Thursday, December 31, 2015

Alabama Crimson Tide: 2015 Cotton Bowl Champions

ARLINGTON, Texas — Breaking down No. 2 Alabama's 38-0 victory over No. 3 Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl.
THE BIG PICTURE: Well, here they are again. After a two-year drought that produced questions about whether Alabama had slipped a notch from its dynasty days, Nick Saban has the Crimson Tide back in the national title game trying to win his fourth championship at Alabama and fifth overall. It was accomplished in pretty dominant fashion on Thursday, as Alabama held Michigan State to 239 yards of offense, got the lead in the second quarter and administered a death grip that has become all too familiar for SEC opponents. If you can't put scoreboard pressure on Alabama and force them to do things they're not comfortable doing, their natural advantages will eventually turn into an avalanche of points.
Ever since the Crimson Tide lost to Ole Miss back on Sept. 19, they've only had one close call — a 19-14 victory over Tennessee on Oct. 24 — and look to be focused and fresh heading to Arizona for a date with No. 1-ranked and undefeated Clemson. Alabama will be favored by Las Vegas oddsmakers. On the other hand, this was a disappointing end to Michigan State's incredible season and the Connor Cook era, which included a pair of Big Ten titles. . This was simply a bad matchup for the Spartans, who try to play the same style as Alabama only with less size and talent. That doesn't work out very well for SEC teams who try it, and it didn't here. Michigan State's best hope was to keep it close into the fourth quarter and maybe catch a break, but Alabama wouldn't allow it.
WHAT WE'LL BE TALKING ABOUT: Michigan State's plan was clear. The Spartans wanted to take away the run and make Alabama quarterback Jake Coker beat them. And that's exactly what he did. Coker, who came into the game ranked 42nd nationally in passing efficiency, played his best game of the season and picked apart Michigan State despite operating under heavy pressure. It seemed like every time Coker got hit he was able to release the ball just in time to find an open receiver, finishing 25-of-30 for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Though a few of those completions were incredible catches by the receivers and some were simple screens, Coker still delivered a handful of good downfield throws and played a solid, mistake-free game. To step up and play this well on a big stage was both a credit to Coker and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who has made a habit of developing quarterbacks out of guys who previously struggled.
THE DECIDING PLAY: Michigan State had an opportunity to go into halftime down 10-7 and perhaps get some momentum, putting together its best drive of the game in a two-minute offense. With 25 seconds left in the half, the Spartans had a first down at the Alabama 12-yard line after an 18-yard throw to Aaron Burbridge. At minimum, Michigan State should have gotten a field goal. But on the next play, Cook tried a fade to Burbridge in the end zone but didn't get any air under it, allowing cornerback Cyrus Jones to make a break on the ball for an interception. Given that the first half was generally pretty even aside from one big passing play, it was a pretty crushing development for Michigan State. Alabama came out in the third quarter and immediately marched down the field to make it 17-0, and that was pretty much the end for Michigan State.
KEY STAT: Alabama led the nation by a pretty wide margin this season, allowing a mere 74 rushing yards per game (Boston College was second at 82.8). So it's no surprise Michigan State also struggled to run the ball against a front seven that has frequently been called one of the best in recent memory. But the level of demolition Alabama wreaked on the Spartans' offensive line was even more massive than expected. Michigan State ran for a mere 29 yards on 26 carries. Even removing sacks, the Spartans finished with just 53 rushing yards.


Happy New Year from the Bedlam on Baltic Avenue.

Clemson Tigers: 2015 Orange Bowl Champions

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Deshaun Watson turned in another stellar two-way performance, running for one touchdown, passing for another and accounting for 332 yards to lead top-ranked Clemson to a 37-17 victory over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl national semifinal game Thursday.
Clemson (14-0) dominated the second half and shut down Oklahoma's prolific offense, which averaged 52 points over its previous seven games. The Sooners (11-2) actually came into the game as favorites, but the Tigers showed their perfect record was no fluke.
Watson got off to a slow start passing, but came back to complete 16-of-31 for 187 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown to Hunter Renfrow that gave Clemson some breathing room late in the third quarter. The Heisman finalist also ran for 145 yards on 24 carries, scoring the Tigers' first touchdown on a 5-yard run.
Clemson advances to face either Alabama or Michigan State in the Jan. 11 national championship game.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wisconsin Badgers: 2015 Holiday Bowl Champions

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Rafael Gaglianone kicked a 29-yard field goal with 2:27 left to lift No. 23 Wisconsin to a 23-21 victory against Southern California in the Holiday Bowl on Wednesday night.

Gaglianone's third field goal gave Wisconsin (10-3) its first win in seven tries against USC (8-6). The teams hadn't met since 1966, and two of USC's wins in the series were in the Rose Bowl, in 1953 and 1963.

Wisconsin's Sojourn Shelton intercepted Cody Kessler with 1:44 left. Kessler was hit from behind by Jack Cichy.

In the third quarter, Cichy sacked Kessler on three straight plays.

The Trojans got to the 50 in the final seconds before Kessler threw four straight incompletions.
USC, which beat Nebraska in last year's Holiday Bowl, had taken a 21-20 lead on Kessler's 7-yard touchdown pass to Darreus Rogers with 10:19 left.

Louisville Cardinals: 2015 Music City Bowl Champions

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Louisville football came here to Nissan Stadium, three hours or so from home, and put in a solid performance to finish the 2015 season, running past Texas A&M 27-21 in the Music City Bowl on Wednesday night.

The win pushes Louisville (8-5) into a critical offseason in which a young team hopes to start the process of growing into a potential ACC title contender in the coming seasons. The Cards will spend the next few weeks waiting on the decisions of four key juniors who are trying to figure out if they want to return to school for one more season or make an NFL roster.

In the meantime, U of L has its third bowl win in four seasons, a budding star in freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson and a young core of talent around him.

Offensive player of the game: It has to be Jackson, who set a freshman record for total offense in a single game (453 yards) and broke the school's career rushing record for quarterbacks in the process. The speedy, shifty signal caller did a little bit of everything in Louisville's win, carving his way into the end zone in the first quarter with a 6-yard run, then busting through Texas A&M's defense 10 minutes later for a 61-yard touchdown sprint. The first quarter hadn't even ended when Jackson ran past the 100-yard mark. He finished with 226 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

The biggest knock on Jackson is that he is not a polished passer. That is still the case, and U of L's offensive coaches will spend a lot of the offseason working with him on his pocket presence, deep balls and throwing touch, but he was sharp throwing the ball on Wednesday. His numbers aren't eye-popping - 12 of 26 for 227 yards and two touchdowns - but he was effective enough to keep Texas A&M's defense at bay while also limiting turnovers and throwing the ball away when he was in trouble. It was an important step into the offseason for Jackson.

Defensive player of the game: Call it a tie between DeVonte Fields and Josh Harvey-Clemons, who both had major impacts on the game. Fields had his best game of the season, sacking Texas A&M quarterback Jake Hubenak three times. He tormented Texas A&M left tackle Avery Gennesy, who at one point in the first half picked up back-to-back false starts.

Harvey-Clemons, a much-maligned figure on U of L's defense in the second half of the season, came up big, too. The hulking safety had a free shot at Hubenak on a safety blitz in the third quarter and slapped the ball out of the quarterback's hands for a strip-sack, a fumble that James Hearns recovered. Later in the same quarter, he snatched a key interception that led to Louisville's fourth touchdown of the game and gave the Cards a two-score lead.

Where the game turned: Harvey-Clemons, after checking back on Hubenak mid-play, adjusted himself to make a leaping, fingertips interception at the Louisville 27-yard line. It came at a time when Louisville was clinging to a six-point lead and needed some momentum, and the Georgia transfer provided it. U of L went 73 yards in seven plays after the pick, capping the drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Keith Towbridge, who was wide open in the end zone.

Key stats: This one comes with the obvious caveat that Texas A&M's two primary quarterbacks transferred, which left Hubenak, the third-stringer, at the helm. That said, A&M (8-5) came into the game with an impressive 43.2 percent conversion rate on third downs, but the Aggies struggled on Wednesday, hitting on just 6-of-18 tries.

What went right: The pass rush was really effective for Louisville, especially early on. DeVonte Fields was disruptive as ever, and Sheldon Rankins and James Hearns had solid games, too, until Hearns's late-game hands-to-the-face penalty that kept alive Texas A&M's last-gasp drive. Beyond that, the offensive line did a solid job for Jackson, who did a lot of work with his own legs, but he did have running lanes and space to operate.

What went wrong: The game got off to a rather surprising start, with senior linebacker James Burgess, one of the key cogs in Louisville's defense, getting ejected from the game after a targeting penalty on the first play. It was a disappointing end to what has been a very productive career for Burgess. Later in the first quarter, one of Louisville's top pass rushers, Trevon Young, was taken to the hospital with a hip injury after he was carted off the field. Those two incidents, and the brief back injury for cornerback Shaq Wiggins, put a damper on Louisville's otherwise impressive first quarter.

Mississippi State Bulldogs: 2015 Belk Bowl Champions

There was no better way for Dak Prescott to go out.

The star Mississippi State quarterback, who led his team to the Orange Bowl last season, got his second bowl win with a 51-28 win over NC State in the Belk Bowl.

MSU jumped out to a 21-0 lead, and although it got a scare from NC State in the second quarter, the Bulldogs just kept scoring, eventually blowing out the Wolfpack.

Prescott finished the game 25-for-42 passing, with 380 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed 12 times for 47 yards. That comes after a regular season in which he completed 66.9 percent of his passes for 3,413 yards, and passed for 7.8 yards per attempt and 25 touchdowns to just four interceptions all season. He also rushed for 541 yards and 10 touchdowns.

That caps off a career that few would have qualms saying is the best in Mississippi State history, both from a statistical standpoint and from a program-building standpoint.

Mississippi State is a tough place to win, sitting in the stacked SEC West. It's not a traditional powerhouse, and it has to recruit against Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Ole Miss. But history be damned, Prescott single-handedly made this team a factor in the SEC West over the past two season. Last year, he had the Bulldogs ranked as the No. 1 team in the country and got them to the Orange Bowl. This year, they won nine games again.

Coach Dan Mullen had already begun turning around the Mississippi State program, but Prescott elevated it. The Orange Bowl berth was the first since 1940. The last time the Bulldogs finished as high as they did in AP Poll, 11th, was also 1940. And this is the first time Mississippi State has ever won at least nine games two seasons in a row.

That's mostly due to Prescott, who was overlooked for his greatness because of all the big names around him in the SEC. He was an incredibly efficient and accurate passer, and he was a true dual-threat quarterback, as he could run just as well as he threw the ball.

At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Prescott could be a very good pro prospect. He's accurate, has a big arm and can play within the offense while also making things happen with his feet when the initial play breaks down. NFL Draft Scout ranks him as the third best quarterback in the upcoming NFL Draft.

While Prescott should have a nice career in the NFL, this game was a celebration of his college career. And the best player in the history of Mississippi State football proved why he has that title.

Auburn Tigers: 2015 Birmingham Bowl Champions

BIRMINGHAM – Memphis safety Reggis Ball has been removed from the football team following a post-game incident that involved the Auburn equipment staff.

According to multiple local reports, Ball attempted to steal a football from the Auburn equipment staff following Auburn’s 31-10 victory in the Birmingham Bowl Wednesday. Ball was reportedly stopped by multiple Auburn equipment employees and a physical altercation took place.

   “I want to personally apologize to Jay Jacobs, Gus Malzahn, the Auburn Football team, its fans and the Birmingham Bowl for the highly-inappropriate actions of one of my student-athletes regarding a game ball at the end of Wednesday’s game,” Memphis athletics director Tom Bowen said in a university statement. “This player’s actions are totally unacceptable. He has been immediately removed from the team and we will continue to move swiftly in addressing what occurred."

Ball had a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown to tie the score at 10 with 3:06 left in the second quarter. Ball had two interceptions and one tackle for a loss Wednesday.

After Ball escaped with the football, the redshirt senior reportedly flipped his middle finger to the crowd and Auburn players as he left the field. Even though Ball’s college career is over at the Birmingham Bowl, his removal from the football program restricts him from using the athletic facilities at all and makes him ineligible to participate in the school’s Pro Day in the future months.

“We’re embarrassed about the actions that occurred after the game and that is definitely not the standards or expectations the Memphis football program stands for,” Memphis new head coach Mike Norvell said. “Even though Mr. Ball’s football career has ended, he will no longer be a part of the Memphis program because of these actions.”

In the post-game media conference, Memphis interim head coach Darrell Dickey said he was still gathering the facts about the situation but hours later Memphis officials informed the media of Ball’s dismissal.

“I consulted with University of Memphis President M. David Rudd and have spoken to both incoming head coach Mike Norvell and interim head coach Darrell Dickey and they completely support my decision,” Bowen said.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

LSU Tigers: 2015 Texas Bowl Champions

HOUSTON — Cam Cameron strutted along the sideline with play sheet in hand, and D.J. Chark raced 79 yards for a touchdown.

Trey Quinn caught a 46-yard pass, and Tre’Davious White played some safety.

Les Miles followed last month’s job-security drama with some ole Mad Hatter surprises in the Texas Bowl.

The result: LSU 56, Texas Tech 27.

The No. 22 Tigers (9-3) rolled up 638 yards of offense — gaining some in peculiar ways — and LSU’s defense suffocated the pass-heavy Red Raiders (7-6) just enough, finishing a wacky 2015 season by winning a late-night shootout Tuesday.

Running back Leonard Fournette ran for 212 yards and four scores, caught a touchdown pass and broke the LSU single-season record for rushing TDs.

All of that was normal and expected.

What wasn’t?

Chark, a little used sophomore receiver, had a 79-yard scoring run on an end-around on the first play of LSU’s third drive.

Cameron called plays from the sideline for the first time in his three-year tenure as offensive coordinator.

Quinn, another little-used sophomore receiver, more than doubled his receiving yards in the previous 11 games with his 47-yard grab.

And White, the Tigers’ cornerback and projected first- or second-round draft pick, played safety at times.

In front of a sellout crowd of 71,307, Cameron and his offense roared against a defense that was one of the worst in the nation. LSU scored its most points this season and finished with its most yards. Brandon Harris threw for more than 250 yards, and four players had at least 40 receiving yards.

Receiver Malachi Dupre, the one-time five-star recruit, shined with leading receiver Travin Dural out with injury. He caught four passes for 94 yards, making two highlight-reel plays.

Fournette excelled, as many expected against the nation’s second-worst rushing defense. He picked up a fourth 200-yard game this season and a 10th 100-yard outing in 12 games.

His five touchdowns tied the NCAA bowl record for scores from scrimmage, and he broke a half-dozen tackles on the way to a banner day.

The Tigers needed him in this scoring mess. Tech entered with the top passing offense in the nation and the second-best offense overall.

Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 370 yards and four touchdowns, and LSU needed a key play in the third quarter to change momentum.

With the Tigers nursing a 28-20 lead, White tipped a pass from Mahomes, and Rickey Jefferson — another surprising star — picked it off at the goal line.

“That was a big turning point,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said.

The Tigers’ hot offense answered. They got a clutch 39-yard reception from Dupre on the next drive, and then Harris hit Quinn for that long pass to set up one of Fournette’s four rushing touchdowns.

The Tigers scored again the next series on Harris’ 26-yard designed keeper, grabbing a 42-20 lead with 9 seconds left in the third quarter to clear out a once-packed NRG Stadium.

Kendell Beckwith had 2.5 sacks, Davon Godchaux had 2 and Deion Jones had one as the Tigers used that old 3-2-6 Mustang defense against spread-crazed Tech.

The swarming defensive front held Tech to 399 yards — nearly 200 under its season average — helping guarantee the Tigers a Top-25 ranking to end the season. LSU will finish in the Top 25 for the ninth time in Miles’ 11 seasons, and the Tigers hit the nine-win mark for the ninth time.

Players and coaches celebrated on a late night in the nation’s fourth-largest city. They swarmed around a makeshift stage at midfield during the trophy presentation.

Seniors Jamie Keehn, Vadal Alexander and Jones — permanent team captains — stood on the stage with Miles and Fournette, the MVP. Thousands of Tigers fans lingered and roared as Miles addressed them and slipped on a Texas Bowl baseball cap.

Fournette visited with family and friends, donning a cowboy hat — all smiles on a surprising night in Houston.

Nevada Wolf Pack: 2015 Arizona Bowl Champions

The Nevada Wolf Pack defeated the Colorado State Rams 28-23 in the inaugural Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl on Tuesday night. It was a gritty, grinded it out performance by the Wolf Pack as they leaned on an explosive rushing attack and a solid defensive performance to give them their first bowl victory since defeating Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl back in 2010.

Nevada running back James Butler was named offensive MVP of the Arizona Bowl as he ran for 189 yards and scored two touchdowns while Wolf Pack defensive end Ian Seau was named defensive MVP as he recorded five tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, a pass break up and forced a fumble tonight in Seau's final game as a member of the Wolf Pack. Seau got the action started in the first quarter of the game when he sacked Rams quarterback Nick Stevens causing him to fumble the ball which was recovered by Wolf Pack defensive end Rykeem Aytes and ten plays later, Nevada capitalized on that turnover when Brett Zuso kicked a 19-yard field to give the Wolf Pack a 3-0 lead.

The Rams took the lead in the second quarter when Stevens scored on a one-yard touchdown run and after the extra point, Colorado State took a 7-6 lead. After the score, the Wolf Pack answered back quickly when James Butler scored on a 77-yard touchdown run to give Nevada a 13-7 lead. After the Rams scored on a Wyatt Brown field goal to make it 13-10 Nevada, the Rams kicked the ball off to the Wolf Pack's Elijah Mitchell and he took it 96 yards for the touchdown to give the Wolf Pack a 19-10 lead after Zuso missed the PAT. The Rams were able to tack on another field goal before the half to cut the Nevada lead to 19-13.

In the second half with Nevada up 22-13, Colorado State went on a 12 play, 75-yard scoring drive that was capped off with a nine-yard touchdown run by Jasen Oden Jr., to cut the Wolf Pack lead to 22-20. In the fourth quarter, the Rams took the lead when Brown connected on a 38-yard field to give Colorado State a 23-22 lead. Nevada got the ball back with 3:40 left in the game and scored on an eight play, 72-yard drive that was capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by James Butler as the Wolf Pack retook the lead 28-23. The Rams had one final chance to retake the lead late in the game and despite having no timeouts, the Rams were able to orchestrated a quick hitting drive that got them in scoring range. But in the final seconds of the game, Stevens connected with Jordon Vaden but Vaden could not get out of bounds as time expired.

With the bowl win, Nevada ends their up and down season on a high note by going 7-6 and gained some much needed momentum headed into the offseason as Brian Polian and his Wolf Pack look to improve on their consistency and hopefully become a factor in the Mountain West in 2016.

Baylor Bears: 2015 Russell Athletic Bowl Champions

Baylor-North Carolina was exactly what anyone who tuned into ESPN at 5:30 ET on Monday night expected to see: Two high-powered offenses racing up and down the field with little resistance and rattling the scoreboard. The Bears and Tar Heels combined for 12 touchdowns, 1,243 yards of total offense and 87 points. In the end, Baylor pulled out a 49-38 win in one of the most entertaining bowls of this postseason.

But if this game lived up to its billing as a high-scoring, defense-optional thrill ride, it also added another data point to Art Briles’ sterling coaching résumé. The Bears repeatedly gashed North Carolina’s defense even though they were missing their leading rusher (Shock Linwood), top two quarterbacks (Seth Russell and Jarret Stidham) and Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver (Corey Coleman). Without those dangerous playmakers at his disposal, Briles effectively used the Russell Athletic Bowl as a testing lab. The Tar Heels had no answers for Baylor’s direct snaps. Four Bears completed passes, and five combined for 645 rushing yards—including 333 in the first half, the fourth most by a Football Bowl Subdivision team in 2015, according to ESPN Stats and Information. The total (645) broke the bowl record, previously set by Nebraska (524) in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.

So dominant was Baylor’s running game that the RAB saw fit to razz the Philadelphia Eagles over social media shortly after the team fired head coach Chip Kelly. Here’s Bears running back Johnny Jefferson dashing up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown in the second quarter. The sophomore finished with 299 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries (13.0 YPC).

There’s a perception that Baylor’s offense is a plug-and-play system that can rotate players in and out without missing a step. Tuesday’s win will reinforce that perception, but for Briles, this was less a preservation of the status quo with different personnel than a tactical adaptation to accommodate a thinned group of playmakers. Baylor ran the ball 84 times, 31.5 more than its season average (52.50), and threw it 18 times, 12.9 fewer than its season average (30.9). The process changed, but the ultimate result did not: The Bears eclipsed their season scoring average by one point. In essence, Briles orchestrated another pyrotechnics show with a less-than-ideal set of materials. That said, don’t expect to see this gameplan when Baylor is fully healthy next season.

Granted, North Carolina’s defense isn’t great, but under first year coordinator Gene Chizik it improved from 99th in Football Outsiders defensive S&P + last season to 65th this season, and from 119th to 33rd in points allowed per game.

A win in a third-tier bowl game probably isn’t what Baylor had in mind when it opened 2015 ranked fourth in the Associated Press poll and ripped off eight consecutive wins. Had the Bears not lost Russell and Stidham to injury, perhaps they’d be in Miami Gardens playing for the national title instead of Big 12 counterpart Oklahoma. But the Bears’ strong showing against a North Carolina team that would have had a case for a College Football Playoff berth had it knocked off Clemson in the ACC championship game can help allay the disappointment. Baylor outgunned one of the nation’s top squads using reserves in key spots and will enter the off-season on a positive note, with renewed confidence that Briles’ system can succeed without its best players.

California Golden Bears: 2015 Armed Forces Bowl Champions


FORT WORTH, Texas - Faced with an opportunity to craft the final chapter in a season filled with positive progress as a program, the Cal football team didn't have to look hard for a game plan when it lined up against Air Force in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

Instead, a 55-36 victory over the Falcons at Amon G. Carter Stadium followed a familiar script for a Cal program that took serious strides in 2015. Yet another tremendous performance from quarterback Jared Goff paved the way and the Bears followed his lead, rolling to their eighth win of the season for the first time since 2009.

As was often the case for the Bears this year, Goff was the main character in Cal's story of success, completing 25 of 37 passes for 467 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions to earn game MVP honors. Along the way, he set Pac-12 single season records for passing touchdowns (43) and yards (4,719) while setting a Cal bowl record and tying his career high for touchdowns in a single game. His touchdown total also tied for second-most in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) bowl history.

Goff's focus wasn't confined to one or two main targets. Kenny Lawler found the end zone three times, hauling in five passes for 75 yards while senior Bryce Treggs made his final collegiate game a memorable one with four catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. Fellow senior Darius Powe caught two touchdown passes and nine different Bears caught a pass and Cal (8-5) racked up 586 yards of total offense while breaking the school record for points in a bowl game of 52 (2003 Insight Bowl vs. Virginia Tech).

"I thought the way we played today was really indicative of the way we practiced leading up to the game," Cal head coach Sonny Dykes said. "I was really pleased with the way we focused. We started practicing the week after the Arizona State game. And it's a long way away when you start thinking about practicing. You have about a month between that game and this game. And we've got to give our guys a lot of credit, because they had the right mentality. They came out and practiced hard every day. They were real focused, and I thought we played that way as a result. So, again, it was nice to see them prepare the way they did."

Air Force (8-6) kept pace with the Bears into the second quarter, trading scores with Cal to keep the score a manageable 14-all with a few minutes gone in the period. But, as the Falcons tried to grind out yards with their triple-option attack, Cal countered with its full arsenal of big play threats.

A 5-yard touchdown pass from Goff to Powe, followed by an over the shoulder dime to Lawler for a 24-yard score put Cal up 28-14. After a long drive by Air Force resulted in a 1-yard touchdown sneak by quarterback Karson Roberts, Goff fired a 55-yard strike to Treggs that set up a 14-yard pitch and catch to Lawler that made it 35-21 Bears at intermission.

Cal's attack kept rolling without much resistance in the third quarter. Goff connected with Powe again for a 12-yard touchdown pass, Matt Anderson added a 29-yard field goal and Lawler snagged a 25-yard pass for his third touchdown of the day to push the score to 52-29. In the process, Lawler also continued to move upward in the Cal career record book, tying for second in career touchdown receptions with 27 as well as single-season touchdown receptions with 13.

"The guys got open and made it a lot easier for me," Goff said. "The O‑line started to protect really well. And I'm just sitting back there, like you said, playing pitch and catch. And, when they're that open, I don't want to say it's easy. But it's not as hard as it would be if you had to fit one in there."

Anderson finished the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 30-yard field goal, capping a 14-play drive that took almost eight minutes off the clock to seal the victory. The bowl win is Cal's first since a 24-17 win over Miami in the 2008 Emerald Bowl and is the Bears' second over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl, joining a 42-36 win over the Falcons in 2007. It also gave Cal eight wins in a season for just the 11th time since 1952.

"Credit to these coaches for really just instilling a belief and holding everyone accountable," said safety Stefan McClure. "And it showed with the improvements over the each of the past two seasons. So just a great honor to really be a part of this team and just show how much hard work really pays off. And now we're sitting here with eight wins, and the program is in great hands and looking forward to see what these guys are going to do next year."

Monday, December 28, 2015

Minnesota Golden Gophers: 2015 Quick Lane Bowl Champions

DETROIT – The Gophers didn’t care that they got there with a 5-7 record. They just wanted their seven-game bowl losing streak to end.

On Monday, it finally did, as Minnesota came from behind in the fourth quarter for a 21-14 victory before an announced crowd of 34,217 at the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field.

After stopping the Gophers on fourth down near mid-field, Central Michigan took a 14-13 lead with 11:08 remaining, but the Gophers went back in front with a 13-play, 76-yard touchdown drive.

On third-and-3 from the 13-yard line, quarterback Mitch Leidner kept the ball on the read option and rumbled into the end zone.

With a five-point lead, the Gophers went for two. On what looked like a broken play, Leidner dodged a tackler and fired to the back of the end zone, where KJ Maye made the catch.

Central Michigan (7-6) drove to the Minnesota 42-yard line on the ensuing drive, but Cooper Rush threw a pass as he was about to be sacked on third down, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun made a one-handed interception.

The Gophers (6-7) held on for their first bowl win since they defeated Alabama in the 2004 Music City Bowl. They had been 0-3 in bowl games under former coach Jerry Kill, who served as an honorary captain for this game.

Rush came in averaging 308.6 passing yards per game with a 67.2 completion rate, but against the Gophers, he completed just 15 of 29 passes for 145 yards.

Leidner, who is scheduled to have left foot surgery after the team returns to Minnesota, played the whole game, even though the Gophers had talked about using freshman backup Demry Croft.

Leidner completed 24 of 30 passes for 223 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

In his final game for the Gophers, senior KJ Maye had eight catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Maye and fellow senior Rodrick Williams dumped a water jug over coach Tracy Claeys after time expired, and the Gophers celebrated with the 1,400 Minnesota fans who bought tickets for the game.

Navy Midshipmen: 2015 Military Bowl Champions

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- It was appropriate that Keenan Reynolds' final touchdown at Navy thrust him into the NCAA record book and secured a milestone victory for the Midshipmen.

Reynolds wrapped up his record-setting college career in spectacular fashion: by running for three scores and throwing for another to lead Navy past Pittsburgh 44-28 on Monday in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman.

After the Midshipmen let a 24-point cushion dwindle to 38-28, Reynolds capped a nine-play drive with a 9-yard touchdown run with 4:19 remaining. It was his 88th career touchdown, which broke a tie with Kenneth Dixon of Louisiana Tech for most in FBS history. It was classic Reynolds, given that he broke a slew of records and won a whole lot of games during his four-year run at the Naval Academy.

"To be able to seal the game and get the record at the same time is pretty cool," the 5-foot-11 senior said.

Reynolds ran for 144 yards on 24 carries, completed nine of 17 passes for 126 yards and had a reception for 47 yards on a trick play. He leaves Navy (11-2) as the FBS career leader in touchdowns and points (530). His 4,559 yards rushing are the most by a quarterback in FBS history, as he passed Pat White and Denard Robinson with Monday's game.

With Reynolds leading the way, the Midshipmen completed their first 11-win season in 135 years of football. That, more than all his personal accomplishments, is what Reynolds will remember.

"You play the game to win, so the record for wins is the one that means the most to me," Reynolds said.

The bowl win was the first game for the Midshipmen since they beat Army and coach Ken Niumatalolo decided to stay at Navy instead of taking the head-coaching job at BYU. Niumatalolo was glad he stuck around for Reynolds' finale.

"All of Keenan's accolades are well-deserved," the coach said. "What an unbelievable career he's had. Once in a generation, some of the things he's done. We're going to miss him."

Qadree Ollison rushed for 73 yards and scored two touchdowns for Pitt. Nate Peterman threw a touchdown pass but was intercepted three times. That added up to a disappointing ending for the Panthers (8-5) in their first season under coach Pat Narduzzi.

"Just have to keep getting one step closer," Narduzzi said. "You just have to take one step at a time. Told the seniors, they laid the foundation. We've done a lot of great things this year."

In the end, though, they couldn't cope with Reynolds.

"He's a super football player," Narduzzi said. "Make no mistake, there were reasons he was in the [running] for the Heisman Trophy."

After Quadree Henderson returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for Pitt, Navy went up 21-7 at halftime and built a 31-7 lead midway through the third quarter. Pittsburgh scored two touchdowns in 17 seconds to close to 31-21 but could not complete the comeback.

The victory marked the first time Navy has won three straight bowl games.

"You always want to go out with a bang," Reynolds said, "and to win as a team was pretty awesome."

Playing before a sellout crowd of 36,352 in its home stadium, Navy used its triple-option attack to overwhelm a team that went 6-2 in the ACC and ranked 20th in the nation against the run. The Midshipmen finished with 590 yards of offense, including 417 on the ground and 114 by fullback Chris Swain.

After Henderson weaved from end zone to end zone for the game-opening score, Reynolds directed a 75-yard drive that ended with his 1-yard touchdown run. Later in the first quarter, Reynolds capped a 14-play march with a 5-yard touchdown. Navy's next touchdown came on an 11-yard pass from Reynolds to Tyler Carmona.

Niumatalolo momentarily abandoned the triple option in the third quarter in favor of a bit of trickery. Reynolds pitched the ball to fullback Shawn White, then went around the right side of the line for a catch-and-run that set up a 26-yard touchdown jaunt by Demond Brown.

"I was glad I actually caught the ball," Reynolds said.

It was 31-7 before Peterman threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Ollison, and a 22-yard fumble return by Jordan Whitehead got Pitt within 10 points. After Navy scored another touchdown, Ollison ran for a 45-yard score to make it 38-28.

But this was to be Reynolds' day. In his final significant drive with the Midshipmen, he converted three third downs and drew the Panthers offside on a fourth-and-3. Soon after that, he walked off the field for the final time.

"We can come back for our 20-year reunion," Reynolds said, "and talk about it and just kick back and laugh."

The Associated Press and ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.

The Christmas 2015 Roundup On The Bedlam

 The old, and the new: Homura Akemi (the iPad 3, left) and Akagi Nagumo (the iPad Air 2, right).

My belief is that every device has the soul of a moekko. My current desktop has the benevolence and purity of Madoka Kaname, a goddess and a proud Japanese nadeshiko onna no ko. I now own two iPads, one old, one new. The one iPad I had had for five years may have seen better days. As it is in a black case, one of mysterious cool and  determined confidence, it was given Homura Akemi's spirit and has been named as such. It is an iPad 3.

Now, I have a new iPad, an iPad Air 2. Originally it was meant to be placed in a blue case, it ended up in a red case due to my fondness for Stanford, for USC, for Long Beach City College, for Lakewood High School, for my old fraternity buddies at the Order of Tong International, for Harvard (though their shade is deeper) even. And for the Liberals of Canada, but not for the Republicans of the United States.

But most importantly, it was chosen red for Akagi, the carrier with an appetite as big as mind and a wiseness incomparable. She is also Fubuki (Tanaka)'s surrogate older sister. If she were given a human name, her last name would that of her last admiral, Chuichi Nagumo. Therefore, the name of my iPad Air 2 is Akagi Nagumo, as depicted in my fanfic, Butteflies and Dragons, which will conclude at the end of the Rio 2016 Olympics.

So for my next check from The Stoppage Time, I need to buy a new wall calendar, new computer speakers, a new webcam, a new headset, and groceries. My next check from the Bar Foundation will go to the bill. The new laptop may not arrive until February because a lot of cash is going to fly out the door the next two weeks. That leads me to my update on Pangya. A lot has happened over on Pangya Island. Let's review!

  • My main account is now a Top Master E.
  • My alternate account is now a World Pro E.
  • My alternate account now has the Jasmine Air Knight Set. The Jasmine Air Knights are currently A-rank Level 5.
  • My main and alternate accounts have all Stufffed Santa Boo Stocking Rares, the Santa's Club Set, the Jolly Santa Club Set, Lucia's figure skating outfit, Spika's Christmas Rares, and all the hairbands. Oh yes, and Hana R's Christmas Outfit.
  • My main account won a Kaz rare on the 10th coin of the Kaz Grand Prix event. It also won a second Kaz rare from a Premium Memorial Coin gifted from my friend ExcelsiorVindi (IGN: Basium).
  • All the quits that I incurred (including the one I got cheaply from going ZZZ in GP on my alt) are expected to be removed at the next maintenance since I have been playing 4 n go tourneys and Event GPs on the grind.
  • Madoka (a.k.a. the Classic Hana on my main) now has her own Christmas outfit. She looks fantastic in it.
  • Classic Nuri, Azer, Classic Cecilia, Max and Kaz are one filled mastery slot and a 250 games played milestone each from completion on my main. Yay, only 500 tiki points to seriously grind for next year.

So it's been a very eventful Christmas and post-Christmas. I guess with Iowa and Stanford facing each other, it looks smart in hindsight to have iPads in black and red cases. Just need some removable decals and they are ready to be posing next to each other in Pasadena. Cannot wait to ring in the new year, and oh yes, my new iPad is jailbroken, meaning it can watch sports using Kodi. Time to give Akagi some bauxite-er, a recharge.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Nebraska Cornhuskers: 2015 Foster Farms Bowl Champions

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Tommy Armstrong Jr. threw a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Nebraska cap a losing season by beating UCLA 37-29 in the Foster Farms Bowl on Saturday night.

The Cornhuskers (6-7) scored 30 straight points after falling behind 21-7 early to overpower the Bruins (8-5) and provide a happy ending to coach Mike Riley’s first season.

Stanley Morgan Jr. gave Nebraska the lead for good with a one-handed, 22-yard catch in the third quarter and Imani Cross, Terrell Newby and Andy Janovich all ran for scores for the Cornhuskers.
Armstrong completed 12 of 19 passes for 174 yards and ran for 76 more to lead the way for Nebraska, which had a season high with 326 yards rushing.

Josh Rosen threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns for the Bruins. They ended what had once been a promising season with losses to Southern California and in the bowl game.

Virginia Tech Hokies: 2015 Independence Bowl Champions

Virginia Tech played hard for their hall of fame coach Frank Beamer in his last game, beating Tulsa 55-52 in the Independence Bowl.

Although Tulsa lost, the team's fight and this season's turnaround are things that won't be forgotten.

The Golden Hurricane started the game hot with a 48-yard TD run by D’Angelo Brewer to give the Golden Hurricane a 7-0 lead.

Virginia Tech bounced back quick, answering with a 51-yard TD run from Travon McMillian to tie it up 7-all.

The game's lack of defense became very apparent when TU's Zack Langer broke off a long run, leading to a two-yard score to put the Golden Hurricane up 14-7, followed by another VT score to tie it again just minutes in. The tying score tallied 1,000 receiving yards for Isaiah Ford, making him the first 1,000-yard receiver in Virginia Tech history.

At this point, the game was looking like both teams would post 50+ points. Both teams were dominating with the ground game and neither team's defense was making tackles.

Total Yards (11:42, 1st Quarter)

Tulsa- 145

Virginia Tech- 138

The Hokies took their first lead with ten minutes left of one with a 27-yard field goal by Joey Slye, giving VT a 17-14 edge.

The 31 combined points by both teams set an Independence Bowl record for most points in a single quarter.

Sam Rogers increased Tech's lead 24-14 with a 14-yard run. But Tulsa stayed high tempo.

Josh Atkinson hauled in a 44-yard reception from Dane Evans to put TU right back in VT territory. Atkinson's catch helped him slate over 1,000 yards on the season and led to a 9-yard TD connection from Dane Evans to Bishop Louie, cutting Tulsa's deficit 24-21.

By the end of the first, Evans had thrown for 117 yards on 7-10 passing; three of those were to Atkinson for 70 yards.

In just one quarter, Tulsa and VT combined for 463 yards and 45 points.

The Hokies opened the second half hype with a score from Bucky Hodges to put Virginia Tech up 31-21. Tech's 31 points marked the most ever in the 1st half of a bowl game.

VT quickly advanced its lead 45-21 with back to back scores from McMillian and Greg Stroman.

A 29 yarder by Redford Jones and another score from Brewer cut the Hokies lead 45-31 just before the half.

Virginia Tech got the second half rolling with a score from Trey Edmunds that elevated them 52-31. The score recorded the most ever points in a bowl game. Ford also set an Indy Bowl record with 202 receiving yards mid third quarter.

Tulsa fought back, to put up more points. A nine-yard rush up the middle from Evans made it 52-37 as VT lead with 4:11 left of the third quarter.

Later in the final quarter, Evans connected with Atkinson for the TD play, followed by a two-point conversion from Evans to Keyarris Garrett to make it a 10-point game (55-45). At this point, both teams combined for 1,045 yards (7:35 to play). Tulsa continued to fight, posting another score from Garrett to make it 55-52.

In front of a crowd of 31,289 people, Virginia Tech went on to win the record-setting game, 55-52.b

Duke Blue Devils: 2015 Pinstripe Bowl Champions

Indiana and Duke's Pinstripe Bowl matchup went back and forth so many times you'd think it was a basketball game (Indiana and Duke are historically better at basketball than football, you see).

And just like in basketball, Duke came out on top, winning 44-41 in overtime after IU kicker Griffin Oakes — the Big Ten's kicker of the year — missed a 38-yard field goal to win it ... or did he? Field goals can't be reviewed, but Oakes thought he made it, and he may have a point.

This was a special one for the Blue Devils. This wasn't the best season for coach David Cutcliffe since he's been at Duke, as his team won seven games, compared to nine and 10 the previous two years, but Duke had lost bowl games in those seasons, plus the previous year. This was the Blue Devils' first bowl win since a 7-6 win over Arkansas in the 1961 Cotton Bowl.

Duke looked like it had a chance to run away with this game early. Despite an interception, the Blue Devils took advantage of an Indiana turnover on downs and a Hoosiers interception to take a 10-0 lead. However, even through another IU interception, the much-improved Hoosiers defense held and waited for the vaunted passing offense to get going. It did, with two straight touchdown drives and 17 total points in the second half.

The second half is where things got really nutty, like a game involving #CHAOSTEAM should.

IU's offense got rolling, with over 200 rushing yards from Devine Redding, a touchdown from an Alex Rodriguez in Yankee Stadium. However, it was the defense that stepped up, with a fumble recovery, an interception from a defensive tackle and a big fourth down stop deep in their own territory. That's not the Indiana of old, but that's fitting of this season.

IU's offense got rolling (and it got a touchdown from an Alex Rodriguez in Yankee Stadium), but it was the defense that stepped up, with a fumble recovery, an interception from a defensive tackle and a big fourth down stop deep in their own territory. However, the defense couldn't hold at the end of the game, as Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk drove his team down the field for a touchdown with 41 seconds left to send the game to EXTRA INNINGS.

Sirk got injured on third down of Duke's overtime possession, leading to a field goal. The next possession, Oakes, who missed a potential 56-yard game winner at the end of regulation, missed again.

This bowl win is just another milestone for Duke, which continues to become a strong program under Cutcliffe. With the bowl victory, and with a young offense that should get better, the Blue Devils have the momentum of four straight bowl seasons heading into 2016.

Washington Huskies: 2015 Heart of Dallas Bowl Champions

Washington entered Saturday as probably the nation's best 6-6 team. It left with a winning record, after beating Southern Miss 44-31 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
The Huskies jumped out to a 21-10 lead thanks to three rushing touchdowns in the first half, including two from Myles Gaskin. But Southern Mississippi was able to keep it close thanks to big plays. A 56-yard touchdown pass from Nick Mullens to Michael Thomas was the Eagles' first score of the game, and a second quarter fake punt led to a TD to make it 21-17.
Southern Miss tied it up in the third quarter on a seven-play, 57-yard drive, but Washington answered instantly with an 86-yard touchdown run from Gaskin.
A horrible Southern Miss punt out of its own end zone led to a Huskies field goal, making it a two-score game, and Gaskin's fourth touchdown of the day sealed it.

This was a reminder of how good Washington actually was this year.

By S&P+, Washington was the No. 20 team in the country this year. Between a loaded schedule (six top-50 opponents), youth in nearly every unit and inconsistent play from the offense, the Huskies were unable to turn that into as many wins as it probably deserved. But Washington lost three All-Americans on defense and still had one of the better units in the Pac-12.
One of its biggest problems was in the passing game, where true freshman Jake Browning suffered some ups and downs in his first season. He did a fine job in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, completing 23 of 34 passes for 284 yards, without any interceptions. Browning helped lead the way for Gaskin, who finished with 26 carries for 181 yards and four touchdowns -- all Heart of Dallas Bowl records. It was the first time a Washington back ran for at least four touchdowns since Corey Dillion in 1996, per ESPN.
Now the Huskies get a winning record to show for their good season. And that wouldn't have happened if the grouches got their way and eliminated 6-6 teams from bowl contention. Bowl season is great.

Southern Miss's turnaround rivals any in the country.

Three years ago, Southern Miss went 0-12, one season after winning 12 games. The Golden Eagles fired first-year head coach Ellis Johnson, replacing him with Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken. After four wins in his first two seasons, progress was evident but a long road back was still expected.
This year, the Golden Eagles won nine games, made a bowl game and went toe-to-toe against strong Pac-12 competition. That's more than double the victories of the previous three years combined. And while senior Michael Thomas (nine receptions, 190 yards, two touchdowns) leaves, junior quarterback Nick Mullens (25 of 37, 331 yards, two touchdowns) is scheduled to return. Well done, Southern Miss.

Washington State Cougars: 2015 Sun Bowl Champions

Washington State won its first bowl game since 2003 on Saturday as the Cougars outlasted Miami in a snowstorm in El Paso, Texas, for a 20-14 victory in the Sun Bowl.

Washington State led Miami 20-7 at the half and held on to win by six despite being shut out in the second half. The Cougars had just 158 second-half yards, but their defense held tough when they needed to the most, forcing a pair of late turnovers when Miami had the ball deep in Washington State territory to preserve the victory.

Story of the game: The weather was the story of the Sun Bowl, as a snowstorm raged for the majority of the contest. As the weather got more turbulent in the second half, both offenses struggled to string together drives.

Miami had some success getting the ball into Washington State territory, particularly in the fourth quarter, but turned three drives inside the Cougars' 30 into only seven points.

Two of those drives ended in turnovers -- one on a fumble at the 5 that might have been affected by the slick conditions and the other on what has to be considered one of the worst play calls of the year: a halfback pass for an interception.

Player of the game: Washington State quarterback Luke Falk threw for 295 yards and two touchdowns, completing 29 of 53 passes in the snowstorm. Falk also had the game-sealing scramble on the Cougars' final possession that gave them a first down and put them into the victory formation.

Play of the game: This would be the second turnover of the fourth quarter for Miami. Just to set the stage for you, the Hurricanes had just fumbled on the Washington State 5-yard line after having a touchdown run called back on a block in the back.

The Hurricanes' defense held the Cougars to a three-and-out, forcing them to punt. A nice return set up the Hurricanes' offense at the 28, down six points with 3:13 to play. On the first play from scrimmage, Miami dialed up this.

That would be one of the worst executed halfback passes ever.

The offense wasn't dynamic by any stretch, but the Hurricanes were moving the ball pretty well in the fourth quarter. So rather than trying to march down with plenty of time and great field position, you call that. In the snow.

That might not be the worst part. A halfback pass is risky as is, but with a slick ball in a raging snowstorm, all you're doing is setting your poor running back up for failure. Sure enough, the ball slips out and falls like a wounded duck into the waiting arms of a Washington State defender.

Tweet of the game: Snowstorm or not, Washington State fans were going to take their shirts off at the Sun Bowl no matter what -- and of course there was some Fireball involved.

Marshall Thundering Herd: 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl Champions

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Chase Litton went 23 for 34 for 218 yards and one touchdown as Marshall won its 10th game this season by beating Connecticut 16-10 in the St. Petersburg Bowl on Saturday.

Nick Smith had three field goals for Marshall (10-3), including a 32-yarder with 1:44 to play that was part of a 13-play, 80-yard march that lasted 6:35. The Thundering Herd went 13-1 a year ago and 10-4 in 2013.

Bryant Shirreffs completed 10 of 17 passes for 86 yards and gained 75 yards on 19 carries for UConn (6-7), which came up short in a bid to have a winning record for the first time since 2010.

UConn stopped Marshall on fourth-and-2 at the 17 on the initial drive of the second half after the Thundering Herd opted to skip a field goal try that could have made it 16-7.

The Thundering Herd also failed to increase a 13-7 lead on their next possession when Smith missed a 43-yard field goal attempt with less than 3 minutes left in the third.

The Huskies got within 13-10 on Bobby Puyol's 52-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in the third.

Marshall took a 7-0 lead 7 minutes into the game when Litton, who played in high school in Tampa, threw a 16-yard TD pass to Ryan Yurachek. Deandre Reaves' 26-yard punt return set up Marshall at the UConn 20.

Reaves also had nine receptions for 88 yards.

Connecticut tied it at 7 late in the first on an 8-yard run by Ron Johnson that completed a 13-play, 75-yard drive.

Marshall responded with a 13-play, 65-yard drive that concluded with Smith's 21-yard field goal that gave the Thundering Herd a 10-7 advantage 8 minutes before halftime.

Smith made it 13-7 with a 29-yard field goal on the final play of the first half that finished off a 15-play, 85-yard drive.

Connecticut sophomore cornerback Jamar Summers got his eighth interception of the season, including six in the last five games, early in the fourth.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

San Diego State Aztecs: 2015 Hawaii Bowl Champions

Quick quiz: There are currently two FBS teams with double-digit winning streaks, with top-ranked Clemson, at 16 in a row, one of them; who’s the other?  If you answered San Diego State, collect your fake monopoly money and move on.

After jumping out to a larger-than-it-looked 21-0 lead at the half, SDSU eventually doubled that lead over the final 30 minutes before settling for a 42-7 pasting of Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl.  The win is the Aztecs’ 10th in a row, one more than College Football Playoff semifinalist Alabama’s nine.

It’s also SDSU’s 11th win on the season, tying the school record set back in 1969 under the legendary Don Coryell.  This year’s squad, the Mountain West Conference champions, had already become the fifth team in school history to reach double digits in wins and the first to do so since 1977.

From the opening kickoff — literally — there was little doubt that Rocky Long‘s crew would add to its historic season, with Rashaad Penny racing 100 yards in the first 15 seconds to give the Aztecs a lead they would never relinquish.  SDSU’s defense, which came into the game 10th nationally in points allowed (17 points per game), bookended the special teams touchdown on Alex Barrett‘s interception return for a touchdown to extend the lead to 42-0 with 9:04 remaining.

In between, running back Donnel Pumphrey, who may or may not have played his final game in an Aztec uniform, ran and passed for a touchdown, the latter being the first of his career.  Pumphrey’s backfield mate, former walk-on fullback Dakota Gordon, rushed for and caught a touchdown, the latter coming off the arm of Pumphrey.

SDSU’s defense, in addition to pitching a shutout for the first 56½ minutes, forced three turnovers, with all three being interceptions thrown by Hayden Moore.  In just his third career start, the freshman Moore, pressed onto the field because of personal issues involving starter Gunner Kiel, passed for 202 yards.  The Bearcats’ lone touchdown came on Mike Boone‘s one-yard touchdown run.

UC finishes the year 7-6, its first time winning nine or fewer games since 2010.

Western Michigan Broncos: 2015 Bahamas Bowl Champions

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Jamauri Bogan rushed for 215 yards and four touchdowns Thursday, powering Western Michigan past Middle Tennessee 45-31 in the Bahamas Bowl for its first bowl victory.
Western Michigan (8-5) had lost its previous six bowl games. The Broncos ended a four-game winning streak by Middle Tennessee (7-6).
Bogan broke a tie game with a 1-yard touchdown with 6:12 left, setting up the score with a 61-yard burst. He added another 1-yard score with five minutes remaining after Rontavious Atkins’ 29-yard interception return to the Middle Tennessee 4. Bogan also had a 62-yard touchdown and a 46-yard score. He averaged 11.3 yards per carry.
Western Michigan’s Corey Davis finished with eight catches for 183 yards and a touchdown. Daniel Braverman had five receptions for 101 yards and a score.
Richie James had two touchdown catches and one touchdown run for Middle Tennessee. Brent Stockstill threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns to go with his interception.
Stockstill was 26 of 39 and finished his redshirt freshman season with 327 completions to break the NCAA freshman record held by Jared Lorenzen, who completed 321 passes for Kentucky in 2001. Western Michigan’s Zach Terrell was 18 of 26 for 297 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
One year after Western Kentucky and Central Michigan combined for 12 touchdown passes in the inaugural Bahamas Bowl — a 49-48 Western Kentucky victory — Western Michigan and Middle Tennessee produced a similar shootout.
Thursday’s matchup featured six touchdowns of 40-plus yards. The game already was tied 17-all by the end of the first quarter.
James capped Middle Tennessee’s first two possessions with a 46-yard touchdown run and a 44-yard touchdown catch.
Bogan had a 62-yard touchdown run to end Western Michigan’s first series. In the closing seconds of the first quarter, Davis caught a pass about 5 yards downfield, made a move past one defender and stiff-armed another before racing down the right sideline for an 80-yard touchdown.
After a scoreless second quarter, the big plays resumed.
Bogan gave Western Michigan its first lead with a 46-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. Middle Tennessee tied it when Christian Collis turned a short completion into a 17-yard touchdown with 18 seconds left in the third period.
Western Michigan went back in front when Braverman caught a pass about 15 yards downfield and raced along the right sideline for a 68-yard touchdown with 12:47 left. Middle Tennessee tied it again with 9:41 left on Stockstill’s 29-yard touchdown pass to James, who ended up with eight catches for 126 yards.
But when Bogan scored a couple of more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Middle Tennessee couldn’t respond.
The Blue Raiders failed to capitalize on early opportunities. With the score 17-17 in the second quarter, Middle Tennessee’s Shane Tucker was stuffed by Grant DePalma and Austin Lewis on fourth-and-goal from the 1. On Middle Tennessee’s next series, a holding penalty nullified an 85-yard touchdown completion from Stockstill to Collis.

Season's Greetings From The Bedlam On Baltic Avenue.

Season's Greetings From 
The Bedlam On Baltic Avenue.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Georgia Southern: 2015 GoDaddy Bowl Champions

The third quarter did not go Bowling Green's way in Wednesday's GoDaddy Bowl.

The Falcons headed into halftime with a 27-23 lead over Georgia Southern. When the third quarter was over, Georgia Southern had a 44-27 lead on the way to a 58-27 win.

Bowling Green had the ball three times in the quarter. The first, after Georgia Southern took the lead 30-27, ended on a failed fourth down conversion in Eagle territory. On the very next play, GSU quarterback Favian Upshaw sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown.

On the next drive, BGSU quarterback Matt Johnson fumbled as he went to throw. Another Georgia Southern TD made it 44-27. Then, with less than a minute remaining in the third, Johnson dropped the ball again as he faked a handoff.

The fumbles were likely a product of a wet football from the driving rainstorms in Mobile, Alabama, that plagued the game. But it's of no consolation to Johnson, who was one of the most productive quarterbacks in college football in 2015. After racking up nearly 300 yards in the first half, Bowling Green had 70 in the second.

Upshaw, a redshirt junior, didn't start. But he had four touchdowns on 12 carries for 199 yards and his performance sets up an intriguing quarterback competition for 2015. Both he and starter Kevin Ellison will be redshirt seniors. Incoming coach Tyson Summers has said the Eagles will retain the option offense that now-Tulane coach Willie Fritz installed at the school. He could do far worse in looking for a leader for it.

Before the game got out of hand in the third quarter, the first half was all sorts of fun. Bowling Green's first touchdown came when Johnson ad-libbed a broken play on 4th and 1 and found Roger Lewis behind the defense for a 45-yard touchdown. The PAT after the score was blocked and Georgia Southern returned it for a 9-6 lead.

Ellison provided some magic of his own later in the half. He scrambled out of the pocket and to his left on a 4th and 5 play and heaved a 31-yard touchdown pass to Montay Crockett for a 23-20 lead.

The bowl win comes in Georgia Southern's second season at the FBS level and in its first season of bowl eligibility. The Eagles are the second such team to do so this season. Fellow Sun Belt Conference member Appalachian State won the Camellia Bowl in its first bowl game (and second season in FBS) on Saturday.

Boise State: 2015 Poinsettia Bowl Champions

Boise State dominated from start to finish Wednesday at the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, taking less than a minute to get on the board, and never trailed in a 55-7 hamering of the Northern Illinois Huskies.
The Broncos (9-4) held a 654-33 advantage in total yardage, with the defense allowing the second-fewest yards in school history, and the least since Oct. 19, 1968 against Whitworth, when they allowed 30 yards.
Freshman quarterback Brett Rypien was the game’s offensive MVP after he completed 29-of-39 passes for 377 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Junior defensive end Kamalei Correa, who is expected to leave for the NFL Draft, was the defensive MVP after he had two sacks and forced a fumble.
The 654 yards of offense were ninth-most in a single game in school history. Sophomore running back Jeremy McNichols scored three touchdowns, rushing for 93 yards and adding 96 yards receiving, both team-highs.


BOISE STATE2110101455


BSU—Jeremy McNichols 29 run (Tyler Rausa kick), 14:02. Key plays: Quarterback Brett Rypien hit McNichols on a streak down the right side of the field for 39 yards — the first deep ball the Broncos had hit since October. McNichols jogged into the end zone through a mammoth hole on the next play. Drive: 3 plays, 75 yards, :58. Boise State 7, Northern Illinois 0
BSU—McNichols 4 pass from Rypien (Rausa kick), 7:38. Key plays: Wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck broke a tackle attempt for a 23-yard gain on the first play. McNichols added an 11-yard run. The drive was set up by a fumble recovery by linebacker Tyler Gray. Drive: 7 plays, 67 yards, 2:18. Boise State 14, Northern Illinois 0
BSU—McNichols 1 run (Rausa kick), 3:28. Key plays: Rypien dropped a beautiful throw over an underneath defender to tight end Jake Roh for a 23-yard gain. Wide reciever Shane Williams-Rhodes broke a tackle to gain 21 yards on third-and-3 at the NIU 24-yard line. Drive: 7 plays, 53 yards, 2:36. Boise State 21, Norhern Illinois 0


BSU—Rausa 20 field goal, 9:44. Key plays: Gray stripped wide receiver Aregeros Turner and cornerback Jonathan Moxey recovered on the NIU 15. A holding penalty on first-and-goal at the 5 stalled the drive. Drive: 7 plays, 12 yards, 3:01. Boise State 24, Northern Illinois 0
NIU—Aregeros Turner 96 kickoff return (Christian Hagan kick), 9:32. Boise State 24, Northern Illinois 7
BSU—Chaz Anderson 16 pass from Rypien (Rausa kick), 1:51. Key plays: Defensive end Kamalei Correa stripped quarterback Ryan Graham and Gray crawled to the loose football at the Boise State 40. Williams-Rhodes gained 21 yards on an end-around and McNichols fought and reached to gain a yard on third-and-1. Drive: 8 plays, 60 yards, 3:35. Boise State 31, Northern Illinois 7


BSU—Rausa 27 field goal, 7:30. Key plays: Williams-Rhodes dominated the drive with a 12-yard catch, a 10-yard run and an 11-yard catch. Drive: 12 plays, 51 yards, 4:49. Boise State 34, Northern Illinois 7
BSU—Alec Dhaenens 18 pass from Rypien (Rausa kick), 3:29. Key plays: Sperbeck and Anderson also had 18-yard catches. Drive: 6 plays, 67 yards, 2:06. Boise State 41, Northern Illinois 7


BSU—Kelsey Young 24 run (Rausa kick), 14:52. Key plays: Rypien hit Williams-Rhodes for 13 yards and McNichols for 18. Drive: 5 plays, 61 yards, 2:07. Boise State 48, Northern Illinois 7
BSU—Stuart 1 run (Rausa kick), 9:52. Key plays: Ryan Wolpin bustsed a 49-yard run. Stuart had a 9-yard run. Boise State 55, Northern Illinois 7

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Toledo Rockets: 2015 Boca Raton Bowl Champions

The Toledo Rockets won a sloppy, rain-soaked Boca Raton Bowl over the Temple Owls 32-17 Tuesday night. The result hinged in large part on an onside kick recovery. Down by just eight points and with less than three minutes remaining, Temple kicker Tyler Mayes apparently recovered an onside kick that would have given the Owls a chance to tie.

However, a Toledo defender came out of the pile with the ball, and the referee declined to overturn the call on the field, giving the Rockets possession and an eventual victory.

The onside controversy threatened to overshadow a stellar performance from Toledo senior quarterback Phillip Ely. Ely, who played his first two seasons at Alabama before transferring to Toledo and missed almost all of last season after a Week 2 knee injury, was making a homecoming of sorts: The Tampa prep product was playing for the first time in his home state of Florida. He finished his last collegiate game with 285 yards and two touchdowns on 20/28 passing. It was Ely's fourth consecutive game with more than 200 passing yards and seventh multiple-touchdown game this year. An 80-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Ely to wide receiver Cody Thompson gave the Rockets a ten-point lead, a lead which Toledo never relinquished. Ely froze the safeties with a play action fake, and Thompson beat his defender on a post route.

Running back Kareem Hunt converted a subsequent Temple interception into another touchdown. Temple scored its only touchdown of the game with less than three minutes left to play, but Toledo's onside kick recovery led to another Hunt touchdown run that cemented the Rockets' tenth victory of the season.

Toledo finishes its postseason with a new head coach, vacancies left to fill at offensive coordinator and two other positions, and a veteran quarterback graduating. But the Rockets also have their second consecutive bowl win and third bowl victory in the last six seasons. And a once-promising collegiate career shortened to a single season by transfer and injury came to a successful end.

Akron Zips: 2015 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Champions

For the first time in Akron’s 30-year history at college football’s top level, it won a bowl game.
The 8-5 Zips shut down Utah State’s offense and capitalized on a few mistakes en route to a 23-21 win in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Tuesday afternoon in Boise. It was only the second bowl game in Akron history, with the first was the 2005 Motor City Bowl, a 38-31 loss to Memphis.
The win over Utah State was the culmination of an impressive turnaround engineered by fourth-year coach Terry Bowden. Akron had back-to-back-to-back 1-11 seasons from 2010-2012, a stretch which includes Bowden’s first year at the helm. After going 5-7 in both 2013 and 2014, Bowden steered Akron to seven regular-season wins, and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl win gave the Zips a program-best eight victories.
It’s remarkable Bowden is the one leading this turnaround, too. The former Auburn coach — he was there from 1993-1998 and led the Tigers to five top-25 finishes in six seasons, including a No. 4 final ranking in 1993. But he hadn’t worked as an FBS head coach in 14 years when Akron hired him before the 2012 season, and his last bowl win came 18 years ago.
Utah State took a one-point lead early in the third quarter when quarterback Kent Myers found receiver Hunter Sharp for a 19-yard touchdown. After forcing a three-and-out on Akron’s next possession, Utah State had a chance to pull away a bit, but receiver Andrew Rodriguez lost a fumble at the Aggies’ 40-yard line. Akron promptly marched into the end zone in eight plays, and in the fourth quarter added a field goal that proved to be necessary late in the game.
With Chuckie Keeton back at quarterback — Kent Myers also played — Utah State drove into the end zone with 72 seconds remaining, cutting Akron’s lead to two. The Zips recovered an onside kick, though, and successfully stuffed a few last-ditch Aggie laterals to seal their victory.
Akron quarterback Thomas Woodson completed 14 of 29 passes for 168 yards, rushed 16 times for 47 yards and caught a touchdown from receiver Tyrell Goodman on a slick gadget play in the first quarter.
The bowl game was the final one on the Utah State sidelines for offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who was hired as Mizzou’s offensive coordinator earlier this month.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Pia Wurtzbach: Miss Universe 2015

The Miss Universe 2015 contest has ended in confusion and disarray after the host mistakenly named the wrong woman as the winner.
Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo from Colombia had already been crowned and was standing on stage to cheers from the Las Vegas audience when mortified host Steve Harvey returned to announce the error.
“OK, folks, um, I have to apologise,” he said, walking back on stage while Arevalo was proudly waving to fans, holding the winner’s bouquet and wearing the Miss Universe sash. “The first runner-up is Colombia,” he went on, “Miss Universe 2015 is Philippines.”
The camera panned straight to a stunned Miss Philippines, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, who started slowly walking to the front of the stage. For a few awkward moments the two women stood side by side, in front of a TV audience of millions from around the world, before Harvey explained that he read the card naming the winner and runner-up in the wrong order.

“It is my mistake, but it’s still a great night.”
“Please don’t hold it against the ladies, please don’t. I feel so badly but it’s still a great night.”
As he spoke, a former Miss Universe winner quickly removed the crown from Arevalo and placed it on Wurtzbach. The broadcast ended moments later.
The reaction on social media was swift, with viewers expressing dismay at the “fail of the decade”.

Later, Wurtzbach told reporters that she wished Arevalo well.
“I’m very sorry. I did not take the crown from her,” she said. “None of this was done on purpose. It was an honest mistake.”
Harvey’s mistake is not the first time the wrong woman has been named the winner of a high-profile beauty pageant. In 2010 during a live television broadcast, Australian host Sarah Murdoch read out the wrong name in the finale of Australia’s Next Top Model.
The competition started with women representing 80 countries between the ages of 19 and 27. For the first time, viewers at home weighed in, with their votes being tallied in addition to four in-person celebrity judges.
NBC Universal and Donald Trump co-owned the Miss Universe Organization until earlier this year. The real-estate developer offended Latin Americans in June when he made anti-immigrant remarks in announcing his Republican presidential run.
That led Spanish-language network Univision to pull out of the broadcast for what would have been the first of five years airing the pageants and NBC to cut business ties with Trump.
The former star of the Celebrity Apprentice reality show sued both companies, settling with NBC in September, which included buying the network’s stake in the pageants.
That same month, Trump sold the organisation that includes the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants to entertainment company WME-IMG.

Associated Press contributed to this report

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers: 2015 Miami Beach Bowl Champions

MIAMI -- A feel-good Western Kentucky football season ended in heartbreak, but for the Hilltoppers, the good kind.

South Florida led by two touchdowns early in Monday's Miami Beach Bowl, weathered a run of 24 straight WKU points and pulled to within one possession during the fourth quarter.

WKU hit back each time in a 45-35, season-ending victory at Marlins Park. Just when the Bulls had hope, it often vanished.

Heartbreaking, really. It's what the great teams do, and after finishing 12-2, matching the program record for victories first set during the 2002 I-AA national title season, this bunch will go down as one of WKU's best.

Second-year coach Jeff Brohm's squad likely secured spots in the final Associated Press and coaches polls, adding to a Conference USA championship won earlier this month. The Louisville native Brohm's also due for a raise, and perhaps one more spin through the coaching carousel should it start again.

Credit goes to an up-and-down day by Brohm's offense, which received few favors from its defensive counterparts.

Brandon Doughty completed 32 of 44 passes for 461 yards in his final college game, and that was after a 10 of 19 start that included an early interception. The performance made the sixth-year senior the first WKU quarterback to top 5,000 yards passing in a season and third in C-USA history.

Top Miami Beach Bowl target Nicholas Norris pushed him over the mark.

Doughty in the third quarter hit the junior Norris for back-to-back touchdowns, one for 69 yards and another for 55. His catches moved the Hilltoppers ahead for good, with a 9-yard Nacarius Fant rush, acrobatic Jared Dangerfield catch and 42-yard Anthony "Ace" Wales rush enough to hold on late.

But there was plenty of doubt as USF quarterback Quinton Flowers danced in open field for most of the afternoon, rallying the Bulls from a 38-21 deficit at the end of the third quarter. On the opening play of the fourth, Flowers threw 53 yards to Rodney Adams for a score. And on USF's next drive, his 8-yard keeper made it a 38-35 game.

From there, however, the Bulls were stopped twice on fourth down and missed a 54-yard field that would have, at the time, tied the score.

One last quick-strike scoring drive put WKU over the top. A play before the Louisville native Wales raced up the right sideline for a touchdown, Doughty set it up with a flea-flicker completion to Antwane Grant.

Playing in his home state, Doughty was near perfect after the Hilltoppers' opening five drives ended with two punts, a turnover on downs and his interception. From there, he completed 22 of 25 passes, going out on a high note and against the coach who signed him, WKU graduate Willie Taggart.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

FC Barcelona: 2015 FIFA Club World Cup Champions

Football players constantly state that victory can only be achieved by teamwork. The way in which that victory is celebrated, however, is a very individual thing, as the emotions on display tend to depend on the player’s personality and past experiences. Following their FIFA World Club Cup Japan 2015 triumph on Sunday, Barcelona’s players all reacted in distinct ways as they received their winners’ medals.

To understand the great joy visible on the face of Neymar, it is crucial to wind the clock back four years. In December 2011, the skilful forward was part of the Santos side that, as South American champions, earned its place at the global tournament.

Prior to the final, where they were to face Barcelona, the media built it up as duel between the Brazilian and Lionel Messi. However, instead of creating a tight contest, Santos fell to a comprehensive 4-0 defeat, during which Messi scored a brace and Neymar put in a somewhat anonymous performance.

“They were so much better than us,” the then 19-year-old admitted to “They gave us a footballing lesson.” One image in particular made its way around the world after the match, that of Neymar exchanging a few words with Messi and Pep Guardiola. While the exact details of that conversation may never be known, could it be that La Pulga was advising his now team-mate to join him in Catalonia as soon as possible?

By the following year, Neymar had put pen to paper with the Blaugrana and would soon begin to amass a considerable number of prestigious trophies, the latest of which was held aloft on Sunday in Japan. “Today, I’m on the other side of the fence, and I’m glad about that. I’m very happy to be a world champion,” he said to

Isolation and concentration
His obvious delight contrasted with the contained joy exhibited by Javier Mascherano in the corridors of International Stadium Yokohama after the match. But rather than demonstrating nonchalance about his team’s victory, the robust defender was struggling with conflicting emotions.

“This final was a difficult one for me to deal with,” explained the San Lorenzo native, who turned professional with River Plate in 2003. “I came through the ranks with them, and they’re from my home country. Unfortunately, in situations like that you just have to cut yourself off. I tried to be as professional as I could about it. I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but I have to think about the team that I currently represent.”

Proof of this approach came when fans of Los Millonarios, who had travelled in large numbers and noisily supported their heroes throughout the encounter, cheered his name when the teams were presented to the public. The Barcelona stalwart decided to keep a low profile and held back from recognising the Argentinian contingent.

“Maybe they took it badly, but I didn’t mean anything disrespectful by it,” he said. “Ever since I found out that we would be facing River, I’ve tried to shut myself away from everything and stay completely focused on the task at hand.”

And that he certainly did, repelling the Argentinians’ attacks and marshalling a defence that performed superbly in front of an on-song Claudio Bravo, even if the Catalans were willing to admit that River made life tough for them at times.

“River’s commitment and pressure caused us a few problems during the first 35 minutes, until we got the breakthrough,” said the Argentinian, who starred for his nation in the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Final. “It wasn’t easy, but we knew that they would fight hard, and it was that style of play that got them to this level in the first place.”

Titanic trio
Unfortunately for the South American giants, their battling qualities were not sufficient against an on-form Barcelona, driven forward by their highly effective and harmonious attacking triumvirate. Messi struck first and Luis Suarez added a brace, while Neymar contributed two assists.

“I don’t know if we’re the best frontline in football history, but we’ve got a great understanding and we’re in the process of making history,” said Neymar, responding to a question that is often brought up by fans of the beautiful game. “But 150 goals is certainly not something to be sniffed at. We’re playing some great stuff and we’re delighted to be doing so.”

That happiness is clearly shared by every player in the Barcelona squad. “Getting to this stage involves putting in a huge amount of work and achieving important objectives. We’ve managed to cap off this year in the best way possible,” concluded Mascherano with understandable self-control and the hint of a winning smile.