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23 Dec 2005

Seventh Day Adventure Bowl Spectacular Part I

by Vinny Gauri and Russell Levine

Vinny: Russ, how did the MTA strike treat you?

Russell: Oh, just super. Everyone was just so friendly.

Vinny: I don't think too many people in the Tri-State Area have been humming the "It's the Most Wonderful Week of the Year" jingle from ESPN's bowl promos lately.

Russell: Sure they were. You just couldn't hear it over the cursing. But I'm looking forward to it as much as I'm looking forward to not having to share the sidewalks with an extra seven million pedestrians tomorrow.

Kansas (-3) vs. Houston, Fort Worth Bowl
Friday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: And nothing says bowl season like a pair of 6-5 teams teeing it up before next-to-nobody in a town that no one in their right mind would visit in late December.

Vinny: I'm confused -- are we already moving on to the Motor City Bowl?

Russell: Is there nothing cheaper than a Detroit joke to kick things off? At least bowl appearances are a novelty for these teams. Combined, they've qualified for four bowl berths since 1995. So at least they should be excited to play in a game where the best item in the gift bag is probably a $10 gift certificate to Applebee's.

Vinny: Speaking of jingles, I think Houston has adopted that damn "Baby Back Ribs" jingle as their fight song. Great, now I've got that stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

Russell: I guess someone should try and do some actual analysis here. Reasons to watch include the Kansas' larger-than-life coach, Mark Mangino, a man prone to sideline outbursts and conspiracy theories. He also has his team playing stout defense (19th in the nation). The Jayhawks will be tested by Houston, which runs a pretty unique version of the spread option with quarterback Kevin Kolb, who runs all sorts of half rollout passes. With a narrow spread, I've got to go with the better defense. Kansas is my pick.

Vinny: Kansas quarterback Jason Swanson should get the start after leaving the Jayhawks' overtime win over Iowa State with a leg injury. Mangino has no problem with shuffling his quarterbacks when they struggle (which is often), so Bryan Luke (the hero in the victory over the Cyclones) will be on deck. The Kansas offensive line has come on in recent weeks. I like the Jayhawks as well.

Nevada (-2.5) vs. Central Florida, Hawaii Bowl
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: Well at least we now know the answer to the question, would they still hold the Hawaii Bowl if Hawaii isn't bowl eligible? This is actually a fairly interesting matchup. Nevada opened some people's eyes by beating Fresno State the week after the Bulldogs nearly took down USC, while Central Florida is one of greatest turnaround stories in America after going 0-11 last season.

Vinny: Not only that, but the Central Florida trustees just approved a new stadium deal. The stadium, which will actually be on campus, is scheduled to be completed in time for a 2007 season. I've never heard of such a sudden change in fortunes.

Russell: UCF doesn't do any one thing particularly well, except take the ball away, which helped to cover up a lot of flaws for an offense that ranked 45th in the nation and a defense ranked 82nd. Nevada is a better all-around team, with a balanced offense that should be able to wear down the UCF defense. The Wolfpack have won seven of eight coming in, and I think they'll stay hot. Nevada wins this one going away.

Vinny: We'll see if Nevada can keep the momentum going with exams and all. It's gotta be hard to concentrate on football when you have a take-home final involving Pai Gow Poker. With seniors in the offensive backfield (tailback B.J. Mitchell and quarterback Jeff Rowe), I'm thinking the Wolfpack will take care of the football. Rowe showed a penchant for the pick only once this year, at Boise State. But the Smurf Turf can get to anybody. Cue the curse jingle (do we have one yet?) and give me Nevada.

Memphis (-4.5) vs. Akron, Motor City Bowl at Detroit
Monday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: This is annually one of the more pitiful bowl games, as the over-under on attendance is about 12,000. Then again, given the way the Lions have played this year, this could be the most entertaining game Ford Field sees all year (well, at least until Super Bowl XL).

Vinny: I wonder how many Lions fans will show up just so they have another national television forum for more "Fire Millen!" chants and signs. What else do they have to do in Detroit? (And I'm allowed to say that, since my family has lived there for 20 years.) Meanwhile, Akron sold out its allotment of tickets and will have a convoy of over 30 buses full of fans making the trek from eastern Ohio, which makes Detroit look like Las Vegas. (I lived in Cleveland for 11 years, so I can say that too -- man, what a depressing existence I've lived. Pass the Paxil.)

Russell: Akron pulled off a miracle in the MAC title game at Ford Field a few weeks ago to earn this bowl berth, as senior Domenik Hixon came off the bench to catch the winning touchdown pass in the final seconds. This is the Zips' first bowl berth as a member of Division I-A, and I think the game will mean a lot more to them than to Memphis, which limped through a disappointing season.

Vinny: The Zips are definitely greater than the sum of their parts. They didn't place anyone on the All-MAC first-team, which helps explain why J.D. Brookhart was named the conference's coach of the year.

Russell: Memphis still has senior tailback DeAngelo Williams, however, and he's probably enough to make the difference. Williams is one of the all-time great backs in college football, and he could crack 6,000 yards for his career with a big effort. I think he'll hit the 200-yard mark and the Tigers will win it by a touchdown.

Vinny: I guess this is where we part company. I'll take the Men of Faust, er Brookhart (Akron).

Clemson (-9) vs. Colorado, Champs Sports Bowl at Orlando
Tuesday, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: Talk about teams going in opposite directions. Pretty much everyone knows what happened to Colorado down the stretch -- three straight losses, the last two by a combined score of 100-6, which was enough to earn Gary Barnett a bus ticket out of town. Clemson, meanwhile, won its last three, routing ACC champion Florida State and knocking off a hot South Carolina team in the last two.

Vinny: From a distance, the Barnett Saga really was comical at times, just like the Neuheisel Era before him. Dan Hawkins should be able to keep the Buffs on the sports page and off the front page. Too bad he doesn't take over before January 1 (defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz is at the controls for the bowl game). Colorado could use his offensive wizardry for this game. The Buffs have failed to score more than 16 points in their last three outings.

Russell: I'm not sure you could make the line high enough for me to consider taking Colorado in this game. It's hard to imagine the Buffs are too excited to play in this one, and they're likely to be without starting QB Joel Klatt, who was knocked out of the Texas debacle with a concussion. He may have been the luckiest player on the team -- he's probably the only one who can legitimately claim not to remember the 70-3 drubbing.

Vinny: But he probably remembers the 30-3 rout at the hands of Nebraska in Boulder.

Russell: Clemson also has quarterback issues, as Charlie Whitehurst has an injured shoulder. He's likely to play, but I think the Tigers might be able to win this game with me under center. I'll take Clemson and make the Tigers my Fred Edelstein Lock.

Vinny: No argument here. The Tigers roll (yep, also my Fred Edelstein Lock).

Russell: Uh oh. We may have to join IPTAY just to make up for double-Edelsteining the Tigers.

Arizona State (-10.5) vs. Rutgers, Insight Bowl at Phoenix
Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: Rutgers in a bowl game! I think I might be more excited for this one than for Michigan's appearance in the Alamo Bowl the following night. Will James Gandolfini be in attendance? If the governors of New Jersey and Arizona make one of those silly bets, what would they wager? Dioxin for burritos? There are so many questions, so few answers.

Vinny: Come on Russ, after all of your eloquent defenses of your own Garden State, are you falling back on those tired old stereotypes?

Russell: Yes. And I think the Detroit Chamber of Commerce is calling for you on line one. Keep an eye on Rutgers fullback Brian Leonard, a big lug of a back in the Mike Alstott mold, who's also a talented pass catcher. The Rutgers defensive line is also a handful, finishing second in the nation in sacks. The front four will need to get to the quarterback to slow down the Sun Devils' fourth-ranked offense.

Vinny: The Devils' Rudy Carpenter has filled in quite well since quarterback Sam Keller went down for the season in October with a thumb injury. But Arizona State will feel the effects from the shake-up in Boulder next season, as prized assistant Mark Helfrich will join Hawkins' staff as the offensive coordinator for Colorado.

Russell: This is a huge game for the Rutgers program. Greg Schiano has finally gotten the Knights to a bowl in his fifth season -- and earned a contract extension in the process -- but this year's accomplishments will be quickly forgotten if they get steamrolled by 30 by a middling Arizona State team. Schiano will have his squad ready to play. Rutgers may not win, but they'll cover the number.

Vinny: Agreed. The Rutgers defense will keep this close enough. I like the Scarlet Knights here.

#21 Boston College (-1.5) vs. Boise State, MPC Computers Bowl at Boise
Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: This is one of the more interesting matchups of the early bowl season, with a strange line to boot. Boise opened as a three-point favorite, most likely because the Broncos are playing on their home field where they've won 33 straight. But all the money is on BC, swinging the line all the way to where the Eagles are a slight favorite. Perhaps bettors are reacting to the fact that Hawkins has accepted the Colorado job, even though he will coach the Broncos in this game.

Vinny: The Eagles are in their seventh straight bowl game and are shooting for their sixth straight bowl win. Unfortunately, they're usually in not-so-marquee bowl games like this one. Who'd have thunk this year was their best chance to sneak into the BCS with such a weak ACC?

Russell: When exactly did it become OK for coaches who had accepted other jobs to remain on and coach their old teams in the bowl game? I never recall anyone pulling that move until Mike Price stuck around to lead Wazzu in the Rose Bowl a few years ago before bolting for Alabama. We all know how that worked out. In any case, I doubt any of the Boise players will begrudge having Hawkins on the sidelines, and it certainly didn't hurt Utah with Urban Meyer in the Fiesta Bowl last year.

Vinny: Tom O'Brien finally handed the offensive reins over to sophomore quarterback Matt Ryan late in the season. The Eagles might have another win or two if O'Brien wasn't so partial to senior Quinton Porter. Ryan has the benefit of an experienced offensive line (led by seniors Jeremy Trueblood and Pat Ross) that allowed only 13 sacks this season.

Russell: Boston College has better talent, and Boise didn't have much to show for its three games against name opponents this year, going 0-3 against Georgia, Oregon State and Fresno State. The Broncs are tough on the Smurf Turf, but I think Boston College is the team to end the run. I'll lay the points with the Eagles.

Vinny: It's scaring me (and most Vegas bookmakers) how often we're agreeing here. But I like BC as well.

#20 Michigan (-11) vs. Nebraska, Alamo Bowl at San Antonio
Wednesday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: Finally, after eight years, we'll get to see Michigan and Nebraska settle the 1997 national championship debate once and for all! Perhaps Scott Frost can even come back and whine to reporters about why Nebraska deserves it and Bill Callahan can announce his retirement before the game to rack up the sympathy vote.

Vinny: The good thing is we're not bitter about this eight years later. Wait ... yes, we are. Speaking of Frost, he told HuskersIllustrated.com this week: "This thing has already been settled. It's already been done and the Sears Trophy is in Memorial Stadium. I know those Michigan people are just mad because they have a crappy little trophy and we have the one that counts." I never liked Frost, but I give him credit for the smack talk -- he still does it well, even if he's doing it while hocking Firebirds at the used car lot.

Russell: Ouch. Hey, I need something to get me fired up about this game. The last time Michigan fell to a bowl with this little cachet, Tim Biakabutuka was toting the mail for the Wolverines as they lost to Texas A&M in the 1995 Alamo Bowl. Michigan is a heavy favorite this time out, but you have to wonder any time the Maize and Blue are laying a big number.

Vinny: Michigan's defense has improved, but it still can't hold a late lead against good teams. And the Michigan pass rush, via the front four or with added blitzers, can look like a Keystone Cops routine in the fourth quarter. On the other hand, Nebraska's defensive front, led by Adam Carriker, was first in the nation in sacks. Still, aside from beating up on a Colorado team that phoned it in, the Huskers have been shaky away from Lincoln. Nebraska outside linebacker Bo Ruud is out after breaking his arm in practice last week. Callahan also suspended backup defensive end Wali Muhammad from the bowl game for violating team rules.

Russell: Nebraska actually comes into this game pretty hot, having crushed Colorado, 30-3, in its regular-season finale. Perhaps Callahan finally has the west coast offense working. Michigan still has injury questions, and without a fully healthy Mike Hart, I'm not sure they can win. The number's just too high. I'll have to take Nebraska (gulp).

Vinny: Even with a patchwork line, the Wolverines have been able to protect Chad Henne all season. And Henne seems to be regaining his old (freshman) form, even in the absence of a consistent running game. The Wolverines are ticked off about falling out of a New Year's Bowl, so much so that curmudgeonly Lloyd Carr is now calling for a 16-team playoff. With or without Hart, Michigan covers.

#24 Georgia Tech (-8.5) vs. Utah, Emerald Bowl at San Francisco
Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: I always make sure to tune into this game at least for a few plays just to see both teams standing on the same side of the field at SBC Park in San Francisco. This makes for a particularly interesting shot of the field on long plays, as you can watch the reaction of both benches at the same time. Brings back memories of Packers games at County Stadium in Milwaukee.

Vinny: Utah is without its starting quarterback, Brian Johnson (knee), who led the Moutain West in total offense this season. Juco transfer Bret Ratliff made his debut in the Utes' 41-34 overtime win over BYU on November 19 and threw for four scores and ran for one more. Not so shabby.

Russell: This game feels like a blowout to me. Georgia Tech is a tough team to get a read on, but at their best the Yellow Jackets beat both Auburn and Miami on the road. Something tells me they're not going to be intimidated by a 6-5 Utah squad.

Vinny: This Georgia Tech team is fun to watch, especially when tailback P.J. Daniels is healthy -- they're easily the most entertaining team in the ACC, unless you enjoy watching Miami's Kyle Wright occasionally break into his Chris Rix imitation.

Russell: Reggie Ball is a scrappy, undersized passer in the Joe Hamilton mode. He'll find Calvin Johnson often against Utah's 65th-rated pass defense. The Yellow Jackets roll.

Vinny: Fair comparison, but I think Ball is a much better athlete than Hamilton ever was. Look for Utah's Eric Weddle, the Mountain West defensive player of the year, to be matched up against Johnson a fair amount. I like Tech in this one as well.

#5 Oregon (-3) vs. #23 Oklahoma, Holiday Bowl at San Diego
Thursday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Russell: So 10-1 Oregon feels it got jobbed, being passed over by lower-rated Notre Dame for the Fiesta Bowl. Instead they find themselves in the Holiday Bowl opposite Oklahoma, which was written off by just about everyone after a 1-2 start.

Vinny: Oklahoma is getting healthy, including tailback Adrian Peterson, who should be at 100 percent for this tilt. With Chuck Long taking over the head job at San Diego State, Bob Stoops has promoted offensive line coach Kevin Wilson to play-calling duties.

Russell: Oregon coaches will no doubt be screening film of Cal's blowout loss to Texas Tech in last year's Holiday Bowl. That loss came after the Bears went through the Pac-10 with a 10-1 record only to get passed over for Texas come BCS bid time.

Vinny: Stoops has played plenty of freshmen and sophomores this season, and it will pay dividends next year. But will it pay off as early as next week?

Russell: On the surface, the spread is pretty low, given the disparity in records. But you do have to wonder about Oregon's motivation, as well as its offense without Kellen Clemens, although Brady Leaf and Dennis Dixon had no trouble leading the Ducks to 56 points against Oregon State in the regular-season finale. I don't think Belotti will let his team take this game as lightly as Cal did. The Oklahoma defense will present a tough challenge, but I like the Ducks to cover the spread.

Vinny: I'm expecting another collapse out of the disappointed Pac-10 representative in this one. Give me the Sooners.

The Picks
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" in bold)
Game Vinny says Russell says
Kansas (-3) vs. Houston, Fort Worth Bowl Kansas Kansas
Nevada (-2.5) vs. Central Florida, Hawaii Bowl Nevada Nevada
Memphis (-4.5) vs. Akron, Motor City Bowl Akron Memphis
Clemson (-9) vs. Colorado, Champs Sports Bowl Clemson Clemson
Arizona State (-10.5) vs. Rutgers, Insight Bowl Rutgers Rutgers
#21 Boston College (-1.5) vs. Boise State, MPC Computers Bowl Boston College Boston College
#20 Michigan (-11) vs. Nebraska, Alamo Bowl Michigan Nebraska
#24 Georgia Tech (-8.5) vs. Utah, Emerald Bowl Georgia Tech Georgia Tech
#5 Oregon (-3) vs. #23 Oklahoma, Holiday Bowl Oklahoma Oregon
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
Vinny 1-3 (0-0) 48-63-4 (5-9)
Russell 3-1 (0-0) 45-66-4 (9-5)

Posted by: on 23 Dec 2005

49 comments, Last at 29 Dec 2005, 11:56pm by Rocco


by Becephalus (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 6:19am

That niether of you broke that coveted 50 win barrier is a really testament to er...something.


90% of the time I don't even watch college football as I think its a farce, but I find your brief commentaries entertaining.

by adwred (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 9:48am

B --

You think college football is a "light dramatic work in which highly improbable plot situations, exaggerated characters, and often slapstick elements are used for humorous effect."

Yeah, I can see that.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 11:36am

That spread in Michigan/Nebraska is too high. Even if Michigan dominates, you know they'll find a way to let it stay close, even if they have to go to their ultra-conservative 'punt on 1st' offense in the second half to make a comeback possible.

Until this year, I'd lived about an hour away from Cleveland (Youngstown) or Detroit (Toledo). For the cities themselves, I prefer Cleveland, but for the suburbs I lived in it's Toledo in a runaway. Either of them have to be better than Jersey though.

by Russell Levine :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 11:54am

Trogdor, I've put up with your Ohio State crap for two years now, but when you come after Jersey you've gone to far.

I love the fact that everyone thinks Jersey is a hell hole. That's good, it'll keep some of the freaks out. Me? I'm content to slink back to my home next to the oil refinery. Hope I don't get mugged on the way.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 11:56am

You know, next year you should a bowl confidence set of picks instead of just one by one - not sure if it would work if you want to do it in multiple parts, since you'd have to essentially make all the picks in advance and only show half of them, but it could be fun.

You could even invite some of the regular college football posters to try their luck as well, just so everyone else can be embarrassed too :)

As to the bowls themselves - I thought the Poinsettia Bowl last night was entertaining, and loud. Navy sold so many tickets that the bowl has (for real!) extended a guaranteed bid to Navy for 2006, 2007, and 2008 (as long as they're eligible of course). I shut it off at halftime though. I would have watched more, but the damn thing started at 10:30 PM.

It amazes me that many of these bowls manage to stay afload. The Hawaii Bowl was upset that Nevada sold 100 tickets. Not "100% of its ticket allotment." 100 tickets out of its 10,000 or whatever ticket allotment. Now admittedly the bowl is far away but that's pretty bad. But it's not just the Hawaii Bowl. It's just sad to look on TV and see so-called "bowl games" being played in front of crowds even the Saints-in-Baton-Rouge would laugh at.

The Vegas Bowl was sold out, though. That doesn't happen often. I went to the Las Vegas Bowl when USC was at it a few years back (and when it took place on Christmas Day) and while the trip (with a group of friends) as a whole was fun, the game was empty (that's a game Carroll wouldn't mind wiping from his resume - a completely listless 10-6 loss to Utah that I think still bothers and motivates him).


by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 12:26pm

re: the hawaii bowl

By the time nevada fans find out that their team is going to hawaii, you're looking at $1000+ round trip for those tix. How many college kids can affort that?

by Flux (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 12:46pm

Shouldn't the Hawaii bowl invite mediocre teams from places with terrible weather? (Like Kansas, for instance.) Nevada is chilly in winter, but frequently sunny and not so bad. If your team from the midwest or northeast was going though, even if they just stumbled to a 6-5 season, wouldn't you look upon it more fondly? Still, with enough bowls that like 60% of the teams in Div 1 get an invite, and 6 wins required, I guess the committes for small bowls can't be all that choosy. And Hawaii got 1 out of 2 geographically-appropriate teams, at least.

by JonL (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 12:47pm

I think Schubert's Der Erlkonig would make a great curse jingle.

by Sophandros (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 1:01pm

The majority of college kids don't get season tickets at a lot of BCS programs, and the majority of the people in the stands for games aren't college kids, anyway.

But $1K is a bit pricey for the average fan.

by Russell Levine :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 1:26pm

The Hawaii bowl's been a tough sell forever. They even tried staging a double header for a few years -- the Oahu Bowl and the Hawaii Bowl back to back on Christmas Day -- just to fill seats. And that was back when bowl bids were announced a little earlier than they are now.

by Derek (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 1:43pm

I keep hearing that Wisconsin's season-ending trip to Hawaii has negatively impacted their ability to sell tickets to the Capital One Bowl. If you've already taken the family on a tropical vacation, why bother with Orlando?

by Devin McCullen (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 2:23pm

As another New Jerseyan who commutes into NYC, well, first of all, bite me, Trogdor. But I didn't think there were that many more pedestrians, except right around Penn Station. What was stupid was that they couldn't be bothered making up any signs to direct the foot traffic there.

Oh, and everyone knows not to take college coaches' contracts seriously, but a 7-year extension for Schiano? I still don't have a lot of faith in him. But go ahead, prove me wrong, I won't mind.

by Nate (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 2:39pm

Jonl - Take your d@mn lieder references back to Germany!!! This is a football site.

by Matt (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 3:54pm

"Conspiracy theories" my @ss. Look at the replay. KU just converted a first down to win the game against the Rose bowl bound Longhorns. The official standing directly in front of Mack then calls PI on the Charles Gordon. They penalized Gordon for running a crisp out pattern, faking the CB out of his shoes. KU punts, Texas drives down the field and scores. Maybe Russell might wanna be fair next time. His 39% winning percentage must be getting to him.

by chris (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 6:36pm

I thought it was funny how on this year's KU-Texas telecast, they found it appropriate to make fun of Mangino for his comments, but they didn't show how bad that call was. Pretty cheap of the broadcasters and producers not to do so.

As I recall, not only did the official wait until the first-down catch was made -- after some vigorous "lobbying" from Brown -- but he threw the flag about 40 yards away. So we had a call made far away from the offending play, about six seconds after the actual penalty, which was ticky-tack to begin with.

I might have put it differently than Mangino, but just because Kansas sucks doesn't mean that the coach didn't have a legitimate beef with what was a criminally bad piece of officiating.

Does that mean that there was a structured conspiracy to save UT's BCS drive? Probably not. But I think it's a matter of shading. Put KU in Texas' shoes and vice-versa, and that call isn't made. Mainly because the ref would have been julienned by the league office over the loss of $14 million, let alone the "independent" Texas media and boosters.

Conspiracy is a pretty strong word, but are the leagues above playing favorites and other games to gain an advantage? Probably not.

by Tarrant (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2005 - 11:53pm

At halftime of the Fort Worth Bowl, they're discussing whether West Virginia deserves its BCS bid. They bring up the final BCS Standings and point out WV's #12 or so rank, and mention that there are half a dozen or so teams that are ahead of West Virginia, and how terrible it is that those teams were left out.

But not one of the halftime analysts pointed out Florida State's BCS rank was twenty-two. Sure, had Virginia Tech won there'd be no "controversy" about the ACC, and no one is really talking about taking away the ACC's bid, but the fact is that over the past few years, the ACC champion's average BCS rank has been worse than the Big East's.


by chris (not verified) :: Sat, 12/24/2005 - 7:07pm

Good point (#16), but both of the Big East's money makers "over the past few years" now reside in the ACC.

The servers for that particular free lunch have gone home.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 12/25/2005 - 12:07am

Crazy game. UCF was up 17-7 after one quarter, but Nevada has ripped off three straight TDs to go up 28-17.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 12/25/2005 - 2:24am

Nevada was up 10 with 3:18 left. They left too much time on the clock, though. UCF took over with a little over 3 minutes left, and went for a 1:30 drive culminating with a long FG. They then onside kicked and recovered! Got the ball in Nevada territory with 1:30 left, and drove for a TD, leaving Nevada with the ball with under a minute left. Looks like we're headed for OT, and UCF has ALL the momentum now.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 12/25/2005 - 2:28am

Oh, and two WRs have put on a show. Brandon Marshall, a huge and highly touted WR for UCF has 11 catches for 211 yards and 3 TDs. Caleb Spencer for Nevada also has 11 catches, but for 113 yards. Nevada has done its scoring on the ground, with BJ Mitchell and Robert Hubbard repeatedly gashing UCF.
42-42 and we're headed for OT. Paul Carrington, a UCF DE just got injured.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 12/25/2005 - 2:44am

Horrible radio announcers on this game. Jeff Rowe took it into the endzone, and the play by play guy said "And that should be the ball game." Apparently, he's not familiar with the college system for overtime. Maybe he normally calls pro games or something.
Then UCF came back and scored. His call for the XP "Kick is up, and it's good. OH WAIT! HE MISSED IT!"


by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 12/25/2005 - 2:45am

So the Russell-Vinny combo sunk Nevada's chances of covering. Close, though.

by Sid (not verified) :: Sun, 12/25/2005 - 2:48am

RE: 8

A few months ago, I would have no idea what you were talking about. Unfortunately, I suffered through a music class this past semester, and we were tested extensively on the Erlking (Erlkonig). :( A lot of stuff I wish I didn't know. Rather disturbing piece of music, if I must say so myself.

by Vinny (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2005 - 6:32pm

Injury Updates:

Alamo Bowl - Michigan RB Mike Hart is reportedly 95-100% and will play. However, sources also indicate Michigan DBs Grant Mason and Morgan Trent are nicked up, and that TE Tim Massaqui and C/G Adam Kraus are still iffy.

Peach Bowl - LSU QB JaMarcus Russell reportedly did not make the trip (shoulder) and so Matt Flynn will get his first start. Meanwhile, Miami WR Ryan Moore is suspended and will not play due to violation of team rules.

by Stereochemistry (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2005 - 11:20pm

You weren't kidding about Brian Leonard kid...is he really this electric all the time, or is it partly ASU playing poorly? I haven't watched either team play this year, but Leonard has already stood out numerous times at it's just the first quarter.

by Jim K (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2005 - 5:27am

I was pleased to see that the Double Fred Edelstein still exerts a powerful force: the poor Clemson kicker probably had no idea what he was up against as he lined up for the PAT attempt that would have covered the spread...

by Russell Levine :: Wed, 12/28/2005 - 11:48am

Jim K, you beat me to the punch. That's just downright cruel, but at least I'll take the push.

I watch all 4+ hours of the Rutgers game last night with a couple of RU alums and they were not pleased with the outcome and that Schiano didn't seem to have any answers defensively in the second half. I still think that's a pretty good showing for Rutgers, and something they can build on as they go forward. Schiano is not the greatest X's and O's guy, but he's the right kind of coach for a program which will succeed and fail based on its ability to recruit.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2005 - 8:19pm

Well lookie there, Boston College is beating up on another crap team from a bad conference in a who-cares bowl game. Is this the least impressive bowl game winning streak in history? Is the key to the streak great preparation on BC's part, as the announcers thought, or just being a middling team in a mid-major conference (through last year) or fairly good conference (2005), and getting into those sweet "Big East #3 vs. Pac-10 #7" matchups?

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Wed, 12/28/2005 - 10:06pm

And suddenly, it's a 27-21 game with plenty of time left. Can BC actually find a way to blow this one? It's just an appetizer for the Michigan/Nebraska "why can't they both lose?" game, but it's actually turning into a good one.

by Russell Levine :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 1:25am

Wow, the Sun Belt officials are completely overmatched in this Alamo Bowl. Two big overturns on replay, several very iffy penalty calls and many a long officials huddle.

by Russell Levine :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 1:26am

Hey Trog, what do you think I call the Fiesta Bowl?

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 2:16am

Hey, remember in the baseball playoffs, when they replaced the regular crew with a bunch of Little League umps? And guys who were used to watching 10-year-olds throwing 50 MPH fastballs were supposed to accurately call 93 MPH sliders? Oh wait, that didn't happen. But if it did, I think the results would be somewhat like this game. Holy crap, is this crew overmatched!

And now a blatant PI on 4th down is missed, and Michigan is largely screwed, thanks to having no timeouts left (due to complete incompetence by the replay crew). Wow, they just let an extra 10 seconds or so run off the clock after the ball was spotted! What a joke. I mean, screw Michigan and all that, but this is ridiculous.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 2:19am


Where was the Stanford band? Shouldn't there be an illegal participation penalty? Was the guy who made the final tackle even on the field at the snap?

Why didn't they... ah, screw it. What a complete joke. This is about as bad as it gets.

by Bill (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 2:23am

From the ESPN play-by-play:
Chad Henne pass complete to Jason Avant for 13 yards, lateral to Tyler Ecker for 33 yards to the Neb 17 for a 1ST down.

Wow, that doesn't even begin to describe it.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 2:33am

I hate Michigan as much as anyone. I can't make any excuses for them - they had the big fumbles in the 4th, and the dropped pass on 3rd down on their last drive, so it's not like they didn't shoot themselves in the foot. They had plenty of chances to win, and in 2005 Michigan fashion failed to take advantage or put the game away.

But for them to lose like that, it's just sickening. What a disgusting display of officiating incompetence. How in the world can a game this big - it isn't a BCS bowl, but it's hardly a chump bowl - get an officiating crew like this? Were all the Conference USA crews booked? Couldn't they find a MAC crew, or even the Big East?

The scary thing is, what if there actually was a playoff, and a crew like that got assigned? Could you imagine this Sun Belt All-Star officiating crew doing a game with actual championship implications? What a mess.

by Russell Levine :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 2:35am

I'm not even going to harp on the officiating, because that just gives Michigan an excuse for letting yet another game slip away from its grasp. It's not going to be a fun few months for Llloyd, but he's too proud to do anything but come out fighting. I do recall that the '97 NC followed another low point -- four straight 4-loss seasons.

The officiating just mars what was an otherwise excellent football game.

And please, can we go to a coach's challenge replay system and 40 second play clock for next year? Would anybody object to that?

by Russell Levine :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 2:39am

See Trogdor, here I am trying to temper my anger in an attempt to sound reasonable, and you're just getting me fired up all over again.

That was a disgrace. And not all the calls went against Michigan, just the most critical ones, it seems.

The good thing about being in second-tier bowl games is that they're the easiest losses to forget.

by Michael David Smith :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 4:09am

I'm in Jolly Old England for the holidays (or, as they call them here, the vacations -- I think) so no college football available. Can someone give more details about what the hell happened in Nebraska-Michigan? I read the AP account, and it sounds like a wild one. But, of course, the AP account includes nothing about questionable officiating, so please clue me in. (Note: It really annoys me how journalists sometimes completely ignore the officiating. I think they think they're being "objective" or something if they don't point out that one team got totally screwed by the officials.)

I will get to see the Rose Bowl. It's not on in England, but I e-mailed the USC alumni club and they clued me in that there's a gathering where they've acquired a special satellite feed. So I'll be watching live, kickoff 1 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time.

by Russell Levine :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 9:13am

MDS -- I'm porbably not the most objective evaluator of the officials, but the bottom line is that it was a Sun Belt crew doing a
Big 12/Big 10 game and they were completely overmatched. Michigan had to use 2 second half timeouts to allow plays to be reviewed, both of which eventually were, during the timeouts. One was reversed (overruling a TD), the other stood (upholding a critical forward pass/fumble call that went as a fumble recovered by NU). They missed a pretty obvious pass interference call on a 4th down play at the goal line with 2:30 to go, and they allowed a good 10-15 seconds to run off the clock before Nebraska's final punt in the closing seconds. Replay had to be used to correctly overturn an incomplete pass that was actually a Nebraska interception.

Then, on Michigan's attempt to channel Stanford-Cal, there was no flag despite the fact there were about 300 people on the field when the play ended -- some of them from Michigan's side, it should be noted.

Oh, and they didn't realize the third quarter had ended. It got so bad, the announcers were actually laughing at one point.

Michigan choked away a game it had control of -- just as its done all year -- and doesn't deserve to use the officiating as an excuse. But the officiating crew was clearly in over its head, and they ruined a great football game.

by Russell Levine :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 9:15am

Oh, and for the record, I thought the forward pass/fumble call that went against Michigan was the correct call. Looked like the ball was knocked loose in Henne's hand and then he pushed the loose ball forward with his throwing motion. Close call, but I think the refs on the field and the replay officials got that one correct.

by Daniel Warehall (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 10:07am

Michigan is killing me. Since they last beat Ohio State they have lost every game in which vs. a team another coworker is a fan of.

Lost to USC.
Two losses to Ohio State.
Lost to Texas.
Lost to Nebraska.

Seriously, this is not fun...

by Daniel Warehall (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 10:11am

Wow... should use preview...

They have lost the last five games vs. my coworker's teams...

That sounds much better...

by Vinny (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 3:48pm

That was like watching a bad high school game. I don't even want to talk about it.

by Scott de B. (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 4:11pm

Then, on Michigan’s attempt to channel Stanford-Cal, there was no flag despite the fact there were about 300 people on the field when the play ended — some of them from Michigan’s side, it should be noted.

I don't think it mattered -- you can't advance a fumble in the last 2:00 of a game. So the game ended when the MU player picked up the fumble at the Michigan 30, before anyone went onto the field.

by Russell Levine :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 5:25pm

Re: 44

Scott, I don't think that's correct. I looked thru the NCAA rulebook, and couldn't find any references to time factors and fumbles. What I did find was this: "SECTION 2. Backward Pass and Fumble During Live Ball. ARTICLE 1. A runner may hand or pass the ball backward at any time, except to throw the ball intentionally out of bounds to conserve time."

It goes on to say "A backward pass or fumble may be caught or recovered by
any inbounds player. ... If recovered by the fumbling or passing team, the ball continues in play."

The only exceptions listed are for fourth down and extra point try plays.

Here's the link if you want to search for yourself:

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 7:43pm

RE: 34

I use cbs sportsline. Their play by play is much better:

2-10-MI37 (15:00) Chad Henne passed to Jason Avant for 12 yards. Matt Wilde lateraled to Steve Breaston for 5 yards. Steve Breaston lateraled to Mike Hart for no gain. Mike Hart lateraled to Jason Avant for a 6 yard loss. Jason Avant lateraled to Mario Manningham for no gain. Mario Manningham lateraled to Jason Avant for a 20 yard loss. Jason Avant lateraled to Mike Hart for a 7 yard loss. Mike Hart lateraled to Tyler Ecker for 64 yards.

Oh, and you've got to hear the Mike Tirico radio call. It was hysterical. They were playing it all afternoon today on ESPN radio.

by Harris (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 8:33pm

Does anybody know why there wasn't a personal foul called on Nebraska for all those players being on the field? I didn't watch the game, but I would imagine Michigan should have gotten another play.

by Trogdor (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 10:40pm

Sideline reporter: "You've gotta love any team that would put diamond designs on their uniform pants."

Keith Jackson: "Why?"

They've spent the last four minutes talking about how subdued these Oregon uniforms are. They're going with the plain white shirts and their Intellivision pants. For them, this is subdued. And I must say, it only looks moderately hideous, so I guess it is a bit of an improvement.

by Rocco (not verified) :: Thu, 12/29/2005 - 11:56pm


The refs were asleep. It was their natural state for most of the game.

I was watching Gameday earlier today- apparently the replay official tried to buzz down for a replay after the first timeout Carr used, but there was a "malfunction". Had the officials known that, they could have given UM the timeout back. Hope that doesn't make you any angrier, Russell. As a PSU fan, my heart bleeds- I mean, it's not like Michigan's ever gotten a call go their way in a big game before. :)