Thursday, December 22, 2011
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas- 7 Boise State v. Arizona State
Kellen Moore walked into expectations in ways that a Boise State quarterback hadn’t before. It was Moore’s redshirt freshman year that his team beat Oklahoma in miraculous fashion. You all remember it. After all, what College Football fan could forget? A host of trick plays, including the most famous two point conversion of all time, sealed perhaps the biggest post-season upset of all time.
That was all the work of Jarred Zabransky. No one would have envied the kid sitting on the sidelines, for which the reins to one of the nations’ more talked about programs would be handed to only a few months later. Who would have thought then that it would be Moore who would become the legend at the up and coming school in Idaho, not Zabransky?
Sure, Jarred has that year. That game. That play. He was the quarterback that started the Boise State legend. Moore was the quarterback that built it.
140 touchdowns, 14,374 passing yards, and only 26 interceptions later, Moore’s career ends on a Thursday night in Las Vegas, more than a week before the big boys play. It’s a bit depressing, isn’t it? Andrew Luck’s career will end with (perhaps) a BCS win. Tim Tebow’s ended with a romp in the Sugar Bowl. Matt Leinart’s ended playing for a national title.
Moore’s will end playing for a tire trophy.
But, in many ways, this is fitting. The fact of the matter is Moore and Boise State have always had an uphill battle. It comes with the territory when you play in a non-BCS conference. After all, shouldn’t teams with easier schedules and less competition be held to higher standard? This is, like it or not, also part of Moore’s legacy. He simply didn’t face enough good competition to bring his team to a national title or win a Heisman Trophy.
He never appeared to let that bother him. Moore typically played well, no matter who the opponent was. Whether it was Virginia Tech, TCU, or Louisiana Tech, a noticeable change in skill level was never evident.
If it wasn’t for a faulty kicking game, Moore might be leaving the college game undefeated.
This is why few worries should be paid to the quarterback’s and his team’s motivation going into a very early bowl (for a one loss team) against Arizona State.
The Sun Devils finished the year 6-6, losing five of their final six games. Opponents like Washington State and California put big numbers on the defense. A perhaps promising season turned into a calamity rather quickly. The Head coach lost his job, the team has presumably lost its confidence, and the program awaits a new beginning.
It is doubtful that that new beginning will come in the final game for a Boise State legend.
Time will tell whether Kellen Moore is remembered as a college football great or just another mid-major stat hound with the gaudy numbers to prove it. Will he be more Leinart or Colt Brennon?
That answer most likely depends on two factors:
1. How Boise State matures as a program following his departure and the Broncos ascension into a big time football conference.
2. Moore success in the NFL
Those answers may take years to come to fruition, but one can be sure that the newly married quarterback doesn’t care about either right now.
It’s all about Arizona State and hoisting that golden tire.
Isn’t that a lasting image to be proud of?
The Pick: Boise State
Bowl Mania Record: 2-3
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Wednesday, December 21, 2011
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl- 18 TCU vs. Louisiana Tech- 8 p.m.
For a team that lost two games by a combined nine points and hasn’t lost since the first day of October, you would understand if TCU feels a bit disrespected. One would think that a two loss defending Rose Bowl champion who beat a top 5 team on the road in November would at least get to play after Christmas Day, if not on New Year’s Day. But alas, these were the unfortunate cards that Gary Patterson’s group were dealt.
TCU’s season started out with a dud when Robert Griffin III and Baylor put 50 on them on the first Friday night of the season. Ironically, this was probably one of the top five individual games of the year. The loss represented a change in identity for the Horned Frogs.
For years, TCU was the anti- Boise State- strong defense and just enough offense (if sometimes underrated) to win. This year, it was the offense that made the Horned Frogs fun to watch. Ranked in the top ten, TCU scored over 40 points a game. Quarterback Casey Pachall tossed 24 touchdowns and only six interceptions. He threw five touchdowns against Boise State on November 12, proving that he can play well in really big games.
It wasn’t a bad defensive year by any means, but it wasn’t up to the standards of past Paterson coached units. A 21 points allowed per game average was no doubt skewed by the 50 and 40 points given up to Baylor and SMU, respectively. After those two games, the defenses highest points allowed total came against Boise State (35), which isn’t something to hang their heads over considering the offensive power house that the Broncos are.
Louisiana Tech could pose two problems for TCU.
One, they’ve played every tough opponent on their schedule tough. The Bulldogs fell at Southern Mississippi 19-17, home against Houston 35-34, and at Mississippi State 26-20 in overtime. Of their four losses, only one (Hawaii, 44-26) can be considered bad.
Two, Louisiana Tech could be a lot more motivated to play in the game than TCU. This kind of bowl is where 8-4 teams usually find themselves, not 10-2 teams. A lapse in motivation early in the game combined with an opponent with a penchant to play up to “superior” opponents could cause major issues for the Horned Frogs early in the game.
Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron threw 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions in six games. That kind of ball security will be key in a game that is nothing but an uphill battle.
If they don’t let the game get away from them early, TCU has enough fire power and pure talent to battle through early struggles. But, if Patterson doesn’t prepare his players to be hit hard early, this could spin out of control
Question of the game: Can TCU weather any early Louisiana Tech surge and let pure talent find its way?
The Pick: TCU
Bowl Mania Record: 1-3
Monday, December 19, 2011
Beef O Brady’s Bowl- St. Petersburg- Florida International v. Marshall, Tuesday 8 p.m.
This has all the makings of a lopsided evening. Neither team scores a ton of points, but FIU can play defense in ways that Marshall is going to have a hard time matching.
The Golden Panthers are ranked 16th in the nation in defense, allowing under 20 points per game. But, like anything in this game of matchups, don’t think for a moment that FIU is a top 20 defense just because of the high ranking. Allowing 19.4 points a game is easy when the only BCS win on the schedule is Louisville. Allowing 31 points in a loss to Duke doesn’t exactly inspire confidence either.
Golden Panther running back Kedrick Rhodes rushed for over 1,000 yards, but only found the end zone 8 times. Quarterback Wesley Carroll threw 14 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Taking care of the football will be a key against a Marshall team that doesn’t score a lot of points.
FIU finished the year with three straight wins, two of which came on the road.
Marshall needed an overtime win over East Carolina in the final week of the season to clinch bowl eligibility. They finished the year on a two game winning streak, but easily could have lost both games. A November 17 win over 2-10 Memphis came by only a single point. 13 fourth quarter points prevented both embarrassment and post season elimination.
Marshall ranks 98th in offense, scoring 22 points a game. This, combined with a defense that barely cracks the statistical top 85, has contributed to some blowout losses. They lost 44-7 to Ohio, 30-10 to Virginia Tech, 68-28 to Houston, and 59-17 to Tulsa.
Marshall just isn’t a competitive football team. How they finished second in the Conference-USA eastern division is a testament to how bad that conference was.
Question of the game: Over/under 25 points? Yes, that’s a serious question.
The Pick: Florida International
Bowl Mania Record: 1-2
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Friday, December 16, 2011
By Jordan Lauterbach
Gildan New Mexico Bowl- Temple vs. Wyoming, 2 p.m.- Wyoming’s strength is in the running game. They rank in the top 35 in rushing (32). That category is the only one that the Cowboys sit in the top 60 in the country. Production wise, it’s an even split between running back Alvester Alexander and freshman quarterback Brett Smith. Alexander averages just a hair under five yards a carry and has found the end zone six times. Smith has scored 10 touchdowns on the ground and has thrown for 18.
Wyoming won three of its last four games, losing only to Boise State on November 26. Smith threw two touchdowns and two interceptions in a 22-19 season finale win over Colorado State. Those turnovers left the Cowboy quarterback with 8 in 2011.
Temple finished the year ranked third in defense. The pure statistical ranking is a bit misleading because of the schedule and two shutouts in the middle of the season. However, they did give Penn State a game, losing by four in week three. After losing dominant pass rusher Mo Wilkerson to the NFL, the continued defensive dominance is certainly impressive.
Question of the game: Can Wyoming’s freshman quarterback keep the Cowboys in the game against Temple’s strong defense in a bowl game environment?
The Pick: Temple
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio vs. Utah State, 5:30pm- Ohio was a half away from capturing the MAC title three weeks ago. The Bobcats were up 20-0 on Northern Illinois at the half before it all came crashing down. 16 fourth quarter points and Ohio was watching the Huskies hoist a trophy that was thought to be in the bag at the break.
It’s hard to determine how this type of loss will affect a team headed into a bowl. A second straight year playing on the first day of bowl season may not sit well with a team that was so close to a championship.
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Tettleton had a great regular season, throwing 26 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. He also ran for nine touchdowns, seven more than senior running back Dante Harden.
Fun fact: Ohio has never won a bowl game.
Utah State’s fifteen minutes of national fame came in the first week of the season when they took Auburn to the brink in Jordan-Hare Stadium. That 42-38 loss took a lot out of the Aggies. The lost four of their next six games, making bowl eligibility look like a pipe dream. However, five wins to end the year tumbled them into the first Saturday of “the season.”
That’s the most fascinating contrast to this game. Ohio is better, but Utah State is hotter- and presumably less angry about the way the season ended. The Aggies can also run the ball. Robert Turbin ran for 1416 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Question of the game: Is Ohio still hanging their heads over the MAC championship game?
The Pick: Utah State
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: San Diego State vs. Louisiana- Lafayette, 9p.m. - A veritable home game will do the Ragin’ Cajans some good. Four of their final five games came away from home, including a 45-37 heartbreaking loss at Arizona in the final week of the year.
Luckily for Louisiana-Lafayette, they were already bowl eligible when the road stretch came into play, running off six straight wins after an opening week loss to Oklahoma State. They were 2-3 once the win streak came to an end.
Ragin’ Cajun quarterback Blaine Gautier threw for over 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Gautier is, by far, the main weapon on the Louisiana-Layfayette offense.
San Diego State finished 8-4 in the first year of the post- Hoke era. They put 35 on Boise State in a loss on November 19. Quarterback Ryan Lindley threw 20 touchdowns this year and 8 interceptions (3 of which came in the same game). Running back Ronnie Hillman scored 19 touchdowns.
Question of the game: Ranked 83rd in defense, does Louisiana have enough on defense to stop Lindley and Hillman?
The Pick: San Diego State
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Monday, December 5, 2011
First off, let me preface by saying that I am a football fan. I don't hate a team yet at the same time I don't consider myself a diehard fanatic of one team, I am simply a football junkie. Now saying that what exactly are the New York Jets? 13 weeks into this NFL season and the only thing that has been consistent of Gang Green has been their inconsistentcy in all facets of the sport.
- It's starts with the quarterback who has clearly taken a step back in 2011.
- The offensive line has yielded almost as many sacks as they did all of 2010.
- The RB position has had its moments but it's nowhere near where it should be for this team.
- The receivers and tight-ends have been all over the place all season.
- The defense is simply not the defense of two years ago and even last year.
- The secondary has been, well, good and it has been bad.
- Special teams started out strong and have taken a step back the past few weeks.
So forget about the areas and just focus on the games they've played. If you dissect every quarter of every game, what exactly have the Jets showed you to prove they can be a legitimate squad down the stretch? They were dominated opening night against Dallas and thanks to QB Tony Romo they were able to come back and win. Despite beating Jacksonville 32-3 they really did very little on offense and the QB did not have a great game. Gang Green then went on a tough three game road trip and loss all three to simply better teams. Even though they would win the next two games against Miami and San Diego, the Jets were bailed out by mistakes by Miami and mostly domination by San Diego. Now week 9 against Buffalo was their best played game against the Bills, everything went right in Buffalo. In their last four games all the Jets did was be totally pushed around by New England, Buffalo, and Washington but came out on top in the latter two. They did play well in Denver but could not stop the Broncos offense when it mattered the most.
So with only four weeks left, a two game winning streak that really was more luck than great play, and needing a lot of help in order to make the postseason the chances of the Jets making the playoffs are in a word slim. Why? Simple, what exactly have the Jets showed that they could make it. They can only use the "a win is a win" manta so many times.
-Follow Johnny on Twitter @MontalbanoNY and listen to his analysis of the week that was and the week that will be on "Review & Preview" Wednesday's from 5-6pm on WCWPSports.org