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.
Tiger Woods hopes to begin the New Year a winner as he announced on his website that he’ll be an honorary captain for Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.
“I will attend the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2 in Arizona to watch Stanford play Oklahoma State. Cardinal head coach David Shaw asked me to be an honorary team captain, and I happily accepted. For Coach Shaw to think highly enough of me to be involved in the game and be able to talk to his kids is very special.”
“I’m very close to Stanford. They’ve done so much for me in my life. Everyone knows Coach Shaw and I had a class together. We go way back. It’s neat to be able to come back and help him any way that I can.”
Former Oregon Ducks and NFL quarterback Joey Harrington was injured when he was hit by a SUV while he was riding his bike in Portland. Harrington is hospitalized with a broken collar bone, a punctured lung and a cut on his head. He is expected to remain in the hospital until today. Portland police say the 33-year-old Harrington was hit from behind by a passing SUV driven by a 26-year-old man who remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators. The man was cited for following too close.
“The impact put him up on the top of the car,” John Harrington said. “Joey ended up upside down and came down on his head and shoulder and then skidded off to the side.”
Harrington led the Ducks to victory in the Fiesta Bowl his senior season and was a Heisman Trophy finalist. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions and played for three other teams over eight seasons in the NFL.
Former Colorado Buffaloes running back and Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam is giving you the opportunity to own a one of kind item. Salaam has decided to auction off his 1994 Heisman Ring, a ring in which only 75 prestigious college football rings exist.
Salaam’s size 11.5 ring is gold with more than 20 diamonds totaling 1.5 carats and has a missing diamond on the upper left corner of the ring face. It’s estimated to see somewhere between $15,000 and $25,000 but as of yesterday only has a bid of just $1,000.
As a junior, Salaam led the nation in rushing at a 186.8 yards per game and joined previous Heisman Trophy winners Marcus Allen, Mike Rozier and Barry Sanders as the only Division I players to gain more than 2,000 rushing yards in a season.
Salaam capped off an 11-1 season for the Buffaloes by scoring three touchdowns in a 41-24 win over Notre Dame at the 1995 Fiesta Bowl to finish their season number three in the country. The unanimous All-America pick was was selected by the Chicago Bears 21st overall of the 1995 NFL Draft.
Former University of Miami Hurricanes and current Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee is the latest person chiming in on the Ohio State scandal. McGahee though doesn’t care what happens to the Buckeyes program going forward instead he just wants what he believes is rightfully his.
McGahee told CBSSports.com Dennis Dodd that he would “like to have my ring” if it’s found that Ohio State won the 2002 national championship with ineligible players. The Buckeyes beat McGahee’s Hurricanes, 32-24, in double overtime in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.
“I feel we were cheated anyway. We beat them. The pass interference with the eligible, ineligible players. It wouldn’t have made any difference. I can’t get my money back that I missed out on a second ring. If they did cheat I’d like to have my ring.”
Former ESPN announcer Ron Franklin, who was recently fired for making sexist comments to sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards before the Chick Fil-A Bowl, is suing ESPN for wrongful termination. ESPN pulled Franklin from the Fiesta Bowl broadcast after he said to Edwards, “Listen to me sweet baby, let me tell you something.” After Edwards told him not to talk to her like that, Franklin responded, “OK, then listen to me a-hole.”
Franklin apologized in a statement, saying he deserved to be pulled from the Fiesta Bowl. The longtime college football and basketball announcer worked for ESPN for 25 years and has asked the public before the lawsuit if he and his wife could get back to their normal life.
Every Thursday Sports Grind Entertainment will present you with the Mama Margie’s Major Meltdown. The recipient of this honor goes to former ESPN announcer Ron Franklin for his sexist comments towards sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards and his 1940′s mentality. Franklin was fired by ESPN for his comments towards Edwards in which he called her “sweet baby” and whens she told him she didn’t like being called that he called her an “asshole.”
The incident occurred in show preparation on Friday before the Chick Fil-A Bowl, and then as word circled ESPN he was removed from the Fiesta Bowl before being fired just 24 hours.
In story we posted about on Monday about ESPN’s Ron Franklin making comments to Jeannine Edwards, a female sideline reporter, has now been fired just shortly after 24 hours. He was pulled from doing the Fiesta Bowl broadcast for making sexist comments that included “sweet baby“ and “asshole” to Edwards.
Before the Chick Fil-A Bowl, Franklin said to Edwards, “Listen to me sweet baby, let me tell you something.” After Edwards told him not to address her like that Franklin responded by saying “OK, then listen to me asshole.”
Franklin apologized for his remarks on Monday and said he deserved to be pulled from the Fiesta Bowl but was still fired 24 hours later.
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 Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Landry Jones who threw for 429 yards 3 toughdowns and 1 interception in helping his school beat UConn in the Fiesta Bowl 48-20. Jones threw for a school bowl-record 429 yards breaking his own record of 418 in last season’s Sun Bowl.
Congratulations Landry Jones you are this weeks Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin Player.
Longtime ESPN announcer Ron Franklin was pulled from his play-by-play duties before Saturday’s broadcast of the Fiesta Bowl by network execs after a reported dispute with Jeannine Edwards, a female sideline reporter, he called her “sweetcakes” and then “asshole”. Scheduled to work on the ESPN broadcast of the Chick-fil-A Bowl Friday, Franklin and Edwards were part of a production meeting before the game that was also attended by ESPN announcers Ed Cunningham and Rod Gilmore. During the meeting, the subject of Gilmore’s wife Marie being elected Alameda (CA) mayor came up.
As Gilmore, Cunningham and Franklin discussed the subject, Edwards tried to join the conversation. When she did, Franklin said to her, “Why don’t you leave this to the boys, sweetcakes.”
Edwards responded to Franklin by saying, “don’t call me sweetcakes, I don’t like being talked to like that.”
Franklin then said, “okay then, asshole.”
Edwards then reported Franklin’s comments to ESPN management. After confirming the incident with Cunningham, the network tried to pull Franklin off Friday’s broadcast but were unable to find a replacement due to the late notice.
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 ESPN network and it features University of Utah Utes taking on Boise State University Broncos in the 19th annual Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Boise State, 11-1, 7-1 WAC, ran through the regular season with 11 consecutive wins and was among the top five in both the AP poll and the BCS rankings as it possessed both one of the most aggressive offenses in the country, and a defense that few opponents could penetrate. But it all came crashing down for the Broncos on November 26th in Reno when missed field goals near the end of regulation and in overtime left the team with a 34-31 loss to nationally-ranked Nevada. The most anticipated game on the Western Athletic Conference schedule and it came down to kicker Kyle Brotzman and two make-able field goals that went astray. Not only did the miscues bring threats of harm and far-reaching resentment for Brotzman, it also gave the BCS the out they were looking for as BSU head coach Chris Petersen made it clear that there were a number of plays that could have decided the outcome in favor of his squad.
Boise State’s offense might not run exclusively, but being ranked 24th in the nation and second in the WAC with 200.1 ypg means that the Broncos can certainly do damage in that mode and the Utes will have to prepare for such an attack. The newest in a line of tough-nosed running backs for BSU, Doug Martin ran for 1,113 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging six yards per attempt. In Addition, Jeremy Avery also reprised his role as one of the most elusive runners around as he turned in 440 yards and added 11 touchdowns runs as well.
But make no mistake, this Boise State offense rests in the capable hands of junior signal-caller Kellen Moore who was not only named the WAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year, he was also invited to New York to take part in the Heisman Trophy festivities (he finished fourth in the voting). Moore was second in the nation in passing efficiency with a 185.04 rating as he threw for 3,506 yards and 33 touchdowns with just five interceptions. As a starter, Moore is now 37-2 in three seasons and for his efforts he’s been named the WAC’s Freshman of the Year in 2008, and was the WAC Offensive Player of the Year last season.
But with so much attention being given to Moore and an offense that ranks second in the nation in scoring with 46 ppg, it is easy to forget that Boise State also has one of the stingiest defenses in all of college football, limiting foes to just 13 points and 259.3 total yards per game, both of which rank the team fourth in the nation. Ryan Winterswyk earned most of the attention heading into and during the season as he logged seven tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, but because he was on the scouting report for every opponent, that opened the door for teammates like Tyrone Crawford who tallied a team-high 13 TFLs and accounted for 6.5 sacks, and Shea McClellin who made the most of his 26 overall stops by recording a team-best 8.5 sacks. Wrap it all up and Boise State was first in the nation with 3.75 sacks per game and second in TFLs with 8.3 per outing.
As for the Utes, 10-2, 7-1 MWC, they too were one of the hottest teams in the nation early on in the campaign with eight straight wins out of the box however, showed more than just a few cracks in the armor on November 6th when the team hosted TCU and was run out of the building in a 47-7 final. The devastating setback certainly raised more than a few eyebrows as people began to wonder what the true identity of this top-10 team really was.
A week later a trip to South Bend made it even more clear that Utah had been the beneficiary of some weak competition on the early part of the schedule as the Notre Dame Fighting Irish beat the Utes soundly in a 28-3 final. Seven days later the Utes were again on trial, this time at San Diego State, and again the program nearly rolled over and died before slipping by with a 38-34 victory. Add a narrow 17-16 win over a resurgent BYU group and Utah is making its eighth straight bowl appearance.
During much of the 2010 season the Utah offense was unrivaled, scoring at will against defenseless opponents who couldn’t get out of the way fast enough. However, in crunch time the Utes experienced a power outage as they scored a combined 27 points in three games against TCU, Notre Dame and BYU during the final month of the regular season. Quarterback Jordan Wynn had some rough outings for the group, yet he still finished the campaign by completing better than 62 percent of his pass attempts for 233.4 ypg and 17 touchdowns, against 10 interceptions on 299 attempts.
Jereme Brooks and DeVonte Christopher were the big outlets for Wynn as they combined to make 89 catches for 1,288 yards and 10 touchdowns, but it was really the efforts of Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata coming out of the backfield that dictated what the passing attack was able to accomplish. Wide finished with 11 touchdowns and close to five yards per carry as he split time with Asiata who returned with 673 yards and 8 touchdowns of his own.
At 6-4 the Broncos don’t have that much of a bowl pedigree, but when you consider that record dates back to just 1999 one has to be impressed with the program’s consistency in making it to the postseason in the first place. Last season the team was pitted against another non-BCS squad in TCU and captured a hard-fought 17-10 battle in the Fiesta Bowl. The Utes, have a record of 12-4 in bowl games dating back to a 26-0 beating of New Mexico in the 1939 Sun Bowl, have won nine consecutive postseason dates and that’s the longest active streak in the nation and tied for the second-longest of all-time. Last year, the team defeated California in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego by a score of 37-27 under head coach Kyle Whittingham. Boise State has won four of the previous six encounters.
PICK: Boise State University Broncos
This weeks Mama Margie’s Meltdown Player of the Week will be an easy one especially when you miss two field goals from 26 and 29 yards to keep your schools 24 game winning streak alive and their hopes of playing in a BCS National Championship game and not to mention the $10 million dollars it comes from playing in a BCS game. However it seems fans and alumni of Boise State are rallying behind kicker Kyle Brotzman, as they have started a Facebook group to show their support for Mr. Miss.
The Facebook group which over 9,000 people have joined in little over a day is called “The Bronco Nation Loves Kyle Brotzman.” Here’s the description for the group:
“Boise State’s Kyle Brotzman is the all-time leading scorer for Bronco Football. A walk-on in 2006 and a local Idaho boy from Meridian High School, Kyle has been a key part of the Broncos’ success during an incredible four-year run. In the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, Kyle was at the center of the most memorable play, “The Riddler,” in which he took a snap on a fake punt on 4th down and threw a pass to Kyle Efaw, setting up the touchdown that would win the game for the Broncos.
The page has been filled with positive comments from fans who all want Brotzman to feel their support. That’s nice and all but he will still be our Mama Margies Meltdown Player of the Week.
This game goes down on the ESPN2 network and it features the University of Oklahoma Sooners taking on the University of Cincinnati Bearcats at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
Head coach Bob Stoops takes his Sooners on the road for the first time this season and hopes to finally get a balanced attack from the defensive side of the ball after getting run up on the ground by Air Force and through the air by Utah State. After outlasting Utah State in the opener, 31-24, the Sooners made light work of Florida State, 47-17, but watched as Air Force gave Oklahoma all it could handle last weekend 27-24.
The Sooners defense gave up 351 rushing yards to Air Force it’s most under Stoops since 349 yards by West Virginia in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl blowout. The defense still has NFL caliber players like San Antonio Robert E. Lee High School Volunteer junior linebacker Travis Lewis who leads the team with 27 tackles and one interception. Junior defensive back Jamell Fleming is second on the team in tackles with 25 and senior defensive end Jeremy Beal has 5 tackles for a loss including 2.5 sacks.
The offense for the Sooners at this stage has no question marks as they have gotten stellar play from sophomore quarterback Landry Jones, 851 yards 7 touchdowns and 2 INTs, who is completing 61.9 percent of his passes. Jones has multiple targets likes junior wide receiver Ryan Broyles, 382 yards 3 touchdowns, and senior running back DeMarco Murray, 369 yards 6 touchdowns. Murray is helping the Sooners rushing attack to 133.7 ypg as he turns out an average of 123 ypg.
Back to back Big East champions, the Bearcats have gotten off to a rocky start under new head coach Butch Jones as Cincinnati has lost two of its first three games. The Bearcats are scoring about two touchdowns less per game and have allowed more sacks than any team in the nation.
The Bearcats have moved the ball with a balanced attack that features 117.7 ypg rushing and 219.7 yards passing. Junior quarterback Zach Collaros, 659 yards 6 touchdowns and zero interceptions, has completed 60.7 percent of his passes thus far. Collaros lost his top target senior wide receiver Vidal Hazelton to a season-ending knee injury in the first week of the season. The attention has been turned towards senior D.J. Woods, 264 yards 3 touchdowns, and senior Armon Binns, 209 yards 2 touchdowns. Despite the success through the air the Bearcats are have problems on the offensive line in the area of protection allowing 15 sacks.
Defensively Cincinnati gives up 21 ppg and has been particularly vulnerable to the pass but is led by junior linebacker J.K. Shaffer who has a team high 32 tackles and sophomore linebacker Maalik Bomar is with 17.
These two teams have met just one prior time with Oklahoma posting a 52-26 victory in 2008.
PICK: University of Oklahoma Sooners
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features Boise State University Broncos taking on the Virginia Tech Hokies at FedEx Field for the first-ever meeting between these two schools.
Broncos head coach Chris Petersen has built a winning program at Boise State amassing a 49-4 record in his four seasons, including leading the Broncos to 26 wins in their last 27 games. Last year Boise State finished first in the WAC and 14-0 overall to become just the second team in NCAA history to record a 14-0 season. They capped off last season with 17-10 win over TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.
Boise State returns all but one starter but the prize of the Broncos is star junior quarterback Kellen Moore, 3,536 yards 39 touchdowns 3 INTS, who ranked second in the nation last year in pass efficiency at 161.65 percent. Even more impressive is the fact that Moore attempted 431 passes a year ago and had just three interceptions, setting a new NCAA record for the lowest percentage of passes (0.69) picked off.
Moore will once again be connecting with wide receives Austin Pettis, 63 receptions 855 yards and 14 touchdowns, Titus Young, 79 receptions 1,041 yards and 10 touchdowns. Senior Jeremy Avery, 1,151 yards 6 touchdowns, will again be the primary ball carrier, but a healthy D.J. Harper will only further enhance a strong ground game that netted 186.1 yards per game in 2009.
Boise State is not just an offensive team but are sound defensively too when they lead the WAC and 14th in the nation in holding opponents to an average of 17 points. Leading the way on the defensive line is defensive end Ryan Winterswyk, 17 tackles for loss, 9 sacks. Winterswyk is joined on the line by Billy Winn, 12.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks.
Virginia Tech finished last season 10-3 and 6-2 in the ACC. It was capped of by a 37-14 win over Tennessee in the Chik-fil-A Bowl. Frank Beamer’s Hokies though have lost seven starters from that squad that finished second in the ACC. The Hokies have a dynamic offense centered around senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor, 2,311 yards 13 touchdowns 5 INTS and rushed for 370 yards 5 touchdowns in his first full season as starter.
Virginia Tech’s offensive will also bring back running backs Ryan Williams, 1,655 yards and 21 touchdowns, Darren Evans the 2008 ACC Freshman of the Year is ready to return after being lost to a knee injury last year before the season even started. Williams captalized on his opportunity and brok the ACC freshman yardage record Evans set in 2008.
The Hokies don’t throw the ball much and barely nothing compared to Boise State. However Taylor has his top three targets back in Jarrett Boykin, 835 yards 5 touchdowns, Danny Coale, 614 yards 2 touchdowns, and Dyrell Roberts, 390 yards.
Bud Fosters defense limited opponents to 15 ppg, on just 295.5 yards of total offense but returns only five starters from that unit this season. The defense is lead by junior linebacker Barquell Rivers, 96 tackles 6.5 tackles for loss and defensive back Rashad Carmichael, 6 INTS, who is one of the best cover corners in all of the nation.
PICK: Boise State University Broncos
This game goes down on the ESPN network and it features the Oregon State University Beavers taking on Texas Christian University Horned Frogs, who will be facing off for their first ever meeting in their schools history down in Jerry’s World.
The Beavers came up short last season in their bid to make their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1964 when they lost 37-33 to rival Oregon in the regular-season finale. The Beavers followed that loss with another to BYU, 44-20, in the Las Vegas Bowl. It was certainly a disappointing ending for Mike Riley’s squad, which finished 8-5 and 5-3 in the Pac-10.
For the Beavers to build on last years run they will need quarterback Ryan Katz to play above his experience. The sophomore quarterback will make his first collegiate start this weekend and has only appeared in four games after backing up Sean Canfield. Canfield graduated after throwing for 21 touchdowns and completing a school-record 67.9 percent of his passes.
Katz has the Rodgers brothers, to help him succeed immediately. James Rodgers, the older of the two, had 91 catches for 1,034 yards and 9 touchdowns. Jacquizz on the hand finished 11th in the nation with 1,440 yards and 3rd in touchdowns with 21. The 5-7 junior also grabbed 78 passes and is one of top tier running backs in the nation.
Defensively, Oregon State returns eight starters and defensive tackle Stephen Paea, 8.5 tackles for loss and 3 sacks, is main piece of the puzzle. Dwight Robinson, 55 tackles, returns to the line-backing core. The Beavers are inexperienced in the secondary and as a unit gave up 23 passing touchdowns last season however junior safety Lance Mitchell, who had 72 tackles and 3 INTS, does returns.
TCU enters this season with its highest ranking ever following their 12-0 perfect season and a Mountain West Conference title under the guidance of head coach Gary Patterson. TCU did end up losing to Boise State, 17-10, in the Fiesta Bowl.
Eager to capitalize on last years success the Horned Frogs return an abundance of starters. On a squad that averaged 456.7 yards and 38 points it only lost left tackle Marshall Newhouse and leading rusher Joseph Turner. Senior quarterback Andy Dalton, who enters 2010 as the nation’s leader in victories with 29, passed for 2,756 yards 23 touchdowns 8 INTS while rushing for 513 yards and 3 touchdowns does return. Dalton will have his three favorite receivers back on the field with him. Jeremy Kerley, 532 yards, Jimmy Young, 517 yards, and Bart Johnson, 401 yards.
The Horned Frogs ranked first in the nation in overall defense last season, allowing just 239.7 ypg, and that kind of success has been the norm under Patterson’s 4-2-5. The defense will still have to answer questions on how will they perform without All-American end Jerry Hughes and linebacker Daryl Washington, who were both picked in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. Starting cornerbacks Rafael Priest and Nick Sanders also graduated.
Junior linebacker Tank Carder, 89 tackles 10 tackles for loss, does return and the secondary has a wealth of experience as well, with safeties Tejay Johnson and Alex Ibiloye combining for 129 tackles last season.
PICK: Oregon State University Beavers
This game goes down on the Versus network and it features the University of Pittsburgh Panthers take on the University of Utah Utes. Clearly the pressure is on both teams to perform well coming out of the gate and live up to expectations.
Pittsburgh settled for its first bowl victory in seven years last season after being on the verge but missing out on a BCS Bowl game. The Panthers earned a victory over North Carolina in the Meineke Bowl to give them their first double-digit win season since 1981, 10-3 with a 5-2 record in the Big East Conference.
The Panthers are led on offense by sophomore running back Dion Lewis. He exploded onto the scene with a total of 10 100-yard rushing games as he averaged 138.4 ypg, ranking first in the Big East but also third in the nation. He had an average of 5.5 yards per attempt and a total of 17 touchdowns.
However, the success of the Panthers will rest on how quickly redshirt sophomore quarterback Tino Sunseri can replace Bill Stull, who has just 17 career pass attempts. The offensive line though is stocked with juniors and seniors and that should help keep Sunseri upright as well as open the necessary holes for Lewis to run through.
Head coach Dave Wannstedt will once again have his finger prints all over the defense which was 17th in the nation in stopping the run and was tops in sacks with 3.6 per outing. Tackles for loss was another highlight for the group, registering more than 7.5 to rank 9th in the country. The team returns two beasts on that play on that side in Greg Romeus, 8.5 sacks, and Mick Williams, 17 tackles for loss. The Panthers linebackers are no slouches either and might actually be their strenth with Tristan Roberts, Greg Williams and Dan Mason.
The Utes haven’t allowed a visiting team to win in their home stadium since Sept. 8, 2007, 17 consecutive. Head coach Kyle Whittingham picked up his first win with the program back in 2005 when he and the Utes won against Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. The Utes are looking to continue the momentum they finished off last season with win over California in the Poinsettia Bowl, finishing 10-3 and was 6-2 against the rest of the Mountain West Conference.
The Utes offense will be in the hands of sophomore quarterback Jordan Wynn who took over for Terrance Cain in the eighth game last year and threw for 1,329 yards with 8 touchdowns and 4 INTS. Coach Whittingham has two good running backs in Matt Asiata and Eddie Wide and they both will share the load. Wide put together 6 straight 100-yard rushing games, 1,069 yards and 12 touchdowns.
This is the second meeting between these teams. Utah defeated Pittsburgh 35-7 in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl to cap off a 12-0 season.
PICK: University of Utah Utes
After 21 years of partnership, FedEx and the Orange Bowl are going their separate ways. While the game itself was important to FedEx, the company was not interested in a larger college football platform. ESPN is reserving bowl game entitlements for companies that buy a lengthy and more expensive college football package starting in September.
The network, which will be carrying the BCS games for the first time next year and is selling all sponsorship and advertising inventory, is seeking around $20 million annually over four years for a new title deal that includes ad commitments.
The title sponsorships for all the BCS games ended earlier this year, as Fox completed its four-year run of broadcasting the games. Renewal talks are ongoing between ESPN and Tostitos for the Fiesta Bowl, Allstate for the Sugar Bowl and Citi for the Rose Bowl.
Over the past decade, FedEx consistently has been a top 50 spender in sports advertising. In 2009, it spent $51.6 million, placing it 48th among sports advertisers. It spent $45.1 million in 2008 and $51.3 million in 2007.
I love college football so it pained me to watch last nights game, I was probably let down more by expectations than the game itself, but I was bored. I even caught myself being more in tuned to the Big Bang Theory on CBS than the Tostitos. Come to find out I wasn’t the only, just watch the chick in Boise States band, it explains it all.
Also am I the only one that felt that TCU, who ranked fifth in the country in rushing, abandoned the run early? I mean how is Andy Dalton lead the Horned Frogs with 9 carries, draws and pressures shouldn’t have been the main rushing attack. Where was the use of Joseph Turner and his 11 scores or Matthew Tucker and his 8, these are guys who have carried the ball over 100 times each and last night failed to touch the ball 10 times combined. I’m just saying.
The 40th annual Fiesta Bowl with see two undefeated teams face off as the Mountain West Conference will be represented by the 12-0 TCU Horned Frogs and representing the Western Athletic Conference is the 13-0 Boise State Broncos in Glendale, Arizona. The two teams faced each other in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl, with TCU prevailing in a 17-16 final.
The Broncos are making their second appearance in a BCS game, the first considered one of the greatest college football games ever played when they outlasted Oklahoma in a triple-overtime thriller in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, 43-42. Boise State, which is 5-4 all-time in bowl games, is coached by Chris Petersen, and he owns an incredible 48-4 record in four years at the helm.
Led by star quarterback Kellen Moore, Boise State has one of the most potent offenses in all of college football, averaging a national-best 44 ppg behind 460.5 total ypg. Moore is just a sophomore has thrown for 3,325 yards with 39 touchdowns against only 3 interceptions. His 39 scoring strikes are a school record, and his 167.35 passer rating had him ranked No. 1 in the nation at the end of the regular season. Receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis have been the primary targets hauling in 71 and 62 passes and combining for 1,819 yards and 24 TDs. The BSU run game has done a nice job in keeping opposing defenses honest as Jeremy Avery finished the regular season with 1,131 yards and 6 scores and Doug Martin had 723 yards with 14 scores. The Broncos have outscored the opposition by a whopping 334-92 margin in the first half.
Defensively, Boise State has gotten it done yielding 17 ppg and only 299.6 total ypg. The effort against the pass has been particularly impressive with opponents coming up with just 172.8 ypg. Jeron Johnson has four picks to match Brandon Thompson and he leads the team in tackles with 88. Ryan Winterswyk is the club’s top sack man with 8.5, coming in just ahead of Billy Winn who has 6.
TCU is 12-0 for the first time in school history, and own a 11-13-1 record in 25 previous bowl games. Gary Patterson is 85-27 in charge of the TCU football program and TCU owns the nation’s second-longest winning streak 14 games behind only Texas 17 games, is fourth in the country in scoring 40 ppg.
The Horned Frogs utilize a formidable rushing attack that generates 256.5 ypg which is fifth nationally and has accounted for 35 touchdowns. The aerial assault generates 212.6 ypg and has resulted in 23 scores. The Frogs had four guys rush for more than 500 yards this season, with Joseph Turner heading the group with 732 yards and 11 touchdowns. Andy Dalton is TCU’s quarterback and has thrown for 2,484 yards with 22 touchdowns against only 5 interceptions and rushing for 522 yards and 3 scores. Jeremy Kerley led the team with 38 grabs for 467 yards and 2 scores and Antoine Hicks had only had 19 catches but 6 touchdowns.
From a defensive standpoint, few teams in the nation can match the Horned Frogs intensity or ability to shut down the opposition. TCU is giving up just 12 ppg, and foes have found it nearly impossible to run the football, averaging a mere 80.5 ppg, and the Frogs have permitted just 7 rushing scores all year. TCU has also done a tremendous job defending the pass, permitting a mere 152.8 ypg through the air with only 10 touchdowns. The opposition is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry and only 5.1 yards per pass attempt. Linebacker Daryl Washington is the team’s leading tackler with 99 stops, and he is tied for the club lead in interceptions with Tejay Johnson at three apiece. Jerry Hughes is a force along the TCU defensive line, logging 11.5 sacks.
The all-time series between these two teams in knotted at 1-1, with both meetings taking place in bowl games. In addition to last year’s Poinsettia Bowl, the first encounter took place in the 2003 Fort Worth Bowl, TCU’s home turf. Despite playing in enemy territory, the Broncos rode off with a 34-31 win. Again these two teams faced each other in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl, with TCU prevailing in a 17-16 final.
With the college football regular season over with there’s nothing left for the student bodies to do but to make rap videos. The third installment of BCS Rap Battles is the Fiesta Bowl Game with the WAC champs the Boise State University Broncos versus the Mountain West champs the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs.
Who do you think won in the basement or who will win on January 4st?
As I sat in front of my TV on Sunday to watch the Bowl Selection Committee determine which teams would go where and play who I asked myself why where the fans at TCU so excited to be playing the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl again in 2009 but this time in Arizona instead of California?
Turns outs the producers were there pumping their fists and getting the crowd jazzed with applause signs and telling the fans gathered there that they were going to the Fiesta Bowl but not who they would play until they stuck a microphone in the face of coach Garry Patterson
They fans had no idea of what was going on…just like that Beastie Boys song “Sabotage“