Tag:non-BCS
Posted on: December 21, 2011 12:30 am
  •  
 

QUICK HITS: Beef O'Brady's Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

MARSHALL WON. The Marshall Thundering Herd capitalized on multiple FIU miscues in the fourth quarter, and Marshall came away with a 20-10 victory. Rakeem Cato had a productive second half and finished with 224 yards passing and two touchdowns through the air for Marshall, and FIU was held to just 246 yards of offense on the day.

HOW MARSHALL WON: Marshall had six blocked punts coming into this game, so let's make it seven. Zach Dunston blocked a punt in the fourth quarter and were it not for a litany of penalties after the block, he would have scored a touchdown on the recovery. As it was, Marshall stayed close enough to the end zone to kick a go-ahead field goal with under six minutes left, and that was enough to take the lead for good.

WHEN MARSHALL WON: After Marshall's go-ahead field goal, FIU still had more than enough time to drive down the field, but T.Y. Hilton coughed up the football -- his second fumble of the day -- and Marshall recovered near midfield. The Thundering Herd would hang onto the ball until there was under a minute to play ... at which point Cato reared back on a 4th and 5 on the FIU 35 and found Aaron Dobson for a long touchdown pass to seal the win. Yes, Marshall called a deep pass play on 4th down with a 3-point lead to protect. That is play-calling con gusto.

WHAT MARSHALL WON: Marshall was widely regarded as the worst bowl team of the 70 with bids this year, so coming away from the Beef O'Brady's Bowl with a win anyway is a major plus for Doc Holliday and the program. Rakeem Cato came on strong and still has three years of eligibility left, so Marshall fans ought to be pleased with having their QB situation settled until 2014.

WHAT FIU LOST: It stinks to see T.Y. Hilton be such a big part of the offense in his final game, only to have him fumble away the team's last shot at scoring. But really, what's more important than even this game itself is whether FIU loses Mario Cristobal to Pittsburgh or if Pitt goes in a different direction. Cristobal's not the only person capable of winning at FIU, in all likelihood, but he is literally the only person to be head coach of FIU thus far, and undoubtedly the FIU brass would prefer Cristobal stays home for as long as possible.

THAT WAS CRAZY: On the final play of the game, Marshall defensive lineman Marques Aiken and FIU offensive lineman Giancarlo Revilla engaged in some extracurricular activity, including Revilla tearing off Aiken's helmet and Aiken throwing at least one punch at Revilla. Guys, guys, guys. Please don't have beef with each other. Beef has no place in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl!

FINAL GRADE: C-. Sloppy play abounded in this game, and only the late touchdown throw by Cato saved this mess of a game from getting into D-level territory. 



What'd you think of the Beef O'Brady's Bowl? Check out our Page O'Facebook here and tell us all about it.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview 
Posted on: December 20, 2011 2:27 am
 

Southern Miss hires So. Car. DC Ellis Johnson

Posted by Adam Jacobi

After losing head coach Larry Fedora to the North Carolina job, Southern Miss needed to find a new face to head its football program. It has apparently found that new head coach in South Carolina defensive coordinator/assistant head coach Ellis Johnson.

Johnson, who is three days away from his 60th birthday, has reportedly accepted an offer from USM after interviewing with school president Martha Saunders on Monday night, according to the Clarion-Ledger, and is expected to accept the job as early as Tuesday. Johnson has a brief history with Southern Miss, as he was the defensive coordinator there in 1988 and 1989. 

The South Carolina defense ranked in the Top 15 nationally in total defense in three of Johnson's four years in Columbia, and this year was the Gamecocks' best of the four. South Carolina ranked second nationally in pass efficiency defense this season, and fourth nationally (behind three other SEC teams, of course).

Prior to his time at South Carolina, Johnson spent time at various teams in the SEC and elsewhere in the southeastern U.S, including a four-year stint as Alabama's defensive coordinator from 1997 to 2000. Johnson was the head coach at the Citadel, his alma mater, from 2001-03; he managed a 12-22 record there before taking a job as Mississippi State's defensive coordinator in 2004.

No announcements of an impending hire have been made by Southern Miss, and no reports have surface about any contract terms that Johnson may have agreed to, but the "two sources with direct knowledge of the search" at USM that the Clarion-Ledger cited have indicated that the hire is a done deal.

CBSSports.com will provide more informaton when it becomes available.



Check out all the latest updates on this and every other FBS coaching search from this year at CBSSports.com's Coaching Carousel.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview 

Posted on: December 19, 2011 8:45 pm
 

Beef O'Brady's Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Adam Jacobi

Key matchup: Kedrick Rhodes, RB, FIU vs. Omar Brown, FS, Marshall

Ordinarily, having a free safety lead a team in tackles by a substantial margin is usually a portender of doom: if ball-carriers are getting to the second level with such regularity that the defense's centerfielder is being required to make a plurality of the tackles, after all, that normally means that the linebackers are having such a rough go of it that forcing third and fourth downs is basically out of the question. And yet, there's Marshall FS Omar Brown, leading the Thundering Herd by a 16-tackle margin over the next leading tackler (LB George Carpenter), and Marshall's defense is still... well, it's not good, but it's okay!

Brown's going to have to spend plenty of time in run support on Tuesday, because FIU's probably going to give the ball to sophomore tailback Kedrick Rhodes at least 20 times -- and perhaps closer to 30 -- in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl. Rhodes broke the FIU record for most rushing yards in a year with 1164 yards this season, topping the mark of 1133 set by Rashod Smith in 2004, and Rhodes was named a 2nd team All-Sun Belt RB as a result. Rhodes isn't exactly a bruiser, but he's hardly a wisp either at 5'11", 190.

It's going to be easier for FIU to open up the game and create space for T.Y. Hilton to work his magic if the Marshall defense is preoccupied with stopping the run, and that's only going to happen if FIU can gain significant yardage on the ground to force 2nd and short or 3rd and short. And the extent to which Marshall utilizes Brown -- again, a defensive back, although one who's a tackle machine -- to do so should be a fascinating chess match to watch during the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.



Check out all the latest updates on FIU and Marshall right up until kickoff at the Beef O'Brady's Bowl Pregame.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview 

 
Posted on: December 19, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 8:33 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Beef O'Brady's Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

FIU WILL WIN IF: T.Y. Hilton has one more big game in him. Hilton, the multi-talented wideout and return specialist, caught 64 passes for 950 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011. Once you add in rushes and returns, Hilton registered 104 total touches for 1749 all-purpose yards and eight scores. That works out to 8.66 touches, 145.75 yards, and .66 TDs per game for the electric senior.

In FIU's four losses, however, Hilton's production drops considerably; he touched the ball 5.75 times for 102 all-purpose yards per game, and scored two touchdowns in those four games. In fact, Hilton's stats were substantially lower in every single measurable category in those four losses except kick return average; there, Hilton's YPR jumps all the way from 32.0 to 33.75. So the message here is clear: get the ball in Hilton's hands, or leave the Beef O'Brady's Bowl disappointed. And nobody likes to associate Beef O'Brady's with disappointment, now, do they?

MARSHALL WILL WIN IF: Vinny Curry gets loose. Marshall may be 6-6, but there are a few pretty decent wins hidden in there: 26-20 over Southern Miss, 17-14 at Louisville, and even 24-20 over a 4-8 Rice team that faced a ferocious schedule. One of those most consistent factors in those wins -- and just about all of them -- was Curry. Curry trailed only Houston's Sammy Brown in sacks and tackles for loss in the C-USA this year; indeed, Brown and Curry were 1-2 in the nation in tackles for loss. What's more, in the Herd's six wins, Curry was even more dominant: 13.5 TFLs, 9.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two blocked kicks. Those rates -- 2.25 TFL and 1.50 sacks per game -- would be enough to lead the nation if he had maintained them in the Herd's six losses as well. He didn't, of course, so it's going to be crucial for Marshall to get that level of production out of its senior DE one last time. 

X-FACTOR: Mario Cristobal's status. FIU's celebrated coach, who has essentially been the architect of Golden Panther football, has been mentioned as a potential candidate for multiple BCS-level football programs. And while it's unlikely that Cristobal would take a new job that would require him to abandon his team in the 24 hours leading up to the Beef O'Brady's Bowl, it is also the case that Cristobal's time spent in consideration of a new coaching destination is time not spent on game preparation for the Marshall game. Exactly how much effect the distraction of job talks has on FIU's preparation -- if any at all -- remains to be seen, but FIU fans and administrators looking forward to the Golden Panthers' second straight bowl win can't be thrilled that Cristobal is conducting these talks before his team's season is officially over.



Check out all the latest updates on FIU and Marshall right up until kickoff at the Beef O'Brady's Bowl Pregame.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview 

Posted on: December 19, 2011 3:18 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 3:22 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Champs Sports Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

NOTRE DAME WILL WIN IF: The Irish offense will face their toughest test of the year in the Florida State defense in this game. The Seminoles finished the year sixth in the nation in total defense and actually gave up less yards per carry (2.32) than any other defense in the country, including Alabama and LSU. Which isn't good news for a Notre Dame defense that will be without Jonas Gray (791 yards, 12 TDs) in this game. This means that if Notre Dame is going to find success on offense, it will likely come through the air. The Seminoles aren't bad in that area either, as they're 32nd in the nation in defensive pass efficiency. Of course, as has usually been the case with the Irish this season, the most important part of this game will be whether or not they can take care of the ball. Turnovers have killed the Irish throughout the season, and against a defense this good, Tommy Rees and the rest of the Irish offense cannot afford to give the ball away.

FLORIDA STATE WILL WIN IF: Assuming the Florida State defense can do a good job of keeping the Irish offense in check, then there's reason to believe the Seminoles can find enough success on offense to pick up a win here. The Florida State offense hasn't been prolific this season, but against a Notre Dame defense that is good but not great, the opportunities to put points on the board will be there. E.J. Manuel hasn't been great throwing the ball this season, but he's had some solid games and this could be a chance for another one. The Notre Dame defense may be allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete less than 60% of their passes in 2011, but it's also only picked off 8 passes while allowing 21 passing touchdowns on the year. And with Florida State's running game being a bit anemic this season and Notre Dame being pretty solid against the run, the passing game will be the way the Seminoles want to go.

X-FACTOR: Andrew Hendrix. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly has already named Tommy Rees his starting quarterback for the bowl game, but that doesn't mean he's going to take all the snaps. Hendrix saw a lot of playing time over the final few weeks of the season, and considering that Kelly seems to feel that Hendrix is his quarterback of the future, I'd expect him to get quite a bit of playing time in this one as well. He brings a new dimension to the Notre Dame offense because unlike Rees, Hendrix can beat you with his legs. So it will be interesting to see how much Hendrix plays and how the Irish utilize him.

You can check out our extensive preview of the Champs Sports Bowl here
Posted on: December 19, 2011 2:40 am
 

Pittsburgh holds interviews with Fickell, Chryst

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Pittsburgh may not have a head coach to replace Todd Graham yet, but if two recent confirmed interviews are any indication, the Panthers are looking for a Big Ten influence as they transition from the Big East to the ACC.

According to the Columbus Dispatch on Sunday, Ohio State head coach Luke Fickell confirmed that he has interviewed with Pittsburgh in recent days, but that he has not been offered the Pitt job.

Fickell said that regardless of whether he goes to Pittsburgh, he will coach the Buckeyes in their January 2 Gator Bowl matchup against Florida before ceding the program to Urban Meyer. If Fickell does not take another job elsewhere -- he has not interviewed with any other programs -- he will take a spot on Meyer's defensive staff, though the formal title has not been announced.

Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst has also been mentioned as a candidate for some relatively high-profile head coaching gigs, including Kansas and Illinois, and Pitt has shown enough interest in Chryst to bring him in for an interview as well. As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports, Chryst is ready to be a head coach, but he's not ready to talk about the Pittsburgh job:

Asked if he would talk about the Pittsburgh job, Chryst politely declined to comment.

Chryst, in his sixth season as UW's offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach, has acknowledged he feels prepared to run a program.

UW athletic director Barry Alvarez has recommended Chryst to Pittsburgh officials.

A source reiterated Sunday that although Chryst is ready to be a head coach he would prefer to stay in the Midwest and will leave UW only for a perfect fit.

Still, even though Pitt has interviewed coaches from Ohio State and Wisconsin, it's every bit as possible that it goes in an entirely different direction when it comes time for the final hire. Some reports are emerging that Pitt's top candidate is actually Mario Cristobal of Florida International (whom CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman has endorsed as a possibility for the Penn State head coaching role). Cristobal has already interviewed with Pitt as well, and the Journal-Sentinel report on Chryst also indicated that Cristobal was offered the Pitt job on Sunday. Cristobal will lead his 8-4 Golden Panthers to their second straight (and second ever) bowl game with a game against Marshall in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl on Tuesday.

Still, Pittsburgh is adamant that any reports of job offers are premature, as the athletic department released this statement on Sunday afternoon: “Contrary to Internet reports, the Pitt football head coaching position has not been offered to anyone, nor have any decisions on an offer been made. The search is still an ongoing process.”



To keep up with the Pittsburgh job search and all the other coaching hires of this offseason, check out CBSSports.com's Coaching Carousel Tracker.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview 

Posted on: December 18, 2011 4:16 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 4:20 pm
 

2012 NFL Draft Early Entry Tracker



Posted by Chip Patterson


With many draft-eligible juniors deciding to file the official evaluation paperwork with with NFL, we take a look at the hottest prospects with the option of declaring for the 2012 NFL Draft. Of the 32 players on Rob Rang's latest Big Board, 19 of them are eligible to return to school for at least one more season.

Keep up the marquee names from Rob's Big Board, with a few notable additions here at the CBSSports.com NFL Draft Early Entry Tracker.

[Updated Dec. 21]

Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 1
What's Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, Jan. 2
The Latest: In a surprise to no one, Luck believes he is "absolutely" ready to enter the NFL.

Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 2
What's Next: USC finished the season 10-2, but was ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Latest: Matt Barkley has decided to return to USC for his senior season.

Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 3
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, Jan. 9
The Latest: Richardson has decided not to make his decision until after the title game. He suggested that he would return for another year earlier in the season, but his tone has changed since the completion of the Tide's regular season. "I'm going to sit down with coach and my mom after the last game of the season and see what's best for me and my family and see what's best for the team," Richardson explained.

Matt Kalil, OT, USC
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 4
What's Next: USC finished the season 10-2, but was ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Latest: Kalil ended any hopes of a "package deal" return with Matt Barkley when he announced his intentions to enter the NFL Draft.

Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 5
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. Alabama, Jan. 9
The Latest: Claiborne won't make his decision official until after the title game, but many LSU fans expect he will take advantage of his high stock and make the jump after this season.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 6
What's Next: Alamo Bowl vs. Washington, Dec. 29
The Latest: Griffin hasn't committed to returning to Baylor for another season, but he hasn't announced the intention to turn pro either. However, his parents are reportedly interviewing prospective agents. So there's that.

Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 7
What's Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Stanford, Jan. 2
The Latest: Blackmon ended the speculation early and has already declared his intentions to enter the NFL Draft. "I think it's just time. It's that time to go. I came back last year to win a Big 12 championship, set us up for a BCS bowl and I think we did that," Blackmon said.

David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 8
What's Nextst: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, Jan. 2
The Latest: CBSSports.com's Rob Rang reports that DeCastro will indeed enter the 2012 NFL Draft, capitalizing on his status as one of the top interior lineman in the class.

Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 11
What's Next: Insight Bowl vs. Oklahoma, Dec. 30
The Latest: Reiff has started the last 25 Hawkeye games, but will not make his decision until he plays at least one more. "I haven't really thought about [the NFL Draft] yet at all," Reiff said. "When the time is right, I'll sit down and think about it. Right now, I'm just worried about the bowl and bowl preparations."

'Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 12
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, Jan. 9
The Latest: Kirkpatrick has not addressed the NFL Draft, and likely will not until after the title game. Some scouts have considered Kirkpatrick a little raw, which may lead to his return for another year at Alabama. But the All-American corner has not given any hint which way he is leaning.

Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 13
What's Next: Fiesta Bowl vs. Oklahoma State, Jan. 2
The Latest: Martin is considered the second best tackle in the class behind Kalil, who reportedly has decided to make the leap to the NFL. Martin has yet to give any hint which way he is leaning, though with such a high position in the eyes of most scouts it would not be surprising to see him go.

Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 14
What's Next: Boston College finished the season 4-8, missing the postseason for the first time since 1998.
The Latest: The star linebacker broke school and ACC records for career tackles after leading the nation for the second year in a row with 191 tackles in 2011. The Lombardi Award winner said he hopes to announce his plans for next season "shortly after Christmas."

Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 19
What's Next: Memphis finished the season 2-10, TCU co-offensive coordinator Justin Fuente was hired to replace Larry Porter as head coach. The Tigers went 3-21 in two seasons under Porter.
The Latest: Poe has "just been focusing on the here and now" and is in the process of gathering information on his draft stock. After Memphis' final game he said his mother, Sandra, will have the final say.

Mohammed Sanu, WR, Rutgers
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 23
What's Next: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Iowa State, Dec. 30
The Latest: The official word from Rutgers' athletic department is that no underclassmen have made a decision regarding the NFL Draft, but a report last week in Metro New York claims Sanu has informed the coaching staff of his decision to return to the Scarlet Knights for one more season.

Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 24
What's Next: Music City Bowl vs. Wake Forest, Dec. 30
The Latest: Cox will not address the decision to enter the NFL Draft until after the Music City Bowl. Head coach Dan Mullen said all of the juniors, including Cox, have filed their draft evaluation papers with the NFL.

Nick Perry, DE, USC
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 25
What's Next: USC finished the season 10-2, but was ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions.
The Latest: Perry is reportedly joining Kalil in the 2012 NFL Draft class.

Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 26
What's Next: Orange Bowl vs. West Virginia, Jan. 4
The Latest: Dwayne Allen has submitted the NFL paperwork for an official analysis from the league, but will not make his final decision until likely early January. That will give him two weeks to make a decision before the Jan. 15 deadline.

Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan State
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 27
What's Next: Outback Bowl vs. Georgia, Jan. 2
The Latest: Worthy told The Grand Rapids Press a decision regarding the NFL Draft would be made after the Outback Bowl.

Lamar Miller, RB, Miami
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: 32
What's Next: After a 6-6 finish, Miami declared themselves ineligible for the postseason in response to the current NCAA inquiry into the football program.
The Latest: Lamar Miller has already declared his intentions to enter the 2012 NFL Draft.

Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Capital One Bowl vs. Nebraska, Jan. 2
The Latest: Jeffery has submitted the evaluation paperwork to the NFL, and will reportedly make his decision after getting his response in early January.

Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Rose Bowl vs. Oregon, Jan. 2
The Latest: Peter Konz has also submitted the official evaluation paperwork with the NFL, and will not address the decision until after the Rose Bowl. Konz missed the final three games of the season with an ankle injury, but is expected to begin practicing again soon.

Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Insight Bowl vs. Iowa, Dec. 30
The Latest: Jones has applied for draft evaluation, and recently acknowledged starting to think about the decision "a little bit more."  He will likely wait until after the bowl game, and hearing the results of his evaluation from the league.  “If it's right for me to go, I'm going to go," Jones explained on Tuesday.  "If it's right for me to stay, I'm going to stay. I just have to kind of think about it a little bit more.”

Dont'a Hightower, LB, Alabama
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: BCS National Championship Game vs. LSU, Jan. 9
The Latest: Hightower will not make an official decision until after the bowl game, but many expect the All-American linebacker to make the jump after this season.

Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl vs. UCLA, Dec. 31
The Latest: The All-American defensive end has been busy collecting end-of-season honors and has not made an official announcement, but Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline reports that Mecilus will likely forgo his final season with the Illini and go pro.

Stephen Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Capital One Bowl vs. Nebraska, Jan. 2
The Latest: Like Jeffery and the rest of the South Carolina juniors, Gilmore has applied for evaluation from the NFL.  Assistant coach Lorenzo Ward believes a "first or second round grade" from the evaluation would convince the junior to enter the draft.

Orson Charles, TE, Georgia
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State, Jan. 2
The Latest: Charles has applied for NFL evaluation along with the rest of his draft eligible teammates. "It's really going to come down to what the Lord wants me to do," Charles explained. "I'm going to pray about it, talk to my family and definitely wait until after the Michigan State game, and take it from there."

Bacarri Rambo, S, Georgia
Rob Rang's Big Board Rank: NR
What's Next: Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State, Jan. 2
The Latest: Like Charles, Rambo has publicly delayed the decision until after the bowl game and hearing a response from the league's draft evaluation.  Rambo leads the SEC with seven interceptions and was named an AP First Team All-American, but wants to see "what everyone thinks of me and what I can improve on."


For much more news, analysis and the latest mock drafts check out our CBSSports.com NFL Draft homepage

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 18, 2011 1:16 am
Edited on: December 18, 2011 1:17 am
 

QUICK HITS: La. Lafayette 32 San Diego State 30

Posted by Tom Fornelli

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WON. Wow, what a great way to end the first day of bowl season. After the Ragin' Cajuns jumped out to a 19-3 lead early in the third quarter, this game was looking as though it wouldn't provide much drama, but I guess it just wanted to wait as long as possible. San Diego State battled back in the fourth quarter and finally took the lead with 35 seconds left on a touchdown pass from Ryan Lindley to Colin Lockett.

Louisiana-Lafayette then got the ball back down 30-29 with no timeouts, but it didn't matter. The Cajuns marched down the field to set up a 50-yard field goal attempt, and Brett Baer picked a great time to kick the longest field goal of his life, sending Louisiana-Lafayette to a win.

WHY LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WON. Well, you could say that the Cajuns won this game because they had the ball last, and while it would be partly true, it wouldn't be entirely fair either. You see, while San Diego State played strong in the second half, for the first 30 minutes of this game the Aztecs were a lethargic bunch. Whether it was because they didn't want to be there or was just another typical first half -- the Aztecs won 5 games this season in which they trailed during the first half -- for San Diego State, I'm not sure. But if the Aztecs played the first 30 minutes like they played the last 30, well, Louisiana-Lafayette may have never been in position to win this game.

WHEN LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WON. As Brett Baer's 50-yard field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired.

WHAT LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WON. When you haven't been to a bowl game in 41 years, and you start the season widely considered to be one of, if not the worst team on the FBS level, you're going to want to win your bowl game. That was evident in the way the Cajuns played on Saturday night, and their effort resulted in the school's first ever bowl victory. A pretty nice thing to be a part of if you're a Ragin' Cajun.

WHAT SAN DIEGO STATE LOST. A chance to win its second consecutive bowl game, even after Brady Hoke left for Michigan. Still, an 8-5 season is nothing to be ashamed of for the Aztecs, so while the loss stings, I don't think it hurts too much.

THAT WAS CRAZY. This is Louisiana-Lafayette's strength coach. That's a bleeding wound on his head he suffered after apparently head-butting one of his own players. No, he felt no need to wipe the blood off. In fact, it was still there, all dried and caked on his face, in the fourth quarter.



GRADE: A. When it comes to these early bowl games featuring teams you're not used to watching on a regular basis, you can only ask for one thing: a close, entertaining game. And this one provided everything you wanted, including the lead changing hands twice in the final 35 seconds. What more could you want?
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com