Posted on: January 3, 2009 6:06 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2009 1:25 pm

BCS Championship Notebook: Utah No. 1?

While many of the players from Oklahoma and Florida were preparing for their matchup to decide who will be crowned BCS Champion, they couldn't help but take notice of what Utah did against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last night.

Utah, which is the only undefeated team in the nation, knocked off the SEC runner-up 31-17, a wider margin than what the Gators did in the SEC Championship (31-20).

Jermaine Gresham says he'd prefer a playoff system.So does Utah deserve a share of the national championship?

"When they play big teams every week, maybe we can talk," said Florida safety Ahmad Black. "Not to take anything away from them, but their strength of schedule isn't up to par."

Despite beating four Top 25 teams throughout the season, including Oregon State, which was the only team to beat USC, the Utes SOS is ranked No. 57 according to, while the Gators' is ranked No. 3. Oklahoma's is No. 1.

"Utah played their butt off and very hard against a great Alabama team. They were the better team that night," said Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham. "I know they are undefeated and that's great, but we have to just roll with it."

How about one more game? Utah vs. the winner of Oklahoma vs. Florida.

"I don't mind a playoff," added Gresham. "I prefer it to this system. The problem is the teams that win now, they think they are the best. If we go to a playoff we can see. I think that would be right."

Stoops and Broncos

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops' name has come up as the NFL's Denver Broncos seach for a new coach, but that's news to Stoops.

"What situation? That's a rumor that I have not heard and no one has contacted me about that so I don't know anything about it," said Stoops. "We're preparing for a national championship and that's all my focus and all my concentration's on so obviously I'm not a candidate."

It's not the first time Stoops' name has come up for a NFL coaching job. The coach with a 109-23 overall record in ten seasons as Oklahoma, including 32-12 vs. ranked opponents, had his name come up for the Dallas Cowboys job in 2007 and the Kansas City Chiefs job in 2006.

Murray = Bush

Oklahoma will be without do-it-all sophomore DeMarco Murray, who is out after having surgery to repair a hamstring injury.

Murray finished the season with 1,002 yards rushing, while also averaging 27.6 yards on kick returns and scoring 18 total touchdowns. Chris Brown, who leads the team with 1,110 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns, gave Murray quite the compliment during Saturday's press conference.

"Whenever you look at us, DeMarco is like a Reggie Bush-type of runner, and I'll be the LenDale White," said Brown. "He can catch out the backfield like Bush and turn something small into a huge play. I'm more conservative and wait for things to develop."

Tickets, please

While Oklahoma has no players from South Florida (Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties), the Gators have plenty.

Florida has 17 players from the tri-county area, including safety Major White (Miramar/St. Thomas Aquinas), who was an honorable mention All-American.

"As soon as the game was over against Alabama, I got calls from people saying 'Can you get me this? Can you get me that?' I only get six tickets so I was only thinking about that."


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 2, 2009 2:11 am
Edited on: January 2, 2009 11:18 am

Orange Bowl: Freshmen lift Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech and the rest of the past ACC Champions haven't enjoyed trips to Miami recently.

Florida State lost to Penn State in 2006, Wake Forest fell to Louisville in 2007 and the Hokies lost to Kansas last year.

Who knew the formula to success was a couple of freshmen?

Darren Evans had a fourth-quarter touchdown to give Virginia Tech a two-score lead. (Getty)Running back Darren Evans provided the spark on offense, while linebacker Barquell Rivers came up with the biggest play of his career midway through the fourth quarter to lift the Hokies to their first BCS bowl win, ending a three-game Orange Bowl losing streak by ACC Champions.

"Well, you know, if you can read, you knew what our record was, and we've been a part of that," said Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer. "I felt like we let the ACC down a couple times ourselves. We got on a bad streak here lately, and it's time to get off of it."

Evans, who has been magnificent for the Hokies all season, ran for 153 yards on 28 carries, including a fourth-quarter touchdown to put the Hokies up by two scores. Throughout the game Evans had numerous big runs, looking more like a seasoned veteran as he wore down the Cincinnati defense.

"At this point of the season, we don't consider ourselves young," Evans said. "We had some tough games and everybody's played a little bit. You have to swallow that notion about being young and just go out and play."

Evans grew throughout the season and got stronger, rushing for 253 yards against Maryland, 111 against Duke and 114 against Boston College in the ACC title game.

And tonight he put together not only hard runs of 3 and 4 yards, but also big runs of 11, 13 and 32 yards.

“I’ve got to give props to the offensive line because they made a lot of holes out there. It was just kind of for me to take those extra yards.”

While Evans can celebrate with his MVP trophy, Rivers made one of the game's biggest defensive plays.

And that's saying something, considering the Hokies recorded four interceptions.

With the Bearcats trailing by 13 points and eight minutes to play, they had no choice but to go for it on 4th-and-goal from the 1. Tony Pike tried to score on a QB keeper, but Rivers drilled him, stopping him in his tracks and giving the ball to the Hokies offense.

Rivers, who had only seen limited action as a reserve, earned the starting job in the OB in place of Brett Warren.

"When a player goes down, you got to step up and play big and that's what I did," said Rivers. "I didn't have to make all the plays, but I made that one play and that was a key play in the game."

From there Evans and quarterback Tyrod Taylor ran more than five minutes off the clock, basically sealing the win for the Hokies.

Virginia Tech will use its freshman duo to its advantage next year, as it is expected to return 18 of the 22 starters on offense and defense from tonight.

"We do have alot of these guys coming back," added Beamer. "We've got some good runs we're redshirting, but there's no guarantees in this business. You've got to get down to it, but I do feel like we've got a lot of good players in our program and a lot of them are young."

Posted on: December 31, 2008 3:10 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2008 3:20 pm

Cincinnati's Pike has come a long way

There it is in black and white, or more like ... there it isn't.

Nowhere to be found is Tony Pike's name on the quarterback depth chart in the Cincinnati media guide.

But he's on that depth chart now. In fact he'll be the starter against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl after a tremendous season for a kid who had only 20 pass attempts before this season.

Tony Pike prepares for Virginia Tech.After Dustin Grutza went down with an injury in the Oklahoma game, Pike was thrusted into the lineup. He struggled against the Sooners, completing only 3 of 11 for 21 yards. But things would quickly turn around.

"After the Oklahoma game I had offensive and defensive players come up and let me know they are behind me and they believe in me," said Pike.

A few of those players, including starting wide receivers Dominick Goodman and Mardy Gilyard used the bye week and extra practice time to get Pike used to the offense. It worked, because the following week he threw for 241 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over Miami (Ohio).

"We see Tony every single day at practice and how well he's been doing," said running back John Goebel. "We've always said he's got so much talent, but couldn't get any playing time to show it all off. When Grutza when down, we didn't lose any confidence in the offense because we knew Tony would come in and play really well."

That confidence helped Pike earn second-team All-Big East with 2,168 yards and 18 touchdowns, while leading Cincinnati to its first BCS bowl game in school history.

"Pike knows how we feel about him," said offensive lineman Trevor Canfield. "He'd come around and talk to us all the time and say, 'Hey, you guys are doing a great job,' even if he did get sacked. He'd take the blame, even though it's our fault. There's no complaining."

Even when Pike broke his arm against Akron and didn't return until three games later, he kept positive. He was given his opportunity when somebody went down and now Chazz Anderson would see his, leading the Bearcats to three consecutive victories.

"I think it says everything about the tam. Coach Kelly has always preached 'next man in' and it has given the players an opportunity to get ready," added Pike. "Getting the reps you need in practice. We had our teammates around us buy into the next guy coming it and it really helped us go a long way."


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 8, 2008 1:47 pm 120 -- No BCS for No. 9 Boise

Let the complaints begin.

We all know about Texas' beef with the BCS system. The Longhorns feel they should be in the BCS National Championship over Oklahoma because they finished with the same record and beat Oklahoma on a nuetral field.

We will continue to hear that talk through the New Year.

But what about Boise State?

The Broncos are ranked No. 9 in this week's 120, but they will be left out of the BCS Bowl picture as a two-loss Ohio State will meet Texas in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Poinsettia Bowl, which will feature the Broncos and No. 11 TCU, will have two higher ranked teams than the Orange Bowl (No. 12 Cincinnati and No. 19 Virginia Tech). The Holiday Bowl will have No. 14 Oklahoma State and No. 15 Oregon.

"As long as the Ohio State players and coaches aren't tired of coming to the Valley of the Sun, we're not tired of having them," Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker said. "The university is the same, but the players all are different. It's just another version of that great tradition, and anytime you can match up a co-Big Ten champion against a No. 3 program that people think should be playing for the national championship, it seemed like a natural."

Welcome to the bowl system -- it's not about how many losses you have or where you are ranked. It's all about tickets, TV ratings and marketability. And that hurts Boise State.

Last year, the Georgia/Hawaii Sugar Bowl had the lowest TV ratings of any BCS game, the year before it was Oklahoma/Boise State. And in 2005, if was the Utah/Pittsburgh Fiesta Bowl.  

The Fiesta Bowl had the choice to take Utah or Boise State instead of the Buckeyes, but President John Junker chose to go with the Buckeyes even though they've played there four times since 2003.

"It was (discussed)," Junker said of Ohio State's visits to the website "But it's not like it's professional football. Obviously in the years that (Ohio State has) appeared, it's always a different group of players with the changes on their roster."

Sorry Boise State, take your undefeated record and higher ranking somewhere else. But don't feel bad for them, because Ohio State coach Jim Tressel doesn't.

"I've got to be honest with you, I didn't feel for them, because I'd rather go," Tressel said of Boise State. "I'm a compassionate guy, but to an extent ... I'd rather the Buckeyes be there."

Boise will now take its show on the road to San Diego in what could be one of the best non-BCS games on the schedule.


... San Jose State (No. 70), Bowling Green (No. 80), Arkansas State (No. 84) and Louisiana-Lafayette (No. 92) are the only bowl-eligible teams not playing this postseason.

... The Hawaii Bowl features two of the lowest-ranked teams in the 120 -- No. 65 Notre Dame vs. No. 67 Hawaii.

... Florida Atlantic is the lowest-ranked team is the lowest-ranked team in a bowl game at No. 85. The Owls lost to Arkansas State 28-14 a few weeks ago, but didn't make a bowl game.


Posted on: December 4, 2008 3:49 pm

AFCA All-America Team

The AFCA announced its Coaches' All-America Team today and boy was the SEC rewarded.

Nine players made the team from the SEC, including four from Alabama. Offensive lineman Andre Smith, center Antoine Caldwell, defensive tackle Terrence Cody and defensive back Rashad Johnson. Florida had two -- linebacker Brandon Spikes and all-purpose player Percy Harvin.

The Big 12 had six players on the team, headlined by Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell, wide receiver Michael Crabtree and offensive lineman Brandon Carter.

I was really surprised TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes didn't make the team. He leads the nation with 14 sacks and six forced fumbles and is a finalist for the Hendricks and Nagurski Award. I know he doesn't play for a major BCS school, but not like TCU is some team that nobody knows about either.

Defensive back is one of the deepest positions this year, but glad to see Wake Forest's Alphonso Smith make it. Even though the Demon Deacons had a rough season, he makes plays every game.

Stay tuned for the All-America Team, which will come out next week.


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 2, 2008 10:55 pm
Edited on: December 3, 2008 10:30 am

Bowl Bids coming...

WSPA Channel 7 in Greenville, SC and the Florida Times Union are reporting Clemson has accepted a bid to play in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.

Clemson just became bowl-eligible this past weekend with a victory over South Carolina, but the Gator Bowl used its third pick out of the ACC to take the Tigers.

The ACC Champion goes to the Orange Bowl, which will be the winner of the Boston College/Virginia Tech game this Saturday. The Chick-fil-A Bowl gets the No. 2 pick and took Georgia Tech.

The Champs Sports Bowl picks after the Gator Bowl and it appears they will take Florida State. The Orlando Sentinel is reporting the Seminoles appear to be headed for Orlando for a matchup against Minnesota or Wisconsin.

With the No. 5 pick the Music City Bowl is preparing for the loser of the ACC title game. The Meineke Car Care Bowl picks next and the Durham Herald Sun is reporting that North Carolina will be invited.

That would leave Miami (Fla.), Maryland, Wake Forest and N.C. State out of the ACC to fill spots in the Emerald Bowl, Humanitarian Bowl, EagleBank Bowl and an at-large bid, possibly the Motor City Bowl.

Since the Emerald Bowl picks next and had Maryland last year, its likely that the Hurricanes will play out west.

Stay tuned ...




Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 1, 2008 1:22 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2008 7:12 pm 120 -- SEC Heavyweight Fight

Alabama and Florida are about to make history.

The top two teams in this week 120 are also ranked No. 1 and No. 4 in the BCS, marking the first time in BCS history that two teams ranked in the Top 5 will meet in a Conference Championship Game.

Before the emails coming flying in about Ohio State vs. Michigan, stress the words -- "Conference Championship Game."

Yes, No. 1 Ohio State took on No. 2 Michigan in the final game of their regular season in 2006, but it wasn't a conference title game because the Big Ten doesn't have one.

Even last year's crazy season had an SEC title game between No. 7 LSU and No. 14 Tennessee, while the Big 12 game featured No. 1 Missouri and No. 9 Oklahoma.

Another game between top five teams in the last week of the regular season was between No. 3 Nebraska and No. 4 Colorado. The Buffaloes smashed the Huskers 62-36 and advanced to the Big 12 title game against Texas, which was ranked No. 7 in the BCS. No worries for Nebraska, though, because it still found itself in the national title game that year.

But back to this season ... Alabama is one of only four undefeated teams remaining and if it takes care of business against the Gators on Saturday in the SEC Championship (CBS, 4 p.m. ET), the Crimson Tide will be playing for the national title for the first time since winning it all in 1992. Meanwhile Florida, which is a 10-point favorite against the No. 1 ranked team in the country, will find itself in the title game if it beats the Crimson Tide.

This is about as big as it gets for two teams from the same conference.

Florida's No. 3 ranked scoring offense with 46.3 points per game vs. Alabama's No. 3 ranked scoring defense, allowing 11.5 points per game. The big difference might be that Florida's defense is ranked No. 4 (12.3 ppg), while Alabama's offense ranks 28th in the nation (32.1 ppg).

"The challenge of playing an opponent like the Florida Gators is, you know, something special for our players," said Alabama coach Nick Saban. "They certainly have an outstanding team, and Coach Meyer has done a fantastic job of putting together a bunch of outstanding athletes who play well together, and are very well coached, and execute as well as anybody in the country. Relative to their scoring offense, balance on offense, Tim Tebow's ability to execute in the way they have. They all contribute in a positive way to playing the roles, to make it difficult to defend them. Their defense is one of the top defensive teams in the nation. They've got some outstanding players, good athletes in all positions. "

The will also mark the fifth time a team from the SEC is playing in the BCS national title game since 1999, where the conference owns an undefeated record (Tennessee in 1999, LSU in 2003, Florida in 2007 and LSU in 2008).

As for the other conference title games (ranking is according to the 120):

ACC: Boston College (No. 16) vs. Virginia Tech (No. 26), Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, ABC -- Pretty simple the winner goes to the Orange Bowl to likely play Big East champion Cincinnati, while the loser will probably be headed to the Champs Sports Bowl to play Wisconsin/Northwestern/Minnesota. Boston College won earlier in the year 28-23.

Big 12: Oklahoma (No. 3) vs. Missouri (No. 21), Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC -- Now that Oklahoma is ahead of Texas in the BCS all it has to do is beat Missouri to play for the BCS national title. If the Sooners lose, Missouri goes to the Fiesta Bowl, Texas gets into the national title game and Oklahoma falls to the Cotton or Holiday Bowl. If Missouri loses, they will most likely be headed to the Alamo Bowl vs. a Big Ten team.

C-USA: Tulsa (No. 27) vs. East Carolina (No. 56), Saturday, Noon ET, ESPN2 -- Winner gets to play in the Liberty Bowl vs. an SEC squad, which will likely be Vanderbilt. If Tulsa loses it will probably end up in the Texas or Houston Bowl. Meanwhile if East Carolina loses, it will likely be headed to the GMAC Bowl against a MAC team. The two teams did not play this year.

MAC: Ball State (No. 12) vs. Buffalo (No. 52), Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN -- Both teams are headed to the a bowl, but the winner gets to play in the Motor City Bowl. There is talk of Ball State going to the Humanitarian Bowl to play Boise State, but there is also talk of Boise State going to play in the Poinsettia Bowl vs. BYU or TCU. If Buffalo wins, throw all that other talk out the window. The two teams did not play this year.

Also of note, even though its not a conference title game -- Arkansas State (No. 80) meets Troy (No. 70). If Troy wins, it will win the conference. If Arkansas State wins and Louisiana-Lafayette beats Middle Tennessee, it would create a three-way tie at 5-2 in Sun Belt play. Only Arkansas State and Troy would be considered because NCAA rules state a 7-5 team, must be picked over a 6-6 teams (La.-Lafayette). So based on head-to-head, the winner of the game would go to the New Orleans Bowl.

Posted on: November 25, 2008 8:19 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2008 8:35 pm

Notre Dame and the bowl picture

If Rutgers beats Louisville on Dec. 4 and Notre Dame loses to USC, the Irish are going to be the most sought after 6-6 team in history.

First, let's assume in all scenarios that Notre Dame loses to USC. And remember Notre Dame falls in the pecking order for Big East bowl placement.

Now if Rutgers beats Louisville that would give the Big East six teams with at least 7 wins and six Big East bowl slots. Which means a 6-win Notre Dame team can not take the place of a 7-win team. So the Big East picture would look like this -- Cincinnati to BCS, West Virginia/Pitt winner to Sun Bowl, West Virginia/Pitt loser to Meineke Car Care Bowl, Connecticut to International,  Rutgers to and South Florida to St. Pete Bowl.

So what happens to the Fighting Irish? 

Well, they would have to find a home in a bowl that has an open slot due to conferences not being able to fill.

-- Texas Bowl could have a Big 12 slot. So this might be a home for the Irish. Notre Dame vs. a C-USA team (Rice/Houston/Tulsa) on the NFL Network. Half the country wouldn't even be able to watch Notre Dame. So much for TV ratings.

-- Poinsettia Bowl will have an open slot because it won't be able to fill its Pac-10 slot, but it has a backup deal with the WAC. So scratch that one.

-- and Independence Bowls will have slots to fill from the SEC, but they have a backup contracts with the Sun Belt. According the Palm Beach Post, both the PapaJohns and Independence must fill it with a 6-6 Sun Belt team unless there is another 7-5 team out there without a bid. So scratch those two. The Independence is going to have a slot on the Big 12 side too, but it looks like they will land Louisiana Tech.

-- Hawaii and Emerald Bowls will have an open slots because it won't be able to fill its Pac-10 slot. So maybe Notre Dame could meet Hawaii in lovely Honolulu. Hey, there are worse places you could be on Dec. 24. Or maybe even San Francisco on Dec. 27 against a team from the ACC -- Clemson? Boston College? Maybe even .... Notre Dame vs. Miami (Fla.).

The biggest problem with the Hawaii, Emerald and Texas Bowls is that a MAC team is going to grab one of these slots. The MAC has three slots and assuming Ball State is in the Motor City and Buffalo is in the International -- either Western Michigan or Central Michigan will be in one of these games with the other in the GMAC Bowl. Both teams have more than 7 wins, so they have to be in a bowl over Notre Dame.

Now all this above becomes moot if Louisville beats Rutgers, because then Notre Dame can take a Big East slot and will most definitely be in El Paso, Tex in the Sun Bowl to play Arizona/Oregon/California or Oregon State.

But if Louisville wins, the Irish will have to scramble, but it looks like the Hawaii, Texas or Emerald Bowls are going to be their best chance to land. Hawaii Bowl pays the least, Emerald Bowl pays the most.

Your guess is as good as mine.


... It doesn't look like Boise State is going to land in the BCS, so that means either stay home at the Humanitarian Bowl or opt out and find another place to play. If it decides to stay home, the Broncos would be matched up against ACC No. 8, which could be Wake Forest or Maryland. If it decides to find a new home, the Poinsettia Bowl would be the best place for them. The Poinsettia Bowl would need a replacement for a Pac-10 team and would match up the undefeated Broncos vs. either BYU or TCU, whichever team the the Las Vegas doesn't take. This could end up being one of the best non-BCS bowl games of the year with the WAC Champions vs. the second-best Mountain West team. Call in the Non-BCS Bowl.

...  Speaking of Clemson. If the Tigers win their last game they will be bowl-eligible at 6-6 and become very attractive in the bowl world. According to The State, Meineke bowl director Will Webb said he can foresee Clemson chosen as early as the Champs Sports Bowl, which gets the third at-large ACC pick. “There are just an awfully lot of people who are going to be interested in Clemson, us included,” Webb said. Remember, ACC No. 3 doesn't mean third-place team out of the ACC, it means that bowl gets the third pick.

Category: NCAAF
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