Daily Blog • Monday, January 16th


Bowl News and Notes Part 4 Plus Playoff Recaps

COTTON BOWL Arkansas 29 Kansas St 16 Dome. KSU had a 19-13 FD edge but Ark a 345-260 yd edge. Joe Adams got his 4th PR TD on the yr and this one was 51 yds. AU had their first 11 win season since Lou Holtz’s 1977 team and Frank Broyles only undefeated season at Ark (1964). This was played in Jerry Jones’ (Ark alum) Dallas Cowboys Stadium. AU came in #6 in the BCS and KSU #8. AU’s first FD didn’t come until early 2Q but thanks to the PR TD they led 19-2 with KSU’s 2 pts coming on a blk’d xp ret’d for 2. It was 19-16 late 3Q when AU on 3&9 got a 9 yd td pass, 26-16 (3:57). KSU missed a 43 yd FG with 6:36 left. AU got a 30 yd FG with 3:30 left and KSU got to the AU37 but on 4&16 was int’d at the 25 and ret’d 61 yds.

SUN BOWL Utah 30 Georgia Tech 27 OT GT led Utah 24-10 into the 4Q but UT got td’s with 6:50 and 1:32 left to tie. GT missed a 48 yd FG with :02 left sending it to OT. The first time in the 77 year history of the Sun Bowl it had gone to OT. GT had earlier missed two 40 yd FG’s and GT finished with a 448-337 yd edge and 19-14 FD edge losing their 7th straight bowl appearance while Utah moved to 7-1 in bowls under Whittingham. GT’s Preston Lyons who had just 39 carries on the year, rushed for 138 yds as David Sims was out with an injury and Orwin Smith was banged up. GT got a 74 yd IR TD in the 3Q to go up 24-10. UT converted on 4&3 for their first 4Q TD and opted to punt on 4&3 from their own 25 with 2:48 left but a 31 yd PR set them up at the GT24 and the TD came on a 4&14, 28 yd pass. After GT got a FG in OT, UT on 3&gl from the 8 got an 8 yd td run by White for the win.

KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER BOWL Illinois 20 UCLA 14 This game featured 2 teams that did not have winning records and both had interim HC’s. Whitney Mercilus tied Simeon Rice’s school record for in a season with 16 sks. IL won their first 6 of the year, lost the next 6 but got a winning season at 7-6 while UCLA, despite being in a bowl actually finished the year 6-8. IL had a 178-18 rush edge and 326-219 yd edge. UCLA came in avg 190.7 ypg rushing but was held to a season low. LA was the first team to go to a bowl with a losing record since North Texas in 2001. Officials used an Oreo cookie for the opening coin toss and there were 29,878 tix sold. There were some blown opportunities. IL was int’d at the LA31 and SOD at their own 44 in the 1H. That SOD set up a UCLA 44 yd drive for a TD and LA led 7-0 (10:02 2Q). IL faked a FG on 4&1 from the LA23 and were SOD and settled for a 36 yd FG after taking a sk on 3&gl from the 3. LA missed a 34 yd FG in the 3Q and IL missed a 37 yd FG. IL got ahead with a 39 yd IR TD and on 3&8 got a 60 yd TD pass with 5:36 left to basically clinch it at 20-7 (5:36). LA punted with 4:04 left on 4&14 but drove 84/9pl getting a garbage TD with :29 left and IL rec’d the onside kick.

ORANGE BOWL West Virginia 70 Clemson 33 Tavon Austin tied a record for any bowl with 4 TD rec’s and TO’s were a big key to WV’s dominance over CU as 3 TO’s in the 2Q turned a close game into a blowout. CU was playing its first major bowl in 30 years and WV improved to 3-0 in BCS bowl games. It was expected to be a high scoring game and WV did finish with a 589-443 yd edge. The key play of the game was a 99 yd FR TD. CU had a 1st & gl at the WV3 and were poised to retake the lead 24-21 when that play happened to put them down by 11. CU then turned it over twice in the final 2:00 of the 1H setting up 32 and 18 yd “drives” for quick TD’s, the latter coming with just :04 left in the half and WV blew open a close game and led 49-20 and then went 73 and 74 yds on their first 2 drives of the 2H vs a deflated CU team to lead 63-20. It was actually 70-26 (6:21) with CU getting a TD with 1:01 left to “only” lose by 37 pts.

ROSE BOWL Oregon 45 Wisconsin 38 UO won their first Rose Bowl game since they beat Penn in 1917, 14-0. That year they wore leather helmets and here they wore mirrored helmets. Montee Ball rushed for 164 yds and LaMichael James 159. After the bowl, Ball declared he was coming back and James left early for the NFL. D’Anthony Thomas only had 2 carries for the Ducks but made the most of them with 91 and 64 yd TD runs. The 2 combined to produce the highest scoring 1Q (14-14) and 1H (28-28) in Rose Bowl history and their 83 pts topped the 1991 Rose Bowl when Washington and Iowa combined for 80. UO finished with a 621-508 yd edge. UW led 38-35 after 3Q’s and then trailing 45-38, had a 29 yd pass down to the UO27 but fmbl’d with 4:06 left. They got it back on their 13, got 29 and 33 yd passes but with :02 left, the ref spotted the ball and they snapped and spiked it but it was ruled time ran out and they did not get a chance at one more shot from the Duck25.

FIESTA BOWL Oklahoma St 41 Stanford 38 OT The game started like it would be anything but high scoring as on the first 8 poss there was just 1 TD into the 2Q but the teams would combine for 35 pts in the 2Q incl 43 and 67 yd TD passes to Blackmon. SU did not trail in the entire 2H. OSU, down 38-31, converted on 4&3 for a 21 yd pass from its own 40 to keep a drive alive and got a TD with 2:35 left. SU went 63/9pl and lined up for a 35 yd FG from the middle of the field. Their K had not missed from under 40 all year but missed then missed again in OT and OSU escaped with the win.

BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP Alabama 21 LSU 0 - LSU didn’t cross midfield until 8:00 were left in the game as Alabama proved that they are one of the top defenses in NCAA history. They held LSU to 5 FD’s and 92 yds. Jeremy Shelley tied a bowl record with 5 FG’s and the game was somewhat of a replay of their 9-6 OT match except Bama completely dominated this one on offense, defense and special teams. Trent Richardson rushed 20 times for 96 yards and got the first TD in the 2 games with 4:36 left on a 34 yard run. AJ McCarron was the star player as they threw on FD all but twice and McCarron hit 23-34-234 yds. Bama even lost their top PR/WR Marquis Maze after a long PR in the 1Q and he DNR. Bama missed 2 FG’s in the game with a 42 yd’r blk’d and a 41 yd’r being missed late 3Q and LSU when they crossed midfield with 7:53 left was actually still within 2 scores despite the domination but after Bama went up 21-0 LSU opted to punt on 4&9 from their own 24 with 2:47 left and Bama’s final play ended at the LSU 40.

WILDCARD HOUSTON 31 vs Cincinnati 10 - Houston had its first ever playoff game and it was at home in front of a charged up crowd. Cincinnati was coming off a home game vs Baltimore which was like a playoff game but they had come up short and now had a rookie QB making a playoff road start. Foster rushed for 153 yards (6.4). Dalton did outstat TJ Yates hitting 27-42-257 while Yates hit 11-20-159. Each team went 3&out to open. HOU got 1 FD and punted and CIN went 74/5pl, the key a 52 yd PI down to the 20. The TD put the Bengals up 7-0. HOU answered with an 80/6pl drive and Foster’s 8 yd td run tied it at 7. CIN went on a 14pl drive but on 3&8 was sk’d for a 9 yd loss and missed 50 yd FG (12:45 2Q). CIN20 went 61/8pl for a 37 yd FG, 10-7 (7:09). HOU went 59/13pl and settled for a 39 yd FG, 10-10 (1:48). The key play of the game happened after the Bengals got 1 FD to their 34. Dalton threw a short pass that was int’d by DL Watt and ret’d 29 yds for a TD and HOU led 17-10 (:52). CIN got 1 FD and was sk’d. At half the yards were even at 156. The first three 2H poss were punts. HOU took over with 5:45 left in the 3Q and went 83/9pl and got a 40 yd TD pass to Johnson, 24-10. CIN20 got 2 FD but on 4&3 were int’d from the HOU47. Joseph actually should have dropped the int as it cost them 23 yds of field position and HOU started at their 24. HOU got 2 FD’s and punted with just 7:25 left. CIN was then int’d at their own 45 and HOU’s Foster ripped off a 42 yd TD run down the right sideline where he barely stayed in bounds, 31-10 (5:15). CIN gained 71 yds on 13 plays getting to the HOU9 where they were SOD on 4&5 with 2:23 left.

WILDCARD NEW ORLEANS 45 Detroit 28 -. DET rushed for just 32 yds and Drew Brees hit 33-43-466 as the Saints piled up a 626-412 yd edge. Two TO’s in the 1H kept it close. DET opened with an 80/8pl drive and got a 10 yd TD pass. NO19 got 2 FD’s but fmbl’d at the DET18. DET got 2 FD’s to midfield and punted. NO went 89/11pl for a TD, 7-7 (14:01 2Q). DET went 87/9pl for a TD, 14-7 (9:11). NO20 got 3 FD’s but fmbl’d at the DET38. After DET went 3&out punting with 5:03 left, NO went 78/14pl but settled for a 24 yd FG on the last play of the half on 3rd down. At the half the Saints had a 256-210 yd edge but trailed by 4. NO scored TD’s on their first five 2H drives. The opened with a 78/4pl drive for a TD. DET got 1 FD and punted. NO went 92/13pl for a TD, 24-14 (4:03). DET went 80/8pl and got a 1 yd TD run, 24-21 (1:08 3Q). NO went 80/14pl for a 17 yd TD run by Sproles, 31-21 (9:53). DET was int’d on a deep pass and the Saints went 61/4pl for a TD, 38-21. DET went 79/9pl and got a 12 yd TD pass with 4:40 left, 38-28. NO rec’d the onside kick then went 44/4pl for a TD with 3:36 left. DET20 got 1 FD and was int’d and ret’d 17 yds to their own 33. NO got a FD to the 7 and took a knee.

WILDCARD DENVER 29 Pittsburgh 23 OT - The story here was two-fold. Injuries to PIT and big plays in the passing game for Tebow. PIT came in without their top rusher Mendenhall, C Pouncy and S Clark and a banged up Roethlisberger. During the game, their entire D-line was injured and out by mid-2Q and they also lost starting OT Starks. The Steelers game plan was to take away the Bronco rush and that left Tebow some deep passes. He had just 10 completions for the game but they went for an amazing 316 yards. PIT looked like they would dominate early. They opened with a 53/8pl drive for a 45 yd FG. DEN went 3&out on their first 2 poss. PIT punted on their 2nd poss but then went 47/12pl and settled for another FG, this one 38 yds and led 6-0 in a dominating 1Q where they had 119-10 yd edge. DEN went 80/5pl with a 30 yd TD pass to Royal. That was set up by a 21 yd pass to Decker and DEN led 7-6 (13:24 2Q). PIT went 3&out and DEN got a 58 yd pass to Thomas on its 2nd play and went 73/4pl for an 8 yd Tebow TD run, 14-6. PIT was int’d at their own 27 and ret’d 9 yds. DEN got 1 FD and settled for a 20 yd FG, 17-6 (7:30). PIT got 1 FD and punted (5:09). DEN31 went 59/8pl and got a 28 yd FG with 1:08 left in the half, 20-6. PIT got 2 FD’s to the DEN 38 but on 3&4 from the 32, Roethlisberger fmbl’d the snap and was tkl’d for a loss and PIT punted. At half DEN had a 233-170 yd edge. DEN opened the 3Q (20) with 3 FD’s to the PIT38 but punted 26 yds. PIT13 went 87/11pl for a TD, 20-13. DEN went 63/12pl and got a 35 yd FG, 23-13 with 13:10 left. PIT went 61/7pl but settled for a 37 yd FG, 23-16. DEN got 2 FD’s but then McGahee fmbl’d and PIT appeared poised for the win. They went 55/7pl and got a TD to tie with 3:48 left. DEN got 1 FD and punted and PIT (24) once again got to the DEN45 but Roethlisberger was sk’d and fumbled for an 11 yd loss and they punted on 4&14. In OT DEN won the toss and on the first play, Tebow went deep and found Thomas for an 80 yd TD. Even in the new playoff OT rules, that ended the game.

WILDCARD NY GIANTS 24 Atlanta 2 - ATL was a dome team playing outdoors but it was 44? with 12 mph winds. The story here was two failed 4th down conversions which really set the tone for the game. The first 5 poss opened with punts and just 1 combined FD. ATL went 66/14pl but on 4&1 on the first play of the 2Q were SOD. Two plays later, however, Eli Manning was called for intentional grounding in the EZ on 2&21 from the 13 so ATL got a safety and the lead, 2-0. ATL38 got 1 FD and punted. NYG went 85/13pl with 9 runs on the drive. The TD made it 7-2. 2 punts. ATL took over with 1:08 left in the half (20) and got 2 FD’s. At half NYG had a slim 128-127 yd edge. ATL opened the 3Q with a punt and NYG went 72/11pl but settled for a 22 yd FG after a 1st & gl at the 5, 10-2. ATL21 went 58/9pl but on 4&1 were SOD at the NYG21. Three plays later Manning found Hicks for a 72 yd TD pass where he was wide open over the middle then outraced the secondary in the EZ, 17-2. ATL went 3&out and the NYG went 85/10pl and got a 27 yd TD pass to Manningham to lead 24-2 with 9:55 left. ATL punted on 4&10 and the NYG went on a time consuming 71/12pl drive eating up 6:25 and missing a 32 yd FG with 2:57 left. ATL gained 54/10pl being SOD on 4&10 at the NYG17 with 1:01 left. NYG had a 442-247 yd edge.

CONF SEMI-FINALS SAN FRANCISCO 36 New Orleans 32 - Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. There has been a grand total of one team that has ever won a playoff game giving up 5 TO’s and that was back in 1977 when the Oakland beat the Baltimore Colts. The TO’s kept the Saints from dominating but this turned out to be one of the most exciting finishes of any playoff game. With 1:37 left in the game, NO had 26-14 FD and 472-322 yd edges and led by 3 but Alex Smith hit a huge 47 yd pass to Vernon Davis which got him in scoring position and they got a 14 yd TD pass while in FG range to tie it with :09 left. Had that pass been incomplete, the game would have gone to OT. NO opened with a 78/12pl drive but fmbl’d at the 2. Each team punted and SF got a 49 yd TD pass to Davis to go up 7-0. It was a 54/2pl drive. NO14 got 1 FD and then were int’d and ret’d 41 yds to the 4. SF got a TD 3pl later, 14-0. NO then fmbl’d the KO at their own 13 and SF got a 25 yd FG to lead 17-0 giving them scoring drives of 3 and 4 yds. The Saints went 80/9pl for a TD. SF went 3&out and the Saints went 66/7pl for a TD, 17-14. SF punted but the Saints were int’d at the SF29 with 1:54 left in the half. Each team punted and then SF fmbl’d at their own 45 but NO could not capitalize on SF’s lone TO as they fired incomplete 3 times. NO fmbl’d the punt at their own 26 and SF got a 3 yd drive for a 41 yd FG. 4 punts. NO went 47/9pl getting a 48 yd FG to pull within 20-17. 2 punts. SF36 got a 42 yd run by Gore to the 22 and got a 37 yd FG to go up by 6, 23-17 (7:36). NO went 79/9pl and got a TD for the lead with 4:02 left on a 44 yd pass to Sproles. SF answered. On 3&8 it appeared they were going to settle for a FG but Alex Smith ran around the left end 28 yds for a TD and the 2 pt failed and SF led 29-24 with 2:11 left. NO12 got 2 FD’s then a 66 yd TD pass to Graham appeared to give them win. The 2pt conv made it 32-29 with 1:37 left. SF got 1 FD and then a 47 yd pass to Davis and on 3&4 in FG range for OT, took one final shot at the EZ and their wish was granted as it was a 14 yd TD to Davis for the outright win.

CONF SEMI-FINALS NEW ENGLAND 45 Denver 10 - Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow. The media focus on Tim Tebow all week and Tom Brady made sure folks didn’t forget about him. He hit 26-34-363 yds and tied an NFL Playoff record with 6 TD passes. The record was set by Daryle Lamonica in 1969 and tied by Steve Young in the 1995 Super Bowl. The outcome was decided by halftime. NE rolled up 31-15 FD and 509-252 yd edges. NE opened with a quick 80/5pl drive for a TD. DEN got a pair of FD’s to the NE37 but Tebow was sk’d and fmbl’d. NE quickly went 59/7pl for a TD, 14-0. DEN17 got 1 FD and punted. NE13 got 1 FD and was int’d and ret’d 17 yds to their own 24. They set the Broncos up for a 24/4pl drive and McGahee’s 5 yd TD appeared to make a game of it, 14-7. NE got 1 FD to midfield and punted but DEN went 3&out and NE went 52/8pl for a TD, 21-7 (7:42). 3 punts. NE took over with 2:27 left in the half and got a 61 yd TD pass to Branch with just 1:57 left. DEN threw the ball twice and punted with 1:09 left. The Pats made them pay with a 58/5pl drive for a TD with :05 left, a 19 yd pass to Gronkowski, 35-7. At the half NE had 19-7 FD and 351-120 yd edges. DEN went 3&out and NE went 44/4pl after a 15 yd PR by Edleman, 42-7. DEN went 3&out and NE(49) got 2 FD’s to the DEN23 but fmbl’d. DEN went 58/14pl and got a 41 yd FG with 2:14 left in the 3Q, 42-10. NE went 78/11pl for a 20 yd FG, 45-10 (12:39). DEN went 77/14pl and were SOD on 4&gl at the NE3. NE got 2 FD’s and punted with 2:56 left and DEN was happy to run the clock out taking over at their own 5 and getting 1 FD with 5 runs.