Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Factors: Andre Johnson

One of the NFL's best receivers notched a -2.3% DVOA last year. Does a target-by-target breakdown show he was better than that?

30 Dec 2005

SDA Bowl Spectacular Part II

by Vinny Gauri and Russell Levine

Vinny: So Russ, how about that Alamo Bowl?

R: You're not going to lure me into a discussion of the officiating. Not ... gonna ... do it.

Vinny: It's never a good sign when the referee looks like a cross between Harry Dean Stanton and Lt. Harris from Police Academy.

R: Now that you mention it, I think that might have been Bobcat Goldthwait in the replay booth.

Vinny: As far as I'm concerned, it never happened. Let's move on.

Minnesota (-4) vs. Virginia, Music City Bowl at Nashville
Friday, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: So Virginia went 6-5 this year, yet placed four players on the All-ACC team and in recent weeks has seen both coordinators get head-coaching jobs. What gives?

Vinny: Al Groh has clearly graduated from gym teaching to extortion. Although, when you think about it, there are a lot of parallels: the wedgies, the rope burns, the atomic swirlies...

Russell: I don't know what kind of gym they taught back in Troy, Vin. Nashville is a second home for Minnesota, which is making its third appearance in this game in four seasons. As usual, the Gophers have an outstanding line and a great rushing attack.

Vinny: I'm not going to miss seeing Mark Setterstrom and Greg Eslinger pancake, chop block, and generally mow down defenders in the Big Ten. But the way Glen Mason coaches up the running game, he'll develop some kids to take their place soon enough.

Russell: Virginia was really underwhelming this season. One week they look like world beaters against Florida State, another they don't even bother to show up against Virginia Tech. Which Marques Hagans will the Gophers see in this game? I'll take the somewhat known quantity, Minnesota.

Vinny: Agreed. I can't put any faith in a team that lost 7-5 to North Carolina. Groh's government license to kill Gophers is revoked. Minnesota covers.

UCLA (-3) vs. Northwestern, Sun Bowl at El Paso
Friday, 2 p.m. ET, CBS

Russell: Memo to those who plan on TiVoing the Sun Bowl Friday afternoon: Make sure you pad that three-hour recording by at least 90 minutes, because this one is going to be a marathon. The Insight Bowl had over 1,000 yards of offense and 85 points scored, and this game could top both of those numbers.

Vinny: Even Verne Lundquist may run out of hyperbolic statements about the offense by halftime. The over/under for this one is 74.5.

Russell: The only thing I worry about with UCLA in this game is the motivation factor. This was a team that thought it was a national championship contender into November before dropping two of its final three to fall all the way to El Paso. But the Bruins are loaded offensively and neither Drew Olson nor Maurice Drew should have much trouble operating against the worst defense in college football.

Vinny: Of course, the '98 version of the Bruins was carved up by Edgerrin James and Najeh Davenport as Miami (Fla.) topped UCLA 49-45 in their last regular season game to blow an invite to the first-ever BCS title game. UCLA then went out and laid an egg against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

Russell: Where is Cade McNown these days, anyway? The matchups for Northwestern's offense are favorable as well, with freshman stud running back Tyrell Sutton set to face the nation's worst rush defense. Northwestern will score plenty of points, but UCLA will score more. I'm taking the Bruins.

Vinny: Preach on, brother. UCLA is the pick.

South Carolina (-4) vs. Missouri, Independence Bowl at Shreveport
Friday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: Hmm, Steve Spurrier with a month to prepare for a bowl game? I'm giddy just thinking about it. Then again, I'm getting kind of college football slappy by this point.

Vinny: South Carolina has plenty of seniors in the trenches on both sides of the ball, but it hasn't been able to run the ball or stop the run either.

Russell: Spurrier has done a remarkable job getting this South Carolina team to 7-4, with wins over Tennessee and Florida along the way. A bowl win would provide a perfect capper to his first season in Columbia.

Vinny: This is the second bowl game in three seasons for the Tigers under Gary Pinkel, although it's only the school's fourth bowl appearance since 1983.

Russell: This is the final collegiate game for Missouri's Brad Smith, who will have plenty to say about the outcome. He's a terrific dual threat quarterback who should find plenty of room to operate against the South Carolina rush defense. South Carolina has done a lot with smoke and mirrors on offense this season, but it won't be enough here. I'll take Missouri.

Vinny: Maybe the Big 12 North isn't as bad as everyone thought. Nah. The Gamecocks cover.

#8 Miami (Fla.) (-7) vs. #12 LSU, Peach Bowl at Atlanta
Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: The Peach Bowl kicks off a New Year's weekend bowl doubleheader at the Georgia Dome, which will also host the relocated Sugar Bowl on Monday. This may be the better game, although it's a shame that LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell is out with a shoulder injury he suffered in the SEC title game.

Vinny: Not nearly as important, but Miami receiver Ryan Moore is also out of this game due to an unspecified violation of team rules.

Russell: The injury to Russell means the Tigers will go with the very green Matt Flynn at quarterback -- not a great situation against the Miami defense, which has rattled many a veteran signal-caller. You have to think LSU will try and run the football with Justin Vincent to take some pressure off Flynn, but that won't be easy against Miami's front four.

Vinny: For his career, Flynn is 18-of-36 for 360 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception, although almost half of his production came in garbage time against North Texas this year. Not an ideal situation for him stepping in against one of the nation's best defenses.

Russell: We know LSU has questions at quarterback, but so does Miami. Kyle Wright has had his moments, both good and bad, this season, and he doesn't have an easy assignment against the LSU defense, either. I think LSU's front four will get to him and force some mistakes. The line's too high for my liking. I'll take the Tigers and the points.

Vinny: This might be a good time to bet the under (41). But I'm going with the 'Canes.

North Carolina State (-4) vs. South Florida, Meineke Car Care Bowl at Charlotte
Saturday, 11 a.m. ET, ESPN2

Russell: Welcome to the least-interesting game of the entire bowl season. Both teams are 6-5, and neither does much offensively. I won't be planning my New Year's Eve morning around this one.

Vinny: Seriously. I would almost rather watch Stu Scott host ESPN2's New Year's Eve party than watch this ballgame. Almost.

Russell: If that thing draws more than six viewers, I've officially given up on humanity. South Florida opened some eyes this season with its destruction of Louisville and looked like a contender for the Big East's BCS berth before stumbling towards the end of the season. Still, this is the program's first-ever bowl game and you have to think they'll be up for it. I'm not sure I can say the same thing about N.C. State.

Vinny: Sophomore Marcus Stone supplanted Jay Davis at quarterback mid-way through the season for the Wolfpack. He's struggled (completing less than half his passes) in Kyle Orton-like fashion as the defense has carried N.C. State to six wins.

Russell: I'm wary of laying points on a team with questionable motivation and a shaky offense. Look for Chuck Amato to be sporting goofy shades, sticking out his chest, and sweating on the sidelines as USF's superior athletes cover the spread.

Vinny: Agreed. I don't think the Wolfpack can score enough points here. And while USF's Andre Hall may not rack up many rushing yards, I like the Bulls to win this outright for some reason.

#14 TCU (-3.5) vs. Iowa State, Houston Bowl
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Russell: With very little fanfare, even by mid-major program standards, TCU put together a 10-1 season. While Fresno and others got a lot more hype, TCU is the highest-rated team from a non-BCS conference. It's a shame they couldn't find a better bowl matchup than 7-4 Iowa State, which lost to Kansas with a chance to clinch the Big XII North title in the final game of the regular season.

Vinny: Senior cornerback Quincy Butler (five interceptions) and TCU should be able to shut down the Cyclones offense, which is overly reliant on the pass.

Russell: I know the mid-majors like to measure themselves against BCS league schools, but sometimes I'd rather see them matched up against top teams from other mid-major conferences. Just look at last year's Liberty Bowl (Louisville-Boise State) for an example of how entertaining that can be.

Vinny: On the other hand, this will probably be less entertaining than BarbieFest 2005, which my niece organized the day after Christmas. And I can assure you, BarbieFest 2004 couldn't hold a candle to BarbieFest 2005.

Russell: Wow, my sympathies. Then again, Santa brought my five-year-old an accordion this year. Polka, anyone? I like Iowa State quarterback Bret Meyer, but TCU's Jeff Ballard is more efficient. He'll take advantage of the Cyclones' soft pass defense, and that will make the difference. TCU is my pick.

Vinny: No argument here. I like TCU here as well.

Fresno State (-7) vs. Tulsa, Liberty Bowl at Memphis
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: What a difference a year makes for the Liberty Bowl. Last season, it had one of the best matchups of the bowl season, with 10-1 Louisville against 10-1 Boise State. This year, it gets 8-4 Tulsa against a Fresno team that was America's darlings for about five minutes after going 15 rounds with USC. Too bad the Bulldogs lost their next two games as well to also finish 8-4.

Vinny: It really seems like the psyches of college football teams are more delicate than teams in almost any other sport.

Russell: Tulsa is one of the better stories in America that nobody knows about after winning the Conference-USA title. Keep an eye out for record-setting tight end Garrett Mills, the primary receiver in the Golden Hurricane's attack.

Vinny: Mills has 83 catches for nearly 1,200 receiving yards and nine touchdowns this season. That's almost half of Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith's passing yards.

Russell: Fresno State is too talented and Pat Hill is too good a coach to continue their late-season slide here. The line's a little high for my liking, but I believe Paul Pinegar will end his 17-year career with a big game. I'll lay the points with Fresno.

Vinny: Tulsa is my pick.

#15 Texas Tech (-3.5) vs. #13 Alabama, Cotton Bowl at Dallas
Monday, 11 a.m. ET, Fox

Russell: This might be one of the most interesting matchups of the entire bowl season, and it's probably the best Cotton Bowl pairing since the glory days of the Big 8. If you like contrasts, this is for you -- Texas Tech's explosive offense against Alabama's stout defense.

Vinny: Auburn is really the only team to have much offensive success against the Crimson Tide, putting up 28 points in the Iron Bowl. Even though it was a rivalry game, you have to imagine it was tough for the Alabama players to be totally up for it after having their undefeated season wiped away the week prior by a JaMarcus Russell laser in overtime. The Tide has had six weeks to get over the disappointment of both games and to focus on getting that 10th win.

Russell: As if often the case when you have strength against strength this game will probably be decided by the matchup on the other side: Texas Tech's so-so defense against Alabama's putrid offense.

Vinny: If Alabama's offensive line can come together -- despite some injuries -- I think tailback Kenneth Darby could have a big day.

Russell: For all the numbers and all the offensive production this year, who did Texas Tech beat? Their best result was probably their 23-21 squeaker over Oklahoma to close the regular season, and that was only on a sketchy TD call at the end. Mike Leach's scheme maximizes talent and it's outstanding against lesser competition, but it can be exposed against a powerful defense, which is what Alabama has. I'll roll with the Tide.

Vinny: I think Mike Shula's squad will be on a mission. I like Alabama as well.

#17 Florida (-1.5) vs. Iowa, Outback Bowl at Tampa
Monday, 11 a.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: This is a big game for Florida, where Urban Meyer needs a bowl win to officially stamp his program as headed in the right direction for next year.

Vinny: Don't overlook Iowa. Everyone knows about Drew Tate, but Iowa tailback Albert Young stayed healthy and had a big year -- he's the nation's 10th-ranked runner at 118 yards per game. He's not big, but he's got a lot of shake to him.

Russell: Florida quarterback Chris Leak has had a pretty good season, especially when you consider he's not really a great fit for Meyer's spread-option offense. With top recruit Tim Tebow scheduled to arrive in Gainesville next year, he needs a big performance against the Hawkeyes to get a jump start on keeping his starting job.

Vinny: Unless Meyer goes completely Mr. Hyde on the Florida offense, I really think Tebow has no shot to unseat Leak, who will be a senior next season.

Russell:As always seems to be the case, Iowa is greater than the sum of its parts. The Hawkeyes don't jump off the page at you with anything they do exceptionally well, but they are extremely well-coached and Kirk Ferentz will have them up for this game. I'm tempted to pick the Hawkeyes on the "line that looks too good to be true" rule, but I think Florida has too much talent. I'll take the Gators.

Vinny: Yep, Iowa was able to shock a more talented LSU team last year in its bowl game, but I think talent wins out in this one. Florida gets the cover.

#10 Virginia Tech (-7.5) vs. #19 Louisville, Gator Bowl at Jacksonville
Monday, 12:30 p.m. ET, NBC

Russell: How much more appealing might this game be if Brian Brohm hadn't blown out a knee at the end of the regular season? Instead, we get the Virginia Tech defense unleashed on former walk-on Hunter Cantwell.

Vinny: His name makes him sound like a news reader for NPR. Cantwell played well (16-25, 271 yards) in his first start, the Cardinals' season finale at Connecticut.

Russell: Statistically this could be a great matchup, with Louisville's seventh-ranked offense going against Virginia Tech's top-rated defense. But you have to wonder how effect the Cardinals can be with Cantwell, who represents a significant drop-off in talent from Brohm.

Vinny: But Bobby Petrino seems to be able to pluck people from the Chess Club (like they have one of those at Louisville) and have them prosper at quarterback for him. Except maybe when they have to play against a defense like Virginia Tech. I don't think Cantwell has seen anyone like Darryl Tapp or Jimmy Williams in practice.

Russell: I'm sure Louisville will try to rely on its run game with Michael Bush, but I don't know how much success they'll have. I have no idea what to expect out of Marcus Vick, who really went into a tailspin after his debacle against Miami. Now he returns to the site of Virginia Tech's head-scratching loss to Florida State in the ACC title game. I expect the result to be different this time. Virginia Tech is the pick.

Vinny: Yeah, the Hokies roll in this one.

#9 Auburn (-11) vs. #18 Wisconsin, Capital One Bowl at Orlando
Monday, 1 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: Like a lot of people, I had my doubts about Auburn this year, but they won me over with their late-season wins over Georgia and Alabama and really look poised for big things next year.

Vinny: David Gibbs, former secondary coach for the Denver Broncos, has done an outstanding job picking up where Gene Chizik (now at Texas) left off as the Auburn defensive coordinator.

Russell: A lot of the credit for Auburn's improvement goes to quarterback Brandon Cox, a big-time recruit who really developed as the year went on. He'll get plenty of chances against Wisconsin's secondary, the weak link on the Wisconsin defense.

Vinny: The Badgers have been banged up all season, especially their defensive front. They were even playing left tackle Joe Thomas on the defensive line at times. The time off will help, but Auburn's offense started to get rolling late in the season.

Russell: This is Barry Alvarez's final game after a really remarkable run at Wisconsin. His players failed to deliver for him in the regular-season home finale against Iowa, but I think they'll play all-out here. Auburn is the better team, but Wisconsin will run it enough with Calhoun to keep the score down. I like the Badgers to cover the big number.

Vinny: Not me. Like most people, I think Auburn manhandles the Badgers (Fred Edelstein Lock).

#4 Ohio State (-4.5) vs. #6 Notre Dame, Fiesta Bowl at Tempe
Monday, 4:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: People have asked me if I'm rooting for injuries in this game. Of course I'm not rooting for injuries. I'm hoping the blimp will crash into the field and wipe out both teams.

Vinny: Either that, or some sort of giant sandstorm would work for me.

Russell: I kid! I kid! I've had both these teams ranked highly all year, especially Notre Dame. I don't have a problem with the Irish getting the bid over Oregon -- and that was before the Holiday Bowl -- and I expect them to play well. Charlie Weis has done a tremendous job in building an explosive offense with the talent that Tyrone Willingham brought to South Bend, and by maximizing underutilized players like Jeff Samardizjia. Ohio State will be the toughest test for the Irish all season, however.

Vinny: Weis uses the running game just to keep defenses honest, but Irish tailback Darius Walker got rolling again late in the season. Mike Kudla and the Buckeyes' defensive front like to clog up the middle and allow their stellar linebacking corps to clean up the run. But all that stunting and slanting sometimes prevents Ohio State from generate much pass rush. We'll see if defensive coordinator Jim Heacock changes that up against the pass-happy Irish.

Russell: Ohio State has tremendous balance with Troy Smith's development at quarterback this season. Had he started the Texas game, Ohio State might have pulled that one out. Notre Dame will score some points, but not enough to make up for its own defensive problems. The line represents too much respect for the Irish. I like Ohio State, and I'm making this my Fred Edelstein lock.

Vinny: There's no doubting this is an intriguing matchup. The Irish secondary looks awfully vulnerable at times, so Smith has to be drooling just thinking about Santonio Holmes and Ted Ginn running free back there. But with Weis having a month to prepare Brady Quinn and his passing game, I think the Irish will be in this to the end. Notre Dame at least gets the cover.

#7 Georgia (-7) vs. #11 West Virginia, Sugar Bowl at Atlanta
Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: Hard-hitting Big East football -- with a BCS bid to the winner! -- managed to produce a fairly impressive 10-1 West Virginia squad, but most people still feel that Mountaineers are overmatched against SEC champion Georgia. Personally, I think the West Virginia fans might want to keep the spare couches and lighter fluid handy -- their team definitely has a shot.

Vinny: This is definitely the ugly duckling of the BCS games, but it's still better than the Utah-Pittsburgh matchup from last year.

Russell: I actually think West Virginia matches up fairly well with Georgia. Quarterback Pat White is very dangerous with his feet and has the ability to turn a broken-down play into a big gain.

Vinny: The defenses should feel at home in this one, since Georgia and West Virginia both use similar spread formations, although the Mountaineers rarely air it out.

Russell: I'm not sure the Mountaineers have an answer for D.J. Shockley, who was better this season than anyone had a right to expect. He looked great throwing the ball downfield against LSU in the SEC title game, but the key for Georgia in this game is the rushing attack. If they control the line of scrimmage, they should win easily. I think it'll happen. Georgia covers.

Vinny: Georgia is completely loaded at the skill positions, with Thomas Brown, Danny Ware, Leonard Pope and Mohammed Massaquoi. I don't think West Virignia will be able to keep up with all of Georgia's weapons. The 'Dawgs cover.

#3 Penn State (-8.5) vs. #22 Florida State, Orange Bowl at Miami
Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: What better place than Miami for a couple of octogenarian coaches to hook up. JoePa and Papa Bowden can catch the early bird (pronounced "oily boyd") dinner special at 4:15 and still make it to the stadium in plenty of time for the 8 p.m. kickoff.

Vinny: You mean an 8 p.m. bed time? I'm assuming both teams are staying with Morty and Helen Seinfeld at Del Boca Vista, Phase Three.

Russell: No doubt, they're gonna be all over that shuffleboard court! A lot of people believe Florida State doesn't really deserve to be in the BCS. I disagree. If conferences want to have their made-for-TV championship games, as the ACC did for the first time this season, this is the risk they take. Personally, I think Florida State deserves to be here, and I expect them to play well.

Vinny: The 'Noles have suspended linebacker A.J. Nicholson, arguably their best defender, for his possible involvement in a sexual assault that is under investigation. That won't make it any easier for Florida State to slow down Michael Robinson.

Russell: Nicholson's loss hurts, but Florida State did an excellent job handling Marcus Vick in the ACC championship, a similar style quarterback to Robinson. I don't expect Robinson to find the running room to make big plays with his legs. He's going to have to throw to win this game.

Vinny: The Penn State offense hasn't been quite as dynamic since receiver Derrick Williams (fractured arm) went down for the year in the Michigan game. But Robinson has taken on more responsibility and handled it well in his senior season.

Russell: Penn State's defense could be a nightmare for Florida State's Drew Weatherford, but he's a gamer and he'll hang in long enough to make a few big plays. I expect this to be a low-scoring game, and that makes the line too high. I'll take the Seminoles.

Vinny: The 'Noles usually go into these bowl games against the Big Ten crowing about their speed advantage. I think they're in for a rude awakening this time. Penn State routs the 'Noles.

#1 USC (-8) vs. #2 Texas, Rose Bowl at Pasadena
Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC

Russell: I've heard a lot of different opinions about this game, but the most common one seems to be that USC will blow Texas off the field. I definitely don't see that happening. Then again, I picked Oklahoma in last year's Orange Bowl.

Vinny: The defense has been targeted as the soft spot for the Trojans, and it's why most believe this team isn't equal to last year's juggernaut. Still, for as much pub as Carroll gets for his loosey-goosey style and recruiting prowess, he's a great defensive strategist. After USC topped Michigan in the Rose Bowl a few years ago, all the USC defenders noted how Michigan didn't do anything they hadn't seen on tape, while the Wolverine offensive linemen were astonished by all of the USC blitz packages they had never seen on tape before.

Russell: I actually think that Texas is the better overall team because of balance, but USC's greatness can't necessarily be measured by stats. This is a team that has been on the ropes more times than they care to count the last two seasons, yet they always managed to find a way to win. If Texas is going to pull off the upset, they need to get out to an early lead and then step on USC's throat.

Vinny: I think Carroll will have all the youngsters on defense primed for this game, but it's pretty tough to gameplan for somebody who can improvise like Vince Young. On the other side of the ball, I think Michael Huff and the Texas defense can do a decent job keeping Matt Leinart, Dwayne Jarrett and the USC air attack in check. But the 'Horns haven't faced anyone remotely like Reggie Bush yet this year.

Russell: Young is a matchup nightmare for anyone. I recall the debates on this site earlier this year whether or not he'd be an NFL quarterback or even a player. There's no question the pros will tweak his sidearm throwing motion, but he's going to play quarterback in the NFL. He's every bit the athlete that Michael Vick is, and he's really improved his passing this year. He's probably licking his chops at facing the green USC secondary.

Vinny: Bush and Young are the biggest X-factors in the college game today; they can blow holes through even the best gameplans.

Russell: This is the last hurrah for Leinart and Bush and I expect them to go out with a bang. I really would like the line to be a little lower because I think man-for-man Texas may even have the talent edge. But I can't pick against USC after watching what they've done in big games the last three years. The Trojans are my pick.

Vinny: I doubt the Trojans will have the plug pulled on their dynastic run, but I do think Texas will make this a game. The 'Horns cover.

The Picks
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" in bold)
Game Vinny says Russell says
Minnesota (-4) vs. Virginia, Music City Bowl Minnesota Minnesota
UCLA (-3) vs. Northwestern, Sun Bowl UCLA UCLA
South Carolina (-4) vs. Missouri, Independence Bowl South Carolina Missouri
#8 Miami (Fla.) (-7) vs. #12 LSU, Peach Bowl Miami LSU
North Carolina State (-4) vs. South Florida, Meineke Car Care Bowl South Florida South Florida
#14 TCU (-3.5) vs. Iowa State, Houston Bowl TCU TCU
Fresno State (-7) vs. Tulsa, Liberty Bowl Tulsa Fresno State
#15 Texas Tech (-3.5) vs. #13 Alabama, Cotton Bowl Alabama Alabama
#17 Florida (-1.5) vs. Iowa, Outback Bowl Florida Florida
#10 Virginia Tech (-7.5) vs. #19 Louisville, Gator Bowl Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
#9 Auburn (-11) vs. #18 Wisconsin, Capital One Bowl Auburn Wisconsin
#4 Ohio State (-4.5) vs. #6 Notre Dame, Fiesta Bowl Notre Dame Ohio State
#7 Georgia (-7) vs. #11 West Virginia, Sugar Bowl Georgia Georgia
#3 Penn State (-8.5) vs. #22 Florida State, Orange Bowl Penn State Florida State
#1 USC (-8) vs. #2 Texas, Rose Bowl Texas USC
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
Vinny 4-4-1 (0-0-1) 52-67-5 (5-9-1)
Russell 5-3-1 (0-0-1) 50-69-5 (9-5-1)

Posted by: on 30 Dec 2005

179 comments, Last at 05 Jan 2006, 10:03am by James Stephenson

Comments

1
by Matt (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 2:07pm

GO CAVS!!!!!

2
by Todd S. (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 2:17pm

I didn't get to see the Alamo Bowl, but have heard several things about it (extra Nebraska players on the field at the end of the game, for instance). I also heard that there were several bad calls from the Big1T1en officiating crew during the game. Can someone provide some insight? Thanks.

I'm really ticked off at Michigan. If they were going to suck so much that they ruined my bowl pool, then why did they have to ruin Penn State's perfect season?

3
by pawnking (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 2:21pm

Thanks, guys. Now all I have to do is pick the opposite, and watch the money roll in...

4
by admin :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 2:29pm

Re: 2 The problem with the Alamo was that the refs were from the Sun Belt Conference, and had never worked a game with replay. They were completely incompetent.

And no, I'm not excusing Michigan's latest fourth-quarter collapse. Nebraska got some bad calls too. Both the Big 10 and Big 12 lodged complaints with the Sun Belt over the quality of the officiating.

Re: 3 ... Good luck with that. I have to say, we have been reduced to lower level of suck the last four weeks or so, but you're welcome to try :)

5
by Tim (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 6:24pm

Did anyone else have Clemson -9.5 over Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl?

I'll have to stick to safer bets, like pork futures.

6
by TBW (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 7:19pm

Can you do us 'Hoos fans a favor and both pick Virginia to lose every game next year ?

7
by dave whorton (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 7:44pm

i'm a WVU fan and don't know if we can pull this one out. WVUdefinately plays alot better during nite games . but like was said earlier Georgia is loaded at the skill pos.WVU is a young team but i think we might be too one dimensional. i like ND over Ohio State for the simple reason i like charlie weiss' chances after having a month to prepare for anybody.i look for a shootout.

8
by DMP (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 8:02pm

Well, for every Michigan State fan that claims Michigan always gets the calls, here is the Alamo Bowl 2005. 2 time outs spent so the replay ref could get his act together, that fumble had to be a forward pass, and complete discombobulation on the last play. I only saw the last quarter and a half, so that's all I got. Is that two forward passes called as fumbles on Henne this season? Hopefully he'll break that PB next season!

Chad Henne: Captain Anti-Tuck Rule

9
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 12/30/2005 - 11:10pm

And now for the kind of in-depth analysis available only at footballoutsiders.com:

AJ Hawk, with Brady Quinn's sister.

I think we all know what that means. Buckeyes roll.

10
by Rocco (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 12:28am

Apparently, Miami couldn't be bothered to show up and play tonight. Really disappointing- LSU's a mighty good team, but they aren't this good, especially with a raw backup QB running the show. Right now, it looks like I could run for 100 yards against Miami.

To quote my dad: "Sometimes, I think Miami is terribly coached." Their performance today is 100 times worse than their performance against Georgia Tech.

11
by Tom (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 4:07am

Man, I think I could run a more sophisticated passing offense than Glen Mason does at Minnesota. Check that, I know I could. If my "pass offense" was "run down the field, throw a jump ball, and hope my tall wide receiver outjumps the DB(s)," I'd be worried about losing my job, too. You are allowed to run pass plays between 0 and 15 yards in length, all your experience playing Madden to the contrary. Thanks also to Rod Gilmore, Trevor Matich, and the play-by-play guy for talking of the "Glen Mason wants more money for being not-quite-crappy every year" contract squabble for the entire game.

Hey, Spurrier, when Lou Holtz blew the 28-0 bowl game lead, his team actually came back and won the game. Thanks for showing us why Brad Smith was once thought of as a Heisman candidate, though.

I guarantee you if it was 38 (Evanston weather) instead of 64 (LA weather) in El Paso, Northwestern wins the Sun Bowl, defense deservedly ranked 117th notwithstanding. And, really, couldn't you have tried someting else on the SECOND onside kick attempt... like using another kicker, one who wasn't scarred, or kicking it anywhere but near the really tall guy who took the first onside kick attempt back for a touchdown? This is the John L. Smith Award, at least so far.

12
by Russell Levine :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 9:15am

Is it just me or was the the postgame brawl at the Peach much ado about nothing?

Although you do invite those kinds of things when you run a fake a punt with a 40-3 lead. I figure Miles probably didn't call that play, but that's pretty deplorable on the part of LSU.

Other thoughts ... .I guess Miles wasn't kidding when he said Matt Flynn was in the mix to start this fall. And I loved Joseph Addai's little hop-steps in the hole. Man he has some quick feet.

13
by Just Another Falcon Fan (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 1:19pm

I don't know if NU could have stopped the run any better in Evanston than in El Paso.

However, letting the onside kick returner go for a second touchdown was the right thing to do. Once he catches the ball, all he has to do is kneel down and the game is over (well, after the inevitible snap and kneel). If he runs for a touchdown, at least you get the ball back on the kickoff. If there had been 30 seconds left, you might have gotten lucky going deep, scored, and gone for yet another onside kickoff.

I can't decide if the first onside kick return hurt NU that much, given that they did save their timeouts and go on to score, setting up the second kickoff return. If UCLA just falls on the ball then, a reasonable scenario is that NU gets the ball back with about a minute to go, around their 10 yard line, with no timeouts, but only requiring one score to win. Under college rules with the clock stopping on every first down, that's probably a bit more advantageous than being down two scores with all timeouts left and 2 minutes to go.

Still, trying some other onside kick style or location would probably have been better on the second kick, assuming there was one in the playbook.

14
by ron jeremy (not verified) :: Sat, 12/31/2005 - 8:36pm

re LSU offensive line;
Even I have never seen so many huge holes

15
by dCalla (not verified) :: Sun, 01/01/2006 - 3:47pm

Nice of Maurice Clarett to give the announcers something to talk about during the Fiesta Bowl tomorrow. I have officially left the "he's just getting bad advice" group and moved into the "D@mn, how stupid can you be?" crowd.

16
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:33am

Minnesota, over the past five years, must lead the nation in blown 2nd half leads of ten points or more. It is really hard, in college foootball, to run the ball as well as Minnesota, while never threatening for a conference championship. That said, Minnesota would be hard-pressed to find a top-notch candidate who would even consider taking that job, so they were wise to retain Mason.

17
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 1:39pm

I love today.

So far, Texas Tech has yet to call a run. This is my first look at them this year, and it's been interesting. The best thing they've had going for them so far is Hodges's mobility - pretty much every positive gain has come from him either scrambling or moving around the collapsed pocket to keep the play alive and hitting a receiver who finally gets open.

18
by scarface (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 1:51pm

Yeah, interesting look at Tech, especially since I just read the NYTmag article on them.
Counter-intuitively 'bama were pressuring Hodges from the edges of the pocket...the most recent sack was through the middle of the supposedly "spread O-line" though.

19
by scarface (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 2:13pm

Hodges seems to have a pretty terrible arm, so far...haven't seen a single fast-travelling pass - those floaters of his seem to give the defense too much time to react - only time he can throw them is instantly, and that won't work if the receivers are jammed at the line...

20
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 2:38pm

Tech's offense looks like it relies pretty heavily on the fade to a big outside receiver. It's been like watching Brad Johnson with the Vikings this year against Cleveland, where his best throws were all just floating it up for Robinson. They hit one or two, and since then Bama's been jamming those guys at the line a lot tighter.

Well, apparently even Tech will use a fullback when they're on their own 2-inch line. Great patience and good throw by Hodges to get out of the end zone though, and another big scramble to get it out near the 40. This guy is pretty elusive, I wonder how he'd do in a semi-option attack.

To be honest, I've been much more impressed by Tech's defense than their offense to this point. I wasn't sure how their D ranked (apparently they're #26, although that opening cupcake salvo could distort that a bit), and it's been surprising to see them playing so well, especially to be so tough. The knock against old run-and-shoot teams was always that their defenses couldn't handle power running from never facing it (CW alert - not sure if actually based in reality or if it was just the ol' boys looking for a slam on the newfangled offense, and come to think of it the Bills always seemed to do pretty well). I was really anxious to see how they'd do, and while Bama isn't exactly the most high-powered attack, they've done pretty well.

21
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 2:40pm

Wow, special teams errors by Bama are giving Tech life. First the offsides on a missed Tech FG gave them another shot and 3 points, Bama missed their first FG badly, and now they have one blocked and pick up a dumb late hit as well. Massive potential swing in the last minute, let's see what Tech can do with it.

22
by scarface (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 2:45pm

Yeah, I agree, sweet play to get out of the Safety situation.

The tackling in the semi-open field by the Red Raiders D has been a bit like the Oakland Raiders, though? I thought I saw 3 missed tackles that should have been made...but yeah, giving up 0 points after the initial lucky 7 is a good job.

23
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 2:52pm

And Bama blocks a FG at the half. Way to get it back, special teams, you owed the rest of the team a few. 7-3 at the half.

This announcing duo isn't all that sharp, but it's been far from the worst I've heard. But at least we get the pleasure of Chris Rix as a sideline reporter, which has tremendous comedy potential. Earlier they talked about Bama having a backup center in, and Rix told about how his center at FSU was always getting hurt, so he never knew who would be snapping him the ball on any given day. You know it's good when Chris Rix is calling someone unreliable.

24
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 3:07pm

Why doesn't Chris Speilman just put on Iowa gear and openly start cheering for the Hawkeyes? He is terrible.

25
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 3:11pm

I'm starting to wonder if Speilman has money on the Hawkeyes...

26
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 3:45pm

Anyone watching Louisville/VT? What's happening there, is Louisville really dominating? I only saw a little during halftime of Tech/Bama, and I caught the tail end of them saying one of VT's cornerbacks just got kicked out. What's the deal?

Hey, remember back when someone voted Louisville #1 because he figured they'd be able to waltz into the BCS because the Big East sucked so bad? (2nd muffed punt of the day by Bama - they've been very lucky to recover both and avoid any real damage though) They kind of fell off the radar after getting wasted by South Florida, but they're still a pretty decent team.

OK, Bama really needs better communication in their huddles, or else just much better play design. On far too many passes, they've had two receivers way too close together. They managed to catch that one, but it's usually not a good sign when one defender could easily cover two guys.

27
by Rocco (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:05pm

VT came out flat, and UL moved down the field for TDs on their first two drives. The first drive was helped by a fake punt, the second by the refs- two horrible personal fouls, one that I think was called only because the stuffing in the QB of UL's nose came loose (he'd been bloodied the play before). Jimmy Williams, VT's best player on D was thrown out after running into a ref. Since then, VT has pulled it together and scored to make it 14-10. New Mexico started well, then went ice-cold, and then woke up and hit a TD pass.

28
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:10pm

Bama is doing an outstanding job of defending screens. It must be doubly hard since those wide splits are so inviting, and it's gotta be harder to tell when they're letting you in. On the last one series, Tech had a screen set up that they couldn't even throw, because one guy smelled it out and stayed with the back, making the back 'block' him (i.e. grab him so he can't go anywhere).

By the way, early in the game they talked about Tech's splits, and just begged the analyst (Terry Donahue, former UCLA coach and a guy who helped destroy the 49ers) to explain them. A total softball question, and a great opportunity to teach about strategies and line play. Instead, all we got was - "Well, Tech lines up with wider splits between linemen, and that stretches the defense out. But it's also easier to blitz through." Thanks a ton, coach. You suck. How about giving us some thoughts as to why they do it, what possible advantages it brings the offense (aside from a generic "spreads the defense out"), why the defense complies and spreads itself out, what would happen if they didn't, ways to attack this kind of alignment, etc. It sure would be nice if we could've heard something along those lines, instead of the normal blabber.

29
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:15pm

Just flipped over to VT/UL. Funny sequence where a VT D-lineman jumped offsides, the center correctly snapped it to catch him, the QB just took a knee since the offense wasn't ready. The defense knew they were offside, and started marching back 5 yards.

Only one problem. Somehow the officials didn't notice the 300-pound man in purple standing among the guys in white. So they just ruled it as the QB taking a knee, loss of 2 on the play. Insert Sun Belt officials joke here.

30
by Rocco (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:24pm

Not only did they miss the offsides there, but they also missed Vick delivering a Roy Keane-inspired stomp to the back of Dumervil's leg. Not a great day for the refs so far.

31
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:25pm

Hey, Bama, I have an idea. Since it looks like Tech figures you'll run on every play, and even is guessing the location on some of them, you could possibly trust your ninth-year senior QB with a bootleg, and let him hit a wide-open receiver or just run&slide. With five minutes left, you can't just run it three times into the line and kill the entire clock. A 7-point lead isn't all that big, you know.

32
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:30pm

A big punt return, and two plays later it's tied (PAT pending - not a sure thing in this game) with three minutes left. This has been one heck of a game.

33
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:37pm

This has been a great game. Bama is holed up near its goal line, will they get the go-ahead figgie as time runs low? Or will we see overtime?

I know that the NCAA uses "neutral" officials for bowl games, but given that all bowl games were using instant replay, I have no idea why they even said "OK, we can use Sun Belt officials!" If a conference doesn't use instant replay, they shouldn't be officiating bowl games - the Sun Belt officiating crews have botched so many calls in bowl season and have seemed clueless with respect to the use of instant replay. I guess it's not just the Sun Belt teams that suck - their referees do too.

Whoops. As I type, poor tackling by Tech gives Alabama a potential easy figgie (if there is such a thing in this game). Who will win? No one knows! Feed the hungry hipp-ipp-os!

T.

34
by scarface (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:39pm

Yeah, Trogdor, Bama's play-calling should be blamed for letting Tech back in. But they've opened up now and might win it.

Nice drama with Hodges hobbling back in just when I'd started dozing off...

35
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:43pm

Looks like a month's rest rejuvenated the Wisconsin defense.

What is it about soft-tossing lefty quarterbacks that everyone gets ga-ga and ignores the obvious fact that they can't throw the ball on a line for more than 10 yards? Some SEC fan is going to have to explain to me how Cox is a quarterback for a good team.

36
by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:45pm

How about that kick skimming the crossbar and winning it for Bama?

Anyway, I like the UNDER in ND-OSU. The line is standing at 57.

37
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:48pm

"Slay [the Tech safety] told us, if you hit a guy in the face with your helmet, he's going to juggle the ball."

Yeah, you can also cause a serious injury. Oh, and it's a penalty, and if it's done to a sufficiently popular player in the NFL, you'll get fined. I really hope this kid didn't actually tell them he goes for illegal helmet-to-helmet hits, and if he did, I have to wonder why they're repeating it.

In actual game stuff, Croyle throws a horrible deep ball (he's twice missed easy TD's by badly missing uncovered receivers), but his underneath passes seem to have some good zip and accuracy. He made some good throws on this last drive to move Bama into long FG range. But... they got way too conservative around the 30. Hey guys, your kicker's career long is 43, and he's hit less than 2/3 this year. Why settle for moving it to the 28?

Holy crap, did that actually go through? It looked like it was blocked, it looked like a Houston shank, but it went in just above the crossbar, right in the corner. And Bama wins.

Great game. I have to say I was very impressed with Tech. Not so much their offense, which struggled all year against non-suck teams (of which they've now played 3, maybe 4 if you count Nebraska, and didn't do much against any of them). But their defense was solid, and they came up with a big drive when needed, with a hobbled QB no less. Great effort by them, and it's a shame someone had to lose (and if college sports remain part of the educational system long enough, eventually there won't be losers - well, except the fans and society at large), but Bama just got it done.

And now to switch randomly between games and grab some food, before the main event comes on. GO BUCKEYES!

38
by scarface (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:49pm

More drama in the Iowa-Fla game. Announcer is pretty good here (I've not caught the rest of the game though), prescient almost. And refs in this game just cost Iowa their onside recovery, with possible the worst call I've ever seen in college football.

39
by Russell Levine :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:57pm

Can someone please elaborate on the bad calls in Florida-Iowa? I heard the announcers allude to it at the end, but was watching the Cotton Bowl and didn't see much.

40
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 4:57pm

Apparently Spielman's calling the game. Although Florida fans aren't too happy about him being a wee bit of a Big Ten homer (see above), he's one of the few analysts who actually analyzes. He's been mentioned a few times in Dr. Z's announcer ratings because he once heard him accurately predict a fake FG (TD, Toledo, in a big comeback win over Marshall). He's really good at pointing out things linebackers look for, like if linemen are tipping off run/pass by their stances, and actually discussing strategy, line play, mechanics, and other things I like. His voice is annoying, and he's definitely a Buckeye, but if you can get past that he's a great analyst.

41
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 5:00pm

New Mexico is lucky Roy Williams doesn't play for Louisville. He was just taken down by someone who had a handful of the back of his jersey, and if that [redacted] was playing, Vick's leg would probably be broken.

42
by scarface (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 5:11pm

Russel,
Iowa scores a FG to come within 7 with 90sec and no timeouts. Onside kick by Iowa is perfect, bouncing high after the 2nd hop, Iowa recovers. Refs say Iowa is offside. Replays show clearly, from more or less the perfect perpendicular angle, that noone was justifiably offside (the announcer was livid at this point:), he actually mentioned before the kick that the most important thing for Iowa was to time it so they were not offsides ). Re-kick, Fla recovers, game over.

43
by scarface (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 5:12pm

Oh, dang, I guess you were asking about the earlier bad calls Russel - sorry, ignore previous email.

44
by peachy (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 5:15pm

In the Ron Zook Era (shudder) Florida would've succeeded in its heroic attempt to blow a 24-point fourth quarter lead, by God!

Can you believe the last time UF won in a bowl it was Spurrier against Friedgen in the Orange? (I'm going to throw out a wild prediction here and say those two will never play there again.)

45
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 5:22pm

Absolutely picture-perfect reverse by Louisville in the Gator Bowl. Bush started running forward before making the handoff, and as a result Virginia Tech defenders actually tackled the wrong guy, and the wide receiver who took the second handoff got past the line of scrimmage before anybody even looked at him. Very nice.

46
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 5:28pm

Queston on the long pass by Vick.

How come it's not "Roughing the Passer" to nail the QB in the head when he has the ball?

47
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 5:34pm

Because as long as he has the ball, he's fair game. As long as all the defenders, including airborne ones, remember to stop on a dime the moment he releases the ball, there's no problem.

48
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 6:12pm

Re: 39...Russ: The sequence of calls that almost propelled Speilman down on the field to challenge the refs mano-y-mano occurred at the end of the 2nd quarter. Florida was up 17-7, Iowa had just scored their first TD and clearly had snatched the momentum from the Gators. With about 2 minutes left, Iowa forces a 3 & out, and Florida punts. Iowa goes for the block and runs into the kicker. I think most neutral observers would say it was one of those plays where the refs could have either thrown the flag or kept it in their pocket, and either choice would have been correct. They chose to throw the flag, and the 5-yd penatly gave Florida a first down. Speilman thought no penalty should have been called. Then, on the very next play, Leak scrambled to the right for about 5 yards and slid feet first. An Iowa DL dives into Leak and the refs called a 15-yard personal foul for helmet-to-helmet contact. The very first replay showed that in fact there was helmet-to-helmet contact. It wasn't a dirty play...but by the letter of the rule book, it was a penalty. Being too busy screaming at the refs, Speilman must have missed that replay when it was shown. Every subsequent replay view did not have the proper angle to see the contact and from all of the other replays it looked like the Iowa DL did not make helmet-to-helmet contact, leading Speilman to then say, "With these refs, I guess if you tackle someone, it's a penalty. This is the game of football, right?" The 15-yd penalty enabled Florida to take a shot at the endzone, which worked as they scored a TD with one second left in the half to go up 24-7 at halftime. Without the penalty, they probably run the clock out and take a 17-7 lead at halftime.

From this point on, he should have just dawned a Hawkeye jersey and openly cheered for Iowa. His performance was easily one of the worst homer jobs from a supposed neutral announcer, reaching an apex when he said that someone needs to give Chris Leak "a tough pill" when Leak slid in the third quarter instead of fighting for an extra half-yard and getting his head taken off by Abdul Hodge.

49
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 6:23pm

You know, if you're going to have instant replay, and use it, you should probably get the calls right. Auburn just punted, and 'downed' the ball inside the one. Wisconsin players argued that it should've been a touchback, correctly pointing out that the ball was spotted partially in the endzone. They replay during the timeout, and you can see the Auburn guy getting it at the one, dropping it before he ran into the end zone, and the ball landing on the goal line. Then another Auburn player slides onto it, and takes it a yard into the red with him. Somehow they decide that the ruling stands, and it's spotted inside the one.

50
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 6:38pm

Trogdor:

Exactly. Just a ridiculous call. And to Wisconsin's credit they stuff the ball down Auburn's throat to end the game.

Again, I am not an ardent SEC follower. Except for some quickness on defense I saw nothing of note on this team. Their defensive backs were in a constant state of bewilderment, their offensive line was getting whipped off the ball from the first snap, and the quarterback has a noodle for an arm.

As Big Ten followers could tell anyone interested, the Wisconsin defensive line was being held together by duct tape and prayer. For any legit offensive line to get smoked by this group requires some serious soul searching.

And by the way, Brandon Williams not being first team All-Big Ten is absurd. Excellent hands, good speed, and tough as h*ll.

51
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 6:45pm

The helmet to helmet call on Iowa was questionable at best, and the offside call was awful. Were these referees from the same conference as the refs who botched the Michigan-Nebraska game?

52
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 6:45pm

As an ardent SEC follower, I think Auburn was the best team in the SEC this season. I have no idea what happened to them today, but kudos to Barry Alvarez and Wisconsin b/c they really stuck it to them.

53
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 6:48pm

Freak, were you as impresssed by Stocco as I was? I've never been a big fan of his until today, with his willingness to stand in the pocket and take some pretty substantial hits while delivering the ball pretty accurately.

54
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 6:48pm

Re: 51 -- The Outback Bowl officials were from Conference USA. The Alamo Bowl refs were from the Sun Belt.

Also, I don't dispute the offsides call. It was a horrible call. But the helmet-to-helmet call was correct by the letter of the rule book (probably not by the spirit of the rule). I realize the Iowa DL's helmet basically grazed Leak, but, helmet to helmet contact was made.

55
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 6:51pm

Gator, by that reasoning holding calls should be called with about 80% greater frequency, no matter that it would ruin the game. It was a bad call.

56
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 6:59pm

It can hardly be overstated how good a job Alvarez has done at Wisconsin. I attended a couple of games in the pre-Alvarez era in Madison. The program was so buried that one woulda' thought paleontologists were needed to uncover it. It sounds as if he also may have pulled off the hardest trick for a great college coach, naming an effective successor.

57
by David (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:01pm

There's a fundamental difference between helmet-to-helmet and holding, though. The latter is a balance penalty - it gives the holding team an "unfair" advantage, so they're penalized yards to (theoretically) make up for it. Helmet-to-helmet hits are illegal purely to keep the players safe, and the yardage penalty is a deterrent (as opposed to restitution for one side succeeding through low-level cheating). It makes sense to call it stringently, to make sure that players stop themselves from even incidental contact that could easily and unintentionally turn into something worse.

58
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:04pm

Will Allen -- You know that the refs are going to protect the QB at all costs. That Iowa DL shouldn't have been diving at Leak the way he did when Leak was sliding feet first. When I saw the flag, I thought it was going to be a late hit call. They are going to make that call 10 out of 10 times when the helmet to helmet is on a QB. Either way, that call did not decide the game. After that call, Iowa's D still gave up 37 yards in three plays, incl the 26-yd TD pass.

59
by Rocco (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:21pm

This just in- Ted Ginn Jr. is fast. ND might want to cover him.

60
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:25pm

Will:

I thought John deserved mention on the All-Big Ten teams. Certainly second team consideration was in order.

The kid from Northwestern had all his big games against pedestrian defenses. Troy Smith was semi-platooned (thanks to Tressel). Stocco did not have a bad game until the end at Iowa in the rain and with the running game nonexistent. And even then if his receivers hold onto four easy deep balls in the first half it's a completely different game.

His game against Penn State was borderline heroic. I criticized his interception into the end zone because at that place in the field you just cannot make the throw he made. Otherwise, he was one of a few Badgers who showed up that day.

As I wrote earlier, Wisconsin was clearly a battered team at the end of the year. They did not have bye until after the Big Ten season was over and it showed. They rolled Hawaii and then shocked Auburn.

If Calhoun does turn pro Badger fans better pray the transfer fairy helps because all the receivers graduate this year.

61
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:32pm

Oh, and before the half-witted Penn State fans fail to read my post correctly I am granting Robinson was first team All-Big Ten quarterback.

Even though he was a running back playing the position of quarterback. :)

62
by Vinny (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:35pm

FWIW, I was definitely impressed with Stocco today. He's come a long way. Calhoun looked great, as usual. Impressive win. Count me among those amazed at how bad Cox looked, which is what he looked like early on this season for Auburn.

ND carved up OSU in that first drive, but OSU answered pretty damn easily.

63
by chris (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:37pm

RE 48, 50, 51, 54: I know that guys can't stop on a dime in pursuit of the quarterback, but can anyone answer why defenders don't do a simple wrap-up or bear hug on the QB until they can control their momentum? It would seem to be the best way to demonstrate an effort to avoid unnecessary harm.

64
by Vinny (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:42pm

Um, I'm a fan of Ms. Quinn...

65
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:43pm

Well, as soon as I saw the Auburn kid lob that interception I knew WI had a chance. Wisconsin is stupid in the secondary, but the kids can at least run. Lob passes don't go far in the Big Ten except as screens or dump offs.

Certainly not rainbows thrown 20 yards.

Some day somebody really smart will explain coaches and their fascination with soft-tossing left-handed quarterbacks. It's almost a disease with known symptoms. Somebody get the vaccine so I don't have to watch this nonsense any more.

66
by Isaac Small (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:44pm

Re: the questionable calls in the Iowa vs. Florida game, there were 8, to my count. Quickly, they were the incomplete pass where Ed Hinkel was pushed out of bounds, the no-call late hit on Clinton Solomon, running into the kicker on Iowa, helmet-to-helmet contact on Iowa, a facemasking personal foul against Clinton Solomon, an extra 1/2 yard given to Florida resuling in a first down, an extra 1 yard given to Iowa resulting in a first down, and offsides called on the first onside kick attempt.

I'd say (as a Hawkeye fan) that the running into the kicker was a legitimate call... intent isn't the rule. But in helmet-to-helmet contact, the rule is that the player can not use the temple or crown of the helmet to butt or ram the runner in an attempt to punish him. That's word-for-word the rule.

I'm not talking sour grapes, here... Florida played a nearly flawless game, they moved the ball and stopped Iowa's running attack cold in it's tracks. The point is that 7 of those 8 questionable calls (or no-calls) went against Iowa (when they just as easily could have been ruled in Iowa's favor) and 5 of them resulted in Florida possession of the ball. I don't think any team, not USC, Texas, or whomever could maintain 100% poise and composure and perform at their best level after all that.

IMHO, the Big Ten is 1-2-2 in bowl games thus far, tying to the Sun Belt and Conferance USA.

67
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:45pm

Yes, David, and there wasn't anything dangerous about that play; the helmets grazed each other at most. Also, the defensive player starts his dive just barely after the QB starts his slide. Defensive players cannot be expected to anticipate slides. It was a ticky-tack call (no, I don't think ten of ten referees would throw the flag) which added 15 yards of critical field position at the end of the half.

Did that call decide the game by itself? No, but it surely significantly assisted in Florida having twenty four instead of seventeen at the half.

68
by Fat Tony (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:45pm

The helmet-to-helmet penalty in the Iowa-UF game was as marginal as it could possibly be. Will Allen is right, Gator Griff is wrong. Awful, awful call, but not nearly as bad as the offsides call on the onsides kick. FWIW, I'm a New Englander with no rooting interest in the game.

69
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:50pm

I know Weiss has nearly achieved genius status, but forgoing an early chip-shot field goal against a very good opponent is a stupid thing to do.

70
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 7:54pm

Since when is going for it on 4th and 1 inside the 5 a Parcells type of play?

I have been enjoying Musberger and Danielson though... they are good toned down announcers... but when Musberger called it a Parcells type of play... huh?

They should've put the points on the board.

71
by Sam B (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 8:00pm

I quite like the commentators too, but not sure about talking how Ginn is 'starting to get it' as a WR in the middle of a bowl game!

72
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 8:03pm

I suppose if one had zero respect for the other team's ability to move the ball against your defense, one might go for it, reasoning that a punt out of the end zone will likley put one back in field goal position pretty quickly. There would be absolutely no reason, however, for Weiss to hold Ohio State's ability to move the ball against Notre Dame in such low esteem.

73
by GatorGriff (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 8:12pm

This is the last I'll mention of the Helmet-to-helmet call: When a DL dives at a QB who is on the ground, and his helmet makes contact with the QB's helmet, it is going to be called a personal foul everytime, even if it's a ticky-tack call, even if the helmets only graze each other, even if the DL had no malice intent.

It happened right in front of Kirk Ferentz. Did you see his reaction? (And I'm not talking about the reaction of some of the Iowa players). Hawkeye Speilman starts screaming about how Ferentz is livid. The cameras pan to Ferentz and he is sitting there with his arms folded, not arguing the call at all.

Sorry, I don't buy that it shouldn't have been a penalty, even if it was a ticky-tack penalty. Now the offsides at the end of the game, that's a different story.

74
by Sam B (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 8:20pm

Trogdor: do you frequent the Watercooler?

75
by Vinny (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 8:32pm

OSU can throw the deep ball like this to Holmes/Ginn all day with the safeties creeping up to stop Troy Smith.

76
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 8:34pm

Big Ten coaches everywhere are thankful it took Jim Tressel a year and a half to figure out that Ted Ginn can play a little.

But alas, the learning curve is over.

As to the unsportsmanlike conduct call, the media/fans/etc. build up these games constantly and when the actual players show a bit of enthusiasm a ref has a hissy? And in this case all he did was RAISE HIS ARM. Was it a Sieg Heil? Excessive body odor??

Good golly people, these are KIDS.

77
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 9:03pm

Mack Brown can thank Tressel for his player management as well. Do ya' 'spose that Pete Carroll will hold out Reggie Bush?

78
by Rocco (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 9:19pm

ND runs well on their first play, and then throws 3 straight passes. Brilliant. Is Weis immune from criticism yet, or can we still point out that he needs to run it a little?

79
by Rocco (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 9:24pm

I've just turned on Laura Quinn- you always stand by family. If Brady were Italian, he'd have her in the rowboat by Thursday.

80
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 9:28pm

This is where a fan has to empathize with the OSU contingent. Tressel has his positives but his complete and utter fascination with long field goal attempts defies explanation.

Once the man has his team inside the 35 he is thinking field goal. Swear to all that is holy his teams score touchdowns by accident.

Your offense is cramming the ball down their throat, it's 4th and six, your defense is solid, and your field goal kicker has already had one blocked. Go for it for pete's sake.

Good grief......

81
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 9:51pm

So Larry Coker today says he takes full responsibility and blame for the Peach Bowl rout.

Then he fires four assistant coaches.

T.

82
by Vinny (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 9:55pm

I think ND got jobbed on that Gonzalez "no catch." To me, it looked like he had possession in mid-air, held onto possession when he put one foot down, then fumbled it when he tried to tuck it away.

You don't need to tuck it away (you can still hold the ball away from your body) for it to be possession, unless there's something in the NCAA rule book I'm unaware of.

And I know he has to take a strong public stand, but for the NCAA's Director of Officiating Dave Parry to say that instant replay gets high marks this year is pretty irritating. They need to do more than just "tweak" it in the off-season.

83
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 10:22pm

I would say while they need to do more than "tweak", they'll see it as an OK word for them to use, if only because the technology they're using isn't going to change significantly from today to next season.

I would say that the biggest thing they need to deal with is the speed with which the replay official decides to review a play. In the NFL, where a coach can always call for a review, you can make the rule "No challenges after the next play starts." Sure, that leads to teams trying to rush to start another play if there's a sketchy situation, but the coach can say "Whatever, I'm challenging" and throw the flag.

But since right now, college coaches have no such ability to request a challenge, when teams rush to start a play in order to prevent review, it seems almost unfair. A coach shouldn't have to call a timeout just to give the replay official a chance to decide whether or not to buzz down to the referee to stop play.

I'd say that if they aren't going to give coaches, say, one challenge a game (in addition to the booth reviews), then they need to allow replay officials to request, say, 10 second pauses just for the purpose of determining whether or not review is worthwhile - time enough to see one quick replay or something - not looking over and over as an actual review, but simply to see whether or not there's a need to take a closer look.

Far too many times this season teams have had to use timeouts for no other reason than to give the replay official time to determine whether or not to do a review.

Another possibility is that if a team calls a timeout and the play is reviewed and reversed, then the team could be refunded the timeout, or something. I don't know. But they do need to do something.

T.

84
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 10:27pm

Onside kick by ND?

Considering that their defense hasn't been able to do much except with their backs to the goal line it might be worth a shot......

85
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 10:36pm

Guess being a genius precludes coaching defense.

Please note that again OSU only scores a touchdown from long distance.

Tressel and his "Go For Three" policy is thwarted by his players. :)

86
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 10:39pm

Man ND has been absolutely gashed by long plays today.

And NFC Central Freak, it is kinda weird that OSU's touchdowns have come on plays from well outside the red zone. The OSU playcalling has been horrid once inside the red zone (or even inside the 30 or so). One wonders what would have happened had those long plays been stopped at, like, the 10 or so. Figgies galore?

T.

87
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 11:08pm

Tarrant:

You ask any OSU fan and to a person they will tell you that Tressel's major flaw as a game coach is his seeming determination to play for three. What you saw today is pretty much representative of OSU's offensive philosophy under Jim Tressel.

Against the Indiana's of the Big Ten they can get close and still hammer it in. But against a decent to good team the typical result is repeated field goal attempts.

That approach coupled with his VERY slow acceptance of young players as key parts of the game plan are the only thing keeping the rest of the conference from being steamrolled.

88
by Russell Levine :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 11:19pm

All I can say about Troy Smith is ... wow. He was amazing today. That play on 3rd and 11 where he spun out of a sure sack and found Gonzalez for a first down may have won the game. Notre Dame really appeared to have momentumthank to the somewhat questionable second half strategy from Tressel.

Wow, how about WVA jumping all over Georgia.

89
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 11:32pm

You know, Georgia, I realize that West Virginia is from the "weak" Big East, but they are ranked #11 and have but one loss on the year, to Virginia Tech.

Maybe you should have tried taking them a tad more seriously.

T.

90
by Travis (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 11:40pm

West Virginia is single-handedly saving the Big East's automatic bid.

91
by chris (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 11:43pm

I'm a more than willing detractor of the Big East, but Louisville also played fairly well this afternoon against Va Tech before falling apart.

92
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/02/2006 - 11:48pm

Umm, Russell, that "strategery" is what defines Tressel.

Ask anyone who follows Big Ten football. Jim Tressel collects this amazing group of offensive talent and then develops a phobia of letting them do anything of substance when they approach the opponents goal line.

He has an unshakeable faith in his defense. I have known men of the cloth who didn't have the depth of faith that Tressel has to his defense. It's almost unsettling.

And it drives his fan base nuts. Because last I checked it is allowed by the rules to like, run a play headed TOWARD the end zone, when, you know, you are APPROACHING the end zone.

Instead Tressel's teams swing out left, swing out right, and then crash into the line aimlessly.

He only deviates when the team is losing late in the game. If THAT Jim Tressel were calling the plays ALL the time HE would have the offensive genius tag like his counterpart of tonight.

THAT Jim Tressel is what gives Lloyd Carr the night shakes.........

93
by Derek (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 12:03am

#66
As a fellow Iowa fan, I wanted to clarify that shoving a wide receiver out of bounds during a catch is LEGAL in the college game (unlike in the NFL, there is no force out rule). Ed Hinkel would have caught the ball in bounds if it wasn't for the timely shove by the Gator DB. The referees actually got that call right.

Of course, they did blow the offside call that basically ended the game and the supposed helmet-to-helmet call on Iwebema. I've said it before, I'll say it again...the way officials protect quarterbacks is ridiculous. If it was any player besides Leak, the officials would never throw a flag on that play.

Although the Gators definitely deserved the win, it was unfortunate to see the officials decide the game. I think that was what Speilman was so angry about.

94
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 12:14am

I see that the team plane carrying the real Georgia team arrived in the break between the first and second quarters.

T.

95
by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 12:22am

But seriously - is either team planning to play defense in this game? A 54 yard run by a fullback? More than six minutes left in the first, and already there's over 600 yards of total offense and six touchdowns...

96
by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 12:23am

Oh dear - make that 500 yards... though at the rate things are going, we should crack 600 by the half.

97
by Rocco (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 12:39am

There's your 600 total yards in the half. And apparently, UGA was going for degree of difficulty tonight to impress the Russian judge, as they now look like the team everyone said would stomp WVU (and the team that crushed LSU a few weeks back).

98
by kleph (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 12:56am

well, i just got back from the fiesta bowl and have to say it was a pretty good one to see live - if you were an alabama fan, like me, and didn't really care who was going to win.

but, i have to be honest, i am kind of glad ohio state pulled it off because i know it will ruin joe theismann's day and give me that slightest bit of revenge for all the sunday nights he has made miserable for me.

99
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 1:32am

I wanted Notre Dame to lose because Notre Dame's "mystique" has been waning as of late, and losing big-time games helps continue that trend - while the "old generation" of media and broadcasters still like to suck ND's {redacted}, the newer generation has seen a ND team that hasn't won a title in 20 years, has lost 8 straight bowl games, and I'd say the 'current generation' is almost upset at the special treatment ND gets.

Things like the new BCS contract, with ND's reduced cash payment, would have never happened even 10 years ago - and ND would never have agreed to something like that 10 years ago, either.

The "ND effect" in the polls has been reduced in the past few years, too. It's still there, and they're still overranked at all times, but it isn't nearly as bad as it once was.

While it's a good thing when traditional powers in college football are playing well, it isn't a good thing across the college football world for ND's far-better-than-every-team treatment to continue - and continued failure in big-time games and moments is just what the doctor ordered.

I have nothing against ND as a team (and hell, our rivalry with them is a healthy one), but on the landscape of college football, they've been taken down a few notches in the past few years, and deservedly so, and a few more notches wouldn't hurt.

T.

100
by Tom (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 1:42am

Miscellaneous thoughts from a day of watching football:

Cotton Bowl
Texas Tech's defense and Cody Hodges' scrambling ability impressed me, as did Mike Leach's apparent inability to make successful in-game adjustments. Nice drive by Brodie Croyle to win the game, but danged if that ain't the ugliest game-ending kick you ever saw.

Gator Bowl
The great thing about Louisville last year is that, in LeFors and Brohm, they had two QBs who were capable of making plays. Cantwell, well, can't; in a way, he reminded me of Bryan Cupito, or maybe the Bros. Vick, without the scrambling ability--not many completions, but those he did somehow manage to complete went for good yardage. I also wonder if Marcus wouldn't already be a better NFL starter than his brother, based on his ability to have a good stretch throwing the ball in pretty much every game.

Citrus Bowl
All the credit in the world to the Badgers, who won another game I wasn't sure they were capable of winning. Nice way to send off Barry, who finished 8-3 in bowl games.

Fiesta Bowl
34-20 is enough to satisfy the faithful, but as noted above, you can't help but see all the chances that would have made the margin larger... the conservative play-calling, Troy Smith's idiotic option pitch at the 10, the inability to run Pittman out of the I, the block field goals, the ineligible man downfield penalty. ND's first-half dropsies were much appreciated, as was the replay reversal of Gonzalez's "I got it, I got it, oops, I don't got it." The ND short pass, short pass, short pass drive was oddly reminiscent of too many Patriots wins over the past couple years, though they were never able to use it to set up the deep pass. Ohio State has a better defense than Tennessee, and N.B. what Charlie Weis said the best defense his team faced was. Troy Smith's throws were almost all seemingly right on the money or way off; I'm not sure if that says more about him or tOSU's receivers.

Sugar Bowl
At the beginning of the year, I thought Georgia was going to be in the Rose Bowl, and they're a D.J. Shockley injury from looking just like Penn State. Their defense really hasn't impressed me though; on the 54 yard fullback run, it was a 3rd-and-1, and there was 1 LB and nobody else in the first 10 or so yards to try to tackle him. Toss in the mistakes, and you can see why they went behind. Shockley has really settled down, though, and just had a nice underthrow to make it 31-28. I was worried early, but this has turned into a pretty decent game.

101
by Erasmus (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 1:53am

I was at the Cotton Bowl today. Great game (bama student/fan) but a typical Alabama game this season. Look good from the 30 to the other 30, but cannot get the extra drive to get the ball in the end zone. Texas Tech run defense was impressive, I think it was all LBers and safeties making the tackles. No sacks allowed by Bama today was impressive to say the least, but Texas Tech does not have the DLs of Auburn or LSU. Alabama defense played great despite missing Simeon Castille. Alabama was also without their leading WR this season in D.J. Hall.

And Brodie always seems to be a yard or two away on the deep passes. Though the last one to Keith Brown, he was held up enough to slow him down (I saw his jersey being strecthed out behind him by the Tech corner...I had great seats!)

and I think no Alabama fan thought that FG was going to be good.

102
by Rocco (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 2:29am

Beautiful defense by WVU to let Georgia back into the game. First, they take a PI to break up what would have been a TD. It would have been a TD if Shockley could have set his feet- it hung in the air long enough for the defenders to close a 10 yard gap.Then, on the very next play, UGA goes deep again. No one is within 10 yards of the receiver. Great job guys.

WVU up 3 with about 5 minutes left.

103
by kleph (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 2:29am

i was wearing my alabama hat in tempe and a guy stopped me to say "that was the ugliest kick ever in college football." i said, "maybe so. but ask florida state if they would trade it for any of their wide rights."

104
by peachy (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 2:31am

UGA and WVU could have saved a lot of lodging money if they'd just left their defenses at home... it isn't as if they've really affected the game.

105
by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 2:40am

Damn. Fake punt, and they pick up the first down. I think we have a new leader for "Gutsy Call of the Year."

106
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 2:41am

Coach Rodriguez has very large, brass testes.

107
by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 2:44am

Looks like I got an easy win on my UNDER pick.

Anyway, think of what Slaton is going to do to the Big East! I hope he stays healthy.

Gutsy call for Rich Rodriguez. I wouldn't have called it.

108
by Tom W (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 2:51am

For a program that supposedly plays a "brutal" schedule every year, it's funny how every few years, when they manage to make a bowl game, ND gets slapped. Some (a little anyway) vindication for the Big Ten today. If Ohio State had played its best QB against Texas, we might have a different matchup in the Rose Bowl. And Wisconsin not only beat, but thoroughly dominated a very good Auburn team. Maybe, people will start acknowledging what I've been saying all year: that John Stocco is a pretty good college QB (Calhoun and B. Williams aren't bad either).

109
by Tom (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 2:52am

Re #105

I think the award for the gutsiest call of the bowl season goes to Glen Mason, of all people, for the fake punt he called on his own 14. Granted, they were leading (14-7), it was only in the 2nd quarter, it worked, and the Gophers still lost the game, but most coaches won't think twice about punting when the alternative is giving the opponent a possession in the Red Zone.

110
by jake (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 3:05am

Re: Fiesta Bowl:

*THE* Ohio State made Notre Dame's defense look pretty bad today, especially against the run. The way Ginn and Smith were eluding tackles it was like some of the ND players had never seen a guy change direction before.

A.J. Hawk played very well too; he seemed to be everywhere. I am looking forward to seeing how he does in the NFL.

On a (somewhat) related note, it is amusing to see Jack in The Box blatantly appealing to the stoner demographic with the commercial they ran during the game where the guy in the van thinks about ordering thirty tacos. Who knew the competition for the "dollar menu demographic" was so fierce?

111
by Tom (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 3:10am

Re #108

If the end-of-2005 Troy Smith or the Michigan-2004 Troy Smith had been available for the Texas game, the Buckeyes would most certainly have won. But that Troy Smith wasn't available; the Troy Smith they had that game was a far cry from the one who hit on 2/3 of his passes. Indeed, the Texas Troy Smith missed on 9 of the 15 throws he attempted, many of them short passes and what should have been easy completions, and four times took over the Buckeye offense in Texas territory and four times came away with field goals. I don't like the way Tressel handled the QBs in that game, but nor was it clear-cut who the best Buckeye QB at that time was.

112
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 3:22am

One: Brady Quinn's sister is kinda hot. I know this because we spent 30 minutes focusing on her reactions.

Two: too bad Troy Smith wasn't available to play against Texas - at least this Troy Smith.

Three: Texas is going to cream USC, aren't they?

113
by David (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 3:36am

I also wonder if Marcus wouldn’t already be a better NFL starter than his brother, based on his ability to have a good stretch throwing the ball in pretty much every game.

Same here. I've only seen him in this game, but Vick the younger already seems to have a better idea than his brother of when he should scramble and pass as opposed to running for it.

Unfortunately, he's also going to be much harder to root for after watching him deliberately step on a defender's knee after a play.

114
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:07am

It is not an overstatement to assert that Marcus Vick is a bush-league dirtbag who, in a just world, would himself suffer a serious injury for that deliberate attempt to injure another player after the whistle had blown.

Also, The Big Ten has been respectable this bowl season, given that three of their four losses were close games, and two of those three were heavily influenced by poor officiating. If Penn State adds another convincing win, to go with Ohio State's and Wisconsin's, it'll be a non-embarassing showing.

115
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:12am

W..W..W..Wait!
Here I've been, reading articles about how much of a genius Charlie Weiss is, and with weeks of preparation he'll have Notre Dame scoring 44 points on OSU. Are we sure it was Ohio State having the big offensive plays for touchdowns?

Conventional wisdom can be rather stupid sometimes... see the Sugar Bowl for another example.

116
by Tom (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:15am

Re #112

The key for me is how USC's offensive and defensive lines perform. Before last year's game, I expected them to be shoved off the line of scrimmage by OU, particularly the Sooners' vaunted O-line. But that wasn't the case at all. If LenDale White is able to run successfully, then USC will be fine. But if it's like the ND game and he can't get yardage, then the Trojans will have to work to move the ball. They'll still be able to score, and Reggie Bush is still Reggie Bush, but Texas would take away a key dimension of the offense. I also suspect Leinart's like Ken Dorsey when it comes to sacks; not used to it, doesn't like it, and if you can get to him early and often, you'll disrupt his reads, timing, and accuracy (see 2003 Fiesta Bowl, tOSU v. The U).

Flip side of the ball, if I'm Texas, I want to run the ball with the backs and throw the ball down the field. VY is the guy who can single-handedly win the game for you, and if I'm USC, I make the other guys beat me. If the 'Horns can do one of those two, plus hit Leinart and stop White, it could be a long night for the Spoiled Children.

117
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 11:27am

I think it's more going to be USC's defense than USC's offense that determines how the game goes.

Everyone's saying "Oh, USC, they haven't seen anything like Texas' defense this year." That's true, but something tells me that the USC offense will manage to put up a point or two. I believe they can put up points against anyone given a quarter or so to probe the defense and find the holes.

But their defense - USC hasn't seen any offense like Texas', and I'm fascinated by what Carroll might have cooked up for the game. He is his own defensive coordinator, after all, and history has shown that come BCS time, he's always ended up taking the field with defensive arrangements that his opponents have never seen before.

It should be a great thing to watch.

As for Leinart, given the side I support in the game I should never suggest such a thing, but sacks don't seem to rattle him - hard hits do. And sacks are rarely hard hits. The times he's really gotten off his game were after hard personal fouls (usually roughing the passer). Roughing the passer calls usually mean that the quarterback was unprotected and not expecting the hit, and those shake him up. Far be it from me to suggest taking a penalty, but an early roughing call or two on Texas could pay dividends the whole game. I don't mean injuring him (that would be evil) - but when he takes a big hit, he just starts to play skittish for a quarter or so.

T.

118
by ClamSalad (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 12:34pm

Is it my imagination, or was Georgia rushing 1 player on that fake punt? Gutsy call and flawless execution, no doubt, but dropping 10 players back on a punt is just asking for it.

119
by kleph (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 12:37pm

I have to admit, I really do not understand this whole notre dame mistique. I mean, one network (read, ABC) or paper overly rooting for the Irish makes some kind of sense. But if you take a look on googlenews today for bowl game stories the lead headline on most seems to be "Notre Dame loses"

Ummm... what about "Ohio State wins"? Or "West Virginia wins"?

And I am not arguing the news value of the boys from South Bend dropping their eighth January matchup but I don't understand how is it the most important story after a day of huge games?

120
by chris (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 1:02pm

Re 119: Not a Domer, nor a media apologist. Just a realist.

Compare the level of pre-game interest in Ohio State's Fiesta Bowl game against Notre Dame last night as opposed to OSU's last Tempe trip in 2004 to play Kansas State, which happened to be a better team than this year's Notre Dame squad.

As Tarrant (#99) mentioned earlier in this thread, Domer-love (even stronger than Stocco-love, hard to believe) will eventually subside. Until that time comes, just be glad that fairness wasn't an issue. Otherwise, OSU would have been playing Oregon or West Virginia, and "Ohio State wins!" would be well-buried inside of the sports sections. Count your blessings.

121
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 1:17pm

Re: 118 (Georgia Defense during fake punt)

West Virginia lined up in a spread punt formation. They had 3 guys at the line, 2 gunners on each side, and 3 backs in front of the punter.

Georgia only rushed 3 defensive linemen, lined up over the 3 WVU players at the line. That left 3 blockers and 1 ball carrier unaccounted for.

After the snap it seemed like all the Georgia players ran back instead of rushing the kick.

122
by princeton73 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 1:37pm

Georgia set back college football 20 years by providing an excuse for the NCAA to keep the Big East in the BCS bids

123
by buddha (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 1:50pm

Question, when West Virginia lines up in that crazy spread punt formation, why doesn't Georgia put 10 guys on the line and rush like hell? Call West Virginia's bluff. "Ok, if you're going to get cute, we're going to block your kick."

Georgia got outcoached big time.

And I second the comment about setting college football back. The aberration that is the Big East will be around the BCS for a long time. Sigh.

124
by JBC (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 2:37pm

Abberation that is the Big East? Are you kidding? Everyone talks about the mighty SEC, and their champion can't even stop a freshman led, relatively unprestigious small-state team from scoring 28 in sixteen minutes and never giving up the lead? The only non-conference team to beat the top two Big East teams this year is Virginia Tech, which up until recently was in the Big East anyway. Who should the BCS bid go to instead? C-USA? Should Oregon have been there?

125
by senser81 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 2:45pm

A couple comments on the ND-OSU broadcast: in the 1st quarter, Musburger said "Weis is such a good tactician that he can make adjustments on the fly. Most coaches wait until halftime to make adjustments, but Weis is so smart he doesn't have to wait that long." Then late in the 2nd period when OSU was dominant, Musburger says "the adjustments Weis makes at halftime will be of the utmost importance." Thought that was funny.

Then in the 2nd half when OSU settled for a FG to go up by 14, Musburger was praising Tressel for being such a great 'game manager'. OSU ended up with nearly 650 yards of offense and averaged 10 yards per play...the fact that ND was still in the game late in the 4th period demonstrates how bad of a 'game manager' Tressel is.

Also, instant replay in college football is the worst. Some bad calls don't get reviewed, other bad calls can't be reviewed by rule, and then some calls are made worse by replay. Take the Bobby Gonzalez fumble fiasco...I'm sure ND fans think its a fumble and OSU fans think its an incomplete, but either way the video evidence was far from conclusive. The fact that the replay official overturned a huge play on such scant evidence is ridiculous.

126
by kleph (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 3:06pm

another play that seemed pretty clear at the game but i haven't seen mentioned is when the notre dame player batted the punt back to the two yard line. it looked to me like he had his feet down in the end zone when he did this and, i thought, the rule was that made it a touchback. needless to say, there was no review of this play.

another point that was made about the game was concerning the officials calling a lot of unsportsmanlike penalties. what may not have been apparent on the telecast was that during the first series a number of players were jawing at each other and had to be seperated by teamates and officials. it was clear the refs gave them a warning and that their respective coaches were as well. so i wasn't surprised at all when the flags started flying a quarter later.

my guess is that the NCAA wanted to make damned sure they had absolutely nothing like the LSU/Miami tunnel fracas in on of the BCS games.

127
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 3:10pm

Post 125:

What about the TD for Notre Dame? Anyone who can write with a straight face that they KNOW the ball crossed the goal line is hallucinating.

The downed punt call at the 1 yard line in the WI-Auburn game defied understanding. First, the Auburn kid who first touched the ball carried it across the plane. Then when it was knocked back the next kid had it across the goal line momentarily before gaining control and then "downing" it at the 1.

The refs reviewed it.....AND PUT THE BALL AT THE ONE YARD LINE.

As I have written elsewhere, I am a Big Ten follower and have voiced my complaints about those officials. But nothing in the Big Ten season compares to the level of incompetence I saw this bowl season. You fans of the conferences from which these doofuses (doofi?) sprung tell me, how do you stand it?

The guys for the Capital One Bowl were from the ACC. They were pretty hideous as they alternated between ticky-tack and then swallowing the whistle.

Brandon Williams was held for about 15 yards running downfield, threw his defender to the ground to make a play on the ball, and NO FLAGS. NOTHING.

So it was no surprise when the Auburn kid shoved the WI defensive back to the ground on 4th and goal for a touchdown no flag was thrown. Michael Irvin would have been proud at the degree of push off. Perfect 10.

128
by senser81 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 3:24pm

re: post #127

The Walker TD run falls in the same category. I thought replay was supposed to reverse "egregious" errors. I agree that the Walker TD was far from conclusive...although I thought it was funny that the ref initially spotted the ball all the way back to the one yard-line; it was either a TD or ND's ball at the one-inch line.

And the Auburn "Michael Irvin TD" shows yet another inadequacy with replay...the replay clearly shows blatant offensive pass interfernce which directly leads to the TD, yet for some reason replay can't address this? Why not? How is it different?

129
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 3:29pm

Re: balls crossing the goal line.

Few things make me as annoyed as referees that call a touchdown when a runner crosses the goal line in a situation where there is no way the referee saw the ball cross.

Then you see the replay directly from the sideline right where the referee was standing, and you (and by extension, he) CANNOT SEE THE BALL AT ALL.

Now sometimes you KNOW that the ball crossed the goal line because the player's mid-torso is two feet over the line - OK, regardless of whether or not you can see the ball, unless it was fumbled, that's going to be a touchdown.

But these goal-line touchdowns can decide games, and I don't believe a referee should be calling one of those "at best, it's an inch or two over the plane of the goal line" unless they can say unequivocally that they saw the ball itself cross the goal line, and not just think it did.

And these errors are almost 100% on the side of calling it a touchdown.

NFL-wise (but it'd be useful in college too), they should have cameras in the pylons on both sides of the end zone (sorry, Chad - no more pylon-putting) looking right down the line to try and get a better replay angle - worse than the referees calling touchdown when even they admit they didn't actually ever see the ball is when you're pretty sure it did (or didn't) cross the line but the only cameras around caught it at some weird angle that makes it impossible to really know.

Elsewhere on the field you don't know where the ball will go so while it's unfortunate, you can never have all the "right" camera angles. But at the goal line, you know the important view is right down the line! Put a camera there!

T.

130
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 3:35pm

Hell, if I was college recievers coach, I'd school my players to mug the dbs on every throw which had close coverage. College officiating doesn't seem to have any provisions for offensive pass interference, so why not?

On the subject of college rules, does it frustrate anyone else to see receivers tackled 50 yards downfield with the ball is still in the air, with only a fifteen yard penalty as a result? Yes the pro game can be maddening when a ref calls a marginal penalty fifty yards downfield, but geez, I just hate it when a db completely blows coverage deep and tackles the receiver, confident that only fifteen yards will be sacrificed.

131
by senser81 (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 3:47pm

re: #130

On the subject of college pass interference, in the ND-OSU game ND tried a quick first down pass and the OSU defender grabbed the ND WR and slung him to the turf. Since there is no 'minimum' yardage given for pass interference, and since it was first down, all ND got was about two yards and the down over. I wonder why more college defenses don't interfere with WRs on short 1st down passes all the time.

132
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 3:50pm

I dunno, once you start calling interference through instant replay, what is the rationale for not calling offensive holding through replay? Pretty soon, the games start lasting five hours.

I'll note that I'm a bitter Vikings fan on this matter, having witnessed, as a kid, the famous Staubach-Pearson Hail Mary to beat the Vikings in the '75 playoffs. The '75 Vikings and their fans have often been heard to complain that Pearson pushed Nate Wright to the ground, and the tapes I've seen heavily suggest this, although not absolutely conclusively. What it absoutely undeniable, however, is that dt Doug Sutherland completely bullrushed the offensive guard who was trying to block him on that play, and the only reason Staubach was able to get the pass off was because the guard, as he was falling over backwards, wrapped his arms around Sutherland and flat-out tackled him.The offcial was looking right at it, and kept the flag in his pocket.

Even as a kid, I watched line play very closely, and remember being far more outraged by that non-call, as opposed to what was alleged regarding Pearson.

133
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:05pm

Will:

I think if folks reviewed every major pass play in the NFL over the last 25 years there exists a blatant hold of a defensive linemen in at least 75% of the situations.

By major I mean game-ending, game-changing, pass plays.

It really is pretty ridiculous that at that ONE time the refs decide to look the other way meaning a defense can play its absolute best and still get hosed.

When Reggie White was with the Eagles (and pretty much unstoppable) I must have seen him dragged to the ground a dozen times at the end of games with no call. Bob Lilly spent the end of every close game lobbying the officials to be fair about holding until the whistle blew.

Ask any retired offensive linemen and if they are honest they will tell you that at the end of a game the refs just won't call that penalty.

It's crazy........

134
by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:21pm

Remember, the ball only has to [i]touch[/i] the white line. I think it looked clear that it did that much on Walker's second effort. I'm not so sure about the fumble that could've been. Even if he did fumble it looked like he might have recovered the ball momentarily and, being on the ground, would've been down.

The announcers said that in college the player is not an extension of the ball as it is in the pros. So, as long as the ball does not touch the plane of the endzone then it is not a touchback. Not sure if that actually is the rule but there are enough differences in the college and pro games for me to think it's plausible.

BTW, what's up with the ND hate? I know it's different if you aren't from the area, but still it seems like there are a lot more people that dislike ND than seems warranted. To be honest I figured most of the people that really disliked ND were from the Michiana region where ND has a stranglehold on college athletics coverage. It's actually amusing to hear people argue about ND's creampuff/brutal schedule. I'd say it's probably close to average and I can't think of any true creampuffs - the worst teams were probably WSU, Stanford and Purdue and none of them were complete walkovers for other teams. I still can't believe the implosion in W. Lafayette.

Can any Big Ten followers explain Purdue to me? I'm just not sure how a team that did well last year and returned most of it's starters can fall off a cliff like that.

135
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:26pm

Yeah, and it bugs me too. It'd be an interesting study, since it certainly seems to me that pass protection often magically improves in the last couple minutes of close games.

136
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:38pm

Well, as bad as Orton was this year, he was a pretty darned good college QB. I certainly expected Purdue to be better defensively, however.

As to Notre Dame, I kinda like their tradition, while resenting them when they get better bowl spots than their performance warrants, due to their national fan base. This is more of a complaint about college football in general than Notre Dame specifically, in that many teams benefit from off-the- field considerations, although not to the degree that the Irish do.

I really would like a playoff system which reserved spots exclusively for conference champs, as unlikely as such a prospect is. One of the reasons I would, although not the main one, is that it would force the Domers into a conference. Hopefully, they wouldn't chicken out and join the Big East, instead of formalizing their natural relationship with the Big Ten.

137
by Travis (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:47pm

Notre Dame's schedule looked much harder coming into the season than it turned out to be. 5 of the teams Notre Dame played imploded (1-10 Syracuse, 5-6 Tennessee (ranked #3 in preseason), 7-5 Michigan (ranked #4 in preseason), 5-6 Purdue (ranked #15 in preseason), 5-6 Pittsburgh (ranked #23 in preseason)). The only teams that improved their win totals were 2-9 Washington, 5-6 Stanford, and 6-6 BYU, by one game each.

138
by dave whorton (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 4:53pm

wow WVU 384 yds rushing well i think we showed Blue what big east football was all about. anyhow i was just hoping WVU would keep it close. i think they surprised UGA how fast and physical WVU is. WVU played some of the worst zone defense i've ever seen. LOuisville played an excellant game with a freshman qb but gave it away in the 4th.

139
by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 5:05pm

Post 134:

I understand the differences between the college and pro ruling. I don't care if you used Australian rugby as your guide there is no WAY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH THAT BALL in the Wisconsin/Auburn game should not have been ruled a touchback. Just a really, really stupid call.

For me it was when Notre Dame hired Lou Holtz. I always gave the University something of a pass because they did try and educate the kids. But when they hired that huckster who cheated everywhere else he coached I knew that winning was at last the only thing that mattered. Holtz is a lying, scheming, worthless sack of dog sh*t who should be taken out to the side of the road, shot, and rolled onto the asphalt to be repeatedly treated as an annoying speed bump.

The series of disgraceful episodes where they just tossed coaches aside like so much dirt (Davey, Willingham, O'Leary) further convinced me that this so-called place of higher learning had little or no moral authority which their fans like to tout as their big differentiator.

I am glad ND faked their way to nine wins. I am eager with anticipation as Weis, like others before him, is built up as some sort of guru.

And the reality of the situation is that Notre Dame has fallen behind OSU, Michigan, and Penn State for regional recruits. The Catholic school pipeline is no longer an easy guarantee of success. Other national powers make recruits from Texas, Florida, and CA hard to come by.

I will enjoy watching Charlie try to pacify an unreasonable and irrational alumni (Regis Philbin anyone?) while he struggles to convince young kids that ND is more attractive than Ann Arbor, Talahassee, Austin, or Pasadena. Riiiggghhttt.

As for Purdue, my sources told me the seniors turned on Tiller. Couldn't find out any more than that. Just that he lost the team early on and it took half the season to win back their trust.

140
by Joe (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 5:51pm

I'm tired of the sugar coating. Just tell us how you really feel about Lou Holtz.

People hate Notre Dame because it's obvious that they get preferential treatment. Subjective human ranking: ~5, Objective computer ranking: ~10. Fiesta Bowl ($$$) berth, despite more deserving opponents. Immediate genius head coach status. And that's just this year! Special NBC coverage, exclusive licensing deals, boosted Heisman support - the list goes on. All this despite not being an elite team in how many years?

In addition, the assumption that if you are Catholic and/or Irish you must be a Notre Dame fan? Or the assumption that the football program is about more than winning? Touchdown Jesus? The whole Notre Dame mystique is insulting.

141
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 6:11pm

Speaking more of ND (like I haven't already), I loved ND's commercial about how all that BCS money is going straight towards Notre Dame academics.

Or maybe it will go toward a mere one third of the yet-to-win-a-big-game-but-signed-for-10-years-and-$40-million-anyway coaches' contract.

T.

142
by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 8:06pm

I still don't get the hate. The Florida schools all seem dubious to me with coaches that bordered on encouraging criminal behavior but I don't hate the schools, I just root against them when they play a team I like.

I can understand not liking the system but in my mind that's really a media creation. Which, BTW, already annointed Weiss a genius when he won the SB rings.

I do have to say there are a lot of people that like ND but have read the stories and understand that they're a regular school. I heard all about Julius Jones' legal problems, the gang rape, etc. I have no illusions about the Notre Dame mystique and I have a feeling most regular fans do too. There are just some super fans and media member who want to make ND into something it's not. It is a good school that graduates a lot of players and has had success in football. It is not some mystical organization which lines the pockets and raises the ratings of everyone who pimps the school. Also, boosters from every school creep me out and boosters from big time athletic schools are the creepiest, so it's no surprise to me that some ND boosters are really wacked out about the school.

143
by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 8:17pm

I've been watching some of the sports and I'm already hearing people say that if the Saints try to draft Leinart, he won't play for them.

Now, I'm wondering what other people think about this. I think it's unlikely because of the PR backlash he should recieve. To be drafted by a team and not go there because of a natural disaster has to be one of biggest [redacted] moves someone could pull in the draft. I understand he has to look out for himself, but does anyone honestly think the league won't take care of the franchise and either move them or make it clear that they will be in NO for a long time?

144
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 8:24pm

I dunno, I think Leinert could credibly frame it as being unwilling to play for Tom Benson, and given the degree to which Benson is reviled, that sort of approach may hold some weight with many people. I'm a little surprised that more top rank draft choices don't take the Peyton Manning and John Elway hardball approach.

145
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 8:46pm

Frankly, I wouldn't want to play for Tom Benson either, but I really dislike the whole trend of refusing to play for teams that draft you.

I doubt it has nearly as much to do with the hurricane as it does the owner and his reputation as a first-class a-hole.

I'm sure the league would be willing to take care of the franchise, but I think they'd be much more willing to do so if Benson wasn't the owner. Benson right now cares about one thing only - moving to Los Angeles - and I think the league knows that LA is not going to accept them.

T.

146
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 9:39pm

I'm sure Benson sees roughly a half-billion dollar increase in his franchise value if he can get into a new stadium in L.A., while I'm also sure that the league doesn't want Benson to be the owner of the L.A. team. I can't blame the taxpayers of any California political entity for being reluctant to increase Benson's net worth by a half-billion, at the taxpayer's expense, even if it included Benson selling, and I can't blame any player or coach for avoiding that situation like the proverbial plague.

There may be some multibillionaire who decides to build a L.A. stadium with largely his own funds, but such a person, even if he exists, isn't going to be willing to pay Benson more than the current value of the Saints. This is a really messy stand-off, that may not be able to be solved until Benson goes to the Great Car Dealership in the Sky, and even then it may persist, depending on the heirs' need to cash out.

147
by UGA Bulldog (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 9:49pm

Re 143: If you got offered a job in your profession in New Orleans, and you had the ability to force a different company to hire you for the same salary in another city, and that job in the other city appeared to be a much better place for you to work, what would you do?

Re 142: I hate Steve Spurrier probably more than any college football fan around. He tortured my Bulldogs 11 out of 12 meetings. He scored a TD in Athens with less than a minute remaining just so he could say his team was the first to score 50 between the Hedges. His arrogance is ridiculous (at least while he was coach at Florida...it seems to have toned down in Columbia). But let's not lump the guy in with Bobby Bowden and the entire Hurricane program. Spurrier ran a clean program and about the worst "criminal behavior" that went on in Gainesville under Spurrier was a couple of players scamming the University bookstore by selling back their books and taking the money, and those guys were suspended. This is a FAR cry from what Bowden has tolerated, and what goes on in Miami. Much as you are asking with ND, hate Florida for a legitimate reason, but let's not make stuff up and say the coaching staff boderline encourages criminal behavior. As for the Florida Gators, that allegation is just wrong.

As much as I hate the Florida football team, I'm going to defend the SEC when appropriate.

RE 122 & 123: I apologize for the Bulldog's defensive performance last night. I have absolutely no explanation for what happened other than Richt & Co., got flat-out outcoached.

148
by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 9:51pm

I never understood the hate behind not liking people who stand up for themselves on draft day. If they are a valuable commodity, they should absolutely use this as a negotiation tactic. If they know they won't be happy in a place, they should absolutely tell their employer this and attempt to get a better deal out of it. In a lot of cases it works out best for all parties involved.

Do you hate a person who negotiates a better contract for themselves? No. You think that they're a savvy person who understands their value. Really, if Leinart says he won't play for NO (and similarly, Bush said that about GB) let the market decide what he's worth. If NO can't shop him around, Leinart will find out quickly. If they can, he's done the right thing.

149
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 9:57pm

I believe what will eventually happen is the NFL will pay for the stadium in Los Angeles, likely by completely renovating the Los Angeles Coliseum.

They will then negotiate a buyer for the Saints, at a price midway between the current market value and the extra half-billion or so that the team would be worth in Los Angeles.

Then the team will relocate, and perhaps, change names.

The NFL knows when they get to Los Angeles, they need to do it right, or the fans there simply won't care. And NFL fans already know that Benson sucks, and they aren't going to support him. They have to find another owner.

T.

150
by Rocco (not verified) :: Tue, 01/03/2006 - 10:58pm

Nice of Michael Robinson to keep FSU in the game with an INT (although in fairness, the receiver looked to misjudge it a bit). The way PSU is running, there's no need to throw unless necessary.

151
by Paul (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 12:32am

Amazingly, the refs did call the offensive pass interference against FSU in the Orange Bowl. Blatant push off, right in front of the ref and the flag came out immediately, even as the ball was arriving. Defender managed to knock the ball away nonetheless. Refs have actually been decent (Big East refs) with the normal ratio of holds ignored. FSU has been heavily penalized and PSU has had a couple of drive killers themselves. 14-13 PSU at halftime due to a missed XP by FSU (first at FSU in 120+ tries)

152
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 2:04am

I happened to be reading this article when they went to a sideline report about the unfortunate Posluszny injury. I really feel bad laughing while hearing about an injury, but I couldn't help it.

Hey, they finally decided to start calling FSU for the blatantly late hits on Robinson. 'Bout time.

153
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 2:17am

Oops.

Is this going to go to overtime? Can Florida State, with 30 seconds left, drive down the field and get a field goal?

Nope. Overtime, in the BCS!

T.

154
by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 2:19am

Shanking a gimme game-winning field goal? I think Houston now knows who they're taking in the second round!

155
by Paul (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 2:20am

The missed field goal by PSU sends the PSU-FSU to OT at 16 apiece. IS there just something about FSU that makes late FGs unmakeable?

156
by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 2:24am

Yes, THIS is the year that FSU puts their kicker curse on Penn State. Mwahahaha.

Has Penn State really looked this bad on offense all year?

157
by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 2:34am

Joe Paterno is coaching like Herm Edwards and Marty Schottenheimer did in the playoffs last year, with similar results.

158
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 2:46am

Heck of a game tonight.

I'm expecting a defensive touchdown or fumble/interception to seal it off.

159
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 2:48am

Triple overtime! A first for a BCS game.

Come on guys, I want to go to bed!

T.

160
by T. Diddy (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 2:53am

Memo to Joe Paterno: Your kicker is kinda unreliable. You might want to go for the touchdown here.

161
by Tarrant (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 2:54am

Stunningly bad field goal kicking this game. Will Paterno manage to Schottenheimer his way to a 4th overtime? Let's find out.

Man, and FSU thought that their "Kicker Curse" was broken when Miami missed that kick in the game earlier this year.

And Paterno is kicking on 3rd down from the 17 or so. This should be interesting. Or not...aaaaugh.

T.

162
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 2:55am

30T, Penn State ball, 3rd and 2.

GO FOR THE TD! DON'T CENTER THE BALL!

163
by T. Diddy (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 3:01am

Thank all that is holy, I can sleep now. If the Rose Bowl is half this exciting, this'll be just a spectacular bowl season.

164
by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 3:10am

Kicking aside, it really was a great game, although many will claim the offenses were poor. I tend to view it as terrific defensive play, which I enjoy watching.

I have a feeling that tomorrow night's game will be the mirror image, which would be kinda fun.

165
by Vinny (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 3:20am

One of the biggest differences between the college and pro games is the proficiency in the kicking games. You will never see THAT many (or even half as many) missed kicks, bad holds, etc. in a pro game.

I feel like that game was bigger for PSU than it was for FSU. Heckuva year for Michael Robinson.

166
by Vinny (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 3:24am

Re: 164, I agree with Will in that the two defenses were outstanding and that was the main story (not the relative struggles of the offenses).

167
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 3:26am

I didn't agree with kicking it on 2nd down. IMO, you have to advance the ball as much as you can there.

168
by Joe (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 4:35am

Re: #156

PSU hasn't played all season without starters Derrick Williams, Tony Hunt, and Brandon Snow so it's tough to say. A lot of the problems they had tonight involved dealing with all-out blitz schemes that backup RB Austin Scott had trouble with. I will say that they were definitely less explosive after Williams went down in the Michigan game. Still, they averaged 35 points a game so this was an unusually bad night. OSU held them to 17 with a full complement of players, but OSU's defense was quite good as you know. I was impressed with FSU's speed on defense, they really contained Michael Robinson.

169
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 4:36am

I thought the coverage on punts was good as well, although at one point I was hoping FSU would go for it... they did and PSU benefitted greatly from the field position.

The game is not as close if you remember that Penn State fumbled at the goal line
AND missed a field goal at the end of regulation... but who remembers that stuff?

I feel really bad for the guy who blew out his knee.... how come I'd never heard of him this season? I'm only a casual college football fan, but I darn well knew who AJ Hawk was before the Fieta Bowl.

170
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 4:48am

How is it that no one has commented on the graphic ABC showed of the Top 10 teams and their Bowl Results. I included LSU and WVU because they are close enough to V. Tech in the rankings.

(3) Penn State - W
(4) Ohio State - W
(5) Oregon - L
(6) Notre Dame - L
(7) Georgia - L
(8) Miami - L
(9) Auburn - L
(10) Virginia Tech - W
(11) West Virginia - W
(12) LSU - W

171
by senser81 (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 9:36am

re: #170

I didn't really understand that graphic, because ND lost to OSU, Georgia lost to W. Virginia, Miami lost to LSU...so its not like these teams were hugely upset. Auburn lost to Wisconsin in a mild upset. Oregon lost to Oklahoma, and I'm sure the only people who remotely care about that result either live in Oregon or Oklahoma. I guess that graphic will look even better after the Rose Bowl, because either the #1 or #2 team will have lost. Maybe NFL analysts will do something similar, pointing out how overrated all these playoff teams are because they keep losing every weekend in the postseason.

172
by mactbone (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 10:18am

Maybe they were pointing out how a 12 team playoff would have looked after the first round. Five winners and five losers.

Or, you know, they could have been letting everyone know how some of the other bowl teams fared.

173
by Don Toler (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 12:05pm

Louisville vs Va Tech---Worst officiating
I have ever seen. Vick should have been thrown out of the game for stomping the knee of the sacker. Off-sides on L'nille for on-sides kick? Nearest offensive player to kicker was one step
"behind" the kicker!!!

174
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 8:53pm

So many games this year have been determined by poor FG kicking. Every year, some teams have inexperienced kickers, but it seemed particularly prevalent this season.

175
by Sid (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 8:56pm

RE: 169

You've never heard of Paul Posluszny? Wow. The story of Penn State's turnaround focused mostly on 2 players: Michael Robinson and Paul (also Williams before he broke his arm). PSU was a huge story, and Paul was really great at LB this season.

176
by peachy (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 10:38pm

Just as he was saying "and Texas will have good field position" I mumbled to myself, "unless they fumble it", and - kaboom! Of course, I probably mumble that on every punt or kickoff, so it was about time I was right, by god.

177
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 11:04pm

Re: 171
Originally in the post I had removed Notre Dame and Ohio State.

I was just thinking about how the BCS ranks teams "objectively", and how bowl game results are objective. Maybe there is something to being a "hot team" that comes together at the end of the season.

178
by Matthew Furtek (not verified) :: Wed, 01/04/2006 - 11:10pm

Re: Sid (Posluzny)
I think that's due to my television situation. I only get NBC and CBS, and I live on the West Coast. Most of what I hear on the radio is geared towards Pac-10, and most of what I've watched this season is SEC, Notre Dame and Pac-10 on ABC.

I'm also just a casual college fan... although there are times (like this past week) when I do have access to every channel on TV.

179
by James Stephenson (not verified) :: Thu, 01/05/2006 - 10:03am

UGA-WVU.

The Turnovers killed UGA, but what I thought was the real killer was the first Drive that Shockley had the team moving when it was 7-0 and Max Jean-Gilles got that personal foul. He is going to be a top draft pick, but they will have to get him to curb is temper. He did something stupid like that against UF a couple of years ago.

Anyway, I think had UGA driven and scored anything and given the D a chance to catch it's breath and realize the O could keep em in it, maybe it would have been different.