Tag:Pac-12
Posted on: January 5, 2012 4:51 am
 

What's to be done about 'rogue' AP voters?

Posted by Adam Jacobi

A report came out Wednesday night that some AP voters were prepared to vote LSU as the national champion even if Alabama beats the Tigers at the BCS Championship on January 12. There are conditions, of course; if 'Bama wins handily, there's not going to be much doubt who the deserving national champion is. But still, if the title game is another close, unconvincing affair that this time tilts in favor of Alabama, there are people on record who are at the very least open to the prospect of sticking with LSU.

"Awarding a championship to a team that loses its final game is beyond counterintuitive and may be un-American," said David Teel of the Daily Press in Hampton Roads, Va. "But if LSU loses narrowly, I will absolutely consider (voting the Tigers No. 1). That's how good the Tigers' regular season -- five wins over the top 25, four away from Death Valley, including at Alabama -- was." Another voter in Albuquerque told CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd that Alabama's win "would have to be like 63-0 or something" before he'd consider voting for the Tide over LSU.

[Doyel: Splitting BCS national championship 'stupidest idea ever']

The conundrum Teel raises along with his supposedly "rogue" compatriots is a real one, and one that cuts to the core of polling as a college football institution. At the end of the day, though, Teel is not only well within his right to wonder aloud about this game's effect on his final ballot -- if the conditions are right, he should follow his gut and go with LSU to win the title.

First, it's important to understand why polling even needs to exist in college football (which it does!) in the first place. The validity of determining a Top 25 in college football is dramatically hindered by two factors:

1) We just don't have much data to work with. Assuming one of the central maxims of college football and the BCS is correct -- that the most important determinant in whether one team is better than the other is what happens when they play each other -- then in order to justify a two-team playoff out of a 120-team league, we would likely need way more than 12 or 13 data points for each team (especially with two-thirds of nearly every schedule dedicated to common games with a highly consolidated group of conference opponents). Baseball uses 162 games in a 32-game league, and this year, it needed all 162 just to determine an 8-team playoff setup.

Now, the point can be made that MLB didn't actually need all 162 games to determine its playoff participants -- nobody was screaming about major league baseball's illegitimacy when the season was 154 games long (or less) for the first 85 years of the league's existence, after all -- but if we extrapolate college football's rate of missing opponents to the MLB, the season would be four games long, three of the games would be dedicated to intra-division play, and the fourth game would be for one non-division opponent. And then two title game participants are chosen. If MLB commissioner Bud Selig proposed this, he would be fired. He would be quadruple-fired. Then the riots would begin.

2) The data we do have is highly contradictory anyway. Even if we had a season with dozens upon dozens of games, upsets are so prevalent that the rankings would still be a relatively poor predictor of future games. We all like to believe that if one team beats the other, it's better than the other team, but here's the full list of the Associated Press Top 25* teams that have not lost to a team ranked below them: LSU, Alabama, Oregon, Arkansas, Virginia Tech, Georgia, and Penn State. In other words, even among what voters have determined to be the best 25 teams, 76% are ranked ahead of a different team that beat them during the season, and it took only 12-13 games to get to that point. For the next 25 teams, the ones with even more losses than 1-3 on the year, there would be utter carnage in trying to only rank teams ahead of the ones they beat. Consider that the next time somebody makes the all-too-prevalent argument of "How can Team X be behind Team Y in the rankings when Team X beat Team Y?" 

Now, even though college football is filled with game-changing factors that hinge on chance (weather, injuries, fumbles) this pattern of teams routinely losing to worse teams is not a phenomenon unique to the sport. Going back to baseball, losses are so prevalent that even the best teams rarely win more than two-thirds of their games. In professional football, the teams with the best regular-season record are barely more likely to make the Super Bowl than the average playoff-bound team. But those two leagues (and every other professional team sport) feature multi-round playoffs, so the contradictions are rendered meaningless through the process of the playoffs -- even as said playoffs routinely eliminate teams that would take a BCS Championship bid if such a system existed in the league.  

College football does not have the luxury of expanding its schedule to adequately address either of the the above factors, especially in light of the FBS' mammoth number of programs -- football is debilitatingly brutal as it is, plus the prospect of trying to turn a profit in the postseason is prohibitively difficult for athletic departments even with a one-week schedule -- so it has to make do with its small, weak set of data in order to determine championship participants. In must step pollsters to interpret that data in their own way, and generally, those pollsters do a very good job of contextualizing the data and putting together a (temporarily) coherent Top 25 -- at least in the poll's weekly aggregations. So given the limitations of college football scheduling, there's really no other way to delineate between specific programs than by subjective ranking.

The rankings are each pollster's individual interpretation of the entire season, and if there's any doubt about that, regard the amount of teams that find themselves ranked second in the season's very final poll without playing in the BCS Championship because they won their bowl games while ranked third while the BCS Championship loser was thumped so soundly it couldn't hang onto the second-ranked spot. Those votes as No. 2 aren't protest votes to suggest that the BCS took the wrong team to challenge the top-ranked team or that a plus-one needs to be enacted immediately, they're reflections of each team's work on the season as a whole.

So given that, it's particularly backwards of the BCS and Coaches Poll to require that the winner of the BCS Championship be voted as national champion while allowing the loser to be ranked lower than second if need be. The season as a whole is what it is, and if AP voters determine that a potential slim Alabama victory over LSU at a (semi-) neutral site in the BCS Championship doesn't constitute enough of a reason to like Alabama's season more than LSU's, those voters should absolutely rank LSU first in their final ballots. They should be prepared to defend the decision, of course, but they should do it; otherwise, what's the point of being granted a vote in the first place?

*The AP Top 25 was chosen because the Coaches Poll and BCS exclude Southern California for reasons that are not germane to this particular topic.
 

Keep up with all the latest results and preview the rest of the bowls at CBSSports.com's Bowl Pregame. 

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 7:08 pm
 

Stanford OT Jonathan Martin declares for draft

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Andrew Luck might be just the start of a Stanford exodus to the NFL Draft, since as of Tuesday afternoon he already has some Cardinal company.

Junior Stanford tackle Jonathan Martin announced via his Twitter account Tuesday that he will be forgoing his senior season in Palo Alto to enter this April's draft:

 

Martin could be one of two early-entrants from the Cardinal offensive line, as All-American guard David DeCastro is also expected to declare in the near future. 

"#NERDs" or not, Martin and DeCastro stand to soon become some very wealthy nerds. In a tackle-light draft, Martin shapes up as an all-but-certain first-round selection and could hear his name called in the top 10. At 6'6" and 305 pounds with loads of experience both drive-blocking and pass-protecting in Stanford's pro-style scheme, the two-time first-team All-Pac-12 honoree ranks as the third tackle off the board here at CBSSports.com and the No. 13 prospect overall. (DeCastro, incidentally, ranks ninth.)

Get caught up on the early-entry announcements HERE, and all the latest rankings, mock drafts, and breaking news check out the NFL Draft Home. 

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Posted on: January 3, 2012 12:37 am
Edited on: January 3, 2012 12:41 am
 

Oklahoma State wins Fiesta shootout over Stanford



Posted by Jerry Hinnen

One team had the No. 1 draft pick quarterback. The other had the uncoverable wide receiver. And in the end, the wide receiver won out.

Behind an instant-classic 8-catch, 186-yard, 3-touchdown performance from Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State won the Fiesta Bowl 41-38 over fourth-ranked Stanford in overtime. Quinn Sharp hit the game-winning 22-yard field goal after Cardinal kicker Jordan Williamson missed a 35-yarder for the win at the end of regulation and a 42-yarder in overtime. Sharp's field goal was set up by a 24-yard completion to Colton Chelf to the half-yard line.

That even the Cowboys' 38 regulation points weren't enough was down -- mostly -- to the brilliance of Andrew Luck, who went an incredible 27-of-31 for 347 yards and 2 touchdowns. Luck appeared to have won the game by going 8-of-8 in the fourth quarter, first putting his team up 38-31 with a 13-play, seven-minute drive and then the two-minute drill that set up Williamson for the missed game-winner.  

But in the end, Blackmon and Brandon Weeden (29-of-42, 399 yards, 3 TDs) were too much, even with the Cardinal's 588-406 advantage in total yards.

It didn't look like it in the third quarter, though. The Cowboys picked up a first down on the opening possession of the second half, then went nowhere: three more plays, punt; three plays on their next possession, punt; three plays from inside the 5 following a Stanford fumble, field goal. Total yardage for the quarter? Stanford 135, Oklahoma State 15.  

The teams went in at halftime tied at 21 after a combined five-touchdown barrage in the second quarter. Luck led a pair of masterful drives -- 7 plays, 87 yards for a 14-0 lead, then 8 plays, 80 yards to restore the lead to 21-14 -- but even he was the second-best player on the field thanks to Blackmon. It wasn't just that he caught four passes in the span of 10 minutes--it was that two of them went for 43 and 67 yards, and a manly tackle-breaking third turned a 4th-and-4 at the Stanford 32 to first-and-goal at the 9.  

The first quarter, however, belonged to the Cardinal lock, stock and barrel. While Weeden struggled mightily -- he hit just 5-of-10 for 2.6 yards an attempt, with an ugly interception to boot -- Luck was his usual murderously effective self to start, executing a play-fake to perfection to spring Ty Montgomery for an easy 53-yard pitch-and-catch TD. The Cardinal finished the quarter with a 129-27 yardage advantage, but a missed field goal by Jordan Williamson and Luck's only poor throw of the period (one picked by Justin Gilbert) kept the Cowboys within a possession.

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Posted on: January 2, 2012 11:04 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 11:06 pm
 

Heartbreak finds Wisconsin once again

Posted by Bryan Fischer

PASADENA, Calif. -- Been there, done that.

It's a saying as common as a Wisconsin fan jumping around before the 4th quarter. The Badgers ended their second consecutive trip to the Rose Bowl under head coach Bret Bielema much the same as they did their first - on the losing end.

For a team just two Hail Mary losses away from playing for the national title, this was supposed to be it. A hotshot transfer quarterback and a Heisman Trophy finalist running back playing behind him against a team that saw defense as outscoring their opponent. They held the lead early, held it late but ultimately didn't hold it when it mattered.

"This team never flinched, never wavered," said offensive lineman Peter Konz. "Against Michigan State we kept going, against Ohio State we kept going. It came down to winning all our last games, and we did that. We got here and we never gave up. In that reflection, it's unbelievable. As a man you can look back and go, 'I did all I could do.'"

"I'm kind of tired of tears of sadness," Bielema said. "I wanted to come out here and experience tears of joy at some point."

For a time, it looked as though Wisconsin was going to be great. Russell Wilson hit Jared Abbrederis for a 38-yard strike to cap off a 77-yard drive to open the game. Oregon answered.

Wilson responded with a 74-yard scoring drive. The Ducks took three plays to find the end zone. Back-and-forth they went on the perfectly cut grass of the Rose Bowl Stadium until Wisconsin was finally being tripped up. So close, once again, to a win but for one final time coming up just short.

"The game was basically 0-0 the whole game," Wilson said. "No matter if the score was 35-35 or 7-7, it's a 0-0 game. That's the way I look at it. There at the end it was 7-0, and we thought we could come back and score."

Success is a fleeting term for those who have tasted it because it is so easily lost. In the record books, this season will be looked at as a success. A win in the first ever Big Ten Championship Game, two candidates for the Heisman, scores of NCAA records to tell recruits about. Yet, the stinging feeling the players wearing red and white had walking off the field was not exactly the way they wanted to start the new year off.

"We'll rebound from this. I wouldn't trade in anything, anyplace in the world for that locker room that I have right now and the way that they continue to persevere," Bielema said. "I'm not going to apologize for a group that want to lead the division title, won a Big Ten title, and earned a chance to come out here and play a quality football team, and unfortunately came up a little bit short."

Bielema has built this program using size, strength and home-grown talent. He took a chance by luring Wilson to Madison and it paid off, not just with the titles but by the leadership he showed on and off the field. Ball ran himself into the record books, tying Barry Sanders' FBS-record.

But, in the final five minutes of the biggest game of the year, Abbrederis fumbled inches from going out of bounds and essentially gave away any chance the Badgers had of winning.

Heartbreak, it seemed, was the only thing that could stop Wisconsin this year.

"Well, it's never easy," the head coach said. "I'm not saying I'd rather lose by 40 points though. I mean, it just make it's that much more gut wrenching. But on the same account, you can hold your head high knowing the perseverance, and the challenge and response that our guys showed was truly amazing and a great credit to their character."

Abbrederis still finished with 346 all-purpose yards, good enough for a school bowl record. He caught a touchdown pass to give the team three players with at least eight on the season for the first time. Wilson edged out Heisman winner Robert Griffin III to set an NCAA pass efficiency record with 191.78 and extended his own record with a touchdown pass in his 38th-straight game.

"They're a great bunch of guys that have the determination," said Wilson. "We lost three games, basically, with a total of maybe within 40 seconds. It's pretty wild."

"What I brought from last year to this year is you have to capitalize on every play and every opportunity that is shown. Obviously, we fell short once again," said Ball. "We're going to approach this just like we did last year after the loss. Obviously, a little better, prepared a lot better, but the only way we can go with it is forward."

Wisconsin turned last year's heartbreak into another successful season. As the Badgers rebuild with Wilson and, likely, Ball moving on, perhaps they can do the same in 2012.

"That's neither here or there, what happens, happens," said Konz, reflecting about the game. "It's just too bad it had to end on another last-second drive.

"We left it all on the field, and to do that, there's very little to be sad about.”

Posted on: January 2, 2012 9:01 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 11:25 pm
 

Oregon wins the Rose Bowl 45-38 over Wisconsin


Posted by Bryan Fischer

PASADENA, Calif. -- Wisconsin's run for the roses quickly turned into a track meet that they just couldn't keep up with.

The second half of the granddaddy of them all opened much like the first: offense, offense and - a strange concept to the SEC - more offense as Oregon finally broke through and won a BCS game under Chip Kelly 45-38 in front of 91,245 at the 98th edition of the Rose Bowl.

The Ducks, receiving the kickoff to open the second frame, needed just three plays and 48 seconds to find the end zone - with most of the work done by De'Anthony Thomas on a 64-yard touchdown run along the sideline (complete with an escort blocker). At that point, the speedy freshman was averaging 78 yards per carry and, as colleague Bruce Feldman tweeted, the only thing slow about him Monday evening was the apostrophe in his name.

A big run on the ensuing kick return by Jared Abbrederis for 60 yards setup Wisconsin in Oregon territory but they just couldn't capitalize. Running back Montee Ball did end up hurdling two defenders to pick up a first down on the drive but paid the price with a shot to the, um, sensitive area. Phillip Welch booted a 29-yard field goal to pull the Badgers to within 35-31.

The defense held Oregon to just their second three-and-out of the day with a big stop of Kenjon Barner on third down to force a punt.

Russell Wilson led the Badgers down the field with his arms and the legs on the next possession, picking up a big first down to sustain the drive with his legs on a 17-yard run. A few plays later he found Nick Toon in the end zone for an 18-yard strike that gave Wisconsin the lead back at 38-35.

A promising drive started out with Darron Thomas hitting Lavasier Tuinei for big 35-yard gain over the middle of the field and over a defender to push into Wisconsin territory. The drive stalled however after a sack and holding penalty pushed the Ducks back. Thomas dropped back on 3rd-and-18 but his pass across the middle was tipped by De'Anthony Thomas and into the hands of Aaron Henry to give the defense another stop and much-needed momentum late in the 3rd quarter.

The offense took over from there but Wilson gave it right back, throwing a pass low intended for a receiver that was picked off by linebacker Kiko Alonso. Thomas made up for his interception by finding Tuinei once again as Oregon took a 42-38 lead to open the 4th quarter. The defense once again stepped up and forced a three-and-out as momentum was planted firmly on the side that had chrome helmets and fans clad in lightning yellow.

Thomas found Tuinei almost immediately upon taking over, hitting him on a 41-yard completion that caught the Wisconsin defenders out of position. After a holding call that wiped out a beautiful throw (and 30-yard gain) from Thomas to Thomas, the Ducks eventually ended up going for it on 4th down with Tuinei once again making a play and picking up a first down.

Oregon ended up kicking a field goal after being stopped on the next third down, with Alejandro Maldonado's 30-yarder pushing their lead to 45-38 with 6:50 remaining.

Russell Wilson and the offense was moving right along trying to answer on the next drive. Abbrederis was wide open just past midfield and Wilson hit him in stride but he fumbled the ball along the sidelines and Oregon recovered the ball inbounds. The Ducks, for a change, actually slowed things down and picked up first down after first down to milk the rest of the time remaining off the clock.

Wisconsin had a chance late but, with two seconds remaining, spiked the ball with no time left on the clock.

OREGON WON. The Ducks picked up the school's first win in the Rose Bowl since 1917 thanks to a strong second half in a game that was all about offense but saw the defense make a few plays late to win the game. After back-to-back defeats in BCS games, Kelly finally got the program over the hump to capture his first bowl win in an exciting game that was paced just how he liked it.

HOW OREGON WON: Known mostly for running the ball, the offense was going up and down the field thanks largely to the arm of quarterback Darron Thomas, who finished 17-of-23 for 268 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Freshman De'Anthony Thomas returned to Southern California and put on a show in his first bowl game, collecting 315 all-purpose yards by speeding past Badger defenders.

WHEN OREGON WON: Up 42-38, it felt like the last team to have the ball would win the game the way both defenses were playing - especially as they got tired late. After two penalties pushed the Ducks back, Chip Kelly opted to go for it on 4th-and-6 and Thomas found Tuinei on a slant to convert. Later in the drive Maldonado kicked a field goal to extend the lead one final time and, thanks to an Abbrederis fumbling the ball for Wisconsin, essentially give Oregon the win.

WHAT OREGON WON: The school's first Rose Bowl since 1917 for one but more than that, it marked the culmination of an impressive run under Kelly that was lacking a postseason win of note. From the national title game last year to LSU and USC this year, there were more signature losses than signature wins for the program. Now, with trophy in hand and plenty of celebrating Duck fans in the stands, Oregon has finally reached the elite level in college football.

WHAT WISCONSIN LOST: The second straight Rose Bowl loss by the Badgers will sting just as much as the first. Legitimately two hail mary's from playing in New Orleans for the national title, Wisconsin had high hopes at taking the trophy home to Madison and helping restore the Big Ten's reputation. Alas, it was not meant to be despite a great game and they end up on the receiving end of a Pac-12 victory in Pasadena.

THAT WAS CRAZY: The two teams combined to set Rose Bowl records for points scored in the 1st quarter, first half and the 83 at the final buzzer set a game record. De'Anthony Thomas' 91-yard was the longest in the game's history and both squads racked up 1,128 yards of total offense.

FINAL GRADE: A. Do you like offense? Do you like great games? Then toss in the greatest postseason game in college football and that's what happened Monday afternoon. There was plenty of offense - 7.8 yards per - and points to make things entertaining and even the defensive plays that were made excited the crowd. All-in-all, a great way to open college football in 2012 and close out the 2011 season for Oregon and Wisconsin.

Posted on: January 2, 2012 12:16 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 12:19 pm
 

Report: Washington hires Justin Wilcox as DC

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
 

Fiesta Bowl Key Matchup

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



A look at the key matchup that could determine the Fiesta Bowl.

Stanford WR Griff Whalen vs. Oklahoma State CB Brodrick Brown.

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.

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Posted on: December 31, 2011 7:13 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 7:13 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Illinois 20 UCLA 14



Posted by Tom Fornelli


ILLINOIS WON. There was not a lot of offense in this game, nor were there a lot of spectacular plays, but Illinois rode the strength of an outstanding defense to put an end to its six-game losing streak. With running back Jason Ford missing the game for Illinois, the Illini put the ball in Nathan Scheelhaase's hands and relied on him to do all the work on the offensive side of the ball. 

Scheelhaase finished the day with 249 yards of total offense and hit A.J. Jenkins for a 60-yard score in the fourth quarter to ice it. Still, the true star of the day was the Illinois defense, particularly defensive end Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus lived up to his name, terrorizing Kevin Prince and the UCLA offense all day as the Bruins only managed 220 yards of offense in the game, with 38 of those yards coming on a touchdown pass in the final minute of the game after this one was essentially over.

WHY ILLINOIS WON. Defense, defense, defense, a little more defense, and then some defense. Illinois' offense only managed one touchdown and two field goals in the game, as cornerback Terry Hawthorne provided the other 7 Illini points with a pick-six in the third quarter that turned the tide of this game.

WHEN ILLINOIS WON. When Scheelhaase hit Jenkins for the 60-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter with 5:36 left on the clock to make it 20-7, there wasn't much reason to believe UCLA could overcome a two-score deficit given how this game was going.

WHAT ILLINOIS WON. For the first time in school history, Illinois won consecutive bowl games in back-to-back seasons. Which is about as much as the Illini could hope for considering how the season started and the firing of head coach Ron Zook.

WHAT UCLA LOST. UCLA lost a game, but it also won the end of a 2011 season that did not feature a lot of highlights and saw Rick Neuheisel get fired. The Bruins can now move forward to what they hope will be a much brighter 2012.

BOWL GRADE: F. I'm sorry, I went into this game with the absolute lowest of expectations. Both teams were under interim coaching staffs that won't be returning next season, and neither team had a winning record coming in. Illinois had lost six straight and UCLA was just as big of a mess. You would think those low expectations would only leave me pleasantly surprised by what took place in this game, but I wasn't. It was exactly what I expected it to be, and it was incredibly boring. It may as well have been called the Fight Narcolepsy Bowl. That said, I have to give the players credit. They may not have played well, but they showed up and played. Nobody was just going through the motions, but that being said, this was still a very boring game.
 
 
 
 
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