an appearance in the national championship game to boot.
For Kelly though, this game presents yet another challenge to rise to the occasion and finally put Oregon over the top. He's lost just six games in three years running the team but, outside of a loss to USC this year, has found success fleeting against teams with weeks to prepare for the fast-paced offense that he signals in from the sidelines and is the biggest reason why they've been dominating Pac-12 conference play. Last season, Oregon was averaging 49 points per game but against Auburn's bend-but-don't-break defense they rushed for less than 100 yards and managed just 22 points. Boise State, Ohio State, LSU, the story seems to be a constant one. As much success as Kelly has had, it just hasn't come against teams with time to prepare.
When asked about that after the Pac-12 Championship game, Kelly noted that they were all pretty good teams Oregon faced. So is Wisconsin, with Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball and a top 10 defense. The Badgers won a down Big Ten this year but still will be a stiff test for the Ducks in Pasadena. They're big and physical and though it seems like the speed of the Oregon offense should be effective, history suggests that's no sure thing.
Kelly has plenty of weapons to use this game, with running backs LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner able to score from anywhere on the field and freshman De'Anthony Thomas a dynamic playmaker in space. Darron Thomas has had to throw it more than Kelly probably likes but he can get the ball into the hands of his playmakers. For some reason, the head coach hasn't been able to figure out the adjustments opponents have made against what he does game-in and game-out. There's been plenty of success and big games with this program and it's up to Kelly to finally get them over the hump, regardless what Bielema and the Wisconsin defense throws at him.
Posted on: December 30, 2011 4:30 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
WISCONSIN WILL WIN IF: The Badgers make their way to Pasadena with a solid, experienced defense - sixth in the country in scoring, allowing just 17 points per game - but they haven't seen anything like the Ducks' fast-paced attack that has been putting up points and yards quicker than you can say "quack." The team played in the Rose Bowl last year against a good team that had some speed but Oregon certainly runs a different style and will mix in plenty of zone-read with between the tackles running. While the big front seven will have to be in shape and prepared to fill their gaps, the secondary will also have to be on alert - not just for LaMichael James or De'Anthony Thomas breaking a big run but for quarterback Darron Thomas, who has been passing the ball more than last year.
On offense, Russell Wilson and Montee Ball have put up some eye-popping numbers and will need to continue their efficient play in the Rose Bowl. Oregon's defense isn't anything to write home about but is very opportunistic. Nick Aliotti is a very good coordinator and has shut down plenty of high powered offenses before as well. The size difference between the lines will be something everybody will point to but the real thing to keep an eye on is if the Wisconsin o-line can have success blocking at the second level to spring Ball for some big gains. This should be a great match up with a team set on coming home with the trophy this year.
OREGON WILL WIN IF: The Ducks come into this game looking to prove that they're an elite team by winning, for a change, a BCS game. The only way they do that is to limit turnovers and, most importantly, convert on third downs. Oregon has had issues with drops and penalties when trying to convert and pick up a first down and has to come out sharp or they'll get a repeat of other games where they've had plenty of time off but came up flat. Getting James, Kenjon Barner or Thomas in space is the priority and hopefully Chip Kelly will have a better game plan than he has had in the past two BCS games. The wide receiver corps has to come through with a good game and avoid the drops that they've had all season long too.
Defensively, this team has faced similarly built teams during the regular season such as Stanford and USC. They won against the Cardinal by forcing turnovers and came back against the Trojans in a similar manner. If they can create penetration and put some pressure on Wilson, the iffy secondary should do just fine against the Wisconsin receivers. There's no doubt the unit will take a pounding but still should be fine. Special teams is one area that the layoff could lend improvement too. The kick return unit has taken a few back but the punt returns definitely need work. Bottom line, if Oregon wants to win the Rose Bowl, it all comes down to execution and the Ducks have to do a better job at the little things than they have in the past.
PODCAST: ROSE BOWL PREVIEW ON THE CBSSPORTS.COM COLLEGE FOOTBALL PODCAST
X-FACTOR: Both teams are coming off wins in their respective conferences' first ever championship game. While the defenses have done well, it's the offenses that are the reason Oregon and Wisconsin are in Pasadena and will likely determine the winner as well. With the Ducks' offense, Wisconsin will likely try to hold onto the ball but that likely won't matter given how quickly they can score. On the flip side, the Badgers can set up play action passes that could be very effective. Oregon will have to focus on sustaining drives and creating big plays while trying to be aggressive but sound on defense. Should be a fun game that might end up coming down to who can give their offense the best field position on special teams.
Posted on: December 29, 2011 12:28 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The Rose Bowl almost always lines up one of the bowl season's best matchups, and this year is no different as Wisconsin and Oregon offer up a mouthwatering contrast in equally hyper-effective offensive styles. The Sugar Bowl, meanwhile, took plenty of heat for pairing Michigan and particularly Virginia Tech teams that ranked near the bottom of the BCS eligibility pool, but any game that features a matchup of dual-threat quarterbacks like Denard Robinson and Logan Thomas is still must-see TV.
In this edition of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast, we preview both bowl games and break down the key factors -- can Wisconsin pass? Can Denard stay accurate? Which Hokie offense will show up? -- that might swing the games one direction or the other. To listen, click below, download the mp3, or pop out the player in a new window by clicking here. Remember that all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.
Posted on: December 28, 2011 10:58 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A look at the key matchup that could decide the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
UCLA's pistol offense vs. Illinois defensive line
When it comes to stopping UCLA's Pistol, an attacking front four can cause havoc against the run-based offense. The Bruins have been pretty good on the ground this year - one of the few things they've seemed to execute ok - finishing 29th in the country with 190 yards per game rushing. Kevin Prince wasn't the greatest signal-caller (1,627 yards passing, 10-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio) but was a solid trigger man who could pull the ball and run for a first down when needed. Johnathan Franklin had a big game against Colorado but other than that was nothing to write home about after being held under 100 yards rushing in all but three games this season. Fellow back Derrick Coleman was on and off throughout the year but turned in a productive season.
Though the Bruins have faced some good defensive lines, they haven't faced anybody like defensive end Whitney Mercilus. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound All-American led the country in sacks with 14.5 and led the conference in tackles for loss with a total of 19.5 for the year. Though Illinois struggled down the stretch by losing six straight, it wasn't because of the defense, which finished seventh overall in total defense. Michael Buchanan finished 8th in the Big Ten in tackles for a loss playing on the line and was also a disruptive force at times this season. If the line can get penetration and make some plays, that allows the back seven to matchup well against UCLA's skill position talent that hasn't done much all at all outside of Nelson Rosario. Freeing up linebacker Jonathan Brown to make some plays will be something to watch if the Illini want to win the game.
Points might be hard to come by given the way Illinois' offense has looked down the stretch so that puts the pressure on the defense once again. If the team has any hope of ending the slide, they're going to have to limit big plays from an offense that can create some with misdirection. A good push from the defensive line against a bad UCLA offensive line is where things start.
On the other side, if the Bruins want to avoid going 6-8 on the year, the offense has to execute less like they did against USC and show some of the signs of life like they did against Oregon. Prince can pick up first downs and there should be a solid rushing game but if the o-line can't block Mercilus and the defensive line, interim head coach Mike Johnson could be in for a long night.
Posted on: December 27, 2011 9:45 am
Edited on: December 27, 2011 9:48 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
There's nothing quite like Nike's Pro Combat Uniforms and Oregon's football team. Together, they're in a whole new category when it comes to uniforms.
The former unveiled the latter's uniforms Tuesday morning as the Ducks prepare to take on Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. The technology behind the uniforms debuted last season in Oregon's uniforms in the national championship game and will make their way to the school's threads in their third consecutive BCS game on January 2nd. Pretty sharp (at least as far as Ducks uniform standards go) if you ask me.
“Nike’s relationship with the University of Oregon represents a forward-thinking approach to innovation and design. Our goal is to help build better athletes by providing them with state-of-the-art-innovation combined with a deep knowledge and understanding of their heritage” said Todd Van Horne, Nike’s Creative Director for Football. The latest Nike Pro Combat system of dress uniform delivers more on-field performance benefits than ever before while pushing the limits on creativity and design. The Oregon Ducks truly represent Nike's approach in developing athletes from the inside-out.”
Oregon won the program's only Rose Bowl in 1917 and lost the last time they were in Pasadena to Ohio State. They - and uber-booster and Nike boss Phil Knight - are hoping 2012 results in a not only new uniforms, but a win as well.
“Oregon represents the gold-standard when it comes to merging science and innovation with athletic performance and we are excited to continue our partnership with Nike by unveiling the next iteration in uniform innovation for the Rose Bowl” said Chip Kelly. “Nike always starts by listening to the voice of the athlete as they continue to bring the most intuitive technology to the game.”
You can view full resolution photos of the uniforms and more information on Nike's website and Facebook page. While you're at it, you can like the Eye on College Football on Facebook or follow the blog on Twitter. You can also keep up with the latest college football news from around the country in the CBSSports.com daily newsletter.