The Arizona Wildcats got their man on Monday night when they hired former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez. Arizona fired Mike Stoops in October after the Wildcats started off the 2011 campaign 1-5. Stoops had gone 41-50 (27-38 in PAC-12 play) and 1-2 in bowl games in his seven plus years as head coach.
Arizona is hoping that Rodriguez will be more West Virginia than Michigan. In his short career at Michigan, Rodriguez went 15-22. As the Mountaineers head coach, Rodriguez was 60-26 and got West Virginia to two BCS bowl games. He won at least 10 games in his last three seasons at West Virginia. By comparison, Arizona has only had two ten win seasons total since they began playing football in 1899.
To be fair here, they've only been playing seasons long enough to make that stat relevant since the late 1940s. Arizona does have a win percentage better than 57% all-time, but is only 6-8-1 in bowl games. They have never played in the Rose Bowl and only shared a PAC-10 title in 1993. Arizona did stomp Miami 29-0 in the Fiesta Bowl that season.
Will Rodriguez be able to bring the Wildcats unprecedented success? The first thing he needs to do is hire the right defense coordinator who meshes with his spread-option offensive style.
Your all-time BCS bowl single game yardage leader-Tim Tebow
The Bowl Blitz
Outback Bowl Northwestern 35, Auburn 38, Overtime
The teams combined for 9 turnovers (7 INTs, 2 lost fumbles), 1037 yards gained, 10 TDs, 11 punts and 15 penalties for 165 yards (Auburn was flagged 12 times for 140 yards).
Perhaps inspired by the successful gamble of Idaho's Robb Akey, Northwestern's Coach Pat Fitzgerald went for the win in OT by calling a fake FG run, the attempt was stopped at the Auburn 2 yard line.
Northwestern's QB Mike Kafka was 47/78 for 532 yards 4 TDs, 5 INTs and rushed for 34 yards and a TD.
Gator Bowl West Virginia 21, Florida State 33
The bowl win was number Bobby Bowden's 22nd. He finishes his career trailing only Joe Paterno in bowl wins (24). Florida State finished its season 7-6 which gave Bowden 33 straight winning seasons.
Noel Devine had 168 yards rushing, 28 receiving yards and 1 TD for West Virginia.
Florida State QB E.J. Manuel was an efficient 17/24 for 189 yards passing and also added 70 yards rushing and 1 TD.
Capital One Bowl Penn State 19, LSU 17
Penn State K Colin Wagner kicked four short FGs (26, 18, 20, 21) including the game winner from 21 yards out with 57 seconds left to play.
Joe Paterno picked up his record 24th bowl win in his record 36th bowl appearance. Les Miles dropped his first bowl game as LSU's coach (4-1 overall).
The teams combined for 15 punts due to atrocious field conditions-a new Capital One Bowl record.
Rose Bowl Ohio State 26, Oregon 17
Ohio State ended a three game BCS bowl losing streak (now 5-3 overall in the BCS) with the win and won their first Rose Bowl since 1997. The Big 10 is now 9-11 (.450) in the BCS. Oregon dropped to 1-1 in BCS play. The Pac 10 is 9-5 (.643) in the BCS.
Ohio State held the ball for a Rose Bowl record 41:37 and ran 89 plays. Oregon only ran 53 plays and was outgained 419-260.
Sugar Bowl Cincinnati 24, Florida 51
Seemingly playing against air in the first half and a stiff a/c breeze in the second half in the Superdome, Gators QB Tim Tebow put up a BCS bowl record 533 total yards (482 passing). He was 31/35 passing and threw 3 TDs and ran for another score. Florida gained a Sugar Bowl record 659 yards.
Florida held a 30-3 halftime lead and scored 23 straight points to start the game and 14 straight after the Cincy FG to put the game away early in the 3rd quarter. The Gators are the only team thus far in the bowl season to eclipse half a hundred on the scoreboard
Cincy falls to 0-2 in the BCS and the Big East is now 6-6 (.500) all-time in the BCS. Florida is now 5-1 in BCS games and improved the SEC's record to 13-5 (.722) in the BCS.
It is very safe going with Lincoln's bowl picks. He is 9-2. Me...not so much, 5-10.
Bowl Challenge Standings
MWC 4-0 1.000 Pt. differential: 68
Sun Belt 1-0 1.000 (Dwight Dasher swagger boost override) Pt. differential: 10
The Bowl Blitz is later, right now, a review of two games that didn't make any sense.
Insert your favorite Miles doesn't have a clue caption
Capital One Bowl
One has to give credit to Joe Paterno and his team for the win. They were not great today by any means, but they did enough to win. QB Daryll Clark did not do anything to lose this game. Clark was very lucky that LSU did not pull in any of the 4 INTs they dropped. Penn St dropped a few possible INTs of their own. Penn St did not run the ball well, but 3 yards a carry was enough. JoePa stuck to conservative playcalling and kicked 4 FGs. Ultimately, it was the right thing to do. It should not have been enough to win the game.
The field was the worst which you will ever see for a bowl game. The Capital One people owe both teams an apology for the sorry state of the chewed up playing surface. The Citrus Bowl Stadium was used for four high school championships and the Champs Sports Bowl before the mud bowl today.
LSU was pathetic. I'll repeat that: pathetic. Miles' bowl game whateveritwas that got his teams into destruction mode is gone. That was his one saving grace. This was the exact same team as the regular season, there was no improvement. In fact, I saw regression. LSU was penalized 10 times for 64 yards. No Les Miles team is ever well disciplined, but to have 10 penalties in a bowl game? Jordan Jefferson had an atrocious first half throwing the football and only an ok second half. He got bailed out by WRs making catches (they dropped any pass they could in the first half) some times. The running game: non-existent. Sure, LSU was down to their 4th string RB, but the O-line couldn't even open a hole in the Penn State defensive line. LSU's offensive playcalls were absolutely predictable and there was one player missing from the field on offense: Russell Shepard. Remember him? The no. 1 dual-threat QB prospect in the country. Probably not, out of his 50 touches (yes, Miles didn't redshirt a guy who only got 50 touches) he attempted a grand total of 0 passes. As I said in the preview, this is completely unacceptable. I certainly will not encourage, but would not fault Shepard for transferring. It is nearly impossible for Les Miles to be fired even if he screws up bad because LSU cannot afford to fire him. From the administration's standpoint, LSU gave him the worst contract in college football. That is why Miles is in no danger after his end of game management in the Capital One Bowl cost LSU at a chance for a win. It was inanely bad. Ole Miss loss bad. Blowing a 21 point lead at home in the 2nd half to Tennessee bad. Part of the fault in the clock management snafu belongs to Jordan Jefferson. No matter what asinine playcalls you get from the booth (and it's every 3rd play on average), there are times when you have to ignore them, Jefferson never does. He's a good player in the sense of respecting the coaches' authority. It's not what LSU needs during Miles' tenure. Talent HAS to overcome the inept coaching decisions. In all of the 4 bowl games up to this point, talent has overcome Miles. It did not tonight and LSU lost 19-17.
The Rose Bowl
Is this still Jim Tressel?
Jim Tressel (figuratively) hung his sweater vest up in the closet for this game. He let Terrelle Pryor sling the ball around. It was not always pretty. Pryor let go of a few passes that were nothing more than prayers that were answered. Still, Pryor completed 62% of his career high 37 pass attempts for a career high 266 yards. He threw 2 TD passes and only 1 INT (he only got 72 yards on 20 rushing attempts and took 4 sacks). There was a guy in a sweater vest on the Ohio State sideline who looked amazingly like Tressel who said, throw it. On the first TD pass, the Buckeyes were in clear 3 pt range on the Ducks 13. Ohio State dialed up 3 pass plays in a row, the TD play was on 3rd and 10. Astonishing. In the 4th quarter, with the Buckeyes ahead 19-17, there was a 2nd and 7 from the Oregon 17. Guaranteed run play, right? Wrong. Tressel or the guy who looked like him went for the throat. Result? TD pass. That score pushed the lead for the Buckeyes out 26-17. Oregon Coach Chip Kelly had a chance to try to get back in the game, went NFL conservative and called for a 45 yard FG on 4th and 1. Result? Pushed wide, game essentially over. The final score was 26-17. Oregon turned the ball over twice and it hurt badly. The first was a Jeremiah Massoli INT that was returned into Oregon territory near the end of the half. Even after Ohio State was safely in FG range, Tressel allow Pryor to throw the ball. Nothing came of the throws, but a made FG gave Ohio State a 16-10 lead. Oregon scored a TD to start the 3rd quarter and Ohio State responded with a FG to make it 19-17. The Buckeyes were throwing before the FG try. Oregon was then swiftly moving the ball 62 yards on 4 plays when RB LeGarrette Blount drop kicked (unintentionally) the ball at the Ohio State 18 and it rolled through the end zone. Was that cosmic revenge for Kelly reinstating Blount after his Boise State sucker punch? The Ducks were done at that point, their high flying offense grounded by their own poor execution and the Buckeyes clock killing drives (Ohio State time of possession: 41:37). Masoli only rushed 6 times for 9 yards and 1 TD. He was terrible throwing the football, 9/20 for 81 yards and 1 INT. Oregon did rush for 179 yards, but couldn't convert on 3rd and long by passing. Hats off to Tressel for ending that 3 game losing streak in BCS bowls.
What Masoli did to that Okie St defender is what the Buckeyes have coming to them
Ohio State (10-2) v. Oregon (10-2)
This game features two mobile QBs, one who supposedly gets to the edge (Terrelle Pryor) and the other who is estimated to be a physical runner (Jeremiah Masoli). That characterization is not entirely accurate. Pryor runs to the edge against slow defenses in the Big 10 and teams from lesser conferences. You cannot call Pryor fast if you watch him closely and objectively. Despite being 6'6", his stride is that of a sub-6 foot tall player. He appears to be in permanent jog mode when he runs the ball. Pryor has never run the ball further than 43 yards in his career and he's got a PCL tear that he will playing on in the Rose Bowl. Masoli doesn't just run hard, he runs wherever he wants, see the video above. Masoli is also the better of the two QBs at throwing the ball (Ohio State has the 106th ranked passing offense, Oregon is not much better at 92nd). Let's compare the two common opponents of Oregon St. and Ohio St.: Pete Carroll's Trojans and Purdue.
Ohio St. lost to both teams, Oregon beat both teams
Stat line v. the Trojans: Pryor 11/25 177 yards 0 TD, 1 INT, 10 rushes 36 yards (1 sack taken); Masoli 19/31 222 yards 1 TD, 0 INT, 13 rushes 164 yards, 1 TD
The big difference in the Purdue games (besides 4 Pryor turnovers) was that Ohio State ran for 66 yards and Oregon racked up 192 yards. In the games against the Trojans, the same thing applied (granted, Tressel went full sweater vest kicking FGs from the Trojan 1 yard line and 5 yard line), the Buckeyes had 88 yards on the ground and the Ducks had 391 yards rushing. Jim Tressel has lost 3 straight bowl games and is only 3-3 against Pac 10 teams (1-2 in the last 3 years). The best Pac 10 Tressel beat was Washington State in 2002--that Cougars team went 10-3 including a Rose Bowl loss. Oregon will have no problems running the ball on Ohio State but Pryor will likely struggle against Oregon both running and throwing. I look for the Ducks to completely dominate the Buckeyes in this game. Lincoln is taking Ohio State.
Cincy's secret weapon, TE Ben Guidugli
Cincinnati Bearcats (12-0) v. Florida Gators (12-1)
What are the Bearcats doing back in the BCS after they got smoked by Virginia Tech last year in the Orange Bowl? Well, they beat everybody on their schedule, won the Big East for the 2nd year in a row and finished 12-0. Had Hunter Lawrence sent his FG wide or more probable with kickers this season, off the upright, the Bearcats are in the National Championship. It wasn't always easy or pretty for Cincy but they made it to New Orleans. They also got Brian Kelly'd after the de facto Big East Championship. Florida won 22 straight games (including a BCS National Championship) after Tebow's promise. The first loss was when UF got handled by Bama in this years' SEC Championship. That's how they got to NOLA and they don't like it. Tebow cried on TV again. The fans weren't buying the tickets. Urban Meyer resigned and then unresigned.
Cincy has a high octane passing offense. The Bearcats QBs Tony Pike and Zach Collaros give this team the highest passing efficiency rating in the country. If they ran the ball better, they'd have the number one offense in the country instead of the 6th best offense. Their star WR is Mardy Gilyard. He also is the number 2 player in all-purpose yards in college football because of his explosive kick and punt returns. Gilyard is the leader of the team as well as its soul. The Bearcats are a reflection of his attitude. Thus far this season, he has refused to lose and made the big plays to keep Cincy in games they should have been out of. The Bearcats secret weapon, if they watched the SEC Championship tape, is TE Ben Guidugli. He is a capable pass catcher and runner. He had a huge day against Illinois with 7 catches for 149 yards and 2 TDs. Guidugli should see some throws his way to open up plays to Gilyard. The Bearcat defense is only a middle of the road group so the offense will have to be firing on all cylinders in order for Cincy to have a shot at the upset win.
Florida's Tim Tebow has played a larger role in the offense than the Gators wanted or needed this season. Steve Addazio's offense has been shaky all season in the redzone and left Gator fans perplexed. The Gator defense remains in the top 5 though. However, the defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is now the head coach at Louisville. The Gators offense is not one that precipitates power running outside of Tebow running at defenders. This plays into Cincy's hands because they had a heck of a time stopping teams with big physical running backs, see the games against UConn, Pitt and Fresno State. The spread offense is not one the Bearcats have struggled to defend. The Gators offensive and defensive players are still faster than Cincy. They have more skill players than Cincy. The Gators D is dominant. On paper there is no way the Bearcats have a chance in this game.
Since this game will not be played on paper but in the Superdome, what are the things that don't go into stat lines that could play a role in the game? The coaching situations. For Cincy, it won't be an issue without BK as head coach, Mardy Gilyard assures us of this. I believe him, the Bearcats play for larger things than one man and that man betrayed them anyway. The Gators want to send Meyer into his indefinite leave of absence with a win. They have also lost assistant coaches before the bowl game. The Gilyard factor. No matter what happens during a game, he won't get rattled. Gilyard used to live in his car and work four jobs while trying to get his scholarship back. The Gators can't let up with a lead or they might just lose it. Disappointment. The Gators don't want to be in this game. Their goal was the National Championship game. I think they come out a little flat and give Cincy a shot to make something good happen right away.
This is more a pick from the heart and not the head. I know I should pick Florida, but I appreciate what Mardy Gilyard does for Cincy much more than I will ever like any Gator player. I'm going with the Bearcats. Lincoln has safely picked the Gators.