The issue of Boise State not being able to wear all-blue uniforms on its blue turf is a really big deal in Idaho. When the Mountain West banned it for the 2012 season, MW commissioner Craig Thompson spent way more time than you’d expect at the conference’s preseason media days answering questions about it.
Part of the negotiations for Boise State to remain in the Mountain West and not go to the Big East was that the uniform restriction be lifted. So just when Boise State was ready to go back to the all-blue uniforms at home, the NCAA has rained on the Broncos party.
The NCAA Football Rules Committee made many proposals when it met this week, and tucked near the end of the NCAA website’s story on the proposals was this one:
To require teams to have either their jersey or pants contrast in color to the playing field.
Teams that wear green, like Baylor, Colorado State or South Florida to name a few, are also affected.
Under the proposal, they will be restricted from wearing all-green uniforms on their green fields. The rule will have to be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel.
Former West Virginia football coach Bill Stewart, who was hailed as Rich Rodriguez’s successor but wound up leaving the school in a messy split, died Monday of what athletic department officials said was an apparent heart attack. He was 59.
Stewart’s family notified the university and said Stewart had been out golfing with the longtime friend who hired him as head coach, former athletic director Ed Pastilong. West Virginia spokesman Michael Fragale said he had no further details, and Pastilong couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
“Coach Stewart was a rock-solid West Virginian and a true Mountaineer,” athletic director Oliver Luck said in a statement released by the university. “His enthusiasm and passion for his state’s flagship university was infectious. We join all Mountaineers in mourning his passing.”
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, who was governor at the time Stewart became head coach, said Stewart was a longtime friend who “leaves behind a lifetime of memories and love for our state.”
“Bill was a proud West Virginian in every sense of the word,” Manchin said, “and he was the best cheerleader this state ever had.”
The West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association held its annual golf tournament Monday at Stonewall Jackson Resort in Roanoke.
Ryan Crook of Beckley said he was playing in the tournament behind a group that included Stewart and Pastilong. Crook said he saw Stewart collapse on the 16th hole. Members of Crook’s group drove their carts to Stewart’s side, and ambulances were called, Crook said.
Stewart went 28-12 in three seasons after taking over when Rodriguez left for Michigan after the 2007 regular season, but resigned last summer and was replaced by Dana Holgorsen the same night.
In December 2007, Mountaineer fans unleashed their fury on Rodriguez for breaking his contract early and taking the Michigan job. He left the Mountaineers not long after a painful loss to rival Pittsburgh cost them a shot at the national championship and two weeks before the Fiesta Bowl game against Oklahoma, taking recruits and assistants with him.
It was Stewart, a deeply religious family man, who stepped in and guided the team to a surprising 48-28 victory over the Sooners.
In the euphoric aftermath, he was given the job full-time – to the surprise of many – but the Mountaineers didn’t go to another BCS bowl under his leadership and Stewart couldn’t match the production of Rodriguez. In Stewart’s three seasons, West Virginia averaged at least 79 fewer yards per game than the 2007 team.
In December 2010, Luck – then just months into his tenure – decided to hire Holgorsen as offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting for the 2011 season. Holgorsen would run West Virginia’s offense while Stewart would coach the team one final season before moving into an administrative job.
Wins and losses weren’t the only issue for the coaching change. Luck said season-ticket sales had declined in the year after Stewart became head coach.
Luck said he’d modeled the transition after those done when Bret Bielema took over at Wisconsin and Chip Kelly assumed control at Oregon. Luck said he had no doubt it would be handled professionally, noting both coaches said they supported the idea.
And Stewart was diplomatic about the hire, saying the team would let Holgorsen “implement ideas and schemes in preparation of getting the finest offensive staff we can compile.”
Six months later, the arrangement had fallen apart, and Stewart’s departure became difficult. Both he and Holgorsen made unwanted headlines in the weeks leading up to the shake-up.
An intoxicated Holgorsen was escorted out of a casino, then a former newspaper reporter said that Stewart had approached him shortly after Holgorsen’s hiring to “dig up dirt” on his eventual successor.
“At the time I thought it made a lot of sense, I thought it was good management practice,” Luck said last June. “With hindsight, folks could certainly disagree.”
In Holgorsen’s first season, the Mountaineers went 10-3, were Big East co-champions and beat Clemson 70-33 in the Orange Bowl.
“The State of West Virginia, our University and our football program has lost a true Mountaineer who gave his native state university a decade of coaching service and a lifetime of guidance and inspiration to thousands of young men over a 33-year career,” Holgorsen said Monday. “Though Coach Stewart achieved many great milestones on the field, we will most remember his kindness and compassion.”
Former West Virginia running back Steve Slaton, who entered the NFL draft after his junior season in 2007, said he was at a loss for words. “I am honored to have had him as a friend and coach,” Slaton said. “I know every player that has had the opportunity to be around him would say the same.”
Stewart, a native of New Martinsville, attended Fairmont State and earned a master’s degree in health and physical education from WVU in 1977.
He had assistant coaching stints at seven colleges before becoming head coach at VMI in 1994, going 8-25 in three seasons. After a two-year stint in the Canadian Football League, Stewart was hired by Don Nehlen as an assistant at West Virginia.
“Bill was such a great Mountaineer and a great addition to our staff,” Nehlen said. “It was a terrific hire – he did a great job not only for me, but for Rich and as a head coach. Bill was such a great husband and a great father. Bill Stewart was a great Mountaineer.”
Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin got his first coaching job when Stewart hired him as an assistant at VMI, and Tomlin was elated when Stewart got the West Virginia job.
“We are saddened by the passing of Coach Stew,” Tomlin said in a statement released by the Steelers. “He was a great coach and a tremendous person. We not only lost a good football person, we lost an even better family man.”
Stewart and his wife, Karen, have one son, Blaine.
The Houston Chronicle is reporting that officials from Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference were briefed about a possible football-only merger that might help the new league become part of the Bowl Championship Series.
Under the proposed merger, the leagues would play separate schedules and at the end of the season the two champions would meet in a title game with the hope that the winner would receive a BCS bid.
The report says talks will continue Tuesday and Wednesday during the annual meetings of Division I athletic directors in Dallas. The report says a football-only federation which would include 22 to 24 schools would offer the new league a “strength in numbers” response to recent conference realignment.
“It’s an intriguing concept,” Rice athletic director Rick Greenspan told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s one that is probably a bit unique in college athletics.”
C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky said in a statement that the two leagues were discussing a merger and “working to create consolation strategies that have the potential for positioning our members well into the future.”
Conference USA currently has 12 schools that play football: East Carolina, Marshall, Central Florida, Southern Miss, Memphis, Alabama-Birmingham, Southern Methodist, Tulsa, Tulane, Houston, Rice and Texas-El Paso. East Carolina applied for Big East membership last week and Central Florida has expressed interest in leaving for the Big East.
The Mountain West schools include Texas Christian. Colorado State, Boise State, Wyoming, San Diego State, UNLV, Air Force and New Mexico. Texas Christian will head to the Big East on July 1, 2012. Fresno State, Nevada and Hawaii (football only) will join the league in 2012.
Every Tuesday Sports Grind Entertainment presents you with the Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin Player of the Week. This week the recipient of this prestigious honor goes to the University of Connecticut Huskies men’s basketball team for winning the national championship by beating Butler Bulldogs 53-41. The Huskies won their 11th straight game since closing the regular season with a 9-9 Big East record. They held Butler to a 12-for-64 shooting performance, an 18.8 percent, the worst ever in a title game. Head coach Jim Calhoun, 68, became the oldest coach to win the NCAA championship and joined John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, Mike Krzyzewski and Bob Knight as only the fifth coach to win three NCAA titles.
Congratulations University Connecticut Huskies you are this weeks Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin Player.
Every Tuesday Sports Grind Entertainment presents you with the Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin Player of the Week. This week the recipient of this prestigious honor goes to Virgina Commonwealth University Rams men’s basketball team who became just the third 11th seed to advance to the Final Four. Two weeks ago the 11th-seeded Rams so doubted they would get an NCAA tournament invite that they watched Cartoon Network instead of watching the selection show. Now the 11th-seeded Rams are heading to Houston after defeating five teams including number 1 seeded Kansas in the March Madness tournament. The other schools along the way that fell victim to VCU incredible run was the Pac-10′s Southern California, the Big East’s Georgetown, the Big 10′s Purdue, the ACC’s Florida State and now the Big 12′s Kansas. VCU joins 2006 George Mason as the only teams to make the Final Four from the Colonial Athletic Association.
Congratulations Virgina Commonwealth University Rams you are this weeks Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin Player.
Every Thursday Sports Grind Entertainment will present you with the Mama Margie’s Major Meltdown. The recipient of this honor goes to the Big East Conference for it’s performance so far in this years NCAA March Madness tournament. The Big East Conference entered the tournament of 72 teams with 11 teams representing their 16 team conference however before the Sweet 16 the conference was left with only 2 teams playing. The Big East watched as it lost number one seed Pittsburgh, number two Notre Dame, number 3 Syracuse, number 4 Louisville before the first weekend of play had even finished. The rest of the conference seeds to be sent home included number 5 West Virginia, number 6 Georgetown, number 6 St. John’s, and number 9 Villanova.
The Big East is only left with number 11 seed Marquette in the East Division and number 3 seed Connecticut in the West Division to play in the second week of the March Madness tournament.
By now you should have already seen or read about the screw job that was at the end of the Rutgers-St. John’s Big East tournament game Wednesday afternoon in Madison Square Garden. However you might not have seen the cover of the New York Post that ran this morning and if your one of the few that still hasn’t seen the last couple seconds that sent the East Coast into a mass panic yesterday, we provide the YouTube clip below.
Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade has pledged to stop watching all things on television until the jokes stop about the Heat players crying. Wade told the South Florida Sun Sentinel he has turned off the television.
“The only thing I found out was Chris Paul got injured the other night and I reached out to my friend,” Wade said. “Besides that, I totally have not watched anything. I haven’t watched college basketball.”
So that means Wade doesn’t even know who his alma mater Marquette is playing in the first round of the Big East tournament.
“I’ve totally shut it down,” Wade said. “I don’t want to hear anything. I want to focus on what it takes for us to get this ship right again. No one really cares about you being down.”
Louisville sealed a 62-59 overtime win over Pittsburgh but the sports nation quickly became fixated on Jordan Alcazar, a male cheerleader for the Cardinals who was hit with a technical foul for throwing the ball in the air in final seconds of the game. The “what if” Alcazar had cost his school the win talk even made it’s way back to Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino, where he answered by jokingly saying the days of the male cheerleader “is come to an end.”
You won’t find much college basketball updates on this site because I don’t watch the game so have really no idea whats going on however it’s hard to miss what happened in Rutger last night. The Scarlet Knights had an epic comeback when they found themselves down 75-70 to Villanova with under 10 seconds left. Rutgers ended up winning 77-76 thanks to a 4 point play by Jonathan Mitchell with less than a second remaining. Call looked a little bullish to me.
UConn is the school you must go to if your going to be a trick shot artist no matter what sport your in. Back on January 25 we posted UConn’s women’s basketball player Caroline Doty showing off her skills and now comes Huskies quarterback Johnny McEntee displaying his on the gridiron.
This years Super Bowl is being played in Arlington, Texas between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers but who actually makes up these two teams? Being a college football fan, I decided to dig a little deeper and found out that the SEC leads all college football conferences with 18 players represented.
However it might surprise a lot of you that the Mid American Conference stands next in line with 15 players. That’s right the conference that showcases most of their bowl games before Christmas day highlight a majority of who makes up the NFL. In fact Central Michigan from the Mid American Conference are all tied for the most number of players represented in Super Bowl with four players. Representing the Chippewas will be Frank Zombo, Cullen Jenkins, Josh Gordy and Antonio Brown.
The rest of the conferences shape out as follows with the Big 10 (15), ACC (13), Big 12 (13), Pac -10 (10) and the Big East (5).
John Lomax III, the man accused of fatally stabbing a University of Connecticut football player Jasper Howard outside a party on campus in 2009 pleaded no contest to first-degree manslaughter. Lomax had faced a murder charge, entered his plea to the lesser charge in Superior Court and could face up to 20 years in prison at sentencing which is set for March 25. As he entered his plea, Lomax apologized to Howard’s family inside the courtroom.
“I would like to extend my condolences to the Howard family,” Lomax said in remarks reported by The Hartford Courant. “I understand how it hurts to lose a loved one. … I wouldn’t want this to happen to anybody.”
Lomax stabbed Howard, a defensive back, in the abdomen during a dispute outside a dance on campus on Oct. 18, 2009, that investigators think started over a comment one player made about a woman. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Lomax and a friend, Hakim Muhammad, retrieved knives from a car during the altercation, which broke out between a group of football players and a group that included Lomax. Muhammad is accused of stabbing former UConn player Brian Parker during the fight, as he faces assault and other charges. He has pleaded not guilty and is free on bail.
Witnesses identified Lomax as the man who stabbed Howard, according to the affidavit.
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features University of Pittsburgh Panthers taking on University of Kentucky Wildcats in the 5th annual BBVA Compass Bowl, formerly the Papajohns.com Bowl at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.
Pittsburgh, 7-5, 5-2 Big East, Panthers head coach Dave Wannstedt announced his resignation shortly after the season ended after a 42-31 record over six seasons. That left his Alma matter in search of a new head coach in which they thought they had their man in Miami of Ohio Michael Haywood but after he was arrested on felony assault charges he was fired leaving the Panthers without a coach. Wannstedt, who originally planned to coach the Panthers in this Compass Bowl, changed his mind on Monday. As a result Pitt Athletic Director Steve Pederson has named defensive coordinator Phil Bennett the team’s interim coach.
Pitt is a rather mediocre offensive football team as it is averaging 26 ppg and 367.8 total ypg. Dion Lewis didn’t have as great a season as most expected but his 956 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns are impressive nonetheless. He gets plenty of help from Ray Graham, who brings 832 yards and 8 touchdowns into the game. While Lewis averages 4.9 yards per carry, Graham owns a far more impressive mark of 6.4 ypc.
As for Pittsburgh’s passing attack, Tino Sunseri has completed 65.4 percent of his passes for 2,476 yards with 15 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. His top target is clearly Jon Baldwin, who has hauled in 52 receptions for 810 yards and 5 touchdowns.
The man to watch on defense for Pittsburgh is Jabaal Sheard who has 14.5 tackles for loss and 9 sacks while adding 4 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Kentucky, 6-6, 2-6 SEC, Wildcats will be led in this showdown by first year head coach Joker Phillips as the highlight for Phillips first season was a victory over South Carolina which marked the biggest comeback in school history, as UK rallied from a 28-10 halftime deficit for a 31-28 win.
Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline has been suspended thus ending the senior’s career as he was arrested and was charged with second degree disorderly conduct, alcohol intoxication in a public place and failure to notify the department of transportation of a change of address. As a result, sophomore Morgan Newton is expected to be under center. Newton has attempted just seven passes all season, as he watched Hartline complete 66.2 percent of his attempts for 3,178 yards with 23 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.
Randall Cobb, one of the nation’s most versatile players, threw three touchdown passes for the Wildcats while rushing for 401 yards and 5 touchdowns. Cobb, who also returned a punt for a touchdown, has done most of his damage from the receiver position, as he has hauled in 79 receptions for 955 yards and 7 touchdowns. Chris Matthews is another receiver to watch, as he has 57 catches into 897 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Kentucky is generating 33.0 ppg and 437.2 total ypg, numbers that will be difficult to reach considering Hartline’s suspension and the strength of the Pittsburgh defense. Derrick Locke has rushed for 816 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing four games, and the tailback figures to get plenty of work against the Panthers.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between Pittsburgh and Kentucky.
PICK: University of Pittsburgh Panthers
University of Pittsburgh fired football coach Mike Haywood, saying he could not continue in the job he held for only 2 1/2 weeks because of his arrest on a domestic violence charge.
Haywood was released Saturday from St. Joseph County Jail in Indiana on $1,000 cash bond, after the charge was upgraded from a misdemeanor to felony domestic battery in the presence of a minor.
Within hours of Haywood’s afternoon release, Pittsburgh put out a statement from Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, saying Haywood had been dismissed, “effective immediately,” and the school was reopening its search.
“To be clear, the university’s decision is not tied to any expectation with respect to the terms on which the legal proceeding now pending in Indiana might ultimately be concluded,” Nordenberg said in the statement. “Instead, it reflects a strong belief that moving forward with Mr. Haywood as our head coach is not possible under the existing circumstances.”
The University of Pittsburgh football recently fired Dave Wannstedt and found his replacement in former Miami of Ohio head coach Mike Haywood, who has been arrested on domestic violence charge.
Police where called to a South Bend home around 4 p.m. where a woman who has a child with Haywood was found to have red marks around her neck, arms, and back. Police say there was a custody issue and the woman attempted to leave and as she left that is when the physical altercation happened. Haywood is being held in the St. Joseph County Jail until Monday, or until a judge-requested bond is granted.
Haywood was offensive coordinator at Notre Dame under Charlie Weis and left in 2008 to become head coach at Miami of Ohio. He was named head coach of Pitt two weeks ago but the University could use this as an out clause and begin the search all over again for replacing Wannstedt.
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the University of Connecticut Huskies taking on the University of Oklahoma Sooners in the 41st annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
Connecticut, 8-4, 5-2 Big East, Randy Edsall’s Huskies captured the Big East title with five straight wins to close out the 2010 campaign and earned their first ever BCS Bowl. Edsall, who was the 2010 Big East Coach of the Year, is no real secret on how he likes for his team to move the ball as they relied heavily on the rushing attack. Edsall exploits of that part of the game because he has junior tailback Jordan Todman, Big East Offensive Player of the Year, who rushed for 1,574 yards and 14 touchdowns to average of 143.09 ypg.
The passing attack was lead by redshirt senior Zach Frazer who only completed 52.7 percent of his throws, for 1,202 yards and 5 touchdowns. Frazer often looked into the direction of Michael Smith as he had 42 receptions for 595 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Oklahoma, 11-2, 6-2 Big 12, Bob Stoops Sooners won their last four games to capture the Big 12 title. The Sooners like to air the ball out and with sophomore quarterback Landry Jones who has thrown for 4,289 yards and 35 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Jones won the Sammy Baugh Award which is awarded to college football’s top passer as he completed 65.3 percent of his throws.
He often looked down field for one of the best college receivers in Ryan Broyles this season who caught 118 passes for 1,452 yards and 13 touchdowns. Tailback DeMarco Murray had a good year despite the Sooners tendencies to pass first as he rushed for 1,121 yards and 14 touchdowns.
This marks the first time these two teams have met.
PICK: University of Oklahoma Sooners
This game goes down on the ABC network and it features the University of Wisconsin Badgers taking on the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs in the “The Granddaddy of Them All” adds its 97th edition this New Year’s Day an the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Wisconsin, 11-1, 7-1 Big Ten, the Big Ten Conference title with Ohio State and Michigan State. Head coach Bret Bielema Badgers are averaging 45 ppg this season and happens to be one of five teams in the country to rank among the top 25 in both total offense and total defense. The others being Boise State, TCU, Stanford and Ohio State.
Wisconsin uses the run about as well as any team in the nation, and the Badgers are the only team to have three running backs who have gained at least 800 yards on the ground this season. James White led the backfielfd with 1,029 yards and 14 touchdowns while John Clay added 936 yards 13 touchdowns and Montee Ball finished it out with 864 yards and 17 touchdowns. That gave Wisconsin an average of 6.12 ypc and 247.3 ypg.
With an overly effective running game its easy to overlook the work quarterback Scott Tolzien put in as he threw for 2,300 yards with 16 touchdowns and and only 6 interceptions. His favorite target was Lance Kendricks, who had 39 receptions, 627 yards and 6 touchdowns.
The Badgers only turned the ball over 9 times on the year as well as being the least penalized team in the country with just 2 per game.
TCU, 12-0, 8-0 MWC, the Horned Frogs enter its last games as a memeber of the Mountain West Conference as next year they will become part of the Big East and they hope to go out in style with a win in “The Granddaddy of Them All”. Head coach Gary Patterson also has a very potent offense as his team is averaging 43 ppg on 491.5 total ypg. The TCU rushing attack is just as punishing as the Badgers, turning out 261.2 ypg and accounting for 39 touchdowns.
Ed Wesley has rushed for 1,065 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, picking up 6.6 ypc. Wesley was joined by three others who rushed for at least 400 rushing yards including quarterback Andy Dalton.
Dalton has thrown for 2,638 yards and 26 touchdowns while only throwing 6 interceptions and leads the school in almost every caterogy. Dalton never really had one single reciever he just threw to instead played the role of equal distrubitor. Jeremy Kerley and Josh Boyce where the teams leaders when it came to catching the ball though as Kerley caught 50 passes for 517 yards and 10 touchdowns while Boyce had 602 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Defensively the Horned Frogs are truly one of the elite defensive teams in the country holding opponents to 11 ppg and only 215.4 total ypg. Tanner Brock is a standout player on defense with his 97 tackles, a pair of sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and an interception on the season.
PICK: Texas Christian University Horned Frogs
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the University of South Florida Bulls taking on Clemson University Tigers in the 9th annual Meineke Care Care Bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Clemson, 6-6, 4-4 ACC, Tigers season has been somewhat of a disappointment thus far after reaching the ACC title game last year. they faltered down the stretch this year, going 2-2 over their last four games to finish at 6-6.
Clemson is led offensively by quarterback Kyle Parker, who has thrown for 2,079 yards, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. In the regular-season finale Parker was benched in the third quarter in favor of redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd. Parker is expected to get the start despite a heated sideline exchange with head coach Dabo Swinney following the benching.
The offense has dragged its feet all season, due in part to the departure of running back C.J. Spiller to the NFL. The void has been filled most prominently by Jamie Harper, who has rushed for 726 yards and 6 touchdowns this season. The Tigers are averaging 146.4 rushing ypg, 191.4 passing ypg and 23 ppg.
Defensively the Tigers have Sunday bound Da’Quan Bowers who is the Bronco Nagurski Trophy winner with his 15.5 sacks on the year. He also has recorded 67 tackles, including 25 tackles for loss.
South Florida, 7-5, 3-4 Big East, Bulls experienced a productive season under first-year coach Skip Holtz, as they matched last year’s win total and finished the season strong, winning four of their final six games. Three of the team’s five losses were decided by a touchdown or less.
The Bulls was lead by quarterback B.J. Daniels, who threw for 1,496 yards, 9 touchdowns and 12 interceptions before he suffered a quadriceps injury late in the year. True freshman Bobby Eveld played well in Daniels absence leading a fourth-quarter comeback against Miami and playing efficiently in his only start, against UConn. Coach Holtz has said that the team will prepare as if Eveld will get the start who has completed 42-of-75 passes for 454 yards and 2 touchdowns with 3 interceptions.
A constant in the USF backfield has been senior running back Moise Plancher, who was the team’s leading rusher this season with 743 yards and 4 touchdowns, after being granted a sixth year of eligibility due to medical hardships. He leads a backfield which has amassed 17 rushing touchdowns and averages 149.4 rushing ypg. However the team will be without fullback Jeff Hawkins and running back Bradley Battle due to injury.
This matchup marks the first ever meeting between South Florida and Clemson.
PICK: Clemson University Tigers
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Kansas State University Wildcats taking on Syracuse University Orange in the first ever New Era Pinstripe Bowl and is taking place at Yankee Stadium in New York, New York.
Kansas State, 7-5, 3-5 Big 12, experienced an up and down year as they started the year 4-0 before losing convincingly to then No. 7 Nebraska. The Wildcats though lost four of the next five games in Big 12 play. Head coach Bill Snyder has the luxuary of having standout running back Daniel Thomas who was the engine that drove the Wildcats offense in 2010. The senior ranked 9th in the nation with 1,495 yards, placing him second among K-State’s single-season rushing leaders. He averaged 5.4 yards per carry and 124.6 per game while scoring 16 touchdowns. He needs just 58 yards to move into second place on the Kansas States all-time rushing list.
The quarterback position is manned by senior Carson Coffman, who threw for 1,832 yards and 12 touchdowns while running for another 9 in 11 games this season while throwing 7 interceptions and was efficient in completing 64.2 percent of his passes in his first season as the starter. However, while K-State ranked 20th in the country in rushing offense, the passing game stood 97th and wideout Aubrey Quarles was the lone player to post any sort of significant numbers on the receiving end.
Syracuse, 7-5, 4-3 Big East, took a step forward in 2010 and the height of the Orange’s season came on when it shocked then 20th-ranked West Virginia with a win in Morgantown. But the Orange finsihed out the season losing two of its last three games. Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone offense leans heavily on senior running back Delone Carter, who surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive season. He averaged an impressive 5.1 yards per carry on his way to 1,035 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Ryan Nassib was at the head of a proficient if unspectacular passing attack that finished 92nd in the country. Nassib’s ended the year with 2,095 yards passing, 16 touchdowns, 8 interceptions and completed 56.1 percent of his throws. He was able to spread the ball around to a number of different receivers, most notably junior Van Chew, who led the team with 41 receptions, 611 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Syracuse owns a 12-9-1 record all-time in bowl games but will be the Orange’s first bowl since 2004. The Wildcats are 6-7 all-time in bowl competition.
PICK: Syracuse University Orange
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features West Virginia University Mountaineers taking on North Carolina State University Wolfpack in the 21st annual Champs Sports Bowl features at Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.
West Virginia, 9-3, 5-2 Big East, earned a share of the Big East title this season, but lost out on the tie-breaker with UConn. West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart Mountaineers won its last four games of the regular season has its offense came alive down the stretch, scoring 35 or more points in three of its final four games and cracking 500 total yards in a finale win over Rutgers. Turnovers however, have been an issue for the Mountaineers, as they have committed 23, including 16 lost fumbles.
Running the offense for the Mountaineers is sophomore Geno Smith, as he was in his first season as a starter, completed 65.8 percent of his pass attempts with 23 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions. Jock Sanders served as Smith’s safety outlet with a team-high 64 catches, while Tavon Austin provided a deep threat with 757 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. The Mountaineers also have a threat in the backfield with Noel Devine, though his season was slowed by ankle and foot issues. The speedy back totaled just 884 yards after entering the season as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate.
Defensively the Mountaineers have been outstanding for the most part this season and they rank second in both run with 85.1 ypg and scoring defense at 12 ppg. Bruce Irvin leads the team with 12 sacks while Julian Miller adds 8 to go with a 13 tackles for loss. In the secondary Keith Tandy has a team high 6 interceptions.
NC State, 8-4, 5-3 ACC, suffered a 38-31 loss to Maryland in its regular-season finale that cost the team the Atlantic Division title and a spot in the ACC Championship game. Head coach Tom O’Brien’s offense revolves around Russell Wilson, who is one of the most talented quarterbacks around with a strong arm and mobility. Wilson has thrown for 3,288 yards and 26 touchdowns while adding 394 more yards and 9 touchdowns on the ground. Wilson does lack accuracy as he has only completing 58.1 percent of his pass attempts with 14 interceptions.
Owen Spencer is Wilson’s favorite target in the passing game, as he leads the roster with 57 catches and 868 receiving yards. Jarvin Williams is another option and he ranks second behind 46 receptions for 636 yards. The ground game is lead by Mustafa Greene as he has amassed only 584 yards on the season.
Defensively the Wolfpack averages nearly 8 tackles for a loss per game to limit opponents to 115 yards on the ground. Nate Irving has been outstanding for NC State as he has 20.5 tackles for loss on the season and leads the team with 6 sacks.
The Mountaineers own a 13-16 all-time record in bowl games and are coming off a loss to Florida State in the Gator Bowl last season. NC State owns a 12-11-1 record in bowl games with their last postseason appearance came in 2008 and was loss to Rutgers. The Mountaineers and Wolfpack have met previously nine times including twice in the postseason where the Mountaineers holds a 5-4 edge in the series.
PICK: West Virginia University Mountaineers
The St. Petersburg Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl is tonight but on Sunday in an effort to keep the players active and entertained until then the orginaziers put on a Beach Bash. The Beach Bash was supposed to be a fun event for Louisville and Southern Miss players which involed a little dancing. The problem is that tempers flared up over some dance moves and the two schools nearly got into a brawl, prompting State Troopers to show up and end the party early.
“Someone said something disrespectful, did a little jawing after the dance contest… it’s all good,” said Louisville linebacker Dexter Heyman. It’s “just a little too close to game time, ya know?”.
Southern Miss players had a different perspective.
“They started talking trash about us being in Conference USA, [that] we can’t dance… it was stupid. We’ll do our talking on the field. A friendly dance competition and they take it all serious? It’s ridiculous,” uttered one Golden Eagle.
Here’s a look at what things looked like [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Nw5fr4MCMA&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles taking on the University of Louisville Cardinals in the 3rd annual St. Petersburg Bowl but first under the sponsorship of Beef ‘O’ Brady’s at Tropicana Field.
Southern Miss, 8-4, 5-3 C-USA, is making a postseason appearance for the ninth straight season with a team that racked up eight wins this year but their year began and ended the same way, with a loss. After falling to South Carolina in their opener, the Golden Eagles responded with four straight wins. However, the regular season closed out with a 56-50 loss to Tulsa.
The Golden Eagles are no strangers to playing in bowls, having made a postseason showing in 12 of the last 13 years but head coach Larry Fedora has an offense that is very potent on the ground and through the air this year. Taking care of the passing attack is Austin Davis, who completed over 60 percent of his throws this season and averaged 241.5 ypg. He threw for 18 touchdowns while tossing only 6 interceptions. Johdrick Morris was Davis favorite target with his team best 46 receptions for 663 yards and it came from the tight end spot.
There is not one main option that Southern Miss relies on in the ground game that produced 203.4 ypg. The running game showcased a few talented backs like Kendrick Hardy, who ran for 855 yards and 7 touchdowns while Desmond Johnson, had 509 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Louisville, 6-6, 3-4 Big East, head coach Charlie Strong did not have an overly impressive inaugural season, but still claimed Co-Coach of the Year honors in the Big East along with Connecticut’s Randy Edsall. The Cardinals have the potential on the roster to possess a balanced attack, but that was not the case, who fell way short of expectations in 2010. A major reason for the team’s short-comings was due to injuries to a couple of key players in Bilal Powell and Adam Froman. Powell only missed one game on the year, but spent most of the season dealing with nagging injures. However, that did not stop the running back from rumbling for 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns on 6.3 yards per attempt.
Froman’s injury was much more severe, and kept the quarterback from competing in four games, while limiting him in other key matchups. In eight games Froman completed over 60 percent of his throws and tossed 11 touchdowns against 4 interceptions. However, in Froman’s absence Justin Burke, performed admirably throwing 8 touchdowns and completed 56.7 percent of his passes
The former conference rivals are meeting for the first time in the postseason with Southern Miss leading the all-time series 18-9-1. Southern Miss is 9-11 all-time in bowl games and is coming off last years 42-32 loss to Middle Tennessee in the New Orleans Bowl. This will be Louisville’s first postseason appearance since the 2007 Orange Bowl and is 6-7-1 all time in bowl games.
PICK: Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
“you guys should stop recording this it’s not that funny.”
Yeah OK, this was the scene when the University of Cincinnati’s Bearcat mascot was cited for disorderly conduct after a snowball-throwing incident in the stands during a game against Pittsburgh. A school spokesman says the mascot was told to stop throwing snowballs in the stands and then Bearcat shoved an officer and both ended up on the ground when he was ask to stop. The mascot was detained and cited.
A backup mascot took his place at halftime.