Tag:Fiesta Bowl
Posted on: December 31, 2010 8:17 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2010 8:18 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Fiesta Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Basics: Oklahoma (11-2) vs. UConn (8-4), Jan. 1, 8:30pm ET

Why You Should Watch: If you like those nature programs where a pack of lionesses hunt down and ruthlessly slaughter a gazelle, this is totally the bowl game for you. Probably. Possibly. Not if you go by Bob Stoops' prior track record in BCS games, admittedly; he and his Sooners have lost their last five. And that's the real reason you have to tune in, no matter how lopsided a matchup this might appear to be. If a UConn team that is totally overmatched on paper -- remember that the Huskies lost to Temple, were shut out by Louisville, and won the Big East despite being outgained by some 600 total yards in league play -- can pull off what might be the upset of the season, or even come close, Stoops might hitch the first plane to Gainesville just to avoid the tomato storm that would await him on his return to Norman. It's not likely, but like the first round of the NCAA Tournament in hoops, the potential is tantalizing enough that it's still a game you have to watch. Just know that no one will blame you for making other plans for the third and fourth quarters.

Keys to Victory for Oklahoma: The biggest one for the Sooners is pretty simple: just don't screw it up. Stoops' team has overwhelming matchup advantages all over the field, and if they can merely avoid making the handful of catastrophic mistakes that would keep the Huskies in the game, they should cruise. Start with the passing game, where Oklahoma will feature the nation's No. 4 air attack at 337 yards-per-game, one headed by quarterback Landry Jones and featuring one of the FBS's most dangerous receivers in overlooked All-American (if there can be such a thing) Ryan Broyles. They'll be facing a low-wattage UConn secondary that was shredded by the likes of Michigan (8.5 yards an attempt), Rutgers (11.4), and Pitt (7.9). If the Panthers' Tino Sunseri can do that kind of damage (he finished 20-of-28 for more than 220 yards) against the Huskies, there's no telling what Jones and Broyles might do. It doesn't get much better in the run game, where 1,100-yard All-Big 12 rusher DeMarco Murray will face a young front seven ranked 56th in the country in rush defense -- lower even than the Huskies' pass defense. If the Sooners don't turn the ball over (and their 16 total giveaways were the fewest in the Big 12), they should put up major yards and points without too much effort. 

Defensively, though, the Sooners aren't quite as overpowering; they rank outside the top 50 in total, passing, and rushing defense. But they do have a penchant for big plays, having forced 30 opponent turnovers this year, good for the fourth-highest total in the country. The ball-hawking secondary tag-team of senior safety Quinton Carter and junior corner Jamell Fleming each picked off four passes, with a big assist to Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year Jeremy Beal. The senior defensive end wreaked havoc on opposing lines all season, recording 8.5 sacks and 18 tackles-for-loss. If Beal can force the Huskies into repeated third-and-longs or the Sooners' sticky fingers can negate a UConn drive or two with turnovers, the underdog won't stand a chance.

Keys to Victory for UConn: To actually win this game, UConn's going to have to catch a ton of breaks, and the bigger impact those breaks have, the better. Which is why they're going to need to make the game as low-possession, as short, and as break-dependent as possible, and that means a heavy dose of Jordan Todman. The nation's second-leading rusher, Todman gained 1,574 yards this season on an impressive 5.2 yards per-carry. Combine his toughness with a veteran line featuring a pair of first-team All-Big East performers in jumbo junior tackle Mike Ryan (333 pounds) and equally jumbo senior guard Zach Hurd (325 pounds), and you get what might be the Huskies' only real matchup advantage as they go up against a Sooner front that's allowed seven different teams to average 4.5 yards a carry or better. If Todman and the big Huskie front can grind out some big first downs, they'll take loads of pressure off the entire rest of the team: wobbly quarterback Zach Fraser (5.4 yards per-attempt for the season, 5-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio), a front seven that could be ground down by the Sooners' up-tempo attack if left on the field very long, a secondary that simply can't be allowed to face Jones, Broyles, and Co. with the burden of trying to salvage the game on their shoulders. For Uconn, it all starts with Todman and the line.

The good news is that if that start can keep the Huskies close going into the fourth quarter, they've shown an impressive ability to finish, winning tight games against West Virginia, Pitt, and South Florida with key late drives and clutch kicking from big-legged All-Big East kicker Dave Teggart. There's also little doubt that should the game stay competitive deep into the second half, all the pressure -- not only from this game, but from Stoops' previous BCS failures and Oklahoma's role as the overwhelming favorite -- will be on the Sooners, It won't be easy to get there, but if Todman can get rolling and the defense (notably all-league defensive end Kendall Reyes) can play far enough over its head to keep the Huskies in it, it might be the other team that makes the single game-deciding mistake.

The Fiesta Bowl is like: an inspirational underdog sports movie recast -- probably -- as a gritty indie drama. We've got a lovable, plucky underdog that's scraped and clawed to get its one shot at Goliath, a Goliath that by all rights should pound it into submission. (Big East or not, the Huskies are a far bigger underdog to Oklahoma than Boise State was four years ago in this same game.) If this was Rocky or The Mighty Ducks or something similar, the Fiesta would end with UConn executing some crazy trick play at the final whistle to pull out a shocking victory. Unfortunately for fans of those movies, it's far more likely that the Huskie heroes will be taught a cruel-but-authentic lesson about their inability to deal with powerful forces beyond their control. The critics might applaud if Oklahoma pulls away by three scores in the second quarter, but we're not expecting a crowd pleaser here.
Posted on: December 29, 2010 1:35 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2010 1:41 pm
 

BCS football turning bigger profits than ever

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

To boil this report from CNN Money down to one simple question: What recession?
The profit for the 68 teams that play in the six major conferences was up 11% from the prior school year, according to a CNNMoney analysis of figures filed by each school with the Department of Education.

In the school year that ended in 2010, the vast majority of the schools in one of these deep-pocketed conferences posted a profit. Four of them broke even and only one -- Wake Forest -- reported a loss.
Way to ruin the shutout, Demon Deacons.

But seriously, folks: that 11 percent increase (fueled by rising ticket sales and prices and juicy new television contracts) pushed BCS conference profits up over the collective $1 billion mark for the first time. Contrast that with the profits turned in by, say, the nation's swim teams, and it's easy to see why -- charges of hypocrisy notwithstanding -- the NCAA and its member schools are willing to do so much to protect its interests on the gridiron.

Of course, that business model doesn't work nearly as well at the non-AQ level. Even after their 2009 Fiesta Bowl berth and the largest set of profits in the country at the mid-major level, for instance, TCU only broke even. We've heard plenty of horror stories the past few weeks about the amount of money smaller schools are burning through on their bowl trips, thanks to ticket guarantees and the like; in 2009, eight of the 53 bowl-eligible smaller-conference schools wound up losing money on the year.

With the line drawn so firmly between the sport's haves and have nots, it's no wonder access to the big-money BCS games and television's never-ending contract coffers have become the sources of so much acrimony. (Given that even the best possible year for them in the Mountain West still amounted to chump change for most Big East teams, is it any wonder the Horned Frogs jumped ship?) With no sort of NFL -style revenue-sharing agreement forthcoming (in fact, the angry comments from BCS commissioners like Jim Delany make clear that such an agreement would be less likely now than ever), don't expect anything to change anytime soon. The rich of college football are only going to get richer, and the poor will simply have to make themselves attractive enough to join them.

HT: GTP .
Posted on: December 23, 2010 1:10 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2010 1:12 pm
 

Sooners don't know much about UConn

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Ask the Oklahoma Sooners what formations their Fiesta Bowl opponent from UConn like to use, what coverages they'll employ on third-and-long, what a specific bit of pre-snap motion from the Huskies means for the Sooners' alignment, and there's no question they'll know all of that.

But as for what they know about the actual UConn program, well, it looks like all that study of the opposing football team doesn't lead to a better understanding of the institution they represent, at least according to an impromptu quiz of Sooner players by the Oklahoman on the finer points of UConn information. For instance, when asked who the Huskies' head coach is ...
Randy Edsall needs a better publicist because nobody got this one right. Only [DeMarco] Murray ventured an actual guess with “isn't it like Al something?” which was actually not that far off. Al Golden , who last week took a job with Miami , coached Temple to victory over UConn this season. [Jonathan] Nelson declared he knew Edsall's face but couldn't place the name. [Kenny] Stills didn't know who coached UConn football, but correctly offered up the name of the women's basketball coach: “Geno Auriemma."
The Sooners also struggled mightily to name where UConn is located, to name their best player (All-American running back Jordan Todman), and even UConn's nickname, with multiple players going with "Huskers."

None of which means a thing other than it being fairly amusing, of course; no doubt a similar quiz applied to similar teams preparing for similar bowls would yield very, very similar results. But it's interesting to see that once bowl practice begins, the players' focus can be laser-guided enough that even things like the opponent's head coach name aren't worth learning when compared to the X's-and-O's.
 HT: DocSat

Posted on: December 22, 2010 1:55 pm
 

BCS automatic bids not helping BCS attendance

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Some of the stories that have emerged over the past few days about teams struggling to sell their allotment of bowl tickets aren't surprising, quite honestly. How many FIU fans are going to want to leave Miami for a late-December trip to Detroit ? What percentage of the fanbase at Tulsa -- one of the smallest schools in all Division I -- are going to have the means to fly to Hawaii ?

But you might think that things would be different on the top rungs of the bowl ladder. You'd think wrong, as the Fiesta Bowl and Orange Bowl are each finding out. We mentioned last week that UConn was looking at a major financial shortfall, and that hasn't changed; the Huskies have still sold only approximately 4,500 of their 17,500 tickets and are on the hook for at least $1.4 million in unsold ticket costs alone. Stanford, meanwhile, isn't much better off , according to San Jose Mercury-News columnist Mark Purdy (emphasis added):
Why should the Cardinal football team and its loyal followers be forced to schlep way across the country to Miami for the Orange Bowl in two weeks? As of late last week, Stanford had sold less than half of its 17,500-ticket allotment for that game. Isn't it stupid that the team can't play in a big bowl much closer to home?
Purdy's column makes clear that he and the Pac-10 would have much preferred to see the the Cardinal in the Rose Bowl over TCU (and no doubt the Rose itself agrees), but he doesn't ask the question from the opposite perspective: isn't it stupid the Orange Bowl can't invite a big school closer to home? Why do they have to take a team representing a private academic institution from the West Coast whose fanbase is mostly apathetic even in the best of times when teams like LSU or even Michigan State could provide a lot more attendance bang for the invitation's buck?

In Stanford's case, it's because of a BCS bylaw that requires any team in the BCS rankings top-four to receive an automatic BCS berth; in UConn's, it's because the Big East champion is also admitted auotmatically, no questions asked. If Purdy thinks the agreement that sent TCU to Pasadena at Stanford's expense is unfair (and that's debatable, since the other BCS bowls have each been saddled with non-AQ teams before and will be again; why should the Rose be excepted?), how fair is it that the bowls are forced into inviting schools they know will leave them with attendance issues?

It's a little fair, sure, because there's no question that at 11-1, Stanford has done more to deserve a BCS berth than, say, 9-3 Alabama. But it's high time the NCAA started examining a way to free teams from the burden of ticket guarantees -- since it is unfair for a team like FIU, caught between an invitation they can't afford to turn down for the sake of their program and a guarantee they can't afford to accept on the financial ledger -- and if they might start with either limiting or eliminating those guarantees, they can definitely continue by loosening bowl tie-ins and doing away with the BCS's automatic bid. If bowls can take teams that will actually fill seats, they won't have to charge the schools that don't when those seats go empty.
Posted on: December 16, 2010 11:59 am
 

BCS proving pretty expensive for UConn

Posted by Tom Fornelli

One of the more enlightening parts of the book Death to the BCS wasn't the fact that college football could have a playoff that would be incredibly successful financially.  This is something that anybody with common sense could figure out.  No, when I read the book it was seeing exactly how much money that schools actually make by going to bowl games.

Or, as is the case quite a few times, how much money that schools can lose going to a bowl game.

Something that, at the moment, it looks like UConn is going to experience first hand.  Yes, the chance to go to a BCS game is exciting for the program as it gives the school some national exposure, but it also means that the school has a lot of tickets and hotel rooms to sell, and it looks like it's having some trouble doing that.
UConn also has a hotel obligation — a total of 550 rooms at three different hotels ranging in price from $125-225 a night, not including tax, with blocks reserved for either three or seven nights. Additional expenses include a chartered flight and meals for the team, staff and 300-member band, as well as a $100,000 bonus to coach Randy Edsall, and smaller bonuses for assistants, per their contracts, for getting the team to a BCS bowl.

Cost of any tickets or hotel rooms that go unfilled are absorbed by the university, with the exception of the 150 rooms at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, where UConn is on the hook for only half of money owed on unsold rooms at the $225-a-night hotel.

Whether UConn maximizes its revenue opportunity will depend on the amount of tickets it can sell. The school will almost certainly take a bath. As of Monday night, only 4,000 tickets had been sold, meaning UConn was still holding roughly $2.5 million in unsold tickets.

Those 4,000 tickets that UConn has sold?  That means the school still has 13,500 more to go. Obviously, the economy has a lot to do with this.  Most UConn fans just don't have the money to buy tickets and fly across the country and stay a few days right now, and those who do can surely find tickets cheaper elsewhere.

The school has started an ad campaign to encourage fans to travel to the game, even having coach Randy Edsall warn everybody that "this might be the only Fiesta Bowl we go to." Sounds encouraging doesn't it?

I get the feeling there are going to be quite a few empty seats in Glendale next month.

Photo courtesy of New Haven Register
Posted on: December 8, 2010 10:39 am
Edited on: December 8, 2010 11:02 am
 

UConn tackle facing child pornography charges

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Hot on the heels of the shocking Derrell Johnson-Koulianos arrest comes a potentially even more shocking set of charges against a college football player: the Hartford Courant reported this morning that UConn offensive tackle Greg McKee is being held on charges of importing child pornography, obscenity, and "promoting a minor in an obscene performance."

McKee, a freshman, had been suspended indefinitely by the team on Tuesday and then turned himself in to authorities Wednesday after learning a warrant had been issued for his arrest. Law enforcement has apparently been building their case against McKee for quite some time:
State police said their computer crimes unit received information in September about possible possession and distribution of child pornography.

Detectives executed a search and seizure warrant in November at McKee's dorm room at Rosebrooks Hall, state police said. Items of evidence were seized during that search and were examined, state police said.

The impact on UConn in on-field football terms should be negligible; McKee's absence won't be felt at all on their veteran offensive line. But the case has the potential to become a huge distraction for a team that can't afford any loss of focus as they prepare for a Fiesta Bowl that may be the toughest game in their program's abbreviated Division I history.

As for McKee, suffice it to say that football will be the very least of his worries for the foreseeable future.

 



Posted on: December 4, 2010 1:32 pm
 

Dion Lewis, Pitt love the snow

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Pitt needs some help from its Big East brethren if its going to win the Big East and head to the Fiesta Bowl next month, but first the Panthers have to pick up a win on the road against Cincinnati.  So far, so good.

At halftime in Cincinnati, in the snow, the Panthers hold a 21-10 lead, and look like a team that should have been playing in snow all season.  While the offense hasn't been perfect, particularly the passing game, but it has been efficient given the playing conditions.  The one person who seems to be benefitting the most from the snow is running back Dion Lewis.

At halftime Lewis has 164 yards rushing and three touchdowns.  His season high coming into today's game was 130 yards against Rutgers back in October.  It looks like Lewis is taking advantage of his shiftiness in conditions that don't exactly make it easy for defenders to cut and change direction smoothly.

If the kid played in Alaska, he might end up the greatest college football player ever.

As for the help Pitt needs from the rest of the Big East, the Panthers need West Virginia to lose to Rutgers, and at halftime in Morgantown, WVU is up 14-7.  They also need UConn to lose to South Florida, and that game will be played tonight.
Posted on: November 30, 2010 5:52 pm
 

Cotton Bowl takes Texas A&M

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The first major bowl domino to fall has fallen, as the Cotton Bowl has announced via Twitter that Texas A&M has accepted an invitation to play in the Jan. 7 game against an SEC opponent to be named later.

The announcement doesn't come as much of a surprise: our J. Darin Darst had the Aggies pegged for Arlington in this week's edition of CBS's bowl projections. Their likely opponent? LSU , which would set up a matchup of two of the country's most explosive defensive lineman in Drake Nevis and Von Miller and a pair of thunderous running backs in Stevan Ridley and the red-hot Cyrus Gray . A&M might have a sliught leg up thanks to their familiarity with the Cowboys Stadium setting; the Aggies have already played their twice the past two seasons in nonconference matchups with Arkansas .

With the Cotton having made its decision, the other top-tier Big 12 bowls look likely to fall in line with the rest of Darst's projections, if Oklahoma defeats Nebraska in the Big 12 title game: the Sooners to the Fiesta , the Huskers to the Alamo , Oklahoma State to the Holiday , and Missouri to the Insight . A Huskers victory could send the Sooners to San Antonio, or cause other shake-ups down the line.

 
 
 
 
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